Letter from Archibald Maclaine to Thomas Burke
Maclaine, Archibald, 1728-1790
Volume 22, Pages 536-538
A. MACLAINE TO GOV. BURKE.
Sampson Hall, 30th June, 1781.
It is with great pleasure, on account of the Public as well as your self, that I have an opportunity to congratulate you
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on the important and Honorable Trust with which the Gen’l Assembly have invested you. I am sanguine enough to flatter myself that it will give a speedy relief to this distressed country; distressed by a Handful of British Tories, who might have been almost instantly expelled, had there been but a small portion of virtue and common sense among those who conducted an opposition to them. But nothing can be expected without some fixed plan, executed by a few good Officers. Our Brigade will fight, but that is all. I am informed that an express went from Duplin Court House Yesterday with a Copy of Gen’l Lillington’s Billet to the Commanding Officer of the County. The substance of this was that the British and Tories, amounting to 800, were advancing towards New River Chappel, and were about 15 or 16 Miles from it. I do not know whether this can be depended on, but I think it impossible that the Number can be great. My letter to Governor Nashe, which must of course have been delivered to you, gave a nearly true account of the force in Wilmington. The Tories are in Numbers inconsiderable; but it is their business to multiply, and it appears to be the Inclination of the People to swallow whatever is asserted. Their Fears at least induce them to do so. I have been informed that in the Articles for an exchange of prisoners, Held by the Generals Greene and Cornwallis, none are to be considered as prisoners of War but those taken in Arms; but if this is true it appears to be an absurdity that it should be otherwise (many persons about Cape Fear whose Hands are now tied) will be at Liberty to act. Mr. S. Schann in particular might be very useful, and he is extremely impatient of his present situation. But above all, may I be permitted to insinuate that your interposition with Major Craig might prevent the shameful practice of kidnapping people in their Houses by the British Tories. A Mr. Dickerson, formerly a Lt. Col. in the Georgia Line, and now a refugee from the Neighborhood of Wilmington, is willing to enter into the service, if any Troops are raised; and it is said well qualified for the Office of Adjutant-General. I believe that it cannot be disputed that he is well acquainted with the manual exercise, and the different evolutions of an Army; and if no better man offers, I hope, for the sake of the Public, that he may be appointed. He is known to many of the Members and others.
Mr. Grainger sends the Bearer for a Flag to go to Wilmington, or more properly to the British Lines. His Business is of great Importance.
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Having married the widow of the late Mr. Ancrum, to whom his wife (with Mr. Quince and Mr. Brice) is Executrix, he is desirous to get some settlement with Mr. Brice, who is also one of Mr. Ancrum’s partners in trade. Mr. Brice is one of those who have petitioned to be admitted to that distinguished Honor of being a British Subject; has all the Account Books and papers, as well as the slaves (the private property of Mrs. Grainger and her children) in his possession, and does not seem to be disposed to part with any Thing; and if the British should leave this, undoubtedly intends, from what he said to me, to carry every movable with him. What a misfortune it is that we cannot get two or three small armed Vessels, and a frigate, which would effectually impound those intruders. The Continental Currency, as well as our Own, is in a most deplorable Condition; (∗torn out). I confess myself a bad One, and therefore can not even sugest a useful hint. I have been much indisposed, but were the Assembly sitting at any convenient place for business, I believe I should have paid them a visit. If it should be thought that I can be of any service during the recess, I shall gladly contribute my mite in any detachment, under an administration from which I have great expectations.
I am, with perfect respect and esteem, Dear sir,
Your Excellency’s obedient Servant,
I enclose your Excellency a letter from Mr. Simpson and Mr. Burgess, of Cross Creek. All I can add to it is that Col. Rowan, long since told me that those Gentlemen staid at the particular request of the other Inhabitants, and it appears to me that the peculiar situation of Simpson and Burgess should be considered, unless they are relieved by the Articles of exchange. I enclose a copy of Lillington’s orders to Walton.
Endorsed—Letter from Archibald MacLaine, dated June 30th, 1781. Rec’d July 1st; answered July 2nd.