Letter from Charles Petit to Nathanael Greene

  • Image 01
    [Charles Petit to Nathanael Greene February 13, 1781 [RvW Box 1, Folder 2 MSS. – A.L.]] Philadelphia 13th Feb.y. [February] 1781 I am now, my dear Sir, to acknowledge the receipt of your two favours by General Duportail [and] Major Giles; the latter came to hand a day or two before the other. We can hardly enough extol the bravery and good conduct of General Morgan and the little corps of heroes under his command. Nor are we unmindful of the merit [and] skill of the General who has made so happy a disposition of his small resources as to battle and impede the approach of an enemy with a force so much Superior to his. We flatter ourselves with the expectation of something brilliant in a few days from your left; but it must be brilliant indeed to out shine what has happened on your right. We chimney corner soldiers do not always judge rightly of actions in the field, but we must nevertheless be allowed, or at least we take the liberty, to utter our opinions on all that happen which have enough in them of either good or ill to draw attention. We now give the palm clearly to Genl. [General] Morgan on a supposition that the action of the Cowpens, in point of real bravery, generalship in action, and good soldiership, excels all that have happened, taking all circumstances into view, that of Stoney point not excepted. I need not descant on the particular merits of each nor draw those parts into com- parison which are most worthy of notices; neither shall I now enquire whether this piece of success was aided by the ill conduct of the enemy. It is enough that the victory was complete, and achieved in the open field by inferior numbers labouring under many other disadvantages, over the chosen troops of a boasting enemy. Could we know that you were in a con- diton to follow up the blow and avail yourself properly of the advantages such as a victory ought to give you, our joy would be supreme. But the chilling reflections of your real situation is mortifying to the friends of America in proportion to their knowledge of it, and strikes your personal friends with additional chagrin. Be not, however, discouraged. If you fail of the success we wish, you will hardly fall short of what we have a right to expect. From these considerations some consolation [End Page 1] consolation may be drawn, hard as it is to be reduced to such resources for it. The eyes and expectations not only of America, but of Europe are upon you. Your military character, though it has less to lose than some others in the world, from being less known that it deserves, has the extensive field of fame before it; and though you many meet with impediments and difficulties which may require more than common fortitude and common skill to withstand and surmount them, there is yet a chance of your triumphing over them. The war in America depends not solely on the circumstances arising within it. A lucky turn elsewhere may weaken the enemy, or strengthen our hands in a manner that may occasion a favourable change [and] turn the tide in our favour. The traitor who has lately with so much success, and with a shameful want of molestation on our part, impeded the reinforces ments [and] supplies which would otherwise have come to you, we have reason to believe is recalled from Chesapeak. The Storm which hap- pened some weeks since has done more damage to the enemy's fleet at Gardner's Island than we at first imagined. I have it from a member of Congress today that the culloden is entirely lost [and] but 17 of the crew saved, a frigate also lost; a 90 Gun ship blown out to sea dismasted, and one or two other ships of the line dismasted, besides other damage less conspicuous. This leaves a superiority in favour of the fleet of our ally, and it is whispered, but I have no certainty of it, that a few ships are detached from R. Island. The supposition is that they are gone to Chesapeak. If they should catch Mr. Arnold there, it would be a clever stroke. These, however, are but flattering suggestions of what may happen, and I have not solid authority for the supposition. I take it for granted however that on these probabilities the Enemy's force will be recalled from Chesapeak; but you will know more of the matter before this reaches you. I believe I have heretofore mentioned to you the arrange- ments going forward respecting the great branches of business, and that Mr. Livingston [and] Mr. Lee were in nomination for a choice of minister for foreign affairs. No election has yet been made, and perhaps may not be speedily. As Financier, Governor Johnston, Rob.r Morris, George Bryan [and] John Gibson have been put in nomination. A friend of yours was sounded on this subject [and] at his request his name has been kept out of sight. The two first I [End Page 2] I hear have declared off. Mr. G. will probably get but the vote of the one who named him. For the War Department Genl. [General] Gates, Genl Sullivan, Mr. Peters, [and] Col. [Colonel] Pickering [and] Col. [Colonel] Scam- -mell have been talked on, [and] I believe put in nomination. For Minister of marine Sr. James Jay is making interest. Your friend has also been asked for his name on this occasion, but he does not choose it should run for either tho he were sure it would succeed. The Jersey line made but a poor hand of their attempt to revolt; but about 150 came into the measure; they were soon suppressed, 2 of them executed [and] the rest pardoned. You will excuse the shortness of this, if such an appology [sic] be necessary – as writing by candle light under a cold which gives me a disordered head, is not pleasant. If matter and opp occasion offers before I find an opportunity of conveyance I will begin again. [End Page 3] [Addressed:] Honourable Major General Greene Commanding the Army of the United States Carolina [written upside down on bottom edge] From Col Pettit Feb. 13th. 1781. [End Page 4]
  • Image 01
    [Charles Petit to Nathanael Greene February 13, 1781 [RvW Box 1, Folder 2 MSS. – A.L.]] Philadelphia 13th Feb.y. [February] 1781 I am now, my dear Sir, to acknowledge the receipt of your two favours by General Duportail [and] Major Giles; the latter came to hand a day or two before the other. We can hardly enough extol the bravery and good conduct of General Morgan and the little corps of heroes under his command. Nor are we unmindful of the merit [and] skill of the General who has made so happy a disposition of his small resources as to battle and impede the approach of an enemy with a force so much Superior to his. We flatter ourselves with the expectation of something brilliant in a few days from your left; but it must be brilliant indeed to out shine what has happened on your right. We chimney corner soldiers do not always judge rightly of actions in the field, but we must nevertheless be allowed, or at least we take the liberty, to utter our opinions on all that happen which have enough in them of either good or ill to draw attention. We now give the palm clearly to Genl. [General] Morgan on a supposition that the action of the Cowpens, in point of real bravery, generalship in action, and good soldiership, excels all that have happened, taking all circumstances into view, that of Stoney point not excepted. I need not descant on the particular merits of each nor draw those parts into com- parison which are most worthy of notices; neither shall I now enquire whether this piece of success was aided by the ill conduct of the enemy. It is enough that the victory was complete, and achieved in the open field by inferior numbers labouring under many other disadvantages, over the chosen troops of a boasting enemy. Could we know that you were in a con- diton to follow up the blow and avail yourself properly of the advantages such as a victory ought to give you, our joy would be supreme. But the chilling reflections of your real situation is mortifying to the friends of America in proportion to their knowledge of it, and strikes your personal friends with additional chagrin. Be not, however, discouraged. If you fail of the success we wish, you will hardly fall short of what we have a right to expect. From these considerations some consolation [End Page 1] consolation may be drawn, hard as it is to be reduced to such resources for it. The eyes and expectations not only of America, but of Europe are upon you. Your military character, though it has less to lose than some others in the world, from being less known that it deserves, has the extensive field of fame before it; and though you many meet with impediments and difficulties which may require more than common fortitude and common skill to withstand and surmount them, there is yet a chance of your triumphing over them. The war in America depends not solely on the circumstances arising within it. A lucky turn elsewhere may weaken the enemy, or strengthen our hands in a manner that may occasion a favourable change [and] turn the tide in our favour. The traitor who has lately with so much success, and with a shameful want of molestation on our part, impeded the reinforces ments [and] supplies which would otherwise have come to you, we have reason to believe is recalled from Chesapeak. The Storm which hap- pened some weeks since has done more damage to the enemy's fleet at Gardner's Island than we at first imagined. I have it from a member of Congress today that the culloden is entirely lost [and] but 17 of the crew saved, a frigate also lost; a 90 Gun ship blown out to sea dismasted, and one or two other ships of the line dismasted, besides other damage less conspicuous. This leaves a superiority in favour of the fleet of our ally, and it is whispered, but I have no certainty of it, that a few ships are detached from R. Island. The supposition is that they are gone to Chesapeak. If they should catch Mr. Arnold there, it would be a clever stroke. These, however, are but flattering suggestions of what may happen, and I have not solid authority for the supposition. I take it for granted however that on these probabilities the Enemy's force will be recalled from Chesapeak; but you will know more of the matter before this reaches you. I believe I have heretofore mentioned to you the arrange- ments going forward respecting the great branches of business, and that Mr. Livingston [and] Mr. Lee were in nomination for a choice of minister for foreign affairs. No election has yet been made, and perhaps may not be speedily. As Financier, Governor Johnston, Rob.r Morris, George Bryan [and] John Gibson have been put in nomination. A friend of yours was sounded on this subject [and] at his request his name has been kept out of sight. The two first I [End Page 2] I hear have declared off. Mr. G. will probably get but the vote of the one who named him. For the War Department Genl. [General] Gates, Genl Sullivan, Mr. Peters, [and] Col. [Colonel] Pickering [and] Col. [Colonel] Scam- -mell have been talked on, [and] I believe put in nomination. For Minister of marine Sr. James Jay is making interest. Your friend has also been asked for his name on this occasion, but he does not choose it should run for either tho he were sure it would succeed. The Jersey line made but a poor hand of their attempt to revolt; but about 150 came into the measure; they were soon suppressed, 2 of them executed [and] the rest pardoned. You will excuse the shortness of this, if such an appology [sic] be necessary – as writing by candle light under a cold which gives me a disordered head, is not pleasant. If matter and opp occasion offers before I find an opportunity of conveyance I will begin again. [End Page 3] [Addressed:] Honourable Major General Greene Commanding the Army of the United States Carolina [written upside down on bottom edge] From Col Pettit Feb. 13th. 1781. [End Page 4]
  • Image 01
    [Charles Petit to Nathanael Greene February 13, 1781 [RvW Box 1, Folder 2 MSS. – A.L.]] Philadelphia 13th Feb.y. [February] 1781 I am now, my dear Sir, to acknowledge the receipt of your two favours by General Duportail [and] Major Giles; the latter came to hand a day or two before the other. We can hardly enough extol the bravery and good conduct of General Morgan and the little corps of heroes under his command. Nor are we unmindful of the merit [and] skill of the General who has made so happy a disposition of his small resources as to battle and impede the approach of an enemy with a force so much Superior to his. We flatter ourselves with the expectation of something brilliant in a few days from your left; but it must be brilliant indeed to out shine what has happened on your right. We chimney corner soldiers do not always judge rightly of actions in the field, but we must nevertheless be allowed, or at least we take the liberty, to utter our opinions on all that happen which have enough in them of either good or ill to draw attention. We now give the palm clearly to Genl. [General] Morgan on a supposition that the action of the Cowpens, in point of real bravery, generalship in action, and good soldiership, excels all that have happened, taking all circumstances into view, that of Stoney point not excepted. I need not descant on the particular merits of each nor draw those parts into com- parison which are most worthy of notices; neither shall I now enquire whether this piece of success was aided by the ill conduct of the enemy. It is enough that the victory was complete, and achieved in the open field by inferior numbers labouring under many other disadvantages, over the chosen troops of a boasting enemy. Could we know that you were in a con- diton to follow up the blow and avail yourself properly of the advantages such as a victory ought to give you, our joy would be supreme. But the chilling reflections of your real situation is mortifying to the friends of America in proportion to their knowledge of it, and strikes your personal friends with additional chagrin. Be not, however, discouraged. If you fail of the success we wish, you will hardly fall short of what we have a right to expect. From these considerations some consolation [End Page 1] consolation may be drawn, hard as it is to be reduced to such resources for it. The eyes and expectations not only of America, but of Europe are upon you. Your military character, though it has less to lose than some others in the world, from being less known that it deserves, has the extensive field of fame before it; and though you many meet with impediments and difficulties which may require more than common fortitude and common skill to withstand and surmount them, there is yet a chance of your triumphing over them. The war in America depends not solely on the circumstances arising within it. A lucky turn elsewhere may weaken the enemy, or strengthen our hands in a manner that may occasion a favourable change [and] turn the tide in our favour. The traitor who has lately with so much success, and with a shameful want of molestation on our part, impeded the reinforces ments [and] supplies which would otherwise have come to you, we have reason to believe is recalled from Chesapeak. The Storm which hap- pened some weeks since has done more damage to the enemy's fleet at Gardner's Island than we at first imagined. I have it from a member of Congress today that the culloden is entirely lost [and] but 17 of the crew saved, a frigate also lost; a 90 Gun ship blown out to sea dismasted, and one or two other ships of the line dismasted, besides other damage less conspicuous. This leaves a superiority in favour of the fleet of our ally, and it is whispered, but I have no certainty of it, that a few ships are detached from R. Island. The supposition is that they are gone to Chesapeak. If they should catch Mr. Arnold there, it would be a clever stroke. These, however, are but flattering suggestions of what may happen, and I have not solid authority for the supposition. I take it for granted however that on these probabilities the Enemy's force will be recalled from Chesapeak; but you will know more of the matter before this reaches you. I believe I have heretofore mentioned to you the arrange- ments going forward respecting the great branches of business, and that Mr. Livingston [and] Mr. Lee were in nomination for a choice of minister for foreign affairs. No election has yet been made, and perhaps may not be speedily. As Financier, Governor Johnston, Rob.r Morris, George Bryan [and] John Gibson have been put in nomination. A friend of yours was sounded on this subject [and] at his request his name has been kept out of sight. The two first I [End Page 2] I hear have declared off. Mr. G. will probably get but the vote of the one who named him. For the War Department Genl. [General] Gates, Genl Sullivan, Mr. Peters, [and] Col. [Colonel] Pickering [and] Col. [Colonel] Scam- -mell have been talked on, [and] I believe put in nomination. For Minister of marine Sr. James Jay is making interest. Your friend has also been asked for his name on this occasion, but he does not choose it should run for either tho he were sure it would succeed. The Jersey line made but a poor hand of their attempt to revolt; but about 150 came into the measure; they were soon suppressed, 2 of them executed [and] the rest pardoned. You will excuse the shortness of this, if such an appology [sic] be necessary – as writing by candle light under a cold which gives me a disordered head, is not pleasant. If matter and opp occasion offers before I find an opportunity of conveyance I will begin again. [End Page 3] [Addressed:] Honourable Major General Greene Commanding the Army of the United States Carolina [written upside down on bottom edge] From Col Pettit Feb. 13th. 1781. [End Page 4]
  • Image 01
    [Charles Petit to Nathanael Greene February 13, 1781 [RvW Box 1, Folder 2 MSS. – A.L.]] Philadelphia 13th Feb.y. [February] 1781 I am now, my dear Sir, to acknowledge the receipt of your two favours by General Duportail [and] Major Giles; the latter came to hand a day or two before the other. We can hardly enough extol the bravery and good conduct of General Morgan and the little corps of heroes under his command. Nor are we unmindful of the merit [and] skill of the General who has made so happy a disposition of his small resources as to battle and impede the approach of an enemy with a force so much Superior to his. We flatter ourselves with the expectation of something brilliant in a few days from your left; but it must be brilliant indeed to out shine what has happened on your right. We chimney corner soldiers do not always judge rightly of actions in the field, but we must nevertheless be allowed, or at least we take the liberty, to utter our opinions on all that happen which have enough in them of either good or ill to draw attention. We now give the palm clearly to Genl. [General] Morgan on a supposition that the action of the Cowpens, in point of real bravery, generalship in action, and good soldiership, excels all that have happened, taking all circumstances into view, that of Stoney point not excepted. I need not descant on the particular merits of each nor draw those parts into com- parison which are most worthy of notices; neither shall I now enquire whether this piece of success was aided by the ill conduct of the enemy. It is enough that the victory was complete, and achieved in the open field by inferior numbers labouring under many other disadvantages, over the chosen troops of a boasting enemy. Could we know that you were in a con- diton to follow up the blow and avail yourself properly of the advantages such as a victory ought to give you, our joy would be supreme. But the chilling reflections of your real situation is mortifying to the friends of America in proportion to their knowledge of it, and strikes your personal friends with additional chagrin. Be not, however, discouraged. If you fail of the success we wish, you will hardly fall short of what we have a right to expect. From these considerations some consolation [End Page 1] consolation may be drawn, hard as it is to be reduced to such resources for it. The eyes and expectations not only of America, but of Europe are upon you. Your military character, though it has less to lose than some others in the world, from being less known that it deserves, has the extensive field of fame before it; and though you many meet with impediments and difficulties which may require more than common fortitude and common skill to withstand and surmount them, there is yet a chance of your triumphing over them. The war in America depends not solely on the circumstances arising within it. A lucky turn elsewhere may weaken the enemy, or strengthen our hands in a manner that may occasion a favourable change [and] turn the tide in our favour. The traitor who has lately with so much success, and with a shameful want of molestation on our part, impeded the reinforces ments [and] supplies which would otherwise have come to you, we have reason to believe is recalled from Chesapeak. The Storm which hap- pened some weeks since has done more damage to the enemy's fleet at Gardner's Island than we at first imagined. I have it from a member of Congress today that the culloden is entirely lost [and] but 17 of the crew saved, a frigate also lost; a 90 Gun ship blown out to sea dismasted, and one or two other ships of the line dismasted, besides other damage less conspicuous. This leaves a superiority in favour of the fleet of our ally, and it is whispered, but I have no certainty of it, that a few ships are detached from R. Island. The supposition is that they are gone to Chesapeak. If they should catch Mr. Arnold there, it would be a clever stroke. These, however, are but flattering suggestions of what may happen, and I have not solid authority for the supposition. I take it for granted however that on these probabilities the Enemy's force will be recalled from Chesapeak; but you will know more of the matter before this reaches you. I believe I have heretofore mentioned to you the arrange- ments going forward respecting the great branches of business, and that Mr. Livingston [and] Mr. Lee were in nomination for a choice of minister for foreign affairs. No election has yet been made, and perhaps may not be speedily. As Financier, Governor Johnston, Rob.r Morris, George Bryan [and] John Gibson have been put in nomination. A friend of yours was sounded on this subject [and] at his request his name has been kept out of sight. The two first I [End Page 2] I hear have declared off. Mr. G. will probably get but the vote of the one who named him. For the War Department Genl. [General] Gates, Genl Sullivan, Mr. Peters, [and] Col. [Colonel] Pickering [and] Col. [Colonel] Scam- -mell have been talked on, [and] I believe put in nomination. For Minister of marine Sr. James Jay is making interest. Your friend has also been asked for his name on this occasion, but he does not choose it should run for either tho he were sure it would succeed. The Jersey line made but a poor hand of their attempt to revolt; but about 150 came into the measure; they were soon suppressed, 2 of them executed [and] the rest pardoned. You will excuse the shortness of this, if such an appology [sic] be necessary – as writing by candle light under a cold which gives me a disordered head, is not pleasant. If matter and opp occasion offers before I find an opportunity of conveyance I will begin again. [End Page 3] [Addressed:] Honourable Major General Greene Commanding the Army of the United States Carolina [written upside down on bottom edge] From Col Pettit Feb. 13th. 1781. [End Page 4]
Title:
Letter from Charles Petit to Nathanael Greene
Creator:
Pettit, Charles, 1736-1806
Date:
1781-02-13
Description:
Letter from Charles Petit to Nathanael Greene regarding the war in America and Europe’s dependence on the United States asserting their dominance over England.
Collection:
Charleston Museum Collection of Revolutionary War Letters
Contributing Institution:
The Charleston Museum Archives
Media Type:
Manuscripts
Personal or Corporate Subject:
Pettit, Charles, 1736-1806--Correspondence, Pettit, Charles, 1736-1806, Greene, Nathanael, 1742-1786--Correspondence, Greene, Nathanael, 1742-1786--Military service, Greene, Nathanael, 1742-1786--Military leadership, Greene, Nathanael, 1742-1786
Topical Subject:
War, armed forces, and society
Geographic Subject:
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783, United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--American forces, Santee (S.C.)
S.C. County:
Charleston County (S.C.)
Internet Media Type:
image/jpeg
Digitization Specifications:
600 ppi, 24-bit depth, color, Epson Expression 10000XL, Archival Masters are tiffs.
Copyright Status Statement:
Public domain.
Access Information:
For more information contact The Charleston Museum, 360 Meeting Street, Charleston, SC 29403.