Affiliate Link

Plain Truth to Cornwallis

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol II.  Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

September 16.—The rebels are evidently at their last gasp. Unable to vanquish the troops of Britain on equal ground, they have all taken to writing, and every rebel print is now sprouting rhymes and rhodomontades against the ablest and best of generals. In a late Jersey print, Cornwallis was devoured intellectually, breeches and all, by one of the runaway chiefs of South Carolina; and by a paper just brought into New York, we see that a mad Yankee who flatters his vanity with the sobriquet of plato truth, has been venting himself on the same fruitful subject.1 His remarks are addressed to “Earl Cornwallis, or the British Cerberus,” and are as follows:—

“Know, O man, thou must die.

“My Lord:—Your military manoeuvres in the Southern States have been carried on with such a degree of voraciousness, that it is impossible to do justice to your abilities in refining upon the horrors of war. The inhabitants of the Tartarean dominions are at last eclipsed in hellish machination, by you and your associates. Hark! do not the vassals of great Pluto rejoice at having some respite from business, by the superiority of your talents in barbarity. But take care what you do; your reign in this world is almost at an end; and though the prince of darkness makes use of you as a cat’s paw on earth, in the same manner as you employ the deluded Refugees, be assured such a haughty spirit will not allow of an equal in his gloomy territories, no more than your lordship could brook the thoughts of the traitor Arnold to partake of your great exploits in plundering and devastation. Therefore you may expect his loyal highness will, through envy, confine you to the lowermost of the infernal regions.

“Dare you to reflect one moment on your transactions for eighteen months past? Ruminate on the quantity of blood wantonly, spilt, on those men you hung at Camden and other places, on the thirteen hanged and strangled with the bowstring by Brown at Augusta; on poor Cusack, near Pedee,2 whose wife and four little children, with dishevelled hair, crying and wringing their hands, in a manner to rend a heart of stone, threw themselves on their knees before the commander of the party, Major Wymms, begging the life of a dear parent and husband, but all in vain; the obdurate-hearted wretch clapped spurs to his horse, and swore he would ride over them if they did not get out of his way immediately. The hanging of Colonel Hayne is another instance of bloody-mindedness, which shows Colonel Balfour to be a true modern British officer, and does credit to the confidence you put in him. You are in part accountable for all those actions, so shocking to humanity, committed by officers under your direction. Do not you think that ample retaliation must take place? Will not you be answerable to that Being who gave you life, for all the innocent blood that may be shed?

“Your whole manner of carrying on the war, discovers such an unmanly, virulent spirit, that it will be impossible for time ever to wipe off the dishonor you have brought on yourself and the British arms. A Nero would stand amazed at your execrable murders, burning and desolation? Nay, your crimes are so heinous, that old Beelzebub himself would blush, if possible, and be ashamed to commit them! If your conscience is not seared and callous to all feeling, do you not at times conceive there are scorpions gnawing and tearing your soul to pieces? Be alarmed! you know not the moment when terrible vengeance from heaven may come hailing down upon your head! You must die! tremble at the thought of judgment!

“Can you look upon yourself as a friend to the king your master. Do you expect .to conciliate the affections of men by such inhuman butcheries and barbarous proceedings? Will England obtain a single benefit by destroying Georgetown? What advantage has been gained by all your conflagrations heretofore? Know that it is in the power of two or three daring Americans, to lay your metropolis, London, in ashes. Surely never a set of men so erred in their judgment as the British; for had the Americans pointed out a mode for you to have pursued, they could not so effectually have served the glorious cause in which they are engaged, as your cruelties have done. And it is a truth beyond contradiction, that wherever you go, three-fourths of those whom you find friends, after a little acquaintance, become your most inveterate enemies. Can you deny any of the above charges, which are known by hundreds to be stubborn facts, and plain truth?3


1 Smythe’s Journal, 212.
2 See Gordon’s American Revolution, vol. iv., pp. 27-29.
3 Pennsylvania Packet, September 16.