The Papers of General Nathanael Greene

To General John Butler.

Has Butler's letter of 11 February [not found]. Repeats the substance of the letter immediately above. Cannot provide arms or ammunition for Butler's men, as NG is also "in want of both." To make a stand, moreover, would require "great superiority of numbers, which cannot be expected from one or two Counties." To "form any considerable force," each North Carolina county must arm and send men; otherwise, it would be "impossible to furnish Arms for all the Militia of a County without calling them out of other Counties." As soon as NG can "secure" the army's stores and the British cease their pursuit, he will "fall into" the British "rear." If the enemy cannot overtake his army, NG believes Lord Cornwallis will "file off towards Halifax and pass through Hillsborough." The gathering of militia between the armies of Cornwallis and [Benedict] Arnold may prevent the two enemy commanders from joining forces before NG can collect enough troops to attack Cornwallis's rear.[1] All but eighty of the North Carolina militiamen have "deserted" NG. That and his need to protect the army's stores have forced NG to retreat. If the army can "keep out of Lord Cornwallis's reach, he will gain no other advantage by his Manoeuver than having passed through the Country," and the legislature may realize what NG has long known: "that nothing but a well appointed Army can save them." He continues:
I have left nothing unattempted to save your State, and run every risque and hazard that prudence would dictate to see whether the State could afford the succour necessary to authorize a stand. But if we could have got men, it would have been almost impossible to have fed them, in the present deranged State of the Commisarres Department.
Adds in a postscript that it was "too critical to attempt" a junction with Gen. [Alexander] Lillington, who has "filed off" for Cross Creek.[2]
Autograph Draft Signed (MiU-C) 3 pp.
    [1.] As noted at Morgan to NG, second letter of 25 January (PGNG, 7: 201), Cornwallis neither coordinated his movements with nor planned to join Gen. Benedict Arnold, whose force was then occupying Portsmouth, Va.
    [2.] See NG to Lillington, 11 February (PGNG, 7: 280-281).