[AMERICAN REVOLUTION -- BATTLE OF CAMDEN]. BEATTY, W., Continental soldier. Three autograph letters signed ("W. Beatty") to Col. W. Beatty ("Honoured Father"), Frederick County, Maryland, 22 October 1777, 1 and 16 September 1780. Together 5¼ pages, each with address panel and recipient's docket, a few marginal tears, otherwise in excellent original condition.
A YOUNG MARYLAND CONTINENTAL TO HIS FAMILY DURING THE REVOLUTION.
While letters from ordinary soldiers of the line during the Civil War are extremely numerous, the literacy rate among soldiers of the Revolutionary War was considerably lower; consequently, letters of ordinary participants in the 1776-1783 war are noticeably scarce. These three, from a young Maryland Continental to his father, are excellent examples. In the first, from garrison near Philadelphia, Beatty gives clear indication that his enlistment is about to expire. (This was Washington's dilemma on the eve of his impending surprise attack on Trenton on 25 December). Then, Beatty reports on the humiliating defeat of Horatio Gates' army at Camden, and in the last, prepares to march to the south and rails against deserters.
2 October : "Sixteen miles from Philadelphia on Bethelehem Road...I embrace this opportunity of informing you that I am in very good Health...I should be verry [sic] glad if you could help me to some winter Cloaths [sic] especially stockings for there is Nothing to be had in Camp...You need not send any thing to Camp for I expect to be at Home about New Year at which time I shall be in want of the Cloaths..." -- Annapolis, 1 September 1780: "...I can't omit sending you the dismal news from the southward, which is that our Troops meeting with the Enemy 15 miles short of Camden, when the Carolina Militia gave way & soon after the Virginians, which gave the Enemy an Opportunity to cut the Regular Forces [Continental troops] all to pieces. Also to take all the artillery & Baggage...Genl. [Horatio] Gates and his aid made their Escapes to Hillsborough...I don't expect to leave this place for some time as we are Encamped here waiting for the Recruits for the Old Regts. Jones that was appointed to Command the New Regt. has resign'd & Alexander Lawson Smith appointed Lt. Col...." -- Annapolis, 16 September 1780: "...I expect to march for the southward some time next week, we are only waiting for Blankets for the men that are to March which will be about 60, the new Regt. Rais'd by the State are expected here next week on their way to Carolina...Some reports say...that they with all their men are to sail to Charleston immediately, also that the Pennsylvania Division are on their March for the same place...I hope in a little time we shall be able to give a good account of the British in that Quarter. Our late losses there is fully describ'd in the Annapolis paper, by letters from Genl. Smallwood and Col. Williams...the whole of their letters are not published on account of their severity...against some of the most principal Officers & particularly Gates..." He adds that two men his father had hired had deserted "from Col. Harrisons Regt. Of Artillery"; one of them has deserted again: "I wish to God that every vagrant may be taken up & committed to gaol for Desertion has become so verry [sic] Customary that one third of the New recruits have & will desert...."