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My dear General,
There is no fighting here, unless you have a naval superiority, or an army mounted upon race-horses. Phillips's plan against Richmond has been defeated. He was going towards Portsmouth, and I thought it would be enough for me to oppose him at some principal points in this State. But now it appears I shall have business to transact with two armies, and this is rather too much. By letters from North Carolina I find that Lord Cornwallis, who, I had been assured, had sailed for Charleston, is advancing towards Halifax. In consequence of letters from the same quarter, General Phillips has altered his plan, and returned to a place called Brandon, on the south side of James River, where he landed the night before last. Our detachment is under march towards the Halifax road. His command of the water enabled him to land where 1 could not reach him. The bridge at Petersburg is destroyed; and unless he acts with an uncommon degree of folly, he will be at Halifax before we are. Each of these armies is more than double the superior to me. we have no boats for militia, and less arms. I will try to do for the best, and hope to deserve your approbation.
Nothing can abstract my sight from the supplies and reenforcements destined to General Greene's army, while I am going to get beaten by both armies, or each of them separately. The Baron remains at Richmond, where he hurries the collection of recruits, and every other requisite. I have forbidden every department to give me any thing that may be thought useful to General Greene ; and should a battle be expected (an event which I will try to keep off), no consideration will prevent our sending to Carolina eight hundred recruits, who, I hope, may be equipped in a fortnight. When General Greene becomes equal to offensive operations, this quarter will be relieved. I have wrote to Wayne to hasten his march ; but, unless I am very hard pushed, I shall request him to proceed southward. The militia has been ordered out, but are now unarmed, and not yet used to this business. General Greene, from whom I have as yet no letters, was, on the 2Gth, before Camden, but did not think himself equal to the storming of the works.
Most respectfully, &c.,
- Correspondence of the American Revolution; Being Letters of Eminent Men to George Washington, from the Time of His Taking Command of the Army to the End of His Presidency, Volume III., Jared Sparks, 1853