Thursday, July 06, 2006

Few Appreciate the Stress Endured and Sacrifices Made For Independence

Letter from General Nathaniel Greene to General Francis Marion (ie, The Swamp Fox) answering one of Marion's (which is missing) soon after his arrival at Fort Watson with only eighty men.

Camp, at Cornal's Creek, May 9, 1781.

Dear Sir,

I am favoured with yours of the 6th instant. I am sorry the militia are deserting, because there is no greater support. If they were influenced by proper principles, and were impressed with a love of liberty and a dread of slavery, they would not shrink at difficulties. If we had a force sufficient to recover the country, their aid would not be wanted, and they cannot be well acquainted with their true interest to desert us, because they conceive our force unequal to the reduction of the country without their consent. I shall be always happy to see you at head quarters, but cannot think you seriously mean to solicit leave to go to Philadelphia. It is true your task has been disagreeable, but not more so than others. It is now going on seven years since the commencement of this war. I have never had leave of absence an hour, nor paid the least attention to my own private affairs. Your state is invaded; your all is at stake; what has been done will signify nothing unless we persevere to the end. I left a wife in distress and every thing dear and valuable, to come and afford you all the assistance in my power, and if you leave us in the midst of our difficulties, while you have it so much in your power to promote the service, it must throw a damp upon the spirits of the army, to find that the first men in the state are retiring from the busy service, to indulge themselves in more agreeable amusements. However, your reasons for wishing to decline the command of the militia, may be more pressing than I imagine. I will therefore, add nothing more upon this subject till I see you. My reasons for writing so pressingly respecting the dragoons, was from the distress we were in. It is not my wish to take the horses from the militia if it will injure the public service -- the effects and consequences you can better judge of than I can. You have rendered important service to the public with the militia under your command, and done great honour to yourself; and I would not wish to render your situation less agreeable with them, unless it is to answer some very great purpose; and this I persuade myself you would agree to from a desire to promote the public good. I wish you success in the fort you are besieging. Lord Rawdon was out yesterday; we had the night before taken a new position on Sawney's creek, and I imagine he came out to attack, expecting to find us on the Twenty-five mile creek. We did not like the position on Sawney's creek to risk an action on, and therefore took a new one at this place, leaving the horse, light infantry and picketts at the old encampment; the enemy came and drew up on the other side of the creek, but did not attempt to cross, and retired into Camden before night. We are in daily expectation of a large reinforcement of Virginia militia and some continental troops; when those arrive we shall push our operations with more vigour. No further news of Lord Cornwallis.

I am, Sir,
With the highest esteem and regard,
Yours, &c.
N. Greene.

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