The Papers of General Nathanael Greene


To Colonel Otho H. Williams

"It is very evident the enemy intend to push us in crossing the river. The night before last, as soon as I got your letter, I sent off the baggage and stores, with orders to cross as fast as they got to the river.[2] The North Carolina militia have all deserted us, except about 80 men. Majors and captains are among the deserters. You have the flower of the army, don't expose the men too much, lest our situation should grow more critical.[3] Finding gen. Lillington had delayed so much time, as to render our junction critical, I gave him orders to file off to Cross Creek. I thought his going there at this moment, might keep down the tories; and his reinforcement would be too inconsiderable to enable us to make a stand, and would only add to our difficulties in getting over the river."[4]
Excerpt from Gordon, History, 4: 44-45.
    [1.] The place was taken from NG's other letter of this date (PGNG, 7: 284); the date was supplied by historian William Gordon.
    [2.] NG probably referred to Williams's second letter of 11 February (PGNG, 7: 283)
    [3.] On the composition of Williams's corps and the role it played in the retreat, see note at Williams to NG, first letter of 11 February (PGNG, 7: 282).
    [4.] See Huger to Lillington, 2 February (PGNG, 7: 235), and NG to Lillington, 11 February (PGNG, 7: 280-281).