I am just honoured with Your letters of the 5 & 6 of last Month; Lord Rawdon during my illness informed Your Excellency in his letters of the 28th & 31st of October of the various causes which prevented my penetrating into N. Carolina; I shall not trouble you with a recapitulation, except a few words about poor Major Ferguson. I had the honour to inform Your Excellency that Major Ferguson had taken infinite pains with some of the Militia of Ninety-six. He obtained my permission to make an incursion into Tryon County, whilst the Sickness of my Army prevented moving. As he had only Militia, and the small remains of his own
Wynnesborough, my present Position, is an healthy spot, well situated to Protect the greatest part of the Northern Frontier, and to assist Camden and Ninety-Six. The Militia of the latter, on which alone we could place the smallest dependence, was so totally disheartened by the defeat of Ferguson that of that whole District we could with difficulty assemble one hundred, and even those I am convinced would not have made the smallest resistance if they had been Attacked. I determined to remain at this place until an Answer arrived from Genl. Leslie, on which my Plan for the Winter was to depend, and to use every possible means of putting the Province into a state of defence, which I found to be absolutely necessary, whether my Campaign was Offensive or Defensive. Bad as the state of our affairs was on the Northern Frontier, the Eastern part was much worse. Col. Tynes, who Commanded the Militia of the High Hills of Santee, and who was posted on Black River, was Surprized and taken, and his Men lost all their Arms. Col. Marion had so wrought on the minds of the People, partly by the terror of his threats & cruelty of his punishments, and partly by the Promise of Plunder, that there was scarce an Inhabitant between the Santee and Pedee that was not in Arms against us. Some parties had even crossed the Santee, and carried terror to the Gates of Charles-town. My first object was to reinstate matters in that quarter, without which Camden could receive no supplies. I therefore sent Tarleton, who pursued Marion for several days, obliged his Corps to take to the Swamps,
The 63d Regt., under Major Wemyss, had been mounted on indifferent horses of the Country for the purpose of reducing and disarming the Cheraws. It had afterwards been sent by Lord Rawdon for the security of Ninety-six. When I sent Lt. Col. Tarleton to the Low Country, I Ordered Major Wemyss to come down to Broad River, to keep constantly moving on either side of the River he might think proper, for the Protection of the Mills from which the Army subsisted, and for the preservation of the Country. Sumpter then lay with about 300 Men, partly of Militia and partly of the Banditti who have followed him ever since the reduction of this Province, near Hill's Iron works, between the Catawba and Broad River, about forty miles in our front. Branan, Clarke and others had different Corps plundering the houses and putting to death the well-affected Inhabitants between Tyger River and Pacolet. Major Wemyss, who had just past Broad River at Brierly's Ferry, came to me on the seventh of last Month and told me that he had information that Sumpter had moved to Moore's Hill, within five miles of Fishdam Ford, and about twenty-five Miles from the place where the 63d then lay; that he had accurate accounts of his position and good Guides, and that he made no doubt of being able to Surprize and rout him. As the defeating of so daring and troublesome a Man as Sumpter, and dispersing such a Banditti, was a great object, I consented to his making the trial on the 9th, at daybreak, and gave him Forty of the Dragoons which Tarleton had left with me, desiring him, however, neither to put them in the Front nor to make any use of them during the night. Major Wemyss marched so early and so fast on the night of the 8th that He arrived at Moore's Hill soon after midnight. He then had information that Sumpter had marched that evening to Fishdam ford, where he lay with his rear close to Broad River on a low piece of ground. The Major immediately proceeded to Attack him in his new Position, & succeeded so well as to get into his Camp whilst the Men were all sleeping round the fires; but as Major Wemyss rode into the Camp at the head of the Dragoons, and the 63d followed them on horseback, the enemy's
The enemy on this event eried Victory, and the whole country came in fast to join Sumpter, who passed the Broad River and joined Branan, Clarke, &c. I detached Major McArthur, with the 1st Battalion of the 71st and the 63d Regt., after having sent my Aid-de-Camp, Lieut. Money, to take the command of it, to Brierly's Ferry, on Broad River, in order to cover our Mills and to give some check to the enemy's march to Ninety-Six. At the same time I recalled Lieut. Col. Tarleton from the Low Country. Tarleton was so fortunate as to pass not only the Wateree but the Broad River without Genl. Sumpter's being apprised of it, who, having increased his Corps to one thousand, had passed the Ennoree and was on the point of Attacking our hundred Militia at Williams's House, fifteen miles from Ninety-Six, and where I believe He would not have met with much resistance. Lt. Col. Tarleton would have surprized him on the South of Ennoree had not a deserter of the 63d given notice of his march. He, however, cut to pieces his rear guard in passing that River, and pursued his main body with such rapidity that he could not safely pass the Tyger, and was obliged to halt on a very strong position at a place called Black Stocks, close to it. Tarleton had with him only his Cavalry and the 63d mounted, his Infantry and 3-Pounder
It is not easy for Lt. Col. Tarleton to add to the reputation He has acquired in this Province, but the defeating 1,000 Men posted on very strong ground and occupying log houses with 190 Cavalry and 80 Infantry is a proof of that Spirit and those talents which must render the most essential services to his Country. Lt. Col. Tarleton commends much the good behaviour of the Officers and Men under his command, and He particularly mentions Lieut. Skinner of the 16th Regt. of Infantry, who does duty with the Legion, as having distinguished himself. Lt. Col. Balfour, by putting the Prisoners on Board of Ships, is enabled to spare the 64th Regt. from Charlestown, and sent them to secure the navigation of the Wateree from Nelson's Ferry and to communicate with Camden. This is the present state of our affairs.
Smallwood has been encamped from the beginning of last Month with about thirteen hundred Militia, a Corps of 250 Continentals under Morgan and 70 Dragoons Commanded by Washington, about 12 Miles on this side of Charlotte Town, his front guarded by Davie and other irregular Corps, who have committed the most shocking cruelties and the most horrid Murders on those suspected
As it will be necessary to drive back the Enemy's army, and at the same time to maintain a superiority on both our Flanks, and as I thought the co-operation of General Leslie, even at the distance of Cape Fear River, would be attended with many difficulties, I have sent Cruizers off the Fryingpan to bring him into Charlestown, and I hourly expect his arrival. After everything that has happened I will not presume to make Your Excellency any sanguine promises. The force you have sent me is greater than I expected, and full as much as I think you could possibly spare, unless the enemy detached in force to the Southward. The utmost exertion of my abilities shall be used to employ them to the best advantage.
Whenever our operations commence Your Excellency may depend on hearing from me as frequently as possible, and it is from events alone that any future Plan can be proposed.