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Letter from James H. Craig to Abner Nash
Craig, James H.
June 20, 1781
Volume 22, Pages 1023-1025


Wilmington, 20th June, 1781.


I cannot let pass this opportunity of addressing myself to you on a subject which I expect will meet with more attention than I

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suppose would be paid to it by the perpetrator of the actions I am forced to complain of—the inhuman treatment imposed on the King’s friends on every occasion and by every party of militia now in arms, obliges me to adopt some serious resolution to put, if possible, an end to it—the deliberate and wanton murders daily committed on them call, I should imagine, as much for your attention as they do for vengeance on my part. It is now my business to assure you, sir, that the former alone can prevent the latter.

Had I listened only to the first emotions excited by the account of Mr. Caswell’s conduct in Murderingfive men at Kingstown who were carried to him from New River; Mr. Saml. Ashe and his comrades who were put in irons for the purpose would have become the immediate victims to his unwarrantable cruelty—fortunately for them I am a Soldier and have been taught to look on the deliberate & unnecessary shedding of blood to be repugnant to my principles as such, as the sparing the Enemies of my King in the field. I therefore determined to adopt every method I could think of to prevent the necessity which could alone justify to my own mind that extremity, to the world I am sure I should have been fully justified by the cause alone—several instances which have happened since both in that quarter and in Duplin county, have very nearly forced me to have recourse to the expedient I wish to avoid, even without previous representation, which I was at a loss how to make, as I knew not where to address you, and was determined never to have any communication with people capable of ordering such actions, & whose inhumanity gave me every reason to suppose, their answer would be the immediate occasion of the extremity I wished to avoid.

I now, Sir, call on you to use your efforts to put a stop to a proceeding which promises such additional misery to the people over whom you now preside. I fully discharge my duty in this address and shall think myself perfectly unanswerable for the consequences of its being disregarded. After allowing a reasonable time for the interposition of your authority I shall think myself called on by Justice, Duty, & I may add ultimately by every consideration of humanity, to give the people who from the most laudable principles of loyalty take arms in the King’s favour, ample revenge & satisfaction for every instance of murdercommitted by any party of Militia on one of them, and for this purpose I shall not hesitate to deliver over to them those Prisoners who from character or situation

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are most likely to gratify them in those sentiments, and produce the effect I ardently wish for, of preventing a repition of those barbarities, however I persuade myself there will be no necessity for having recourse to these means as it will be with the utmost regret I shall aggravate the miseries to which all countries are liable when the seat of war. My wish ever is to soften them as much as is consistent with my duty & in this I know my own wishes to coincide with the intentions of my superiors.

I am, Sir,
Your most Obed. Servant,
Major 82d Regmt., Commandg. at Wilmington.