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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Jethro Sumner to Horatio Gates
Sumner, Jethro, 1733?-1785
September 24, 1780
Volume 14, Pages 646-648


Camp at McAlpine's Creek, Septr. 24th, 1780.


I received your letter of the 19th yesterday. I immediately marched from Salisbury upon receipt of His Excellency's letter, finding it necessary from the requisition of the inhabitants, my utmost efforts being employ'd in getting fixed the Guns, &c., of which there was a third out of order, the Draft Horses & Light Horses, a large number of which very much wanting shoes to get them on. I arrived in the Camp the 21st in the evening; Genl. Davidson informed me his minute men, of which his force was chiefly, were upon leaving this Camp; Colo. Lock had been sent to collect the drafts & minute men from Rowan County; the Drafts were to have joined the Camp, the minute men under his command were to take post at Sherrell's ford on Catawba river. He had, contrary to his instructions, ordered both Drafts & minute men to Sherrill's ford. Colo. Armstrong, of Surry County, who, I am informed, had orders to join this Camp with the force raised from that County, has taken a different route to join the forces collecting to oppose Ferguson, who, from the best intelligence we have received, is in the neighbourhood of Burke County Court-House with a large number of the disaffected & some British troops. Genl. Sumpter, with his force, is on the ford leading to the Catawba Nation, about 7 or 10 miles from one White's Mill; the British force is at or near this Mill, I understand, commanded by Trumbull, other day by Lord Rawden with 150 or 200 British, & two battalions of the Disaffected closed the whole 700. Genl. Sumpter Judges he could drive them from thence with as

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many more men as he has with him, which I believe is about 300 Lord Cornwallis is yet at the Waxhaws Creek with 6 or 700 British troops, & 3 or 400 Tories, mostly on Horse, with 70 or 80 Dragoons. They lye close & as far as I can gain intelligence, expects reinforcements of British troops, two three pounders & 70 or 80 Waggons: that the provisions they collect are generally used in Camp, as we have had no accounts of any being sent to Cambden from the Waxhaws. We have a party of Horse stationed on this road, who reconnoitres as far as the twelve miles Creek, also a piquet some better than a mile from Camp, a detached party from them in front. On the road Westward, about 7 miles across we have a party of Horse. This road forks within five miles of the British Camp, passes thro' the Catawba nation to Charlotte, which road, Sir, I do judge the Enemy would march on, should they move in force towards Charlotte. I inclined to move this Camp on that road, & had consulted Genl. Davidson, & collected the Field Officers, when Genl. Davidson received a letter from Mr. Penn, one of the Board of War, informing him of Genl. Smallwood's appointment, & set out for Camp. We judged he would be in camp to-day, therefore differed receiving the general sense of the Chief Officers on the moving of the Camp. Other Guards & Piquets we have fixed for the security of the Camp. A Captain & about 50 is stationed at Sawers to the Southeastward, I understand, about 15 miles; I Believe it consists of men of that neighbourhood. Col. Davie, of the Horse, returned from reconnoitering with 40 Horse & 60 Riflemen the 22d: he fell in with a party of Tories, supposed about 130, surprised them, killed 14, & took two prisoners & 46 Horses, sadles, &c. the others dispersed; his party received no damage except one wounded. I am just sending off a party of 140 infantry & 20 Horse, under the command of Colo. Seawell, as far as the 12 miles Creek, to view the road that forks near that Creek & makes thro' the waste lands of the Indians, & gather such intelligence as may be in his power. 'Tis the road I before mentioned to you, of my apprehension the Enemy would chuse to penetrate on, should they move in force. I send you here inclosed a General Return of the Division, & will not fail writing to you on every material occurences.

I am, Sir, with the highest esteem,
Your most Obdt. Servt.,

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P. S. Tho' I have ordered returns to be made since yesterday, they only came to hand jnst now, & in such bad order that 'tis impossible for the Brigade Major to make his General return by them, & consequently am obliged to defer sending it to you by this express.

J. S.
Majr. Genl. Gates.