Letter from Charles Cornwallis, Marquis Cornwallis to Henry Clinton
Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, Marquis, 1738-1805
Volume 15, Pages 249-255
EARL CORNWALLIS TO SIR HENRY CLINTON.
Charlestown, June 30th, 1780.
Earl Cornwallis to Sir Henry Clinton, K. B., dated June 30th, 1780. Received by Lieut. Gordon, of the 16th Foot, August 1st. No. 66.
In my letter from Camden, of the 2d instant, I had the honor to inform you that I was employ'd in regulating the Militia & establishing some kind of government in this Province; and I likewise mentioned the state, & the steps that I had taken relative to our friends in North Carolina. I will first proceed with the affairs of S. Carolina. As the different districts submitted I, with all the dispatch in my power, formed them into Militia & appointed Field Officers, according to the old divisions of the Province; I invested these Field Officers with civil as well as Military power, as the most effectual means of preserving order & re-establishing the King's authority in this Country. I divided the Militia into two classes, the first to consist of men above 40, & of certain property, family or service, this Class to be depended
-------------------- page 250
upon for the preservation of order in their respective districts & to do the Patrole Duty, but never to be call'd out except in case of an insurrection or an actual invasion of the Province. The second Class, composed of the younger men, not only to assist in the home duties, but liable to be call'd out for six of each twelve months to serve in either of the Carolinas or Georgia, Promising, however, to call upon this Class in such proportions as to occasion the least distress possible to the Country. This Militia, both Officers & Soldiers, is composed of Men either of undoubted attachment to the cause of Great Britain, or whose behaviour has always been moderate; And the Field Officers of the Rebel Militia, Members of their Council, Assembly Men & acting Magistrates were ordered to go on their Paroles to the Islands on the Coast between Charlestown & Beaufort, to remain there untill their Conduct & Character could be inquired into, & that their Presence in the Country might not awe those that were inclined to return to their duty, & our friends from assuming the Authority necessary to give Vigour to our Government. The rest of those that were notoriously disaffected I ordered to be disarmed & to remain at Home on their parole, but subject, in lieu of personal services, to furnish moderate contributions of provisions, waggons, horses, &c., towards carrying on the War. About this time I readily agreed to a proposal made by a Mr. Harrison to raise a Provincial Corps of 500 Men, with the Rank of Major, to be composed of the Natives of the Country between the Pedee & Wateree, and in which it is at present extremely probable that He will succeed.
I had advanced thus far when I was met on the 11th of this month by two Gentlemen, one of whom had been in an high station, & both principally concerned in the Rebellion, who said that they were come to surrender upon the Proclamation of the Commissioners of the 1st of June. However extraordinary it might appear to them, I was forced to acknowledge that no Proclamation of that date had been communicated to me, & that consequently I could not acquiesce in the terms of their proffer'd submission; and indeed, when I saw that Proclamation, as well as your Excellency's of the third of June, which was soon after transmitted to me, I found that those Gentlemen had overstrained the meaning of the first; For upon considering both, I thought
-------------------- page 251
myself at liberty to persevere in sending on Parole to the Islands the Field Officers of Militia, the members of Council, Assembly men, Acting Magistrates, &c., the first as falling under the exception of the Military line in your Excellency's Proclamation, & the remainder as under the description of those polluted with the blood of their fellow subjects, excepted by the Proclamation of the Commissioners. This measure appeared absolutely necessary for the security of the Province, especially as our hold is much loosen'd of a considerable number of People who, being notoriously disaffected, cannot with prudence be trusted with arms & admitted into the Militia, but are disengaged from their Paroles by the Proclamation of the third instant. The submission of Gen. Williamson at Ninety-six, whose Capitulation I inclose with Capt. Paris's Letter, & the dispersion of a Party of Rebels who had assembled at an Iron work on the North West border of the Province, by a detachment of Dragoons & Militia from Lt. Col. Turnbull, put an end to all resistance in South Carolina. After having made the following dispositions of the troops, I arrived in Town on the 25th: Major McArthur with the 71st Regt., a Troop of Dragoons & a six-pounder on the Cheraw Hill, with orders to cover the raising of Majr. Harrison's Corps & to establish the Militia in the districts on the Pedee; The remainder of Lt. Col. Webster's Brigade, & the Provincials that marched with me & Brown's Corps remain at Camden, and Lt. Col. Turnbull's, with some Cavalry, at Rocky Mount, The whole under the command of Lord Rawdon. Lt. Col. Balfour's detachment is dispersed from the forks of Santee, by the Congarees, to Ninety-Six, whilst He & Lt. Col. Innes & Majr. Graham are giving orders for the Militia of those districts. I have ordered Major Ferguson to visit every district in the Province, as fast as they can get the Militia establish'd, to procure lists of each & to see that my orders are carried into execution. I apprehend that his Commission of Major Commandant of a Regiment of Militia can only take place in case a part of the 2d Class should be call'd out for service the home duty being more that of a Justice of the Peace tha of a Soldier. I have given to the Militia Regts. temporary Co missions, which perhaps your Excellency will find more convenient to confirm by a line in your next dispatch than to take the trouble of signing, as the number for the whole Province
-------------------- page 252
will amount to some hundreds. I have had some conversations with B. Genl. Paterson & Mr. Simpson, & have made a little Progress in the arrangement of this Place.
In regard to North Carolina I have establish'd the most satisfactory correspondence, & have seen several people of credit & undoubted fidelity from that Province; They all agree in assurances of the good disposition of a considerable Body of the inhabitants, & of the impossibility of subsisting a Body of Troops in that Country till the Harvest is over. This reason, the Heat of the Summer, & the unsettled state of South Carolina, all concurr'd to convince me of the necessity of Postponing offensive operations on that side untill the latter end of August or beginning of September, and in consequence I sent Emissaries to the leading Persons amongst our friends, recommending in the strongest terms that they should attend to their harvest, prepare provisions, and remain quiet untill the King's Troops were ready to enter the Province; Notwithstanding these precautions I am sorry to say that a considerable number of the loyal Inhabitants of Tryon County, encouraged and headed by a Col. Moore, whom I know nothing of, & excited by the sanguine emissaries of the very sanguine and imprudent Lt. Col Hamilton, rose on the 18th Instant without order or caution, & were in a few days defeated by Genl. Rutherford with some loss. I still hope this unlucky business will not materially affect the general Plan, or occasion any commotions on the frontiers of the Province. The force of the enemy in North Carolina consists of about 1,000 Militia at Cross Creek under Genl. Caswell; 4 or 500 Militia, under General Rutherford, at or near Salisbury, and 300 Virginians in that neighborhood under Col. Porterfield. Monsr. Treville returned with information that he saw 2,000 Maryland and Delaware troops at Hillsborough under Majr. Genl. de Kalb, other accounts have corresponded with his, but I have since heard that the greatest part of the last have returned to Virginia.
After having thus fully stated the present situation of the two Carolinas, I shall now take the liberty of giving my opinion with respect to the Practicability and the probable effect of further operations in this quarter, and my own intentions, if not otherways directed by your Excellency. I think that with the force at present under my command (except that there should be a considerable
-------------------- page 253
Foreign interference) I can leave South Carolina in security, & march, about the beginning of September, with a body of Troops into the back part of North Carolina with the greatest probability of reducing that Province to its duty; And if this be accomplished, I am of opinion that (besides the advantage of possessing so valuable a Province) it would prove an effectual Barrier for S. Carolina & Georgia, and could be kept, with the assistance of our friends there, by as few Troops as would be wanted on the Borders of this Province, if N. Carolina should remain in the hands of our Enemies. Consequently if your Excellency should continue to think it expedient to employ part of the Troops at present in this Province in operations in the Chesapeak, there will be as many to spare as if we did not possess N. Carolina. If I am not honour'd with different directions from your Excellency before that time, I shall take my measures for beginning the execution of the above Plan about the latter end of August or beginning of September, & shall apply to the Officer Commanding His Majesty's Ships for some Co-operation by Cape Fear, which at present would be burdensome to the Navy, & not of much importance to the service.
I have seen a letter from St. Augustine which mentions that two Officers had arrived there from Pensacola, who reported that Don Galvez was at Mobile when they came away, & short of provisions, & that the Mentor had taken three Spanish Victuallers on their passage from the Havannah to Mobile, & brought them into Pensacola.
I shall immediately, in compliance with the directions contained in your letter of the 8th of June, order proper people to examine the receipts granted for cattle previous to the taking of Charlestown, & to certify such as they think ought to be paid; a great number of Claims are likewise made for provisions deliver'd to the troops through the Commissary of Captures, and for which no receipts were given; These Claims shall undergo the same examination as the receipts, & shall depend upon similar certificates; you will be pleased to direct from what fund the whole sum when ascertained is to be paid.
I opened the enclosed letter from Governor Tryon, but as the point appears to me to be out of the common line of Indian business, and the service suffers no inconvenience from a little delay,
-------------------- page 254
I herewith send Mr. Moore's letter to Genl. Patterson on the subject, and have likewise directed Mr. Moore to transmit his other papers to N. York for your Excellency's determination. Mr. Graham, Lt. Governor of Georgia, has presented an account of money advanced to Refugees, to which is added a charge of twenty shillings per diem to the 24th of June as Inspector of Refugees in Georgia; But as He informs me that his Commission for that office is not sign'd, I beg to know your pleasure whether this account is to be allow'd. I must likewise beg to know whether the Pay is to be continued to the Commissaries of Captures, & if it is to what fund it is to be charged; or if your intention is that it should cease whilst the Troops are inactive; whether you wish that when the Troops take the field the office should be revived in the Persons of the present Commissaries.
Judge Pendleton, who, in his Judicial character, committed a number of barbarous Murders on the Persons of His Majesty's loyal subjects, has escaped from his Parole, and I find by Returns which I call'd for that not less than 500 Continental Prisoners have made their escape since the Town was taken. I have now taken measures which I hope will enable us to keep those that remain untill an exchange can take Place.
B. Genl. Paterson shewed me a letter which He received from Majr. Andre relative to the Genl. Court Martial, left with him, in which He expressed your desire that I should give my opinion of the proper objects of mercy or severity. I must lament the fate of those unhappy people who have been & must remain so long confined, but as all those under sentence of death are convicted of desertion & carrying arms against their country, I cannot bring myself to say that they are proper objects of mercy.
The Morning that I left Camden I had the honour to receive your Excellency's Dispatches & Instructions that had been left in charge of B. Genl. Paterson. Your Excellency may depend on my utmost attention to them, and on my zeal in fulfilling your wishes in every respect. The Detachment of the 17th Dragoons will sail for New York with the first Convoy, which Capt. Henry informs me will be in a week or ten days; and now I think, having compleatly tired both your Excellency & myself, I shall only add that,
I have the honour to be,
Your most obedient and most Humble Servant,
-------------------- page 255
P. S. The letters & papers, said to be inclosed, were sent with the 1st copy, & unluckily it was omitted to take copies of them.
His Excellency Sir Henry Clinton, Kt. B., &c., &c., &c.