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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Cornelius Harnett to William Wilkinson
Harnett, Cornelius, 1723-1781
December 16, 1777
Volume 11, Pages 821-822


By Post.

York Pennsylvania, Dec. 16th, 1777.

Dear Sir:

I wrote you a few days ago in answer to your favour of the 11th Ulto. You are Constantly plaguing me for news, & I can hardly ever meet with any thing Interesting to Communicate. The Campaign has been very inactive, ever since Genl. Howe took possession of Philadelphia. However he made a movement on the 6th before day, with almost his whole force, leaving only a few men behind, & appeard in Battle array before our Army at about a Miles distance, Expecting to find them unprepared, in this he was mistaken. Some small Schyrmishing ensued in which the British Troops suffered more than ours, Genl. Erwin attacked their light Troops with some of our Militia, we took about some 20 prisoners & lost about ten or 12 killed & wounded, the General was among the Latter & taken prisoner by the Enemy. Colo. Morgan had a very severe conflict with another party, this Gent. Commands the Virginia and Pennsylvania Rifflemen he lost about 26 also killed and wounded. The Enemy's loss must have been very Considerable, as those troops are excellent marksmen, a Deserter says 500. Gen. Howe after Manoeuvering for several days, kept up a shew of his

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light Troops in Front, marched off the remainder of his Army to Philadelphia, the light troops following precipitately, and altho' a party of our light Infantry pursued, as soon as the intention of the Enemy was known, they could not overtake them until they had reached their lines—95 Prisoners came to this Town the night before last they will be to-morrow sent to Virginia. Genl. Howe Ravages & destroys wherever he comes, German Town we are informed was pillaged in a most shameful manner, many of the fine houses near the City have been plundered and burnt, in short as far as they can reach they spread Devastation around them among Whigs & Tories indiscriminately. Heaven will in its own good time I hope punish those Butchers & Murderers, there must certainly be some chosen Curse laid up in store for them. We hear that a large body of the Enemy have been since over the Schulkill to plunder the inhabitants, Genl. Potter who commanded a body of the Militia on that side has had an Action with them; he took some Prisoners with the loss of as many or more of our men, the particulars of this affair are not as yet come from authority.

I have not yet received an answer from Mr. Mitchel about Jackey–unless you soon Contradict it I shall have him with me.

I remain, Dr. Sir,
Your sinre friend & obedt. Servt.

My Compts. to Mr. Quince & all my friends.

W. Wilkinson Esqr.