Page:American History Told by Contemporaries, v2.djvu/637

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No. 212]
Greene in the South

sent by our ally to our support did not arrive till a reinforcement on the part of the enemy had counteracted their views. They have been almost constantly blocked up at Rhode Island by the British fleet. The effects of a hurricane in the last spring on the latter gave a temporary advantage to the former, but circumstances delayed the improvement of it till the critical season was past. Mr. Destouches, who commanded the French fleet, nevertheless hazarded an expedition into Chesapeake bay. The object of it was to co-operate with the Marquis de la Fayette in an attack against Arnold, who lay at Portsmouth with about fifteen hundred British troops. Had he got into the bay, and taken a favorable station, the event would certainly have been adequate to our hopes. Unfortunately, the British fleet, which followed the French immediately from Rhode Island, reached the capes of Virginia first. On the arrival of the latter, a regular and fair combat took place. It lasted for several hours, and ended rather in favor of our allies. As the enemy, however, were nearest the capes, and one of the French ships had lost her rudder, and was otherwise much damaged, the commander thought it best to relinquish his object, and return to his former station. The damage sustained by the enemy, according to their own representation, exceeded that of the French ; and as their number of ships and weight of metal were both superior, it does great honor to the gallantry and good conduct of Mr. Destouches. Congress, and indeed the public at large, were so sensible of this, that their particular thanks were given him on the occasion.

James Madison, Letters and Other Writings (Philadelphia, 1865), I, 44-49 passim.

212. Affairs in the South (1780-1781)

After the defeat of Gates at Camden in 1780, Greene, a Rhode Island man, was put in command. This letter, written to President Reed, illustrates the difficulties of regular campaigns in the south, and also brings out the frightful border warfare. — Bibliography of Greene: G. W. Greene, Nathanael Greene. — Bibliography of southern affairs as in No. 211 above.
Camp on the Pedee, January 9th, 1781. . . .

I INTENDED to have written you before, but I have been so employed since I left Philadelphia, that I have been obliged to deny myself the pleasure of writing to my friends, to attend to the more immediate duties of my department. On my journey I visited the