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Auction: Americana
was auctioned on: 31 October 2007
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PENN, John (1741-1788); Signer from North Carolina. - Manuscript letter signed, "J. Penn," to Brigadier General Sumner, informing him of the appointment of General William Smallwood as the Commander of the militia of North Carolina.

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Estimate: £6,000 - £9,000
ca. US$12,262 - US$18,393
Price realised:  £7,000
ca. US$14,306
Lot number 117, Views: 31

Manuscript letter signed, "J. Penn," to Brigadier General Sumner, informing him of the appointment of General William Smallwood as the Commander of the militia of North Carolina.
Hillsborough, 2 October 1780. 1 page, address leaf on verso (12 ½ x 8 inches, 315x200 mm). Condition: Foxing, the text of the letter a bit faded but the signature bold. war-date letter by a very scarce signer, preparing to engage cornwallis and the british army in north carolina. Following the loss of Charleston in the spring of 1780, the British began movement toward North Carolina to chase the retreating southern Continental Army. General Horatio Gates took command of the American forces, but was promptly defeated at the Battle of Camden in mid-August 1780. In this letter, written at the lowest point for American forces in the southern theatre, Penn instructs General Sumner of a reorganization, as the American forces attempted to regroup. Brigadier General William Smallwood (1732-1792) and his force of Maryland troops had participated in the Battle of Camden, and he was to be given command of the North Carolina milita. “General Smallwood has accepted the Command of the Militia of this State, in consequence of an application made by him to the Assembly; you are therefore to look upon him as your Superior Officer & of course accountable to him for you conduct. It is with pleasure that I give you this information, as I have a high opinion for the General as a Soldier & a Gentleman, and make no doubt, but that you Sir, as well as the other officers of this Country, will do all you can to make this Command pleasing to the General as well as honourable to yourselves.” Only five days after this letter, before either Sumner or Smallwood had a chance to engage the enemy, Carolina frontier militia under John Sevier and others defeated Loyalist troops at the Battle of Kings Mountain. We could trace only three other war-date autograph letters signed by Penn appearing at auction in the last twenty years (including one whose signature had been clipped). Among those was a letter sold in the 22 February 1989 Doheny sale also written to Sumner on the same date as the present letter, but with different content.

Informations about the auction
Auction house: Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions
Title: Americana
Date of the auction: 31 Oct 2007
Address: Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions
16-17 Pall Mall
St James’s
SW1Y 5LU London
United Kingdom
[email protected] · +44 (0)20 78398880