The Papers of General Nathanael Greene

Colonel Lewis Morris, Jr. To Governor Abner Nash Of North Carolina.

Reports the raid on the enemy's post at Georgetown by "Colonel Lee with the infantry of his legion."[2] Lee says that "last Sunday" [21 January], 300 British troops left Charleston for Wilmington, N.C.[3] NG, who is en route to General Morgan's camp, reports that Lord Cornwallis and Gen. [Alexander] Leslie are advancing to Salisbury; agreeable to NG's orders, the army will march for Mask's Ferry "tomorrow."[4] Asks Nash to order the magistrates to assist public officers at Wilmington in moving stores to Cross Creek or Hillsborough if the enemy lands at Wilmington. In the latter case, a "number of wagons" must be impressed.[5]
Autograph draft (MiU-C) 3 pp.
    [1.] Morris discarded another draft of the opening to this letter, which included only a place and dateline, a salutation, and this portion of a sentence: "Genl Greene left this camp this morning on his . . ." When he rewrote the opening, Morris failed to recopy the place and dateline.
    [2.] On the Georgetown raid, see Lee to NG, second letter of 25 January (PGNG, 7: 197-199). Lee did not mention Francis Marion in his account of the attack; Morris therefore omitted Marion's name in reporting the assault.
    [3.] The report was correct, but somewhat out-of-date, as the British detachment arrived in Wilmington the day this letter was written; they captured the town on 29 January. (James Craig to Nisbet Balfour, 4 February, Davies, Documents, 20: 54. For more on the expedition, see Drayton to NG, 2 February, PGNG, 7: 236-237.)
    [4.] As William Johnson, NG's early biographer, put it: "on the 28th he [NG] committed, what will be deemed by many the most imprudent action of his life. With only a guide, one aid, and a sergeant's guard of cavalry, he struck across the country to join the army of General Morgan." (Johnson, Greene, 1: 394) Edward Stevens, in a letter to Gov. Thomas Jefferson of 8 February, discussed NG's action:
It perhaps may be some what mistereous to you, General Greens being with Morgan. Two days after I left his Camp [i.e., 27 January], he got information of Cornwallis destroying his Waggons and heavy Baggage and making his whole Army a Light Core [Corps]. He expected what would follow and imedeately ordered the Troops under his imedeate Command to be put in motion and he with a small escort of Horse made Instantly to Morgan. (Boyd, Jefferson Papers, 4: 562)
As seen at his letter to Henry Lee of 26 January (PGNG, 7: 202-204), NG had been planning to leave camp and travel to where the light infantry was located. The news of Cornwallis's "making his whole Army a Light Core" no doubt added to the urgency of his joining Morgan. NG presumably received the news of Lord Cornwallis's march toward Salisbury after he left camp and then sent back the orders that Morris mentioned here. The orders have not been found.
    [5.] According to James Craig, the commander of the British force, the Americans attempted to remove the stores from Wilmington by boat, but he was able to overtake them and capture or destroy the stores. (Davies, Documents, 20:55)