Letter from Colonel Sumpter to General Gates, dated Wateree ferry, August 15th 1780.
I HAVE just time to inform you, that early this morning I took possession of all the passways over the Wateree river, from Elkins' ford to Mr. Whitear's ferry, five miles below Camden. The enemy had guards at many different places upon the river, all of which were evacuated last night or this morning, and the guards ordered into Camden, except those at Wateree ferry, which was continued on both sides of the river, of which the guard upon the west side was surprised by a party of my men, who killed seven, and took about thirty prisoners, among which was Colonel Cary, the commander, together with thirty-eight waggons, loaded with corn, rum, &c. also a number of horses: The boats are all upon the opposite side of the river; the ground upon this side is very bad; the enemy keep up a constant fire, but I have received no damage yet. I intend to keep possession if I can, until I am honoured with your excellency's farther command. I should not have been so precipitate in my movements, but foresaw the excessive disadvantage that would result from their having the communication open, whereby they were constantly receiving both men and provisions.
The number of troops, regulars I mean, do not exceed two thousand, and not as many as one thousand of the militia, who are generally sickly, and much dispirited. There is a reinforcement said to be on the road from town, which will arrive in two days, the number about five hundred.
As soon as possible, will give you an account of what is passing.
I am, dear general,
His Excellency General Gates.
P. S. I have the pleasure to inform your excellency, that I have this instant made about seventy prisoners, all British, six waggons, baggage, &c. just from Ninety Six; many of the prisoners are sick.