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    Revolutionary War veteran Nathaniel Pendleton transmits the working draft for his memoirs to "Light Horse Harry" Lee

    [Revolutionary War]. Captain Nathaniel Pendleton Autograph Letter Signed with a Manuscript of His Memoirs. The letter is signed "N Pendleton" and docketed by Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee on the reverse. One page of one leaf, 7.25" x 9", [n.p.], April 19, 1810. Pendleton, a Revolutionary War veteran, sends this letter to "Genl. Henry Lee," conveying his working draft for his memoirs. Lee, the father of Robert E. Lee, has docketed the reverse of the letter, "Pendleton letters." Tears and paper loss have been repaired. Some staining. Pendleton's memoirs are entitled at the top, "Memoirs & Annecdotes of the Southern Army by N. Pendleton for General Lee," and consist of nineteen manuscript pages of a narrative of his activity during the Revolutionary War, particularly of Pendleton's actions at the Battle of Eutaw Springs. Lee has also docketed the final page of Pendleton's manuscript, "Pendleton's Memoirs." The manuscript bears age-toning, some ink-burn, a few fold separations, and corrections by Pendleton.

    From Culpeper County, Virginia, Nathaniel Pendleton Jr. (1756-1821) joined a rifle company in 1775 as a young private. In July 1776, he was commissioned a lieutenant in a rifle regiment. The British captured him on November 16, 1776, at Fort Washington and exchanged him in October 1780. From November 1780 until the end of the war, he served as General Nathanael Greene's aide-de-camp. The Continental Congress commended the captain (Pendleton was promoted while a POW) for his bravery at the Battle or Eutaw Springs. In September 1783, he was brevetted a major. After the war, he served Georgia as its attorney general and was chosen to attend the 1787 Philadelphia Convention and the 1789 Confederation Congress, but he did not attend either. In 1789, President Washington appointed Pendleton a U.S. District Judge. Pendleton is also noted for serving as Alexander Hamilton's "second" for the infamous Hamilton-Burr duel.

    Pendleton's transmittal letter reads in full: "Dear Sir, Not finding any other conveyance I send the enclosed as you requested. These are written in haste merely as notes. I . . . [illegible because of the red wax seal] I can send the book in the same manner. Yours [signed] N. Pendleton."

    The memoirs were written circa 1800 and begin when Pendleton "entered into the army at the age of nineteen, was taken prisoner with the rifle corps, then commanded by Col Rawlings at Fort Washington in November 1776 and continued a prisoner until October 1800 [the date is certainly a mistake]. He was in Philadelphia at that time, when General Greene was there on his way to take the Command of the Southern Army, and agreed to appoint Mr. Pendleton, then a captain, one of his Aids de Camp." After this introductory paragraph, Pendleton begins his memoirs as aide to General Greene as he and Greene "crossed the Dan River [in North Carolina] and exerted all his [Greene's] skill to induce Lord Cornwallis to remain in those parts until a reinforcement of about 400 men he expected from Virginia under Col Campbell should arrive." Pendleton continues with General Greene into South Carolina and Georgia. The memoirs include information on George Washington, Greene, John Laurens, "Light Horse Harry" Lee, and others.

    The details about General Greene are particularly fascinating - one section is entitled, "General Greene's dispute with Capt. Gunn." The ongoing dispute results in a challenge to a duel, "Mr. [Andrew] Jackson, afterwards a Senator in Congress, whom general Greene had patronized... was the bearer of the challenge." Pendleton also gives details on Greene's death in 1786, which was likely a sunstroke. Pendleton had tried to help the dying man by ordering "immediate blistering and copious bleeding." The general died only days later.

    Pendleton also includes details about the Battle of Eutaw Springs (September 8, 1781, in Orangeburg County, South Carolina), the last major battle of the war in the Carolinas. Included in those details are those of the deaths of soldiers, as well as close-calls for officers. For example, Pendleton records how Colonel William Washington's horse was shot out from under him during a charge ordered by General Greene. The horse pinned Washington to the ground. The British came upon him and bayoneted him and took him prisoner. Part of Pendleton's narrative of the capture reads as follows: "Col. Washington's horse fell, and his corps were broken and retreated. He received a slight scratch in the breast from a bayonet which a british soldier aimed at his breast. The same soldier drew back his musket and was aiming a Second blow when his arm was arrested by an officer, to whom Col. Washington surrendered his Sword." Most historians agree that the British won a tactical victory at the battle. In all, this manuscript memoir offers significant details about the Southern theater of the Revolutionary War. From the Donald P. Dow Collection.

    Auction Info

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    April, 2015
    9th Thursday
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