The Papers of General Nathanael Greene

From General Daniel Morgan


I arrived here this morning. The prisoners crossed at the Island ford seventeen miles higher up the river.[1] I expect them to join me this evening. Shall send them on to Salsbury in the morning Guarded by Major Tripletts Malitia whose times expird this day. If they are to be sent any farther Major Triplett wishes, and thinks is right, that the Malitia under Genl Stephens should have the Trouble of them, as they have not under went so much fatigue as his men (that lies to you).[2]
Lord Cornwallis, whether from bad intelligence or to make a show, moved up toward Gilbert Town to intercept me the day after I had passed him.[3] I am apprehensive he will, (if he is not coming this way) return or send a party by the field of action, and take his wounded which I neglected taking a Receipt from the Doctor for.[4] And prehaps some of the arms left on the field that I had not time to colect, but left orders for that purpose with the well effected inhabitants.
I Recd your letters of the 13th instant and would endeavour to get the cloath, but being obligd to come so far out of the way with the pr[iso]ners puts it entirely out of my power. However I will communicate the matter to Colo Pickens, perhaps he may have some enterprizers that would undertake it. I have engaged one of his capts to go round and kill the enemies horses, perhaps they may do the other business.[5]
I intend to stay at this place till I hear from you. In order to recruit the men and to get in a good train, we must be fited out with pack horses for as I wrote you before waggons will not do for light Troop.[6] I intend to send Colo Pickens back immediatly in order to keep up a show of opposition, and to cut of[f] small parties that may be sent out for the purpose of destroying the country, as I expect that will be their aim to prevent us from geting supplies In that back country.[7] I have got men that is watching his movements, and will give you the earliest accounts, but I think they will be this way, if the strok we gave Tarlton dont check him.[8] I have the Honor to be with much esteem

your obedt Servt

Danl Morgan

Colo [William] Washington has this minute joind me with the prisoners. Twenty seven were taken by our light part{ys} of the Legion chiefly Dragoons and some red coats; he {says} he has heard of a number more being taken so that {at} this time we have six hundred prisoners at least
Autograph letter signed (Greene Papers: DLC). The ALS is slightly damaged, and certain words in the postscript that are in curly brackets were taken from a GWG Transcript, CSmH.
    [1.] The nearly 500 prisoners had been captured at the battle of Cowpens, which is discussed at Morgan to NG, 19 January (PGNG, 7: 152-161 ).
    [2.] Maj. Francis Triplett and Gen. Edward Stevens commanded Virginia militiamen whose tour of duty was expiring. In the portion of the sentence that is in parentheses, Morgan presumably meant that NG should decide who was to escort the prisoners. Before he could have seen Morgan's request, NG had ordered Stevens's troops to escort the prisoners to Virginia. (See NG to Stevens, 25 January (PGNG, 7: 195-196).
    [3.] "Bad intelligence" was probably the reason Cornwallis failed to prevent Morgan from moving to a position east of the British army and closer to NG's army. After learning on the evening of 17 January about Col. Banastre Tarleton's defeat, Cornwallis waited until Gen. Alexander Leslie's force joined him early the next day before putting his force in motion. On the 19th, Cornwallis was at King's Creek, but he still did not have good intelligence about Morgan's strength or position. (Graham, Morgan, p. 326) To obtain the needed information, he sent Tarleton across the Broad River on the 20th. (Tarleton, Campaigns, p. 222) The next morning, Cornwallis wrote Lord Rawdon that Morgan was reported to be at Gilbert Town. Cornwallis planned to attack him there or "follow him to the banks of the Catawba." (PRO 30/11/84) Unfortunately for Cornwallis, his news was three days old; Morgan's force had left Gilbert Town on the morning of the 19th and was approaching Ramsour's Mill on the South Fork of the Catawba River by the time Cornwallis wrote Rawdon. (Graham, Morgan, p. 328) Cornwallis pursued, but his army did not reach Ramsour's Mill until 24 January. ("British Orderly Book," p. 286)
    [4.] The British did not liberate their wounded prisoners, but instead agreed to consider them as paroled prisoners of war in exchange for the right to move them to Camden for treatment. (Pindell to Morgan, 22 January 1781, Graham, Morgan, p. 329)
    [5.] For more on the "cloath," see NG's second letter to Morgan of 13 January (PGNG, 7: 107). In a letter to Morgan of 8 January (PGNG, 7: 72-74), NG had suggested that Morgan send a party to kill draft horses, which the British were collecting near the Congaree River. It is not known which of Andrew Pickens's captains Morgan had "engaged."
    [6.] See Morgan to NG, 31 December 1780 (PGNG, 7: 30-33).
    [7.] Pickens did not return to the area of the Broad River, but remained with the army.
    [8.] Col. Samuel Hammond, one of Pickens's officers, was given the task of shadowing Cornwallis's army. (See Hammond to NG, 31 January, at PGNG, 7: 229) Morgan's second letter to NG of 25 January (PGNG, 7: 201) reported the British army's position.