Letter from Anthony Walton White to Horatio Gates
White, Anthony Walton, 1750-1803
Volume 14, Pages 510-512
COLONEL ANTHONY W. WHITE TO GENERAL GATES.
Halifax, July 26, 1780.
On my arrival at this place Maj'r Call presented me your Letter, and at the same time informed me that he had Immediately Complied with the Contents and sent the returns, which I have reason to Apprehend, from the Repetition of orders given to me at Petersburg, has not reached you.
The orders you honoured me with at that place could not possibly be Mistaken by me. They very Sensibly Affected my Feelings. The Inability of the Cavalry's (for at least Six Weeks) acting as such, the Censure of lying Inactive during that period by persons unacquainted with their Characters and situation, Appeared to me in the Most Striking Colours and Induced me to Mention to you before Colo. Washington the desire I had and the Impossibility there was of complying with them. This you verbally informed me was not expected. On arriving at Richmond the assembly first seemed Inclined to serve them, but knew
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not how to raise the Money. The objection was soon remidied by one of the leading Members, Mr. Mason, who at first was much Averse to granting our request, but seeing the Great necessity there was for the Safety of their Southern Army in furnishing them with Horse, agreed with the Unanimous Voice of the House to comply with the Resolution of Congress, and Appointed Persons to purchase them. From the Assistance of the State of Virginia, and what we have reason to expect from this, and the great success in recruiting, gave us the most pleasing prospect and satisfaction of Becoming Once more Useful in the field when under your Immediate command. Our expectations are now blasted; the Orders you have sent me are positive. They therefore shall be Implicitly Obeyed; but being some days before we Can March, I think myself bound to lay before you our Melancholy state from, which I am convinced it will appear to you that we shall rather be an incumbrance than service to the Southern Army, and Cause an Order to stay at this post till the latter can be Accomplished; not more than twenty Horses in both Regiments at present Equipped and fit for duty. Those Unfit require one half of the men to take care of and get them in order; the other half will be obliged occasionally to go to Petersburg to refit and bring to their respective Regiments Such Horses purchased by the State and sent to that place; the Cloathing and Accoutrements are Unfinished and in the hands of the Trades men. The Training and Disciplining the new recruits and horses requires the Attention & Assistance of Every Officer. A promise was given to the recruits before they Inlisted that they should not act as Infantry but on the greatest Emergency—to be ordered to break this promise, when two more regiments of gnfantry are now lying Idle in Virginia, is a circumstance that wil give great uneasiness both to Officers & Soldiers of the Cavalry. No arms to be procured to act as infantry, should it still bel thought Necessary to Leave those horses we have unfit for duty and those expected within a Month or Six weeks. These Reasons, joined to the assurances (I flatter myself I have) in the Infantry's great desire of taking the field and acting as such, Will, I hope, Induce you, Sir, to Countermand the Orders I have rec'd, before we can possibly comply with them, which cannot be in Less than ten days. If this should not be the case, I shall proceed as directed. The future consequences will convince the World I
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have done my duty in informing you that if the Cavalry are called to the field in their present Situation nothing but their ruin can Insue. Capt. Watts, of my Regiment, will have the honour of handing you this, with a copy of a Letter from Capn. Conyers, the order of the Counsel of the State of Virginia and the order of the Counsel of this State, by which you will see what we have to expect. I am in hopes Capn. Watts will return before we can Mount. In the Interim I shall proceed to act as Ordered. Almost the whole of our Old Men's times shortly out; on the promise of being Soon remounted, will re-enlist for during the War, but the Moment they Marched from this place with the Least idea of being ordered to act as Infantry, not a single Man More will think of Inlisting.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
With the greatest esteem & respect,
Your most Obedient & Very hbl. Servt.,
ANTH'Y W. WHITE,
Col. Comdg. 1 Cavalry.