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Letter from Thomas Burke to Richard Caswell
Burke, Thomas, ca. 1747-1783
April 15, 1777
Volume 11, Pages 448-451

[From Executive Letter Book.]

April 15th 1777.

Dr. Sir:—

I am honored with your letters of the 16th & 25th of February, & I have taken the necessary steps relative to the warrant on the Treasury, & the letters which were inclosed. Col. Blount has not yet arrived here, but he will meet with no difficulty in obtaining the money. I must observe by the by that several bills from Mr. Treasurer Ashe came to hand before your warrant, & they were paid on my giving my approbation.

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I laid the intelligence you gave me relative to Indian affairs before the Congress, who were just then in deliberation on that subject. Gen. Hand, an experienced officer, is ordered to the frontier to direct the necessary operations for their defence. He has directions to embody the militia of Pennsylvania & Virginia in such numbers & divisions as he shall find necessary, & to repel, or invade the Indians if the circumstances of the war require it. you will be startled at this power: but it was given at the request of Pennsylvania & Virginia, whose peculiar circumstances had made it necessary. Your vigilance, Sir, has anticipated any measures necessary for the security of our frontiers, & as I am better satisfied to rely on your powers for all the exertions of our State, than to admit extraordinary exterpositions of Congress, I contented myself with barely assenting to the measures recommended by Pennsylvania & Virginia, without requiring them to extend to us. While our own militia is to perform the services, I believe it will be most agreeable to my country, as well as to me, that they should be under the command of their own officers, & under the direction of our own magistrates, especially while your Excellency presides. When I am to consent to the contrary, it must be under express instructions, or when inevitable & very sudden necessity allows no time to consult, & no choice of alternations; & even then I should rely on such circumstances to excuse me to candid constituents, but not to justify me to this tribunal. I am sorry for the difficulty you experience in convening the Gentlemen of your Council. I hope, Sir, they will find more inclination, & less inconvenience from the result of your Assembly.

I am pleased with your determination to reside in New Bern, if for no other reason but that of facilitating the communication between us. I will not fail to transmit you every thing worth your attention, in the order which I have mentioned & observed in most letters which I have hitherto written: but considering the value of your time, I shall spare you the trouble of unimportant reading.

In your favour of the 16th you have prophesied what has since in a great measure come to pass. All particular jealousies are for the present laid to sleep, & long & uninterrupted may their slumber be. We are more wisely employed in giving vigor to our military operations, & in correcting abuses in our department. The

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success of the recruiting service is not yet very remarkable in the Northern States, notwithstanding the embargo, to which you allude. Mr. S. Adams informs me, from the best authority that our Lottery tickets have met with a sale amazingly rapid, & that the Loan office is successful.

I am very much concerned for the apprehensions you express relative to the indolence of our officers. Many abuses are complained of from every quarter in the recruiting service, & it is at length found to proceed from the idea that the civil power of the States had no control over them. This is what I had suggested very soon after my arrival at Congress, but it was always reluctantly listened to, until the abuse was complained of from many quarters, & attributed to the same cause. I brought in a Resolution for correcting the abuse through the interventions of the States, & was very happy in finding no opposition made on the old ground. It produced a reference to a Committee, & the result was the Resolutions which the President transmits to you, & of which the inclosed is a copy. I doubt not your vigorous exertions to root out all the evils in that department, which may be found in the State over which you preside. The Resolution, with respect to servants was originally followed by a clause, requiring compensation to be made to owners & masters; but it fell through, on an equal division; those voting against it, who were most interested in the affirmative. The day (Viz 15th May) is not well calculated for your State: but that Resolution is expected & intended to have its effect in the States, nearer to the field of action, & that day was deemed remote enough for that purpose. Upon the whole, Sir, I hope it will every where have as great effect as it can. We have for a few days been alarmed here, tho', I believe without foundation. No consternation followed upon this occasion, but measures were calmly taken to oppose the enemy. The Congress are sensible of the impropriety of their last flight, & I believe they will not again fall into the like error. I have added all in my power to confirm them in this disposition, & the timid members have encountered such poignant ridicule from many quarters, that I believe they deem the approach of the enemy less formidable than another series of like encounters. I, for my own part, intend to stay in the city, & give my best assistance for its defence, unless it shall be determined to abandon it altogether.

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I inclose you the paper of the last date, which contains every intelligence I can give you. The dispatches from France mentioned in it contain little more than that it is the current opinion in Brittain, that ten thousand men will be sent the ensuing summer against Virginia & Maryland, under the commands of General Burgoin. You will be pleased to excuse any inaccuracies in this scrawl, which I write in a crowd of disputing Delegates, in the Library adjoining the Congress room.

I have the honor to be with the greatest esteem & respect
Your Excellency's most obedt. servt.,
Governor Caswell.