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, Vol. 2

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Author: John Laurens

U.S. History

From Colonel John Laurens.

Charleston, 9 April, 1780.

DEAR GENERAL,

When I last had the honor of writing to your Excellency, the enemy had not extended their operations beyond their place of arms on Wappoo Neck. On the 29th ultimo they crossed Ashley River, in force, one mile above the ferry. The next day they advanced to Gibbes’s, a convenient landing, about two miles from town, having previously collected a number of boats at the opposite shore, for the purpose of crossing their heavy artillery and stores. My battalion of light infantry, posted there to prevent a surprise or too sudden approach of the enemy, was ordered not to engage seriously, but skirmish with advanced parties, retiring slowly and orderly towards town, as there was no object in maintaining any advanced post, and the advantages of a serious affair were all on the side of the enemy.

On the night of the 1st instant, the enemy broke ground, and have been working slowly ever since. I scarcely know how to denominate what they have executed hitherto. It consists of several redoubts, with a covered communication from right to left, which is still unfinished. Their nearest work is an inclosed battery on their left, at about the distance of six hundred yards, which induces me to believe, that they intend the line in question for a first parallel, although some parts of R are rather too remote. Our shells and shot have disquieted them, and interrupted their operations; but General Lincoln, sensible of the value of these articles in a siege, economizes them as much as possible. Fatigue parties are constantly employed in improving our works. The whole front of our lines, within the abatis, is armed with wolf-traps. All this affords an excellent defence against storm, but must finally yield to a perseverance in regular approaches, which appears to be Clinton’s present plan, unless we can work under his fire as fast as he can, and afford time for the arrival of your Excellency.

Our obstructions in Cooper River are completed; which gives a prospect of our maintaining a communication with the country, and hitherto prevents the accomplishment of the investiture. Since the arrival of General Woodford, General Lincoln will have it in his power to execute his plan of establishing the necessary posts for this purpose, on the east-era shore of the river. Colonel Malmedy is to take command of the troops destined for that service.

The enemy’s squadron of seven armed ships, three of which are two-deckers, and two transports, availed itself of a brisk southern breeze to pass Fort Moultrie yesterday afternoon. The Admiral’s ship led the van, and escaped without apparent injury; the frigate which followed her, had her foretopmast carried away; a large transport, in the rear of the whole, ran aground, and, after receiving some shot from Sullivan’s Island, was fired and abandoned by her crew. The remainder are now anchored near the ruins of Fort Johnson, out of the reach of our cannon.

My notice of the present opportunity was so sudden, that I have not been able to make atonement for my last hurried letter. Relying upon your Excellency’s goodness, I have preferred writing, at any rate, to total silence, and losing an occasion of repeating the assurances of attachment and veneration, with which I have the honor to be,

Your Excellency’s faithful Aid,

JOHN LAURENS.

P. S. I beg to be respectfully presented to Mrs. Washington. The reason above mentioned makes me trouble your Excellency to present my love to the family, as I shall not be able to write to any of them.

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Chicago: John Laurens, "From Colonel John Laurens.," 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, Vol. 2 in 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, ed. Jared Sparks (Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1853), 435–437. Original Sources, accessed January 25, 2020, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4KKHFIAIK1YHDVM.

MLA: Laurens, John. "From Colonel John Laurens." 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, Vol. 2, in 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, edited by Jared Sparks, Vol. 2, Freeport, NY, Books for Libraries Press, 1853, pp. 435–437. Original Sources. 25 Jan. 2020. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4KKHFIAIK1YHDVM.

Harvard: Laurens, J, 'From Colonel John Laurens.' in 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, Vol. 2. cited in 1853, 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, ed. , Books for Libraries Press, Freeport, NY, pp.435–437. Original Sources, retrieved 25 January 2020, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4KKHFIAIK1YHDVM.