The Papers of General Nathanael Greene

To the Officers Commanding the Militia in the Salisbury District of North Carolina


The enemy are laying on the opposite side of the river and from every appearance seem determined to penetrate the Country. Genl [William L.] Davidson informs he has called again and again for the people to turn out and defend their Country.[1] The innatention to his call and the backwardness of the people is unaccountable. Providence has blessed the American Arms with signal success in the defeat of Tarlton and the surprise of George Town by Col Lee with his Legion.[2] If after these advantages you neglect to take the field and suffer the enemy to over run the Country you will deserve the miseries ever inseparable from slavery.
Let me conjure you, my countrymen, to fly to arms and to repair to Head Quarters without loss of time and bring with you ten days provision. You have every thing that is dear and valuable at stake; if you will not face the approaching danger your Country is inevitably lost. On the contrary if you repair to arms and confine yourselves to the duties of the field Lord Cornwallis must be certainly ruined. The Continental Army is marching with all possible dispatch from the Pedee to this place. But without your aid their arrival will be of no consequence.[3] I am Sir

Your Humble Servant

Nath Greene

Letter signed (NHi). The copy transcribed here was addressed to Col. Francis Lock. Col. Banastre Tarleton took this copy from a dead militia officer, whom he mistook for Lock, following the engagement at Torrence's Tavern. (Tarleton, Campaigns, p. 226) The British also captured another copy of the circular—to a Colonel "Hagens" [James Huggins?] . (PRO 30/11/106)
    [1.] As seen at NG to Huntington (PGNG, 7: 225-227), Davidson had been able to raise 800 militiamen.
    [2.] On the defeat of Tarleton, see Daniel Morgan to NG, 19 January (PGNG, 7: 152-161); on the attack on Georgetown, S.C., by Henry Lee and Francis Marion, see Lee to NG, second letter of 25 January (PGNG, 7: 197-199).
    [3.] As seen in NG to the North Carolina Legislature, 15 February (PGNG, 7: 290-292), this appeal failed to bring large numbers of militia into the field.