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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from John Penn to Richard Caswell
Penn, John, 1740 or 1-1788
October 18, 1778
Volume 13, Pages 242-244

[From Executive Letter Book.]

Philadelphia, 18th Oct., 1778.

Dear Sir:

Congress were yesterday informed by what is said to be good authority, that several thousand of the Enemy are about embarking from New York for Charles Town, in hopes of being able to surprise the Inhabitants and to get much plunder. Your Excellency will observe from the proclamation published by the British Commissioners that they intended to destroy everything they can, alleging by way of excuse that America was mortgaged to France, their natural Enemy and it was now the intent of Britain to ruin

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the estate, to prevent them from getting any advantages from our connection. They have burnt and destroyed all the houses and other property of the Inhabitants of Jersey lately, whenever it was in their power. I can hardly believe yet, they will go to South Carolina, but as there is some reason to fear it, we should endeavor to be prepared so as to prevent their being able to practice such horrid cruelties as they do.

The French have taken Dominica and Turks' Island, and will soon be in possession of all the British W. Islands unless they are defended in a different manner from what they now are, nor have they any other resources than what are here plagueing us. Count De Estaing's Fleet will shortly be fit for sea again, and how the Enemy can continue to divide their shipping without leaving him superior to what is left I know not. We have no late information from Europe worth mentioning except that the Emperor of Germany and the King of Prussia are at the head of 250,000 Troops each well officered. They seem disposed to try who has the longest sword.

The Delegates wrote your Excellency an official letter not long ago, tho' we have not had the pleasure to hear from you since our arrival in that way. I have received one letter only. I shall think myself much obliged to you for some account of what is doing to the Southward, when you can spare so much time. I wrote to you the first of this month, giving you all the information that I suspected would please or was worth your attention. I should take pleasure in corresponding with you if agreeable, besides what is necessary in our official characters. Gen'l Howe is directed to repair to head quarters to join the Grand Army, and Gen'l Lincoln goes to So. Carolina to take command there. The latter is from Massachusetts Bay, he is highly spoken of both as a Soldier and a Gentleman by all that know him, especially by the Southern officers.

The French Minister behaves with great propriety so far as I am able to judge of his conduct. I wrote you the situation Gen'l Lee was in. Congress have been so engaged in business that we have not had as much time as to take up the proceedings of the Court. However, that will be the business of to-morrow.

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Gen'ls Schuyler and St. Clair are honorably acquitted by the Court Martial. We shall examine their trials soon. My compliments to your son, and am with due respect

Your Excellency's mo. Ob. Serv't,