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Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, Marquis (1738-1805) A Proclamation

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC00496.023 Author/Creator: Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, Marquis (1738-1805) Place Written: Hillsborough, North Carolina Type: Manuscript document signed Date: 20 February 1781 Pagination: 1 p. ; 28.2 x 20.4 cm.

Summary of Content: Written and signed by aide-de-camp Henry Broderick. Also signed by Cornwallis. A proclamation stating it is King George III's "gracious Wish to rescue His faithfull & loyal Subjects from the cruel tyranny under which they have groaned for several Years." Invites them to repair without loss of time with their arms and ten days provisions to Hillsborough. Wants to establish good order and constitutional government to the province

Background Information: British policy in the South was based on several miscalculations. Britain had decided to concentrate its military efforts in the South because it believed it could count on significant support ...from Southern loyalists. The British military, however, failed to provide loyalists with effective protection. In South Carolina, for example, guerrilla bands harassed loyalists who aided British forces. Britain not only exaggerated the strength of southern loyalism, it also exaggerated the effectiveness of traditional, European-style battle tactics. Despite superior numbers and artillery, the British were extremely vulnerable to guerrilla tactics. The American militia ambushed supply trains, terrorized loyalists, and thwarted British control over the backcountry. When Cornwallis massed his troops for battle, the soldiers offered ready targets for American sharpshooters. Finally, the British believed that the fact that they had the world's best navy guaranteed that they would win the war. They confidently assumed that their navy gave them superior mobility, permitting them to move troops rapidly by sea while American soldiers marched overland. But this advantage, too, proved illusory. While the British could seize coastal cities, they faced punishing popular resistance whenever they ventured into the interior.
After becoming convinced that he could not conquer South Carolina, Cornwallis marched his men to the North Carolina coast and found this to be a highly discouraging experience. In a letter to Sir Henry Clinton he wrote: "I have experienced the distresses and dangers of marching some hundreds of miles in a country chiefly hostile, without one active or useful friend; without intelligence, and without communication with any part of the country." In February 1781, when Cornwallis invited loyalists in North Carolina to join his forces, few responded. Convinced that he could not win in the lower South, he retreated to Wilmington, on the coast of North Carolina, and then retreated again to Yorktown, Virginia, on Chesapeake Bay.
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Full Transcript: North Carolina By the Right Honorable Charles Carl Cornwallis
Lieutenant General of His Majesty's Forces.
&ca &ca &ca
A Proclamation
Whereas it has pleased the Divine Providence to prosper the ...Operations of His Majesty's Arms, in driving the Rebel Army out of this Province, and Whereas it is His Majestys most gracious Wish, to rescue His faithfull & loyal Subjects from the cruel Tyranny under which they have groaned for several Years. I have thought proper to issue this Proclamation to invite all such loyal & faithfull Subjects to repair without loss of time with their Arms & ten days Provisions to the Royal [illegible] now erected at Hillsborough, where they will meet with the most friendly reception, and I do hereby assure them that i am ready to concur with them in effectual Measures for suppressing the Remains of Rebellion in this Province & for the reestablishment of good Order & constitutional Government.-
Given under my Hand at Head Quarters
By His Lordship's Command at Hillsborough this 20th day of Feby AD 1781
Henry Broderick and in the 21st Year of His Majesty's Reign
Aid de Camp Cornwallis

L. Cornwallis's Proclamation
recd Feb: 21st, 1781.

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People: Cornwallis, Charles Cornwallis, Marquis, 1738-1805
Broderick, Henry, fl. 1777-1781

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: Revolutionary WarMilitary HistoryGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyLoyalist

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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