Letter from John Rutledge to Abner Nash
Rutledge, John, 1739-1800
1780 - May 26,
Volume 14, Pages 821-824
PREST J. RUTLEDGE OF S. C., TO GOV. ABNER NASH OF N. C.
Camden, May 24, 1780.
I could not obtain a Copy of the Articles of Capitulation at Chas. Town untill yesterday. Inclosed you will receive it. Last Saturday the Enemy took Post, with a considerable Force, at Dupree's Ferry on Santee River, which they began to cross that day on their March to George Town, whither they had sent some vessels from Chas. Town. They are certainly in possession of Geo. Town, which was not defensible. Genl. Caswell, who lay a little below Lanier's(?) Ferry with the North Carolina Brigade, & the Virginia Continentals under Col. Buford, had luckily retreated this way before the Enemy got to that Ferry, & thereby prevented their Cutting off his Retreat, which was probably their first scheme. Those Troops are now under Command of
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Brigadier Gen. Huger, abt. 15 Miles below this place, & will be here to day; his future Motions will be directed by the Camp & force of the Enemy. Sorry I am to say, his force is altogether inadequate to any offensive operations. The Enemy, according to advices rec'd last Night, were, the Evening before, at Black Mingo, but whether their intention was to take a Circuit, by way of the hanging Rock Road, in order to get in the Rear of our Troops, or to proceed for your state, is as yet uncertain. The next Movmt. they make will demonstrate which of these points is their objects. Parties are gone to reconnoitre; However, I think it advisable not to wait their Return, but to give you the foregoing intelligence & what follows as early as possible, Especially as I have charged the bearer to collect what intelligence he can as he proceeds, & to communicate it to you. We have no certain acct. what the force above ment. is, or by whom commanded, but it is said to be considerable, & under Lord Cornwallis. It is evident that the Conquest of No. as well as So. Carolina is the Enemy's Plan. The Time for which they endeavour to enlist Men is untill those Countries can be Conquered, & a junction with them at Cross Creek will probably be attempted with the Body above mnt., who have with them a large Highland Regiment. I have good reason to believe that they will send vessels (some perhaps with Troops) to possess your Rivers, & the Towns on them, & it is probable that they will establish at Brunswick & Wilmington Magazines of Provisions. They may send hither great quantities of Rice from the lower part of our State. They can hardly expect, I apprehend, to penetrate far into your back Country unless they depend more than I hope they can with good Grounds on the disaffection of your People, but I presume they will extend their Camp along, & at some distance from the Sea. I hope, indeed, that their progress will be soon checked, tho' their Numbers are really great; but surely Virginia will now be roused, & the forces of your State, in Conjunction with the Virginians, & (supported, as I hope you will be, powerfully by Congress) will make the Enemy repent of their audacity in attempting a Conquest your way. Can't account for the Backwardness of the troops ordered hither by Congress & Virginia, & for our want of Intelligence respecting them. I still hope, However, that a Combination of forces & better fortune than our late experience will
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soon oblige the Enemy to head back their steps, & that, altho' there is no hope of regaining Chas. Town except by treaty, the Country will be preserved, & No. Carolina, & even Georgia, be retained in the Union; for surely our Brethern & Allies will never give up the Independence of either of those States or suffer such valuable Territories to be lopped off. I request the favour of you to forward the inclosed per. Express immediately to the Gov. of Virginia. Whether attempts will be made by the Enemy on our back Country (except by tories & Indians) is still uncertain. If they send up a regular force, I am con vinced they will be joined by Numbers, & many will fall a Sacrifice to the Resentment of our Domestic or Internal Enemies. But if regular Troops are not sent up, I think our People will manage the disaffected & keep them from doing any considerable Mischief. However, I expect no other service from the Militia; they are so apprehensive of their families being killed (& their properties destroyed) by the tories & Indians, who daily threaten Hostilities while they are absent from their districts that I believe it will be impracticable to keep any Number worth mentioning on duty when the Army are at any distance from their Homes. If I can get them to embody in their own districts & keep the Country quiet, it is really as much as I expect they will do at present, & until troops arrive from the Northward but even this depends on the Enemy's not sending up regular forces to take Post in the back parts of the State; for if they do the disaffected will certainly flock to them, & those who are not disaffected will either abscond if they can or which is more probable, be taken Prisoners without Arms, in which case they will expect to be treated as others are who have been taken under similar circumstances, in being dismissed on their Parole, a piece of policy which the Enemy have adopted with respect to our Militia for obvious Reasons. This is a melancholy but a faithful Representation of our affairs at this Period. However, We must not despair. I still hope for great and speedy Success from our Brethren to animate & support our People & for a Reverse of our late bad Fortune; But immediate & the greatest Exertions of the Northern States are Indispensable to prevent the Desolation & Ruin of this State & Georgia, & the Enemy's obtaining
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(what they flatter themselves with securing shortly) the three Southernmost States, too valuable a Prize ever to be given up by them. I request the favour of a line from you by the Bearer as soon as possible, that you will give orders for accommodating him with a good horse, if he should want one, & transmit to me by him what Intelligence may be relied on respecting the troops that may be expected here, their Number and the time when they will be here. I shall from time to time communicate to you all material matters occuring that come to my knowledge, & shall expect the like Correspondence on your part. Col. Hamilton exchanged, probably with a view of having his Influence in your State.
I am, with great Esteem & regard,
Dr. Sir, yr. most obedt. Servt.,
P. S. Be pleased to order the persons who bring my Letters from you for me to come by the upper Road to the Camp here, wherever it may be in this State; There he will either see or hear of me. If you see Maj. Harlenton in his return, be pleased to make known the contents of this Letter to him.
Camden, May 26, 1780.
Caswell's and Buford's Men, abt. 400 effective in each Corps, are come up to this place. Gen. Huger purposes to send Caswell's to Haley's Ferry on side in No. Carolina & Buford's to Charlotte; from thence towards Hillsboro; thinking this force too small to be of service here, that they may render more for the present in No. Carolina. Our advices from below are that the Enemy crossed Murray's (?) Ferry, 85 miles from Town, the day before yesterday, on their March for this place.