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Letter from Whitmel Hill to Thomas Burke
Hill, Whitmel, 1743-1797
October 09, 1780
Volume 15, Pages 91-94


Dr. Mr. Burke.

Many opportunities from your place have offered since I had the pleasure of receiving yr. last, and as you have not noticed them by a Line to me, must suppose that you waited the Rise of the Assembly, when you would have it in your power to afford me some satisfaction in consequence of the measures adopted by them for the Defence of the Country, and for supplying the Army with necessaries immediately, &c. I hope our State, with the assistance it may rece ve from Virg., will be able to repell the Invasion from our own State, except a considerable Reinforcement should be sent Cornwallis this Winter, which event we ought to be prepared for, as I know of no Obstacle to prevent it. The Campaign in this quarter has been altogether inactive as yet. Our Hopes and our Fears have been alternately wrought on, one day encouraged with the Intelligence of the arrival of the French Fleet, and the next depressed by receiving certain accts. of a superior British Fleet being arrived at N. York. A very considerable Embarkation has taken place at N. Y. very lately, which it is one day said to be destined to attack the French Army and Fleet at Rhode Island; the next, that Virg. is their Object. However, the late discovery of yr. Friend Arnold's Treason fully convinces me that their great preparation was for the Reduction of Wt. Point, which, it seems, would have been an easy conquest, Arnold having previously sold that important Post. The particulars of this Villany has not reached us, but from what we can collect it is something like the following: Mr. Andree, the Adjutant

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Genl. of the British Army, came incog. to Arnold's Head Quarters, and stipulated with him the essentials for his surrendering the Post, in consequence of which Arnold gave him, in writing, the strength of the Garrison, the mode of attack to be made by the Enemy, and the manner he should conduct the Defence so as to render the Reduction certain and easy. Having adjusted matters, Arnold gave Andree a Pass, directing a free passage thro' the several Guards. In this he succeeded, and was twenty miles in his Return when he was stopped by forty Militia Men without an Officer, who, being directed by Inspiration, would not suffer him to pass without a Search, in which the above papers were discovered, and they conducted him to the nearest Continental Officer as a Spy, who immediately dispatched an Express to inform Arnold that there had been a Spye in his Camp, and that he was apprehended, at the same time describing him so as to satisfy Arnold that it was Andree; on which he immediately pushed down the River to a British Frigate, then lying about 15 Miles below. Had this event took place it must have effected us more than any Stroke we have received since the War, as our Army would have been immediately cut off from the total supply of Meat, and had the British pushed their Arms into the Eastern States there would have been no regular Army to oppose them, and no Bread to have supported the Militia, had they collected. In fact, I look on such an escape as equal to a small Victory. On Arnold's running to the Enemy his papers were seized at this place, and several of our speculating Gentry are discovered as being connected with him in Scenes of Villainous Traffic with the Enemy, &c. Yr. Friend Jas. Main's reputation suffers no small stain in consequence of those discoveries, among others. None of them have been apprehended yet, but suppose necessary steps will be fallen upon to punish such Treason.

October 9, 1780.

Since writing the within, have recd. yours & Mr. Sharpe's, and was really astonished at your mention of not having recd. a Line from me since you left this City, as I have wrote you three long Epistles besides the present, and certainly some extraordinary mishap befals them on the Road. It is no neglect of mine, as I have embraced several direct opportunities to your place in

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order to communicate what events worthy of your attention had taken place since you left us. I have no particular matter to engage your attention now except our wretched prospect of succeeding in our great Enterprise, and for a moment view this Continent contending with the most powerful people on Earth, without one Shilling of Money in the Treasury, no public Magazines of Provisions, Forage, &c., laid up for the Army, which during this Campaign have been ten times without Bread, and as often without one mouthful of Meat, notwithstanding there is a great plenty in the Country; in fact, we have nothing to buy it with but Certificates issued by the Commissary, &c. Of these the people are quite tired, and when it is to grow better I know not, as I am very apprehensive the new Emission will not have a Circulation when the attempt is made. Are you not alarmed at our Situation? Must confess I am exceedingly. Perhaps it may arise from my natural Timidity, but the more I reflect on our affairs the more gloomy prospects throw themselves within my View. Amidst all our domestic Inefficiency, our Allies appear to be at least inactive; the Armament sent to our Relief has been blocked up in Rhode Island ever since their Arrival; the British, by the latest accounts, keep the command of the channel, having, by putting to Sea early, prevented the junction of the combined Fleets; and, notwithstanding the very great superiority of the combined Fleets in the Wt. Indies, they have been hitherto inactive, and at last dwindled to nothing. In short, I know not what is to become of us.

I observe with pain the Restrictions you are obliged to make on Genl. Gates' Conduct, and have since the recpt. of your Letter prevailed on Congress to direct Genl. Washington to order a Court of Enquiry into his Conduct and to send a proper Officer to succeed him. I don't know yet who it will be, but have some Expectation it will be Green.

I write to Mr. Hart by this opportunity relative to his little Daughter, and find there is some small Difficulty in Mr. Morris's settling his accounts. As Mrs. Bordeau seems to press very much for the payments to be made in Specie, I waited on Mrs. Bordeau on the Business, and she informs me that it is necessary that her several Masters should be paid in Specie, as they would not engage to receive Paper. I believe it would be well that Col. Hart transmit

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to Mr. Morris a sum in Specie to answer these demands, it being disagreeable to every person here to make advances of Money, as they are all engaged in Speculations of one kind or another. For my part, it is not in my power to make advances, as it will be with great difficulty I shall be able to get away without borrowing, which must have been the case had I not sent home for a considerable Sum.

I am, Dr. Sir, wt. great Esteem,
Yr. most obedt. Servt.,