Page:American History Told by Contemporaries, v2.djvu/638

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610
[1780-1781
End of the War

Maryland and Virginia Assemblies, and laid before them the state of this army, and urged the necessity of an immediate support. They both promised to do everything in their power, but such was their poverty, even in their Capitals, that they could not furnish forage for my horses. I have also written to the States of Delaware and North Carolina, neither of which have taken any measures yet for giving effectual aid to this army. I left General Gist in Maryland, and Baron Steuben in Virginia, to forward the recruits and supplies. Measures are taking in Virginia which promise us some aid, though very trifling to what they ought to give, and what our state requires. All the way through the country, as I passed, I found the people engaged in matters of interest and in pursuit of pleasure, almost regardless of their danger. Public credit totally lost, and every man excusing himself from giving the least aid to Government, from an apprehension that they would get no return for any advances. This afforded but a dull prospect, nor has it mended since my arrival.

I overtook the army at Charlotte, to which place General Gates had advanced. The appearance of the troops was wretched beyond description, and their distress, on account of provisions, was little less than their suffering for want of clothing and other necessaries. General Gates had lost the confidence of the officers, and the troops all their discipline, and so addicted to plundering, that they were a terror to the inhabitants. The General and I met upon very good terms, and parted so. The old gentleman was in great distress, having but just heard of the death of his son before my arrival.

The battle of Camden is spoken of very differently here to what it is to the Northward, and as for a regular retreat, there was none ; every man got off the ground in the best manner he could. This is the account Colonel Williams gives, who was one of the last on the field. Indeed, the whole business was a short fight and then a perfect flight, and the greatest loss happened after the troops broke, and attempted to make their escape. From all I can learn, if General Gates had stopped at Charlotte, little more disgrace would have fallen to his share than is common to the unfortunate. Generals Gates and Smallwood were not upon good terms ; the former suspected the latter of having an intention to supplant him. Some think General Gates's suspicions were groundless, and had no other foundation but the General's own imagination. Others are of opinion that they were well founded, and that my appointment was a great disappointment as well as mortification