The Papers of General Nathanael Greene


Major Ichabod Burnet to Colonel Henry Lee, Jr.

My Dear Sir

I this moment returned from Roan county, where I left the general last evening. He had Washington's horse consisting only of 60 men, with him. The militia will not assemble or annoy the enemy unless we have a superiority in cavalry. Tarleton has 250 dragoons. The general's anxiety to collect the cavalry is very great, and he expects you to join him in three days. He supposes every thing will depend upon it. Lord Cornwallis has destroyed his waggons and formed and equipped his army as light infantry. You may rely on it he will penetrate the country by the upper route.
The enemy crossed the Catawba yesterday morning at M'Cowen's ford, and Tarleton pushed our militia beyond Mr. Tournie's, which is 20 miles on the road to Salisbury. They were so dispirited that they will do till our cavalry are able to circumscribe Mr. Tarleton's limits. I expect the enemy will be at Salisbury to-morrow, and but the fresh will prevent their crossing the Yadkin the next morning.
If you knew the anxiety of General Greene, who is now exposing himself to collect the militia, which he expects only to accomplish by having a superiority of horse. Indeed our army cannot keep the field one moment after they cross the Yadkin, unless we have a superiority of cavalry.
I congratulate you on your partial success. Please to make my compliments to Carnes and the other gentlemen of the corps. Unless you are with General Greene immediately you will lose the opportunity of acquiring wreaths of laurels, and the pleasure of rendering important services. I am, sincerely,

your most obedt. ser't

I. Burnet

Printed in Lee, Campaign of 1781, appendix, xxvii-xxviii.