Letter from Charles Cornwallis, Marquis Cornwallis to William
Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, Marquis, 1738-1805
Volume 17, Pages 1019-1020
EARL CORNWALLIS TO MAJ. GEN. PHILLIPS.
Wilmington, 24th April, 1781.
My situation here is very distressing. Greene took the advantage of my being
obliged to come to this place, and has marched to South Carolina. My expresses
to Lord Rawdon on my leaving Cross Creek warning him of the possibility of such
a Movement have all failed. Mountaineers & Militia have poured into the
back part of that province, and I much fear that Lord Rawdon's posts
will be so distant from each other and his Troops so scattered as to put him in
the greatest danger of being beat in detail, and the worst of consequences
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may happen to most of the Troops out of
Charlestown. By a direct Move towards Camden I cannot get time enough to relieve
Lord Rawdon, and should he have fallen, my Army would be exposed to the utmost
danger from the great rivers I should have to pass, the exhausted state of the
Country, the numerous Militia, the almost universal spirit of revolt which
prevails in South Carolina, and the strength of Greene's Army, whose
Continentals alone are at least as numerous as I am. And I could be of no use on
my arrival at Charlestown, there being nothing at present to apprehend for that
post. I shall therefore March immediately up the Country by Duplin Court House,
pointing towards Hillsborough, in hopes to withdraw Greene; if that should not
succeed, I should be much tempted to try to form a junction with you. The
Attempt is exceedindly hazardous, and many unforeseen difficulties may render it
totally impracticable, so that you must not take any steps that may expose your
Army to the danger of being ruined. I shall March to the lowest ford of the
Roanoke, which I am informed is about 20 Miles above Taylor's Ferry.
Send every possible intelligence to me by the Cypher I enclose, and make every
Movement in your power to facilitate our Meeting, which must be somewhere near
Petersburg, with safety to your Army. I mention the lowest ford because in a
hostile Country Ferries cannot be depended upon. But if I should decide upon the
measure of endeavoring to come to you, I shall endeavor to surprise the boats at
some of the ferries from Halifax upwards.
I am, dear Phillips, Most faithfully yrs.,
Major Gen'l Phillips.