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CHAP. XX. These specious promises had little effect on
"the alienated inhabitants: no allurements could 1781
induce them to join heartily, in assisting the British commander to subjugate their native land. Their defection daily increased; and a more thorough aversion to the designs and the authority of the British government, almost universally appeared. This, his lordship himself attested. He observed afterwards in a letter to sir Henry Clinton, that " after the complete "victory at Guilford, his numbers did not in"crease, though he had staid two days near the "field of action." His lordship acknowledged, that though he had marched through the part of the country where he had reason to suppose he had the most friends, he found himself equally disappointed and mortified. He observed, that—" Many of the inhabitants rode into ** camp, shook me by the hand, said they were glad to see me, and to hear that we had beat** en Greene, and then rode home again; for "I could not get an hundred men in all the "Regulators' country to stay with me, even as ** militia."*
This must have been a very unpleasant prelude to his lordship's march through a forlorn wilderness, interspersed with deep rivers, which must greatly impede an army encumbered with
* See lord Cornwallis's letter to fir Henry Clinton, April 10, 1780.
sick and wounded, who were many of them obliged to travel in waggons, while all were scantily provided with clothes, shoes, or provisions. But notwithstanding all -impediments, they reached Wilmington the seventh of April.
There, the commander found new sources of anxiety: he felt his apprehensions increased on account of the situation of lord Rawdon, on whom the command had devolved, when lord Cornwallis left Guilford. He had left with him only nine hundred men: but whatever dangers his little army might be exposed to from the pursuit of general Greene, which was now ascertained, it was impossible for lord Cornwallis to tread back his steps to their assistance. These considerations determined his lordship to take the advantage of general Greene's having left the back part of Virginia open, to march immediately into that state.
As he had received express injunctions from sir Henry Clinton, to leave the Carolinas as soon as possible, and repair to Virginia to the aid of general Phillips, it was his opinion, that his own movements were not optional. This ossicer had been sent forward to the Chesapeake with a reinforcement, in order to support the measures sir Henry Clinton had, early in the preceding winter, adopted, and for a time had entrusted general Arnold to prosecute.
Chap.xx. Previous to lord Cornwallis's removal from ^ Wilmington, he wrote general Phillips, that he was in great distress at the reflection, that general Greene had taken the advantage of his absence, and had marched towards South Carolina: that he had endeavoured to warn lord Rawdon of this danger ; but that he had reason to think, his dispatches had been intercepted. He observed, that " the mountaineers and militia had "poured into the back parts of that province; "and he much feared, that lord Rawdon's posts "would be so distant from each other, and his "troops so scattered, as to put him into the "greatest danger of being beat in detail: and "that the worst of consequences might happen "to most of the troops out of Charleston. By "a direct move towards Camden, I cannot get "there time enough to relieve lord Rawdon; "and should he have fallen, my army would "be exposed to the utmost dangers, from the "great rivers I should have to pass, the exhaust"ed state of the country, the numerous militia, "the almost universal spirit of revolt which pre"vails in South Carolina, and the strength of "Greene's army, whose continentals alone are "almost as numerous as I am."
His lordship seemed however determined to make a feint in favor of lord Rawdon, by moving towards Hillsborough; yet he did not seem to expect much advantage could result therefrom. His situation was such, that he appeared 'embarrassed in his decisions; nor could he ea* Chap. Xx. sily determine, under the dissiculty of existing circumstances, what line of conduct would best promote the general cause in which he was engaged. In lord Cornwallis's letter to general Phillips, from which an extract is given above, dated Wilmington, April 24th, 1781, he informed him, that an attempt to march from thence to Virginia was exceedingly hazardous; and that many unforeseen dissiculties might render it totally impracticable; that he should however endeavour to surmount them, and as soon as possible attempt to march to the Roanoke. In the mean time, he cautioned general Phillips to take no steps that might expose the army with him to ruin, if in any event their junction should be retarded. He urged him to transmit the earliest intelligence from time to time, until circumstances should admit of his meeting him at Petersburgh.
General Washington, soon after Arnold's embarkation from New York, had ordered a detachment of continental troops, under the command of the marquis de la Fayette, to follow, to watch the motions, and if possible to defeat the sanguinary purposes of this newly converted agent, to execute the designs of their enemies, and waste the blood of his countrymen.
A French squadron had lately arrived at Rhode Island, a part of which it was expected
xx. would soon repair to the Chesapeake, under an able and experienced naval commander, the
81* count de Barras. High expectations were formed by every class of Americans, that the assistance of France tins year, would be sussicient to enable the armies of the United States to counteract, if not to defeat, the designs of the British commanders in their several departments.
Sir Henry Clinton, apprised of these circumstances, and very apprehensive for the safety of his friends in Virginia, judged it necessary, there should be no further delay in sending a more respectable force to that quarter, to strengthen the hands of general Arnold. Arnold had, on his first arrival in Virginia, landed at Westover, and marched to Richmond, destroying all before him, with little or no opposition. He was assisted in his marauding exploits by colonel Simcoe, who marched from Richmond to Westham, and there destroyed one of the sinest founderies for cannon in all America. They burnt, plundered, and destroyed every thing before them as they moved. Yet sir Henry Clinton was convinced, that their numbers were not sussicient to facilitate his wishes and subdue the state, without a more strong and respectable force. In consequence of this determination, he had ordered major general Phillips- with four thousand men, to repair immediately to Virginia to succor Ar