Documenting the American South Logo
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Thomas Sumter to Johann de Kalb
Sumter, Thomas, 1734-1832
July 17, 1780
Volume 14, Pages 505-507


St. So. Carolina. Camp Catawba River, July 17, 1780.

Received the 21. Answered immediately that I would lay the letter before General Gates at his arrival.

Dear General:

Having been well informed that you are Marching to the Reliefe of this Country, I think it my Duty to give you the Earliest Inteligence of the situation and force of the Enemy, together with such other things as appear the Most Interesting. From the best accounts the Number of British Are as follows, vize.: at George Town, 250; C. Town, 800; Beauford, 12; Savanah, in georgia, 300; Agusta, 500; Sennica Fort, 70; Ninety-Six, 250; fair forest, 30; Rockey Mount, 200; Hanging Rock, 280 foot, 70 Dragoons; Camden & its Vicinity, 700; Cheraw's said to be 600; Total, 3,482. This Number I Conceive to be equal to the

-------------------- page 506 --------------------
Whole of the Brettish force, Provided every man fit for Duty was brought together from the Defrent posts, Which, if attempted, Coud not Posably be effected en less than twelve or fifteen days' time, as to their Tory or Militia Force, Nothing Certain Can be Said, that Depending Solely upon Circomstances, and is a Matter of a Very Serious nature to this Country and Indeed to the Continent, for if they are pemitted to Retreat slowly to Charles Town, or have an opportunity of Collecting the Tories and imbodying the militia, who they Compell to do Duty, I say if they are suffered to do this they will by that means add above ten thousand men to their army—and thereby be come so strong as Not only to Keep possession of Charles Town, but also a Great part of the State besides, and to Obviate this evil your excellency will, I hope, pardon me for the freedom I take in giving my opinion, the Method I Shoud purpose to Prevent this Junction and accumilation of force, Woud be to Detach a Body of Light Troops to take post upon the South Side of Santee River, at Neilson's and Marigalutes Ferries, this woud effectually Cut of their Retreat to Towns and thereby prevent them from forcing the Militia to retreat with them, or from there Gethering to gether the Forces, and also from Striping the Country of all its Resources, Which they are with the Greatest Diligence Doing, and if Not Shortly Pervented Will Leave it in a Situation Not Acceptable for Giving Scarce any Support to an army.

When it is Considered how Vastly Weak the enemy is by being so Detached in Small parties, and the Impossibility of their being collected in a Short Time, and the certainty of their being much anoyed if that Shoud be attempted, Leaves No Room to Doubt but that one thousand or fifteen hundred Troops Might, With the Greatest propriety, Take Post at the place before mentioned, and woud unfailable answer the end Designed, Not only by perventing them from forcing the Militia into their Service and Carring off all the Horses, stock and other provisions that the country offers, But woud Render their own Retreat exceeding Difficult, if not impossible, as it Coud be effected only by the way of Georgia, the Distresses of the people of this country have been for Some Time past almost beyond Conception, in the Northerein part of the State they have Now Some Respite, I having Collected a party of men, attacked and Dispersed the enemy, So As to

-------------------- page 507 --------------------
Cleare two Regiments of them, the Most Considerable Scirmish Happened on Wednesday Morning. The enemy's loss, Kild upon the Spot, was one Col., one Capt. & Twelve others; one Majr., one Lt. & Twenty-Seven others taken prisoners, Since Which the Number found Dead a Mounts to Twenty-one; the Loss very considerable among the Dragoons. I had about one hundred and thirty men in the action, the enemy twice that Number, Seventy of which were Brittesh. We Released a Number of our friends, who were fast bound with Cords and otherways Treated with Great Severity. On Saturday last I sent a party over Broad River, who Broke up an encampment of Tories that were forming there, to Secoure apassway over the River. They did them but Little Damage, except that of Taking their post, which was of Consequence to them, and not easy to be maintained by me, as the Tories are Very numerous in that quarter and are Supported by Brittish. I am destitute of almost every Requsite for war; but, notwithstanding, Can Counteract some of their Designs untill your army arives, which I have the Greatest hopes will be soon, if Not Disagreeable, shoud be exceedingly obliged by having the Route of your army for this few days to Come, as I might thereby be the better inabled to act aGainst the enemy With a probability of success.

I am, Dr. Genl., with the greatest Respect,
Your Excellency's most obed't H'ble Servt.,
Maj'r Genl. De Kalb.