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

CHAPTER XXIX.

THE hostile army being separated, general Greene turned his attention to the improvement of his unresisted possession of the field.

Whether to approach Wilmington, with a view of opposing Cornwallis’s operations at the threshold; or to take a more salubrious and distant position, with Virginia in his rear, and there to await his lordship’s advance towards his long meditated victim, became at first the subject of deliberation. Very soon a plan of action was submitted to the general, radically repugnant to those which had risen into notice, and which combating both in principle, reduced the discussion to a single point: “Shall the army wait upon the enemy, or shall it instantly advance upon Cambden.”

The proposer suggested, that, leaving Cornwallis to act as he might choose, the army should be led back into South Carolina. That the main body should move upon Cambden, while the light corps, taking a lower direction, and joining brigadier Marion, should break down all intermediate posts, completely demolishing communication between Cambden and Ninety-Six with Charleston; and thus placing the British force in South Carolina in a triangle, Charleston and Ninety-Six forming the base, insulated as to co-operation, and destitute of supplies, even of provision, for any length of time.

From the first moment the substitute was presented to the mind of Greene, it received his decided preference. There was a splendor in the plan which will always attract a hero. Yet the stake was great, the subject difficult, and powerful arguments, pressed by deservedly influential soldiers, maintained the propriety of adhering to the first contemplated system.

They contended, that the battle of Guilford had given a superiority to the American arms which might be preserved; and if preserved, the liberation of the South must follow. They admitted the insalubrity of the lower country, but denied the necessity of placing the army in it; as the healthy region was sufficiently near to the enemy for all the purposes of offence, whenever he should advance. They laid it down as a cardinal principle, never to be relinquished or even slighted, that the safety of the South hung upon the safety of Virginia; and the sure way to yield to that state full protection, was to face Cornwallis. They reinforced this argument by dwelling, with much emphasis, upon the singular fitness of Greene to cope with his lordship, as well as the superior capacity of his army to contend with that under Cornwallis. That the British general and the British soldier had been taught, through the keen and trying struggles just concluded, the value of their enemy—a consideration entitled to weight; and that this value of character would be thrown away, by abandoning that army on which it would always most bear.

That the British dragoons, so dreadful heretofore, had been rendered comparatively innocent by the superior ability of the American horse; and that, withdrawing the curb now imposed upon its prowess, would be sure to restore it to its pristine sway and effect. They contended, by observing that our continental force exceeded in number the army of Cornwallis, that should his lordship even abandon Wilmington, which was not probable, because injudicious, he would only bring himself to an equality; and the state of North Carolina, already in high spirits from what had passed, would exert itself to give to us the weight of numbers, so long as it found the contest directed by a general deep in its confidence: whereas, the relinquishment of the state, with the enemy in its bosom, as proposed, would be sure to excite gloom and apprehension, which would infallibly lead to the ancient state of apathy, the fatal effects of which had been severely experienced.

In opposition, it was admitted, that the primary object in all the measures to be adopted was the safety of Virginia, as it could not be denied that on its preservation depended the restoration of the subjugated states; and the various arguments adduced were acknowledged to be correct and cogent, but not entitled to that preponderance which was so strenuously pressed. It was urged, as the surest mode of reaching right conclusions, to lay down the probable conduct of the enemy, and to compare the effects of the northern or southern movement upon that conduct. The British general would either return to South Carolina, to uphold the ground already gained—or, leaving his conquest to the force left for its protection, he would advance upon Virginia. Should he return to South Carolina—ignorant as for days he must be of our movement, and incapable, from his crippled condition, of immediate operation, should he even be so fortunate as to learn with celerity the design of his foe—very probably we should in the interval obtain an advantage which the British general would not be able soon to retrieve, even with his united force. But, granting that we should fail in this expectation; and that Cornwallis should, by crossing the Pedee at the Cheraw hills, force the light corps and Marion to fall back upon Greene, relieve Cambden, and unite to his army its garrison, still we should be safe, and greatly the gainer. For, reinforced as would be general Greene by the corps of Marion, of Sumpter, and of Pickens, he would preserve a numerical superiority over the enemy, although strengthened by all the disposable troops under lord Rawdon. The quality of these corps, and the well known ability of their leaders, placed them far above any force to be derived from North Carolina, should general Greene renew his contest in that state. We should, therefore, be in better condition to risk battle by going to the south than by continuing here; and we should enjoy the immense advantaged of rendering a campaign from which so much was expected by the enemy, entirely abortive; inasmuch as we brought our opponent back to the very ground which he had left months before, when menacing the subjugation of North Carolina instantly, and that of Virginia remotely. This single good would be of itself adequate compensation; as it would confirm the superiority of our arms, and demonstrate, even to a British cabinet, the folly of persevering in the hopeless, destructive conflict.

But supposing lord Cornwallis should not return to take care of his conquest,—inasmuch as it would unequivocally declare the mastership of his opponent, and when we reflect how often the best and wisest men prefer any course to that which is coupled with admission of their own inferiority, we might presume that his lordship would follow in the beaten tract,—what will be the consequences? The states of Georgia and South Carolina restored to the Union; the disaffected in North Carolina restored to their senses, by feeling unequivocally the frivolity of British conquest; North Carolina in a capacity to contribute its portion of annual force; and Virginia saved from that devastating flight of human vultures which follow in the train of conquering armies, whose appetite for plunder is insatiate so long as objects of prey are attainable. How can you so effectually save Virginia, it was asked, as by withholding from her territory a visitation so dreadful, the precursor of famine and of plague? This was completely effected by moving to the south; as the contest for the Carolinas continuing, that state of quiet submission could not take place—and that condition must ensue before these destroyers of property would adventure to approach a new theatre of plunder.

This reasoning, however respectfully regarded, did not persuade the advocates for the original plan to concur. They had felt the degradation of one retreat through North Carolina, and they could not be readily induced to advise the risk of its repetition, which was deemed the infallible consequence of a return to South Carolina should lord Cornwallis act the part which his finished military reputation induced them to expect. They persevered in maintaining the propriety of holding Virginia as our primary object; and contended, that the proposed substitute did effectually reduce her to a secondary station, however sincerely its author shared in the general policy of giving to her, in all our measures, a decided preference. They rejected the idea of the British general’s leaving general Greene in the undisturbed pursuit of his object; and although, at first, his return would convey the acknowledgment presumed, yet the effect of this acknowledgment would be short-lived, as the superior force of the enemy would enable him to push Greene a second time into Virginia; and the sole benefit we should derive from this perilous movement would be entering Virginia a few weeks later, greatly overweighed by the loss of that superiority in arms, now possessed, and to be sacrificed by a second retreat.

That highly as were respected the brigadiers Marion, Sumpter, and Pickens, and much as was prized the tried courage of their associates, yet the effect of their co-operation was overrated: but, even admitting it to the presumed extent, a movement of such magnitude never could be warranted by a reliance on means so precarious.

The discussions being now extremely narrowed, by presuming on the British general’s return into South Carolina, it was only necessary to demonstrate, that the same perilous retreat would not necessarily ensue, to secure the adoption of the substituted plan of operations.

The fact of equality in force was reasserted, and proved by recurrence to official data. The precariousness of militia succor could not be denied; but it was urged that the South Carolina corps, above designated, formed an exception to the general rule. What rendered our retreat in the course of the past winter so difficult and dangerous was, not only a numerical inferiority,[note 4] but an inferiority in quality also, and a separation of the two divisions of the army. Now the army was united; the untried battalions had now gone through severe service, and had confessedly improved in soldiership; its numerical strength was now at least equal, and would be sure to be increased by the adoption of timely measures to secure reinforcements; whereas that of the enemy could not increase, and must insensibly diminish without battle.

That the strong and faithful country west of Charlotte gave a safe retreat; that a powerful corps of the King’s Mountain militia could be readily brought to meet us in that neighborhood, or upon the Yadkin, if deemed advisable further to retire. With this reinforcement, the corps of South Carolina, and our superior cavalry, general Greene would be much better prepared to appeal to the sword than he was when he fought at Guilford Court-house, where all admitted that he gained an advantage. That lord Cornwallis must either sit down in the vicinity of Cambden, to guard South Carolina,—an inert condition, as foreign to his disposition as it was incompatible with his duty,—or he would, in conformity to his temper and his duty, advance upon general Greene. That, should he presume upon a repetition of retreat, he would not only be disappointed, but would probably be destroyed; for the moment he passed Lynch’s creek his danger commenced, and increased every step he took towards the Yadkin. He would, therefore, be compelled to be satisfied with protecting his line of posts from Cambden to Augusta, or he would again encounter the peril of a Guilford Court-house victory, out of which he would not so happily now escape as he then had done. By taking the first course, he lost a year: by taking the second, he lost himself.

That, from the Yadkin, Greene could readily reach Virginia, if necessary, and should the British general forbear to approach him, and in a few weeks drive all the force collected there to the ocean—the asylum of Englishmen—and return to South Carolina in time for a winter campaign.

These, with other arguments equally forcible, were offered in maintenance of the other system; and the effect upon Virginia, which would probably ensue, should the British general proceed thither instead of returning to South Carolina as presumed by the author of the substitute, was examined in all its bearings.[note 5]

General Greene gave to the subject that full and critical investigation which it merited, and which, by long habit, had become familiar to his mind. He perceived advantages and disadvantages attendant upon either course, and felt for the evils to which Virginia must be exposed, whichever plan he might adopt. Doubting whether her sufferings would not be increased rather than mitigated by rendering her the seat of the southern war; and convinced that he had much to hope, and little to apprehend, from returning into South Carolina, he determined to carry the war into that state.

No sooner had he decided, than he commenced operations. The legion of Lee, with captain Oldham’s detachment, was ordered to move on the subsequent morning (6th of April), and the army was put in motion the following day. Previous to the general’s departure from Deep river, he communicated his intention to the brigadiers Sumpter and Pickens, and required those generals to assemble all the force they could collect for the purpose of co-operation.

To the first he signified his desire that he would be prepared to join him when he should reach the vicinity of Cambden: to the last he expressed his wishes that he would invest Ninety-Six, or, at all events, counteract any attempt to reinforce Cambden from that post. To the commander in chief he made known at large his plan, with his hopes and his doubts, assuring him that he should take every measure to avoid a misfortune; “but necessity obliges me to commit myself to chance, and if any accident should attend me, I trust my friends will do justice to my reputation.”

Lieutenant colonel Lee being instructed to join Marion, was directed to deliver to that officer the general’s despatch, and to assure him of the entire confidence reposed in his faithful efforts to maintain his share in the expected co-operation.

Lord Cornwallis had not long indulged in the enjoyment of repose and abundance, before his active mind turned to the probable measures of his antagonist, and, shortly after he reached Wilmington, he advised lord Rawdon, commanding in South Carolina, of his apprehensions, least general Greene might direct his attention to the recovery of the lost states.

If, as I believe, a general is sure to act wisely when he takes the course most dreaded by his adversary, the late decision of general Greene was indubitably correct. For never was a leader more affected, than was Cornwallis, by the disclosure of his enemy’s object. Day after day did his lordship revolve in his mind the difficulties of his situation, seeking the most eligible course to diminish or to surmount them.[note 6]

Sometimes he determined to follow Greene into South Carolina, and to punish him for his temerity; at other times he would proceed to Virginia, and, by the rapidity of his success in that quarter, compel Greene to abandon his object, and hasten to its relief. At length he decided in favor of the latter measure; persuaded that Greene had gained so much time as would probably enable him to strike his first blow, in which, if he failed, his presence would not be requisite, and if he succeeded, his lordship’s approach might place his own army in extreme danger.

This reasoning was plausible, but not solid; for, by taking the route by Cheraw hill to Nelson’s ferry, he held himself safe, even had Greene succeeded against Rawdon—an event which, however practicable, was not to be effected under many weeks, unless fortune should indeed be extremely propitious to the American general.

Lee, in obedience to his orders, took the route towards Cross creek, which, it was inferred, would very much conceal his real object, by inducing the British general to believe that Greene proposed to place himself in his neighborhood.

After progressing in this course, as long as was compatible with its speedy union with Marion, the light corps turned to the right, and, by a very expeditious march, gained Drowning creek, a branch of Little Pedee. In a large field, on the southern side of this stream, Lee encamped for the night, when a very extraordinary occurrence took place, worthy, from its singularity, of relation.

Between two and three in the morning, the officer of the day was informed that a strange noise had been heard in front of the piquet, stationed on the great road near the creek, resembling that occasioned by men moving through a swamp.

Presently, and towards that quarter, the sentinel fired, which was followed by the sound of the bugle calling in the horse patroles, as was the custom on the approach of the enemy. The troops were immediately summoned to arms, and arrayed for defence. The officer of the day reported very particularly every thing which had passed, adding that several of the sentinels and one patrole concurred in asserting, that they heard plainly the progress of horsemen, concealing with the utmost care their advance. Never was a more perplexing moment: yet, knowing as lieutenant colonel Lee did, that no enemy could be near him, unless lord Cornwallis, devising Greene’s plan and Lee’s route, had pushed a body from Wilmington, with orders to proceed until it reached Drowning creek, where Lee would probably pass it, for the purpose of intercepting him, he was induced to consider the intelligence as the fabrication of imagination, which sometimes leads the most serene and circumspect into error.

In a few moments, in a different quarter of our position, another sentinel fired, and soon afterwards the same report, from that point, was made, as had just been received from the other. Appearances now were so strong as to dissipate the first conclusion, and what was deemed imaginary, was felt to be real.

A change in the formation of the troops was made to correspond with this last annunciation of the enemy’s approach.

This was not completed before, in a different direction, we heard the discharge of a third sentinel. Now the most excruciating sensations were experienced: it appeared as if these different feelings of our position were wisely and dexterously made, preparatory to a general assault, to take effect as soon as the approach of light should warrant its commencement. All that could be done, was done. The piquets and sentinels held their stations; the horse patroles had been called in; and the corps changed its position in silence and with precision upon every new annunciation, having in view the conjoint object of keeping the fires between us and the enemy, and holding the horse in the rear of the infantry. During our last evolution to this end, we were again interrupted by the discharge of the line of sentinels in our rear, along the great road. Thus the enemy had traversed the major segment of our position, and had at length fixed himself upon the road of our march.

No doubt now remained, not only of the enemy being upon us, but that he was in force, and well understood his object. He had reconnoitred with penetration and perseverance, and had ultimately placed himself in the very spot most certainly promising success.

To attempt to regain Deep river was idle, if practicable; for Greene must now be two or three day’s march towards Cambden, the intermediate country hostile, and the British army within striking distance of some points of our route. Marion only could afford safety; and he was on the south of the Pedee, at least two days’ march from us. The review of our situation admitted but one condusion,—that hope of aid could not be indulged, and that we must rely upon ourselves only. Brave soldiers can always be safely trusted with their situation. Lee, passing along the line of infantry, made known our condition: reminding them of their high reputation; enjoining profound silence throughout the approaching contest; and assuring them, with their customary support, he had no doubt but that he should force his way to the Pedee, where we should find all that was desirable. To the cavalry he briefly communicated the dangers which surrounded us, mingled with expressions of his thorough confidence that every man would do his duty, and concluded by pressing upon the officers not to permit any partial success to tempt pursuit, without orders, or to relax circumspection, but to bear in mind, that the contest before us was not the affair of an hour, but might last for days.

This address was answered by whispers of applause; and having formed in columns, one of horse, and the other of foot, Lee waited anxiously for the break of day, the presumed signal for action.

It soon appeared, and the columns advanced to the great road, infantry in front, baggage in the centre, and the cavalry in the rear. As soon as the head of the column reached the road, it turned to the left, pursuing the route to the Pedee. The van officer, proceeding a few hundred yards, now got up to the sentinel who had fired last, and received from him the same account so often given before. The enigma still remained unexplained, and the corps continued its march, in slow motion, expecting every moment the enemy’s fire. In this state of suspense we might have continued long, had not the van officer directed his attention to the road, for the purpose of examining the trail of our active foe, when, to his astonishment, he found the tracks of a large pack of wolves. It was now evident, that the presumed enemy was a troop of wild beasts, collected together, and anxious to pass along their usual route, when, finding it obstructed, they turned from point to point to pass through the field: every where fired upon, they continued widening their circuit until they reached the great road from which they had been originally turned. Our agitation vanished, and was succeeded by facetious glee. No where does wit and humor abound more than in camps; and no occurrence was more apt to elicit it than that which we had just experienced. Never was a day’s march more pleasant, being one continued scene of good humor, interspersed with innocent flashes of wit. For a time the restraint of discipline ceased. Every character, not excepting the commandant’s, was hit; and very salutary counsel was often imparted under cover of a joke. Each considered himself a dupe, and all laughing at a credulity, any attempt to remove which, during the scene, would have been treated as insulting temerity. The piquets, the patroles, the sentinels, and the officer of the day, were marked as the peculiar objects of derision. Wonderful that not one of the many could distinguish between the movement of wolves and soldiers! They were charged with disgraceful ignorance, shameful stupor, bordering close upon rank cowardice. Vain was the attempt of the abused individuals to defend their character and conduct: it was the interest of the many to fix the supposed stigma on the few, and the general verdict was against them. Reaching a settlement, the corps halted, and for a while the remembrance of the ludicrous occurrence of the night yielded to the solicitude of every one to provide his breakfast.

Here what had passed was imparted to the inhabitants, and the unintelligible adventure was very satisfactorily solved. We were informed that there had been in the field where the corps had encamped a store of provisions, collected for the army; but that it never had been conveyed to camp, being too distant from the line of march. Being neglected, its contents became putrid: the wild beasts soon profited by the neglect, and enjoyed nightly the food intended for the soldier. Having comprehended within our range of sentinels this abandoned store, we had interrupted their usual visits, and the circle which they nearly completed was from solicitude to find access to their nightly repast.

This was what had been termed “acute reconnoitring,” and “an enemy in force, well understanding his own views.”

Such is frail man, in war as well as in peace. Subject to be imposed upon by his own conceits, notwithstanding the remonstrances of reason, and his experience of the delusions of credulity. Yet, when we consider that the night was very dark, that the troops were waked from sleep to prepare for defence, and that it was possible, though improbable, for the British general to have been advised of the march of Lee, in time to strike him, our surprise at the alarm excited will vanish.

Having finished our repast, we resumed our march; and, after getting within a day’s distance of the Pedee, lieutenant colonel Lee despatched an officer, with a small party of dragoons, to discover in what part of his extensive range brigadier Marion then was. The officer, on reaching the river, learnt that the brigadier, when heard from, not many days before, was in the swamps of Black river. This was his general quarters when he found it necessary to retire from active service. It not only afforded safety, but, there being several fertile plantations in one settlement, he was well supplied with provisions and forage. Marion received with joy Lee’s officer, and furnished boats, which he kept concealed on the Pedee, for the transportation of the corps across that river. On the 8th of March, Lee joined the general.

These military friends had not before met since their wiredrawn expedition against Georgetown, and very cordially rejoiced at being again united in the great attempt of wresting South Carolina from the enemy. The letter from the general, inclosing his plan of operations, was delivered to the brigadier, and the references to lieutenant colonel Lee fully explained. The evening was devoted to repose, and on the next day the two corps quitted the dark and favorite recess, for the execution of the trust confided to them by general Greene. During their separation many had been the vicissitudes produced by the fickleness of fortune. Now blazoning with glory, then shading with disaster the American standard. From the battle of Guilford, the long wished reannexation of South Carolina and Georgia to the Union became the avowed as it had before been the meditated object of the American general. Emboldened by the effect of that well fought day, he no longer veiled in the mysteries of war his object, but openly disclosed the end to which all his toils and perils pointed. North Carolina became encouraged, by finding that her safety was not now considered precarious, and that the contest turned, not upon her defence, but upon the expulsion of the common enemy from her southern neighbors. The etherial spirit which had animated Marion, Sumpter, and Pickens, and year after year had sustained, through their example and efforts, the unequal conflict, had been long subsiding. Enthusiasm is short-lived; and is soon succeeded by apathy, which deadens vigorous exertion as fully as the former promotes it.

In this state of dejection was the country when Greene entered South Carolina. Lord Rawdon, well apprized of the feelings of the people, adopted measures to give a finishing blow to further resistance. Beginning with the eastern quarter of the state, where opposition was still sustained by Marion, Rawdon detached lieutenant colonel Watson, with five hundred infantry, towards Nelson’s ferry, for the purpose of forcing Marion to submission, or to flight into North Carolina. Watson was sent from Cambden soon after Cornwallis had communicated to the commandant there the victory obtained at Guilford Court-house; and having established a post on the Santee, some miles above Nelson’s ferry, which he fortified, and where he deposited the baggage of his corps, he continued his march towards Georgetown; vainly endeavoring to induce Marion, with his inferior force, to advance from his impenetrable recess, in order to defend the country; and was, as Marion believed, taking measures with a view of entering into the swamps and driving him across the Pedee,—an enterprise much desired by him, and to meet which he was fully prepared,—when the approach of the corps of Lee was announced.

Active operations now became practicable, and on the evening of the 15th, Marion and Lee took a position in the open country, with Watson to their left, considerably below them, and on the route for the fort called by his name, which he had erected.

Determined to carry this post without delay, Marion and Lee sat down before it early in the evening; not doubting, from the information received, that the garrison must soon be compelled to surrender, for want of water, with which it was supplied from an adjacent lake, and from which the garrison might be readily and effectually secluded. In a very few hours the customary mode of supplying the post with water was completely stopped; and had the information received been correct, a surrender of the garrison could not have been long delayed. The ground selected by colonel Watson for his small stockade, was an Indian mount, generally conceived to be the cemetery of the tribe inhabiting the circumjacent region: it was at least thirty feet high, and surrounded by table land. Captain M’Koy, the commandant, saw at once his inevitable fate, unless he could devise some other mode of procuring water, for which purpose he immediately cut a trench from his fosse (secured by abbatis) to the river, which passed close to the Indian mount. Baffled in their expectation, and destitute both of artillery and intrenching tools, Marion and Lee despaired of success; when major Mayham, of South Carolina, accompanying the brigadier, suggested a plan, which was not sooner communicated than gratefully adopted. He proposed to cut down a number of suitable trees in the nearest wood, and with them to erect a large strong oblong pen, to be covered on the top with a floor of logs, and protected on the side opposite to the fort with a breastwork of light timber. To the adjacent farms dragoons were despatched for axes, the only necessary tool, of which a sufficient number being soon collected, relays of working parties were allotted for the labor; some to cut, some to convey, and some to erect. Major Mayham undertook the execution of his plan, which was completely finished before the morning of the 23d, effective as to the object, and honorable to the genius of the inventor. The besieged was, like the besieger, unprovided with artillery, and could not interrupt the progress of a work, the completion of which must produce immediate submission.

A party of riflemen, being ready, took post in the Mayham tower the moment it was completed; and a detachment of musketry, under cover of the riflemen, moved to make a lodgment in the enemy’s ditch, supported by the legion infantry with fixed bayonets. Such was the effect of the fire from the riflemen, having thorough command of every part of the fort, from the relative supereminence of the tower, that every attempt to resist the lodgment was crushed. The commandant, finding every resource cut off, hung out the white flag. It was followed by a proposal to surrender, which issued in a capitulation. This incipient operation having been happily effected by the novel and effectual device of major Mayham, to whom the commandants very gratefully expressed their acknowledgment, Marion and Lee, preceded by the legion cavalry under major Rudolph, who had been detached on the day subsequent to the investiture of the fort, turned their attention to lieutenant colonel Watson, now advancing from below to relieve his garrison. Knowing that the fall of Cambden was closely connected with the destruction of Watson, the American commandants viewed with delight his approach; and having disposed of the prisoners, moved to join the cavalry, now retiring in front of the enemy.

General Greene broke up from Ramsay’s mills on the 7th of April, the day after he had detached Lee to join Marion; and determined to approach Cambden with a celerity which would preclude the British general from being apprized of his movement until the appearance of his army announced it. In this expectation, notwithstanding his pressing endeavors, he was disappointed. The country through which he necessarily marched was barren, its settlements few, the produce of the soil scanty, and the inhabitants disaffected.

Being obliged to depend upon himself for subsistence, always difficult to be procured from the inadequacy of the annual products, and rendered more so by the secretion of part of the little made, (from hostility to the American cause, or from the natural and powerful claim of securing sustenance at home) general Greene did not reach the neighborhood of Cambden until the nineteenth.

By the last return made before the American army decamped from Ramsay’s mills, the regular force of every sort under Greene, may be put down at one thousand eight hundred effectives.

Deducting the corps under Lee, about three hundred horse and foot, the army, when arrived before Cambden, exclusive of a small body of North Carolina militia, cannot be estimated at more than one thousand five hundred. Here the American general confidently expected to be joined by brigadier Sumpter, in consequence of his instructions to that officer previous to his movement from Deep river; with whose aid, and the co-operation of Marion and Lee below, Greene very justly concluded that the evacuation of Cambden was certain, and the destruction of Rawdon and his army probable. Brigadier Sumpter held off, much to the surprise, regret and dissatisfaction of the American general, and very much to the detriment of his plans and measures. Happily this disappointment was balanced by the accidental absence of a large portion of the garrison of Cambden, under lieutenant colonel Watson; who, as before mentioned, was low down in the eastern quarter of the state.

General Greene not having adequate force to invest Cambden, placed himself before it; not doubting that, by depriving the garrison of its usual supplies from the country, he should compel the British general to withdraw; when he flattered himself opportunities would occur for his striking him in detail, until reinforced by the junction of Marion, Lee, and Sumpter; after which he might fall upon his retreating enemy, with well grounded expectation of decisive success.

Severed as Watson was from Cambden, Rawdon’s effective force was not more than nine hundred men; nor was there any possibility of adding to this force but by the safe return of lieutenant colonel Watson, to whom lord Rawdon despatched a courier as soon as he was informed of general Greene’s approach, communicating that event, and requiring his immediate junction. Informed of the union of the corps under Marion and Lee, and of their advance upon Fort Watson, with the situation of Watson, then returning towards Cambden on the north side of the Santee, Greene determined to change his position from the north to the east side of Cambden; by which movement he could readily bring to him Marion and Lee, if circumstances should demand it, and more effectually withhold the expected succor, should lieutenant colonel Watson force or elude the corps below.

This change of position could not be effected without passing Sandhill creek, with its deep and difficult swamps, impracticable with artillery and baggage, or making an extensive circuit, alike forbidden by the posture of affairs and the want of time. To surmount the obstacles opposed to his plan, the American general determined to relieve himself from every incumbrance, and by a rapid movement on the direct route through the swamps, to gain his desired position on the road leading from Cambden to Nelson’s ferry. With this view he placed in charge of the quartermaster general, lieutenant colonel Carrington, his baggage and artillery; directing that officer to retire to the strong country north of Lynch’s creek, putting himself with his small detachment safe from any practicable attempt to break him up. This being done, general Greene assumed his desired position on the east of Cambden; where his communication with Marion and Lee being direct, he soon was informed of their condition, and the situation of Watson.

With pleasure he heard that the operations against Fort Watson were advancing to a close, with the prospect of certain success; and that not only the legion cavalry had been detached to attend the movements of lieutenant colonel Watson, but that a strong pass on the route of the British officer had been occupied with a detachment of infantry, to which place the whole corps would hasten, the moment the garrison of Fort Watson submitted; an event which was soon expected to happen. Finding that the approach of Watson could not speedily take place, if at all; and not doubting but that by this time brigadier Sumpter must be in the vicinity of Cambden; Greene relinquished his position lately taken, and returned to the north side of the town. The moment this resolution was adopted, the general despatched orders to lieutenant colonel Carrington, to rejoin him with celerity. Within a small distance of Cambden, on the Waxhaw’s road, is Hobkick’s hill, the position selected by general Greene after repassing Sandhill creek; not only from its being on the route prescribed for the rejunction of Carrington, and most convenient to the union with Sumpter, but because the ground gave advantages in case of battle; which, though not presumed upon, was nevertheless always to be kept in view. Regarding this consideration, the American army decamped in order of battle.

The regulars composed one line, with their centre on the road; the militia, amounting to two hundred and fifty, with the cavalry, formed the reserve, in a suitable distance in the rear. Strong piquets were posted in front, aided by the customary patroles ranging in front and on the flanks. Thus prepared for whatever might happen, the American army lay waiting for the expected return of Carrington, and the much desired junction of Sumpter.

On the 24th, Greene was officially informed of the surrender of Fort Watson; and in the course of the day, the prisoners reached headquarters. Among them were a few American soldiers, who had been taken, as they represented, and who had enlisted with the enemy as affording the best chance in their judgment for escape to their friends. These men were cheerfully received into the regiments to which they belonged. One of them, a drummer in the Maryland line, availed himself of the confidence with which the whole had been treated, and in the course of the night deserted. Being intelligent, he communicated to lord Rawdon the position of Greene with accuracy; and informed his lordship, that as yet the detachment under lieutenant colonel Carrington, with the artillery, &c. had not joined, nor had Greene been reinforced by Sumpter, or any other corps.

Already straitened for provisions, and despairing of succor, this enterprising young soldier resolved to risk battle at once; confident that every day would probably strengthen his adversary, and consequently diminish his chance of victory, (without which not only the evacuation of Cambden must ensue, but with it might follow the destruction of his army) and hoping that he would find Greene destitute of artillery, conformably to the information just derived from the drummer. Giving orders for his troops to make ready, and placing Cambden in charge of the convalescents, he advanced at nine in the morning of the 25th, with his total, (nine hundred only, of every description.) Avoiding the direct approach to his enemy, he took a circuitous course to his right, along the margin of the swamp which lines Pine-tree creek, and winds with its meanders.

The position of Greene was on a ridge covered with uninterrupted wood, the Waxhaw’s road running directly through it; his army resting with its left upon the swamp of Pine-tree creek, where the ridge or eminence was easiest of ascent, and extending on the right to woods uncovered by water courses or any other obstructions. In this quarter the American position was easiest assailed, but the probability of an undiscovered approach was not so encouraging. Therefore did Rawdon prefer the route to our left; inasmuch as an unexpected assault upon our camp was a leading feature in his plan.

In the morning Carrington joined, with a comfortable supply of provisions, which had been rather scarce during the late hurried changes of position. These were issued, and of course engaged a portion of the troops; while the residue were employed along the rivulets in washing their clothes, an occupation which had been for some days past impracticable.

We being absorbed in these employments, the period was very propitious to the enemy’s object. His advance was never discovered until his van fell upon our piquets. The two in front, commanded by captain Benson of Maryland and captain Morgan of Virginia, received him handsomely; and, retiring in order, disputed bravely every inch of ground, supported by Kirkwood with the remains of the Delaware regiment. This rencontre gave the first announcement of the contest at hand. Disposed, as has been before observed, for battle by the order of encampment, the American army, notwithstanding its short notice, was quickly ranged for action,—an event, although unexpected, of all others the most desirable; because, in all probability, the readiest to the production of that issue so anxiously coveted by the American general.

During the contest with the piquets Greene formed his army. The Virginia brigade with general Huger at its head, having under him the lieutenant colonels Campbell and Hawes, took the right; the Maryland brigade, led by colonel Williams, seconded by colonel Gunby and the lieutenant colonels Ford and Howard, occupied the left. Thus all the continentals, consisting of four regiments, much reduced in strength, were disposed in one line, wifh the artillery, conducted by colonel Harrison, in the centre. The reserve consisted of the cavalry, under lieutenant colonel Washington, with a corps of North Carolina militia, about two hundred and fifty, commanded by colonel Reade.

The British general, pushing before him the piquets and Kirkwood, pressed forward to battle. The king’s American regiment on the right, the New York volunteers in the centre, and the sixty-third on the left, formed the line of battle. His right wing was supported by Robertson’s corps, and his left by the volunteers of Ireland. The reserve consisted of the South Carolina regiment, with a few dragoons, all the cavalry then at Cambden.

Greene, examining attentively the British disposition, discovered the very narrow front which it presented; and, gratified as he was with the opportunity, so unexpectedly offered, of completing, by one blow, his first object, he determined to avail himself of the advantage given by the mode of attack.

He directed the lieutenant colonels Campbell and Ford to turn the enemy’s flanks; he ordered the centre regiments to advance with fixed bayonets upon him ascending the height; and detached lieutenant colonel Washington with his cavalry to gain his rear. Rawdon no sooner cast his eyes on our disposition than he perceived the danger to which his unequal front exposed him, and, bringing up the volunteers of Ireland into line, he remedied the defect seized by Greene in time to avert the expected consequence.

The battle opened from right to left with a vigor which promised a keen and sanguinary contest; but the superiority of our fire, augmented by that from our well served artillery, must have borne down all opposition, had the American line maintained itself with becoming firmness. On the right Huger evidently gained ground; Washington was carrying every thing before him in the rear; and lieutenant colonel Hawes, with fixed bayonets, conformable to order, was descending the hill ready to fall upon the New York volunteers.

In this flattering moment the veteran regiment of Gunby, having first joined in the fire, in violation of orders, paused, its right falling back. Gunby unfortunately directed the disordered battalion to rally by retiring to its right company.[note 7] Retrograde being the consequence of this order, the British line, giving a shout, pressed forward with redoubled ardor; and the regiment of Gunby, considered as the bulwark of the army, never recovered from the panic with which it was unaccountably seized. The Virginia brigade, and the Second regiment of Maryland, with the artillery, notwithstanding the shameful abandonment by the First Maryland, maintained the contest bravely. Williams with Gunby, assisted by lieutenant colonel Howard, who had so often and so gloriously borne down with this very regiment all opposition, vainly exerted themselves to bring it to order. Not the menaces of the one, not the expostulations of the other, not the exhortations of the third, nor the recollection of its pristine fame, could arouse its cowering spirit.

The Second Maryland, which had from the commencement of the action acted with gallantry, feeling severely the effect produced by the recession of the First, became somewhat deranged; and lieutenant colonel Ford being unluckily wounded, while endeavoring to repress the beginning disorder, this corps also fell back. Rawdon’s right now gained the summit of the eminence, flanking Hawes’ regiment, which had undeviatingly held its prescribed course, although early in the action abandoned on its left by the First Maryland, and now but feebly sustained on its right by the First Virginia,—for this corps had now begun to recede, notwithstanding its preceding success. Greene recalled Hawes, our only unbroken regiment; and, finding every effort to reinstate the battle illusory, conscious that his reserve was not calculated to face the veteran foe, wisely determined to diminish the ills of the sad and unaccountable reverse, by retiring from the field. Orders were given to this effect, and lieutenant colonel Hawes was commanded to cover the broken line.

The retreat was performed without loss, although the enemy coritinued to pursue for a few miles. Washington with his cavalry retiring from the rear the moment he discovered that our infantry had been forced, came in time to contribute greatly to the safety of the army, having necessarily relinquished most of the fruits of his success. Checking the enemy’s efforts to disturb our rear,[note 8] he at length, by a rapid charge, effectually discomfited the British van, and put a stop to further pursuit. General Greene having passed Saunders’ creek, about four miles from the field of battle, encamped for the night, and on the next day proceeded to Rudgely’s mill.

The loss sustained by the respective armies was nearly equal. On the side of America two hundred and sixty-eight were killed, wounded, and missing; on the side of the enemy two hundred and fifty-eight, including the prisoners brought off by lieutenant colonel Washington, and those paroled by him on the ground. The British lost no officer of distinction, which was not the case with us. The wound of lieutenant colonel Ford proved mortal, and captain Beatty, of the First Maryland, was killed, than whom the army did not possess an officer of more promise.

No military event had occurred in the course of the war, whose issue was so inexplicable as that of the late engagement. The daring attempt of the enemy was readily accounted for, and exhibits in the most convincing manner the wisdom of the movement into South Carolina. Without risk or loss, the American general, although disappointed in the aid of brigadier Sumpter, had in six days placed his adversary in a situation so dangerous as to compel him to resort to the measure of all others the most desired by his enemy. Greatly inferior in infantry, more so in cavalry, and destitute of artillery, the British general, aware of the inevitable consequence of holding himself shut up in Cambden, took the bold resolution of attacking his antagonist, notwithstanding his many advantages, considerably augmented by the convenience of a position selected with the view and from the hope that the critical condition of Rawdon would force him to hazard assault. Lord Rawdon certainly chose the most propitious moment for his gallant attempt, and as certainly conducted it in the most martial manner. Yet he would have been inevitably destroyed had the troops of Greene executed his orders with common resolution. The satisfaction enjoyed by the American general, on discerning the enemy advancing upon him, was not confined to himself, but prevailed throughout the army, and afforded no inconsiderable pledge that, upon this occasion, every man would do his duty. So decisive was the confidence which actuated the general, that he held all his continental infantry in one body, never doubting their sufficiency to insure success; and, with the same impression, on his first view of his enemy, he gave orders for striking him in front, in rear, and on both flanks: thus conveying to his troops his conviction that victory was certain, as well as his determination that it should be complete.

Sad and immediate was Greene’s disappointment. The first regiment of Maryland, as has been mentioned, deservedly held up to the army as its model, and which upon all preceding occasions behaved well,[note 9] now shrunk from the conflict, abandoning their general, their country, and their comrades: this too in defiance of the efforts and example of Williams, Gunby, and Howard, all dear to the troops, and when, the British line, so far from having gained any advantage, was beginning to stagger under the combined operation fast bearing upon it. It is true that captain Beatty, commanding the company on the right, fell at this moment; and it is also true that colonel Gunby, with a view of bringing the regiment to range with its colors, ordered it to fall back to the right company; but Morgan had given the same order, at the Cowpens, to the corps of Howard, which was not only executed with promptitude, but was followed by its decisive advance, and consequent signal success.

Relinquishing an investigation which does not promise a satisfactory solution, I cannot but observe that the battle of Hobkicks adds to the many evidences with which military history abounds of the deranging effects of unlimited confidence. It is the only instance in Greene’s command, where this general implicitly yielded to its delusive counsel, and he suffered deeply in consequence of it; for had he for a moment doubted the certainty of success, the cavalry would not have been detached in the rear until the issue of the battle had began to unfold.

Nor is it risking too much to suggest the probability that, had the horse been still in reserve, not only would the forward movement of the enemy, which followed the recession of the first regiment of Maryland, been delayed, but that regiment would have been restored to order, and the battle renewed with every reason still to conclude that its event would have been auspicious to America. The maxim in war, that your enemy is ever to be dreaded until at your feet, ought to be held inviolate; nor should a commander permit the gratifying seductions of brilliant prospects to turn him from the course which this maxim enjoins.

Honorable as was this victory to the British general and to the British arms, it yielded not one solitary benefit. The loss sustained being proportionate, the relative strength of the combatants was unchanged; and lord Rawdon experiencing his inadequacy to improve success after gaining it, reluctantly relinquished his offensive plan of operations, and returned to Cambden, in the expectation of lieutenant colonel Watson’s arrival before the American general would feel himself in strength and spirits to renew his investment.

General Greene, heretofore soured by the failure in his expected succor from Sumpter, now deeply chagrined by the inglorious behaviour of his favorite regiment—converting his splendid prospects into a renewal of toil and difficulty, of doubt and disgrace—became for a while discontented with his advance to the south. He sent orders to lieutenant colonel Lee, requiring him to join the army forthwith; and indicated by other measures a disposition to depart from his adopted system.

As soon as the capitulation for the surrender of fort Watson was signed, Lee followed by his infantry hastened to the cavalry, still in the front of Watson; and on the subsequent morning was joined by brigadier Marion, who had been necessarily delayed until the prisoners and stores were disposed of. The British lieutenant colonel, seeing that the passes on his route were occupied, and knowing that the advantages possessed by his enemy would be strenuously maintained, relinquished his project of gaining Cambden on the direct route, and determined, by passing the Santee, to interpose it between himself and the corps opposed to him; presuming that he might with facility make his way good to Cambden, by recrossing the Santee above; or, by taking the route by fort Motte, pass first the Congaree, and then the Wateree, which unite some small distance below the post at Motte’s.

Drawing off in the night, he placed himself at a considerable distance from his enemy before his change of plan was discovered. Nevertheless he would have been pursued, with the expectation of falling upon him before he could make good his passage of the river, had not the general’s orders directing the junction of the corps under Lee arrived, which necessarily arrested the proposed attempt upon Watson. With all possible despatch lieutenant colonel Lee set out for the army; and, in the course of the day and a small part of the night, marched thirty-two miles.

Sorely as Greene felt the severe disappointment lately experienced, he did not long permit his accustomed equanimity to be disturbed; nor could his strong mind long entertain suggestions growing out of adverse fortune. Persuaded that his movement upon South Carolina was, under all the circumstances of his situation, the most promising of good to his country, he determined to adhere to his plan of operations with firmness, and to obliterate his late repulse by subsequent success. Fixed in this resolution, he despatched an officer to meet Lee, countermanding his orders, followed by captain Finley of the artillery. with a six pounder, detached by general Greene to Marion and Lee, in consequence of representations from those officers soliciting this aid.

As soon as Finley joined, Lee returned to Marion, who had approached the vicinity of the confluence of the Congaree and Wateree, waiting for Watson’s advance. The despatch from general Greene contained directions to proceed in the execution of his original orders, taking care by every practicable exertion to repel Watson’s attempt to throw himself into Cambden; and communicated the general’s decision to pass the Wateree with the army, for the purpose of intercepting lieutenant colonel Watson, should he select that route to Cambden. In conformity with this decision, Greene broke up from Rudgely’s mill, and, passing the Wateree above Cambden, sat down in a strong position near to Cambden; which deprived the British garrison of its usual supplies in this quarter as effectually as it debarred Watson’s approach to Cambden on the southern route.

Rawdon now demonstrated by his conduct that his late victory, though brilliant, produced no support or benefit to him; as he was compelled to a painful inactivity in the face of his enemy, who but a few days before had retired from before him. The accession of the corps under Watson only could save him; and this accession he saw completely prevented, on the most eligible route, by his adversary,—he saw it without being able to take a single step in counteraction or in furtherance of the desired aid.

Marion and Lee lost not a moment after their union in taking measures to execute the command of their general, well apprized of the vast importance attached to the interception of Watson. The militia general, being perfectly acquainted with the country, guided the measures adopted. He well knew that, although general Greene’s position would stop the lieutenant colonel on the usual route from Motte’s post to Cambden, it would not stop him from passing the Wateree at or below the high hills of Santee; and that lieutenant colonel Watson, to avoid the corps destined to strike him, would probably, notwithstanding the judicious position taken by Greene, pass the Congaree at Motte’s, and afterwards pass the Wateree below the high hills. If Watson should not deem it eligible to pass the Congaree, but one way was left for him, and that was to recross the Santee at the confluence of the two rivers just mentioned. Whether to sit down on the north side of the Santee, prepared to fall upon the British lieutenant colonel in the act of passing the river, or to cross it and strike at him on the southern banks, was the alternative presented to the American commandants. Well informed of every step taken by Watson after he reached the southern side of the Santee, no doubt remained but that he would pass either the Congaree or the Santee on the ensuing morning. It was now decided to cross to his side of the river, from a conviction that we should reach him on its southern banks, which ever course of the two before him he might select. The indefatigable Marion, seconded by his zealous associates, forseeing the probable necessity of a quick passage over the Santee, had provided the means of transportation, which was effected in the course of the night, and, with the dawn of day, the troops moved with celerity up the Santee. It was now ascertained that lieutenant colonel Watson had taken the route leading over that river where its two branches unite—the very spot which had so forcibly attracted the attention of Marion and Lee, and would have been selected by them, had it not been apprehended that the British lieutenant colonel might have preferred the route across the Congaree.

Had these two officers confined their attention entirely to the north side of the river, the much desired interception would have been effected: for with horse, foot, and artillery, it was not to be expected that a corps of infantry only could have made good its landing in the face of an equal foe, and secured its arrival into Cambden.

Mortified with the result of their unceasing exertions, the deranging information was immediately forwarded to general Greene, and the disappointed commandants moved upon fort Motte.

Persuaded that lord Rawdon would resume offensive operations the moment Watson joined him, Greene withdrew from the vicinity of Cambden, and took a more distant position in the high grounds behind Sawney’s creek. On the 7th of May the long expected succor reached Cambden; and on the next day the British general put his army in motion, passed the Wateree at the ferry below Cambden, and advanced to attack Greene. On his way he was informed of the American general’s decampment, and proceeded towards Sawney’s creek, still determined to execute his object.

The two armies were nearly equal, about twelve hundred each. The advantage in number and quality of infantry was on the side of Rawdon, while Greene continued to hold his superiority in cavalry Convinced that the British general would press battle, and anxious to restore the humbled spirit of his troops, general Greene broke np from his position, and retired to Colonel’s creek, leaving Washington with his cavalry and some infantry on the ground to cover his retreat. Rawdon, examining critically his adversary’s situation, and perceiving his well prepared condition, did not deem it advisable to carry into effect his projected enterprize, but withdrew about the time that Greene commenced retreat, and returned to Cambden. Thus it happened that both armies retired at the same moment from each other. Convinced that he could not force the American general from his neighborhood, and persuaded that the breaking up of the intermediate posts between him and Charleston would not only endanger his army, but must complete that spirit of revolt which had begun to manifest itself on the entrance of the American army into the state, his lordship wisely decided to give up Cambden, and, with it, all the country north of the Congaree. Preparing for retreat, he sent orders to lieutenant colonel Cruger to abandon Ninety-Six and to join Brown at Augusta, and directed major Maxwell, commanding at fort Granby, to fall back upon Orangeburgh.

This arrangement was indubitably the best practicable; and, duly maintained, would have preserved all the country south of the Congaree and west of the Santee. But so completely had the American general taken his measures to prevent all communication with lord Rawdon, that none of his despatches reached their destination.

On the 10th the evacuation of Cambden took place, and the British general proceeded to Nelson’s ferry with the expectation of crossing the Santee in time to dislodge Marion and Lee, still prosecuting the siege of fort Motte. Previous to his lordship’s departure he burnt the jail, the mills, and some private houses, and destroyed all the stores which he could not take with him. He carried off four or five hundred negroes, and all the most obnoxious loyalists accompanied him.

As soon as Greene was informed of the retreat of the enemy, persuaded that Rawdon’s first effort would be directed to relieve fort Motte, he advanced towards the Congaree, determined to pass that river, if necessary, and to cover the operations of the besieging corps.

This post was the principal depot of the convoys from Charleston to Cambden, and sometimes of those destined for fort Granby and Ninety-Six. A large new mansion house, belonging to Mrs. Motte, situated on a high and commandhig hill, had been selected for this establishment. It was surrounded with a deep trench, along the interior margin of which was raised a strong and lofty parapet. To this post had been regularly assigned an adequate garrison of about one hundred and fifty men, which was now accidentally increased by a small detachment of dragoons,—which had arrived from Charleston, a few hours before the appearance of the American troops, on its way to Cambden with despatches for lord Rawdon. Captain M’Pherson commanded, an officer highly and deservedly respected.

Opposite to fort Motte, to the north, stood another hill, where Mrs. Motte, having been dismissed from her mansion, resided, in the old farmhouse. On this height lieutenant colonel Lee with his corps took post, while brigadier Marion occupied the eastern declivity of the ridge on which the fort stood.

Very soon the fort was completely invested; and the six pounder was mounted on a battery erected in Marion’s quarter for the purpose of raking the northern face of the enemy’s parapet, against which Lee was preparing to advance. M’Pherson was unprovided with artillery, and depended for safety upon timely relief, not doubting its arrival before the assailant could push his preparations to maturity.

The vale which runs between the two hills admitted our safe approach within four hundred yards of the fort. This place was selected by Lee to break ground. Relays of working parties being provided for every four hours, and some of the negroes from the neighboring plantations being brought, by the influence of Marion, to our assistance, the works advanced with rapidity. Such was their forwardness on the 10th, that it was determined to summon the commandant.

A flag was accordingly despatched to captain M’Pherson, stating to him with truth our relative situation, expressing with decision the fate which awaited him, and admonishing him to avoid the disagreeable consequences of an arrogant temerity. To this the captain replied, that, disregarding consequences, he should continue to resist to the last moment in his power. The retreat of Rawdon was known in the evening to the beseigers; and in the course of the night a courier arrived from general Greene confirming that event, urging redoubled activity, and communicating his determination to hasten to their support. Urged by these strong considerations, Marion and Lee persevered throughout the night in pressing the completion of their works. On the next day, Rawdon reached the country opposite to fort Motte; and in the succeeding night encamping on the highest ground in his route, the illumination of his fires gave the joyful annunciation of his approach to the despairing garrison. But the hour was close at hand, when this fallacious joy was to be converted into sadness.

The large mansion in the centre of the encircling trench, left but a few yards of the ground within the enemy’s works uncovered: burning the house must force their surrender.

Persuaded that our ditch would be within arrow shot before noon of the next day, Marion and Lee determined to adopt this speedy mode of effecting their object. Orders were instantly issued to prepare bows and arrows, with missive combustible matter. This measure was reluctantly adopted; for the destruction of private property was repugnant to the principles which swayed the two commandants, and upon this occasion was peculiarly distressing. The devoted house was a large pleasant edifice, intended for the summer residence of the respectable owner, whose deceased husband had been a firm friend to his oppressed country, and whose only marriageable daughter was the wife of major Pinckney, an officer in the South Carolina line, who had fought and bled in his country’s cause, and was now a prisoner with the enemy. These considerations powerfully forbade the execution of the proposed measure; but there were others of much cogency, which applied personally to lieutenant colonel Lee, and gave a new edge to the bitterness of the scene.

Encamping contiguous to Mrs. Motte’s dwelling, this officer had, upon his arrival, been requested in the most pressing terms to make her house his quarters. The invitation was accordingly accepted; and not only the lieutenant colonel, but every officer of his corps, off duty, daily experienced her liberal hospitality, politely proffered and as politely administered. Nor was the attention of this amiable lady confined to that class of war which never fail to attract attention. While her richly spread table presented with taste and fashion all the luxuries of her opulent country, and her sideboard offered without reserve the best wines of Europe,—antiquated relics of happier days,—her active benevolence found its way to the sick and to the wounded; cherishing with softest kindness infirmity and misfortune, converting despair into hope, and nursing debility into strength. Nevertheless the imperative obligations of duty must be obeyed; the house must burn; and a respectful communication to the lady of her destined loss must be made. Taking the first opportunity which offered, the next morning, lieutenant colonel Lee imparted to Mrs. Motte the intended measure; lamenting the sad necessity, and assuring her of the deep regret which the unavoidable act excited in his and every breast.

With the smile of complacency this exemplary lady listened to the embarrassed officer, and gave instant relief to his agitated feelings, by declaring, that she was gratified with the opportunity of contributing to the good of her country, and that she should view the approaching scene with delight. Shortly after, seeing accidentally the bow and arrows which had been prepared, she sent for the lieutenant colonel, and presenting him with a bow and its apparatus imported from India, she requested his substitution of these, as probably better adapted for the object than those we had provided.

Receiving with silent delight this opportune present, the lieutenant colonel rejoined his troops, now making ready for the concluding scene. The lines were manned, and an additional force stationed at the battery, least the enemy, perceiving his fate, might determine to risk a desperate assault, as offering the only chance of relief. As soon as the troops reached their several points, a flag was again sent to M’Pherson, for the purpose of inducing him to prevent the conflagration and the slaughter which might ensue, by a second representation of his actual condition.

Doctor Irwin, of the legion cavalry, was charged with the flag, and instructed to communicate faithfully the inevitable destruction impending, and the impracticability of relief, as lord Rawdon had not yet passed the Santee; with an assurance that longer perseverance in vain resistance, would place the garrison at the mercy of the conqueror; who was not regardless of the policy of preventing the waste of time, by inflicting exemplary punishment, where resistance was maintained only to produce such waste. The British captain received the flag with his usual politeness, and heard patiently Irvin’s explanations; but he remained immovable; repeating his determination of holding out to the last.

It was now about noon, and the rays of the scorching sun had prepared the shingle roof for the projected conflagration. The return of Irvin was immediately followed by the application of the bow and arrows. The first arrow struck, and communicated its fire; a second was shot at another quarter of the roof, and a third at a third quarter; this last also took effect, and, like the first, soon kindled a blaze. M’Pherson ordered a party to repair to the loft of the house, and by knocking off the shingles to stop the flames. This was soon perceived, and captain Finley was directed to open his battery, raking the loft from end to end.

The fire of our six pounder, posted close to one of the gable ends of the house, soon drove the soldiers down; and no other effort to stop the flames being practicable, M’Pherson hung out the white flag. Mercy was extended, although policy commanded death, and the obstinacy of M’Pherson warranted it. The commandant, with the regulars, of which the garrison was chiefly composed, were taken possession of by Lee; while the loyalists were delivered to Marion. Among the latter was a Mr. Smith, who had been charged with burning the houses of his neighbors friendly to their country. This man consequently became very obnoxious, and his punishment was loudly demanded by many of the militia serving under the brigadier; but the humanity of Marion could not be overcome. Smith was secured from his surrounding enemies, ready to devote him, and taken under the general’s protection.

M’Pherson was charged with having subjected himself to punishment, by his idle waste of his antagonists’ time; and reminded as well of the opportunities which had been presented to him of saving himself and garrison from unconditional submission, as of the cogent considerations, growing out of the posture of affairs, which urged the prevention of fature useless resistance by present exemplary punishment. The British officer frankly acknowledged his dependent situation, and declared his readiness to meet any consequence which the discharge of duty, conformably to his own conviction of right, might produce. Powerfully as the present occasion called for punishment, and rightfully as it might have been inflicted, not a drop of blood was shed, nor any part of the enemy’s baggage taken. M’Pherson and his officers accompanied their captors to Mrs. Motte’s, and partook with them in a sumptuous dinner;[note 10] soothing in the sweets of social intercourse the ire which the preceding conflict had engendered. Requesting to be permitted to return to Charleston, on parole, they were accordingly paroled and sent off in the evening to lord Rawdon, now engaged in passing the Santee at Nelson’s ferry. Soon after, general Greene, anxious for the success of his detachment against fort Motte, attended by an escort of cavalry, reached us, for the purpose of knowing precisely our situation, and the progress of the British general, who he expected would hasten to the relief of M’Pherson, as soon as he should gain the southern banks of the Santee; to counteract which the American general had resolved, and was then engaged in preparing boats, to transport his army over the Congaree. Finding the siege prosperously concluded, he returned to camp; having directed Marion, after placing the prisoners in security, to proceed against Georgetown, and ordering Lee to advance without delay upon fort Granby, to which place the American army would now move. As soon as the troops had finished their repast, Lee sat out with his detachment, composed of horse, foot, and artillery; and marching without intermission, he approached the neighborhood of fort Granby before the dawn of the second day. Brigadier Sumpter, having recovered of his wound, as soon as he received Greene’s despatch from Ramsay’s mill, assembled his corps of militia. For reasons not understood by the author, the brigadier, instead of joining
Greene before Cambden, directed his attention to the fort of Ninety-Six and its upper communications with Charleston, fort Granby and Orangeburgh. He had moved from before fort Granby, but a few days before Lee’s arrival, for the purpose of forcing the small post at Orangeburgh, which he accomplished on the 14th.

Fort Granby was erected on a plain, which extended to the southern banks of the Congaree, near Friday’s ferry. Protected on one side by that river, it was accessible in every other quarter with facility; but being completely finished, with parapet encircled by fosse and abbatis, and being well garrisoned, it could not have been carried without considerable loss, except by regular approaches; and in this way would have employed the whole force of Greene for a week at least, in which period lord Rawdon’s interposition was practicable. Lieutenant colonel Lee, apprized of the readiness with which the British general might attempt its relief, determined to press to conclusion his operations with all possible celerity, having detached, before he left Motte’s, captain Armstrong, with one troop of cavalry, to attend to the movements of lord Rawdon.

As soon, therefore, as he reached the neighborhood of the fort, relying upon the information of his guides, he began to erect a battery in the margin of the woods to the west of the fort. The morning was uncommonly foggy, which fortunate circumstance gave time to finish the battery before it was perceived by the enemy. Captain Finley, with his six pounder mounted in the battery, was directed as soon as the fog should disperse to open upon the fort; when the infantry, ready for action, would advance to gain the ground selected for the commencement of our approaches. The garrison consisted of three hundred and fifty men, chiefly loyal militia, commanded by major Maxwell, of the Prince of Wales’ regiment, (a refugee from the Eastern Shore of Maryland) represented to Lee as neither experienced in his lately adopted profession, nor fitted by cast of character to meet the impending crisis. He was the exact counterpart of M’Pherson; disposed to avoid, rather than to court, the daring scenes of war. Zealous to fill his purse, rather than to gather military laurels, he had, during his command, pursued his favorite object with considerable success, and held with him in the fort his gathered spoil. Solicitous to hasten the surrender of the post, lieutenant colonel Lee determined to try the effect of negotiation with his pliable antagonist; and prepared a summons, couched in pompous terms, calculated to operate upon such an officer as Maxwell was represented to be. The summons was entrusted to captain Eggleston, of the legion horse, who was authorized to conclude finally upon the terms of capitulation, if he found the enemy disposed to surrender.

The fog ceasing, Finley announced our unexpected proximity, which excited much alarm and some confusion, evidently discerned from our position. The legion infantry advancing at the same time, took possession of the desired ground without opposition; severing the enemy’s piquets in this quarter from the fort. Eggleston now setting out with his flag, produced a suspension of our fire, which induced the piquets and patroles, cut off by our disposition, to attempt to gain the fort. This effort was partially checked by the rapid movement of the cavalry; and an officer was despatched to captain Eggleston, requiring him to remonstrate to major Maxwell upon the impropriety of the conduct of his piquets and patroles, with a demand that he would order them to resume their station; it being never intended, by presenting him with an opportunity of avoiding the useless effusion of blood, to permit the improvement of his capacity to resist. Eggleston’s remonstrance was duly respected; and Maxwell despatched his adjutant with the required orders, replacing the portion of his force on duty out of the fort in its original station. The negotiation was begun, and the British major testified a favorable disposition to the proposition submitted to him. After consulting with some of his officers, he agreed to deliver up the fort, upon condition that the private property of every sort, without investigation of title, should be confirmed to its possessors; that the garrison should be permitted to return to Charleston prisoners of war, until exchanged; that the militia should be held in the same manner as the regulars; and that an escort, charged with the protection of persons and of property, should attend the prisoners to the British army.

The first condition being diametrically repugnant to the course contemplated by Lee, as it prevented restoration of plundered property, captain Eggleston did not think proper to act under the full discretion with which he had been so properly invested, but submitted by letter the enemy’s demands to the lieutenant colonel, accompanied with one from major Maxwell, requiring two covered wagons for the conveyance of his own baggage, free from search. In reply, Eggleston received directions to accede to the proposed terms, with the single exception of all horses fit for public service, and to expedite the conclusion of the business. This exception was illy relished by many of the officers, although not resisted by the commandant. Finding that the capitulation would be thus arranged, the Hessian officers came in a body to Eggleston, protesting against proceeding, unless they were permitted to retain their horses; a protest not to be overruled by the authority of Maxwell. The capitulation was suspended, and a second time Eggleston found it necessary to refer to Lee. About this moment a dragoon arrived from captain Armstrong, commanding the detachment of horse near lord Rawdon, communicating his lordship’s passage across the Santee, and his advance towards fort Motte. Had lieutenant colonel Lee determined to resist the requisition of the Hessian officers, this intelligence would have induced a change in his decision. He directed captain Eggleston to make known to the officers, that he took pleasure in gratifying them, by considering all horses belonging to individuals in the fort as private property, and claiming only such, if any, belonging to the public.

This obstacle being removed, the capitulation was signed; and the principal bastion was immediately occupied by captain Rudolph, with a detachment from the legion infantry. Before noon, Maxwell, with his garrison, consisting of three hundred and forty men, (sixty regulars, the rest loyalists,) its baggage of every sort, two pieces of artillery, and two covered wagons, moved from the fort; and the major, with his garrison, protected by the stipulated escort, proceeded on their route to lord Rawdon. The public stores of every sort, consisting chiefly of ammunition, salt, and liquor, were faithfully delivered, and presented a very convenient as well as agreeable supply to our army. The moment Maxwell surrendered, Lee despatched an officer with the information to general Greene, who had pressed on with much expedition, and was within a few miles of Friday’s ferry when he received Lee’s despatch. The army continued its march to Ancran’s plantation, near the ferry; and the general, crossing the river, joined his light corps. Delighted with the happy termination which had just taken place, his satisfaction was considerably increased when he saw the strength of the fort, connected with that of the garrison. He testified with much cordiality, and in most gratifying terms, his obligations to the light corps; applauding as well the rapidity of its advance as the vigor of its operations.

Lord Rawdon made but one day’s march towards fort Motte; yielding up with much reluctance his anxious desire to defend his line of posts, already broken through in its weakest points, and about to be assailed throughout. Retiring to Monk’s Corner, he there encamped; impatiently waiting for an accession of force to enable him to resume offensive operations.

Fort Watson, fort Motte, fort Granby, and that at Orangeburgh, had successively yielded: Marion was now before Georgetown, which was sure soon to fall. Thus in less than one month since general Greene appeared before Cambden, he had compelled the British general to evacuate that important post, forced the submission of all the intermediate posts, and was now upon the banks of the Congaree, in the heart of South Carolina, ready to advance upon Ninety-Six, (the only remaining fortress in the state, besides Charleston, in the enemy’s possession,) and to detach against Augusta, in Georgia; comprehending in this decisive effort, the completion of the deliverance of the two lost states, except the fortified towns of Charleston and Savannah,—safe, because the enemy ruled at sea.

The American general, reposing his army for the day, and strengthening the light corps with a battalion of North Carolina levies under major Eaton, directed lieutenant colonel Lee to move upon Augusta; to which post brigadier Pickens, with his corps of militia, had been commanded to repair. Lee commenced his march in the course of a few hours, marching thirteen miles in the evening of the day on which Maxwell had surrendered. Resuming motion at a very early hour in the morning, he pressed forward with the utmost expedition; relieving the fatigued infantry by occasionally dismounting his dragoons and mounting his infantry. Not only the claim for celerity, arising out of the general state of aifairs, enforced this exertion; but there was cause to apprehend that lieutenant colonel Cruger, apprised, as was presumed, of lord Rawdon’s abandonment, first of Cambden and lastly of the field, would, in consequence of these untoward events, hasten to Augusta; giving up South Carolina to save Georgia. To reach Pickens before Cruger could join Brown, became, in this view of events, of the first importance. Pickens and Lee united could readily strike Cruger on his march, with the prospect of bringing him to submission. This done, the destruction of Brown only remained to be effected for the complete re-annexation (except the sea coast) of these states to the Union.

Approaching in the course of his march the point nearest Ninety-Six, lieutenant colonel Lee detached a squadron of horse, under major Rudolph, towards that post, for the purpose of ascertaining whether the enemy exhibited the appearance of breaking up, and with the hope by this sudden dash of seizing some of the garrison;—a very acceptable present to the American general, then on his march for that place, and in want of that accurate information to be derived only from residents in the place. Rudolph concealing his approach, appeared suddenly near the town; but was not so fortunate as to find a single individual of the garrison without the lines. He seized one or two countrymen returning home, who accompanied him to camp. From these we learnt that lieutenant colonel Cruger vvas uninformed of the events that had lately taken place; but hearing of Greene’s advance upon Cambden, he had been industriously engaged in strengthening his fortifications, and was determined not to abandon his post. Lee despatched a friendly countryman to general Greene with the intelligence procured, which banished all those apprehensions heretofore entertained lest Cruger might unite himself to Brown. Persevering in his march, lieutenant colonel Lee reached on the third day the vicinity of Augusta, which is seventy five miles from fort Granby, preceded by captain O’Neale, with a light party of horse, charged with the collection of provisions and with the acquirement of intelligence. From this active and discerning officer the pleasing information was received of the recent arrival of the annual royal present to the Indians, which was deposited at fort Galphin, about twelve miles below Augusta, on the north side of the river, consisting of articles extremely wanted in the American camp.[note 11] To relieve the wants of the army was in itself grateful, but this intelligence was important in a military view; because it showed that colonel Brown’s force in Augusta was reduced by detachments from it to secure his deposit at fort Guiphin. Two companies of infantry now made the garrison of this latter post, which was a small stockade. Persuaded that his approach was alike unknown to Brown and to the officer commanding here, from the precautions which, by means of his superior cavalry, he had been enabled to adopt, Lee determined by a forced march, with a detachment of infantry mounted behind his dragoons, to seize the Indian present. Leaving Eaton behind with his battalion, the artillery, and the tired of the corps, to follow, he accordingly pushed on to fort Galphin.

On the ensuing morning (21st of May), sultry beyond measure, the fatigued detachment gained the desired point; and, halting in the pine barrens which skirted the field surrounding the fort, waited for the
moment of assault. For many miles not a drop of water had been procurable; and the extreme heat of the scorching sun, rendered more oppressive by the necessary halt under the pines, without any liquid whatsoever to revive sinking nature, produced a debility forbidding exertion. Having with him some mounted militia, Lee directed them to dismount and to advance upon the fort in the opposite direction—not doubting that the garrison, as was the custom, would eagerly pursue them, when an opportunity would be presented of obtaining the contemplated prize without loss. The major part of the garrison, as had been expected, ran to arms on sight of the militia, and, leaving the fort, pursued them. A selection having been made of all the infantry whose strength was fitted for action, a portion of them under captain Rudolph was ordered to rush upon the fort, while the residue, supported by a troop of dragoons, took a direction which shielded the militia from the menaced blow. Rudolph had no difficulty in possessing himself of the fort, little opposition having been attempted, and that opposition having been instantly crushed. We lost one man from the heat of the weather; the enemy only three or four in battle. The garrison, with the valuable deposit in its safe keeping, gave a rich reward for our toils and sufferings. Never was a beginning more auspicious. This success not only deprived Brown of a very important portion of his force, but yielded to his enemy an abundance of supplies much wanted by the army of Greene,—among which were the essentials of war, powder and ball—which articles had become scarce in the American camp, notwithstanding the occasional contributions of the several posts wrested from the enemy.

Lieutenant colonel Lee, reposing his infantry for a few hours, detached major Eggleston, at the head of his horse, to pass the Savannah below Augusta; and, takmg a western direction, to join a corps of militia, known to be in the neighborhood, under colonel Clarke, in case brigadier Pickens should not yet have arrived. Eggleston was also ordered to make himself thoroughly acquainted with the enemy’s situation for the information of his commandant, who wished to begin his operations the moment of his return; and was further enjoined to send in a flag with a summons from himself, stating the near approach of part of Greene’s army, with the investiture of Ninety-Six by the main body under the general himself; and urging the propriety of sparing the useless waste of life—the certain consequence of resistance,—cruel, because vain. The substitution of a second officer for his superior in summoning the fort arose from the course taken by Brown. He had refused to receive flags, forbidding all intercourse with the militia officers; and Lee, having profited by negotiation at fort Granby, was desirous of removing the obstacles which prevented resort to the like course here. To effect this, he thought it advisable to authorize Eggleston, then the senior continental officer on the south of Savannah, to attempt negotiation. Brown, either discrediting the information contained in the summons, or immutable in the decision he had taken, would not answer the letter addressed to him, and forbad the renewal of such communication.

In the evening lieutenant colonel Lee, with the artillery and infaniry, joined Eggleston, then united to the militia under Pickens and Clarke, and encamped in the woods to the west of Augusta. This town is situated on the southern banks of the Savannah, in an oblong plain, washed by the river on the east and covered by deep woods in the opposite direction. In its centre stood fort Cornwallis, judiciously constructed, well finished, and secure from storm. A half mile in its front up the river the plain is interrupted by a lagoon or swamp with a rivulet passing through it; and on the northwestern border of this lagoon was erected another fort, very inferior, called Grierson, from the militia colonel who commanded its garrison. Brown conducted the British force in upper Georgia, and resided in fort Cornwallis. Lieutenant colonel Lee, hearing from Eggleston the affrontive rejection to his proffered negotiation, was considerably ruffled at the contemptuous treatment received, and determined never to enter into any communication with the British commandant until solicited by himself. Thus decided, he was gratified in discovering the divided condition of the enemy—its regulars in fort Cornwallis and its militia in fort Grierson; not doubting, if the moment was duly improved, that a tender of negotiation, on the part of Brown, would follow.

While the troops, still concealed, were engaged in taking refreshments, lieutenant colonel Lee employed himself in examining the ground. He did not hesitate in his decision, which was instantly to drive Grierson out of his fort, and to destroy or intercept him in his retreat to fort Cornwallis.

Communicating his plan to Pickens and Clarke, it was adopted; and the troops were soon after arrayed for executing it.

Brigadier Pickens with the militia was to attack the fort on its north and west; major Eaton with his battalion, by passing down the north side of the lagoon, was to approach it on the south, co-operating with the militia; while lieutenant colonel Lee, with his infantry and artillery, was to move down the lagoon on its southern margin, parallel with Eaton, ready to support his attack if required, or to attend to the movements of Brown, should he venture to leave his defences and interpose with a view to save Grierson. The cavalry, under Eggleston, were ordered to draw near to fort Cornwallis, keeping in the wood and ready to fall upon the rear of Brown should he advance upon Lee. These arrangements being finished, the several commandants proceeded to their respective points. Lee’s movement, open to view, was soon discerned by Brown, who, drawing his garrison out of his lines accompanied by two field pieces, advanced with the appearance of risking battle to save Grierson, now assailed by Pickens and Eaton. This forward movement soon ceased. Brown, not deeming it prudent, under existing circumstances, to persevere in his attempt, confined his interposition to a cannonade, which was returned by Lee, with very little effect on either side.[note 12] Grierson’s resistance was quickly overpowered; the fort was evacuated; himself with his major and many of his garrison killed; the lieutenant colonel with others taken; and the few remaining, by reaching the river, escaped under cover and concealment of its banks to fort Cornwallis. Lieutenant colonel Brown, perceiving the fail of this post, withdrew into his fort; and apprehending, from what he had seen, that he had to deal with troops fitted for war, applied himself to strengthening his situation. Whatever was attainable in the town, and necessary to his defence, was now procured; and every part of the works requiring amendment was repaired with industry. These exertions on the part of the enemy could not be counteracted; all now to be done was to assume proper stations for close investiture, and, by regular approaches, to compel his surrender.

In the late contest our loss was trivial,—a few wounded, and fewer killed. But unhappily among the latter was major Eaton of North Carolina, who had served only a few weeks with the light corps, and in that short period had endeared himself to his commandant and feliow soldiers by the amiability of his manners. He fell gallantly at the head of his battalion in the moment of victory.

On the banks of the Savannah, south of the lagoon near its flow into the river, was situated a large brick building, the mansion-house of a gentleman who had joined the enemy. Here lieutenant colonel Lee with his corps took post, while brigadier Pickens with the militia occupied the woods on the enemy’s left. The morning was spent in ascertaining the most eligible mode of approach; to execute which all the requisite tools found at fort Galphin, with many collected from the neighboring farms, had been brought to camp.

Fort Cornwallis was not far from the Savannah river, the shelter of whose banks afforded a safe route to the troops. It was determined to break ground in this quarter, and to extend our works towards the enemy’s left and rear.

General Greene did not continue in his camp at Friday’s ferry longer than to give time to lieutenant colonel Carrington to procure means for the transportation of the stores gained by the fall of fort Granby, all of which were necessary to the army in the proposed operations. Taking the direct road for Ninety-Six, he sat down before it on the 22d; his effective force, exclusive of militia, not exceeding one thousand: Marion, after taking Georgetown, having continued in that quarter for the protection of the country; and Sumpter, who had joined Greene while at Friday’s ferry, being sent to apply his attention to the care of the region south and west of the Congaree.

Ninety-Six derives its name from the circumstance of its being ninety-six miles distant from the principal town of the Cherokee Indians, called Keeowee; and is the chief village in the district of country lying between the Saluda (the southern branch of the Congaree) and the river Savannah, the southwestern boundary of the state, to which district it gives its name.

The country is strong, the climate salubrious, and the soil fertile; and Ninety-Six exceeded in its white population any of the nine districts into which South Carolina is divided. When the Biitish recovered the state, here, as has been before observed, was fixed a post—forming, with Cambden to its right and Augusta to its left, the frontier barrier established for the security of the country. The village of Ninety-Six, previous to the war, had been slightly fortified for defence against the neighboring Indians. These works were considerably strengthened after the arrival of the British troops; and additional fortifications, to secure the post from assault, were erected under the superintendence of lieutenant Haldane, of the corps of engineers, aid-de-camp to lord Cornwallis.

Lieutenant colonel Cruger, the present commandant, was a native of New York, of respectable connexions, who had taken part from the first with the British army, and commanded one of the provincial regiments raised in that state. His garrison amounted to five hundred and fifty men; three hundred and fifty of whom were regulars, and, like himself, Americans; the residue were loyal militia of South Carolina, conducted by colonel King. On the left of the village, in a valley, ran a small rivulet which furnished water to the town and troops. Passing this rivulet westwardly, you ascend an eminence, on which was erected a stockade fort, which, with the fortified prison in the village situated contiguous to the valley, constituted the chief defence of the water. On the right of the village stood the principal work, called the star, from its form. It consisted of sixteen salient and re-entering angles, with a ditch, frieze, and abbatis; and was judiciously designed, and well executed. We have before mentioned that lord Rawdon, previous to his retreat from Cambden, had informed lieutenant colonel Cruger of the changed and changing condition of affairs (which compelled him to prepare for the abandonment of that post) with orders to him to evacuate Ninety-Six and to join Brown in Augusta; but that all his attempts to communicate with Cruger had been frustrated. Entirely ignorant of these events, lieutenant colonel Cruger, nevertheless, guided by his own reflections, wisely employed his time in making all the necessary repairs to his works and some additional defences. A mound of earth, parapet high, was thrown up around the stockade, and secured by abbatis; blockhouses were erected, traverses made, and covered communications between the different works established. Throughout the preparations directed by Cruger, the garrison, regulars and militia, officers and soldiers, vied with each other in the zealous execution of their commandant’s orders. The appearance of Greene’s army increased the vigorous exertions of Cruger and his garrison in completing their defensive measures; and very soon the works became strong, affording additional confidence to the garrison.

Colonel Koschiusko, a Polish officer, at the head of the engineers in the southern army, was considered to possess skill in his profession, and much esteemed for his mildness of disposition and urbanity of manners. To this officer general Greene committed the designation of the course and mode of approach. Never regarding the importance which was attached to depriving the enemy of water, for which he entirely depended on the rivulet to his left, Koschiusko applied his undivided attention to the demolition of the star, the strongest point of the enemy’s defence. Breaking ground close to this fortress, he labored during the first night with diligence, but had not been able to place in great forwardness his incipient works. No sooner was this attempt of the besieger perceived than lieutenant colonel Cruger determined to prepare a platform in one of the salient angles of the star, opposite to our works, for the reception of three pieces of artillery, the whole he possessed, with intention to cover a detachment charged with the expulsion of our working parties, to be followed by a second for the demolition of the works. Before noon the platform was finished, and the artillery mounted in it. The parapet was manned with infantry; and the sallying party under lieutenant Roney, supported by major Greene, ready in the enemy’s ditch, rushed upon our works, covered by the artillery and musketry. Roney drove before him our guards and working parties, putting to the bayonet all whom he found; and was followed by a detachment of loyalists, who quickly demolished the works, carrying off the intrenching tools. The enemy sustained no loss in this first exhibition of his decision and courage but that of lieutenant Roney, who died of a wound he received while gallantly leading on his men, much regretted by his commandant and the garrison.

So judiciously was this sally planned, and so rapidly conducted, that, although Greene instantly sent a detachment to support Koschiusko, the object was accomplished before support could arrive. Taught by this essay that his enemy was of a cast not to be rashly approached with impunity, Koschiusko was directed to resume his labors under cover of a ravine, and at a more respectful distance. He broke ground again in the night of the 23d, still directing his approaches against the star redoubt.

Pickens and Lee pressed forward their measures against fort Cornwallis with zeal and diligence; but not with the wished for celerity, so vigilant and resolute was the active and sagacious officer opposed to them. The condition of several of the wounded taken in the attack on fort Grierson called for various comforts not to be found in the American camp, and the principal officer who had been taken asked permission to procure the requisite supply from colonel Brown, whom he knew to be well provided, and whose disposition to cherish his soldiers he had often experienced. To this application Pickens and Lee answered, that after the ungracious determination to stop all intercourse, announced by the commandant of fort Cornwallis, disposed as they were to obey the dictates of humanity, it could not be expected that any consideration could prevail with them again to expose the American flag to contumely. If, however, he thought proper to wait upon colonel Brown, they would permit him to proceed whenever he pleased, on the faith of his parole, returning immediately after receiving Brown’s reply.

This offer was cheerfully accepted, and a letter was prepared on the part of the American commandants, expressing the regret with which they permitted a flag to pass from their camp, though borne by a British officer, after the affrontive treatment experienced upon a late occasion; and assuring the commandant of fort Cornwallis, that no consideration affecting themselves or their troops would ever have led to such a condescension.

To this letter Brown returned a very polite answer by the prisoner (whose application was instantly complied with), excusing what had passed by a reference to some previous altercations, which had rendered such a decision necessary on the part of the British commandant, so long as the individual to whom he alluded continued to command,[note 13] and whom he really did believe had sent in the flag refused to be received, not knowing or suspecting the extraordinary change of force opposed to him which had taken place. Pickens and Lee were very much gratified that, while obeying the claims of humanity, they should have produced a renewal of intercourse, without which the contest drawing to a close could not be terminated but with a painful waste of human life.

The works contiguous to the river had advanced nearly to the desired state, and those which had been subsequently commenced in the rear of the fort began to assume a formidable appearance; yet extreme difficulty occurred in the consummation of the plan adopted by the besiegers, as the surrounding ground presented no swell or hill which would enable them to bring their six pounder to bear upon the enemy. It was determined to resort to the Mayham tower, the effect of which Lee had so happily witnessed at fort Watson; and orders were accordingly issued to prepare and bring in timber of such a size as would sustain our only piece of artillery.

Brown heretofore had patiently looked on at our approach, diligently working within his fort, as we discovered by the heaps of fresh dug earth in various directions, but with what view remained unascertained. Seeing that his enemy’s works were rapidly advancing, he now determined to interrupt our progress by sallies, however hazardous, which he foresaw could alone retard his approaching fate,—hoping that in delay he might find safety. On the 28th he fell upon our works in the river quarter at midnight, and, by the suddenness and vigor of his onset, drove the guard before him; but the support under captain Handy coming up, after an obstinate conflict, regained the trenches, and forced the enemy to take shelter in the fort. The determined spirit manifested by the foe in this attempt to destroy our approaches, induced lieutenant colonel Lee to appropriate his infimtry exclusively for their defence at night, relieving them from any further share in labor and from every other duty. It was divided into two divisions, to one of which was alternately committed the protection of our works. On the succeeding night Brown renewed his attempt in the same quarter; and for a long time the struggle was continued with mutual pertinacity, till at length captain Rudolph, by a combined charge with the bayonet, cleared the trenches, driving the enemy with loss to his strong hold. On the 30th the timber required to build the proposed Mayham tower was prepared and conveyed to the intended site. In the evening we commenced its erection, under cover of an old house to conceal our object from the enemy. In the course of the night and ensuing day we had brought our tower nearly on a level with the enemy’s parapet, and began to fill its body with fascines, earth, stone, brick, and every other convenient rubbish, to give solidity and strength to the structure. At the same time the adjacent works, in the rear of the fort, were vigorously pushed to the enemy’s left to connect them with the tower, which was the point of their termination.

Brown’s attention was soon drawn to this quarter; and, penetrating the use to which the log building would be applied, he determined to demolish it without delay.

Pickens and Lee, well assured from what had passed that their judicious opponent would leave nothing unessayed within his power to destroy their tower,—on the completion of which their expectation of immediate success chiefly depended,—determined to prepare before night for the counteraction of any attempt which might be made. The lines in that quarter, entrusted to the militia, were doubly manned; and Handy’s division of the infantry, though on duty every other night, was drawn from the river quarter to maintain the militia.—The North Carolma battalion supplied its place; and to captain Handy on one side, and to captain Rudolph on the other (approved officers), were committed henceforward the protection of our lines. The tower was designated as the peculiar object of attention, and to its defence one company of musketry was exclusively applied. Not more than one third of the night had passed when the enemy began to move; concealing his real object by renewing his attempt upon the river quarter, where Rudolph, with his accustomed gallantry, gave him a warm reception. While the contest here was bravely urged, and as bravely sustained, lieutenant colonel Brown with the elite of his garrison fell upon our works in his rear. Here for awhile the militia of Pickens contended with vigor, but at length were forced by the bayonet out of the trenches. Handy, leaving one company at the tower, with his main body hastened to support the militia, who very gallantly united with the regulars, and turned upon the successful foe. The conflict became furious; but at length the Marylanders under Handy carried the victory by the point of the bayonet. Upon this occasion the loss on both sides exceeded all which had occurred during the siege. Brown, finding that every effort to destroy our works by open war proved ineffectual, now resorted to stratagem. Lee had omitted to put down,[note 14] as was originally intended, the old wooden house, under cover of which the tower had been commenced, and which by accidentally taking fire would have probably consumed it. This house attracted Brown’s notice, and he determined, by burning it, to rid himself of the tower. He had by this time erected a platform in one of the angles of the fort opposite to our Mayham tower, and which, being mounted with two of his heaviest pieces of ordnance, opened upon it before it was finished.

Nevertheless the exertions of the builders did not slacken, and on the first of June the tower was completed, and was found to overlook the enemy’s parapet. The upper logs having been sawed to let in an embrasure for our six pounder, it only remained to make an apron upon which the matrosses could draw up their piece to the floor of the tower.

This was done in the course of the day, and at dawn on the second our six pounder was mounted, completely commanding the enemy’s fort. Finley instantly announced his readiness to act by returning the enemy’s cannonade, which had been continued without intermission. Before noon the enemy’s two pieces were dismounted from the platform, and all the interior of the fort was raked, excepting the segment nearest to the tower and some other spots sheltered by traverses. It was now that lieutenant colonel Brown determined to put in execution his concerted stratagem. In the course of the night a deserter from the fort was sent to lieutenant colonel Lee. He was a Scot, with all the wily sagacity of his country, and a sergeant of the artillery. Upon being questioned upon the effect of our cannonade, and the situation of the enemy,—he answered, that the strange loghouse lately erected, gave an advantage, which, duly improved, could not fail to force surrender; but that the garrison had not suffered so much as might be presumed; that it was amply supplied with provisions, and was in high spirits. In the course of the conversation which followed, Lee inquired, in what way could the effect of the cannonade be increased? Very readily, replied the crafty sergeant: that knowing the spot where all the powder in the fort was deposited, with red hot balls from the six pounder, directed properly, the magazine might be blown up. This intelligence was received with delight, and the suggestion of the sergeant seized with avidity, although it would be very difficult to prepare our ball, as we were unprovided with a furnace. It was proposed to the sergeant, that he should be sent to the officer commanding our battery, and give his aid to the execution of his suggestion, with assurances of liberal reward in case of success. This proposition was heard with much apparent reluctance, although every disposition to bring the garrison to submission was exhibited by the sergeant, who pretended that Brown had done him many personal injuries in the course of service. But he added, it was impossible for him to put himself in danger of capture, as he well knew he should be executed on a gibbet, if taken. A good supper was now presented to him, with his grog; which being finished, and being convinced by the arguments of Lee, that his personal safety could not be endangered, as it was not desired or meant that he should take any part in the seige, but merely to attend at the tower to direct the pointing of the piece, he assented; declaring that he entered upon his task with dire apprehensions, and reminding the lieutenant colonel of his promised reward. Lee instantly put him in care of his adjutant, to be delivered to captain Finley, with the information communicated, for the purpose of blowing up the enemy’s magazine. It was midnight; and lieutenant colonel Lee, expecting on the next day to be much engaged, our preparations being nearly completed, retired to rest. Reflecting upon what had passed, and recurring to the character of his adversary, he became much disquieted by the step he had taken, and soon concluded to withdraw the sergeant from the tower. He had not been many minutes with captain Finley, before an order remanding him was delivered, committing him to the quarter guard. In the morning we were saluted with a new exhibition, unexpected though not injurious. Between the quarters of Lee and the fort stood four or five deserted houses; some of them near enough to the fort to be used with effect by riflemen from their upper stories. They had often engaged the attention of Pickens and Lee, with a view of applying them, whenever the enemy should be assaulted, to aid in covering their attack. Brown, sallying out before break of day, sat fire to all but two of the houses. No attempt was made to disturb the operation, or to extinguish the flames afrer the enemy had returned; it being deemed improper to hazard our troops in effecting any object not material in its consequence. Of the two left, one was most commodious for the purpose originally contemplated by Pickens and Lee in the hour of assault.

The besiegers being incapable of discovering any reason for the omission to burn the two houses, and especially one nearest the fort, various were their conjectures as to the cause of sparing them: some leading to the conclusion that they were left purposely, and consequently with the view of injuring the assailant. The fire from the tower continued, and being chiefly directed against the parapet fronting the river, in which quarter the proposed attack would be directed, demonstrated satisfactorily that the hour had arrived to make the decisive appeal. Orders were accordingly issued to prepare for the assault, to take place on the next day at the hour of nine in the forenoon. In the course of the night, a party of the best marksmen were selected from Pickens’ militia, and sent to one of the houses nearest to the fort.

The officer commanding this detachment, was ordered to arrange his men in the upper story, for the purpose of ascertaining the number which could with ease use their rifles out of the windows, or any other convenient aperture; then to withdraw, and report to the brigadier. It was intended, before daylight, to have directed the occupatixon of the house by the same officer, with such a force of riflemen as he should report to be sufficient. Handy was ordered to return to the river quarter at the dawn of day, as to his detachment and the legion infantry the main assault would be committed. These, with all the other preparations, being made, the troops continued in their usual stations,—pleased that the time was near which would close with success their severe toils.

About three in the morning of the fourth of June, we were aroused by a violent explosion, which was soon discovered to have shattered the very house intended to be occupied by the rifle party before daybreak. It was severed and thrown into the air thirty or forty feet high, its fragments falling all over the field. This explained, at once, not only the cause of Brown’s omitting its destruction, but also communicated the object of the constant digging which had until lately employed the besieged.

Brown pushed a sap to this house, which he presumed would be certainly possessed by the besieger, when ready to strike his last blow; and he concluded, from the evident maturity of our works, and from the noise made by the militia, when sent to the house in the first part of the night, for the purpose of ascertaining the number competent to its capacity, that the approaching morning was fixed for the general assault. Not doubting but the house was occupied with the body destined to hold it, he determined to deprive his adversary of every aid from this quarter; hoping, too, by the consternation which the manner of destruction could not fail to excite, to damp the ardor of the troops charged with storming.

Happily he executed his plan too early for its success, or our gallant band would certainly have shared the fate of the house. This fortunate escape excited grateful sensations in the breasts of the two commandants, for the gracious interposition of Providence; and added another testimonial to the many already received, of the penetration and decision which marked the character of their opponent. The hour of nine approached, and the columns for assault were in array, waiting the signal of advance. Pickens and Lee having determined, as intercourse with the fort was now open, to present to the enemy another opportunity of avoiding the impending blow by capitulation, a flag was despatched on the 3d of June, with a joint letter from the American commanders, adapted to the occasion. Lieutenant colonel Brown, in reply, repeated his determination to defend the post. This resolution could not be maintained; and on the next day an officer, with a flag, proceeded from the fort. The bearer was received at the margin of our trenches, and presented a letter addressed to the two commandants, offering to surrender upon conditions detailed in the communication. Some of these being inadmissible, the offer was rejected, and other propositions made, which would be ratified by them, if acceded to by lieutenant colonel Brown. This discussion produced the delay of one day, which was gratifying to Brown; it being unpleasant to surrender on the birth-day of his king.[note 15] The terms, as altered, were accepted; and eight o’clock in the morning of the 5th was designated for the delivery of the fort, &c. to captain Rudolph, appointed on the part of the victors to take possession of it with its appurtenances. At the appointed hour the British garrison marched out, lieutenant colonel Brown having been taken into the care of captain Armstrong, of the dragoons, with a safe guard to protect his person from threatened violence.[note 16] This precaution, suggested by our knowledge of the inveteracy with which the operations in this quarter had been conducted on both sides, turned out to be extremely fortunate; as otherwise, in all probability, the laurels acquired by the arms of America would have been stained by the murder of a gallant soldier, who had committed himself to his enemy on their plighted faith. Brown was conveyed to Lee’s quarters, where he continued until the next day, when himself and a few of his officers were paroled, and sent down the river to Savannah, under the care of captain Armstrong, with a party of infantry, who had orders to continue with lieutenant colonel Brown until he should be placed out of danger. During the few hours’ residence in Lee’s quarters, the British colonel inquired after his artillery sergeant, who had, a few nights before, deserted from the fort. Upon being told that he was in the quarter guard, he took the first opportunity of soliciting from Lee his restitution; frankly declaring that he was no deserter, but was purposely sent out by him in that character, to destroy by fire the newly erected loghouse, which he plainly discerned to be destructive to his safety, and which his sergeant undertook to do, while pretending to direct our fire with the view of blowing up the magazine of the fort.

This communication showed the danger to which the besiegers were exposed for a few minutes, by the readiness with which lieutenant colonel Lee entered into the plan of the deserter, but which, upon further reflection, he fortunately changed; and demonstrates the great caution with which the offer of aid from deserters ought to be received; especially when coming from a besieged fortress on the point of surrender, and in the care of an experienced and sagacious soldier. The request of lieutenant colonel Brown was granted, and his sergeant with joy rejoined his commander. As soon as the capitulation was signed, preparations for decamping were begun, and early the next morning, the baggage of the corps under Lee was transported across the Savannah; about noon, the infantry followed; and in the evening of the 6th, Lee joined with his cavalry; proceeding with expedition to Ninety-Six, in obedience to orders from general Greene. Brigadier Pickens remained at Augusta until conveyance for the stores taken there and at fort Galphin could be provided; which being accomplished in a few days, he also marched for headquarters. Without delay, after the British garrison had laid down their arms, did Pickens and Lee despatch intelligence of the event to Greene; who announcing the success in general orders, was pleased to express to the two commandants, and their respective corps, the high sense he entertained of their merit and service, with his thanks for the zeal and vigor exhibited in the execution of the duty assigned to them. Lee pressing forward with despatch, reached Ninety-Six on the forenoon of the 8th. Two routes led south of the enemy to the American headquarters, which had been established on the enemy’s right. The officer despatched with the garrison of fort Cornwallis in his charge, mistaking the intended course, took the road nearest to the town, which brought his troops under command of the enemy’s batteries for a small distance. Believing that the exhibition was designed with a view to insult the feelings of the garrison, lieutenant colonel Cruger gave orders for the contiguous batteries to open upon this corps, notwithstanding it enveloped his fellow soldiers taken at Augusta, and was very near chastising the supposed bravado, which in fact was only the error of the conducting officer. Luckily no injury was sustained; but the officer was very severely reprimanded by lieutenant colonel Lee, for the danger to which his inadvertence had exposed the corps.

General Greene had exerted himself, with unremitting industry, to complete the works against the star redoubt; to which single object colonel Koschiusko directed all his efforts. The enemy’s left had been entirely neglected, although in that quarter was procured the whole supply of water.[note 17] As soon as the corps of Lee entered camp, that officer was directed to take post opposite to the enemy’s left, and to commence regular approaches against the stockade. Very soon Lee pushed his ditch to the ground designated for the erection of the battery, under the cover of which the subsequent approaches would be made. In the course of the next day this battery was erected, and lieutenant Finn, with a six pounder, took possession of it. The besiegers advancing closer and closer, with caution and safety, both on the right and left, lieutenant colonel Cruger foresaw his inevitable destruction, unless averted by the approach of lord Rawdon. To give time for the desired event, he determined, by nocturnal sallies, to attempt to carry our trenches; and to destroy with the spade whatever he might gain by the bayonet. These rencontres were fierce and frequent, directed sometimes upon one quarter and sometimes upon another: but so judicious had been the arrangements of the American general to counteract these expected attempts, that in no one instance did the British commandant succeed. The mode adopted was nevertheless pursued without intermission; and although failing to effect the chief object contemplated, became extremely harassing to the American army,—whose repose during the night was incessantly disturbed, and whose labor in the day was as incessantly pressed. Ignorant of the situation and prospects of the British general as lieutenant colonel Cruger continued to be, he nevertheless indulged the confidence, that every effort would be made for his relief, and persevered with firmness and vigor in his defence. As soon as the second parallel was finished, general Greene directed colonel Williams, adjutant general, to summon the British commandant; stating to him his relative situation, and assuring him that perseverance in resistance would be vain, and might produce disagreeable consequences to himself and garrison. Cruger returned, by his adjutant, a verbal answer; declaring his determination to hold out to the last extremity, and his perfect disregard of general Greene’s promises or threats. Failing in this attempt, our batteries opened from the second parallel, under cover of which Koschiusko pressed forward his approach with indefatigable labor.

Lord Rawdon heard, with deep regret, the loss of Augusta, and was not insensible to the danger which threatened Ninety-Six; but destitute of the means to furnish immediate relief, he was obliged to arm himself with patience, anxiously hoping that every southern gale would waft to him the long expected and much desired reinforcement.

On the 3d of June this event took place, and his lordship instantly prepared to take the field. On the 7th he set out from Charleston for the relief of Ninety-Six, with a portion of the three regiments just arrived from Ireland, and was joined on his route by the troops from Monk’s Corner, giving him a total of two thousand men. All his endeavors to transmit information to Cruger having failed, his lordship apprehended, that, pressed by the difficulties to which that officer must be reduced, and despairing of succor, he might be induced to surrender, with a view to obtain favorable conditions for his garrison; to stop which, he renewed his efforts to advise him of the propitious change of his condition, and his consequent advance for his relief.

Greene was informed by Sumpter, on the 11th, of the arrival from Ireland, and of the measures immediately taken by Rawdon to resume offensive operations. Directing Sumpter to keep in his lordship’s front, he reinforced him with all his cavalry, conducted by lieutenant colonel Washington; urging the brigadier to exert every means in his power to delay the advance of the British army. Marion was also ordered to hasten from the lower country, as soon as he should discover the intention of Rawdon to move upon Greene; and brigadier Pickens, just joined from Augusta, was detached to Sumpter.

Our approaches continued to be pushed with unabated diligence, in the expectation and hope that they might be brought to maturity in time to enforce the submission of the garrison, before the British general could make good his long march.

We now began to deplore the early inattention of the chief engineer to the enemy’s left; persuaded that had he been deprived of the use of the rivulet in the beginning of the siege, he must have been forced to surrender before the present hour. It was deemed practicable to set fire to the stockade fort, and thus to remove the water defence to the left of the rivulet. In the succeeding day, a dark violent storm came on from the west, without rain. Lieutenant colonel Lee proposed to general Greene to permit him to make the attempt. This being granted, a sergeant with nine privates of the legion infantry, furnished with combustible matter, was directed to approach the stockade in the most concealed direction, under cover of the storm, while the batteries in every quarter opened upon the enemy, and demonstrations of striking at the star redoubt were made, with the expectation of diverting his attention from the intrepid party, which, with alacrity, undertook the hazardous enterprise. The sergeant conducted his gallant band in the best manner; concealing it whenever the ground permitted, and when exposed to view moving along upon the belly. At length he reached the ditch with three others; the whole close behind. Here unluckily he was discovered, while in the act of applying his fire. Himself and five were killed; the remaining four escaped unhurt, although many muskets were discharged at them runing through the field, before they got beyond the nearest rise of ground which could cover them from danger. After this disappointment, nothing remained but to force our works to maturity, and to retard the advance of the British army. In the evening, a countryman was seen riding along our lines south of the town, conversing familiarly with the officers and soldiers on duty. He was not regarded, as from the beginning of the siege our friends in the country were in the habit of visiting camp, and were permitted to go wherever their curiosity led them, one of whom this man was presumed to be. At length he reached the great road leading directly to the town, in which quarter were only some batteries thrown up for the protection of the guards. Putting spur to his horse, he rushed with full speed into town, receiving the ineffectual fire of our centinels and guards nearest to him, and holding up a letter in his hand as soon as he cleared himself of our fire. The propitious signal gave joy to the garrison, who running to meet their friend, opened the gate, welcoming his arrival with loud expressions of joy. He was the bearer of a despatch from Rawdon to Cruger, communicating his arrival at Orangeburgh in adequate force, and informing him that he was hastening to his relief. This intelligence infused new vigor into the intrepid leader and his brave companions.

It also inspired the indefatigable besieger with additional motives to push to conclusion his preparatives, as he now yielded up every hope heretofore derived from Cruger’s ignorance of the movement of the British general, and the forwardness of our works. Major Greene, who commanded in the star with great ability, finding that our third parallel was nearly finished, and that a Mayham tower was erecting which would overlook his parapet, very judiciously covered it with sand-bags, to lessen the capacity derived from superior height, leaving between each bag an aperture for the use of his riflemen. Nor were the approaches on the left less forward than those on the right; they not only were directed against the stockade, but also were carried so near the rivulet, as to render supplies of water difficult and precarious. The fire during the 17th was so effectual, as to induce the enemy to withdraw his guards established between the rivulet and the stockade; and parties of the troops on the left were posted in various points, to annoy the communication with the rivulet. These arrangements succeeded throughout the day completely, and the enemy suffered greatly from this privation, though accomplished too late to produce material advantage. Rawdon continued to advance by forced marches, and inclining to his right, made a vigorous push to throw himself between Sumpter and Greene.

In this effort he completely succeeded, and thus baffled all the measures adopted by Greene to delay his approach. It became now necessary to hazard assault of the fort, to meet Rawdon, or to retire. The American general was disposed to imitate Cæsar at Alisia; first to beat the relieving army, and then to take the besieged town. But his regular force did but little exceed the half of that under Rawdon, which added to his militia, consisting of the corps of Sumpter, Marion and Pickens, still left him numerically inferior to the British general. Nevertheless confiding in his known superiority of cavalry, he would have given battle to his lordship, could he have left an adequate corps to attend to the garrison. Compelled to relinquish this plan, he determined to storm the fort, although his works were yet unfinished. On the right, our third parallel was completed, two trenches and a mine were nearly let into the enemy’s ditch, and the Mayham tower was finished.

On the left, our trenches were within twenty yards of his ditch; and the battery directed by lieutenant Finn, gave to the assailant, in this quarter, advantages which, well supported, ensured success. Greene, anxiously as he desired to conclude his severe toils in triumph, was averse to the unequal contest to which he must necessarily expose his faithful troops, and would probably have decided on the safe course, had not his soldiers, with one voice, intreated to be led against the fort. The American army having witnessed he unconquerable spirit which actuated their general, as well as the unexpected results of former battles, could not brook the idea of abandoning the siege, without one bold attempt to force a surrender. They recollected, with pain and remorse, that by the misbehaviour of one regiment at the battle of Guilford, and of another at Hobkick’s hill, their beloved general had been deprived of his merited laurels; and they supplicated their officers to intreat their commander to give them now an opportunity of obliterating preceding disgrace. This generous ardor could not be resisted by Greene. Orders were issued to prepare for a storm; and the hour of twelve on the next day (18th June) was appointed for the assailing columns to advance by signal from the centre battery.

Lieutenant colonel Campbell, of the first Virginia regiment, with a detachment from the Maryland and Virginia brigades, was charged with the attack on the left; and lieutenant colonel Lee, with the legion infantry and Kirkwood’s Delawares, with that on the right. Lieutenants Duval of Maryland, and Seldon of Virginia, commanded the forlorn hope of Campbell; and captain Rudolph, of the legion, that of Lee. Fascines were prepared to fill up the enemy’s ditch, long poles with iron hooks were furnished to pull down the sandbags, with every other thing requisite to facilitate the progress of the assailant. At eleven the third parallel was manned, and our sharp shooters took their station in the tower. The first signal was announced from the centre battery, upon which the assailing columns entered the trenches; manifesting delight in the expectation of carrying by their courage the great prize in view.

At the second cannon, which was discharged at the hour of twelve, Campbell and Lee rushed to the assault. Cruger, always prepared, received them with his accustomed firmness. The parapets were manned with spike and bayonet, and the riflemen, fixed at the sand-bag apertures, maintained a steady and destructive fire. Duval and Seldon entered the enemy’s ditch at different points, and Campbell stood prepared to support them, in the rear of the party furnished with hooks to pull down the sand-bags. This party had also entered the enemy’s ditch, and began to apply the hook. Uncovering the parapet now would have given us victory; and such was the vigorous support afforded by the musketry from the third parallel, from the riflemen in the tower, and from the artillery mounted in battery, that sanguine expectations of this happy issue were universally indulged. The moment the bags in front were pulled down, Campbell would have mounted the parapet, where the struggle could not have been long maintained. Cruger had prepared an intermediate battery with his three pieces, which he occasionally applied to right and left. At first it was directed against Lee’s left, but very soon every piece was applied upon Campbell’s right, which was veryinjurious to his column.

Major Greene, commanding in the star redoubt, sensible of the danger to which he was exposed, if the attempted lodgment upon his front curtain succeeded, determined to try the bayonet in his ditch as well as on his parapet. To captains Campbell and French was committed this bold effort. Entering into the ditch through a sally-port in the rear of the star, they took opposite directions, and soon came in contact, the one with Duval, the other with Seldon. Here ensued a desperate conflict. The Americans, not only fighting with the enemy in front but with the enemy overhead, sustained gallantly the unequal contest, until Duval and Seldon became disabled by wounds, when they yielded, and were driven back with great loss to the point of entry. The few surviving escaped with the hookmen to our trenches, where yet remained Campbell, the sand-bags not being removed. On the left, the issue was very different. Rudolph gained the enemy’s ditch, and followed by the column, soon opened his way into the fort, from which the enemy, giving their last fire, precipitately retreated. Measures were in train on the part of Lee, to follow up his blow by passing the rivulet, entering the town, and forcing the fortified prison, whence the left might have yielded substantial aid to the attack upon the star, by compelling Cruger to struggle for the town, or forcing him with all his troops to take refuge in the star; a situation not long to be held, crowded as he must havebeen, and destitute of water. The adverse fortune experienced in the assault on the right, made the mind of Greene return to his cardinal policy, the preservation of adequate force to keep the field.

Charmed with the courage displayed in his view, and regretting its disadvantageous application, he sent orders to Campbell to draw off, and to Lee to desist from further advance, but to hold the stockade abandoned by the enemy.

Our loss amounted, during the siege, to one hundred and eighty-five killed and wounded; that of the garrison to eighty-five. Captain Armstrong, of the Maryland line, was the only officer killed on our side, as was lieutenant Roney the only one on their side. After our repulse, Greene sent a flag to lieutenant colonel Cruger, proposing a cessation of hostilities for the purpose of burying the dead; but as to the burial of the dead the proposition was rejected, Cruger not choosing to admit our participation in a ceremonial which custom had appropriated to the victor.

As soon as it was dark, the detachment was withdrawn from the stockade, and preparations were begun for retreat.

On the 19th, Greene communicated to Sumpter the event of the preceding day, advised him of the route of retreat, and ordered the corps in his front, with the cavalry under Washington, to join him with celerity. Taking leave of Mrs. Cruger and Mrs. Greene, and leaving for the protection ofthe ladies the usual guard,[note 18] until Col. Cruger should be advised of his retreat, and take his measures for their security, the American general withdrew, having two days before sent forward his sick and wounded. During the preceding night, gloom and silence pervaded the American camp: every one disappointed,—every one mortified. Three days more, and Ninety-Six must have fallen; but this short space was unattainable. Rawdon had approached our vicinity with a force not to be resisted, and it only remained to hold the army safe, by resuming that system which adverse fortune had rendered familiar to us. Greene alone preserved his equanimity; and highly pleased by the unshaken courage displayed in the assault, announced his grateful sense of the conduct of the troops, as well during the siege as in the late heroic attack; presaging from the past, the happiest result whenever an opportunity should be presented of contending with the enemy upon equal terms,—to the attainment of which his best exertions would be invariably directed, relying, as he did, upon the same dauntless spirit recently exhibited. Conscious as the army was of having done its duty, it derived consolation from this exhilarating address, and burying in oblivion the grating repulse, looked forward with the anticipation of soon displaying their courage in a fair and decisive battle.

General Greene, moving with celerity, gained the Saluda, where he was joined by his cavalry. Forming his rear-guard of his horse, the legion infantry and Kirkwood’s Delawares, he continued his retreat towards Charlotte in North Carolina, and passed successively the Enoree, the Tiger and Broad rivers, his sick and wounded continuing to precede him.

In the morning of the 21st, the British army reached Ninety-Six, having for fourteen days been incessantly pressing forward by forced marches; exposed not only to the privations inseparable from rapid movement through an exhausted country, but also to the southern sun, in the sultry season debilitating and destructive.

Here followed a delightful scene, and one which soldiers only can enjoy. The relieving army was welcomed with the fulness of gratitude due to its exertions and their effect. Responsive to this was the hearty applause bestowed on the garrison, equally merited by the courage and firmness displayed throughout the late trying period. Officer embracing officer, and soldiers mingling with soldiers, gave themselves up to those gratulations resulting from the happy conclusion of their mutual toils and mutual perils. This pleasing scene lasted only a few hours; for Rawdon, not satisfied with the relief of Ninety-Six, flattered himself with adding to the triumph already gained, by destroying or dispersing the army of Greene. Having replaced his fatigued and sick with a part of the force under Cruger, notwithstanding his long march, notwithstanding the sultry season, he moved in the evening in pursuit of Greene.

Passing the Saluda he pressed forward to the Enoree, on the south side of which his van came up with the American rear under Washington and Lee. Although his lordship had, during his repose in the lower country, continued to strengthen himself with a newly raised corps of horse under major Coffin,[note 19] he did not derive, in this excursion, any material good from this accession of force. No attempt was hazarded against the American rear, which, conscious of its superior cavalry, retired slowly, always keeping the British van in view. While at the Enoree, lord Rawdon acquired information which convinced him of the impracticability of accomplishing his enterprise, and induced him to spare his harassed troops unnecessary increase of fatigue. Halting here for the night, the British general retraced his steps next morning to Ninety-Six. This being made known to Greene, he directed lieutenant colonel Lee with his corps to follow the enemy, for the purpose of obtaining and communicating intelligence. After reaching Ninety-Six, Rawdon prepared to evacuate the post; and having entered into arrangements with the loyalists of that district for the removal of themselves and families into the lines intended to be retained, he adopted a plan of retreat calculated to secure the undisturbed execution of his views. Despatching orders to lieutenant colonel Stuart to advance with his regiment from Charleston, (and to take in his charge a convoy destined for the army) to Friday’s ferry on the Congaree, his lordship, leaving at Ninety-Six the major part of his force, took with the residue the direct road for the concerted point of junction.

Cruger was ordered to hasten the preparations necessary for the removal of the loyalists, then to abandon the theatre of his glory, and by taking a route considerably to his lordship’s right, to interpose the river Edisto between himself and his enemy, moving down its southern banks to Orangeburgh, where the road from Friday’s ferry to Charleston crossed that river. This disposition was advantageous to the column of Cruger, which was the most vulnerable, being heavily encumbered with property of the loyalists, as well as with the public stores. But it would not have availed, had not the distance from Cruger been too great for Greene to overtake him, without much good fortune, before he should place himself behind the Edisto; after which the course of Cruger’s route would expose Greene to the sudden and co-operative attack of Rawdon and lieutenant colonel Stuart. When the determination of the British general to abandon Ninety-Six, and with it all the upper country yet held by him, was communicated to Greene, he irnmediately drew near to the enemy, in order to seize any advantage which might present itself; previously directing his hospital and heavy baggage at Winnsborough to be removed to Cambden. As soon as the preparations for the evacuation of Ninety-Six and the removal of the loyalists had advanced to their desired maturity, Rawdon separated himself from Cruger and marched to Friday’s ferry; inviting, in appearance, the American general to strike Cruger.

For the reasons before assigned this course of operations was avoided, and general Greene decided to pursue Rawdon; and in this decision he was confirmed by the information derived from an intercepted letter from lieutenant colonel Balfour, the commandant of Charleston, to lord Rawdon, stating the reasons which produced the recal of Stuart with his corps, after he had commenced his march towards Friday’s ferry, in pursuance of orders from Cornwallis. Lee was accordingly directed to continue close to the British army, and to gain its front upon reaching Friday’s ferry, where he would find Sumpter and Marion, ordered to take the same position, with the confident expectation that by their united exertions the advance of lord Rawdon, (uninformed of Stuart’s recal,) should he quit his position on the Congaree, might be retarded until Greene could come up with him. Obeying this order, lieutenant colonel Lee continued on the left flank and rear of the retiring army; when finding that his lordship had halted at Friday’s ferry, he prepared in the course of the night to pass from the left to the right flank of the enemy, the Congaree river rendering this change in direction indispensable; as otherwise the enemy’s front could not be gained, who was on the south of that river, and Lee’s position to the rear of the British being on the north of the river. Well apprized, from his knowledge of the adjacent country acquired when before fort Granby, that only the rich settlement south of Friday’s ferry could afford sufficient forage for the British army, Lee determined to avail himself of the probable chance to strike the enemy which would be presented the ensuing morning by the British foragers. In the evening he directed captain Eggleston, of the cavalry, to proceed with thirty dragoons along the enemy’s right, and taking with him Armstrong, previously despatched in that quarter with a reconnoitring party, to make in the course of the night a proper disposition of his force for the contemplated purpose. Eggleston immediately joined Armstrong, and repaired to the expected theatre of action, placing himself in a secret and convenient position. Soon after day-light, the next morning, a foraging party, consisting of fifty or sixty dragoons and some wagons, were discovered approaching the very farm to which Eggleston had directed his attention. As soon as the wagons and escort had advanced within reach of Eggleston, he rushed upon the enemy, broke up the forages, routed the party, and brought off forty-five dragoons prisoners. This handsomely executed stroke was the more agreeable, as Eggleston, by his judicious position and rapid charge, contrived to accomplish his object without any loss. General Greene complimented the captain and party in general orders; and the legion horse derived credit with the enemy, very flattering to its reputation, from the brilliant success of this detachment.

The prisoners being despatched to headquarters, lieutenant colonel Lee pursued his route to the enemy’s front, which passed over a difficult defile in a line with the British camp. The infantry, preceding the cavalry, was directed to pass the defile and to occupy the heights on the left to cover the horse, whose passage was tedious, they being compelled to move in single file. The course taken by Lee was too near the enemy, and his cavalry must have suffered considerably had Rawdon been apprized of his movement and of the difficulty of the defile in his route. When the troops in the centre had entered the defile we were alarmed by beating to arms in the camp of the infantry, which was soon followed by their forming in line of battle.

This unexpected event was felt by all, but most by the amiable surgeon[note 20] of the infantry, who was at that moment leading his horse through the defile. Not doubting but that battle must instantly take place, and believing the wiser course was to avoid, not to meet it, the surgeon turned his horse with a view of getting (as he believed) out of danger; never reflecting in his panic that the passage did not admit the turning of a horse. Ductile to the force of the bridle, the horse attempted to turn about, but was brought upon his head athwart the narrow passage, from which position he could not possibly extricate himself. The troop, which had passed the defile, instantly galloped up the hill and arrayed with the infantry, while the remaining two troops were arrested by the panic of an individual.

Eggleston, who commanded the troop so unhappily situated, dismounting several of his strongest dragoons, pulled the horse back again lengthways of the defile. He had then space to use his limbs and soon stood upon his feet, and our deranged and distressed cavalry were enabled to pass the defile. This accident interrupted the progress of the horse for ten minutes,—ample time for their destruction, had the enemy been at hand. It turned out that captain Handy, the officer of the day, deviating a little from his course in visiting the sentinels, was seized by a small patrole of the enemy and carried off out of musket fire; there he was stripped of his watch and money, and left upon condition of not stirring until his captors should reach a designated point in view, when he was permitted to return to his corps. It was his return which produced that sudden change upon the hill, which as suddenly alarmed our surgeon, and led to the described occurrence in the defile. The remainder of the cavalry hurried, as they passed, to join their friends; and lieutenant colonel Lee with the last troop at length got over. Finding no enemy, as, from what had passed, was strongly apprehended, the agitating scene concluded with continuance of the march, after some humorous animadversions on the surprised captain and the American Falstaff. Moving in silence, and with much caution, at length the legion reached undisturbed the enemy’s front. Here it turned up the road towards the British camp, and Rudolph with the infantry drove in the piquets at the bridge over the water course which had just been passed.

Having destroyed the bridge, and posting guards along the water course to the river, Lee encamped one mile in the enemy’s front, expecting hourly to hear of the advance of the corps under Sumpter and Marion.

Lord Rawdon was not inattentive to the changing condition of affairs. The daring measure executed in his view was truly interpreted. Not joined by Stuart, and unacquainted with the cause of his delay, he determined not to risk the approach of Greene. He accordingly put his army in motion, and despatched his light troops to the river shore, where the creek in his front emptied into the river, and where the meeting of the waters formed a bar. As soon as the light troops made good their passage, the American guards were driven in and the bridge replaced, over which the main body and baggage of the enemy proceeded, forcing Lee before them.

The whole evening was spent in rapid movement; the corps of Lee falling back upon Beaver creek, in the confident expectation of being immediately joined by Sumpter, Marion, and Washington, when a serious combined effort would have been made to stop the progress of the enemy. In this expectation, founded on Greene’s despatch, Lee was disappointed: neither Sumpter, Marion, nor Washington appeared, nor was any communication received from either. Lieutenant colonel Lee, not doubting that the wished for junction would be effected the next morning, determined, if practicable, to establish his night quarters near Beaver creek, on the south side of which the road by the Eutaws and Motte’s post from Charleston intersected that from Charleston by the way of Orangeburgh. This spot, too, gave advantages favorable to that effort which it was presumed would follow the union of the three corps.

Rawdon, still uninformed as to Stuart, and feeling his own inferiority, persevered in his determination to avoid any exposure; not doubting that the American general was pressing forward to bring him to action before he could be reinforced. He continued to advance until nine P.M., when he halted for the night; Lee, moving a few miles in his front, took up also his night position. With the dawn of day the British van appeared, and the corps of Lee retired. Repeating their rapid movement this day, this day passed along as had the preceding, till at length the American corps reached Beaver creek and took post behind it.

Not yet had any intelligence been received of or from the militia corps; and here was the last point where the junction was practicable, as Sumpter and Marion were in the eastern country, to Lee’s left, and would advance on the road from Motte’s post, which here fell into that going to Orangeburgh. Lord Rawdon upon reaching the creek hastened over; and lieutenant colonel Lee, finding his expectations illusive, turned to his left, proceeding down the Congaree; yielding up any further struggle to hold the enemy’s front.

The British general advanced along the Orangeburgh road, and halted at the small village of Orangeburgh, where he was joined on the next day by lieutenant colonel Stuart with the regiment of Buffs and convoy. Informed of the march of Stuart from Charleston with the convoy, Greene ordered Marion and Washington to make an attempt upon this officer, encumbered as he was; not doubting that this service could be performed in time to unite with Lee. Stuart’s march was very slow, which, consuming more time than was expected, prevented Marion and Washington from reaching Lee before his passage of Beaver creek. Marion did not succeed against Stuart. Colonel Horree, one of his officers, cut off a few wagons; the only advantage gained by the American corps. On the succeeding day Sumpter, Marion and Washington joined Lee, when the united corps advanced under Sumpter a few miles towards Orangeburgh convenient to the route of the American army. General Greene, on the subsequent day, passed Beaver creek; and, encamping contiguous to the van troops, put himself at the head of his cavalry, commanded by Washington and Lee, accompanied by his principal officers, for the purpose of examining the enemy’s position, with a view of forcing it if possible. The reconnoitre was made with great attention, and close to the enemy: for being destitute of cavalry, lord Rawdon had no means to interrupt it. After spending several hours in examining the British position, general Greene decided against hazarding an assault. The force of the enemy was about sixteen hundred, infantry and artillery, without horse: Greene’s army, comprehending every sort, was rated at two thousand, of which near a moiety was militia. Cruger had not joined, being engaged in his march, and in depositing his loyalists in their new homes; but he was daily expected, and would add at least fourteen hundred infantry and some few dragoons to the British force. If, therefore, any attempt was to be made against Rawdon, delay became inadmissible. Some of the officers attending upon Greene, and in whose opinions he properly confided, did not consider the obstacles to assault so serious; and believed that it was necessary to strike the enemy, in order to induce him to relinquish his design of establishing a post at Orangeburgh with the view of holding all the country south of the Edisto and west of the Santee.

But the majority concurred with the general, and the contemplated attack was abandoned.[note 21] Two powerful reasons led to this decision. One that the British general was not only in a strong position, but that he had secured his retreat across the Edisto, by occupying with musketry a large brick prison and several other houses commanding the river, to the southern banks of which he could readily retire uninjured, should he think proper to avoid battle until lieutenant colonel Cruger should join. Thus only could partial success be attained, if any, and that no doubt with severe loss. The second, that the cavalry, from the nature of the ground and the disposition of the enemy, could not be brought to take its part in the action; and as ours formed an essential portion of the American army, it was deemed unwise to seek for battle when deprived of this aid. It was very desirable to compel the enemy to relinquish his design of holding the country south of the Edisto by establishing a post at Orangeburgh; but other means might be resorted to productive of this end. One very obvious was adopted by the American general when about to decamp, and which did completely effect his views.

We had often experienced in the course of the campaign want of food,[note 22] and had sometimes seriously
suffered from the scantiness of our supplies, rendered more pinching by their quality; but never did we suffer so severely as during the few days’ halt here. Rice furnished our substitute for bread, which, although tolerably relished by those familiarized to it from infancy, was very disagreeable to Marylanders and Virginians, who had grown up in the use of corn or wheat bread. Of meat we had literally none; for the few meagre cattle brought to camp as beef would not afford more than one or two ounces per man. Frogs abounded in some neighboring ponds, and on them chiefly did the light troops subsist. They became in great demand from their nutriciousness; and, after conquering the existing prejudice, were diligently sought after. Even the alligator was used by a few; and, very probably, had the army been much longer detained upon that ground, might have rivalled the frog in the estimation of our epicures.

The heat of the season had become oppressive, and the troops began to experience its effect in sickness. General Greene determined to repair to some salubrious and convenient spot to pass the sultry season; and having selected the High Hills of Santee, a place so called from the eminence of its ground, it became very opportune, while directing his march with the main body to his camp of repose, to detach his light troops against the British posts in the vicinity of Charleston, now uncovered by the concentration of all the enemy’s disposable force in Orangeburgh. When, therefore, he decamped on the 13th of July, he ordered Sumpter, Marion and Lee to move rapidly towards Charleston; and, after breaking up the posts at and about Dorchester, to unite at Monk’s Corner, for the purpose of dislodging the nineteenth regiment stationed there under lieutenant colonel Coates. This service performed, their several corps would rendezvous at the High Hills of Santee, to which position the general now commenced his march.

The corps took distinct routes, concealing their march, and prepared to fall at the same moment, in different directions, upon the country lying between the Ashley and Cooper rivers. The small post at Dorchester was broken up, and some trivial successes gained by the several corps,—among which the most important was achieved by lieutenant colonel Hampton, commanding Sumpter’s cavalry, who falling in with some mounted refugees, dispersed the whole body, and made forty or fifty prisoners. A party of the legion horse was pushed below the quarter house in the neck, from the confidence that in a place so near Charleston an advantageous stroke might be made. But it so happened that on that day none of the usual visits to the quarter house took place, nor was even a solitary officer picked up in their customary morning rides.

Sumpter hastened towards Monk’s Corner, where lay the nineteenth regiment,—an adequate prize for our previously disappointed exertions. Marion joined him on the same day, and Lee, having called in his parties from the neck, followed on the subsequent morning. This officer expected that general Sumpter would have seized the bridge over the Cooper river near Monk’s Corner, which afforded a direct route to the militia camp. But lieutenant colonel Coates had very prudently occupied it with a detachment from his regiment, which compelled Lee to take a very circuitous route through deep sands, in the heat of July, to reach Sumpter, then ready to fall upon Coates as soon as he should be joined by Lee. Late in the evening the desired junction took place, and the next morning Monk’s Corner was to have been assaulted. Coates had three routes of retreat, either of which led directly to Charleston. Two lay on the east of Cooper river and one to the west. The western offered the readiest route; for by passing the bridge in his possession, he would place Cooper’s river on his left and become relieved from water obstruction in his whole progress. It was, however, deemed safer to take the two routes on the east of the river; one of which led over the Cooper, some miles below Monk’s Corner, intersecting the western route in Charleston neck, and the other continued on the east of the river, crossing, the same river opposite to the town. The head waters of Cooper river make several branches about Monk’s Corner, all having bridges over them. Brigadier Sumpter took the precaution to hold by a detachment from his corps the bridge over that water course in the way of lieutenant colonel Coates, should he take the eastern route, and calculated that the resistance at that bridge would give him time to come up with the enemy. During the night Coates decamped in silence, setting fire to the church which had been used as a magazine, for the purpose of destroying stores which could not be withdrawn, and which he did not choose to leave for the accommodation of his enemy. The fire in the course of some hours penetrated through the roof, and, making then a wide illumination, was descried from our camp.

No doubt existed but that the British regiment had fired the house, and of course that it had considerably advanced in its retreat, notwithstanding the presumed possession of a bridge over which it must pass. The troops were called to arms, and with great celerity moved upon Monk’s Corner; where it was discovered that the enemy, for the purpose of consuming his stores, had burnt the church, and that he had retreated on the eastern side of the Cooper. In this direction Sumpter pursued, preceded by the legion, which was supported by the state cavalry under lieutenant colonel Hampton. To our surprise and mortification, no opposition at the bridge had taken place; and indeed our inquiries terminated in the conviction that the detachment destined to occupy that post had abandoned it a few hours after they had been sent to possess it. Hence arose our ignorance of Coates’s movement, which could not have occurred had the militia party continued at their post, and to which ignorance the foe owed his escape. Continuing to press the pursuit, the cavalry became considerably advanced before the infantry and the mounted militia under brigadier Marion. When they had reached the point where the roads separate, the British horse (not more than a troop) had taken the route nearest to Cooper river. Expecting that it might be overtaken before it could pass, having only the ferryboats for its transportation, a detachment from the militia was ordered to pursue. But the attempt proved abortive, the British dragoons having crossed the river some hours before our detachment reached it.

Lee with the cavalry pursued the main body, and drew near to it in the neighborhood of Quinby bridge, about eighteen miles from Monk’s Corner. It was much wished to come up with Coates before he crossed that bridge, as it was well known that the stream, without a circuit, was only passable at the bridge, which it was certain the enemy would secure or destroy. As soon as the officer in advance announced view of the enemy, Lee inquired of his guides the distance from the bridge, and heard with great pleasure that it was at least three miles in front. The legion cavalry was now directed to take close order; and captain Eggleston with one troop was detached in the woods to the left to turn the enemy’s right, while the squadron under Lee, supported by the cavalry under lieutenant colonel Hampton, advanced along the road directly towards him. These in our view appeared to be Coates’s rear guard, charged with his baggage wagons, and not to exceed one hundred men, and to be all infantry. Upon the approach of the horse in two directions, the commanding officer formed in line; his left on the road, and his right in the woods opposite to Eggleston. This disposition was the very one desired; as a deep swamp lined the margin of the road, in which Lee apprehended the enemy would take post to cover the road and wagons. To obviate this apprehended measure formed the principal reason for throwing Eggleston to the left. The instant the enemy had formed, the charge was sounded, and the horse rushed upon them with drawn swords in full gallop. On our approach the enemy’s order to fire was distinctly heard from right to left, which not taking place caused some inquietude, lest it was intentionally reserved to render it more fatal.

Contrary to expectation this was not the case. The suppression of their meditated fire was not a feint; but the line,[note 23] terrified at the novel and menacing attitude of the horse close upon it, hoped to secure their safety by this inoffensive conduct; and, without discharging a single musket, threw down their arms and begged for quarters. Their supplication was cheerfully granted, and like ourselves they escaped unhurt. Not doubting but that Quinby bridge was yet at least one mile in front, the cavalry were brought to order, and, leaving the captured rear in care of a few of the militia horse, hastened to strike the last blow.

They had not proceeded far when a courier was despatched to lieutenant colonel Lee with information that captain Campbell had ordered his men to resume their arms, and this recalled Lee for a few minutes.

At this instant Armstrong with the leading section came in sight of Coates, who, having passed the bridge, was carelessly reposing, expecting his rear guard,—having determined to destroy the bridge as soon as his rear and baggage should have passed it. With this view the planks were mostly raised from the sleepers, lying on them loosely, ready to be thrown into the stream when the rear should get over. Seeing the enemy, with the bridge interposed, which he knew to be contrary to his commandant’s expectation, this gallant officer drew up, and sent back for orders—never communicating the unexpected fact that the bridge intervened. Lee, sending his adjutant ta the captain, warmly reminded him of the order of the day, which was to fall upon the foe without respect to consequences. Stung with this answer, the brave Armstrong put spur to his horse at the head of his section and threw himself over the bridge upon the guard stationed there with a howitzer. So sudden was this charge that he drove all before him,—the soldiers abandoning their piece. Some of the loose planks were dashed off by Armstrong’s section, which, forming a chasm in the bridge, presented a dangerous obstacle. Nevertheless the second section, headed by lieutenant Carrington, took the leap and closed with Armstrong, then engaged in a personal combat with lieutenant colonel Coates, who, placing himself on the side of a wagon which with a few others had kept up with the main body, effectually parried the many sabre strokes aimed at his head. Most of his soldiers, appalled at the sudden and daring attack, had abandoned their colonel and were running through the field, some with, some without arms, to take shelter in the farm house.

Lee now got up to the bridge, where captain O’Neal with the third section had halted; and seeing the howitzer in our possession, and the whole regiment, except lieutenant colonel Coates, flying in confusion, (while the lieutenant colonel with a few, mostly officers, were defending themselves with their swords and calling upon their soldiers for assistance,) he used every effort to recover and replace the planks. The gap having been enlarged by Carrington’s section throwing off more planks, O’Neal’s horses would not take the leap; and the creek was deep in water and deeper in mud, so that the dragoons, who had dismounted for the purpose of getting the plank, could not, even though clinging to the studs of the bridge, stop from sinking—there being no foothold to stand upon; nor was it possible to find any firm spot from whence to swim the horses across. In this perplexing condition the victory gained by the gallantry of one troop of dragoons was wrested from them, when to complete it only a passage across the creek, not twenty yards wide, was wanting. Discerning the halt of the horse, the enemy took courage, and the bravest of the soldiers hastening back to their leader soon relieved him. Armstrong and Carrington, compelled to abandon the unequal contest, forced their way down the great road, turning into the woods up the stream to rejoin the corps. Lee continued struggling to replace the planks, until Coates (relieved from Armstrong) repaired with the few around him to defend the bridge, where remained his deserted howitzer. Having only sabres to oppose to the enemy’s fire, and those sabres withheld from contact by the interposing chasm, Lee was forced to draw off from the vain contest, after several of his dragoons had been wounded, among whom was doctor Irvin, surgeon of the legion cavalry.[note 24]

As soon as he had reached the enemy, Lee despatched the intelligence to brigadier Marion, and to the legion infantry, urging their approach; and now foiled at the bridge, he communicated to Marion his having moved some distance up the creek to a ford, which, from the information derived from his guides, would afford a ready passage. To this place he urged the brigadier to direct his march, assuring him that by their united effort the enemy might still be destroyed.

Marion pressed his march with diligence, bringing with him the legion infantry; and having passed the creek, united with Lee late in the evening, in front of the house, which, in their panic, had been so eagerly sought by the flying British soldiers, and which was now possessed by lieutenant colonel Coates, who had repaired to it with his wagons and howitzer; affording, as it did, the most eligible position he could assume. Posted in the house, the outhouses, and along the yard and garden fences, with his howitzer in front and under cover of the house, lieutenant colonel Coates found himself safe. Marion and Lee, seeing that no point of his position was assailable with probable hope of success, (destitute, as they were, of artillery,) reluctantly gave up this regiment; and being low down in a neck, within striking distance from Charleston, after all the fatigue of the day they deemed it necessary to retire fifteen miles before they could give rest to their troops.

At this moment Armstrong and Carrington, whose suspended fate had excited painful sensations in the breasts of their friends, happily joined with their shattered sections. Both the officers were unhurt, only one horse killed and one wounded, but some few of the bravest dragoons were killed and more wounded.

Sending the captain with a detachment to the ground of action, for the purpose of bringing off the dead and wounded, Lee followed Marion; who having detached a party to replace the planks of the bridge, took the direct course to it through the field. While we halted here with the legion cavalry until Armstrong should rejoin, one of our wounded dragoons came hobbling out of the swamp, into which he had scrambled when his horse had fallen by the same ball which had shattered the rider’s knee. Armstrong now came up, bringing with him sad evidences of his intrepid charge. Some of his finest fellows had fallen in this honorable, though unsuccessful attempt; soldiers who had passed from early life through the war, esteemed and admired. Placing the wounded in the easiest posture for conveyance, and bearing the dead on the pummels of our saddles, we concluded a toilsome sixteen hours in the sadness of grief; not for the loss of brave soldiers, nobly dying in their country’s cause, but because they fell in an abortive attack, rendered so by unforseen incidents. Had the bridge near Monk’s Corner (over which the British passed) been held in conformity to Sumpter’s plan and order, Coates would have been overtaken before he arrived at Quinby’s. Had the guides been correct in their estimation of the distance of the bridge, when we first saw the enemy’s rear, Lee (having taken the rear guard) would have found out some other route to the main body, and have avoided the fatal obstacle. Had Armstrong, referring for further orders, communicated the interposition of the bridge, the warm reply would never have been made, but a cool examination of our relative situation would have followed; the result of which must have been propitious. Coates and his regiment must have fallen; giving increase of fame to our army, with solid good to our cause; and the sad loss would not have occurred. To produce a discomfiture, this series of omission and error was necessary and did take place. Soldiers may and must struggle,—but unless fortune smile their struggle cannot always avail.

As soon as we reached our quarters, one common grave was prepared for the dead, and at the dawn of light the rites of sepulture were performed.

The prisoners and baggage which had been taken were instantly sent off under proper escort, and safely delivered to brigadier Sumpter. With the baggage was taken the regimental military chest, whose contents being divided among the troops, by the brigadier’s order, gave to each soldier one guinea. We gained, on the following day, the neighborhood of Nelson’s ferry, where the troops were permitted to repose for twenty-four hours. Resuming our march, we crossed the Santee, and by easy marches joined in a few days the army at the High Hills. Incomplete as was this expedition, the zeal and vigor uniformly exhibited reflected credit on all employed in it; and the general, always disposed to honor merit, testified his grateful approbation in very flattering terms. Armstrong, Carrington, and their gallant band, were, as they deserved, distinguished. The troops were placed in good quarters, and the heat of July rendered tolerable by the high ground, the fine air and good water of the selected camp. Disease began to abate, our wounded to recover, and the army to rise in bodily strength. Enjoying this period of rest, the first experienced since Greene’s assumption of the command, it was natural to meditate upon the past scenes. Nor was the conclusion of such meditations less instructive than agreeable. The wisdom of the general was manifest; and the zeal, patience and firmness exhibited by the troops could not be denied. It is true, that untoward occurrences had deprived us of two victories, and lost us Ninety-Six; but it was no less true, that the comprehensive views of the general, with his inflexible perseverance, and unvarying activity, had repaired these mortifying disappointments, and had closed the campaign with the successful execution of his object. Defeat had been changed by its consequences into victory, and our repulse had been followed by accession of territory. The conquered states were regained, and our exiled countrymen were restored to their deserted homes,—sweet rewards of toil and peril. Such results can only be attributed to superior talents, seconded by skill, courage and fidelity. Fortune often gives victory; but when the weak oppose the strong, destitute of the essential means of war, it is not chance but sublime genius which guides the intermediate operations, and controls the ultimate event.

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