Description

    In praise of Greene for turning around the Southern Army in the Revolutionary War

    [Nathaniel Greene] Lewis Morris, Jr. Fine Content Autograph Letter (unsigned). 4 pages, 8.25" x 13", [n.p., n.d., but likely North Carolina, March to April, 1781] to future congressman John Rutherfurd concerning the improving condition of the Continental Army in the South. Lewis Morris, Jr. (1754 -1824) son of Signer Lewis Morris, was aide-de-camp to Nathaniel Greene during the Southern campaign of 1780-82. He writes, in part: "...It has been the constant principle object and attention of General Greene since he took the command of this department to arrange and organize it upon a respectable footing. His resources and alacrity were equal to momentous task - and I have the pleasure to assure you that his efforts have not been without effect. the public to the great injury for the service, was flattered with success beyond the ability [of] its forces -- under this false idea it was necessary to paint the true situation of officers - as well as to excite comprehension for the wretchedness and distress of the troops as to call forth the exertion and powers of the people - An established army was to be equipped for service and the several legislatures had yet to determine upon the measure from a predilection in favor of militia. The powers of argument were necessary to remove the prejudice and convince them how essential a regular Army was to their own preservation and that of the Union, and how destructive the plan of employing the militia was to the country. Experience could have pleaded its fatal effects, but ignorance and obstinacy were more adamant. North Carolina has at length determined to complete the four battalions and Virginia is making exertions on its part. The Commander in chief, sensible to how critically we were circumstanced has directed a fleet, and a detachment from his army to our assistance. Tho this armament will cooperate immediately against [Benedict] Arnold at Portsmouth, its success will have an extensive influence in the Southern War. And Congress, disposed to the utmost of their abilities to alleviate the sufferings and distresses of the soldiers, and sending forward clothing and other supplies... These are all [illeg.] and if Lord Cornwallis could be can be first fortune would favour our Arms against the Enemy in this state I could flatter myself with the pleasing reflection of soon returning to the peaceful habitation and company of my friends. We have numbers sufficient to Justify the belief but those could be depended upon their minds are unprepared for action -- and they cannot stand the charge of disciplined soldiers. If it should please God to spare my life. I propose to return to the Northward the next fall..." The "detachment" Morris mentions was a force of regulars under Lafayette who were to counter Benedict Arnold's movements in Virginia. On April 11 Washington instructed Lafayette to open communications with Greene as soon as practicable. Following the Battle of Guilford Court House, Cornwallis, his forces heavily depleted, elected to move into Virginia to await reinforcement. Greene meanwhile began an offensive which would regain control of the entire South save British enclaves at Charleston and Savannah. Lafayette in the meantime harassed Cornwallis forcing him to move to Yorktown. John Rutherfurd and Lewis Morris III were classmates at the College of New Jersey (present-day Princeton University). Rutherfurd later married Morris' sister Helena in 1782. Weak at folds with some archivally repaired, otherwise very good condition.

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    Auction Dates
    June, 2008
    3rd-4th Tuesday-Wednesday
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