Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

up the advantage which he had gained: General Greene retreated no farther than Rugely's mills; and the presence of his army, together with the activity and courage of his followers, fomented the spirit of disaffection to the British authority which had manifested itself in many parts of the southern provinces, and kept Rawdon in a very uneasy and critical situation. Knowing that the British troops could not long remain in Camden without receiving fresh supplies from Charleston or the country, General Greene sent a reinforcement to Marion on the road to Nelson's ferry; and on the 3d of May he passed the Wateree with the remainder of his army, and from time to time took such positions as would most effectually prevent the garrison of Camden from receiving any supplies.

Colonel Watson, as has been already mentioned, was marching with upward of 400 men to reinforce Rawdon. Marion and Lee having obtained information of his route, resolved to obstruct his progress, and took post so judiciously at the fords, that Watson was obliged to alter his course. He marched down the north side of the Santee, crossed it near its mouth, with incredible labor advanced up its southern bank, recrossed it above the encampment of Marion and Lee, but a little below the confluence of its two great branches the Congaree and Wateree, and arrived safely at Camden with his detachment on the 7th of May.

This reinforcement gave Rawdon a decided superiority, and he resolved instantly to avail himself of it. Accordingly, next night he marched against General Greene, with the intention of attacking him in his camp; but that officer, apprized of the reinforcement, and aware that it would immediately be employed against him, left the ground which he had lately occupied, passed the Wateree retired to a greater distance from Camden, and took a strong position behind Saunder's creek. Rawdon followed him, and drove in his outposts ; but, after attentively viewing his camp at all points, he was convinced that it could not be forced without a loss which he was in no condition to sustain; therefore he returned to Camden.

Rawdon's situation had now become extremely critical. Marion and Lee were exerting themselves with much activity and success against the chain of British posts, and the communications were every day becoming more difficult. It was necessary to diminish the number of posts, and to confine them within a narrower range. Accordingly, on the 10th of May, the British general burned the jail, mills, some private houses, part of his own stores, evacuated Camden, and retired, by Nelson's ferry, to the south of Santee, leaving behind him about thirty of his own sick and wounded, and as many Americans who had fallen into his hands in the battle of Hobkerk's hill.

After the evacuation of Camden, several of the British posts fell in rapid succession. On the 11th the garrison of Orangeburgh, consisting of seventy militia and twelve regulars, yielded to Sumpter. Marion and Lee, after taking Fort Watson, crossed the Santee and marched against Fort Motte, situated on the south side of the Congaree, a little above its confluence with the Wateree; they invested it on the 8th of May, and carried on their approaches so vigorously, that, after a brave defence, the garrison, consisting of sixty-five men, capitulated on the 12th. Georgetown, a post on the Black river, was reduced by a detachment of Marion's corps; and, on the 15th, Fort Grandby, a post at Friday's ferry, on the south side of the Congaree, thirty miles above Fort Motte, garrisoned by 350 men, chiefly militia,

surrendered to Lee. The presence of General Greene's army, the activity and success of his adherents, and the retreat of Rawdon, made the smothered disaffection of the inhabitants burst into a flame ; and the greater part of the province openly revolted from the British authority. In that critical emergency, Rawdon retreated to Monk's corner, a position which enabled him to cover those districts from which

self.

Charleston drew its more immediate supplies. General Greene, having succeeded in reducing so many of the British posts, and in forcing Rawdon to retire to Monk's corner, instead of following his lordship, turned his attention toward the western parts of the province, and to the upper posts in Georgia. He ordered Colonel Pickens to assemble the militia of Ninety-Six; and, on the day after the surrender of Fort Grandby, sent Lee to join him.

On the reduction of Georgia and South Carolina by the British in 1780, many of the most determined friends of congress in the upper parts of those states retreated across the mountains or fled into North Carolina ; but the greater number, despairing of the popular cause, submitted to the conquerors, flattering themselves with the hope of being allowed to live in peace and in the secure enjoyment of their property. But when these men, accustomed to live on their lands in a state of rude independence, found themselves treated with overbearing insolence, plundered with unsparing rapacity, and compelled to take up arms against their countrymen, all their former predilections returned, and a spirit of bitter hostility to the royal authority was engendered.

When the British army, leaving only feeble garrisons behind, marched to the northward in the career of victory and conquest, this spirit soon manifested it

Colonel Clarke with some adherents marched against the British garrison at Augusta. But Lieutenant-Colonel Cruger, who commanded at Ninety-Six, proceeded to the relief of Colonel Brown, the commandant of Augusta. Clarke was obliged to flee, and that premature insurrection was suppressed. Such of Clarke's adherents as fell into the hands of Colonel Brown were treated with the utmost rigor. But the spirit of opposition to the royal authority, though damped, was not extinguished : armed parties, commonly acting without any concert, daily multiplied, and disturbed the peace of the British garrisons. Captain M‘Koy, with a few daring adventurers, infested the banks of the Savannah, and took some boats going up the river with supplies to Augusta : he defeated a party sent against him by Colonel Brown ; but, though joined by Colonel Harden and his band, he was afterward defeated by Brown, and his followers for a while dispersed.

These désultory encounters were now succeeded by more regular and steady operations. Colonel Clarke, with indefatigable zeal, had again returned to his native province; and a number of militia, under General Pickens, assembled in the vicinity of Augusta. On the fall of Fort Granby, Colonel Lee without delay marched toward Pickens's camp, and in four days effected a junction with him. Their first attempt was against Fort Golphin or Dreadnought, at Silver bluff, on the Carolina side of the river Savannah, which was garrisoned by seventy men: on the 1st of May it surrendered to a detachment of Lee's legion under Captain Rudolph.

Pickens and Lee now turned their united arms against Fort Cornwallis at Augusta : they carried on their approaches against the place with skill and activity ; but Colonel Brown made a most obstinate defence. In the course of the siege several batteries were raised which overlooked the fort, and two of them were within thirty yards of the parapet; from these the American riflemen fired with such deadly aim, that every man who showed himself was instantly shot. The garrison almost buried themselves under ground ; but their valor was unavailing, and on the 5th of June they, to the number of 300 men, surrendered by capitulation. The Americans had about forty men killed or wounded in the course of the siege.

The British officers at Augusta, by their severities, had rendered themselves singularly obnoxious to the inhabitants of the surrounding country; and after the surrender, Lieutenant-Colonel Grierson was shot dead by an unknown marksman, who escaped detection, although 100 guineas of reward were offered for the discovery of the murderer. It was with difficulty that Colonel Brown was saved from a similar fate: he had lately hanged thirteen American prisoners, and delivered up some to the Indians, who put them to death with all those tortures which Indian ingenuity has devised, and which savage ferocity only can inflict. To save him from the vengeance of the enraged colonists, his conquerors escorted him safely to Savannah. At Silver Bluff

, Mrs. M'Koy obtained permission to speak with him, and addressed him in the following manner :-* Colonel Brown, in the late day of your prosperity I visited your camp, and on my knees begged the life of my son ; but you were deaf to my supplications. You hanged him, though only a beardless youth, before my face. These eyes have seen him scalped by the savages under your immediate command, and for no better reason than because his name was M'Koy. As you are now a prisoner to the leaders of my country, for the present I lay aside all thoughts of revenge ; but when you resume your sword, I will go 500 miles to demand satisfaction at the point of it for the murder of my son.” If Brown was a man of any sensibility, he must have felt acutely at this singular insult.

While those operations were going on in Georgia, General Greene with his main

army marched against the British post at Ninety-Six, in South Carolina. Ninety-Six (so named because it is ninety-six miles from the town of Kecowee in the territory of the Cherokees), at the time when it came into the possession of the British troops in 1780, like other villages on the frontiers of the colonies, was surrounded by a palisade to defend it against any sudden irruption of the Indians. But the British garrison had added some new works, the most important of which was on the right of the village, and, from its form, was called The Star. It consisted of sixteen salient and re-entering angles, with a dry ditch and abatis. On the left of the place was a valley through which flowed a rivulet that supplied the village with water ; on the one side the valley was commanded by the prison, which was converted into a blockhouse, and on the other by a stockade fort in which a blockhouse had been erected. The garrison consisted of 550 men, 350 of whom were regulars, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Cruger. There were only three pieces of artillery in the place.

When Lord Rawdon found himself under the necessity of evacuating Camden and of retiring to Monk's Corner, he was fully sensible of the danger to which the post of Ninety-Six was exposed. He sent several messengers with instructions to Colonel Cruger to abandon the post, retire to Augusta, unite his force to that of Colonel Brown, and afterward act according to his own discretion. Lest his messengers should be intercepted, he desired Colonel Balfour, commandant of Charleston, to transmit similar instructions. But the disaffection of the province to the British interest had now become so strong, and the roads leading to Ninety-Six were so effectually guarded, that not one of those messengers reached that place : hence Colonel Cruger remained without instructions, and in complete ignorance of the state of the British army in the province. His being left in ignorance he felt as an ominous circumstance : he was weli aware of the hostility of the people, and not without apprehensions of a visit from the American army. In these circumstances he made every preparation for defending his post with vigor : officers and men diligently labored on the works, and by their united exertions a bank of earth, parapet high, was thrown up round the town, and strengthened by an abatis; blockhouses were erected, traverses made covered, communications constructed, and the garrison prepared for a vigorous defence.

On the 22d of May, after the works were finished, the American army under General Greene, consisting of nearly 1,000 men, appeared, and encamped in a wood within cannon-shot of the place. In the course of the ensuing night, General Greene erected two works within seventy paces of the fortifications ; bu

about eleven next forenoon a party, supported by a brisk cannonade from the three pieces of artillery which had been mounted on the Star, and by a close discharge of musketry from the parapet, sallied out, killed such of the Americans as fell in their way, demolished their works, and carried off their intrenching tools. General Greene put his army in motion to support his men in the trenches ; but so expeditiously was the enterprise performed, that the sallying party

returned within the works with little loss. On the night of the 23d, General Greene again broke ground, but at the more cautious distance of 400 yards. Though interrupted by frequent sallies, yet the Americans labored so indefatigably that their second parallel was finished by the 3d of June. On that day they summoned the garrison ; but, on being answered that Lieutenant-Colonel Cruger would defend his post to the last extremity, they carried on their approaches with unabated vigor. The batteries of the second parallel were opened, and a heavy cross-fire enfiladed several of the works. They pushed on a sap against the Star, and advanced their batteries, one of which, constructed of gabions, was erected within thirty-five yards of the abatis, and raised forty feet high, so as to overlook the works of the garrison. Riflemen, posted on the top of it, did considerable execution; and their fire proved so destructive to the men who worked the artillery on the Star, that the guns were abandoned during the day, and used only in the night.

Augusta, as already mentioned, capitulated on the 5th of June; and while Colonel Brown was sent off under an escort to Savannah, Colonel Lee, with the rest of his prisoners, about 300 in number, proceeded to join General Greene at Ninety-Six. He arrived there on the 8th of June; and, in the hope of making some impression on the garrison by the appearance of the prisoners, marched them in full view of the British works in all the parade of military triumph. Strengthened by this reinforcement, General Greene, who hitherto had carried on his approaches against the Star solely, commenced operations, under the direction of Colonel Lee, against the works on the left of the town also, which commanded the water. The approaches were made with vigor, and the defence conducted with skill and persevering valor. But the siege was carried on in such a manner, that every effort of the besieged must soon have been overpowered, and the garrison compelled to surrender. From this mortification they were saved by the approach of Rawdon. The smallness of the force under his command, and the disaffection of the province, had compelled him for some time to remain near Charleston for the security of that important post; but on the 3d of June he received a seasonable reinforcement from Britain, consisting of the 3d, 19th, and 30th regiments, a detachment from the guards, and a considerable number of recruits, the whole under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Gould. This accession to his strength enabled him once more to overrun the province.

On the 7th of June, Rawdon left Charleston with part of the reinforcements, and, being joined by the troops at Monk's Corner, marched to the relief of Ninety-Six at the head of about 2,000 men. In their rapid progress over the whole extent of South Carolina, through a wild country, and under the beams of a scorching sun, the sufferings of his troops were severe ; but they advanced with celerity to the assistance of their brave companions in arms. On the 11th of June, General Greene received notice of Rawdon's march, and immediately sent orders to Sumpter to assemble his militia, keep in front of the British army. and make every effort to retard its progress. To enable him the more effectually to accomplish this purpose, all the cavalry were detached to his assistance. But Rawdon passed Sumpter a little below the junction of the Saluda and Broad rivers, and that officer was never able to regain his front.

Meanwhile the siege was vigorously pressed, in order to force a capitulation before the arrival of Rawdon: but the courage and obstinacy of the garrison

were equal to the activity of the assailants. Sallies were occasionally made, and every attack was met with intrepidity. The garrison was hard pressed, and toward the close of the siege afflicted by want of water ; for every person who, during the day, ventured to approach the rivulet, was instantly shot; and the only resource in order to procure a scanty supply was to send naked negroes to the stream during the night, when their bodies could not be distinguished from the trees around them.

On the side of the Star, the besiegers had formed their third parallel, and carried a mine and two trenches within a few feet of the ditch. Having no heavy cannon, they mounted their field-pieces on batteries which overlooked the fort at the distance of only 140 yards; and riflemen were stationed on an elevated place for the protection of the workmen, so that not a man could show himself on the works with impunity. The garrison was nearly reduced to extremities, and in a few days must have been under the necessity of surrendering. But General Greene knew that Rawdon was fast approaching with a superior force, and that, unless he succeeded against the place, he must soon retreat. Unwilling to abandon a prize almost within his grasp, he, on the 18th of June, made a furious assault on the place, and was supported by a heavy cannonade from the batteries, and a close discharge of musketry from the lines. On the left of the village the assailants were successful, and made a lodgement in the works; but on the right, after a desperate conflict of nearly an hour, General Greene found it necessary to call off his men, who retreated before a fierce sally of the besieged. He now sent off his heavy baggage, and next day retreated. On the 20th he crossed the Saluda, and encamped on Little river. During the siege he lost 155 men: the garrison had eighty-five killed or wounded.

On the morning of the 21st, Rawdon arrived at Ninety-Six, and in the evening of the same day set out in pursuit of General Greene; but his indefatigable adversary, having sent off his sick and wounded, retreated before him on the road to Charlotte, in Virginia, dismantling the corn-mills by the way, in order to render the subsistence of his pursuers more difficult. Rawdon advanced to the Enoree, when, despairing of overtaking the Americans, he returned to Ninety-Six. General Greene's retreat ceased with the pursuit. Rawdon found it necessary to evacuate Ninety-Six, and contract his posts; and, after remaining only two days at Ninety-Six, began his march to the Congaree, with 800 infantry and 600 cavalry, expecting to be there joined by a strong reinforcement, which had been ordered from Charleston. That reinforcement had not set out so early as was intended, and the letter informing Rawdon of the delay had been intercepted.

The British commander probably believed that General Greene was driven out of South Carolina ; but that officer had only retreated behind Broad river; and no sooner did he hear of the divisions of the British forces, than he returned toward the Congaree. Soon after Rawdon's arrival on the last-named river, one of his foraging parties was surprised by Lee's legion within a mile of the British camp, and about forty cavalry made prisoners. The appearance of the American light troops in that part of the country convinced his lordship that General Greene was not far off. He retreated toward Orangeburgh, where he arrived in safety after some interruption from the American light troops, and where he was joined by the expected reinforcements from Charleston, under Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart. That reinforcement Marion endeavored to interrupt, but failed in his main purpose, and gained only a few wagons.

On the Congaree General Greene was joined by Marion and Sumpter with 1,000 men; and on the 11th of July marched toward Orangeburgh, with the intention of attacking the British army in its camp: but on arriving there next

« AnteriorContinuar »