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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Cornelius Harnett to Thomas Burke
Harnett, Cornelius, 1723-1781
August 27, 1778
Volume 13, Pages 470-471


Philadelphia 27th August 1778.

Dear Sir:

Upon my arrival here, I met with the Inclosed Letter. Congress seems to go on in the old way, some times disputing upon trifles, & neglecting the greater matters of the Law. The Expedition against Rhode Island seemed to be in train for Success. Your friend Gen. Sullivan having landed without opposition with between 3 or 4000 Regulars & a Body of Militia from the N. England States, & the french squadron under the Count De Estaing having made an attack upon the Enemies' Fortification, & had in a very short time, silenced two of their Batteries; but were surprised at the appearance of a British fleet off the Harbour, which obliged the French Admiral to put to sea the next morning in order to Engage the Enemy. This Lord Howe endeavoured to avoid by flight; & the French fleet were seen in pursuit of him at 11 o'clock; no certain intelligence has been since received of the event of this manoeuvre. Gen. Sullivan however marched up near the Enemy, who had evacuated all their Out Posts & retired within their lines near the Town. Our Genl. had under Cover of a Fog, erected a Battery within 250 yards of the Enemy's works, & intended to begin a Cannonade as soon as the Fog cleared away. Indeed the Genl. seems to promise himself success at all events, and is by his Letter to Congress, in high Spirits. He has heretofore

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been unlucky; who knows but Fortune who is a fickle jade, may favour him at last; I hope she will.

Inclosed are the last papers, to them I refer you for what little news is stirring.

When the Assembly meets I beg you will endeavour to get their account of expenditures for Continental Services sent on in which ought to be included the expense of the Armament to quell the Insurrection, the Expedition against the Indians, the Militia sent to Virginia, & those raised on several Other Occasions. I am firmly of opinion these matters ought to be made a Continental Charge, as you know such charges are made, & allowed to the other states daily. I hope you, Mr. Hooper, Maclain, &c., will exert yourselves on this occasion. Colo. Hogun is arrived with near 600 men, & as soon as they are furnished with money &c., will proceed immediately to White Plains, where General Washington with the main Army are Encamped, ready to act as circumstances may require. Genl. Lee's Tryal is ended and the sentence of the Court Martial is in these words: “The Court do Sentence Major General Lee to be suspended from any Command in the Armies of the United States of North America for the Term of twelve months”—Signed; Stirling, Major General & President. The whole proceedings of the Court Martial are now before Congress, but nothing, as yet done in it. They are only ordered to be printed. Our friends are all well & desire their Compts. to you, be pleased to present mine to Mrs. Burke. I am with great truth Dr. Sir,

Your real friend & obedt Servt.

I left with you a letter directed to John Purviance who was at Baltimore, he has not received it. Can you recollect by whom it was sent. It contained some money for Lottery Tickets.

To Thomas Burke Esq.