Nathanael Greene to Daniel Morgan – 8 Jan 1781

Nathanael Greene Nathanael_Greene_quote3 Daniel Morgan
Nathanael Greene's Letter to Daniel Morgan - January 8, 1781

Camp South Carolina,
at Kurshadt’s Ferry, east side of Pedee,
Jan. 8th, 1781.

Dear Sir – Col. Malmady arrived here yesterday, with your letter of the 31st December. Nothing could have afforded more pleasure than the successful attack of Lieut. Col. Washington upon the tories. I hope it will be attended with a happy influence upon both whig and tory, to the reclaiming of one, and the encouragement of the other. I wish you to forward to me an official report as soon as possible, that I may send it to the northward.

I have maturely considered your proposition of an expedition into Georgia, and cannot think it warrantable in the critical situation our army is in. I have no small reason to think, by intelligence from different quarters, that the enemy have a movement in contemplation, and that in all probability it will be this way, from the impudence of the tories, who are collecting in different quarters, in the most inaccessible swamps and morasses. Should you go into Georgia, and the enemy push this way, your whole force will be useless. The enemy having no Object there but what is secure in their fortifications, will take no notice of your movement, but serve you as General Prevost did General Lincoln, oblige you to return by making a forward movement themselves; and you will be so far in the rear that you can do them no injury. But if you continue in the neighborhood of the place you are now at, and they attempt to push forward, you may interrupt their communications with Charleston, or harass their rear, both of which will alarm the enemy not a little.

If you employ detachments to interrupt supplies going to Ninety-six, and Augusta., it will perplex the enemy much. If you think Ninety-six, Augusta, or even Savannah can be surprised, and your force will admit of a detachment for the purpose, and leave you a sufficiency to keep up a good countenance, you may attempt it. But don’t think of attempting either, unless by surprise, for you “viii only beat your heads against the wall without success. Small parties are better to effect a surprise than large bodies, and the success will not greatly depend upon the numbers, but on the secrecy and spirit of the attack.

I must repeat my caution to you to guard against a surprise. The enemy and the tories both will try to bring you into disgrace, if possible, to prevent your influence-upon the militia, especially the weak and wavering. I cannot pretend to give you particular instructions respecting a position. But somewhere between the Saluda and the north branch of Broad river appears to be the most favorable for annoying the enemy, interrupting their supplies, and harassing their rear, if they should make a movement this way.

If you could detach a small party to kill the enemy’s draft horses and recruiting cavalry, upon the Congaree, it would give them almost as deadly a blow as a defeat. But this matter must be conducted with great secrecy and dispatch.

Lieut. Col. Lee has just arrived with his legion, and Col. Green is within a few days’ march of this, with a reinforcement.

I am, dear sir, truly yours,

Nathanael Greene