Nathaniel Greene to Samuel Huntington 3/30/1781
Papers of the Congressional Congress M247 roll 175 vol 2 pg. 17
National Archives & Records Administration
Transcribed by Billy Markland
Head Quarters Col. Ramsays
Deep River, March 30th 1781
I wrote your Excellency on the 23d from Buffalo Creek. Since which we have been in pursuit of the Enemy, and tho' without Cannon I was determined to bring them to Action again. As most of the Inhabitants between Pedee and Haw River are disaffected we found the greatest difficulty in procuring supplies and obtaining intelligence. Our reconnoitering parties were frequently shot down by the Tories, while they furnished the Enemy with a plenty of every thing, and doubtless gave them good intelligence.
On the 27th we arrived at Rigdens ford twelve Miles above this, expecting the Enemy would have crossed the Day before and that we should have found the River fordable, and that we could have fallen in with the Enemy at the junction of the Roads 12 Miles beyond the ford. But on my arrival there I found the Enemy had not crossed but still lay at Ramsays Mill, from which I expected they meant to wait an attack. I left our Baggage on the ground and put the Army in motion without loss of time. But we found the Enemy had crossed some Hours before our arrival, and with such precipitation that they left their dead unburied on the ground. The want of provision and the greater part of the Virginia Militia's time of service being out prevented our further pursuit. Our Men had suffered so much for the want of provisions that many of them fainted on the march. The Enemy was on the route to Cross Creek, and Wilmington.
I have it from good authority that the Enemy suffered in the Battle of Guilford 633 exclusive of Officers, and most of their principal Officers were killed and wounded. They have met with a defeat in a victory.
On Monday all the Virginia Militia return home and once more I shall be left with a handfull [sic] of Men exposed to a superior force and be obliged to seek security in flight. These are some of the disagreable [sic] effects of a temporary Army. The greatest advantages are often lost by the Troops disbanding at the most critical moment. Never was an Army in greater distress than the British, they were loaded with their wounded, and must have fallen a Sacrifice had not the Tories given them support. Many have joined the Enemy and many have fallen off. Nothing but blood and Slaughter have prevailed among the Whigs and Tories and their inveteracy against each other must, if it continues, depopulate this Country. We have been exposed to incredible difficulties in subsisting the Army, and the manner of doing it has been distressing to many of the Inhabitants.
I hope when the difficulties are taken into consideration which I have had to encounter it will appear I have done every thing which could be expected from a person in my situation.
It will be impossible to Support the Southern War with Militia, the obstruction to business and the waste attending the Service will soon put it out of the power of the States to make further exertions. Virginia has made exertions upon the present occasion, and the Support of the Inhabitants does them the greatest credit.
It gives one great pleasure to hear the confederation is compleated and I have published it in general orders agreable [sic] to the order of Congress.
I do myself the honor to transmit to Congress a copy of a Letter which I received from General Lillington containing an account of an Action which happened at the great Bridge on the 9th between a detachment of the Enemy from Wilmington and the Troops under his command.
Inclosed [sic] is also a copy of a proclamation issued by Lord Cornwallis after the Battle of Guilford. His sudden retreat must render the proclamation rediculous [sic].
Since we have recrossed the Dan River we have taken at different times upwards of one hundred and twenty Prisoners and several Officers.
By late account from Charles Town, I learn the Enemy have dropped their scheme of raising two Negro Regiments, and are turning their whole attention towards the Militia, who they are endeavoring to engage by every means in their power.
From the support which Congress promise[d] me I flatter myself I shall be able to baffle all the Enemies attempts for the subjugation of these states if the States themselves will but heartily second the measures of Congress. Most of our Men are naked for want of Overalls. Indeed they are destitute of all kind of clothing and the operations here are so exceedingly severe that the Men wear out more than double the usual quantity of Clothing.
I have the honor to be with greatest respect,
most obedient & most humble servant
P.S. We found 70 of our Wounded in the hands of the Enemy. Except these they have taken but four Prisoners, not so many as we took of theirs notwithstanding they kept the ground.