Letter from Thomas Burke to Abner Nash
Burke, Thomas, ca. 1747-1783
Volume 15, Pages 773-775
DR. THOMAS BURKE TO GOVERNOR NASH.
Tyaquin, July 19th, 1780.
I wrote the enclosed at the time of its date, but never could meet an opportunity until now; General Huger, who waits on you with some important business from General Gates, is pleased to take charge of a packet from me for you. Having so good an opportunity I will now communicate more fully, what I only hinted at in the former letter.
The Court of France has communicated to Congress, through their Minister, that they are very apprehensive that next Winter will produce an armed mediation on the part of some of the European powers; the condition whereof will be that each of the contending parties retain the possessions acquired during the War.
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And it was most strongly recommended, that, during the present campaign, such efforts be made on our part as may entirely expell the Enemy from the bounds of the United States, lest we should be reduced to the disagreeable dilemma of yielding some of our Country, or continuing the War against the present Enemy and the mediator united. To enable us, more certainly, to effect so important a purpose, the King of France has ordered a fleet of eight sail of the Line and eight thousand troops to our assistance; and I believe they will arrive some time this month. This view of affairs has produced some alterations in the Councils of America, and such as must naturally result from the Common principles of human conduct. The present being considered as a decisive campaign, each State is anxious for the Expulsion of the Enemy from the ports in which it is most immediately interested, and of course will endeavor to have as much of the common force as they can employ for that purpose. New York, being interesting to so many States, necessarily becomes the first object, and the Southern States but secondary, hence, it is manifest that we have nothing to expect in the articles of force or provisions from the northward, and that our principle reliance must be on our own resources, and as on the wise and effectual application of them depends, not only our hopes of a peace, but of future security, the object becomes of the most interesting importance.
There are now troops assembling both here and in Virginia. Arms and ammunition are ordered and coming forward from the northward. Here is an experienced and successful commander, and we have a very valuable Corps of Continental Troops and a good train of Artillery. All these must be useless unless provisions and carriages are supplied. The obtaining them by partial Impressments must prove inadequate, and extremely burthensome wherever exercised, and must have the pernicious effect of estranging the people. There is the most evident necessity for an animated prudence and assiduity for improving the little time left to the best advantage possible. Your important Dignity makes it incumbent upon and necessary for you to take the lead in the necessary measures, and to give vigor to every subordinate Department, and I doubt not you will immediately make such efforts as are requisite to compleat the public arrangements. As the War must be carried on, at least for some time to the Westward, General Gates wishes to
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have your presence here. I beg leave to add, to his, my concurring opinion, and my wish that you would order the Council to meet you at Hillsborough. This must appear eligible when it is considered that the necessary supplies of provisions must be obtained from the Western Country, and that the aid of the Executive authority is absolutely requisite for obtaining them. For my own part, Sir, I consider it necessary, without delay, to obtain exact estimates of all the Provisions in the State, and to procure certain proportions to be collected into Magazines. This would not be difficult to effect if the people were assured of payment without depreciation. This, it is highly just and reasonable they should be, and as all others in the Continent are, there is no reason to doubt it with respect to our Citizens—nor must the Execution of such a plan, as is too usually, be committed to obscure or indigent persons. I doubt not, public-spirited Gentlemen can be found who will render this essential service to their Country. I will assist in every way in my power, and if you come to Hillsborough I hope we may mature a plan which will procure the necessary supplies for the Army.
I hope you will attribute my Interposition to the true Cause, my zeal and anxiety for the success of our affairs.
I have, &c.,