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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Francis Rawdon-Hastings, Marquis of Hastings to Henry Clinton
Hastings, Francis Rawdon-Hastings, Marquess of, 1754-1826
October 29, 1780
Volume 15, Pages 287-289


From Camp between Broad River
and the Catawba, October 29, 1780.


Lord Cornwallis having been so reduced by a severe fever as to be still unable to write, he has desired that I should have the honour of addressing your Excellency in regard to our present situation. But few days have past since Lord Cornwallis received your Excellency's dispatch of the 20th of September. In consequence of it, his Lordship directed that I should immediately send a letter to meet Major General Leslie in the Chesapeake, giving him the fullest information respecting our prospects and the present temper of the country. I have the honour to inclose a copy of that letter. Something remains to be said, in addition to it, of a nature which Earl Cornwallis judges inexpedient to unveil excepting to your Excellency.

For some time after the arrival of his Majesty's troops at Camden repeated messages were sent to headquarters by the friends of government in North Carolina, expressing their impatience to rise and join the King's standard. The impossibility of subsisting that additional force at Camden, and the accounts which they themselves gave of the distressing scarcity of provisions in North Carolina, obliged Lord Cornwallis to entreat them to remain quiet till the new crop might enable us to join them. In the mean time

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General Gates's army advanced. We were greatly surprised, and no less grieved, that no information whatever of its movements was conveyed to us by persons so deeply interested in the event as the North Carolina Loyalists. Upon the 16th of August that army was so entirely dispersed that it was clear no number of them could for a considerable time be collected. Orders were therefore dispatched to our friends, stating that the hour which they had so long pressed was arrived, and exhorting them to stand forth immediately and prevent the reunion of the scattered enemy. Instant support was in that case promised them. In the fullest confidence that this event was to take place, Lord Cornwallis ventured to press your Excellency for co-operation in the Chesapeake, hoping that the assistance of the North Carolinians might eventually furnish a force for yet farther efforts. Not a single man, however attempted to improve the favourable moment, or obeyed that summons for which they had before been so impatient. It was hoped that our approach might get the better of their timidity; yet during a long period, whilst we were waiting at Charlotteburg for our stores and convalescents, they did not even furnish us with the least information respecting the force collecting against us. In short, Sir, we may have a powerful body of friends in North Carolina, and indeed we have cause to be convinced that many of the inhabitants wish well to his Majesty's arms; but they have not given evidence enough, either of their number or their activity, to justify the stake of this province for the uncertain advantages that might attend immediate junction with them. There is reason to believe that such must have been the risk.

Whilst this army lay at Charlotteburg, George-Town was taken from the militia by the rebels; and the whole country to the east of the Santee gave such proofs of general defection that even the militia of the High Hills could not be prevailed upon to join a party of troops who were sent to protect our boats upon the river. The defeat of Major Ferguson had so dispirited this part of the country, and indeed the loyal subjects were so wearied by the long continuance of the campaign, that Lieutenant Colonel Cruger, (Commanding at Ninety-six) sent information to Earl Cornwallis, that the whole district had determined to submit as soon as the rebels should enter it. From these circumstances, from the consideration that delay does not extinguish our hopes in North Carolina,

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and from the long fatigue of the troops, which made it seriously requisite to give some refreshment to the army, Earl Cornwallis has resolved to remain for the present in a position which may secure the frontiers without separating his force. In this situation we shall be always ready for movement, whensoever opportunity shall recommend it or circumstances require it. But the first care must be to put Camden and Ninety-six into a better state of defence, and to furnish them with ample stores and salt provisions. Earl Cornwallis foresees all the difficulties of a defensive war. Yet his Lordship thinks they cannot be weighed against the dangers which must have attended an obstinate adherence to his former plan. I am instructed by Earl Cornwallis to express, in the strongest terms, his Lordship's feelings with regard to the very effectual measures which your Excellency had taken to forward his operations. His Lordship hopes that his fears of abusing your Excellency's goodness in that particular may not have led him to neglect making use of a force intended by your Excellency to be employed by him. But as his Lordship knew not how far your Excellency might aim at other objects in the Chesapeake (to which point his Lordship's entreaty for co-operation was originally confined) he could not think of assuming the power to order Major General Leslie to Cape Fear river, though he pointed out the utility of the measure in case it should be conceived within the extent of your Excellency's purpose.

Lord Cornwallis farther desires me to say he feels infinitely obliged by the very flattering testimonials of approbation with which your Excellency has been pleased to honour his success of the 16th of August. He has signified your Excellency's thanks to the officers and men, who received them with grateful acknowledgement.

I have the honour to be, &c.,