Camp on Pacolet,
Jan. 4, 1781
Dear Sir – As soon as I could form a just judgment of your situation and prospects, I dispatched Col. Malmady to give you the necessary information, and I flatter myself he has done it to your satisfaction. The account he brings you of Lieut. Col. Washington’s success at Hammond’s store is as authentic as any I have been able to collect. It was followed by some small advantages. Gen. Cunningham, on hearing of Water’s defeat, prepared to evacuate Fort Williams, and had just marched out with the last of his garrison, as a party, consisting of about forty militia horsemen under Col. Hays, and ten dragoons under Mr. Simmonds, arrived with an intention of demanding a surrender. The enemy’s force was so superior to theirs, that they could effect nothing more than the demolition of the fort.
Sensible of the importance of guarding against surprise, I have used every precaution on this head. I have had men who were recommended as every way calculated for the business, continually watching the motions of the enemy; so that unless they deceive me, I am in no danger of being surprised.
I have received no acquisitions of force since I wrote you; but I expect in a few days to be joined by Cols. Clark’s and Twigg’s regiments. Their numbers I cannot ascertain. The men on the north side of Broad river I have not yet ordered to join me; but have directed their officers to keep notice. I intend these as a check on the enemy, should they attempt anything against my detachment.
My situation is far from being agreeable to my wishes or expectations. Forage and provisions are not to be had. Here we cannot subsist, so we have but one alternative, either to retreat or move into Georgia. A retreat will be attended with the most fatal consequences. The spirit which now begins to pervade the people, and call them into the field, will be destroyed. The militia who have already joined will desert us, and it is not improbable but that a regard for their own safety will induce them to join the enemy.
I shall wait with impatience for your directions on the subject of my letter to Col. Malmady, as till then my operations must be suspended.
I am, sir, truly yours,