The Papers of General Nathanael Greene


To General Isaac Huger

Dear Sir

I wrote you yesterday of our situation, and the enemies at Tradeing Ford, which by mistake I called Shallow Ford.[2] We found the river was falling last night so fast, that it might be forded this morning; and as our force was too small and the ground unfavorable for defending the fords, it was thought most advisable to retire last evening. We are on our march for Guilford. It is our interest to form a junction as soon as possible; but it is not absolutely certain, that the enemy will cross the Country for Guilford.[3] However they were very busy yesterday in preparing to cross; and I think will cross to day; notwithstanding a report prevails that part of their troops were moving down the river.[4]
We have no provision or forage, except what we collect for our selves. No Militia have joined us, nor can I learn with any certainty, that there are any collecting in the rear. I intend to try to collect the Militi[a] about Guilford if possible; and if we can find a good position, prepare to receive the enemies attack. It is not improbable from Lord Cornwallises pushing disposition, and the contempt he has for our Army, we may precipitate him into some capital misfortune. I wish to be prepard, either for attacking, or for recieving one.[5] The enemies loss Night before last with Rifflemen I learn was considerable. Major [David] Cambell with his party and Col Lutterall [John Luttrell] with his party are both got off safe.[6]
Have you heard anything of Capt [John] Smith with the Stores? I can learn nothing of him in this quarter.[7]
Your letter of the first is this moment arrivd. The difficulties are great you have to contend with; but nothing more than I might have known, if my wishes and anxiety, had not got the better of my own knowledge of your miserable situation. How is it possible an army circumstanced as ours is, can make head against one organised and equiped as Lord Cornwallises is? All the Country are fleeing before the british Army; and add to our difficulties by cutting up the roads. I hope Col Kosciuszko has not fallen into the enemies hands, which I much apprehend, if he set out to join me.[8]
It will be necessary to take some measures for the security of the salt at Rocky River, if Lord Cornwallis should move down the Yadkin to Colstons. It will be best to let it move towards Hillsborough about twenty or thirty Miles distance from the river.[9] It is impossible to guard against every misfortune with an inferior army. If Lord Cornwallis knows his true interest he will pursue our army. If he can disperse that, he compleats the reduction of the State: and without that he will do nothing to effect. I am dear sr

Yours

N Greene

Autograph draft signed (MiU-C).
    [1.] The date was taken from the docketing and the contents; in a crossed-through portion of the draft, NG wrote that he was "twelve Miles from the [Trading] ford." He was heading northeast, toward Guilford Court House.
    [2.] The letter has not been found.
    [3.] On the retreat of Daniel Morgan's detachment from the Yadkin and Lord Cornwallis's crossing of that river, see NG to Washington, 9 February (PGNG, 7: 267-270).
    [4.] In the letter that he had written to Huger on 4 February, NG must have ordered Huger to change the army's route of march and proceed toward Guilford Court House. Earlier, NG had urged Huger to "push" toward Salisbury, and he was still hoping for a "junction" in that vicinity as late as the 3rd. (See NG to Huger, 1 February, PGNG, 7: 231-232, and NG to Steuben, 3 February, PGNG, 7: 242-245.) The two detachments of the Southern Army united at Guilford Court House on 7 and 8 February. (Huger to NG, 8 February, PGNG, 7: 259-260)
    [5.] As seen in his letter to Washington of 9 February (PGNG, 7: 267-270), NG was still short of men and provisions when he reached Guilford. He decided to continue the retreat.
    [6.] On the skirmish, which occurred at a crossing point on the Yadkin River, see note at NG to Washington, 9 February (PGNG, 7: 267-270) .
    [7.] For more on Smith, see Huger to NG, 8 February (PGNG, 7: 259-260).
    [8.] Huger wrote NG on 8 February that Col. Thaddeus Kosciuszko had "run the gauntlope [gauntlet]" to reach Guilford Court House safely.
    [9.] The British did not move down the Yadkin River, but Huger had already taken steps to have the salt moved. (See Huger to Lillington, 2 February, PGNG, 7: 235.)