Life of Major General Henry Lee
Cecil B. Hartley

[Notes: Chapter 12]

[1] Upon Lee’s junction with Clarke, he found a packet from General Greene to Lord Cornwallis, which he sent off the ensuing morning by Cornet Middleton, of South Carolina, with a flag. The cornet reached the British picket just after the captain had breakfasted, and was politely invited to take breakfast, while the packet for his lordship should be sent to headquarters, from whence a reply would be forwarded, if requisite, which Middleton could convey. Cornwallis was on his rounds, agreeably to his custom; and soon after Middleton had finished his breakfast, called at the picket, when he was informed by the captain, of the packet from General Greene, with his detention of the officer for the answer, if any was requisite. His lordship dismounting, entered the captain’s quarters, where Cornet Middletonw as introduced to him. Presuming from his dress that he belonged to Lee’s legion, he asked if he did not belong to that corps; and being answered in the affirmative, with a smile he significantly inquired where it had been the preceding night. The amiable Middleton, somewhat surprised and confounded at a query so unexpected, with evident confusion replied, that it had not been far off. Upon which Lord Cornwallis familiarly said, the object of his inquiry was unimportant, the matter to which it related being past; and that he asked the information to gratify his curiosity. Middleton, blushing, then told him, that Lieutenant Colonel Lee had received intelligence of his lordship’s escort, with the baggage and stores, being lost in the night, and instantly proceeded in the expectation of putting them in the right course. This idea tickling the British general, he laughingly asked, “Well, why did he not do it?” “Because,” says Middleton, “we got lost ourselves; traversing the roads all night, and as it appeared afterwards within two miles of our musch desired prize.” Turning to his aids, Cornwallis said, “You see I was not mistaken.”

[2] This is not stated with a view to extol one, or disparage the other corps; but merely to state the fact. Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton was obliged to use such horses as he could get; whereas his opponent had the whole South to select out of. The consequence was, the British dragoons were mounted upon small weak horses: those of the legion, on stout, activce horses, and kept in the highest condition. When they met, the momentum of the one must crush the other; and if he fled, he could not escape from his enemy so excellently mounted. There was very little credit, with such superior means, due to the Americans upon victory; whereas, the disgrace of defeat would have been extreme, and Lee’s corps ought to have been decimated.

[3] The British sustained a much heavier loss in killed and wounded than we did. His fire was innocent, overshooting the cavalry entirely, whose caps and accoutrements were all stuck with green twigs, cut by the British balls out of the large oaks in the meeting-house yard, under which the cavalry received the volley from the guards. Some of the infantry and riflemen were killed, and more wounded: among them was Lieutenant Snowden, of the legion infantry, who, with most of the wounded, was necessarily left on the field.

Lee, after the battle of Guilford, wrote to Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton, asking his care of legion and rifle corps; it being common for officers, in the habit of meeting in the course of service, mutually to solicit such favors. Tarleton very politely answered by an amanuensis, that he would with pleasure execute the request, and apologized for not writing himself, saying that he had received a ball in his right hand in our morning rencontre. Captain Schuty of the guards was badly wounded, with other officers and soldiers of that corps.