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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
January 18, 1781
Volume 17, Pages 981-982

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Camp on Turkey Creek, Broad River,
18th January, 1781.


In my Letter of the sixth of this month, I had the honor to inform your Excellency, that I was ready to begin my March for North Carolina, having been delayed some days by a diversion made by the Enemy towards Ninety Six. General Morgan still remained on the Pacolet, his Corps by the best accounts I could get, consisted of about five hundred men, Continentals & Virginia State Troops, & one hundred Cavalry under Colonel Washington, & six or seven hundred Militia, but that Body is so fluctuating, that it is impossible to ascertain its number, within some hundreds, for three days following Lieut. Colonel Tarleton with the Legion & Corps annexed to it, consisting of about 300 Cavalry & as Many Infantry, & the 1st Battalion of the 71st Regiment, and one three pounder, had already passed the Broad River, for the Relief of Ninety-six. I therefore directed Lieut. Colonel Tarleton to march on the West of Broad River, to endeavor to strike a blow at General Morgan, & at all events, to oblige him to repass the Broad River. I likewise ordered that he should take with him the 7th Regiment, and one three pounder, which were marching to reinforce the Garrison of Ninety-six, as long as he should think their Services could be useful to him. The Remainder of the Army marched between the Broad River and Catauba. As General Greene had quitted Mecklenburgh County, & crossed the Pedee, I made not the least doubt that General Morgan would retire on our advancing. The Progress of the Army was greatly impeded by heavy Rains, which swelled the Rivers & Creeks; yet Lieut. Col. Tarleton conducted his march so well, & got so near to General Morgan, who was retreating before him, as to make it dangerous for him to pass Broad River, & came up with him at 8 A. M. on the 17th inst. Everything now bore the most promising Aspect. The Enemy were drawn up in an open wood and having been lately joined by some Militia, were more numerous; but the different Quality of the Corps under Lieut. Col. Tarleton's Command and his great superiority in Cavalry, left him

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no room to doubt of the most brilliant Success. The attack was begun by the first Line of Infantry, consisting of the 7th Regiment, the Infantry of the Legion & Corps of Light Infantry annexed to it; & Troop of Cavalry was placed on each Flank; the 1st Battalion of the 71st, and the Remainder of the Cavalry, formed the reserve. The Enemy's Line soon gave way, & their Militia quitted the Field; but our Troops having been thrown into some disorder by the pursuit, General Morgan's Corps faced about & gave them a heavy fire. This unexpected event, occasioned the utmost confusion in the first Line, the 1st Battalion of the 71st & the Cavalry were successively ordered up but neither the exertions, intreaties or Example of Lieut. Colonel Tarleton could prevent the panic from becoming general; the two three pounders were taken, & I fear the Colors of the seventh Regiment shared the same fate. In justice to the Detachment of the Royal Artillery, I must here observe that no terrors could induce them to abandon their Guns, & they were all either killed or wounded in defense of them. Lieut. Colonel Tarleton with difficulty assembled fifty of his Cavalry, who having had time to recollect themselves, & being animated by the Bravery of the Officer who had so often led them to victory, charged & repulsed Colonel Washington's Horse, retook the Baggage of the Corps, & cut to pieces the detachment of the Enemy who had taken possession of it, & after destroying what they could not conveniently bring off, retired with the Remainder, unmolested, to Hamilton's Ford, near the Mouth of Bullock's Creek. The Loss of our Cavalry is inconsiderable, but I fear, about 400 of the Infantry are either killed wounded, or taken. I will transmit the particular account of the Loss, as soon as it can be ascertained.

It is impossible to foresee all the consequences, that this unexpected & extraordinary event may produce, but Your Excellency may be assured, that nothing but the most absolute necessity shall induce me to give up the important object of the Winter's Campaign. I shall direct Lieut. Colonel Balfour to transmit a Copy of this Letter, by the first opportunity, to the Secretary of State.

I have the Honor to be Your most obedt. & most hum. Servt.,
His Excellency Sir Henry Clinton, K. B. &c., &c., &c.