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Letter from William Sharpe to Richard Caswell
Sharpe, William, 1742-1818
December 05, 1779
Volume 14, Pages 230-231

[From Executive Letter Book.]

Philadelphia, Dec'r 5th, 1779.


The North Carolina Brigade is at this place on their way to join Genl. Lincoln. Their number is about seven hundred, rank and file. It is not altogether certain whether they will go by land or water. I rather think the former. Genl. Washington holds the Virginia Troops in readiness to march there also. Yesterday

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Congress sent advice for them to move on immediately. Their number cannot be reckoned at more than 13 or 1400, as a large number of that line will have served out the time for which they were enlisted in March next. Three or four weeks ago the Enemy at New York had embarked 8,000 Troops, but they were countermanded, supposed to be in consequence of Count de Grasse being in or near Chesapeake. Genl. Washington is of opinion that they are preparing to embark again, but cannot learn their destination. They have lately received despatches from their Court, the Contents of which have not transpired.

We have repeated accounts of an engagement in the English Channel on the 4th of September, and that the combined Fleet was victorious, but not authenticated agreeable to our wishes.

Our Army is busy cantoning—one division on the east side Hudson River, the Cavalry near Danberry, in the border of Connecticut, the main body near the Scot's plains on this side the river. It is supposed head quarters will be at Morris Town.

It would be improper to mention to you on paper the number of our Army. Much might be said of their virtue, good order and discipline. The collected force of the Enemy in New York and its vicinity is supposed to be upward of sixteen thousand. If they were enterprising the consequences might be serious.

Our Treasury is nearly exhausted; we have great dependence on the several States for its restoration; we are about to negotiate to the amount of £200,000 Sterling in Bills of exchange on our Minister at Madrid and our Commissioner, who has gone to Holland, from which we hope for some relief. I momently look for Messrs. Burke, Penn & Jones to deliver Mr. Harnett and myself from the house of bondage. I entreat your Excellency to do me the honor to address a few lines to me in Rowan, which is a place destitute of good intelligence.

With the utmost esteem and respect,
I am, Sir, your Mo. ob. huml. Serv't,
Gov. Caswell.

P. S. I this moment recollected my having taken an Extract of Genl. Washington's letter of the 20th Ulto., which I enclose you. That to which it refers is of a secret nature.