The late movements of the enemy in Virginia seem to indicate an intention of marching a body of cavalry rapidly through this State to South Carolina.
They have reconnoitred the country, collected a number of horses and saddles, burned several mills, and retreated to their army. Does not all this seem as if they intended to abandon their enterprize upon Virginia, upon some event which they deem very probable, & to prevent our subsisting an army to pursue them with rapidity? If their intention should be to imbarque their infantry for New York, they may nevertheless deem it prudent to send their cavalry to the Southward, to assist their army there rather than carry them to a beseiged place, where they must waste their supplies but render very little service.
Should they apprehend a maritime superiority, and intend moving with their whole force Southerly, then their precautions seem prudent for preventing the marquis's superior army from subsisting in their rear; and of course for procuring to themselves an unimpeded march. Whatever may be their designs, I am persuaded we ought to be in as much readiness as our circumstances will admit, and therefore I have ordered all the rifle men from the Districts of Salisbury and Hillsborough in order to dispute with them the passes on the waters of Roanoke. I have also issued orders to the commanding officers of two counties within your district, vizt: Franklin and Warren to the same purpose, because I am here so much nearer to them than you are, and ordered them to march towards Burton's ferry, to be ready for further orders. I must beg the favor of you to issue your orders to the other counties in your district, to make an effort to the same purpose, and to direct them to such places on Roanoke as you deem advisable. My intention is to dispute with the enemy the passage of that river, & if nothing but cavalry attempts it, I am not afraid, provided our people will fight, of preventing their passage. If the whole British army moves, I may even then retard them until the Marquis can come up with them. These objects are worth our attempt; and if the remissness or
A little time might enable us to make a better arrangement, and be always ready, but at present little can be expected from any effort, but nevertheless they must not be neglected. I should be very happy to see you as soon as the affairs of your District will admit. No council yet. Only General Butler arrived. Your brother, I suppose, is delayed by his attention to the movements of the enemy. Pray tell him to come hither as soon as possible.