Arriving here on the 22d. Instant with the Cavalry and Light Troops, found the British had just crossed the Catawba at Lands Ford, where I thought it ineligible to follow with our small Force, especially as we should have the River in our Rear, and no certainty of being supplied otherwise than from this side. A party of Colo. Davie's Horse was detached to watch their Motions, who brought Intelligence that Lord Cornwallis with the Sick and Non effectives, to the amount of three hundred, had taken the rout down to the Ferry opposite Camden; the remainder, consisting of Tarlton's legion, the light Troops and Tories, took the rout of Fishing Creek, with a view, it is supposed, to proceed down the main Road to Charles Town, and to collect all the Provision on that rout. It is thought Camden will be evacuated, and that Lord Cornwallis, with the Troops and Stores in that Quarter, will fall in with the others on their rout to Charles Town.
Many of the Tories seem disposed to return to their Allegiance, and would submit to any Terms which might be offered to obtain a pardon; to obtain this I understand numbers have offered to enter for a Term in the Continental Army; others have deserted, determining to heave themselves upon the Protection of their Country at all Events, being much disgusted with the Treatment of the British and Conduct of their Leaders. Perhaps a more favorable Time for a Proclamation never offered. This would effectually draw at this Crisis numbers from the British Interest, who perhaps might be rendered hereafter useful to their Country. You will, therefore, see the Expediency of issuing and diffusing your Proclamation to that effect.
I hope by this Time you are on the March with the Continental Troops. Their arrival would change the aspect, and might give a favorable turn to our Affairs. I have drawn the flower of the Militia here; the remainder at the Yadkin, and with General Butler near Salisbury, are so badly clad, armed, and accoutred I am at a loss to know what to do with them.
The great anxiety of Capt. McCallister to get Home, upon some important Business as he urges, has induced me to forward the inclosed Letter from him, by which you will see the expediency of granting him the Indulgence. He repeatedly offered me his Commission, which I told him I had no right to receive, and that I should dissuade you from accepting his Resignation; he then with much persuasion agreed to remain three Weeks or a Month longer, provided I would use my Influence with you to obtain his Furlough after that time. Even if he should have no just Pretension to this Indulgence, perhaps it would be well to gratify him, if it could be done without giving too much disgust to other Officers. You know that young Gentlemen have frequently their Attachments, which are neither to be accounted for, justified or controuled.
P. S. After reading the inclosed Letter to Capt. McCallister, be so obliging to seal and forward it.General Gates.