The Papers of General Nathanael Greene

From Colonel Otho H. Williams,[1]

Is "seven miles North West" of Guilford. Received a report "this morning" that the British had advanced six miles from Salem by early "Yesterday" afternoon. Is not sure of their route, but "will search dilige[nt]ly" for them.[3] As he expects Col. [Banastre] Tarleton to pursue "the Baggage with Capt Marbury at Dan [River]," Williams "will move in that direction."[4]
Autograph Letter Signed (Greene Papers: DLC) 1 p.
    [1.] Following Gen. Daniel Morgan's decision to leave the army because of ill health, NG had appointed Williams to "the very great Honor to command all the Light Infantry and Cavalry of this Army." (Otho Williams to Elie Williams, 15 February, MdHi) In the retreat from Guilford Court House to the Dan River, the 700-man light corps served as a decoy, a buffer, and a screen for the Southern Army. It also successfully slowed the pace of the British advance without being forced into a battle. (Dennis M. Conrad, "Nathanael Greene and the Southern Campaigns, 1780-1783" [Ph.D. diss., Duke University, 1979], pp. 132-33) Col. Henry Lee, whose legion served as the detachment's rear guard, described its initial march from Guilford Court House as follows:
The greater the distance between the main body and the light troops, the surer would be Greene's retreat. Williams, therefore, soon after breaking up from Guilford court-house, on the 10th, inclined to the left, for the purpose of throwing himself in front of lord Cornwallis. The movement was judicious, and had an immediate effect. His lordship, finding a corps of horse and foot close in front, whose strength and object were not immediately ascertainable, checked the rapidity of his march to give time for his long extended line to condense. (Lee, Memoirs, 1: 277)
For more on the services that Williams's detachment performed during the retreat, see the letter immediately below, as well as other correspondence between NG and Williams during the succeeding days, and Lee's Memoirs, 1: 277-93. NG praised Williams's role in the retreat in his letter to Washington of 15 February (PGNG, 7: 293-295).
    [2.] The place was determined from the contents. Charles Bruce lived in Guilford County, about seven miles northwest of Guilford Court House. His house was "half a mile" south of a crossroads that bore his name. (Caruthers, Revolutionary Incidents, p. 46)
    [3.] In his second letter of this date (PGNG, 7: 283), Williams sent NG further intelligence concerning the enemy's location and reported a skirmish with a party from Cornwallis's army.
    [4.] Joseph Marbury had been ordered to move stores from Salisbury to Virginia. (See NG to Marbury, 8 February, PGNG, 7: 257.)