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Letter from William Smallwood to Horatio Gates
Smallwood, William, 1732-1792
October 20, 1780
Volume 14, Pages 703-705


Salisbury, 20th October, 1780.

Dear Sir:

Last night at 9 o'Clock I received your Letter dated the 18th Instant, previous to which I had advanced here with the Cavalry, fixed my Quarters, and marked out an encampment for the Militia. The Yadkin was so swelled and rapid by the late Rains that it was unpracticable to cross on the seventeenth when I arrived there, and the Troops with difficulty now cross, there being but one very sorry Boat, but expect they, with their Baggage, will all arrive here to day.

I have ordered a Field Officer with a proper command to remain at the Ford to secure it and the Boat, as well as to forward any Supplies of Stores and Provisions which may arrive. He is also directed to bring up one or two more boats which lie below, as soon as the current will admit, which I sent parties after before,

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but they could not stem the Stream. I have also ordered Artificers to remain and repair the Boats, who, with the Soldiery at that Station, will be ready to construct works as soon as Colo. Cuziosco arrives, whom I beg you will forward.

We have had no accounts of the Enemy since Tuesday. On Monday they moved from their late Position back to Robert McClaery's, within ten miles of Charlotte, and on Tuesday detached three hundred Horses and Foot seven Miles up the River, to Davis's Mill, after Forage and Provision. They returned in the evening, but whether they obtained either is uncertain. It is said they suffer much for want of both. They lie very compact, on high, open grounds, and seem much guarded against an Attack or Surprise. It is generally supposed the Floods have prevented their retreat. Their rout and designs are by no means apparent, and their retreat, if a finesse, is no very deep one, as it has and must operate against them; but I expect the next Intelligence will point out their real Views, the earliest intimation of which I shall transmit you, and in the interim shall advance the Cavalry and light Troops. The Infantry, now at Tyler's, will be joined by Colo. Morgan and the Cavalry to-day, and as soon as the Militia arrives I shall draw out three hundred Musquetry and two Hundred rifle Men to join them. And after I get the Militia arranged in a proper train, and their Encamp ment secured, shall go down myself to obtain further Intelligence, take a view of ours and their Situation and resources, and determine what further Operations may be expedient.

Pursuant to your requisitions I have charged Colo. Morgan and the Commandants below to be particularly attentive to guard against the small Pox by restraining their Parties from infected places.

I have addressed the respective Commandants and their Volunteers, now assembled on the South side of the Catawba to the amount of Two thousand five hundred Men, Not to disperse 'till it can be determined whether the Enemy can be attacked with a prospect of Success, and have recommended the following arrangements:

That General Davidson take the Command of the Virginia and North Carolina Volunteers, who, if Circumstances should require, may be drawn on this side; Sumpter to take Command of the

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South Carolinians and Georgians on the other side of the Catawba to oppose the Enemy's passage should they attempt to cross, and Colo. Morgan to command the advanced Troops, which arrangement and disposition I am informed will be pleasing to all Parties, tho' I have not yet been favored with an Answer.

The Packets of Letters you mention I had not received on the 16th when I wrote, but they have since come safe to hand, except one from Colo. Forrest, which he writes he delivered Major McGill.

Your Orders to Colo. Polk shall immediately be forwarded. I have heard nothing farther of the Action at King's Mountain than was transmitted you.

With great Regard, I remain Your
Most Obedt. & very Hble. Servt.,
General Gates.