The Papers of Henry Laurens

[Page 337]

William Tennent to Henry Laurens

Dear Sir.

We expect to write you a publick Letter next Wednesday[2] but opporty. offering I must inform you that after visiting the upper part of Col: Richardson's Regt: and the High Dutch in the Fork between broad and Saludy Rivers the former with great Success the latter with verry little We have at length visited the great and mighty Nabob Fletchel. We found him surrounded by his Court viz Cunningham Brown and Robinson who watch all his Motions and have him under great Command: We soon found the unchangeable malignity of their minds and the inexpressible pains they were at to blind the people and fill them with Bitterness against the Gentlemen as they are called. Genl_ Gages Pamphlet is raging[Page 338] thro' the District and greedily read.[3] The Leaders have taken the same Methods with the romish Church to keep the people ignorant and in general they firmly beleive that no man that comes from below_ and that no paper printed there can speak the Truth. This was necessary in order to prevent anything we can say from taking place. We soon found that reasoning was vain with those who were fixed by Emolu royal Emoluments. But perceiving that Fletchal affected to play between we let him know that we had discovered things which he thot were a profound Secret and surpriz'd him much_ He confessed receiving a Letter from the Govr._ within five Days last and offer'd to swear that there was no harm in it and that he would not take Arms against the Country. But we surpriz'd him into a promise to assemble the Regt: next Wednesday which highly affronted Cunningham and the rest of the upper House some of whom treated us with Insolence upon it. We expect to meet the Regt._ accordingly and many of our Freinds whom I have advertized of it will be thier, some having intimated a Design to put some trick upon us. In the Mean time Mr. Drayton is gone up to his Iron Works and to the People about Lawsons Fork[4] where he will do some thing. I turn'd my Course into the New Acquisition where I am to have a Meeting from Day to Day in Col: Neals Regt:[5] I think I shall fix this District in the right Cause. I[Page 339] discovered on my way a Scheme to surprize Fort Charlotte and take all the Powder and Arms away:[6] took an Affedavit of it and sent it express to Mr. Drayton so hope it will be prevented. The Govr. has undoubtedly given Orders for it and they are privately enlisting Volunteers to the Service. I shall this Morng: privately obtain Affedavits to prove that Major Robinson has attempted to inlist many in the King's Name assuring them that he had a Number of Commissions in his Pocket which should be distributed to the most worthy and that they should have King's Pay after ten Days; He is just return'd and it is known that he met the Govr. at Dorchester. They think that they are nearly ripe to shew themselves and make no Scruple to threaten the whole province with Devastation in a short time. They say that Cameron is among the overhill Cherokees and will soon join them with 3000 Gunmen. I have just heerd that the lower Towns will not join them but confess that the overhill Indians are preparing to Fight for the King. In short your Friends in Town are preparing a great Dish of Blood for you and expect soon by their Army not only to have an Assylum to fly to but to bear down all before them. This both you and I have prophesied many times but a lethiferous Slumber seems to have seal'd the Eyes of some of our Brethren. Robinson assures the People here that a greet Multitude in town of those who have signed the Association are in the Scheme and will join them upon Notice. I am now convinced that a certain Affidavit which some have so much despised is with a small Exception true in evry particuler. There is here all the Appearance of an hellish Plott. And the Freinds of America have no Amunition and may be surprized without Remedy. I wish the Council would think of this. We have greatly weakened and expect more to weaken them_ but to over set the plan immidietely is impossible. I have formed and am our and am forming in this District another Troop of volunteer Horse Rangers who are as good as sworn to the Council of Safety when they enlist. We are hemming in the Dissidents on all sides as much[Page 340] as possible. But their Leaders seem determined if possible to bring the People to draw Blood before they have time to be enlightened. I have forsook my Chaise and ride on Horse Back from Day to Day meeting People.

And In great Haste Am
Dear Sir
most obedt Servt_

Wm: Tennent

P.S This Comes by Joseph Woods Esqr[7] a worthy Magistrate in the new Acquisition of whom if you enquire you may learn many Things.

If you do not keep a look out these People and the Savages will receive Ammunition by Waggons from Town by Waggon or from Dorchester from on board the Fleet; they have no doubt of a supply.
ALS, Gibbes Collection, ScA; addressed below close "To the honble Henry Lawrence Esqr_"; dated below close "Bullocks Creek 20th Augst. 1775"; docketed by HL "Revd. W. Tennent Bullock's / Creek_ 20 Augt 1775 / Read in Council 30th."; numbered "25-19".
[1.] Bullock's Creek is an eastern tributary of the Broad River that enters the Broad above the Pacolet River.
[2.] Tennent probably meant a letter to the Council of Safety rather than to HL. The next correspondence from the emissaries to the Council of Safety was dated Thursday August 24. Gibbes, Documentary History, I, 156-157.
[3.] In a subsequent letter to the Council of Safety, August 24, Tennent and Drayton reported: "We have the pleasure, however, to inform you, that the address from the people of England to the people of America appears to have lost its credit." Gibbes, Documentary History, I, 147. This reference is to Sir John Dalrymple's The Address of the People of Great Britain to the Inhabitants of America (London, 1775). In this earlier letter, Tennent may have simply been confused as the editors have found no evidence that Gen. Thomas Gage published a pamphlet at this time.
[4.] Lawson's Fork, the northernmost point reached by Drayton during his expedition to the frontier, was located between the branches of the Pacolet River. Drayton had recently (July 21, 1775) obtained land grants in the back country totalling 4,000 acres. One of the grants was for 500 acres in Ninety Six District on a branch of Lawson's Fork called Brown's Branch. This land was bounded on the north by William Wofford's land. It was on Wofford's land that South Carolina's first iron works, established in 1773, was located. Drayton may have had plans to erect a similar facility in the region. Royal Grants, XXXVII (1775), 192, 193, 194, 195, 196, 197, 198, 199, ScA; Writers' Program of the Works Progress Administration, A History of Spartanburg County ([Spartanburg, S.C.], 1940), p. 18.
[5.] Col. Thomas Neel (Neal, Neale, Neil, Neyle) (1750-1809) of the New Acquisition regiment of militia, had been active in North Carolina politics before the 1772 boundary settlement between the Carolinas. A member for the New Acquisition in the Provincial Congresses and in the First and Second General Assemblies, he was killed at the Battle of Stono. Directory of the S.C. House, III, 523-524.
[6.] Zachariah Bell swore in an affidavit taken by Ezekiel Polk on Aug. 18, 1775, that he had overheard a conversation near Colonel Fletchall's house concerning a plan to capture gunpowder. He had heard neither the names of the participants nor the place from which the powder was to be taken. Tennent, however, deduced from this evidence that the tories planned an attempt to retake Fort Charlotte. Gibbes, Documentary History, I, 147.
[7.] Joseph Woods (Wood) (1723-1776), a native of Ireland who immigrated to Prince Frederick parish, S.C., by way of Pennsylvania in the 1750s, had moved to the New Acquisition in 1774 and represented that district in the Second Provincial Congress. Directory of the S.C. House, III, 787.