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Your Excellency's letter of the 14th, appointing me to the command of the Southern army, was delivered me last evening.
I beg your Excellency to be persuaded that I am fully sensible of the honor you do me, and will endeavour to manifest my gratitude by a conduct that will not disgrace the appointment. I only lament that my abilities are not more competent to the duties that will be required of me, and that it will not be in my power, on that account, to be as extensively useful as my inclination leads me to wish. But, as far as zeal and attention can supply the defect, I flatter myself my country will have little cause to complain. I foresee the command will be accompanied with innumerable embarrassments. But the generous support which I expect from the partiality of the southern gentlemen, as well as the aid and assistance I hope to derive from your Excellency's advice and extensive influence, affords me some consolation in contemplating the difficulties.
I will prepare myself for the command as soon as I can. But, as I have been five years and upwards in service, during all which time I have paid no attention to the settlement of my domestic concerns (and many divisions of interest, and partition of landed property, between me and my brothers, have taken place in the time, and now lie unfinished), if it was possible, I should be glad to spend a few days at home, before I set out to the southward, especially as it is altogether uncertain how long my command may continue, or what deaths or accidents may happen, during my absence, to defeat the business. I beg your Excellency's opinion upon the matter, by which I will regulate my conduct. However, it will not be possible for me to leave this place for several days, if I put my baggage in the least order, or my business in a proper train for such a long journey. Nor is my health in a condition to set out immediately, having had a considerable fever upon me for several days.
General Heath arrived last evening, and will take the command this morning. I shall make him fully acquainted with all the dispositions I have made, and steps taken, which concern the post and its dependencies j and will give him my opinion what further is necessary to be done, to carry into execution your Excellency's instructions for putting the garrison in a proper state of defence, and prepare it for the approaching winter.
General McDougall is also here, and I have the pleasure to inform you that he and I perfectly agree in sentiment in what concerns the garrison and its dependencies. I am, &c.
- Nathanael Greene
- 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