Nathaniel Greene to Congress 6/9/1781
Papers of the Congressional Congress M247-175 vol. 2 pg. 116
National Archives & Records Administration
Transcribed by Billy Markland
Camp before Ninety Six
June the 9th 1781
I informed your Excellency in my Letter of the 22d of April, dated near Camden, that one great object in moving southwardly after the Enemys retreat from Deep River was to oblige Lord Cornwallis to return to South Carolina to protect and defend his Posts. But finding that I failed in my expectation, and that his Lordship moved northwardly instead of Southwardly, I wrote to the Marquis to take the command in Virginia with instructions to halt his own Troops and the Pennsylvanians and if possible to prevent a junction of the Enemy's forces. I also wrote to Baron Steuben to collect the Virginia and North Carolina Draft[s] and cooperate with the Marquis either to prevent a junction or oppose their future operations. If the Pennsylvania Line is as strong as I expect, the Virginia Drafts as numerous as I have reason to hope, and the Virginia Militia do their duty, I am in hopes, notwithstanding the Enemy's collective strength, the Marquis will be able to keep a good countenance. I hope he will not hazard a general Action as the Enemy have a great superiority in horse, which may improve a defeat into a route and disperse the whole Army.
Being obliged to halt all the Troops coming to this Army leaves us exceeding weak in this quarter. The Virginia Militia who I have been so long expecting have been countermanded, all except 3 or 400, and a great part of them are without Arms, by Governor Jefferson. This is a matter that I could wish Congress would come to an explanation with the States upon. If it is the prerogative of the Governor to order the Militia when engaged upon a continental plan I will never calculate upon them in any future plan of operations. Nothing can be more ruinous to the public welfare, and dangerous to the public safety [as] to have orders issue from partial considerations destructive of the general interest.
We have been prosecuting the Siege at this place with all possible diligence with our little force, but for want of more assistance the approaches have gone on exceeding slow, and our poor Fellows are worn out with fatique being constantly on duty every other Day and sometimes every Day. The Works are strong and extensive. The position difficult to approach and the Ground extremely hard. The Garrison numerous and formidable when compared with our little force. They have sallied more or less every Night, but have been constantly driven in.
After the reduction of Augusta I collected all the forces at this place having got intelligence that the Enemy had got a large reinforcement on the 2d of this month by the arrival of the Cork [sic] Fleet. Doubtless the Enemy will attempt to raise the Siege of this place, and as we are altogether unsupported if they attempt it they must succeed.
Inclosed [sic] is General Marion's report of the evacuation of George Town. The Enemy now have no fortifyed [sic] Posts either in South Carolina or Georgia except Charles Town and Savannah and Ninety Six which we are now at. As fast as we have either taken on the Enemy or the Enemy evacuated their Works I have ordered them levelled [sic] which I have reason to hope is accomplished. Since we have got footing in this State and Georgia I have been endeavoring by all the means in my power to collect, arm , and arrange the Militia, but it is a work of time and there are almost insurmountable difficulties. The People are much divided, and every thing in a State of Suspence [sic]. The Tories are numerous and still laying out in large Bodies. General Cunningham's whole Brigade consisting of five or six hundred Men are in the Neighbourhood concealed in the Swamps which renders it difficult to get supplies. The aid we are obliged to give to the Commissaries and Quarter Masters departments makes such heavy drafts from the Line that our remaining force is but a shadow. Nothing has been left unattempted, nor time lost, and I hope whatever may be the event of the campaign Congress will do me the justice to believe I have done every thing in my power.
Major Hyrne is gone into Charles Town to negociate [sic] the exchange of Prisioners upon the principles of the last Cartel.
The resolution of Congress respecting Doctor Olliphant has been transmitted to Col. Balfour.
I have the honor to be with great respect,
Your Excellency's most obedt. Hble servant
P.S. I Will your Excellency be so obliging as to transmit copies of my three last Letters to his Excellency Gl. Washington as my Family are too unwell to copy them?
His Excely the Presdt. of Congress