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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Cornelius Harnett to Richard Caswell
Harnett, Cornelius, 1723-1781
September 15, 1778
Volume 22, Pages 980-982


Philadelphia, September 15th, 1778.


The Delegates of the State wrote you a few days ago that they had at last obtained a grant of the remaining $400,000 to complete your draft for $500,000. This was an object which on my arrival I had much at heart to accomplish, fearing the General Assembly might have been induced to have disbanded the new-raised troops for want of money, or emitted proclamation money for the purpose of paying them off; neither of which was, I hope, done. Had our State been represented in Congress at the time of Mr. Blount’s arrival, I am well convinced the money would have been sent. I am happy to find Mr. Burke and Mr. Hill are appointed for a year. By that means I hope the State will not again meet with such usage.

Should your Excellency think proper to instruct your Delegates on matters relative to the State, especially such as may not occur to us, I should be happy. I find when Governors recommend any measure to the Delegates of their States it generally has greater weight with Congress than when propositions are made by them without any letter of instruction for such purpose.

As soon as the $400,000 can be procured from the Treasurer, I shall, in conjunction with my colleagues, send it forward by some safe conveyance in the most expeditious manner.

I must take the liberty once more to press your Excellency to forward as speedily as possible the State’s accounts and vouchers. I

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am daily told that North Carolina has received more money from the Continental Treasury in proportion than any other State in the Union. In vain do I tell them that we never had a military chest established in our State or a Paymaster; that the expense of drawing out a considerable part of our militia to quell a very dangerous insurrection in the very heart of our country; another very expensive expedition against the Cherokees; the raising, paying, clothing and subsisting ten Continental battalions for a considerable space of time, has been defrayed out of the Treasury of our State. To this they only answer, “Why don’t you produce your accounts?” I wish this may be done, as I am confident the Continental Treasury must be largely indebted to us. I hope the gentlemen who are or may be appointed to state these demands may be careful to procure every necessary voucher for the charges made against the Continent, which must be sent on with the accounts. If your Excellency should in future think it necessary to establish a military chest, Paymaster, Commissary, etc., you will be pleased to mention it to your Delegates. Perhaps it may be necessary; more especially, should another requisition for men be made this winter against the spring, which may happen should the enemy be determined on another campaign. This is the opinion of some.

By the newspapers enclosed you will find General Sullivan, on the 29th August, gave the enemy a severe check on Rhode Island before his retreat. This enabled him to cross to the main, with all his baggage and stores, without molestation. The French fleet is in Boston harbor, and Lord Howe, wit ha superior fleet, having been lately joined by six or eight sail of the line, being a part of Admiral Byron’s squadron, are curising off that place. We are told another fleet is hourly expected to reinforce the Count d’Estaing. I wish they may not be intercepted by Lord Howe before a junction is formed with the Count.

If I can persuade Mr. Burke or Mr. Hill to relieve me, my intention is to return home before the winter sets in too severe.

I am, with great respect,
Your Excellency’s most obedient humble servant,

P. S. A very great noise has been made in Congress by the Virginia Delegates relative to a Captain Harper, driven into Currituck by Goutrage, and an attempt is now making to recommend to the

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State to make restitution to Virginia. This matter has been pushed much by the Virginia Delegates, and, although they have been assisted by the gentlemen from New York, etc., they have hitherto failed in their attempt. I hope your Excellency will inquire into the matter and see that the persons who took the vessel out of the inlet be brought to punishment. The bill of costs of the Court of Admiralty is exhorbitant. More of this in my next.

General Sullivan acquaints Congress that by accounts received by deserters, but, which is more to be depended on, accounts from persons on Rhode Island, the enemy had 1,061 killed and wounded in the late action, 321 of which were killed and mortally wounded on the field. This seems to account for the enemy suffering our army to make good their retreat, with all their stores and baggage, without molestation, although equal in numbers before the action.

C. H.
His Excellency Governor Caswell.