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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Cornelius Harnett to Richard Caswell
Harnett, Cornelius, 1723-1781
September 30, 1777
Volume 22, Pages 970-972


York Town, Pa., September 30th, 1777.

Dear Sir:—

I take the liberty to inform your Excellency that Congress have at last fixed themselves in this town, where they, in all probability, will remain for some time.

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An express has been this day received from General Gates, who informs Congress of an action which happened on the 19th instant, within three miles of Stillwater, between our army under his command and that of the enemy under General Burgoyne. It continued several hours, but night put a stop to it. Both armies retreated to their encampments, leaving the field to be again disputed on another day. The left wing of our army was only engaged against the whole of the British and most of the foreign troops; a heavy and brisk fire was kept up on both sides. We had two Lieutenant-Colonels, three Captains, three subalterns, two Sergeants, two drums and fifes and fifty-one rank and file killed; several officers and 180 odd wounded. The enemy’s loss was very considerable, supposed to be at least 1,200 killed and wounded. It is said by prisoners and deserters that General Burgoyne received a wound in his shoulder. His situation is so very critical that we have the most sanguine expectation of hearing in a few days of his meeting with a total defeat.

General Lincoln has taken by a party sent from his army 200 batteaus on Lake George and Lake Champlain; upwards of 200 prisoners, with their arms, and released 100 of our men, who were prisoners in that quarter, and it is supposed a successful attack will be made on Ticonderoga very soon.

I wish I had it in my power to give your Excellency as pleasing an account of our affairs in this quarter. General Howe is, or can be, in possession of Philadelphia when he pleases. General Washington’s army is upon the Schuylkill, between Reading and Philadeldelphia; a reinforcement of 1,500 regulars under General McDugal has joined him, and upwards of 2,000 Virginians are on their march for the same purpose, and it is believed General Washington will march to Philadelphia or near it, and that another general battle will be fought in a few days. The enemy is not as yet in possession of the river. Our troops and armed vessels intend to defend the fort to the last extremity. A firing was heard on Saturday last, which continued some hours, supposed to be between some of the enemy’s ships and the fort. The particulars have not as yet been received by Congress.

I shall be very happy to receive a line from you as often as you

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can find leisure. Messrs. Burke and Penn are not yet arrived, but I expect them every hour.

I am, with great respect,
Your Excellency’s most obedient humble servant,
His Excellency Governor Caswell.