Camp on Pacolet Creek,
December 31st 1780
Dear General – After an uninteresting march, I arrived at this place on the 25th of December. On the 27th, I received intelligence that a body of Georgia tories, about two hundred and fifty in number, had advanced as far as Fair Forest, and were insulting and plundering the good people in this neighborhood. On the 29th, I dispatched Lieut. Col. Washington, with his own regiment and two hundred militia horse, who had just joined me, to attack them. Before the colonel could overtake them, they had retreated upwards of twenty miles. He crune up with them next day, about twelve o’clock, at Hammond’s store-house, forty miles from our camp. They were alarmed and flew to their horses. Lieut. Col. Washington extended his mounted riflemen on the wings, and charged them in front with his own regiment. They fled with the greatest precipitation, without making any resistance. One hundred and fifty were killed and wounded, and about forty taken prisoners. What makes this success more valuable, it was attained without the loss of a man. This intelligence I have just received by the Baron de Glaubec, who served in the expedition as a volunteer. To guard against any misfortune, I have detached two hundred men to cover the retreat of the fortunate party. When I obtain a more particular account, I shall transmit it to head-quarters, and recommend those men who have distinguished themselves on this occasion.
The militia are increasing fast, so that we cannot be supplied in this neighborhood more than two or three days at farthest. Were we to advance, and be constrained to retreat, the consequence would be very disagreeable; and this must be the case should we lay near the enemy, and Cornwallis reinforce, which he can do with the greatest facility.
General Davidson has brought in one hundred and twenty men, and has returned to bring forward a draft offive hundred more. Col. Pickens has joined me with sixty. Thirty or forty of the men who came out with him have gone into North Carolina to secure their effects, and will immediately repair to my camp.
When I shall have collected my expected force, I shall be at a loss how to act. Could a diversion be made in my favor by the main army, I should wish to march into Georgia. To me it appears an advisable scheme, but should be happy to receive your directions on this point, as they must be the guide of my actions. I have consulted with General Davidson and Col. Pickens, whether we could secure a safe retreat, should we be pushed by superior force. They tell me it can be easily effected by passing up the Savannah and crossing over the heads of the rivers along the indian line.
To expedite this movement, should it meet with your approbation, I have sent for one hundred swords, which I intend to put into the hands of expert riflemen, to be mounted and incorporated with Lieut. Col. Washington’s corps. I have also written to the quarter-master to have one hundred packsaddles made immediately-should be glad if you would direct him to be expeditious. Packsaddles ought to be procured, let our movements be what they may, for our wagons will be an impediment, whether we attempt to annoy the enemy or provide for our own safety. It is incompatible with the nature of light troops to be encumbered with baggage.
I would wish to receive an answer to this proposition as soon as possible. This country has been so exhausted, that the supplies for my detachment have been precarious and scant ever since my arrival, and in a few days will be unattainable; so that a movement is unavoidable. At my particular request, Col. Malmady has been so obliging as to undertake the delivery of these dispatches. He will be able to give you a just idea of our situation and
I have the honor to be, &c.,
N. B.-Should this expedition be thought advisable, a profound secrecy will be essentially necessary, as you know the soul of the enterprise. Col. Lee’s corps would ensure its success.