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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from John Peter Muhlenberg to Horatio Gates
Muhlenberg, John Peter Gabriel, 1746-1807
November 07, 1780
Volume 14, Pages 728-729


Isle of Wight, November 7th, 1780.

Dear General:

I expected The Governor would have given you a circumstantial Account of the proceedings of the Enemy in this State, and of the measures adopted to oppose them, but I understand from Captain Singleton, who is just arrivd, that the intelligence you have procurd from that Quarter has been very deficient. I shall, therefore, do myself the honor to represent to you our present situation as concise as possible. On the Enemy's landing in the State, I marchd all the regulars we had embodied, consisting of 800 Men, to oppose them & prevent their ravaging the lower Counties with impunity. It was near Six days before I got near them, when they immediately retreated to Portsmouth, where they are at present entrenching themselves.

They have likewise compelld Colo. Senff to retreat from The great Bridge, and taken possession of that post, but Generals Gregory & Benbury are collecting a force sufficient to oppose them on that side. General Nelson is on the North side of James River with about 1,000 Men & will be reinforced in a few days with more.

We have had fourteen deserters from the Enemy since their arrival; & from their reports, as well as from other intelligence

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more to be depended on, I am convincd their force does not exceed 2,500, and these are a Motley Crew, composed of draffts from different corps.

The post I at present occupy is fifteen Mile distant from the Enemy's outpost, & I only wait a reinforcement to move lower down. I have, since my stay at this place, been reinforced with 600 Militia; 800 more will join me in a few days, & General Weedon is on his March to join me with 1,000, besides a Corps of Volunteers commanded by Colo. Lawson, consisting of 800 Infantry & 100 Horse, so that in a few days we shall have a respectable force. From every account I have been able to obtain, The Enemy on their first arrival intended to penetrate the Country & form a junction with Lord Cornwallis, but hearing of Ferguson's fate, they wait for further Orders, & now I believe it is too late to put that project into execution, as the Inhabitants have turned out with Spirit & Alacrity.

I have the Honor to be,
With great respect, Dear General,
Your Most Obedt. hbl. Servt.,

P. S. The enclosed intelligence is just come to hand from a quarter that may be depended on.