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Letter from Thomas Burke to Richard Caswell
Burke, Thomas, ca. 1747-1783
October 20, 1778
Volume 13, Pages 244-245

DR. THOS. BURKE TO GOV. CASWELL.
[From Executive Letter Book.]

Williamsburg Oct. 20th 1778.

Dr Sir:

A young Gentleman of the Army going home to Duplin County gives me an opportunity of advising you of an occurrence which has happened here to which I suppose you may expect one similar. A flag came from New York with various packages directed to the Governor for the time being, the Speakers, the Commanding officer of the Army, the Clergy, and some other Orders, which I have forgotten. The Governor took the advice of the Assembly, and they have refused to receive the Packages, they ordered back the flag and entered into some severe resolutions, against any officer who should come again on such business.

The Assembly immediately perceived that it was an arduous attempt to treat with them, and to influence the people of this State, and it was almost instantly resolved that nothing of that kind could properly even be opened, that all business of a public nature must be transacted with Congress only. The zeal of the Assembly hurried them beyond what was really their intention. They propose only to declare that the Congress was the only power competent to treat for the states with foreign powers, that this state would therefore receive nothing addressed to them individually, and that any person in future bringing things so addressed, would be considered as an Enemy not protected by the Law of Nations, but I am told their resolutions go farther, and declare they will receive no flags but through Congress, and that any person coming with one shall be deemed an Enemy, which indeed every flag necessarily supposes, or there could be no occasion for that ensign of suspended Hostility. When any attempt

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like this is made on the State over which you preside, I am confident you will treat the affair with proper dignity and wisdom.

I suppose you have received the resolutions relative to sending Troops to South Carolina. Here it is considered as a matter altogether visionary, and nothing is done except giving power to the Executive in case of any invasion shall happen or appear imminent to send the force required. For my own part I am of opinion it has arisen from the credulity of some Southern Gentlemen in Congress, and from the high idea of the importance of their Country. It is not very probable that the Enemy will divide a force already unable to keep the open field, or that they will forego their present possessions for the purpose of making an attempt on one much less important to them. To do the first would be to make a certain sacrifice of a part of their army, and to do the latter would be egregious folly. In short Sir, I believe it will end in mere smoke. We have here the very disagreeable news that Col. Baylor's Regiment of Light Horse was surprised near Hackensack, forty of them put to the sword and the most taken. The Col. himself and most of his officers are supposed to be among the slain. In a Northern paper which I received yesterday from some persons who I believe have a charge of money for our State and Georgia, mentions our engagement between Admiral Keppel, and the Brest fleet, in which the latter had the advantage, but both were obliged to put back to refit. Nothing else of any importance is stirring here.

I have the honor to be Dr Sir, with perfect respect and sincere esteem,
Your very obedient Servant,
THOS. BURKE.