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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Charles Cornwallis, Marquis Cornwallis to William Phillips
Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, Marquis, 1738-1805
April 24, 1781
Volume 17, Pages 1019-1020


Wilmington, 24th April, 1781.

Dear Phillips:

My situation here is very distressing. Greene took the advantage of my being obliged to come to this place, and has marched to South Carolina. My expresses to Lord Rawdon on my leaving Cross Creek warning him of the possibility of such a Movement have all failed. Mountaineers & Militia have poured into the back part of that province, and I much fear that Lord Rawdon's posts will be so distant from each other and his Troops so scattered as to put him in the greatest danger of being beat in detail, and the worst of consequences

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may happen to most of the Troops out of Charlestown. By a direct Move towards Camden I cannot get time enough to relieve Lord Rawdon, and should he have fallen, my Army would be exposed to the utmost danger from the great rivers I should have to pass, the exhausted state of the Country, the numerous Militia, the almost universal spirit of revolt which prevails in South Carolina, and the strength of Greene's Army, whose Continentals alone are at least as numerous as I am. And I could be of no use on my arrival at Charlestown, there being nothing at present to apprehend for that post. I shall therefore March immediately up the Country by Duplin Court House, pointing towards Hillsborough, in hopes to withdraw Greene; if that should not succeed, I should be much tempted to try to form a junction with you. The Attempt is exceedindly hazardous, and many unforeseen difficulties may render it totally impracticable, so that you must not take any steps that may expose your Army to the danger of being ruined. I shall March to the lowest ford of the Roanoke, which I am informed is about 20 Miles above Taylor's Ferry. Send every possible intelligence to me by the Cypher I enclose, and make every Movement in your power to facilitate our Meeting, which must be somewhere near Petersburg, with safety to your Army. I mention the lowest ford because in a hostile Country Ferries cannot be depended upon. But if I should decide upon the measure of endeavoring to come to you, I shall endeavor to surprise the boats at some of the ferries from Halifax upwards.

I am, dear Phillips, Most faithfully yrs.,
Major Gen'l Phillips.