The Papers of General Nathanael Greene

To General John Butler


Your letter of the 11th is this moment come to hand. I wrote you yesterday to collect your Militia and have them in readiness in the neighbourhood of Hillsborough. The enemy press so hard upon us and our force is so inferior to the enemies we shall be obliged to cross over into Virginia.
It is evident this Army is Lord Cornwallis's first and great object, The destruction of which would compleat the reduction of the State. Your Militia cannot either recieve arms or Ammunition with me as I am in want of both. And if they could their numbers would be too inconsiderable to authorise a stand, nor would our present position warrant it without great superority of numbers, which cannot be expected from one or two Counties.
The only way in which the State can form any considerable force will be to collect from each County a certain number and rendezvous at some given point, Say Halifax. In this way arms may be got for the Militia of each County in the County to which they belong. But in no other as it is impossible to furnish Arms for all the Militia of a County without calling them out of other Counties.
The moment I can secure our stores, and Lord Cornwallis ceases his pursuit I shall fall into his rear. If he cannot over take us he will file off towards Halifax and pass through Hillsborough. The Militia collecting between him and Genl Arnold may prevent a junction until I can collect a force sufficient to attack his rear. All the Militia of your State have deserted me except about 80 Men. In this situation and having many Stores exposed I found it necessary to pursue the present route. I wish my numbers had been considerable enough to have authorised a stand. If we can keep out of Lord Cornwallis's reach, he will gain no other advantage by his Manoeuver than having passed through the Country, and it may serve to convince the Legislature of what they ought to have known long since, that but a well appointed Army can save them from subjugation.
I have left 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 authorise 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. I am Sir

your humbl S

N Greene

General Lillington has filed off for Cross Creek as our junction was too critical to attempt.
Autograph draft signed (MiU-C) 3 pp.