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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Nisbet Balfour to Henry Clinton
Balfour, Nisbet, 1743-1823
May 06, 1781
Volume 17, Pages 1028-1029

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Charlestown, May 6th, 1781.


In my letters of the 20th & 22d Ultimo I had the honor to inform your Excellency that our Post at Wright's Bluff was invested by the Enemy, & the apprehensions I was then under of Camden being in the same situation.

I am now to acquamt you that the former has since been surrendered. The circumstances which led to this cannot be more fully explained, or with more honor to himself, than by Lieutenant McKay's Journal of the Siege, which, together with the Articles of Capitulation, I therefore Enclose for your Excellency's Inspection.

On the 19th of last Month General Greene, with about fourteen hundred Continentals & a Body of Militia, came before Camden, where he continued changing his Positions till the 25th; in the Morning of which Lord Rawdon, with the greater part of his Garrison, upwards of Eight hundred, marched out, & about ten O'clock attacked him in his Camp at Hobkirk's Hill, with that Conduct & Spirit which claimed the Victory he gained, tho' long contested & against superior Numbers, especially of Cavalry, the Enemy's advantage in which hindered the Pursuit being continued further than three Miles, & enabled them to take off their Cannon, which they at first preserved by drawing out of the Road into Thickets, where they escaped the Troops, eager in pursuit of the flying Rebels.

To this decided line of Conduct which has produced the best Effects, Lord Rawdon was induced by knowing that General Greene was in expectation of Reinforcements, which in a day or two must arrive, & that he had Detached to bring forward his Supplies, an occasion which his Lordship's Abilities & zeal did not fail to embrace.

The Enemy's Loss on this Occasion is estimated by Lord Rawdon at about five hundred; his own appears from the returns as he informs me, two hundred & twenty, in which number is one Officer killed & eleven wounded, but not dangerously.

The consequences of this Defeat of the Rebel Army gave Lord

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Rawdon an opportunity of drawing from the Country a Supply of Provisions, of which he was in want, & obliged Greene immediately to retire to Rugeley's, where he was joined by the Corps under Brigadier Marion & Colonel Lee, & from whence he has since moved, but I have not yet learned in what direction.

By tomorrow I am in hopes Lord Rawdon will be Reinforced by Lieut. Colonel Watson, with his Corps & the 64th Regiment.

But notwithstanding this brilliant Success, I must inform your Excellency that the general State of the Country is most distressing; that the Enemy's Parties are everywhere, the communication by land with Savannah no longer exists, Colonel Brown is Invested at Augusta, & Colonel Cruger in the most critical Situation at Ninety-Six, nearly confined to his Works, & without any present Command over that Country. Indeed I should betray the Duty I owe Your Excellency did I not represent the Defection of this Province, so universal that I know of no mode short of depopulation to retain it.

This Spirit of Revolt is, in some measure, kept up by the many Officers Prisoners of War here; & I should therefore think it advisable to remove them, as well as to make the most striking Examples of such as, having taken Protection, snatch every occasion to rise in arms against us.

I have the honor to be, Sir, Your Excellency's Most obedient humble Servant,
His Excellency Sir Henry Clinton, K. B., &c., &c., &c.