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Letter from Benedict Arnold to Henry Clinton [Extracts]
Arnold, Benedict, 1741-1801
March 08, 1781
Volume 17, Pages 992-993

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EXTRACTS FROM A LETTER FROM BRIGADIER GENERAL ARNOLD TO SIR HENRY CLINTON, DATED PORTSMOUTH, MARCH 8th, 1781.

“On the 6th I received Information that my Lord Cornwallis had not penetrated further than the Dan or Roanoke Rivers, and that in consequence of the Misinformation (sent to the Rebel Army by Express, as mentioned in my last) being contradicted, their Detachment had returned to their Army at Suffolk, as well as Mr. Gregory to the Northwest Bridge. Their Force at the former Place, 3,000 men; at the latter, 500. On this Change of Affairs the Troops under the orders of Colonel Dundas, who were designed up the James River, were countermanded; but as they were on board Ship, and a favorable Opportunity offering to attack the Enemy's Post at the half way House between Hampton and York, twelve Miles from the former, Lieut. Col. Dundas, being joined by Thirty dismounted Dragoons of the Queen's Rangers, proceeded in Boats on the Night of the 7th to the back River, thirty Miles from his Ships, on the Chesapeak Bay, where he landed at 4 O'clock about 200 Men, Two Boats with a part of his Detachment having parted with him in a thick Fog and heavy Squall of Wind and Rain. He marched three miles to the Enemy's Post, which he found had been evacuated three Nights before. He, however, destroyed a small Magazine of about One hundred Stand of Arms, some Provision and Ammunition, and on his way to Newport News fell in with a Party of Forty of the Enemy; a Skirmish ensued, in which fourteen of the Enemy were left dead on the Field and Seventeen made Prisoners. Among the former was a Colonel Mallery, and a Colonel Curl among the latter. Lieut. Stewart, of the 80th Regiment, was killed in Action. Lieut. Salisbury, of the Romulus, and two Privates slightly wounded. Lieut. Col. Dundas had his Horse shot under him, and upon this, as well as every other occasion, has behaved with great Bravery.

“The Enemy within two Days have moved with their Force, said to be upwards of three thousand Men, to Brisket's Mills, twelve Miles from this Place, and threaten an attack upon us. I have every reason to believe that they have collected this Force to co-operate with the French Ships and Troops, which they hourly expect from Rhode Island.

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“I have invited the Commodore to meet Lieut. Col's Dundas, Simco, Robinson, & myself, with some of his Officers, to determine our mode of Defence in case of an attack, which I expect will be done this Evening or tomorrow Morning. I am clearly of opinion that if the Commodore gives up Crany Island Bar, that every King's Ship and Transport here will fall a Sacrifice in forty Eight Hours after the Arrival of a superior Fleet and Army to ours.

“We are, however, all in High Spirits, not doubting but that our Wants and critical Situation will be properly attended to.”