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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from William Moultrie to Charles Pinckney
Moultrie, William, 1730-1805
February 27, 1779
Volume 14, Pages 269-270

[Reprinted from Moultrie's Memoirs, Vol. 1, Pages 317 and 319.]

Purisburgh, February 27th, 1779.

Dear Sir:

I arrived here yesterday, after pushing very hard for camp, as I received several accounts on the road that great matters were doing on the Savannah river, which I suppose you have heard in town; nay, they were so particular as to inform me that we had taken 300 prisoners at Augusta, and that Campbell was hemmed up at Brier Creek, the bridge being cut away; that Gen. Lincoln was gone in with 250 horse. You must imagine all this gave me great spirits, and hastened my march to camp. After riding fifty miles, I was greatly cast down by being told that Gen. Lincoln was returned to camp, that the enemy had crossed Brier Creek, and that we had taken a few prisoners. This disappointment mortified me very much.

-------------------- page 270 --------------------

Our news in camp, at present, is by a letter from Gen. Ashe, received last night at 12 o'clock, dated 25th instant. He informs me that he would be at Brier Creek yesterday; that the enemy retreated so precipitately from Augusta as to leave twelve beef killed and skinned upon the ground; they were informed that Gen. Ashe had 11,000 men with him, and that Gen. Lincoln was crossing below Brier Creek to cut off their retreat; they had a pretty strong body; their army consisted of 1,000 regular troops, 300 Col. Reed's new levies, 300 Carolina royalists, (as they call them,) 500 Brown's and Georgians, with six brass field-pieces, two howitzers and four grasshoppers, which were a strong body and a handsome train of artillery. However, a panic seized them and they pushed for Brier Creek, which they accomplished before our horsemen could destroy the bridge, and they passed it; they burnt it down to prevent our pursuit; they lost one field-piece in crossing, by the boat sinking; Gen. Ashe has sent to have it taken up and brought to his camp; Prevost marched up 1,000 men to reinforce them; they are all now got down to the Two Sisters and Ebenezer, where we reckon the main body of the army are; it is agreed on all hands that the enemy have a body of 5,000 men now with them; it seems to be the prevailing opinion in camp that they are going away; for my part I cannot see the reason for it; it is said the commodore has ordered all the transports to wood and water for sea, but is not this a prudent step to provide for the worst. They know that our reinforcements will enable us to attack before long; at present we are inferior to them; I wish they were gone; something must be done soon? as there is a buzzing in the North Carolina camp that their time will be out on the 10th of April, and it will take them a month to march home. They will therefore expect to move on the 10th of March; should this be the case, we shall be as badly off as ever if our militia do not get there by that time; I think you should mention to the Governor to order his guards at Bloody Point and places adjacent to give him and us the earliest notice when they observe the enemy's fleet in motion.

I am, &c.,