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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from William Caswell to Thomas Burke
Caswell, William, 1754-1785
July 31, 1781
Volume 22, Pages 553-554

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New Bern, July 31st, 1781.


I am happy to have it in my power to inclose Your Excellency a letter from Major Craig to Lord Cornwallis, which I should have been exceedingly glad to have Deciphered, but I have it not in my power, it was yesterday taken by some Pilots off Core Sound, and the persons mentioned in the forged pass, one J. D. Wilson, says (after his packet was found) that he is a Lieut. in the 82nd Regt. and was ordered to rejoin Major Craige at this place, and that the Major would shortly move here. Col. Kenan, who is at Rock Fish bridge, informs that Col. Murphy with a Party from Pee Dee, Cumberland and Bladen, fell in with Hector McNeil on Thrusday afternoon, that McNeil soon gave way and continued retreating and firing until Night, that there was considerable loss on both sides, and that McNeil retreated that Night to Wilmington and Drew Arms and Ammunition, was reinforced with 60 Tories and went off the next day for Cross Creek. Col Kenan has the few men that remains of my Brigade with him and a few of the Militia from Duplin. Major Griffin arrived in Camp a few days past; he says that the Drafts from Nash are entitled to a Discharge about the 4th of Aug. and that the Return which I made to Your Excellency which was made to me by Capt. Hall of the same County is wrong. Shall thank your Excellency for orders respecting them as I think I can not Discharge them sooner than my Return unless I receive your Orders for it. I was informed that the Assembly had ordered a Draught of —— Men from this District and come here to see the Resolve. Am now informed by a Member that the order for a Draught must come from Your Evcellency, as the Assembly did not Determine that there should be one. Should those Troops from Nash County be Discharged, shall have no men in the Field. Should Major Craige move out shall raise what men I can arm, but fear it will be very few as Arms are very Scarce, and Grain more so, as there is little or none between Tar River and Cape Fear. Part of a Letter from Lieut. Gov. Bee to a friend of his dated the 18th of June at Philadelphia says “that Congress in consequence of a request from the King of France had elected Plenipotentiary and properly instructed them to be ready to act for us at the Grand Congress at

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Vienna, which is Mr. John Adams, Doctor Franklin, Mr. Jay, Col. Henry Laurens and Governor Jefferson or any two of them or more for this purpose. I hope that Peace will be the event of their negotiations, Doctor Franklin is authroized to propose an exchange of Genl. Burgoyne for Mr. Laurens; an addition of ships and men have arrived at Boston to join the French Force already here, and before this reaches you New York will be invested. Their Garrison there is very small at present and they must keep their Fleets in Harbour to protect them in which case the French Fleet can strike a blow else where, or they must recall a great part of their Troops from the Southward and leave that Country open to us again.”

Should your Excellency send orders to me please direct them to me at Kingston where I shall be until I receive your orders.

I am with the greatest respect,
Your Excellency’s most obedt. servt.,

Intelligence: Brig. Genl. Caswell July 31st, 1781, Recd. Aug. 6th. Consideration.