Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department, Volume One
Henry Lee

CHAPTER XXVII.

CORNWALLIS, baffled in every expectation, much as he deserved success, (for certainly no man could have done more than he did) now turned his attention to produce solid advantage out of the eclat he had acquired in forcing Greene to abandon the state. Selecting Hillsborough as headquarters, one of the principal towns of North Carolina,[note 105] he, after one day’s repose of his army, proceeded thither by easy marches. Here he erected the king’s standard, and invited, by his proclamation, judiciously prepared and opportunely promulgated, all liege subjects to prove their fidelity by contributing their aid in restoring the blessings of peace and order to their convulsed country. He reiterated his orders prohibiting the disorderly of his army from indulging their licentious passions, commanding the protection of the persons and property of the inhabitants, with threats of severe and prompt punishment upon all and every offender.

In the camp of Greene, joy beamed in every face; and, as if every man was conscious of having done his duty, the subsequent days to the reunion of the army on the north of the Dan, were spent in mutual gratulations; with the rehearsal of the hopes and fears which agitated every breast during the retreat; interspersed with the many simple but interesting anecdotes with which every tongue was strung.

Meanwhile, the indefatigable Greene gave his mind and time to the hastening of his long pressed, and much wanted reinforcements: devising within himself, in the same moment, plans to augment his force through his personal weight, and the influence of those ready to co-operate with him. Brigadier Stevens, whom we have seen overwhelmed with distress and mortification, in consequence of the shameful conduct of his brigade at the battle of Cambden, as soon as he had conducted his militia to Pittsylvania court-house, for the purpose of laying up their arms, returned to the army, in the expectation of such accession of force as would enable the general to replace him in the line of service. He had shared with the army in all the toils and perils of the retreat until he was ordered to Pittsylvania court-house; and he was now anxious to participate with it in the honors and dangers of advance.

The people of Halifax county received us with the affection of brethren, mingled with admiration of the brave devotion to country, just exhibited. Volunteers began to tender their services, of which laudable enthusiasm Greene availed himself; and naming
Stevens[note 106] as their leader, referred them to him for organization. Encouraging the spread of this honorable spirit, which Stevens took care to cherish with incessant dilligence, very soon the foundation of a partial force was laid, which, gradually increasing, constituted that brigade, which covered itself and general with glory in the sequel.

Grateful as was this display of zeal in the people of Halifax, and anxious as was the general to give to the efforts of Stevens full effect, he could not long enjoy the agreeable scene, nor indulge his faithful army in its novel state of ease and abundance. On North Carolina his mind was fixed. Its subjugation was inadmissible; and ill-brooking his forced abandonment of it, he was restless in safety; because that safety, in his estimation, was inglorious and injurious. Urging the governor of Virginia to press forward the long expected aid, patronising the exertions of Stevens to bring to him succor, derived from community of feelings and of interest, he now turned himself to the recovery of North Carolina; determined to contend upon its own soil for its independence.

Well acquainted with the high character of his able adversary, he knew that every hour of submission, growing out of our acknowledged inferiority of force, proved by his long evasion of battle, would be turned by him to solid advantage in support of the royal cause. Also knowing the divided condition of the inhabitants of the state, he dreaded the effects of victory, when used by a sagacious soldier and applied to a people almost equally balanced in their political feelings. Under the influence of such calculations, on the 17th he issued preparatory orders for movement.

The American general was not mistaken in his deductions. Availing himself of Greene’s abandonment of North Carolina, of his undisturbed occupation of Hillsborough, and of his quiet possession of Wilmington upon the Cape Fear river by a detachment from Charleston under the orders of major Craig, lord Cornwallis began to realize the expectations he had so long and so sanguinely indulged. The royalists every where were preparing to rise, while the well affected to the cause of America, despairing of protection, began to look for safety in submission.

Greene, persevering in his determination to risk his army again in North Carolina,—to rouse the drooping spirits of his friends, and to check the audacity of his foes,—the legion of Lee, strengthened by two companies of the veterans of Maryland under captain Oldham, with the corps of South Carolina militia under brigadier Pickens, was ordered, in the morning of the 18th, to repass the Dan. This was readily performed; all the boats heretofore collected being still held together by Carrington for the use of the army.

Pickens and Lee were commanded to gain the front of Cornwallis, to place themselves as close to him as safety would permit to interrupt his communication with the country, to repress the meditated rising of the loyalists, and, at all events, to intercept any party of them which might attempt to join the enemy.

These officers lost no time in advancing to the theatre of operations; and having in the course of the march provided capable guides, sat down that evening in a covert position, short of the great road leading from the Haw river to Hillsborough, and detached exploring parties of cavalry on the roads towards Hillsborough and towards the Haw. In the course of the evening, Greene, never avoiding toil or danger, with a small escort of Washington’s cavalry left his army, and overtook the advanced corps in its secret position. He continued with it during the night, and renewed to the two commandants explanations of his plan and object. He communicated his intention of repassing the Dan with the army m a few days, directing his route towards the upper country; too remote, as he remarked, from the advanced corps to afford the smallest protection; urged cordial concert, pressed in fervid terms the necessity of unceasing vigilance, and the most cautious circumspection. Before dawn the officer, who had been despatched towards the Haw, returned with intelligence, that on the preceding day lieutenant colonel Tarleton had passed up that route from Hillsborough with horse, foot, and artillery; their number unascertained; destined, as was presumed, to pass the Haw river, with the view of hastening the embodying of the loyalists, and of protecting them on their march to Hillsborough. The wisdom of the measure, adopted by Greene, was now shown, as already an important object presented itself to the detached corps. Greene having set out on his return to camp, Pickens and Lee advanced; first sending reconnoitring parties in their front, with orders to conceal themselves in sight of the road to watch passing occurrences, and to report from time to time the result of their observations. The main body moving obliquely to their right through an unsettled region, they encamped within three miles of the great road, with the Haw on their right, about seven miles distant. Here they were joined by the light parties sent out in the morning, and by the officer who had the day before been detached towards Hillsborough. The[y] first reported that every thing was still on the road, and that they had not seen a single person, except a well grown boy, during the day, whom they had brought along with them agreeable to orders. From this lad we discovered that Tarleton had not passed the river yesterday, but would do it on the next morning.

The officer who had approached Hillsborough found all quiet in that quarter, and neither saw nor heard any thing indicating a movement on the part of the enemy. Resting for the night, the corps proceeded after breakfast the next day, waiting until then to give time for the exploring parties to renew their efforts in obtaining more precise intelligence.

Approaching the road, it was met by a dragoon bringing information that the British detachment had passed the Haw. This being ascertained, Pickens and Lee gained the great road, and followed on the enemy’s route. Guides became unnecessary now; for the British detachment had plundered all the houses on the road, known, as they were, to be the property of patriots, and symbols of devastation marked their steps. The men having all fled, none but women could be seen. From them the American commandants learned, that the loyalists between the Haw and Deep rivers were certainly embodying, and that the British detachment would not advance far on the other side of the river, it being commonly said among the soldiers, that they should return in a few days. By what could be gathered from report, and judging by the time of passing any one house, it appeared that most of the cavalry, two light brass pieces, and four hundred infantry, composed the detachment. Sending again a small party of dragoons down the road, to discover whether any second body of troops were moving from Hillsborough, Pickens and Lee continued on to the Haw, which they passed without delay, hearing that lieutenant colonel Tarleton was encamped four miles in front. At this moment the officer sent down the road, rejoined, communicating that there was no prospect of interruption from that quarter.

Soon after we had crossed the river, which was fordable, a countryman was discovered by the cavalry in front; and being overtaken, was sent to the commandants. From him it was ascertained, that lieutenant colonel Tarleton, as had been reported, commanded the party, and that he was encamped within three miles of us about noon; that his horses were unsaddled, and that appearances indicated his confidence of security. With respect to his strength, the countryman’s information rated it the same as it was before understood to be. This being correct, Tarleton had the advantage in number of cavalry, but was inferior in quality: he had two light pieces, the Americans none: he was numerically inferior in infantry; but his troops were all tried regulars, while half of our infantry were militia, though of the best sort. A disposition for attack was immediately made. The infantry of the legion led by lieutenant colonel Lee, forming the centre, moved directly towards the enemy, with the cavalry in column under major Rudolph, upon its right; and the militia riflemen, conducted by brigadier Pickens, on its left. Oldham, with the two Maryland companies, composed the reserve. Presuming a surprise probable, the march was concealed by keeping through woods, having faithful guides with each division. In this event major Rudolph had orders to charge in full gallop, supported by Oldham with the reserve; while the legion infantry, covered on its left by the riflemen, in whatever state the enemy might be found, was destined to carry the field pieces with fixed bayonets. Should he be apprised of our advance, and consequently prepared for our reception, Oldham, with his Marylanders, was ordered to take the place of the cavalry on the right of the legion infantry, and Rudolph, with the dragoons, to stand in reserve.

Thus arrayed, the divisions proceeded to their designated points, every precaution having been adopted to prevent discovery. The movement was conducted with the utmost precision and correspondency. When arriving within a few hundred yards of the expected theatre of glory, the farm and house was seen, but no enemy. The van of the horse gallopping to the house, found and brought off two of the enemy’s staff, who had been delayed in settling for the subsistence of the detachment; and hearing from the family, that lieutenant colonel Tarleton would not advance above six miles further, Pickens and Lee instantly proceeded towards him, hoping that fortune would be more propitious upon the next occasion.

Thus did the bright prospect of the morning vanish, exciting of itself deep chagrin; rendered more galling, finding that Tarleton, believing himself perfectly secure, had been unusually remiss, and would have been caught in a condition out of which neither skill nor courage could have extricated him.

To give success, if possible, to this second attempt, it was determined to pass as a reinforcement sent from Hillsborough to lieutenant colonel Tarleton; and the two prisoners being placed in the centre of the cavalry, were charged to conduct themselves so as to give currency to the deception: in default of which, the serjeant having the care of them, was directed to put them to death instantly. The legion taking the lead, with the horse in front, lieutenant colonel Lee put himself at its head, to direct operations both delicate and important. This stratagem could not fail in imposing on the country people, however well acquainted they might be with the appearance of British troops, so far as respected the legion, inasmuch as both cavalry and infantry were dressed in short green coats, with other distinctions exactly resembling some of the enemy’s light corps.

Lee’s van officer, preceding him a few hundred yards only, was met by two well mounted young countrymen, who being accosted in the assumed character, prompdy answered, that they were rejoiced in meeting us, having been sent forward by colonel Pyle for the purpose of ascertaining Tarleton’s camp, to whom the colonel was repairing with four hundred loyalists. These youths were immediately sent to lieutenant colonel Lee, but were preceded by a dragoon, with the information imparted. Immediately upon the arrival of the dragoon Lee despatched his adjutant with the intelligence to brigadier Pickens, requesting him to place his riflemen (easily to be distinguished by the green twigs in their hats, the customary emblem of our militia in the South) on the left flank, out of sight; which was readily to be done, as we were then in a thick wood; at the same time to assure him that Lee was determined, in conformity with the concerted plan, to make an attempt with the legion, of turning the occurrence to advantage. The prisoners were also reminded, as was the serjeant having them in care, of the past order. This communication was scarcely finished, before the two dragoons rode up with the two countrymen, who were received with much apparent cordiality; Lee attentively listening with seeming satisfaction to their annunciation of the laudable spirit which had actuated colonel Pyle and his associates, and which they asserted was rapidly spreading through the country. Finding them completely deceived, (for they not only believed the troops they saw to be British, but overlooking what had been told them, took them to be Tarleton’s, addressing the commandant as that officer;) Lee sent one of them back with the two dragoons to his van, thence to proceed to colonel Pyle with lieutenant colonel Tarleton’s gratulations, and his request that he would be so good as to draw out on the margin of the road, so as to give convenient room for his much fatigued troops to pass without delay to their night position, while the other was detained to accompany the supposed Tarleton. Orders were at the same time despatched to the van officer to halt as soon as he got in sight of the loyalists.

As Lee approached his officer, who had halted, highly gratified with the propitious prospect, and listening to the overflowings of respect and devotion, falling incessantly from the lips of his young attendant, his comrade, who had been sent to colonel Pyle, returned with his expected compliance, announced in most respectful terms.

The column of horse now became complete by union with the van, and colonel Pyle was in sight on the right of the road, drawn up as suggested, with his left to the advancing column.[note 107] This last circumstance was fortunate, as lieutenant colonel Lee had concluded to make known to the colonel his real character as soon as he should confront him, with a solemn assurance of his and his associates’ perfect exemption from injury, with the choice of returning to their homes, or of taking a more generous part, by uniting with the defenders of their common country against the common foe. By Pyle’s lucky occupation of the right side of the road, it became necessary for Lee to pass along the whole line of the loyalists before he could reach their colonel; and thus to place his column of horse in the most eligible situation for any vicissitude.

They were mounted like our militia, fitted like them to move on horseback, and to fight dismounted. Their guns (rifles and fowling pieces) were on their shoulders, the muzzles consequently in an opposite direction to the cavalry. In the event of discovery, they must have changed the direction before they could fire,—a motion not to be performed, with a body of dragoons close in with their horses’ heads and their swords drawn.

The danger of this rare expedient was by no means so great as it appears to be on first view.

Lee passed along the line at the head of the column with a smiling countenance, dropping, occasionally, expressions complimentary to the good looks and commendable conduct of his loyal friends. At length he reached colonel Pyle, when the customary civilities were promptly interchanged. Grasping Pyle by the hand Lee was in the act of consummating his plan, when the enemy’s left, discovering Pickens’ militia, not sufficiently concealed, began to fire upon the rear of the cavalry commanded by captain Eggleston. This officer instantly turned upon the foe, as did immediately after the whole column. The conflict was quickly decided, and bloody on one side only. Ninety of the royalists were killed, and most of the survivors wounded. Dispersing in every direction, not being pursued, they escaped. During this sudden rencontre, in some parts of the line the cry of mercy was heard, coupled with assurance of being our best friends; but no expostulation could be admitted in a conjuncture so critical. Humanity even forbad it, as its first injunction is to take care of vour own: and our safety was not compatible with that of the supplicants, until disabled to offend. Pyle, falling under many wounds, was left on the field as dying, and yet he survived. We lost not a man, and only one horse. The object so sedulously pressed was thus a second time baffled. Tarleton, within a mile, more fatally secure, if possible, than before, escaped the impending blow; when to get at him a measure had been hazarded, not warranted on ordinary occasions, but now enforced by the double motive of sparing the lives of deluded fellow citizens, and humbling effectually the British partisan and his active corps, whose destruction in the relative condition of the two armies would have probably led to the termination of the war in the South. Lord Cornwallis was at the head of a brave enterprising force, but small in number; too small, when reduced by the loss of Tarleton’s corps, to have made head against Greene, when assisted, as the American general must have been, by the surrounding country, animated to their best exertions by such signal success.[note 108]

The discomfiture of Pyle being soon effected, Lee ordered the cavahy to resume its march, and to take post so as to arrest any sudden interference on the part of lieutenant colonel Tarleton, who must have heard the enemy’s fire, and might probably interpose with the expectation of controlling the event of the conflict.

Brigadier Pickens, following quickly, soon reached the van of the legion, whose cavalry had approached in view of Tarleton’s camp. Then were seen incontestible evidences of the embarrassing confusion which an unexpected enemy never fails to produce, even amongst the best disciplined troops,—demonstrating, without shadow of doubt, our certain success, had Pyle and his party been, as they ought to have been, at their own firesides. The sun was setting; and for some moments Pickens and Lee hesitated whether immediate action was not, even at that hour, the eligible course. The troops were fatigued by their long march, increased by preparation for two combats and the rencontre with Pyle. This consideration, combined with the close approach of night, determined them to postpone battle until the morning. Moving to their left, they placed themselves between the British and the upper country, on the great road leading through Tarleton’s camp to Hillsborough. The advanced sentinels and the patroles were stationed every where in sight of each other.

Here they heard from some countrymen, who, abandoning their houses on the enemy’s advance, had fallen in with Pickens, that a small party of militia had collected for mutual safety a few miles in the rear. A dragoon, attended by one of the informants, was immediately despatched with a letter to the officer, requesting him to hasten to camp; more for the purpose of procuring accurate information of the ground expected soon to be the theatre of action, and of furnishing faithful intelligent guides, than from any expectation of aid in battle. It so happened, that with the militia company was found colonel Preston, of Montgomery county in Virginia, just arrived at the head of three hundred hardy mountaineers, who, hearing of Greene’s retreat, had voluntarily hastened to his assistance,—alike ignorant until that hour of the general’s having recrossed the Dan, and of Tarleton’s corps being but a few miles in front.

The wisdom of the measure so speedily adopted by the commander in the South, after securing his retreat, was again now happily illustrated. It not only produced the annihilation of the first body of loyalists which had embodied and armed, but probably saved from destruction a detachment of brave men, induced by love of country to seek and to succor their hard pressed friends. Colonel Preston accompanied the dragoon to camp, followed by his battalion of riflemen. Although Pickens and Lee were before determined to engage, such an opportune, unlooked-for auxiliary force, could not but excite new spirits in their troops, always proudly conscious of self-ability. Preston, his officers and soldiers, spent their first hour in gazing at the corps. They were much gratified with the orderly appearance it universally exhibited, and particularly delighted with the cheering looks of the dragoons and the high condition of their stout horses.

Our upper militia were never alarmed in meeting with equal numbers of British infantry. Selecting their own ground (which being mounted they could readily do) before they would engage, they considered themselves their equal; but they entertained dreadful apprehensions of the sabre of the cavalry, particularly when associated with the name of Tarleton, who had, on many occasions, used it with destructive effect. From this source was derived the satisfaction expressed on reviewing the legion horse. They became convinced, that no equal number of dragoons ought to excite the smallest apprehensions on our part, and they were assured, that the British cavalry was not only inferior in their horses, but very much so in horsemanship. Thoroughly satisfied, these welcome auxiliaries retired to their post, responding with ardor the general wish to be led to battle with the dawn of day. Every arrangement being made to meet the approaching conflict, the troops assumed the disposition in which they were to fight, and laid down to rest.

From the intelligence procured it was ascertained, that the field in which the British were encamped had three or four wood dwelling-houses on the road near its centre, and was sufficiently capacious to have admitted conveniently the major part of the respective combatants to close action. The legion infantry, led by lieutenant colonel Lee, marched along the road, for the purpose as before of attending specially to the enemy’s artillery, of which it has been mentioned we were destitute. Oldham, with his Marylanders, advanced on its right, parallel with Lee; and on his right, in a wood skirting the field, brigadier Pickens moved, having under him some of the same soldiers who had so nobly supported Howard’s right at the Cowpens. Colonel Preston covered Lee’s left; having also the advantage of a copse of wood bordering the field in that direction, and being completely secured on his flank by a very extensive mill pond. The cavalry were formed in reserve, the head of the column pointing to the interval between Oldham and Pickens, where the field could be entered out of fire from the houses should Tarleton, as was apprehended, occupy them with musketry. Rudolph, who commanded the horse, was directed to fly to the aid of any portion of the troops hard pressed, as well as to be ready to improve our, and to limit their, victory. Between the hours of two and three in the morning concurring intelligence was received from the piquets and patroles, announcing that the enemy was in motion, and soon afterwards, that he was retiring.

The piquets being assembled by the officer of the day, were ordered to advance; while the main body, hastening to arms, followed with celerity. Anxious to know the cause of this sudden and unexpected movement, an officer was directed to call at the houses lately occupied by the enemy, for the purpose of inquiry. He reported that lord Cornwallis, having been apprised of the advance of Pickens and Lee, hastened his orders to lieutenant colonel Tarleton, communicating the information he had received, and requiring him to repass the Haw instantly; which order the lieutenant colonel very reluctantly obeyed. He further learned that Tarleton and his officers were in high spirits, had enjoyed an abundant supper together, and were anxiously wishing for the return of light, determined to take complete revenge for the loss of Pyle; and, assured of victory, delighted themselves with the prospect of mounting, in the course of the day, the chosen horses of the legion. So solicitous lord Cornwallis appears to have been, that he despatched three successive couriers, all of whom arrived; the two last, just as the British corps was ready to move. There were three contiguous passages of the Haw. The nearest within four miles, to be passed in a boat, which, from the size of the flat kept at the ferry and the narrowness of the river would not have been very inconvenient: the infantry and artillery might have been thrown over before daylight, and the cavalry would have readily swam across. One mile below was another ferry, alike commodious; and seven miles lower down was a ford, the same which both corps had used the day before. The legion, accustomed to night expeditions, had been in the habit of using pine torch for flambeaux. Supplied with this, though the morning was dark, the enemy’s trail was distinctly discovered whenever a divergency took place in his route. He first took the road leading to the upper ferry, the direct route to Hillsborough; but it being always presumed that he would avail himself of the ford, though out of his way, the van officer took care occasionally to examine, by the help of his pine knots, and soon ascertained, that after passing some small distance on that road, he crossed to the second route. Here repeating his feint, he at length turned to the road leading to the ford.

The diligence of the leading officer saved to the main body loss of ground; as the enemy’s stratagem was detected before we reached the points of their separation from each road. As the day broke, the American troops, pursuing with zeal, had reached within two miles of the ford. The cavalry now taking the front, supported by the riflemen, (all mounted) were ordered to press upon the enemy, and hold him back until the infantry could get up. Before sunrise they gained the enemy’s rear, descending the hill to the river, over which the main body having just passed, was placed on a height commanding the ford, for the protection of the rear guard. Too near to be struck at without rashly exposing the troops, it was omitted; much as it was desired to gain some evidence of our triumphant pursuit. At first Pickens and Lee determined, by a quick retrograde, to pass at the ferry above, and to throw themselves in Tarleton’s rear. This was effectible, in case he loitered only one hour on the banks of the Haw, a very probable event. But there was cause to apprehend, from the solicitude displayed by the British general to bring him safely back, that he would send a reinforcement to meet him. In this incertitude desire to give rest to the much fatigued troops prevailed; and, keeping up the western margin of the Haw, the corps halted in the first settlement capable of supplying the necessary subsistence. Thus closed twenty-four hours of very active service; its chief object uneffected, and a secondary one completely executed, which produced a very favorable result, by repressing thoroughly the loyal spirit just beginning to burst forth. Fortune, which sways so imperiously the affairs of war, demonstrated throughout the operation its supreme control. Nothing was omitted on the part of the Americans to give to the expedition the desired termination; but the very bright prospects which for a time presented themselves, were suddenly overcast,—the capricious goddess gave us Pyle and saved Tarleton.

General Greene, in pursuance of his plan, passed the Dan on the 23d, strengthened in a small degree by the corps of militia under Stevens, and took a direction towards the head waters of the Haw river. He was highly gratified by the success of his advanced troops, officially communicated to him after he had entered North Carolina; and was pleased to estimate the destruction of Pyle and his loyalists as more advantageous in its effects than would have been a victory over lieutenant colonel Tarleton.

Soon after Tarleton returned to Hillsborough the British general quitted his position,—moving with his whole force to the country from which Tarleton had been just chased, for the purpose of giving complete protection to his numerous friends inhabiting the district between the Haw and Deep rivers, whose danger in attempting to join him while so distantly situated, had lately been fatally exemplified. As soon as this movement on the part of his lordship was known to general Greene, he again resorted to his former expedient, of placing a strong light corps between him and the enemy. Colonel Williams was of course entrusted with its direction, who, moving towards his lordship, directed Pickens and Lee, a part of his establishment, to join him. Colonel Preston, still continuing with Pickens, now made a part of Williams’s force. The return of Greene to North Carolina, and the destruction of colonel Pyle’s loyalists, baffled the hopes so long entertained by the British general, and fast realizing after his possession of Hillsborough; where, in the course of one day seven independent companies of loyalists were raised. Lord Cornwallis’s project of filling up his ranks with the youth of North Carolina, which he pressed by every means in his power, although suspended by the late event, was not abandoned. Determined to effect it, he had, as we have seen, left Hillsborough, and placed himself among his friends, whose spirits he wished to revive by some decisive success. Encamped upon the Almance, he held himself ready to seize any opportunity which might be presented, and heard with pleasure of the approach of our light corps under colonel Williams. This officer was his first object; the next was to force Greene to battle, which he believed would be risked by the American general to save his light troops. In the opinion of many, general Greene committed himself to much hazard in his newly adopted system. It was asked, why not continue in his safe position on the north of the Dan until, receiving all his expected succor, he could pass into North Carolina, seeking, instead of avoiding, his enemy. This safe and agreeable course was relinquished from necessity. Greene, penetrating Corn wallis’s views, foresaw their certain success, if he remained long out of the state, waiting for reinforcements himself. He discerned the probability, that his enemy would acquire a greater proportionate strength: with the essential difference, that what we obtained would be mostly militia, a fluctuating force; whereas, that gained by the enemy would stand to him throughout the contest.

To arrest the progress of this scheme, pursued with pertenacity by the British general, it was necessary again to risk himself, his army, and the South. He therefore passed the Dan as soon as it was in his power; depending on the resources of his fertile mind, and the tried skill and courage of his faithful, though inferior, army. Crossing the Haw near its source, the American general established himself between Troublesome creek and Reedy fork. And changing his position every day, sometimes approaching colonel Williams, and then falling back upon the Troublesome, he held Cornwallis in perfect ignorance of his position, and stopped the possibility of sudden interruption. Showing himself in so many diiferent quarters, he considerably augmented the fears of the loyalists, who had not yet recovered from the consternation produced by the slaughter of their associates. Williams pursued the same desultory game, preserving correspondency in his movements with those of Greene. As yet lord Cornwallis had not been able to find any opportunity to execute his purpose. Williams, more and more satisfied of his safety from his superiority in the quality of his cavalry, and wishing to take a distance whence he could conveniently interrupt the British parties while collecting provisions and forage, placed himself a few miles on the east side of Reedy fork, having the Almance creek between him and the enemy. Lord Cornwallis well knew the superiority of our horse; feeling it daily in the counteraction of his efforts to obtain intelligence, so important in military operations. Indisposed to such a near neighborhood with us, he moved from his camp at three o’clock on the 6th of March, and passing the Almance, pushed forward under the cover of a heavy fog, with the expectation of beating up Williams’s quarters. The left of the light troops were composed of militia, who had lately joined under colonel Clarke, one of the heroes of King’s mountain, relieving brigadier Pickens and the corps who had so faithfully adhered to general Greene during the trying scenes just passed. Clarke’s militia were part of the conquerors of Ferguson; better suited, as has been before observed, for the field of battle than for the security of camp. In this quarter, through some remissness in the guards, and concealed by the fog, lieutenant colonel Webster, commanding the British van, approached close before he was discovered.

The alertness of the light troops soon recovered the momentary disadvantage; and the legion of Lee advancing to support Clarke, the enemy’s van was held back, until colonel Williams, undisturbed, commenced his retreat, directing the two corps above mentioned to cover his rear. Having crossed the Reedy fork, Williams made a disposition, with the view of opposing the enemy’s passage. Clarke, following Williams, joined on the opposite banks,—the infantry of the legion proceeding in the rear of Clarke, followed by the cavalry, which corps continued close to the enemy’s advancing van. During this movement Webster made several efforts to bring the rear guard to action, having under him the British cavalry. All his endeavors were successively counteracted by the celerity and precision with which the legion horse manœuvred; establishing evidently in the face of the enemy their decided superiority.[note 109] As soon as lieutenant colonel Lee was apprised of the rear infantry’s passage over the river, he retired by troops from before Webster in full gallop; and reaching Reedy fork, soon united with colonel Williams, unmolested. There being convenient fords over the creek, above and below, after Williams had safely brought over his corps, he determined no longer to continue in his position. Resuming retreat, he left the legion supported by colonel Clarke, with orders to retard the enemy as long as it was practicable, without hazarding serious injury. Lieutenant colonel Lee, having detached a company of Preston’s militia to guard the pass at Wetzett’s mill, a little distance upon his left, drew up his infantry in one line, with its right on the road, and its front parallel with the creek; while the riflemen under colonels Clarke and Preston, occupied a copse of heavy woods on the right of the road, with its left resting upon the right of the legion infantry.

The horse formed a second line in a field well situated to curb the progress of the British cavalry, should it press upon the first line when retiring, and to protect the horses of the militia, tied at some distance back, agreeably to usage. On the first appearance of the enemy colonel Williams despatched a courier to Greene, communicating what had passed, and advising him of the course he should pursue after crossing the Reedy fork. Unwilling to approximate Greene, this officer moved slowly, waiting the disclosure of the enemy’s intention. Should he halt on the opposite side of the creek, colonel Williams would take his night position within a few miles of Wetzett’s mill, giving time to the troops to prepare food before dark; but should the enemy advance to the hither side, he would necessarily continue his retreat, however much opposed to his wishes. This state of suspense lasted but a little while. The British van appeared; and after a halt for a few minutes on the opposite bank, descended the hill approaching the water, where, receiving a heavy fire of musketry and rifles, it fell back, and quickly reascending, was rallied on the margin of the bank. Here a field officer rode up, and in a loud voice addressing his soldiers, he rushed down the hill at their head, our fire pouring upon him, and plunged into the water. In the woods occupied by the riflemen, stood an old log school-house, a little to the right of the ford. The mud stuffed between the logs had mostly fallen out, and the apertures admitted the use of rifles with ease. In this house twenty-five select marksmen, of King’s mountain militia, were posted by Lee, with orders to forego taking any part in the general resistance, but to hold themselves in reserve for particular objects. The leading officer plunging in the water, attracted general notice; and the school-house party, recollecting its order, singled him out as their mark. The stream being deep, and the bottom rugged, he advanced slowly; his soldiers on each side of him, and apparently some of them holding his stirrup leathers. This select party discharged their rifles at him, one by one, each man sure of knocking him over; and having reloaded, eight or nine of them emptied their guns a second time at the same object.[note 110] Strange to tell, though in a condition so perilous, himself and horse were untouched; and having crossed the creek, he soon formed his troops, and advanced upon us. The moment that the head of his column got under cover of our banks, lieutenant colonel Lee directed the line to retire from its flanks, and gain the rear of the cavalry. In the skirmish which ensued in our centre, after some of the enemy ascended the bank, three or four prisoners fell into our hands. The enemy’s column being now formed, soon dislodged our centre; and pushing Lee, came in front of the cavalry. Here it paused, until the British horse, which followed the infantry, passed the creek apd took post on the enemy’s right,—the nearest point to the road, which we must necessarily take. This attitude indicated a decision to interrupt our retreat; at all events to cut off our rear.

Lee ordered Rudolph to incline in an oblique direction to his left; and, gaining the road, to wait the expected charge. Tarleton advanced with his cavalry, followed by Webster. The legion infantry, close in the rear of the riflemen, had now entered the road, considerably advanced towards colonel Williams, still waiting in his position first taken for night quarters, and afterwards held to protect the rear guard. Rudolph, with the cavalry, was drawn off, moving slowly, with orders to turn upon the British horse if they should risk a charge.

It was now late in the evening, and nothing more was attempted. The British halted on the ground selected by Williams for our use, which he had abandoned. Having proceeded some miles further, he encamped on the northeast side of a range of hills covered with wood, some distance from the road: thus our fires were concealed from view, while the margin of the road and every avenue to our camp was vigilantly guarded.

General Greene, as soon as he was advised in the morning of the enemy’s advance, retired and passed the Haw; repeating, in his answer, his order to colonel Williams to avoid action, which he well knew was very practicable, unless our cavalry should meet with disaster. As soon as all appearance of further contest ceased, the prisoners, as was customary, were brought to the commandant; who, among other inquiries, asked, what officer led the enemy into the creek, and crossed with the leading section of the column? He was told, that it was lieutenant colonel Webster; and that he had passed unhurt.

Inscrutable are the ways of Providence. That superior soldier, whose life was in such imminent danger, was now safely shielded, though doomed to fall in a very few days.

Lord Cornwallis, finding that his attempt to bring Greene to action issued only in wearing down his brave army, and convinced that Williams was unassailable so long as he preserved his superiority in cavalry, withdrew towards Bell’s mill, on Deep river, with the resolution of restoring, by rest, the strength of his troops, and of holding it up for that decisive day, which, from his knowledge of the character of his adversary, he was assured would arrive as soon as he had acquired his expected reinforcements. The last ten days presented a very interesting and edifying scene. Two generals of high talents, ardently supported by their respective armies, contending, by a series of daring manœuvres, for a vast prize, which either might have lost by one false step. Had Cornwallis risked any partial operations against Williams, the destruction of the assailing corps would have led to the capture of the British army; whereas, had Greene, by incorrect intelligence or mistaken calculations, placed himself within reach of the British general, our army would have been cut to pieces. The loyalists looked on with anxious solicitude; and, finding that all the efforts of the royal leader were unavailing,—the American army retaining its ground, and its active cavalry penetrating in every direction,—they recurred to past admonition, and determined to repress their zeal, and to wait inquietude until the British superiority should be manifested by signal success.

Thus the American general completely succeeded in his object, adding a new claim to the high confidence already acquired, and leaving it doubtful which most to admire,—his sagacity in counsel, his promptitude in decision, or his boldness and skill in execution.

In this position, at the iron works on Troublesome creek, general Greene received the pleasing intelligence, that his reinforcements and supplies were approaching; and hearing at the same time from colonel Williams, that lord Cornwallis had retired from the contest of skill, determined to give repose to his troops and wait for his long expected succor. In a few days the new levies under lieutenant colonel Greene, and the militia from Virginia under brigadier general Lawson, with a part of the supplies and stores so much wanted, reached camp. The levies were distributed in the regiments of Virginia, commanded by the lieutenant colonels Greene and Hawes. The militia being united to those collected by Stevens while at Halifax court-house, were divided in two brigades, under the direction of that general and brigadier Lawson; who, like Stevens, had commanded a continental regiment, and with many other brave and active officers, had been left without troops by the compression of our regular corps; yet being unwilling to abandon the service of their country, still in jeopardy, had offered to take command of the militia.

Soon afterward came in the North Carolina force, led by the brigadiers Butler and Eaton. Previously colonels Campbell and Preston and Lynch[note 111] had joined, whose united corps did not exceed six hundred, rank and file. Our force now was estimated at four thousand five hundred, horse, foot, and artillery; of which, the continental portion did not amount to quite one thousand six hundred. To acquaint himself with the character of his late accession of troops, and to make ready the many requisite preparations for service, the general continued in his position at the iron works, having drawn in most of the light corps. The legion of Lee, and the Virginia militia attached to it under the colonels Preston and Clarke, still hovered around the enemy under the direction of lieutenant colonel Lee.

The American dragoons, far superior in the ability of their horses, stuck so close to the British camp as to render their intercourse with the country very difficult, and subjected the British general to many inconveniences, besides interrupting his acquirement of intelligence.

No equal party of the enemy’s horse would dare to encounter them; and if a superior force approached, the fleetness of their horses mocked pursuit. Feeling his privations daily, lord Cornwallis, leaving his baggage to follow, made a sudden movement late in the evening from Bell’s mill towards New Garden, a quaker settlement, abounding with forage and provisions. Some of the small parties of the legion horse, traversing in every quarter, one of them approached Bell’s mill, and found it abandoned. When informed by the inhabitants that the baggage had but lately proceeded under a very small escort, the officer commanding the horse determined to trace secretly the progress of its march. It so happened, that early in the night the escort with the whole baggage mistook the road; proceeding directly on, instead of turning towards New Garden. Fortunately the vigilant officer discovered this error; and having ascertained the fact beyond doubt, he despatched a courier to lieutenant colonel Lee with the information, attended by two guides well acquainted with the route taken by the British army, that taken by the escort, and the intermediate cross-roads. The intelligence reached Lee about eleven o’clock, (later than was expected) as he had, from the advance of the enemy, taken a more distant position. Instantly the legion horse, with two companies of infantry mounted behind two of the troops, were put in motion: lieutenant colonel Lee taking the guides sent to him, advanced with the certain expectation of falling in with the lost escort. The night was extremely dark, and the country covered with woods; but the guides were faithful, intelligent, and intimately versed in all the roads, bye-roads, and even paths. Estimating the distance to march by their computation, it did not exceed nine miles, which we reckoned, dark as was the night, to make in two hours. Pushing on with all practicable despatch, the first hour brought us to a large road: this the guides passed, leading the detachment again into a thick wood. Here we continued another hour; when, finding no road, doubts began to be entertained by the guides, which issued at last in attempting to return to the very road they had passed, it being concluded to be the one desired. Unhappily they became bewildered, after changing their course, sometimes to the right, sometimes to the left; ever believing every change would surely bring us to our desired route, and yet always disappointed.

At length with great anxiety they proposed a halt, while themselves, accompanied by a few dragoons, should take different directions on our flanks in search of a house. This was readily acceded to, and the detachment dismounted, having not before halted. In the space of an hour one of them returned, and shortly after the other, both without success. It was now three o’clock, as well as we could make out the time by feeling the hour and minute-hands of our watches. Again we mounted, and again moved as our guides directed; more and more bewildered, and more and more distressed; persevering, and yet in vain. Lieutenant colonel Lee, apprehensive that the detachment might be carried too remote from the place assigned for junction in the morning with the militia under Clarke, again halted and dismounted, determining to wait for the light of day. It at last to our great joy appeared; and even then our guides were so completely out of their reckoning, as to detain us a long time in the woods before they were satisfied of the course to be taken.

By examining the bark of the trees they ascertained the north, and thus recovered their knowledge of our locality. We were within a mile of the road we had crossed, and which turned out to be the very road desired. When we passed it the enemy were, as was afterwards ascertained, two miles only on our right, as much bewildered as ourselves. For finding that they had not reached camp within the period expected, calculating time from distance; and knowing that New Garden must be upon their left; they took a cross road which offered, and soon found themselves encompassed with new difficulties,—fallen trees, and cross-ways as large as the road they had pursued:—when the officer determined to halt and wait for day.[note 112] Lord Cornwallis became extremely alarmed for the safety of his baggage; despatching parties of horse and foot in various directions to fall in with it, and detaching in the rear of these parties a strong corps to reinforce the escort. Not one of the various detachments either met with the escort or with Lee. As soon as it was light, the officer having charge of the baggage retraced his steps; and shortly after gaining the road he had left in the night, fell in with the last detachment sent by lord Cornwallis, and with it safely reached the British camp; while lieutenant colonel Lee and his harassed legion, with his afflicted guides, much mortified, joined Clarke. Here he found orders from general Greene, now nearly prepared for forward movement, to return to camp. The British general remained in his new position; enjoying, without interruption, the wholesome supplies with which this fertile settlement abounded. Lee having proceeded towards the iron works, found the American army on the 14th at Guilford court-house, distant about twelve miles from the enemy; and was immediately advanced on the road towards the quaker meetinghouse, with orders to post himself within two or three miles of the court-house, and to resume his accustomed duties. Lieutenant Heard, of the legion cavalry, was detached in the evening with a party of dragoons to place himself near the British camp, and to report from time to time such occurrences as might happen. About two in the morning this officer communicated, that a large body of horse were approaching the meetinghouse, which was not more than six miles from our headquarters, and near the point where the road from Deep river intersects the great road leading from Salisbury to Virginia. The intelligence received was instantly forwarded to the general, and Heard was directed to proceed with a few of his dragoons down the flank of the enemy to discover whether the British army was in motion, leaving his second to hold their front. Hearing from Heard, agreeably to rule, every half hour, it was known, that the enemy continued, though slowly, to approach; and at length he communicated, that his various attempts to pass down the flank as directed, had proved abortive, having been uniformly interrupted by patroles ranging far from the line of march; yet that he was persuaded that he heard the rumbling of wheels, which indicated a general movement. This being made known to general Greene, Lee was directed to advance with his cavalry, to bear down these interruptions, and to ascertain the truth. Expecting battle as soon as Heard’s last information was received, the van was called to arms at four in the morning, and to take breakfast with all practicable haste. This had just been finished, when the last mentioned order from the general was communicated. Lieutenant colonel Lee instantly mounted, and took the road to the enemy, at the head of the horse, having directed the infantry and the rifle militia to follow, the first on his right, and the second on his left. The cavalry had not proceeded above two miles when Lee was met by lieutenant Heard and his party, who were retiring, followed leisurely by the enemy’s horse. Wishing to approach nearer to Greene, and at all events to gain the proximity of the rifle militia and legion infantry, lest the British army might be up, as was suspected, Lee ordered the column to retire by troops, taking the proper distance for open evolution. The rear troop under Rudolph going off in full gallop, and followed in like manner by the centre troop under Eggleston, the British commandant flattered himself with converting this retrograde movement into route, and pressed upon the front under Armstrong, still in a walk, it being necessary to gain the open order required, that this officer should not change his pace. With him marched lieutenant colonel Lee, attentively watching the British progress. Finding that the charge made at us did not affect Armstrong’s troop, now the rear, the enemy emptied their pistols, and then raising a shout, pushed a second time upon Armstrong; who, remaining firm and sullen as before, the leading section having nearly closed with us, drew up.

At this moment, Lee ordering charge, the dragoons came instantly to the right about, and, in close column, rushed upon the foe. This meeting happened in a long lane, with very high curved fences on each side of the road, which admitted but one section in front. The charge was ordered by Lee, from conviction that he should trample his enemy under feet, if he dared to meet the shock; and thus gain an easy and complete victory. But only the front section of each corps closed, Tarleton sounding a retreat, the moment he discovered the column in charge. The whole of the enemy’s section was dismounted, and many of the horses prostrated;[note 113] some of the dragoons killed, the rest made prisoners: not a single American soldier or horse injured. Tarleton retired with celerity; and getting out of the lane, took an obscure way leading directly across the Salisbury road towards the British camp,—while Lee, well acquainted with the country, followed the common route by the quaker meetinghouse, with a view to sever the British lieutenant colonel from his army, by holding him well upon his left, and with the determination to gain his front, and then to press directly upon him with his condensed force; and thus place his horse between Tarleton and Cornwallis, presumed to be some distance behind. By endeavoring to take the whole detachment, he permitted the whole to escape; whereas, had he continued to press on the rear, he must have taken many. As Lee, with his column in full speed, got up to the meetinghouse, the British guards had just reached it; and displaying in a moment, gave the American cavalry a close and general fire. The sun had just risen above the trees, and shining bright, the refulgence from the British muskets, as the soldiers presented, frightened Lee’s horse so as to compel him to throw himself off. Instantly remounting another, he ordered a retreat. This manœuvre was speedily executed; and while the cavalry were retiring, the legion infantry came running up with trailed arms, and opened a well aimed fire upon the guards, which was followed in a few minutes by a volley from the riflemen under colonel Campbell, who had taken post on the left of the infantry. The action became very sharp, and was bravely maintained on both sides[note 114] The cavalry having formed again in column, and Lee being convinced, from the appearance of the guards, that Cornwallis was not far in the rear, drew off his infantry; and covering them from any attempt of the British horse, retired towards the American army. General Greene, being immediately advised of what had passed, prepared for battle; not doubting, that the long avoided, now wished for, hour was at hand.

Guilford court-house, erected near the great state road, is situated on the brow of a declivity, which descends gradually with an undulating slope for about a half mile. It terminates in a small vale, intersected by a rivulet. On the right of the road is open ground with some few copses of wood until you gain the last step of the descent, where you see thick glades of brushy wood reaching across the rivulet. On the left of the road from the court-house, a deep forest of lofty trees, which terminates nearly in a line with the termination of the field on the opposite side of the road. Below this forest is a small piece of open ground, which appeared to have been cultivated in corn the preceding summer. This small field was long, but narrow, reaching close to the swamp bordering upon the rivulet.

In the road captain Singleton was posted, in a line with the termination of the large field and the commencement of the small one, with two six pounders within close shot of the rivulet, where the enemy, keeping the road, would pass. Across the road on his left, some few yards in his rear, the North Carolina militia were ranged under generals Butler and Eaton. At some distance behind this line, the Virginia militia, led by the generals Stevens and Lawson, were formed in a deep wood; the right flank of Stevens and the left flank of Lawson resting on the great road. The continental infantry, consisting of four regiments, were drawn up in the rear of the Virginia militia, in the field to the right of the road; the two regiments of Virginia, conducted by colonel Greene and lieutenant colonel Hawes, under the order of brigadier Huger, composing the right; and the two of Maryland, led by colonel Gunby and lieutenant colonel Ford, under the orders of colonel Williams, composing the left. Of these, only the regiment of Gunby was veteran; the three others were composed of new soldiers, among whom were mingled a few who had served from the beginning of the war; but all the officers were experienced and approved. Greene, well informed of his enemy’s inferiority in number, knew he could present but one line, and had no reserve; considering it injudicious to weaken either of his lines by forming one. On the right, lieutenant colonel Washington, with his cavalry, the old Delaware company under the brave captain Kirkwood, and colonel Lynch with a battalion of the Virginia militia, was posted, with orders to hold safe that flank. For the same purpose, and with the same orders, lieutenant colonel Lee was stationed on the left flank with his legion and the Virginia riflemen commanded by colonel Clarke.

In the rear line our small park was placed, with the exception of two sixes with captain Singleton,—who was now with the front line, but directed to repair to the rear as soon as the enemy should enter into close battle, and there take his assigned station.

As soon as the British van appeared Singleton opened a cannonade upon it,—convincing lord Cornwallis of his proximity to the American army. Lieutenant M’Cleod, commanding the royal artillery, hastened up with two pieces, and, stationing himself in the road near the rivulet, returned our fire. Thus the action commenced: the British general in the mean time arranging his army in order of battle. Although he could form but one full line, he took the resolution of attacking an able general advantageously posted, with a force more than double, a portion whereof he knew to be excellent, supported by a cavalry of the first character. Yet such was his condition, that lord Cornwallis was highly gratified with having it in his power, even on such terms, to appeal to the sword. The seventy-first, with the regiment of Bose, formed his right under the order of major general Leslie; his left was composed of the twenty-third and thirty-third regiments, led by lieutenant colonel Webster.

The royal artillery, directed by lieutenant M’Cleod, and supported by the light infantry of the guards and the yagers, moved along the road in the centre. The first battalion of guards, under lieutenant colonel Norton, gave support to the right. While brigadier O’Hara, with the grenadiers and second battalion of guards, maintained the left. Lieutenant colonel Tarleton, with the cavalry in column, formed the reserve on the road, in the rear of the artillery.

The moment the head of the British column passed the rivulet, the different corps, in quick step, deployed to the right and left, and soon were ranged in line of battle.

Leslie instantly advanced upon the North Carolina militia. These troops were most advantageously posted under cover of a rail fence, along the margin of the woods; and Campbell’s riflemen and the legion infantry connected in line with the North Carolina militia, turning with the fence as it approached the rivulet, raked by their fire the right of the British wing, entirely uncovered:—the legion cavalry, in the woods, in a column pointing to the angular corner of the fence ready to support the militia on its right, or the infantry of the legion to its left. The appearance in this quarter was so favorable that sanguine hopes were entertained by many of the officers, from the manifest advantage possessed, of breaking down the enemy’s right before he approached the fence; and the troops exhibited great zeal and alacrity.

Lieutenant colonel Webster took his part with his usual ability,—moving upon the Virginia militia, who were not so advantageously posted as their comrades of North Carolina, yet gave every indication of maintaining their ground with obstinacy. Stevens, to give efficacy to this temper, and stung with the recollection of their inglorious flight in the battle of Cambden, had placed a line of sentinels in his rear with orders to shoot every man that flinched. When the enemy came within long shot, the American line, by order, began to fire. Undismayed, the British continued to advance; and having reached a proper distance, discharged their pieces and rent the air with shouts. To our infinite distress and mortification, the North Carolina militia took to flight, a few only of Eaton’s brigade excepted, who clung to the militia under Clarke; which, with the legion, manfully maintained their ground. Every effort was made by the generals Butler and Eaton, assisted by colonel Davie, commissary general, with many of the officers of every grade, to stop this unaccountable panic; for not a man of the corps had been killed, or even wounded. Lieutenant colonel Lee joined in the attempt to rally the fugitives, threatening to fall upon them with his cavalry. All was vain,—so thoroughly confounded were these unhappy men, that, throwing away arms, knapsacks, and even canteens, they rushed like a torrent headlong through the woods. In the mean time the British right became so injured by the keen and advantageous contest still upheld by Clarke and the legion, as to render it necessary for Leslie to order into line his support under lieutenant colonel Norton, a decided proof of the difficult condition to which he must have been soon reduced, had the North Carolina militia done their duty. The chasm in our order of battle, produced by this base desertion, was extremely detrimental in its consequences; for being seized by Leslie, it threw the corps of Lee out of combination with the army, and also exposed it to destruction. General Leslie, turning the regiment of Bose, with the battalion of guards, upon Lee, pressed forward himself with the seventy-first to cover the right of Webster,—now keenly engaged with the Virginia militia; and seized the most advantageous position, which he preserved through the battle. Noble was the stand of the Virginia militia; Stevens and Lawson, with their faithful brigades, contending for victory against the best officer in the British army, at the head of two regiments, distinguished for intrepidity and discipline; and so firmly did they maintain the battle (secured on their flank by the position taken by Washington, who, anxious to contribute to the aid of his brave countrymen, introduced Lynch’s battalion of riflemen upon the flank of Webster, already fully engaged in front) that brigadier O’Hara, with the grenadiers and second battalion of the guards were brought into the line in support of Webster. As soon as this assistance was felt, lieutenant colonel Webster, turning the thirty-third upon Lynch, relieved his flank of all annoyance; and instantly O’Hara, advancing with the remainder of the left wing with fixed bayonets, aided by the seventy-first under Leslie, compelled first Lawson’s brigade and then Steven’s to abandon the contest. Unhappily the latter general received a ball through his thigh, which accelerated not a little the retreat of his brigade. The militia no longer presented even the show of resistance: nevertheless, such had been the resolution with which the corps under Lee, sustaining itself on the left against the first battalion of guards and the regiment of Bose, and so bravely did the Virginia militia support the action on the right, that, notwithstanding the injurious desertion of the first line without exchanging a shot, every corps of the British army, excepting the cavalry still in reserve, had been necessarily brought into battle, and many of them had suffered severely. It cannot be doubted, had the North Carolina militia rivalled that of Virginia upon this occasion, that lord Cornwallis must have been defeated; and even now the continental troops being in full vigor, and our cavalry unhurt, there was good ground yet to expect victory.

Persevering in his determination to die or to conquer, the British general did not stop to concentrate his force, but pressed forward to break our second line. The action, never intermitting on his right, was still sternly maintained by colonel Norton’s battalion of guards and the regiment of Bose with the rifle militia and the legion infantry; so that this portion of the British force could not be brought to bear upon the third line, supported by colonel Washington at the head of the horse, and Kirkwood’s Delaware company. General Greene was well pleased with the present prospect, and flattering himself with a happy conclusion, passed along the line, exhorting his troops to give the finishing blow. Webster, hastening over the ground occupied by the Virginia militia, sought with zeal the continental line, and presently approached its right wing. Here was posted the first regiment of Maryland, commanded by colonel Gunby, having under him lieutenant colonel Howard. The enemy rushed into close fire; but so firmly was he received by this body of veterans, supported by Hawe’s regiment of Virginia and Kirkwood’s company of Delawares, (being weakened in his contest with Steven’s brigade, and as yet unsupported, the troops to his right not having advanced from inequality of ground or other impediments) that with equal rapidity he was compelled to recoil from the shock.

Recrossing a ravine in his rear, Webster occupied an advantageous height, waiting for the approach of the rest of the line. Very soon lieutenant colonel Stuart, with the first battalion of guards, appeared in the open field, followed successively by the remaining corps, all anxious to unite in this last effort. Stuart, discovering Ford’s regiment of Maryland on the left of the first regiment, and a small copse of woods concealing Gunby, pushed forward upon Ford, who was strengthened by captain Finley with two six pounders. Colonel Williams, commanding the Maryland line, charmed with the late demeanor of the first regiment, hastened towards the second, expecting a similar display, and prepared to combine his whole force with all practicable celerity; when, unaccountably, the second regiment gave way, abandoning to the enemy the two field pieces.

Gunby being left free by Webster’s recession, wheeled to his left upon Stuart, who was pursuing the flying second regiment. Here the action was well fought; each corps manfully struggling for victory; when lieutenant colonel Washington, who had, upon the discomfiture of the Virginia militia, placed himself upon the flank of the continentals, agreeably to the order of battle, pressed forward with his cavalry.

Stuart beginning to give ground, Washington fell upon him sword in hand, followed by Howard with fixed bayonets, now commanding the regiment in consequence of Gunby being dismounted. This combined operation was irresistible. Stuart fell by the sword of captain Smith, of the first regiment; the two field pieces were recovered; his battalion driven back with slaughter,—its remains being saved by the British artillery, which, to stop the ardent pursuit of Washington[note 115] and Howard, opened upon friends as well as foes; for Cornwallis, seeing the vigorous advance of these two officers, determined to arrest their progress, though every ball, levelled at them, must pass through the flying guards. Checked by this cannonade, and discovering one regiment passing from the woods on the enemy’s right, across the road, and another advancing in front, Howard believing himself to be out of support, retired, followed by Washington.

To these two regiments, (which were the seventy-first, which general Leslie had so judiciously conducted after the ignominious flight of the North Carolina militia, and the twenty-third, the right of Webster,) brigadier O’Hara, though grievously wounded, brought the remnant of the first battalion of guards, whom he in person rallied; and, with the grenadiers, filled up the interval between the left and right wing.

Webster, the moment Stuart appeared in the field, putting Ford to flight, recrossed the ravine and attacked Hawes’ regiment of Virginia, supported by Kirkwood’s company. The action was renewed in this quarter with vigor; the seventy-first and twenty-third, connected in their centre by the first battalion and grenadier guards, having at the same time moved upon Howard. Meanwhile the long impending contest upon the enemy’s right continued without intermission; each of the combatants getting gradually nearer to the flanks of their respective armies, to close with which was the desired object of both. At length lieutenant colonel Norton, with his battalion of guards, believing the regiment of Bose adequate to the contest, and close to the great road to which he had been constantly inclining, pressed forward to join the seventy-first. Relieved from this portion of the enemy, lieutenant colonel Lee dispensed with his cavalry, heretofore held in the rear to cover retreat in case of disaster, ordering it to close with the left of the continental line, and there to act until it should receive further orders. Upon Bose the rifle and the legion infantry now turned with increased animation and with confidence of success. Lieutenant colonel Buisy, of the regiment of Bose, continued to defend himself with obstinacy; but pressed as he was by superior force, he at length gave ground, and fell back into the rear of Norton. Still annoying him with the rifle corps under Clarke, Lee hastened with his infantry to rejoin his cavalry upon the flank of the continentals, the point so long and vainly contended for. In his route he found the battalion of guards under Norton in possession of the height first occupied by Lawson’s brigade of Virginia militia. With this corps again the legion infantry renewed action; and supported by the van company of the riflemen, its rear still waiting upon lieutenant colonel Buisy, drove it back upon the regiment of Bose. Every obstacle now removed, Lee pressed forward, followed by Clarke, and joined his horse close by Guilford court-house.

Having seen the flight of the second regiment of Maryland, preceded by that of the North Carolina militia,—the corps of Lee severed from the army, and considering it, if not destroyed, at least thrown out of the action by Leslie’s judicious seizure of the interval produced by the panic of the North Carolina militia, and in all probability not able to regain its station in the line,—Greene, immutable in the resolution never to risk annihilation of his force, and adverting to his scanty supply of ammunition, determined, when he found all his personal efforts seconded by colonels Williams and Carrington to rally the second regiment of Maryland nugatory, to provide for retreat. Colonel Greene, one of the bravest of brave soldiers, with his regiment of Virginia, was drawn off without having tasted of battle, and ordered to a given point in the rear for the security of this movement.[note 116] Had general Greene known how severely his enemy was crippled, and that the corps under Lee had fought their way to his continental line, he would certainly have continued the conflict; and in all probability would have made it a drawn day, if not have secured to himself the victory. Ignorant of these facts, and finding Webster returned to battle,—O’Hara, with his rallied guards in line,—and general Leslie, with the seventy-first, connected with them on the right, and followed, as he well knew, by the remnant of his wing,—he persevered in his resolution and directed a retreat, which was performed deliberately under cover of colonel Greene. General Huger, who had, throughout the action, given his chief attention to the regiment of Hawes’, the only one of the two, constituting his brigade, ever engaged, and which, with Kirkwood’s company, was still contending with lieutenant colonel Webster, now drew it off by order of the general; while colonel Williams effected the same object in his quarter; both abandoning our artillery, as their horses had been mostly killed; and general Greene preferred leaving his artillery to risking the loss of lives in drawing them off by hand. Just after this had taken place lieutenant colonel Lee joined his cavalry at the court-house; and, unpursued, retired down the great Salisbury road, until a cross-road enabled him to pass over to the line of retreat. The seventy-first and twenty-third regiments, supported by the cavalry of Tarleton, followed our army with the show of falling upon it; but the British general soon recalled them, and general Greene, undisturbed, was left to pursue his retreat. He halted first three miles from the field of battle to collect stragglers and fugitives, and afterwards retired leisurely to his former position at the iron works.

The pertinacity with which the rifle corps of Campbell and the legion infantry had maintained the battle on the enemy’s right, induced lord Cornwallis to detach the British horse to that quarter. The contest had long been ebbing before this corps arrived; and lieutenant colonel Tarleton found only a few resolute marksmen in the rear of Campbell, who continued firing from tree to tree. The appearance of cavalry determined these brave fellows to retire and overtake their corps.

Thus the battle terminated. It was fought on the 15th of March, a day never to be forgotten by the southern section of the United States. The atmosphere calm and illumined with a cloudless sun; the season rather cold than cool; the body was braced, and the mind high toned by the state of the weather. Great was the stake, willing were the generals[note 117] to put it to hazard, and their armies seemed to support with ardor the decision of their respective leaders.

The British general fought against two to one;[note 118] but he had greatly the advantage in the quality of his soldiers. General Greene’s veteran infantry being only the first regiment of Maryland, the company of Delawere under Kirkwood, (to whom none could be superior) and the legion infantry; all together making on that day not more than five hundred rank and file. The second regiment of Maryland and the two regiments of Virginia were composed of raw troops; but their officers were veteran, and the soldier is soon made fit for battle by experienced commanders. Uniting these corps to those recited, and the total (as per official return) amounted to one thousand four hundred and ninety; so that even estimating our old and new troops in one class, still our infantry was considerably less than his lordship’s. The North Carolina militia, as has been seen, abandoned us; and we had only the Virginia militia and the rifle corps under colonel Campbell and colonel Lynch to balance the enemy’s superiority over our regular infantry. In artillery the two armies were nearly equal, as they may be also considered in cavalry; the superiority in number, on the part of the British being counterbalanced by our excellence in quality.

The slaughter was prodigious on the side of the enemy, making, in killed and wounded, nearly one third of his army. The official report states the loss to amount to five hundred and thirty-two men, of whom ninety-three were found dead on the field of battle.

Lieutenant colonel Stuart, of the guards, and lieutenant O’Hara, of the royal artillery, brother to the general, with many other officers, were killed.

The brigadiers O’Hara and Howard, lieutenant colonels Webster and Tarleton, the captains Stuart, Maynard,[note 119] Goodryche, Maitland, Schuty, Peter, and lord Dunglas, with several subalterns, were wounded; as were captains Wilmonsky and Eichenbrodt, of the regiment of Bose, with five subalterns.

Our loss was very disproportionate;[note 120] only fourteen officers and three hundred and twelve, rank and file, of the continental troops killed, wounded and missing. As few prisoners were made, it is probable that those returned as missing were killed. Among the first was major Anderson, of the regiment of Maryland, much esteemed and highly regretted; with captain —— and three subalterns. Among the last was general Huger, commanding the Virginia brigade. Our loss of militia was still less. The four captains * * * * * * * * * * and seven-teen privates killed; brigadier Stevens, major —— three captains, eight subalterns, and sixty privates, wounded. Many were missing, as is always the case with militia after battle; but they generally are to be found safe at their own fire sides. General Greene, after reaching Troublesome creek, arrayed himself again for battle; so persuaded was he that the British general would follow up his blow, and so well satisfied with his own condition, though considerably reduced by the flight of the North Carolina militia, and by the voluntary and customary return of portions of that from Virginia. But the enemy was in no condition to advance. The name of victory was the sole enjoyment of the conqueror, the substance belonging to the vanquished. Truly did the eloquent Mr. Fox exclaim in the Bruish house of commons, “Another such victory would destroy the British army.”

On no occasion, in any part of the world, was British valor more heroically displayed. The officers of every grade did their duty; and each corps surpassed its past, though arduous, exertions in this terrible conflict. But the advantage of ground, the weight of numbers, the skill of the general, and the determined courage of such portions of the American army as fought, presented obstacles not to be surmounted by inferior force. So maimed was the British army, that notwithstanding the flight of the North Carolina militia, had the second regiment of Maryland acted like the first, little doubt can exist but that lord Cornwallis must have shared the same fate on this day, which he experienced afterwards. Afflicting were the sensations of the British general when he looked into his own situation after the battle. Nearly a third of his force slaughtered; many of his best officers killed or wounded; and that victory for which he had so long toiled, and at length gained, bringing in its train not one solitary benefit. No body of loyalists crowding around his standards; no friendly convoys pouring in supplies; his wants pressing, and his resources distant. The night succeeding this day of blood was rainy, dark and cold: the dead unburied, the wounded unsheltered, the groans of the dying, and the shrieks of the living, shed a deeper shade over the gloom of nature. The victorious troops, without tents and without food, participated in sufferings which they could not
relieve.[note 121] The ensuing morning was spent in performing the last offices to the dead, and in providing comfort for the wounded. In executing these sad duties, the British general regarded with equal attention, friends and foes. As soon as this service was over lord Cornwallis put his army in motion for New Garden, where his rear guard, with his baggage, met him. All his wounded, incapable of moving, (about seventy in number) he left to the humanity of general Greene. Here he issued a proclamation, depicting in strong colors the splendid victory obtained by the British army on the 15th; and calling upon the liege subjects of his Britannic majesty to come forward at this important juncture and contribute their aid in completing the restoration of that happy government, not less the object of their hearts, than the guard of their lives and property. This done, his lordship proceeded on the 18th, by easy marches, to Cross creek; the centre of the Highland settlement, and convenient to Wilmington, then in possession of major Craig, as before mentioned, and the depot of supplies for the royal army.

The retreat of the British general evinced, unequivocally, his crippled condition. No consideration, but conviction of his inability to improve the victory he had gained, would have deterred a general less enterprising than lord Cornwallis, from giving full effect to the advantage his skill and courage had procured. Confident, as was general Greene, that his antagonist had suffered severely, he had not conceived his situation to be so impotent as it now appeared to be. Prepared to renew the combat, had the enemy sought it, he now determined to follow the retiring foe, and bring him to action before he should gain his point of safety;[note 122] but this resolution was unhappily for several days delayed through the want of ammunition, with which it was necessary first to supply himself. In the mean time he detached lieutenant colonel Lee with his legion, and the militia rifle corps under Clarke, to hang upon the rear of the retreating general, lest the inhabitants of the region through which he passed might presume that his army had been rendered incapable of further resistance, and might flock to the royal standard.

The advanced corps soon came up with the royal army, which had proceeded very slowly with a view of cherishing its numerous wounded by the collection of every comfort which the country afforded, as well as to avoid fatigue, which the debilitated state of the troops could not bear. Upon the appearance of the light troops, this system was in a degree abandoned; lord Cornwallis conceiving it probable that the American army was not far in the rear, seeking battle, which his situation now made him anxious to avoid. At length he reached Ramsay’s mill, on Deep river, where he halted a few days to renew his humane exertions for the comfort of his wounded, and to collect, if possible, provisions for the army; the country between this place and Cross creek being very sterile and sparsedly settled. During this delay his lordship threw a bridge over the river, by which he might readily pass as he moved down on its western bank. Nothing material occurred between the adverse van and rear corps; nor did the British general even make any serious attempt to drive from his neighborhood the corps of Lee; so sorely did he continue to feel the effects of his dearly won victory.

General Greene lost not a moment in moving from his camp on the Troublesome, after the arrival of his military stores; and notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather and the deepness of the roads, he pressed forward from day to day by forced marches;[note 123] but interruptions, unavoidable, occasionally delayed his progress. When the quarter master general assumed the duties of his station at Guilford court-house, as has been before remarked, all the staff department of the army were entirely deranged; and such had been the rapid succession of keen and active service, that with all the exertions of his laborious application, he had not been able to introduce into full operation his own system, although he had contrived to afford the means of prompt motion to the army. New duties became, from the necessity of the case, connected with his department. Without money to purchase, the subsistence of the troops depended upon compulsory collection from the country through which the army marched; and colonel Davie could with difficulty procure within one day enough for that day; so that the general would be often obliged to extend or contract his march to correspond with the fluctuating supply of provisions. Our difficulties in this line were considerably increased, as the British army had preceded us; and nothing but the gleanings of an exhausted country were left for our subsistence. To settlements which had from their distance escaped the British foraging parties, it became necessary for our commissary general to resort; and the conveyance to camp of supply when collected devolved upon the quarter master general.

Lieutenant colonel Carrington shrunk not from this new duty; and by his zeal and perseverance contributed greatly to remove an obstacle which had not only retarded the advance of Greene, but sometimes menaced the necessity of a temporary separation of his troops by detaching them to different districts for the procurement of food. The usual method of providing magazines had been necessarily avoided, inasmuch as the enemy heretofore our superior would alone have received the benefit of such arrangement. Surmounting all impediments, Greene at length approached Ramsay’s mill; but not until lord Cornwallis had completed his bridge. The American general, having informed lieutenant colonel Lee of the delays to which he was subjected, with directions to obstruct the completion of the bridge, if practicable,—that officer moved from the rear of the enemy in the night, and taking a circuitous route, passed the river ten miles above the British position, with a determination to dislodge the party stationed on its western side for the protection of that head of the bridge. This enterprise was deemed of easy execution; as both the celerity of the movement and the darkness of the night prevented his lordship penetrating the design, and as only two hundred men under a major constituted the guard. Defeating this body by a sudden blow, we might have, in a little time, bv axes and fire, so far damaged the work as to have produced one day’s further halt, which would have afforded general Greene sufficient time to come up. But well timed as the march of the light corps was, which with much alacrity moved upon the detachment, the major having been reinforced in the course of the night, produced the abandonment of the enterprise. On the subsequent day the British general decamped; and passing the river on his bridge, took the route towards Cross creek. The legion of Lee, with the rifle corps of Clarke, entering into his late camp as the rear guard drew off, prevented the destruction of the bridge. On the subsequent day, the 28th, general Greene reached Ramsay’s mill; having failed in his anxious wish to bring the British general to action, in consequence of waiting for ammunition, and the difficulty with which subsistence was obtained.

It was in vain to persevere in pursuit, as the country through which the British general marched, until he reached Cross creek settlement, was so barren and thinly settled as to forbid every hope of obtaining the requisite supplies. Dismissing all his militia, except a small corps from North Carolina, Greene took the decision of reposing his wearied troops in this position, and preparing for the renewal of active service by arrangements tending to secure adequate subsistence.

The campaign so far presents the undulation common to war. It opened with the victory of the Cowpens,—an event very propitious to the United States, which was followed by our perilous retreat through North Carolina, when for many days the fate of Greene and his army hung in mournful suspense; and after a grand display of military science in marches, countermarches and positions, in consequence of the bold return of the American army into North Carolina, concluded with our defeat at Guilford court-house. Replenished in military stores, grown stronger by defeat, and bolder from disaster, the American general is now seen seeking with keener appetite a renewal of the conflict, while the British conqueror seduously and successfully avoids it.

During this trying period, which closely occupied the respective generals, the claims of humanity were not unattended to. The establishment of a cartel, to operate as occasion might require, had long engaged the heart of Greene, and was not unacceptable to Cornwallis. The first was actuated, not only by his disposition to restore to their country our many prisoners, but to cancel obligations, which the inhabitants of the southern states deemed binding, though subversive of the duty which every citizen owes to his country. In the course of British success in South Carolina, a usage prevailed of taking the paroles of the inhabitants in the manner practised often with commissioned officers when taken. In consequence of this custom, the whole population in the conquered states continuing at home, became incapacitated from serving against the enemy: a condition so agreeable to the harassed, the wavering, and the timed, as to be sought with solicitude, and preserved with zeal. Greene determined in his negotiations for the exchange of prisoners to abrogate obligations resulting from a practice entirely inadmissible. He consequently instructed his commissioner, lieutenant colonel Carrington, to repel the recognition of this pernicious and unwarrantable usage, by urging the incapability of an individual to renounce his social obligations by contract with the enemy, unless sanctioned by a public officer. The honorable captain Broderick, aid-de-camp to earl Cornwallis, being appointed on the part of his lordship, met Carrington on the 12th of March; when, after comparing their credentials, the object of the meeting was taken up. It was soon discerned, that the article respecting private paroles, enjoined on his commissioner by general Greene, had introduced an unexpected principle; and being not contemplated by the British commander, his commissioner was not prepared to decide upon it.

Carrington and Broderick agreed therefore to separate for the present, and to meet again as soon as lord Cornwallis should make up his decision upon the proposition submitted.

The battle of Guilford following three days after, the negotiation became postponed; nor was it resumed until the latter end of April; when lieutenant colonel Carrington, and captain Cornwallis, of the thirty-third, (substituted for Broderick) entered upon it with a disposition, by mutual concessions, to conclude the long spun discussion. It was, after some time, happily accomplished; Carrington having engrafted in the cartel the following clause: “That no non-commissioned officer or private, admitted to parole, shall be considered as a prisoner of war, but finally liberated, unless admitted to such parole on the faith of some commissioned officer.” The proceedings of the commissioners were ratified by the respective generals, and a general exchange of prisoners soon after took place.

Lord Cornwallis halted at Cross creek, where staying a few days, the friendly Highland settlement zealously contributed from its small stock, every thing necessary for his army which the district afforded. Decamping, he proceeded to Wilmington; to which place he was obliged to go contrary to his original plan; because he found the country about Cross creek too poor to subsist him; and because his troops were suffering for many necessaries to be obtained only in his abundant magazines at Wilmington.

During the march from Cross creek, several of the British officers died of their wounds received at Guilford court-house. Among them were lieutenant colonel Webster, of the thirty-third, and captain Maynard, of the guards. The first escaped, as we have before seen, unhurt, when crossing the Reedy Fork on horse back in the face of a chosen party of marksmen, devoting their undivided attention to his destruction; and the last was that officer, who, by his conversation with his commandant, lieutenant colonel Norton, on the eve of the battle, so strongly manifested a presentiment of his fate.

To be first among the officers in the army under lord Cornwallis must be admitted to be no slight distinction; and this station had been long assigned with one voice to the gallant Webster. To this superiority in arms was combined the winning amiability which virtue in heart and virtue in habit never fail to produce—the embellishment of literature and the manners of polished life. Such a loss was deeply and sincerely deplored. His body was committed to the grave with every honor and attention, accompanied with tears of admiration and affection, in the small village of Elizabethtown, where he died.

Lieutenant colonel Tarleton, in his Campaigns, very handsomely depicts his worth when he declares, that he “united all the virtues of civil life to the gallantry and professional knowledge of a soldier;” and lord Cornwallis has left an imperishable monument in his letter to the father of the deceased, (so long as the tenderest feeling of sorrow, expressed in language which can only flow from the heart, shall be admired) of his unrivalled respect for the departed hero:—”it gives me great concern to undertake a task, which is not only a bitter renewal of my own grief, but must be a violent shock to an aftectionate parent.

“You have for your support, the assistance of religion, good sense, and the experience of the uncertainty of human happiness. You have for your satisfaction, that your son fell nobly in the cause of his country, honored and lamented by all his fellow soldiers; that he led a life of honor and virtue, which must secure to him everlasting happiness.

“When the keen sensibility of the passions begin to subside, these considerations will give you real comfort. That the Almighty may give you fortitude to bear this severest of strokes is the earnest wish of your companion in affliction.”

All who know the value of friendship will feel in their own breasts how much lord Cornwallis must have been affected by the loss of Webster. Bred up under him, the lieutenant colonel commandant of the thirty-third (Cornwallis’s regiment), every opportunity, with full time, had been afforded for thorough mutual understanding of character. Alike virtuous, amiable and intrepid, the inter weavings of affection had reared upon the foundation of their hearts a temple sacred to honor and to friendship.

Throughout six campaigns the public service derived from lieutenant colonel Webster those signal benefits which never fail to accrue from the friendship of men high in station and in genius. Introduced by his illustrious friend to posts of difficulty and consequence, he drew upon himself, by his exemplary discharge of duty, universal admiration. At Quibbletown, in New Jersey, during the eventful winter of 1776–7, he commanded on the line of communication between Brunswick and New York, and preserved it safe in spite of the many attempts to break up his defences. In 1779 he had charge of the post at Verplank’s Point: which was comprehended in general Washington’s plan of operations when Stony Point was carried. On the ensuing morning the batteries from this eminence, overlooking Webster, were turned upon him, and afforded an unexpected and weighty assistance to the assailant. Nevertheless, such was the circumspection and sagacity with which he had taken his measures, that after a close examination of his situation, it was deemed advisable to withdraw our force, though ready for assault.

In the yet bleeding disaster of Cambden, Webster commanded the right wing of the enemy’s army; exhibiting with splendid success the presence of mind, and the discriminating judgment, for which he was conspicuous. And in the late, his last field, he commanded the left wing, and upheld, in full lustre, his eminent fame.

Lord Cornwallis arrived at Wilmington on the 7th of April, where he found major Craig with his small garrison,—perfectly secure, by his judicious defences, from injury or insult, and holding in his care abundant magazines, yielding not only every implement necessary for the further prosecution of the campaign, but affording in profusion all the comforts of food, raiment and liquor, to his worn and faithful troops. Indulging himself yet with the hope that his expulsion of Greene out of that state, followed up by his victory at Guilford court-house, would rouse into action his numerous friends, he continued to urge, by every inducement, the consummation of his wishes. But, taught by the correction of experience, deliberation and caution, the loyalists could not be induced to unite in the British construction of the events of the campaign. They knew that, though driven out of the state, general Greene had speedily returned; they knew that, though vanquished at Guilford court-house, he had shortly turned upon his enemy; and they were not strangers to the eager pursuit arrested but a few days past from the impracticability of procuring subsistence.

With these truths before them, self-love forced the repression of their zeal; and the unceasing vigilance of government[note 124] confirmed the salutary decision. The British general found himself completely disappointed, after all his toil and all his danger. They would occasionally visit his camp, and renew their protestations of attachment; but no additional regiment could be formed; nor could even Hamilton’s North Carolina corps, with all his address and influence, be restored to its complement; so unpropitious in the opinion of the loyalists had been the result of the late active and sanguinary operations.

While the British army was enjoying the stores which the providence of its lender had prepared for its use, general Greene continued in his camp at Ramsay’s mill. Equally affectionate and equally provident, he could not present to his much loved troops refitments and refreshments so much wanted. No magazines were opened for our accommodation; rest to our wearied limbs was the only boon within his gift. Our tattered garments could not be exchanged; nor could our wornout shoes be replaced. The exhilarating cordial was not within his reach, nor wholesome provision in abundance within his grasp. The meager beef of the pine barrens, with corn ash-cake, was our food, and water our drink; yet we were content; we were more than content,—we were happy. The improved condition of the South, effected by our efforts, had bestowed the solace of inward satisfaction on our review of the past; and experience of the lofty genius of our beloved leader, encouraged proud anticipations of the future.

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