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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from John Ashe to Benjamin Lincoln
Ashe, John, 1725-1781
March 03, 1779
Volume 14, Page 271

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[Reprinted From Moultrie's Memoirs of the Revolution, Vol. 1, pages 323 & 324.]

Mathew's Bluff, March 3rd, 1779.


I am sorry to inform you that 3 o'clock P. M. the enemy came down upon us in force, what number I know not. The troops in my division did not stand fire five minutes; many fled without discharging their pieces; I went with the fugitives half a mile, and finding it impossible to rally the troops, I made my escape into the river swamp, and made up in the evening to this place; 2 officers and 2 soldiers came off with me. The rest of the troops, I am afraid, have fallen into the enemy's hands, as they had but little further where they could fly to. Luckily Major Grimkie had not got the artillery out of the boat, so that I shall keep them here with Gen. Rutherford's brigade, to defend this pass, until I receive further orders from you. This instant Gen. Bryant and Col. Perkins arrived. Col. Eaton1 was drowned crossing the river. Since writing the above, a number of officers and soldiers have arrived. We have taken a man who says he was taken by them, and could not take their oath, and was formerly under Lee, to the Northward. He informed that there were about 1,700 red-coats in the action, also a number of new levies from New York, Georgia militia and Florida sconts; that 1,500 men had marched up to Augusta, to fortify that place; that they were fortifying Hudson's very strongly; that the day before they marched off, 7,000 men had arrived from New York. Gen. Bryant and Rutherford are of opinion that it is better to retreat to your quarters; therefore I am inclined to march to-night, when we get all our fugitives over.

I am, &c.,


1 Col. Eaton was not drowned, but was the first who gave us an account of the defeat. Moultrie.