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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Charles Cornwallis, Marquis Cornwallis to George Sackville Germain, Viscount Sackville
Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, Marquis, 1738-1805
April 18, 1781
Volume 17, Pages 1015-1016


Wilmington, 18th April, 1781.

My Lord:

As Governor Martin returns to England by this opportunity, I shall beg leave to refer your Lordship to him for many particulars relating to this Province, but I think it incumbent on me to be explicit to your Lordship, as his Majesty's Minister, on one or two capital points.

The principal reasons for undertaking the Winter's Campaign were, the difficulty of a defensive War in South Carolina, & the hopes that our friends in North Carolina, who were said to be very numerous, would make good their promises of assembling & taking an Active part with us, in endeavouring to re-establish His Majesty's

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Government. Our experience has shown that their numbers are not so great as had been represented, and that their friendship was only passive, for we have received little assistance from them since our arrival in the province, and altho' I gave the strongest & most public assurances that after refitting & depositing our sick & wounded; I should return to the upper Country, not above two hundred have been prevailed upon to follow us either as Provincials or Militia. This being the case, the immense extent of this Country cut with numberless Creeks & rivers, and the total want of internal navigation, which renders it impossible for our Army to remain long in the heart of the Country, will make it very difficult to reduce this Province to obedience by a direct attack upon it. If, therefore, it should appear to be the interest of Great Britain to Maintain what she already possesses, & to push the War in the Southern provinces, I take the liberty of giving it as my opinion, that a serious attempt upon Virginia would be the most solid plan, because successful operations might not only be attended with important consequences there, but would tend to the security of South Carolina, & ultimately to the submission of North Carolina. The great reinforcements sent by Virginia to General Greene, whilst General Arnold was in the Chesapeak, are convincing proofs that small expeditions do not frighten that powerful Province.

I have the honor to be My Lord Your Lordship's Most obedient and Most humble Servant,
Right Honorable Lord George Germain, &c., &c., &c.