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Letter from William Henry Drayton to the Council of Safety for South-Carolina



Unless our friends in the country find that the non-subscribers are debarred all communication with Charlestown, and all trade with the country stores, they will be much chagrined, and bad consequences may ensue; in particular, I most earnestly recommend that no more goods be allowed to be sent up to McLaurin' s store. His partner in town is one McCurry or Curry, some such name. This man has signed the Association, and under this sanction he means to supply McLaurin' s, by which means the Dutch will be encouraged to persevere in their obstinacy. And I beg leave to caution you even against McLaurin' s signing the Association, if he should think proper to do so to procure goods, for the Dutch agree if there should be a necessity, that he should be allowed to subscribe, and then they would be supplied as usual, without their acceding to the Association.


The commissions for the volunteer companies are not come to hand; but I suppose they are with Colonel Thompson, who in all probability will continue in his new camp until my arrival there. I reached Colonel Fletchall' s last Thursday morning, before breakfast, and Mr˙ Tennent and myself after breakfast engaged him in a private conversation during near three hours. We endeavoured to explain every thing to him. We pressed them upon him, and endeavoured to show him that we had a confidence in him — we humoured him — we laughed with him; then we recurred to argument, remonstrances, and entreaties, to join his Country, and all America. All that we could get from him was this: "He would never take up arms against Ms King or his countrymen, and that the proceedings of the Congress at Philadelphia were impoliticly, disrespectful, and irritating to the King." We charged him with having written to the Governour, and with having received an answer: he confessed both. We named the day (the Sunday preceding) he received the answer: he allowed it. We named the method by which he received it, (concealed in a cane,) he appeared confounded, but, after a pause, he attempted to laugh off this last particular. Robinson brought up this letter, and Fletchall would not show it to us. Robinson declares he has brought up a commission to raise men for the King; and he even had the imprudence to say before me, that he should raise men for the defence of his person, since many people had threatened him. I answered, surely the civil power would not allow him to go about with armed men, to the terrour of the King' s subjects; he replied, why did not the civil power prevent the Congress from having armed men, and surely he would have armed men so long as they had any. This man' s looks are utterly against him. Much venom appears in Cunningham' s countenace and conversation. Neither of these men say much; but Brown is the spokesman, and his bitterness and violence are intolerable. He has in various ways insulted us during our twenty-four hours stay at Fletchall' s, as if he wanted to provoke me to violence. At length he went so far as to tell me he believed we did not mean well to the King, and that our professions were nothing but a cloak. At this provocation, after many others, I almost lost my caution; but thank God, I did not even appear to do so: in a very firm tone I severely checked him. The Colonel bid him go to bed. Before this happened we had engaged the Colonel in the private conversation, to call out his Regiment as on the 23d instant; upon our return to the house, where this Brown, Cunningham and Robinson were, he mentioned what he had promised. All three of them were open-mouthed against the measure, and Mr˙ Tennent and myself had much to do to keep the Colonel to his promise. This meeting of the Regiment will be at the time and place of election, at Ford' s; and I am not without some apprehensions that some violence will then be used against us. I enclose a letter from Mr˙ Tennent to me, the day we parted at the Colonel' s. And besides this, it is my firm belief that Brown, Cunningham and Robinson will do every thing in their power to bring things to extremities, for they are clearly of opinion they can beat the whole Colony. These men manage Fletchall as they please when they have him to themselves; indeed, he is so fixed, and has made so many declarations, that I firmly think his pride and false sense of honour will never allow him to appear to think as we do, even if these men were not about him. Mr˙ Kershaw told me he knew the man, and that no confidence was to be placed in him.

Things wearing so unfavourable an appearance Colonel Richardson, Mr˙ Kershaw, Mr˙ Tennent, and myself, unanimously thought it absolutely expedient to direct Captain Purvis to raise an additional troop of Rangers immediately, to lie on the back of these people, and Mr˙ Tennent and myself have given directions accordingly, not doubting but that the necessity of the case will induce you to approve the measure. Captain Purvis came to us, appeared much concerned for his past conduct, attributing it to a mistake touching the station of the Rangers, which he had thought had been by the Congress fixed to the back country and frontiers. He has been since active in our favour, and is a person of influence in his part of the country, on the back of Fletchall. His brother is a man of


great influence in Mecklenburgh, and ready to march to our assistance when called upon; and already Fletchall looked upon Captain Purvis as an acquisition to his party. Hence, to bind Captain Purvis' s brother, and all the friends of both to us, to quash Fletchall' s expectation from the Captain, and to have a troop of Rangers on the back of Fletchall' s people to watch their motion, we all thought it absolutely necessary to direct the raising of this additional troop, as we apprehended you would consider Captain Purvis' s letter and conduct as a resignation of his commission, and that you had already disposed of it.

In consequence of the affidavit taken by Captain Purvis, I have despatched an express to the commanding officer at Fort Charlotte, and directions to Major Williamson to throw into the fort a re-enforcement of thirty militia, to be continued there by proper relieves during one month, in which time I doubt not the whole Colony will be in a state of perfect security against internal commotion. The garrison there will now consist of seventy odd men. I have also given Major Williamson directions to hold the militia in readiness to march in case of any commotion.

I had this day a meeting with the people in this frontier. Many present were of the other party, but I have the pleasure to acquaint you that these became voluntary converts; every person received satisfaction, and departed with pleasure. I finished the day with a barbecued beef. I have so ordered matters here that this whole frontier will be formed into volunteer companies; but as they are at present under Fletchall' s command, they insist upon being formed into a Regiment independent of him; and I flatter myself you will think this method of weakening Fletchall to be consistent with sound policy. These people are active and spirited; they are staunch in our favour; are capable of forming a good barrier against the Indians, and of being a severe check upon Fletchall' s people, on whom they border, if they should think of quitting their habitations under the banners of Fletchall, or his companions; for these reasons, and to enable them to act with vigour, I shall take the liberty to supply them with a small quantity of ammunition, (for now they have not one ounce,) when they shall be formed into regular Companies. Several Companies will be formed by this day week.

I enclose to you an affidavit, by which you will see there is no dependence on Cameron. I have sent up a short talk to the Cherokees, inviting them to come down to me within twelve days to Amelia. Mr˙ Pearis has undertaken to conduct six of their head men to me, and I should be glad within the time mentioned to receive from you seventy or eighty pounds worth of shirts, watch-coats, blankets, linen, strouds and paints, and your instructions, if you choose I should say any thing in particular to them. On Wednesday I shall, with Mr˙ Tennent, Mr˙ Hart and Mr˙ Reise, attend the election and review of Fletchall' s Regiment at Ford' s, at the mouth of Cedar Creek, upon Enoree. You will see the place in the small map. What the event will be I am at a loss to say; I do not expect any success — I apprehend some insults. I may be mistaken in both opinions. Within twelve days I purpose to be at Colonel Thompson' s camp, where I think it will be advisable that I should remain till I shall see every spark of insurrection extinguished; but in regard to this I shall


regulate myself by your orders on the subject, which I hope to receive by the time I arrive at the camp. If Kirkland shall be seized, without doubt a commotion will follow; and if he goes off with impunity and without question, it will be fatal to the discipline of the army, especially the Rangers. But this is not all, vigorous measures are absolutely necessary. If a dozen persons are allowed to be at large, our progress has been in vain, and we shall be involved in a civil war in spite of our teeth. In giving you this information I tell a melancholy truth, but I do my duty. If certain persons should be secured, some commotion in all probability will follow; but I am so well acquainted with the situation of the disaffected parts of the country, and with such parts as may be brought against them, that I am under no apprehensions for the consequences, provided prompt and vigorous measures attend every appearance of insurrection.

I would beg leave to observe that as this business, is of the highest importance, so your orders on the subject should be clear and general, to vest proper authority to take such measure as may tend to suppress this threatening insurrection, that will assuredly break out by delay, and come upon us unexpectedly.

Perhaps my being arrived at the camp, in my return home, may be construed an expiration of the powers vested in Mr˙ Tennent and myself; and his return to Charlestown may work an annihilation of powers, to be exercised by us together; for, as our continuance in the country will be of but little benefit in the Dutch settlements and the disaffected quarters, while under the influence of Fletchall' s people, so I make no doubt but that Mr˙ Tennent will choose to return to Town, sensible that his presence in the country will not be of any advantage in the way of expounding our political texts to the people.

I have the honour to lay things fully before you, that you may regulate yourselves thereupon, and send orders to me at Amelia, by which I shall either remain with the camp or return to Charlestown. But I pray you to be expeditious, for a delay on your parts will allow the enemy lo recover many of our converts, and I know they are active, malicious, and bent upon mischief.

Mr˙ Tennent and Colonel Richardson were successful in their journey beyond Broad River. Mr˙ Tennent is now in Neel' s quarters, where they are very hearty in our cause; Mr˙ Kershaw and Colonel Richardson took their leave of us when we quitted Fletchall, being sensible they could not in those parts be of any assistance to us. They have been very diligent.



* The same who was tarred and feathered at Augusta.

* Thomas Neel, Colonel of the Regiment of Militia, in the New Acquisition.