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Letter from Charles Cornwallis, Marquis Cornwallis to Henry Clinton
Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, Marquis, 1738-1805
December 22, 1780
Volume 15, Pages 310-311


No. 120.

Wynnesborough, 22d Decr., 1780.


I have the Pleasure to inform your Excellency that Major Gen. Leslie arrived with his whole Fleet at Charlestown on the 14th of this Month, and a great part of stores for the Quarter Master General. The Species of Troops which compose the Reinforcement are, exclusive of the Guards & Regiment of Bose, exceedingly bad. I do not mean by representing this to your Excellency to insinuate that you have not sent every Assistance to me which you cou'd with Safety & Prudence spare from New York. From the account which your Excellency does me the honor to send me of the Situation & Strength of General Washington's Army and the French Force at Rhode Island, I am convinced that you have done so. But I think it but Justice to the Troops serving in this District to State the Fact, lest the Services performed by the Southern Army shou'd appear inadequate to what might be expected from the Numbers of which it may appear to consist. The Fleet from New York with the Recruits arrived a few days before Genl. Leslie.

It was entirely owing to accident that so many Old Ships were left at Charlestown. They were very near being lost in a Gale of Wind off the Bar, & were obliged to come in to refit. I have ordered some of them to be ready to sail with the first Convoy, which will go as soon as the Officers of the Navy think they can proceed with Safety.

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As soon as the Victuallers are unloaded I shall apply to the Commanding Officer of the Navy for a Convoy to return with them to England, taking also such Transports as are unfit to continue longer in the Service, on board of which the Invalids will be embarked.

The Want of Specie in this Province puts us under the greatest difficulties. Every method has been pursued to keep the Money in the Hands of the Contractors for Government, and to prevent the Imposition of the Merchants. But the sum actually in the Province is so inadequate to the necessary Demands that we have scarcely been able to pay the Subsistence of the Troops.

I do not quite understand the State of the Cartel; but the Number of Prisoners at Charlestown is a great Inconvenience.

Lt. Col. Balfour informs me that Major Delancy requested in your Excellency's Name that he wou'd endeavor to procure some Horses to be sent to Genl. Vaughan; but the great Demand for the Service of this Province for Horses for Cavalry, mounted Infantry, & Quarter Master General's Department has put it out of his Power to do so. Cavalry Accoutrements at Charlestown are very dear & bad. Shou'd your Excellency have received from England more than are wanted for the Service at New York, they will be very useful here.

I am afraid the Expense of quartering the Troops at Charlestown will be very great, but I do not know how it can be avoided without breaking the Capitulation in Regard to the Property in Town.

I have the honour to be, &c.,
His Excellency Sir Henry Clinton.