Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Isaac Shelby to William Hill, 1814

The seat of Government
of Kentucky, March 4th, 1814

Dear Sir
I have to acknowledge receipt of your favor of the 7th of January last, which came to hand only four days ago. And now haste to answer it, by the first Southern Mail.
You inform me that you are about to write the history of the Battle of Kings Mountain, and several others, that were faught in So. Carolina, and you request such information as I can give you.
My antient private papers are all at my farm fifty miles from this place and owing to my official duties here I may not have it in my power to go to my farm under two or three months– But I can inform you that I have documents, and data, in my possession, which will afford a more detailed account of the action at Kings Mountain, and the causes that led to that event, than can be given by any other man alive.
I will communicate them to you, as soon as I can spend a few days at home and also of the action faught at Ceder Spring, near Warfords Iron Works, in July 1780, of the taking of the British fort, on Thicketty, in the same month, and of the action at Musgroves Mill on the Enoree River, in August of the same year, & of the reduction of a British post at Colliton Hall, near Monks Corner in Nov. 1781, at all of which I was an eye witness.
You are very correct when you say that "Historians & those who have wrote of the Revolution, either through want of information or design have given a very erroneous account of those events etc." of the action on Kings Mountain. I have seen no history any thing like the truth.
The case which you state of "Col. Williams having robbed Major McDowell of the credit of reducing a post of the Enemy" must I presume allude to the battle faught at Musgroves Mill on the Enoree river, on the 19th of August, 1780, for I recollect of none other from whence prisoners were taken to Hilsborough– I commanded the right wing in that action, and Col. Elija Clarke of Georgia the left– there were many field officers in the action who had volunteered their services from McDowell's camp, at Smith's ford of Broad river of which Col. Williams was one who had a few men who always adhered to him. His object was, if the enterprise succeeded, to reach his own home somewhere near Ninety Six but in which he was disappointed by the rapid and Mariculous retreat we were forced to make from the field of battle on account of an express from Col. McDowell informing us of the defeat of he Grand Army, under General Gates near Camden. Our retreat was up towards the mountains and along them into No. Carolina from whence I crossed over the western waters where I lived ; left the prisoners we had taken in the action with Col. Clarke who I understood consigned them to the care of Col. Williams to take to Hilsborough in No. C.
I understood afterwards he did, and arrogated to himself the sole honor of Commanding the action in which they had been captured.

Be so good to acknowledge the receipt of this letter and let me now what direction to give a letter, to reach you more certainly. One directed to me at this place will come safe to hand & I shall expect a line from you before I write you again.

Very respectfully,
Your most Ob. servant,
Isaac Shelby

William Hill, Esq.