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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from John Alexander Lillington to Thomas Burke
Lillington, John Alexander, 1720s-1786
August 19, 1781
Volume 22, Pages 565-566


Granville County, August 19th, 1781.

His Excellency Thomas Burke, Esquire,

Dear Sir:

I am to inform your Excellency that this Morning Major Craigg marched his Army from one Clifton’s (about 16 or 18 Miles from New Bern), and it is generally believed that he will be in town this Evening; it is said that he has Four Hundred British and as many Tories. The little Army we have, prevented him from Crossing Trent River. General Caswell with about 180 Horse went to go on his Lines, and met with Craigg’s light Horse, with 50 Infantry, who were sent to Surprise Col. Hill, who with a Party was sent to take post at one Sanders’ Bridge, who were put to the rout but a few Minutes before the General, who had marched some miles on their track, but unfortunately for the General the Centre of his Line broke, which he endeavoured to rally, but could not prevail on them to return to the Charge; the Enemy pursued the Horse for some little Distance, and, too, but a few Prisoners, killed nor wounded any. In the mean-time the Two wings joined, and met their Horse on the Return, and attacked them, which lasted some time, and am so happy to write you they drove them in. They sallied out the second time on our Horse, who beat them back, with the loss of 8 or 10 killed and several wounded, among the former is Gordon, of Wilmington, who

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commanded the Horse. A few days after he marched down to a Bridge with an intention, I believe, to cross Trent, to take the Road we are on for Newbern; part of the Bridge I had taken up, and placed a Strong Guard at it; as soon as he halted his Army a little Distance from this Place, a Reconnoitering Party came down to the Bridge, which the Guard fired on and wounded four. Three of them are since dead and Five wounded, as we are informed by a Woman who saw them in their way down.

I am sorry to observe unless we have some speedy relief, these lower Counties must fall into the Hands of the Enemy; I could wish to hear from you, Sir, as soon as possible.

I am, Sir, your most Obed’t Humble Servant,

Camp at Webber’s Bridge on Trent, 19th Aug., 1781. Received 22nd; Answered same Day.