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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Charles Cornwallis, Marquis Cornwallis to William Smallwood
Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, Marquis, 1738-1805
November 10, 1780
Volume 14, Pages 733-734


Camp, November 10th, 1780.


Your Letter of the 24th of last Month by some Mistake was not forwarded to me for several Days. I understand that some Prisoners who were on their March from Camden to Charlestown made their Escape, but have not yet had an Opportunity of informing myself whether those mentioned in your Letter were of the number. If they are still in our Possession, I will agree to Exchange them for Persons in similar Situation and Circumstances. I must now observe that the cruelty exercised on the Prisoners taken under Major Ferguson is shocking to humanity; and the hanging poor old Colonel Mills, who was always a fair and open Enemy to your Cause, was an act of the most Savage barbarity. It has also been reported to me that Capt. Oates, of Colo. Gray's Militia, who was taken near the Pedee, was lately put to Death without any Crime being laid to his charge. From the Character which I have heard of you, Sir, I cannot

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suppose that you can approve of these most cruel Murders; but I hope you will see the necessity of interposing your Authorityto stop this bloody Scene; Which must oblige me, in justice to the suffering Loyalists, to retaliate on the unfortunate Persons now in my power.

I am not conscious that any persons have hitherto been executed by us, unless for bearing Arms, after having given a Military Parole to remain quietly at home; or for enroling themselves voluntarily in our Militia, receiving Arms and Ammunition from the King's Store & taking the first Opportunity of joining our Enemies. The only Persons who were hanged at Camden, After the actions of the 16th. & 18th., except some Deserters from our Army, were two or three of the latter description, who were picked out from about Thirty, convicted for the like offence, on account of some particularly aggravating Circumstances which attended their case.

I would willingly Exchange any of the North or South Carolina Militia, who may be prisoners with us, for those who were taken on King's Mountain.

I am, Sir,
Your most obedient
& Most humble Servant,
General Smallwood