Letter from [William Campbell?] to Alexander Martin
Volume 22, Pages 602-604
LETTER TO GOV. ALEX. MARTIN.
Wilmington, 19th December, 1781.
I have just now heard that you were at Halifax, and as Mr. Bacot sets off next morning, I would not omit giving you some account of the situation. The depredations committed by the Western militia upon friends and foe are scarce to be parallelled. All Mr. Clayton’s negroes and other movables are carried off as lawful plunder by those who never ventured their persons for any of it; and what should go into the Coffers of the State is applied to inrich individuals. Several negroes and horses, the property of noted whigs, are also taken. Salt and other property, belonging to my brother and Mr. Hogg, of Hillsborough, has been carried away, not through ignorance, for the officers were told to whom it belonged; and what is still more unaccountable if possible, the General declined to deliver it kind, or even to give any acknowledgement for it, though they had sufficient quantity of what was indisputably seizable. The pretence was, that as General Rutherford had given each of his men a bushel of Salt, Butler’s and all the other Militia then in Arms were intitled to the same donations. That the Public, and even private persons, whom attachment to the State is unquestionable, are to be plundered; to satisfy the rapacity of a set of men whose sole merit consists in dispersing a few insignificant Tories. All this is now past, and must be remedied (if it can at all be remedied) by the higher powers. At present we lie under hardships though perhaps less enormous, yet no less perplexing. A small body
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of militia are stationed here, under the command of Col. Young, for what good purpose I cannot learn. We are told that it is to prevent the Inhabitants from being insulted and abused, and some other trifling reasons are given. If we who have been absent have any provender brought to town for our horses it is seized for the light horse. Our negroes, going about our lawful business, and even in the Act of bringing fuel, without which we cannot exist in this season, are impressed, and all this is done without any warrant, or any Certificate given. Those who have been exiles for near 10 Months, have indeed had them in some instances given up, after they have been much abused. What is no less hard, Rum, Sugar, Coffee and tea are impressed for the use of this Militia, by what authority I do not know. There are none or scarcely any of these articles to be sold. A little has been reserved for private use, and the only way we, who have been absent, have to supply ourselves is a dependence on those who spare a little from their own stores. Even the negroes or orphans, who are intended to be hired out the beginning of the ensueing year, are not free from impressment. Possibly the resistance that would have been made by some few who are not under the lash of the Law might have operated at least as an abatement of these severeities, had not their respect for Col. Young, whose intentions are undoubtedly pure, have restrained them. But his Ideas are unhappily confused. He is incapable of method, and, what is much worse, he appears deaf to the voice of reason, as well as to the dictates of law; and like mankind in general is too apt to have a high opinion of his own authority. In his disposition there is no better man, therefore, I would not wish that he should incur any censure, but it is necessary for his own sake, as well as for the sake of the Inhabitants, on whom the whole burthen lies, that some regulations should take place, if the Militia are continued imbodied; of which, however, I see not the least necessity. There have been several reports about the sitting of the Assembly, but I understand the time is not determined. May I presume to say that it would perhaps be better to let the minds of men cool before they are assembled. If there is no pressing emergency, would it not be more eligible to wait for a new election, when there will probably be a full and fair representation. They would at least save the trouble of meeting twice within a short time. I conclude when the Assembly does meet a Bill will be immediately proposed for confiscating the
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estates of absentees. This is the usual summary method of our proceedings. I am sure I need not tell you that the regular constitutional mode would be to pass an act to attaint certain persons therein to be mentioned unless they should surrender by a day to be fixed for that purpose. I should not have troubled you with this observation at present, did I not know that some of those who with drew from the State mean to return, and their only reason for going (as I am told) was that they [Rest of letter missing].