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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Charles Cornwallis, Marquis Cornwallis to Henry Clinton
Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, Marquis, 1738-1805
August 06, 1780
Volume 15, Pages 258-262


Charlestown, August 6th, 1780.


I received by Major England your letters of the 14th & 15th of July, and am very glad to find by the latter that you do not place much dependence on receiving troops from hence. My letter of the 14th, by the Halifax, will have convinced you of the impossibility of weakening the force in this Province, and every thing which has happened since that time tends more strongly to confirm it. The general State of things in the two Provinces of No. & So. Carolina is not very materially altered since my Letters of the 14th & 15th of last Month were written. Frequent skirmishes, with various Success, have happened in the Country between the Catauba River & Broad River. The Militia about Tiger & Ennoree rivers was formed by us under a Colonel Floyd; Col. Neale, the Rebel Colonel, had Fled, but Lt. Col. Lisle, who had been Paroled to the Islands, exchanged on his arrival in Charlestown his Parole for a Certificate of his being a good Subject, returned to the Country and carried off the whole Battalion to join General Sumpter at Catauba. We have not, however, on the whole, lost ground in that part of the Country.

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Turnbull was Attacked at Rocky Mount by Sumpter with about 1,200 men, Militia & Refugees from this Province, whom he repulsed with great loss. We had on our part an Officer Killed & one wounded, & about ten or twelve men killed & wounded. Col. Turnbull's conduct was very meritorious. The affair of Capt. Houck turned out of less consequence than it appeared at first; the Captain and three men of the Legion were killed, and Seven men of the New York Volunteers taken.

On the Eastern part of the Province we have been more unfortunate; Major McArthur, seeing the great importance of the Post at Cheraw Hill, and finding himself perfectly secure from any Attack of the Enemy, desired to continue there longer than it was intended he should when I had the honour of writing to you on the 15th. At last, however, the 71st Regiment grew so exceedingly Sickly that He found it absolutely necessary to move, and marched on the 24th to the East Branch of Linche's Creek. Gates, who has taken the command of de Kalb's Corps, was still on Deep River, and Rutherford no further advanced than Rocky River, Pedee. Knowing of no Enemy within many Miles, he ventured to send about one hundred Sick in Boats down the Pedee to George town. By this time the reports industriously propagated in this Province of a large Army coming from the Northward had very much intimidated our friends, encouraged our enemies, and determined the wavering against us, to which our not advancing and acting offensively likewise contributed. Col. Mills, who commanded the Militia of the Cheraw District, tho' a very good Man, had not complied with my instructions in forming his Corps, but had placed more faith in Oaths and professions, and attended less to the former conduct of those whom he admitted. The instant that this Militia found that McArthur had left his Post, & were assured that Gates would come there the next day, they seized their own Officers and a hundred Sick, & carried them all prisoners into North Carolina. Col. Mills with difficulty made his escape to Georgetown, where I was much alarmed for Wemys, whose party was much weakened by sickness. The whole Country between Pedee & Santee has ever since been in an absolute State of Rebellion ; every friend of Government has been carried off and his Plantation destroyed ; and detachments of the enemy have appeared on the Santee and

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threatened our Stores & Convoys on that river. I have not heard that they have as yet made any attempt on them, & I hope by this time that the steps I have taken will secure them. This unfortunate business, if it should have no worse consequences, will shake the confidence of our friends in this Province & make our situation very uneasy until we can advance.

The Wheat harvest in North Carolina is now over, but the weather is still excessively hot; and notwithstanding our utmost exertions, a great part of the Rum, Salt, Clothing and necessaries for the Soldiers, and the Arms for the Provincials & Ammunition for the Troops are not very far advanced on their way to Camden. However, if no material interruption happens, this business will be nearly accomplished in a fortnight or three Weeks. It may be doubted by some whether the Invasion of North Carolina may be a prudent measure, but I am convinced it is a necessary one, and that if we do not Attack that Province we must give up both South Carolina and Georgia & retire within the Walls of Charles town. Our assurances of Attachment from our poor distressed Friends in North Carolina are as strong as ever, and the patience & fortitude with which those unhappy People bear the most oppressive and cruel Tyrrany that was ever exercised over any Country deserves our greatest admiration. The Highlanders have offered to form a Regiment as soon as we enter the Country, & have desired that Governor Martin may be their Chief. I have consented, with the rank of Lieut Colonel Commandant. The Men, they assure us, are already engaged.

An early diversion in my favour in Chesapeak Bay will be of the greatest and most important advantage to my operations. I most earnestly hope that the Admiral will be able to spare a Convoy for that purpose.

As Major Graham's Corps grew very weak, and was very unequally composed, some of the Men of the 16th being totally unfit for Light Infantry, and the Major himself is not in a good state of health, I thought it best to break up that Corps. The 71st I shall send to their Regiment, except as many as will compleat those already with Tarleton to a Troop of 70. The Provincials will likewise join their respective Corps, & the detachment of

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the 16th, consisting of about 60 men, will be attached to the Field Artillery, except 17 or 18, who are represented to me to be active young men, and whom I intend at present to lend to Tarleton.

I propose taking the following Corps with me into North Carolina: 23d, 33d, 63d, 71st, Volunteers of Ireland, Hamilton's, Harrison's new raised Legion Cavalry & Infantry, & North Carolina Refugees. I intend to leave on the Frontiers from Pedee to Waxhaw, to awe the disaffected, who, I am sorry to say, are still very numerous in that Country, & to prevent any Insurrections in our rear, the N. York Volunteers & Brown's Corps, & some of the Militia of the Camden district, who are commanded by Col. Rugeley, a very active & spirited man. I shall place Ferguson's Corps & some Militia of the Ninety-Six district, which Col. Balfour assures me have got into very tolerable order, owing to the great assiduity of Ferguson, on the borders of Tryon County, with directions for him to advance with a part of them into the Mountains and secure the left of our March. Lieut. Colonel Cruger, who Commands at Ninety-Six, will have his own Corps, Innes's, & the remainder of the Militia of that district to preserve that Frontier, which requires great attention, & where there are many disaffected & many constantly in Arms. Allen's Corps, and for a time the Florida Rangers, are stationed at Augusta, under the command of Lieut. Colonel Allen, He being, by all Accounts, a much properer Man than Col. Brown to trust with commands. Besides, the latter will have sufficient business in the Indian department.

Poor Hanger is always willing to do his best, but he did not think that he should be very useful in collecting the lists, fixing the Officers & establishing the Militia in the different districts, and as he found that the Attempt would take him up many Months, & would be entirely a civil employment, He beg'd that he might act as a Volunteer Major of Tarleton's Cavalry. As Tarleton seemed to wish it very much, I have given my consent until your pleasure shall be known.

Major Stuart is rather inconveniently placed with the 63d Regiment, and as He and Major Wemys are not on very good terms, & the Regiment being joined with other Troops would occasion a constant change of command from one to the other, which would be prejudicial to the Regiment and the service, I have given him

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leave to go to New York, where, he tells me, he was appointed to remain as Major of Brigade before the sailing of the Expedition. Major Graham has no further duty to detain him here, his Corps being dissolved. I beg leave to assure Your Excellency that He has served with Zeal and Attention. I forgot to apologize to You for letting Lieut. Colonel McDonald go to New York to Solicit leave to go home. His business in Europe seemed pressing, and I did not see any inconvenience in the command's devolving upon Major McArthur, who is an excellent Officer.

Lieut. Colonel Balfour has arrived, and I have great reason to think that He will render very essential Services at this place. It will be a great convenience to us if Your Excellency will please to Authorize the Paymaster General to grant Money upon the Warrant of the Commandant at Charlestown for the Subsistence of the Garrison, &c., as I may probably be at a very considerable distance. A Deputy Paymaster will, for the same reason, be much wanted for the Troops in the Field.

As I have the strongest assurances that Your Excellency intended that Lieut. Colonels Webster & Clarke should receive Pay & forage Money as Brigadier Generals, I shall take it upon me to give it to them. It is absolutely necessary that Balfour should have it, or he would be ruined by being Commandant of Charlestown. I likewise think it highly proper that, as Lord Rawdon is acting with & commanding all these Officers, He should be offered the same allowance. I have appointed Lieut. Colonel Clarke to command in East Florida as well as Georgia, & He is gone with Moncrief to inspect the condition of St. Augustine.

I have already explained the measures I had taken for establishing a Government and securing this Country by Means of a Militia. I have likewise paid as much attention as possible to the Civil and Commercial matters. The principal objects of my attention will appear in the five Proclamations which I have Issued, which I have the honour of enclosing to Your Excellency.

I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient & most humble Servant,
His Excellency Sir Henry Clinton, K. B., &c., &c., &c.