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Greene Appointed Southern Commander

A few days after Cornwallis withdrew from North Carolina, the Continental Congress made an important move affecting the war in the South. The fiasco at Camden had caused that body to lose faith in Gates, and Gen. George Washington was requested to nominate a successor. Nathanael Greene was Washington's choice, and Congress accordingly appointed him commander of the Southern Department.

Greene reached Charlotte early in December. There he found the remnant of Gates' force which had been joined by some additional militia. The men were low in morale and poorly equipped. Obviously, the Americans were in no condition to encounter the main British force. Therefore Greene decided to wage guerrilla-type warfare against Cornwallis' exposed western outposts. Dividing his army, Greene sent Gen. Daniel Morgan with about half of the men to the southwest toward Fort Ninety-Six. Meanwhile Greene conducted the remainder to a position on the Peedee River near the present site of Cheraw, S.C. This move was undoubtedly dangerous and violated the basic rule of strategy which forbids the division of a force in the face of a superior enemy; but it forced Cornwallis to act, for the Americans were distributed in a way that endangered his entire forward line. That line ran from Georgetown through Camden, Winnsborough, and Fort Ninety-Six to Augusta.


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Last Modified: Mon, Dec 2 2002 10:00:00 am PDT

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