The Papers of General Nathanael Greene


To Colonel Henry Lee, Jr.

Dear Sir

Your letter of the 23d came to hand this morning. It has been a long while on the road. Before this I imagine you must have heard of Tarltons defeat by General Morgan.[1] The success is so great, and the enimies loss so capital; that I am loth it should stand alone; and am therefore going to Charlotte, to consult with Morgan, Generals [William L.] Davidson, Sumpter [Thomas Sumter] and [Andrew] Pickens, in order to see if it will not be practicable by a combination of our forces, to move the Army into the Neighbourhood of Ninty Six.[2] Should this be found practicable, and provisions can be had, it will be adopted, and of course will entirely alter our whole arrangment. From the probability of the thing I wish you to accomplish your designs as soon as you can, without precipitating matters; and be in readiness to act in concert with us.[3] I have written to General Marrion, who I am told is perfectly well acquainted with the Country on the other side of the Santee; to give me his opinion respecting the practicability of crossing that river with a body of horse; and how far they would be exposd after crossing.[4] I have not let him into my views in the least; but wish you to consult him on those points, and give me an account thereof. Dont let no mortal have the least intimation of what I have in contemplation.
I have ordered the detachment agreably to your request: all except the numbers: there will not be quite as many men as you desird. They must march by land[;] we cannot spare a boat from this quarter without starving the Army; the whole being employed in collecting provisions & forage. I cannot imagine you are in any danger on your retreat, except from the garrison of George Town; and if you should prove unfortunate, General Marian has men enough to cover your retreat effectually.[5] I expect to be absent from Camp about six days. The Army will not know of my going nor would I wish your people should.
Col White has been tryed and acquited by the Court.[6] But as the Court included matters in their determination which were not contained in the charges I was obliged to disapprove the judgment; but have released the Colonel from his arrest; and he sets out to morrow to the Moravian Towns from whence he will send forward fifty more horse: after which he goes on to Virginia to complete his regiment.[7] Cloathing have arrivd {here for those with you}.
General Morgans success was glorious and the action was conducted with great good conduct. Lt Colonel [John Eager] Howard & [William] Washington were the heroes of the day. General Morgan fought only eight hundred Men, and defeated 1100 of the best troops in the british Army. Col Pickens that commanded the Militia behaved to a charm, to speak {in [Sir Henry] Clinton's style.}[8]
I wish you to have impressed for the use of the Army, all the horses that are on the east side of the Great Pedee between that and the Little Pedee. In a word get all the Cattle in that Country fit for Cavalry[,] waggon horses or express horses giving receipts for the number taken. We are much distressed for want of horses.[9] I am dear Sir

Your Most Obedt humble Sr;

Nath Greene

[P.S.]
General Stevens with his Militia are gone home; by whom the prisoners of war {are to be guarded to Virginia.}[10]
Autograph letter signed (NcU). The manuscript is torn; portions in curly brackets were taken from Lee, Campaign of 1781, appendix, viii-ix.
    [1.] On Daniel Morgan's victory over troops commanded by Banastre Tarleton, see Morgan to NG, 19 January (PGNG, 7: 152-161).
    [2.] As seen at Morris to Nash, 28 January (PGNG, 7: 208-209), NG left for Morgan's camp near Charlotte on 28 January— not to plan offensive operations, but to counter a British invasion of North Carolina.
    [3.] Lee had already accomplished his "designs" of attacking the British garrison at Georgetown, but his report did not reach camp until after NG left on the 28th. (See Lee to NG, second letter of 25 January, PGNG, 7: 197-199, and Morris to Nash, 28 January, PGNG, 7: 208-209.)
    [4.] See NG to Marion, 25 January (PGNG, 7: 194-195).
    [5.] The request is in Lee's letter of 23 January (PGNG, 7: 177).
    [6.] On the court-martial of Col. Anthony W. White, see White to NG, 28 December 1780 (PGNG, 7: 15).
    [7.] See NG to White, this date (PGNG, 7: 204-205).
    [8.] Gov. John Rutledge had promoted Pickens to the rank of general the previous day. NG was thus correct in referring to Pickens as a general earlier in the letter and as a colonel in reference to his performance at the battle of Cowpens. (Waring, Fighting Elder, p. 51)
    [9.] As seen in his reply of 30 January (PGNG, 7: 222), orders to rejoin the army prevented Lee from collecting the horses as NG wished.
    [10.] See NG to Gen. Edward Stevens, 25 January (PGNG, 7: 195-196).