I have the satisfaction to inform your Lordship that His Majesty's Troops under my command obtained a signal Victory on the 15th Inst. over the Rebel Army, commanded by General Greene.
In pursuance of my intended Plan, communicated to your Lordship in my dispatch No., &c., I had encamped on the 13th Inst. at the Quakers' Meeting, between the forks of Deep River. On the 14th I received information that General Butler with a body of North Carolina Militia, and the expected Reinforcements from Virginia, said to consist of a Virginia State Regiment, a Corps of Virginia eighteen months men, 3,000 Virginia Militia, & Recruits for the Maryland Line, had joined General Greene, and that the whole Army, which was reported to amount to 9,000 or 10,000 men, was marching to attack the British Troops. During the afternoon intelligence was brought, which was confirmed in the night, that he had advanced that day to Guilford, about 12 miles from our Camp. Being now persuaded that he had resolved to hazard an engagement, after detaching Lieut. Colonel Hamilton with our Waggons and Baggage, escorted by his own Regiment, a detachment of 100 Infantry and 20 Cavalry, towards Bell's Mill on Deep River, I marched with the rest of the Corps, at daybreak on the morning of the 15th, to meet the Enemy or to attack them in their encampment. About four miles from Guilford our advanced Guard, commanded by Lieut. Colonel Tarleton, fell in with a Corps of the Enemy, consisting of Lee's Legion, some back Mountain Men, and Virginia Militia, which he attacked with his usual good conduct and Spirit, and defeated. And continuing our March, we found the Rebel Army posted on rising Grounds about a mile and a half from the Court House. The Prisoners taken by Lieut. Colonel Tarleton having been several days with the advanced Corps, could give no account of the Enemy's Order or position, and the Country people were extremely inaccurate in their description of the Grounds. Immediately between the head of the Column and the Enemy's Line was a considerable Plantation, one large Field of which was
On the right, the Regiment of Bose and the 71st Regiment, led by Major General Leslie, and supported by the 1st Battalion of Guards; on their left, the 23d and 33d Regiments, led by Lieut. Colonel Webster & supported by the Grenadiers, and 2d Battalion of Guards, commanded by Brigadier General O'Hara. The Yagers and Light Infantry of the Guards remained in the wood on the left of the Guns, and the Cavalry in the Road, ready to act as circumstances might require. Our preparations being made, the Action began about half an hour past one in the afternoon. Major General Leslie, after being obliged by the great extent of the Enemy's Line to bring up the 1st Battalion of Guards to the right of the Regiment of Bose, soon defeated everything before him. Lieut. Colonel Webster having joined the left of Major General Leslie's division, was no less successful in his front, when on finding that the left of the 33d was exposed to a heave fire from the right Wing of the Enemy, he changed his front to the left, & being supported by the Yagers & Light Infantry of the Guards, attacked & routed it. The Grenadiers & 2d Battalion of Guards, moving forward to occupy the Ground, left vacant by the movement of Lieut. Colonel Webster.
All the Infantry being now in the Line, Lieut. Colonel Tarleton had directions to keep his Cavalry compact, and not to charge without positive orders, except to protect any of the Corps from the most evident danger of being defeated. The excessive thickness of the woods rendered our bayonets of little use, and enabled the broken
From our own observation, and the best accounts we could procure, we did not doubt but the strength of the enemy exceeded 7,000 men. Their Militia composed their Line, with parties advanced to the Rails of the Fields in their front, the Continentals were posted obliquely in the rear of their right wing. Their Cannon fired on us, whilst we were forming, from the center of the Line of Militia, but were withdrawn to the Continentals before the attack.
I have the honor to inclose to your Lordship, the list of our killed and wounded. Captain Schwutz's wound is supposed to be mortal, but the Surgeons assure me, that none of the other Officers are in danger, and that a great number of the men will soon recover. I cannot ascertain the loss of the enemy, but it must have been considerable, between 2 & 300 dead were left upon the field. Many of their wounded that were able to move, whilst we were employed in the care of our own, escaped and followed the routed enemy, and our Cattle Drivers and foraging parties have reported to me, that the houses in a circle of 6 or 8 miles around us are full of others. Those that remained we have taken the best care of in our power. We took few prisoners owing to the excessive thickness of the woods facilitating their escape, and every man of our army being repeatedly wanted for action.
The conduct and actions of the Officers and Soldiers that compose this little Army, will do more justice to their merit, than I can by words. Their persevering intrepidity in Action, their invincible patience in the hardships and fatigues of a march of above 600 miles, in which they have forded several large Rivers, and numberless
I have been particularly indebted to Major General Leslie, for his gallantry and exertion in the Action, as well as his Assistance in every other part of the Service. The zeal & Spirit of Brigadier General O'Hara, merit my highest commendations, for, after receiving two dangerous wounds, he continued in the field while the Action lasted. By his earnest attention on all other occasions, seconded by the Officers and Soldiers of the Brigade, His Majesty's Guards are no less distinguished by their order and discipline than by their Spirit and valour.
The Hessian Regiment of Bose, deserves my warmest praises for its discipline, alacrity and Courage, and does honor to Major Du Buy who commands it, and who is an Officer of superior merit.
I am much obliged to Brigadier General Howard, who served as Volunteer, for his spirited example on all occasions.
Lieut. Colonel Webster conducted his Brigade like an Officer of experience and Gallantry. Lieut. Colonel Tarleton's good conduct & spirit in the management of his Cavalry, was conspicuous during the whole action, & Lieut. Macleod, who commanded the Artillery, proved himself, upon this, as well as all former occasions, a most capable & deserving Officer. The attention and exertion of my Aides-de-Camp, and of all the other public Officers of the Army, contributed very much to the success of the day.
I have constantly received the most zealous assistance from Governor Martin during my command in the southern district. Hoping that his presence would tend to incite the loyal Subjects of this Province to take an active part with us, he has cheerfully submitted to the fatigues and dangers of our Campaign, but his delicate constitution has suffered by his public spirit, for by advice of the Physicians, he is now obliged to return to England for the recovering his health.
This part of the Country is so totally destitute of subsistence that forage is not nearer than nine miles, and the Soldiers have been two days without bread; I shall therefore leave about 70 of the
This Dispatch will be delivered to Your Lordship by my Aidede-camp Captain Brodrick, who is a very promising Officer, and whom I beg leave to recommend to Your Lordship's Countenance and favor. I have the honor to be with great respect My Lord, Your Lordship's Most obedient & Most humble Servant,