The Papers of General Nathanael Greene


To Baron Steuben

My dear Sir

This will be delivered you by Major [Edward] Giles with the glorious news of the complete defeat of Col. Talton [Banastre Tarleton] by General [Daniel] Morgan, a copy of whose letter I inclose you, but as it will be indelicate to publish it before it gets to Congress and the Commander in Chief; you will therefore only mention the substance of the enemy's loss, without giving the particulars of the Letter.[1] The success is great and I am unhappy that our situation is so wretched as not to be able to make the most of it.
I have recieved your Letter respecting the enemey's movements in Virginia and have only to lament that your force was too small to give them a successfull opposition.[2] I am happy you saved the Stores at Petersburg and think with you that Lt Col [Edward] Carrington and Col [William] Davies deserve great credit on the occasion. I am anxious to hear which way Arnold is going being perswaded his movements and those of Lord Cornwallis were in concert and that that latter intended to penetrate through N. Carolina by the great quantity of Baggage and stores the Army had with them on the march.[3] Happily they have got a check which I hope will give us time to put ourselves in a condition to give them a more effectual opposition than we could in our present state.
As the Continental Laboratory is destroyed at West-ham and as that situation will always be exposed to sudden invasions of the enemy, I think it will be best to establish it in future at the Moravian towns in N. Carolina, and beg you to give orders for all the Artificers tools[,] Arms &c &c to be removed to that place. The business can be done there at less expence than at Richmond it being more central to all parts of the Southern States from which the Arms are to be suppled. It will also be more convenient to the lead.[4]
I cannot help repeating my desire to have the Virginia troops forwarded as soon as possible, and we are also in great want of Officers.[5]
I beg you will please to let theGovernor know that the artillery horses sent out by Colonel Greene [John Green] are totally unfit for service; and that the Agent who sent them deserves little less than hanging. You will communicate to him the good news as I have not time to write him fully on the subject.[6] I beg you will also urge the necessity of forming Magazines upon the Roanoke without loss of time.[7]
This moment your Letter of the 11th was handed me. I beg you will give Congress and the Commander in Chief regular accounts of the operations in Virginia as I am obliged to refer to you for every circumstance. I am My dear Baron

Your Most Obedient Humble Servant

Nath Greene

[P.S.]
P.S. I have appointed Major Hyrne of the S. Carolina line D. Com. Genl of Prisoners with orders to march them to Charlotville. I have wrote Govr Jefferson to give the necessary orders for their reception.[8]
Letter signed (NHi).
    [1.] The enclosed letter was a copy of Morgan to NG, 19 January (PGNG, 7: 152-161).
    [2.] See Steuben to NG, 8 January (PGNG, 7: 76-81).
    [3.] Benedict Arnold's force had retired to Portsmouth, Va.; Cornwallis, whose troops were already in North Carolina, was not coordinating his movements with Arnold. In fact, a Cornwallis letter to Arnold of 21 February indicates that he knew nothing about Arnold's recent activities in Virginia. (PRO 30/11/85)
    [4.] On the destruction of the Continental laboratory at Westham, Va., see Steuben to NG, 8 January (PGNG, 7: 76-81). Cornwallis's invasion of North Carolina delayed the establishment of a new laboratory at the "Moravian town" of Salem, N.C. The Southern Army's lead came from Chiswell's Mine in Bedford County, Va. (See PGNG, 6: 583.)
    [5.] NG had asked for reinforcements in his first letter to Steuben of 7 January (PGNG, 7: 68-70). Steuben discussed his plans to send them in his reply of 4 February (PGNG, 7: 249-250).
    [6.] By "good news," NG undoubtedly meant details of the victory at Cowpens.
    [7.] NG also pressed for the establishment of the magazines in his letter to Jefferson of this date (PGNG, 7: 185).
    [8.] See NG to Edmund Hyrne, 25 January (PGNG, 7: 194), and NG to Jefferson, this date (PGNG, 7: 185).