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Earl of Dartmouth to Major-General Howe



Whitehall, October 22, 1775.

SIR: You will have seen, by the extract of a letter from Governour Martin, which accompanied my despatch of the 15th of September, and also by an extract of a letter from Lord William Campbell, transmitted to you by Mr˙ Pownall, that there were many circumstances in the state, both of North and South-Carolina, that indicated a disposition in the people, more particularly in those settled in the interior country, to resist the oppressive acts of the Committees in the Towns upon the sea-coasts: and you will have observed with how much confidence Governour Martin speaks of the practicability of reducing, with a small force, the Province of North-Carolina to obedience.

The small appearances begin to show themselves in Georgia and in Virginia, and Lord Dunmore even makes himself responsible for securing the obedience of the latter of those Provinces, with the assistance only of two or three hundred men.

I will confess, that it appeared to me, at the first view of the propositions made by Lord Dunmore and Governour Martin, that they were too sanguine in their expectations; but later advices confirm what they represented of the temper and disposition of the people, and there is good ground to believe that the appearance of a respectable force to the southward, under the command of an able and discreet officer, will have the effect to restore order and Government in those four Provinces.

The King, whose solicitude for pursuing with vigour every measure that tends to crush the present dangerous rebellion in the Colonies excites in His Majesty the most exemplary attention to every object of advantage, has thought fit, in consequence of these favourable appearances to the southward, to signify His Majesty' s pleasure, that five Regiments of Infantry, viz: the Fifteenth, Thirty-Seventh, Fifty-Third, Fifty-Fourth, and Fifty-Seventh, should be ordered to hold themselves in readiness to embark at Cork, on or before the 1st of December, for North-America.

These Regiments will be joined by two Companies of


Artillery from hence, who will take with them ten battalion guns, and as many howitzers and amusettes as the number of artillery-men serve, and also ten thousand stand of spare arms; and the whole will be ordered to proceed, under convoy of a proper naval force, to Cape Fear River, at which place there is good ground to hope they will be immediately joined by the Highland emigrants settled in that neighbourhood, whose assistance Governour Martin says we may depend upon.

It is the King' s intention that this body of troops should, upon their arrival, be under the command of one of the General Officers who are now with you; and I am to signify to you His Majesty' s pleasure that one of them do immediately proceed in a ship of war to Cape Fear River, and to remain on board, either within the river or in the offing, as shall be judged most proper, until the arrival of the forces from Cork, before which time he will probably have been able to collect such information and materials as may enable him the better to judge of the plan of operations to be pursued.

In the consideration of a measure of so much importance, every circumstance that can give facility and security to the landing of the forces from Ireland will deserve attention; and it will certainly be proper, that two or three small vessels, furnished with able pilots, should be appointed to cruise off the coast, and to conduct the fleet into Cape Fear River — a caution which is the most necessary, as the navigation of that part of the coast of America is difficult and dangerous.

I have already mentioned to you the probability that the King' s troops will, upon their arrival, be joined by the Highland emigrants; but our expectations on this head are not confined to that description of people only, the inhabitants of four or five of the back Counties have shown the same disposition; and it is these circumstances which have induced the resolution of sending the troops to North-Carolina, and directing them to repair to Cape Fear River, which, from its vicinity to those Counties, as well as from its superior advantages as a port, is judged by the King to be the most proper place.

At the same time, His Majesty does not intend that the General should, in his plan of operations, be confined to any particular Province; his choice of situation must, in that respect, be governed by his own judgment. After maturely weighing every circumstance of greater or less advantage and facility in the means of restoring the publick tranquillity, and re-establishing the authority of the King' s Government, which object being once effected in any one of the Southern Colonies, the troops may proceed to another, leaving the support and protection of that which has been so reduced to a corps formed out of the well affected Provincials who shall have taken up arms in the King' s cause; and His Majesty is not without hope that, by the time that the navigation of the northern coasts of North-America becomes practicable in the spring, the whole of this corps of regular troops may, upon that plan, proceed to join the main Army.

In the consideration of the means of effecting these important services, a great variety of objects present themselves. A landing once obtained, and the troops in secure possession, either of the capital or any of the Provinces, or of any other Town in which the Civil Governour may exercise the functions of his office with safety, the next step will be to require that all Committees of Towns, or Congresses of such Committees, and the unlawful Associations which have been entered into, be dissolved; that the Courts of Justice throughout the Province be opened; that all persons whatsoever do take the oaths of allegiance before the Judges of such Courts; and that those who have, by the instigation of the Committees, taken up arms against lawful authority, do surrender the same, and make such declaration of their future obedience as the Governour shall, with the advice of his Council, direct and require; in which case they may be told that they may expect to be recommended as objects of the royal mercy.

If the inhabitants of the Province, or any part of them, refuse to comply with these requisitions, it will be the duty of the King' s General to employ the troops under his command to force them to submission, by seizing the persons and effects of the delinquents, and by attacking and doing their utmost to destroy any Towns in which the people


shall assemble in arms, hold meetings of Committees, or Congresses, or prevent the King' s Courts of Justice from assembling.

It is possible that the people may be rash enough to appear in the open field against the King' s troops, and to hazard an action; but should that be the case, I trust the matter will soon be decided to the advantage of Government. I apprehend, however, that they will not hazard such a conflict; nor is it with any such expectation, that the measure of sending these troops has been adopted here, but principally upon the encouragement held out by the King' s Governours, that if such respectable force was sent as might make it safe for the friends of Government to show themselves, they should soon prevail over those who, having found means of getting the sword into their hands, have hitherto been able to effect their rebellious purposes without control. At the same time, therefore, that the Rebels are encouraged to hope for mercy upon submission, every species of reward must be offered to those who have not yet involved themselves in that guilt, and shall consent to list under the royal banner, who, besides an allowance of the same pay as the King' s troops receive, so long as they continue in service, may be encouraged to expect a remission of all arrears of quit-rent due to the Crown, and an exemption from payment of any for a few years to come.

In truth, the whole success of the measure His Majesty has adopted depends so much upon a considerable number of inhabitants taking up arms in support of Government, that nothing that can have a tendency to promote it ought to be omitted. I hope we are not deceived in the assurances that have been given; for if we are, and there should be no appearance of a disposition in the inhabitants of the Southern Colonies to join the King' s Army, I fear little more will be effected than the gaining possession of some respectable post to the southward, where the officers and servants of Government may find protection, and from which the Rebels may be annoyed by sudden and unexpected attacks of their Towns upon the sea-coast, during the open part of the winter; which attacks, however, may be made very distressing to them, and will be no inconsiderable advantage.

There are, indeed, so many objects of advantage in this expedition, that His Majesty is unwilling to suppose we can fail in them all, or that we shall not be able, at least, to maintain a post in one or other of the four Provinces in rebellion. But, supposing the worst to happen, St˙ Augustine, in all events, offers a secure retreat to the troops, until the season of the year will admit of their joining your Army.

Having fully explained to you the objects of the intended expedition, I have only to add, that it is not meant that it should prevent you in any measure of the like nature, which you may have had in contemplation, in consequence of my former despatches; on the contrary, the sending a detachment from your Army to any of the four Southern Provinces, where you see an opening for effecting any essential service, may have the consequence to give the greater facility and advantage to the present enterprise; and therefore it is the King' s wish that you should pursue that measure, if it can be effected without prejudice to your general plan of operation; of which, however, you must be the best judge, and therefore His Majesty leaves it entirely to your own discretion.

I am, &c˙, DARTMOUTH.

To Major-General Howe.