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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Benjamin Lincoln to Richard Caswell
Lincoln, Benjamin, 1733-1810
April 07, 1779
Volume 14, Pages 61-63

[From Executive Letter Book.]

Black Swamp, April 7th, 1779.

Dear Sir:

This will be given you by your Son, Col. Caswell. That he may return in safety to you is among my first and most sincere wishes.

By Mr. Whiting, who came last night into Camp, I was informed that when he left Virginia, on the 6th Ulto., all their men were not raised; of those who were, not more than sixty were at the place of rendezvous; that, seeing the delay of matters, Genl. Nelson declined taking the command, and that the Gentleman who had accepted it (viz., Genl. Mason) was on his journey to Williamsburg to represent the embarrassment which attended his marching the Troops, and that they may not soon be expected. I hope those ordered from your State will soon arrive; they are much needed. Some of the men you ordered last October and November are but just arrived, and expect to return with the other Troops. I have written to Genl. Ashe on the subject, have desired him to use his influence with them to remain in Camp, that he will endeavour to convince them that justice and the good of their Country demands it of them, but if he should fail in his attempt, and discover in the men a determination to leave the service, I have requested him to give them his positive order that they do not do it until the five months are expired from the time of their leaving their homes, agreeable to your Orders, for if these people are permitted to trample upon the authority of the State with impunity, and no distinction is made between those who do their duty with fidelity and those who

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doth it not, the former will be discouraged and the latter supported in their error. It is painful to observe in how many instances the object which first induced us to take arms is now winked out of sight. Too many there are who content themselves with having done what they call their turn, (and as much of that time they waste out of camp as possible,) and pay little attention, either to the good of the service, justice to the public, or to a line of conduct which will promote a speedy termination of the present war. I do not mean, Dr. Sir, to suggest that this is peculiar to your State; I know it is not, I see it in this, I have seen it in others, and presume it may be observed in all of them—the more melancholy.

Col. Caswell will be able to represent to you how much he and others have suffered from the want of good Subaltern officers. They have seen the evils of that mode of appointing them which was introduced, I presume, and was thought to be dictated by good policy, but experience now evinces the contrary. When all your Continental Troops & Levies are collected there will be a great deficiency in the number of officers. I shall request Genl. Sumner to make your Excellency a return, and hope vacancies will be filled up agreeable to a resolve of Congress for the new arranging the Army.

Your Continental Troops & Levies are very naked. I have been encouraged to expect that clothing will be sent on for them; may it be soon. It is painful to see them in the ragged condition in which they appear, and it is more so when they are paraded with the Troops of this State. Great attention has been paid to them “in this respect, and men who are by no means superior to yours appear in a decent habit, yours quite the contrary; every officer must be hurt hereby; he knows the sufferings of the men, that they see the discrimination, must feel themselves neglected and chagrined.

Arming and seeing that the Militia are properly clothed are also matters of importance, and claim the earnest attention, for without the former they will be of little service, and without a shift of the latter, as the hot season is fast approaching, by which they can be kept clean, they will soon be unhealthy, and liable to every putrid disorder.

It will tend much to the happiness and usefulness of the men

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to have officers set over them whose advice they will hear and whose commands they will willingly obey.

I have the honor to be, dear Sir,
Your Excellency's Mo. Ob. Servt.,
Gov. Caswell.