This letter is from George IV. The Correspondence of George, Prince of Wales, 1770-18122 Ed. A. Aspinall. 8 vols. (London: Cassell, c1963-71.) 4:192-197. Submitted by Marg Baskin. Paraphrased by John Robertson.

Paraphrase of the letter:
  • Letter was written from Donington1 on 19 January 1801.
  • Rawdon notes that McMahon had indicated that the letter was requested by someone other than himself.8 FR makes it clear that he wishes in no way to detract from the credit Cornwallis has justly received for his defeat of Gates at Camden.
  • FR felt that Cornwallis had not unfairly related his (FR's) performance in battle.3
  • FR felt that he had been inadequately recognized for his contributions prior to the Battle of Camden which had played no small part in providing for the possibility of the British victory there.
  • FR did not have a copy of Stedman's history4 but did not question the dates it provided.
  • Regarding Tarleton's History...5
    Tarleton's narrative is here. He has so strangely disjoined facts which bore important relation to each other, & has so singularly miscomprehended points with which he ought naturally to have been acquainted, that his exposition of the chain of events is as incorrect as his specific accounts of many of the actions. I could, therefore, little aid my memory by recurrence to that book.
  • While Cornwallis had not expected an attack by Gates until summer had passed, FR had expected such an attack and was alert for such.
  • FR considered Camden indefensible.
  • When American militia advanced to the Pedee, Rawdon believed that it meant that an attack by Gates was imminent. He sent Webster to the east branch of Lynche's Creek and also reinforced Hanging Rock. FR followed Webster as soon as he had made necessary arrangements.
  • The east branch of Lynche's Creek was about 30 miles from Camden; Hanging Rock was about 35 miles from Camden; they were about 12 miles apart.6
  • FR's objective was to slow Gate's advance until Cornwallis had time to collect reinforcements from elsewhere in SC, with the option that he might attack if his circumstances were sufficiently favorable to offset his having the smaller force.
  • FR had 1100 men with him, all either regulars or provincials. Hanging Rock had 400 provincials and 800 militia.
  • Hanging Rock was a necessary outpost because Sumter threatened the road to Camden with a militia force.
  • Gates approached opposite FR, but due to the danger of attempting to force the pass, and aware of the difficulty of seeking another route, apparently waited to learn the outcome of a planned action against Hanging Rock.
  • FR received word that Sumter had been victorious at Hanging Rock. This appeared confirmed by fugitives from all units at Hanging Rock (except the Legion Infantry) coming into camp.
  • FR believing that Hanging Rock had been taken, felt that he had no choice but to attack Sumter. All Sumter's men were mounted and he was expected to launch an immediate attack on Camden and its stores. FR marched immediately to the west branch of Lynche's Creek and headed toward Granny's Quarter.
  • FR learned the next morning that Sumter had been repulsed at Hanging Rock by the British Legion infantry and the post was still in British hands. He moved immediately to occupy the bridge across the western branch of Lynche's Creek. His dragoons discovered that Gates had followed him.6
  • FR felt that the troops at Hanging Rock (except for the British Legion infantry) were dispirited and ordered them to take a position behind Granny's Quarter Creek where he was in a position to support them, although they did not have the natural defenses there they had at Hanging Rock.
  • FR's objective at this point was to delay the approach of Gates while waiting for British cavalry from Charleston and light infantry from Ninety Six. He was outnumbered by Gates 4:1 and if he attacked, he would have been on ground advantageous to Gates. He considered that his retreating to defend Camden would have given Gates great advantages and the probability of capturing the British stores.
  • FR comment regarding Tarleton's History...:
    Tarleton, with a childish pretension to Generalship, censures me for not having thus collected my troops at Camden, & arraigns Gates for incapacity in not comprehending that the getting round me & destroying my magazines must be fatal.7 Tarleton, commanding for so long a period our only corps of light troops in that country, ought to have known that which is evident by his procedure Gates did know, namely, that there was no turning my right flank without going fifty miles down Lynche's Creek, there was no turning my left by a shorter process than heading the Creek & getting into the other road above Hanging Rock. Lynches Creek runs thro' swamps of perhaps a mile in breadth on each side; impenetrable, except where a causeway has been made at the passing-places on the great road.
  • The thick woods kept FR and Gates from being able to see the camp of the other. FR knew of a pass from his end of the causeway that came out about 2 miles from Gates camp, of which Gates was unaware. FR used this pass to send his spies to and fro.
  • He was tempted to use this pass as a means to surprise Gates camp in an attack, but refrained due to the following:
    • Gates might detect his attempt prematurely and FR would be fighting under very unfavorable conditions.
    • Gates' army was suffering severely by having to stay where they were.
    • A successful attack by FR could be construed as his having usurped a laurel reserved for his general.
  • FR could, however, tempt Gates to attack on ground where he would have been unable to benefit from his superior numbers. Gates did not fall for the trap.
  • Gates eventually was forced to act. One of his options was to march 50 miles to cross Lynche's creek below FR, but which would result in his having to march to Camden through a number of swamps near the source of the Black River, and where he would certainly be met by FR. Gates elected to march to Hanging Rock, making him 35 miles from Camden as compared to the 15 miles in his earlier position.
  • When FR concluded that Gates' move was not a feint, he felt that his ploys to gain time had succeeded. He destroyed or damaged the bridge and causeways, recalled his troops from Granny's Quarter and moved back to Camden. He was now convinced that the action would be resolved between Granny's Creek and Camden. Neither Granny's Creek nor the pine barren between it and Hanging Rock were places they would choose to fight.
  • Cornwallis arrived as did the reinforcments. FR brought Cornwallis up to date on events to that point. Cornwallis asked FR what was next intended. FR told him Camden was unsuitable to meet an enemy and that as soon as Gates was within an easy march, it was his intent to move out and attack him. Cornwallis agreed to the plan and acted based on information that FR had obtained. Cornwallis also took such other action as he considered appropriate.
  • FR informed Cornwallis when Gates arrived at Kingsley's Plantation, and sketched Gates location on the ground for Cornwallis based on information his spies had reported. He pointed out a trail away from the main road where there was a possibility that they could approach Gates' flank undetected.
  • They marched at night and at 2 a.m. the leading battalion (behind which FR marched) was charged by cavalry. The infantry backed into the bushes and thrust at the cavalry with bayonets. The cavalry retreated. They resumed their march and received heavy fire, apparently from two battalions. A British brigade was formed, advanced in line and returned the enemy's fire. The Americans broke and fell back.
  • When they advanced to where the American dead lay, FR dismounted and felt the uniforms to confirm that they were continentals, which he had suspected from the way they attacked. He informed Cornwallis of his discovery, and advised him that they were in a very advantageous place to fight a larger foe, since the swamps to either side protected their flanks. Cornwallis decided to wait to daylight before attacking.
  • FR said his performance was neither better nor worse than his peers in the battle, and that the comment on them by Cornwallis was not unsuitable.
  • FR felt vindicated that the plan he had pursued under stressful conditions, for many days, which had been executed exactly as he had planned, had led to the success he envisioned, and would have done so if it had been his lot to have given the order to attack.
  • FR requested that Col. McMahon not make public the comments FR had made in this letter, reminding the Colonel that FR had previously been embarrassed by such a letter being made public without his permission.
  • Comments on source transcription:
    • There was no salutation on this transcription of the letter. It is virtually certain that such would have been on the original.
    • Lord was abbreviated as Ld. This was probably Ld. in the original.
    • January was abbreviated Jan.. This was probably Jany. in the original.
    • There was no complimentary closing at the end of the letter, followed by a signature. This would almost certainly have been on the original, right-justified.
    • There was no naming of the addressee, with titles at the end of the letter. This would almost certainly have been on the original, left-justified.

Endnotes, added to paraphrase

1. Donington Hall, located at Castle Donington, county of Leicestershire, England, UK.

2. Rawdon, Francis, "The Earl of Moira to Col. McMahon", 19 January 1801, from George IV. The Correspondence of George, Prince of Wales, 1770-1812 Ed. A. Aspinall. 8 vols. (London: Cassell, c1963-71.) 4:192-197. Submitted by Marg Baskin. Paraphrase by John Robertson.
Library of Congress: Author: George IV, King of Great Britain, 1762-1830. Title: The correspondence of George, Prince of Wales, 1770-1812. Edited by A. Aspinall. Published: New York, Oxford University Press [c1963-71] Description: 8 v. illus., ports., facsims., geneal. tables. 26 cm. LC Call No.: DA538.A1A3 Dewey No.: 941.07/4/092 B Notes: v. 1. 1770-1789.--v. 2. 1789-1794.--v. 3. 1795-1798.--v. 4. 1799-1804.--v. 5. 1804-1806.--v. 6. 1806-1809.--v. 7. 1810-1811.--v. 8. 1811-1812. Subjects: Great Britain -- History -- George III, 1760-1820 -- Sources. Great Britain -- Court and courtiers. Other authors: Aspinall, A. (Arthur), 1901- ed. Control No.: 8450379

3. An account of a complete victory obtained on the 16th instant, by His Majesty's troops under my command, over the rebel southern army, commanded by General Gates.. Use control-f and search for behaviour (being sure to include the "ur" ending).

4. Charles Stedman, The History of the Origins, Progress and Termination of the American War (London: J. Murray, Printer, 1794). Online excerpt. LOC listing:
LC Control Number: 70076245 Type of Material: Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.) Personal Name: Stedman, C. (Charles), 1753-1812. Main Title: The history of the origin, progress, and termination of the American war. Published/Created: [New York] New York times [c1969] Description: 2 v. plans, map. 27 cm. Notes: Reprint of the 1794 London ed. Subjects: United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--British forces. Series: Eyewitness accounts of the American Revolution LC Classification: E267 .S7 1969 Dewey Class No.: 973.3 CALL NUMBER: E267 .S7 1969 Copy 1 -- Request in: Jefferson or Adams Bldg General or Area Studies Reading Rms -- Status: Not Charged

5. Banastre Tarleton, A History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1781 in the Southern Provinces of North America (reprinted in NY: Arno Press, 1968) Online copy (no maps). Probably available at Cowpens NB, Guilford CH NMP and Kings Mountain NMP. See Bookstores. Combined search engine for Tarleton/Mackenzie/Hanger online books
LC Control Number: 67029032 Type of Material: Book (Print, Microform, Electronic, etc.) Personal Name: Tarleton, Lieutenant-General (Banastre), 1754-1833. Main Title: A history of the campaigns of 1780 and 1781 in the southern provinces of North America. Published/Created: [New York] New York times [1968] Description: vii, 518 p. illus., maps (part fold.) 28 cm. Notes: Reprint of 1787 ed. Subjects: Southern States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783. United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Campaigns. Series: Eyewitness accounts of the American Revolution LC Classification: E230.5.S7 T3 1968 Dewey Class No.: 973.33/6 Geog. Area Code: n-us--- n-usu-- CALL NUMBER: E230.5.S7 T3 1968 Copy 1 -- Request in: Jefferson or Adams Bldg General or Area Studies Reading Rms -- Status: Not Charged

6. See map adapted from that of Kennedy & Kirkland for Line of Gates' March and Military Operations around Camden.

7. Comments on Tarleton's criticism of Gates and Rawdon from online copies of the works of Tarleton, Mackenzie and Hanger (found on BanastreTarleton.org):

8. The letter was found in the correspondence of George, Prince of Wales.