The Papers of General Nathanael Greene

To Benjamin Harrison[1]


I receivd your favor a few days since.[2]
I have been in this Department so little while and found it in such a state of confusion and disorder that I have not been able to obtain the necessary returns for my own information. It is out of my power to tell what stores belong to the department much less what State they came from. All that I know is there is few or no Stores with theArmy and that the greater part of the Troops are naked; nor have any provisions except what we are obliged to collect from day to day.
Our force is next to nothing. There is between 7 & 800 Men from Virginia more than one half of which are little less than naked. There is besides those, the first and third regiments of Light Dragoons. If they can be said to belong to Virginia which amount to a little more than 200 not two thirds are yet in the field for want of supplies of various kinds.
Maryland has upwards of a 1000 Men belonging to the Southern Department. Many of them are in the hospitals owing to the excessive fatigue they were exposed to the last campaign. The Maryland Troops are for the war, the Virginia Troops only have about 9 months to serve. Besides the forgoing there is Lt Col [Henry] Lees Legion amounting to about 240 Men for the war.
North and South Carolinia have not a man in the field except militia and the greater part of these as Volunteers. General [Edward] Stevens with the Virginia Militia is on the march home all except 80 who are to continue 2 months longer. There is one Company of Artillery belonging to the Continental Regiment command'd by Col [Charles] Harrison little more than half full. There is also some State artillery but their time of service is out in a day or two.
We have no Magazines of provisions and very few stores of any kind; nor have I a shilling of money to help my self.
The Country is much ravaged, provision and forage scarse, and not a drop of spirits for either Men or officers nor have we soap[,] Candles and a thousand other things necessary for an Army. The hospital is also in a deplorable condition. This is a short state of the Southern Army whose operating force is triffling and whose wants are numberless.
I wish our situation was better and our prospects more promising. But our real state is worse than this account[,] bad as it is. It would give me pleasure to give you a more agreeable one; but I cannot without misrepresenting facts. And I have only to add that if Virginia dont form the Magazine speedily upon the Roanoke we shall be obligd to disband our force for want of provisions.[3]
I am Sir with great respect

Your Most obed humble Ser

N Greene

Autograph draft signed (MiU-C).
    [1.] Benjamin Harrison was speaker of the House of Delegates in the Virginia General Assembly.
    [2.] The letter has not been found.
    [3.] In regard to the magazine, see PGNG, 6: 494n. Harrison was soon to represent Virginia as a special envoy to Congress and the French minister. The Virginia legislature had instructed him to present in Philadelphia a "clear state of the war in this quarter," and he had no doubt asked NG for a report on conditions in the Southern Department to help him prepare for his mission. (See Madison, Papers, 2: 221n; Boyd, Jefferson Papers, 4: 468n.) After Congress heard from Harrison, it voted on 20 February to add the Pennsylvania line to the Southern Department and to provide additional supplies for the Southern Army. ( JCC, 19: 142, 176-78)