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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from William Smallwood to Horatio Gates
Smallwood, William, 1732-1792
November 16, 1780
Volume 14, Pages 740-743


Camp New Providence, 16th November, 1780.


I was honor'd with yours of the 13th Inst., and agreeable to your Orders would with great pleasure wait on you at Salisbury immediately, but am sorry to acquaint you that I have not a Horse that will carry me there. They are so lame with the

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scratches that I am certain they would not travel ten Miles. The Quarter Master has none, but shall order him to provide two, and will wait on you as soon as possible. Should you judge it more eligible to attend than give my opinion in Writing on the heads you may require, which, if you should coincide with, you will be so obliging to transmit your propositions, which perhaps might answer the purpose and your views as well as my personal attendance.

From my present Ideas of our resources, and the operations most expedient to be adopted before the hard weather sets in, I would beg leave to Submit it to your Consideration whether it would not be more eligible for the Army to take a position a little below this, perhaps on the North side of the Waxhaw Creek, where the ground is very strong, and in a Military view might be rendered very secure from any designs or Attempts of the Enemy. This would confine them within the limits of Camden, open our Communication upon a direct line through Lynch's Creek Settlement to the Peedee, from whence Harrington might be drawn to a Middle Station between that River and our Camp, for the purpose of Co-operating with us occasionally, suppressing the Tories or Covering such supplies as might be Necessarily drawn from the Settlements below and on the Pedee. Exclusive of these Objects, our views might be extended over the Catawba, and our resources enlarged by the supplies which might be drawn from a fertile and disaffected part of the Country on the South West side of that River. All these objects, without any Material risque, would be facilitated by the Army, or a Strong part Thereof, taking the above position. And in other respects it would favour our purpose, as it would deprive the Enemy of those resources. At the same time it might, in a great measure, supply our Troops without exhausting those parts of the Country where it might be thought most eligible to Establish our after posts and Magazines.

You must either have mistaken my Letter, or there was an Error made in transcribing, with respect to Colo. Polk's refusing to supply the Continental Troops, which I could not have been justified in saying; and from the Original it will appear that provision was so scarce that they had suffer'd by his not fully Supplying them, which at that time was really the case, both with them and the Militia. But to prevent any misunderstanding have

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enclosed you such Extracts from my Letters of the 31st Ulto. to you and the Board of War, as respects his conduct; and in justice to him, the Army here since has been the better supplied, and I only then thought him wrong in refusing to supply the Militia & to Superintend and Spur on the Commissioners in their Duty, finding at the Time the Army Suffered it was much owing to the Corn being too green to be gathered or ground in any Quantity.

Nothing Material has occurred since my last, except Tarleton's wasting and destroying the Country below Camden by fire and otherwise. Lord Cornwallis remains at Wynnsborough inactive, in booths, but no Fortifications. Colo. Davie, with two Hundred Cavalry and the like number of Infantry, has been detached near a Month to scour the disaffected Settlements on Lynch's Creek and Waxhaw, from whence a Supply of provision and forage was obtained, but there still remains a Quantity on Lynch's Creek which could not be gathered and drawn in, as Colo. Tarleton with his Legion has latterly laid in Camden.

I have Inclosed you a Copy of Lord Cornwallis's Letter, wherein he proposes an exchange of the North and South Carolina Militia who may be prisoners with him for those taken on King's Mountain. I make no doubt you will see the Expediency of Acceding to this Proposition, as it will relieve and secure a Number of Men who are fast Friends to our cause, and whose Attachment will ever enable us to Command their Service, whilst that of those taken in Ferguson's defeat would be doubtfull, should the Public be disposed to receive upon Terms and restore them to the favor of their Country. I have understood you have released the Prisoners of this State. If the terms should admit, it would be well to recall and put them upon the footing of the proposed exchange, to which purport I have advised the Commanding officers of the respective Counties in which they reside, indicating that I would Consult you immediately on the Occasion and Communicate the result of your determination, that they might be detained for that purpose

I have prevailed on General Morgan to wait on you, who will give you a more Circumstantial Account of Matters. Colo. Washington is Solicitous that the Remainder of his Regiment,

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with the Clothing thereof, should be sent down, which he has desired me to Communicate. He thinks the Men suffer much for want of their winter cloths.

I have also inclosed you the Copy of a Letter I wrote to Lord Cornwallis to obtain a partial exchange of the persons enumerated, at the Intercession of General Davidson and their friends here, who have been represented in a very favorable light. This has given rise, in some measure, to his Lordship's proposals of an Exchange upon a more enlarged scale. You will also Note the Abuses, or rather Cruelties, he complains of, and act as you may judge most expedient on the Occasion.

I am, with great regard,
Your most Obdt. & very Hble. Servt.,

P. S. Please to order some Ammunition, Salt and Iron to be forwarded.

General Gates.