Documenting the American South Logo
Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Andrew Armstrong to Thomas Burke
Armstrong, Andrew
August 22, 1781
Volume 15, Pages 613-617


Taylor's Ferry, 22d Aug., 1781.

Dear Sir:

I wrote to you a few days ago in which I informed you of the approaches of the Enemy and of my intentions of moving your property which I put in Execution and got partly effected; You will excuse me if in relating to you my proceeding in this affair, if I should often relate circumstances trifling in their Nature, but trifling as they are they were such as altered my first determination and governed all my future movements, my Seeing a Wagon at Work on your Plantation made me have no scruple but I could have it at command but when I came to examine found there was no Horses but what was for Mrs. Burke's Carrage and very insufficient for that; & then was obliged to content myself with the two which I had hired upon which we put the most valuable things; Mr. Combs was present all the time and insisted that some good Chairs and other valuable things that was left behind should be carried to his House. I made him no answer untill the Wagons was started and then I gave positive orders that they should be carried into Collins for that night; and that the hired Negroes (which we did not bring along) should carry them to Mr. Hoggs next Morning having previously obtained his consent for their reception. I believe this order was complied with, while we were preparing for our March. Enoch Collins was drafted in the Service, I thought him so essential in executing part of my intended plan, that I thought his absence would almost defeat my purpose. I then asked him if I would get him off from the Service if he would direct himself to my instructions in the moving your property, this he cheerfully consented to upon which I went to General Butler & got the indulgence

-------------------- page 614 --------------------
which I requested. I will next inform you the order of marching that I proposed. I ordered Collins to meet me next morning with the Negroes and Horses and the Waggons where he should have Money and instructions where to go.

I purposed sending him with the Horses and Negroes to Mr. Ronaldson immediately as I considered that detaining them with the Waggons was a very great additional expense, nor did I think it impossible from the situation of the Enemy (who was then at Boyd's Ferry) that the Waggons Should be intercepted on their way to this place (as we traveled publick road). I had spoke to a Certain Major Windor who was cumming here to wait upon Mrs. Burke as I thought that detaining her with the Waggon would be disagreeable, these matters being all agreed upon I intended staying with the Waggons myself untill we came to some place Neigh this where I purposed unloading them and to prevail with the Major to proceed with Mrs. Burke to Mr. Ronaldson's as I knew it was impossible for me to Spare the time, the night before we Started Mrs. Burke went into the Town to Stay with her Sister, after waiting upon her there, I went up to Mr. Hoggs where they sent for me in the evening. I waited upon them and to my surprise found they had properly agreed that Mrs. McCarrel and the Children should go along in the Carrage. I knew that this contrivance would yll answer the condition of the Horses which we had for the carrage, but my remonstrance to this was only silance. When I went back to Mr. Hoggs I told him of this new proposal which I doubted would prevent our getting along. In order to help me out with this difficulty he offered to lend me a Horse to carry the children and a Boy to bring him Back providing I would not take him too far and bring him back under my own care, under these circumstances we got under way, when I met Enoch Collins in the Town who told me he had carried the Negroes and Horses to the Waggons but could not go himself, I reasoned a little with him upon this matter but could not prevail. I knew that force was to no purpose, and therefor turned to flattery, told him the great dependance that you had upon him and hoped he would be exceeding carefull of anything that was left on the Plantation. I also told him to drive your Cows over to Mr. Monroes as I had sold them to him and to suffer him or his order at any time to carry away the corn as he had bought it also, this sale is in the following manner. I was in

-------------------- page 615 --------------------
Mr. Monroes a few days before we came away when I proposed to him to write to me that you owed him a sum of Money and as your property was moving away he would have to be made safe. I wrote him for answer that he might have your corn and Cattle, how far this cover will answer is determined before this time. You see from the foregoing relation that my first plan was entirely disconcerted and that the Carrage, Negroes and Waggons must all travel together, nothing remarkable happened untill we came here, only the difficultys inseparable from such Journeys, every one of which always happened to be charged to me as a fault. It was not in my power to agree with the Waggoners to go any further than here, nor did I choose it at the price which I was obliged to promise them which was three dollars a piece per day hard Money and found. But Mrs. Burke insisted on their going and found Coln. Gunby here from whom she got a New protection with a penalty annexed to it that if they did not proceed they should be impressed. This the Waggoners resented and said they would rather loose their Teams as to be so Imposed upon. I reasoned my best with Mrs. Burke upon this occasion. I told her that your Stay at Mr. Ronaldson's would be but temporary and that I would only want your Horses and Negroes there that he might adopt such Measures as to make the one Suport the other, also her own Wearing aperal which the Wenches could take along, as for the other things I requested they might be left at some safe place near this untill your Orders. When this would not do I requested that I might discharge the Waggons according to my promise as with a protection I could hire others much cheaper, things being desperate when I hired the first obliged me to come to their terms, but in both of these proposals I was overruled tho' not outreasoned. I then seed proceed they must and applied to them with New promises and got them to promise to go a Couple of days further and leave the loads in Some Safe place of Mrs. Burkes chusing. I went about twenty Miles with them and returned, being under a Necessity of being in Hillsborough if Possible before the Enemy, but I have missed that. I assure you I have not had much happiness in conductg. this affair, things that could not be done was called neglect and no encomiums as I remember for what was done. Before we left this place I gave Mrs. Burke a Small Supply of Cash, Sugar and Coffee. My intention as I mentioned in returning was to be imediately in Hillsborough,
-------------------- page 616 --------------------
but was well informed when I came here that the Enemy was as far as Capt. Lees on their way there and its beyond a doubt there being there at this time. Men is rising here very fast and I am told they collect with cheerfulness in our State; and I think you would be of more Service to be there Now than you possibly can be in Congress.

I cannot help thinking that those at home who give the provocation to begin this war and those here who was too easily provoked deserves a damned threshing either in this World or the Next. Its impossible to give you any Idea of the distress that appears at this place. Numbers leaving there property behind them and as Surely causing a famine where they go. I forgot to inform you in my former letters that Mr. Malatt—Mrs. Burke received no Salt from the Board of Trade, I let her have what She wanted. Its evident now that the Major does not want to marry Mrs. McCarrel; I find you are wanted to resent the Matter. In Short he has not behaved like a Gentleman. He has been saying foolish Soft things to her, and she has credulously received them. For my part I should wish her in the Kingdon of heaven rather than to have another March with her. I am happy in informing you that both before and after we Started Mrs. Burkes chief concern was respecting your Books and papers. I left two Guns for the Negroes to carry least they Should be hurt in the Waggons, these Collins has neglected Sending along. I owe a Certain Mr. Crump Near Mr. Ronaldson's £1000 Virginia Currency in ballance between my Mare and a Horse; from my knowledge of your circumstances I do not expect you can pay him when you come there, but I would be much obliged to you if you would call upon him and tell him that he will be paid when I get time.

I have been the more particular in this relation to you so as to enable you to waylay misrepresentations if any should come your way. It was ten o'clock at Night when we heard the British was in Salisbury. I then took my Horse and went to your House and told them it was time to be packing. Mrs. McCarrel laught at my fears and told me of the Strength of Genl. Greene's Army; the next day I waited upon them again and was told by the same Lady the expence of moving and indeed that there was no Necessity for it. I told her I had compaired the expence of removing with that of replacing in case the things were lost and chused to risque the

-------------------- page 617 --------------------
former. Many foolish altercations I was obliged to have and had no pleasure in the whole only that I think I have been the means of putting a little of your property out of the way. I could write you where our Army are but their Accounts you have officially better than I can give them.

I am, Sir, with perfect respect, your very obt. Servt.


1 The date is doubtless 1780. Ed.

Additional Notes for Electronic Version: Although the editor believed this document to be misdated, there is no evidence that is was not written in 1781 and it seems to relate to other letters from Armstrong in August and September of that year.