Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

day, found it so strongly posted that he did not venture to make any attempt upon it. While there, General Greene was informed that Ninety-Six was evacuated, and that Lieutenant-Colonel Cruger was on his march to Orangeburgh ; but the river, which for thirty miles was passable at no point except that commanded by Rawdon's position, presented an insuperable barrier to any attempt on Cruger. General Greene, therefore retreated over the Congaree, and marched to the high hills of Santee. In order, however, to alarm Rawdon for his lower posts, he, on the 13th, when leaving the vicinity of Orangeburgh, detached Sumpter, Marion, and Lee, toward Monk's Corner and Dorchester. Those officers proceeded by different routes, took a number of wagons with provisions and baggage, and some prisoners ; but, after hard fighting, the main body of the British effected their retreat.

The weather now became extremely warm; and in that climate the intense heat of summer as effectually stops military operations as the rigor of winter in higher latitudes. In that interval of inaction, Rawdon availed himself of leave of absence, obtained some time before on account of ill health, and embarked for Europe. On his departure, the command of the troops at Orangeburgh devolved on Lieutenant-Colonel Stuart.

General Greene reached the high hills of Santee on the 16th of July, and remained there till the 22d of August. For six months his army had been incessantly employed in marching and fighting; and though he had gained no victory, and had been repulsed with slaughter from one siege, yet he had not only kept the field, but had compelled the British to abandon all their posts in the interior parts of the country. The activity, prudence, courage, and perseverance, of General Greene had been of incalculable value to the cause in which he was engaged.

After the retreat of General Greene, Colonel Stuart proceeded with the Brit ish army to the Congaree, and encamped near its confluence with the Wateree. General Greene, while reposing on the high hills of Santee, was reinforced by a brigade of continental troops from North Carolina, so that his army amounted to 2,500 men. He was still eagerly intent on his purpose of wresting the southern provinces from the hands of the British ; and accordingly, on the 22d of August, as soon as the intense heat began to abate, he left the hills of Santee, and proceeded toward Colonel Stuart's encampment. In a straight line, the two armies were only fifteen miles from each other; but two large rivers intervened, which could not be easily passed without a circuit of seventy miles. Colonel Stuart felt himself in security, and his parties spread widely over the country in order to collect provisions. Marion and Washington were detached to check them, and several smart skirmishes ensued.

On leaving the high hills of Santee, General Greene marched up the Wateree to the vicinity of Camden, where he crossed the river, and proceeded to Friday's ferry on the Congaree, where he was joined by General Pickens and his militia, and the state troops of South Carolina, commanded by Colonel Henderson. On, the approach of the American army, Colonel Stuart retired about forty miles, and took a position at Eutaw springs, sixty miles north from Charleston, where he was reinforced by a detachment which had escorted a convoy of provisions to that place.

General Greene followed him, by easy marches, in order to give Marion time to join him. On the 7th of September, about seven miles from Eutaw springs, that officer, with his detachment, arrived in camp; and it was resolved to attack the British army next day.

At four in the morning of the 8th of September, the American army advanced toward the British encampment in the following order : the South and North Carolina militia, commanded by Generals Pickens and Marion, formed the first line ; the second was composed of continental troops ; the North Carolina brigade, under General Sumner, was on the right; that of Virginia, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell, was in the centre; and that of Maryland, under Colonel Williams, was on the left. The legion of Lee covered the right flank, and the state troops of South Carolina, under Colonel Henderson, covered the left; Washington's cavalry and Kirkwood's infantry formed the reserve. Two three-pounders were attached to the first line, and two six-pounders to the second. The legion and state troops marched in front, with orders to fall back on the flanks when the British line was formed.

At six in the morning, two deserters from the American army entered the British camp, and informed Colonel Stuart of General Greene's approach; but little credit was given to their report. At that time a British party was out in quest of vegetables, on the road by which the Americans were advancing. About four miles from the camp at Eutaw, that party was attacked by the American van, and driven in with loss. Their return convinced Colonel Stuart of the approach of the Americans, and the British army was soon drawn up obliquely across the road on the height near the Eutaw springs. Major Marjoribanks, with the flank battalion, was on the right of the road, his right being covered by a rivulet, while his left was covered by a high, thick hedge. Two pieces of artillery, supported by a party of infantry, occupied the road ; the rest of the British line extended in an oblique direction on the left of the road.

The firing began between two and three miles from the British camp. The British light parties were driven in on their main body ; and the first line of the Americans attacked with great impetuosity. The militia displayed an unusual degree of firmness, but were obliged slowly to give way. The North Carolina troops advanced to support them with much intrepidity. Colonels Williams and Campbell were ordered to charge with the bayonet; and part of the British troops, unable to withstand the shock, gave way and fled; but the veterans, who had been inured to hard service, met the advancing bayonet with the same weapon. For a short time the conflicting ranks were intermingled, and the officers fought hand to hand. At that critical moment, Lee, who had turned the left flank of the British, charged them in the rear. They were broken and driven off the field, and their artillery fell into the hands of the Americans, who eagerly pressed on their retreating adversaries.

At that juncture, the British commander ordered Major Sheridan, with a detachment, to take post in a large three-story brick house, which was in the rear of the army on the right, while another occupied an adjoining palisaded garden, and some close shrubbery ground. The Americans made the most desperate efforts to dislodge them from their posts ; but every attack was unsuccessful. Four pieces of artillery were brought to bear on the house, but made no impression on its solid walls. A close and destructive fire was kept up from the doors and windows of the house, as well as from the strong adjoining ground. Almost all the artillerymen were killed or wounded; and the cannon had been pushed so near the house that they could not be brought off, but were left behind. Colonel Washington attempted to turn the right flank of the British, and charge them in the rear; but his horse was shot under him, and he was wounded and made prisoner. After every attempt to dislodge the British from their strong position had failed, General Greene drew off his men; and, collecting his wounded, retired with his prisoners to the ground which he had left in the morning, there being no water nearer to refresh his fainting troops.

This obstinate and sanguinary conflict lasted almost four hours. We may estimate each of the armies at between 2,000 and 3,000 men; and, in proportion to the number of combatants, the loss on both sides was great. The Americans lost 555 in killed, wounded, and missing, of whom 137 were left dead on the field ; 60 commissioned officers were among the sufferers, of whom 17 were killed on the spot, and four mortally wounded. Among the slain was Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell, of Virginia, whose death was particularly regretted. The British lost 693 men ; of whom 85 were killed, 351 wounded, and 257 missing ; 3 commissioned oflicers were killed, 16 wounded, and 10 missing.

Each party claimed the victory: the Americans, because they had driven the British from their first position ; and the British, because the Americans had been obliged to retire from the field. In the early part of the battle, General Greene had decidedly the advantage; but the British commander ultimately kept his ground.

The British remained on the field on the night after the battle; but next afternoon destroyed part of their stores, and began to retreat toward Monk's Corner, leaving about seventy of their wounded at Eutaw, who afterward fell into the hands of the Americans. About fourteen miles from the field of battle, Colonel Stuart was met by a reinforcement under Major M'Arthur marching from Charleston to his assistance. Thus strengthened, he proceeded to Monk's Corner.

General Greene marched to his former encampment on the high hills of Santee. Both parties had suffered so much at the battle of Eutaw springs, that neither was in a condition to undertake offensive operations ; indeed, the battle of Eutaw was the last engagement of importance in the southern provinces. A number of rencounters happened: but none of them were of much consequence. The British soon retreated to the quarterhouse on Charleston Neck, and confined their operations to the defence of the posts in that vicinity. The interior of the country which had lately been under their dominion, was abandoned, and their chief aim was the security of Charleston, the capital of South Carolina. In the southern provinces the campaign of 1781 was uncommonly active. The exertions and sufferings of the army were great ; but the troops were not the only sufferers; the inhabitants were exposed to many calamities. The success of Colonel Campbell at Savannah laid Georgia and the Carolinas open to all the horrors which attend the movements of conflicting armies, and the rage of civil dissensions, for two years,

In those provinces the inhabitants were nearly divided between the British and American interests, and, under the names of tories and whigs, exercised a savage hostility against each other, threatening the entire depopulation of the country. Besides, each of the contending armies, claiming the provinces as its own, showed no mercy to those who, in the fluctuations of war, abandoned its cause or opposed its pretensions. In the vicinity of Camden, General Greene in one day hanged eight deserters from the American army ; and the British officers commanding in South Carolina were by no means slow in similar acts of sanguinary vengeance. Numbers were put to death as deserters and traitors at the different British posts. One of those executions, that of Colonel Haynes, happened at Charleston, on the 4th of August, while Lord Rawdon was in that town preparing to sail for Europe, and threatened to produce the most sanguinary consequences.

Colonel Haynes had served in the American militia during the siege of Charleston ; but after the capitulation of that place, and the expulsion of the American army from the province, he was, by several concurring circumstances, constrained, with much reluctance, to subscribe a declaration of allegiance to the British government, being assured that his services against his country would not be required. He was allowed to return to his family; but, in violation of the special condition on which he had signed the declaration, he was soon called on to take up arms against his countrymen, and was at length threatened with close confinement in case of further refusal. Colonel Haynes considered this breach of contract on the part of the British, and their inability to

afford him the protection promised in reward of his allegiance, as absolving him from the obligations into which he had entered; and accordingly he returned to the American standard. In the month of July he was taken prisoner, confined in a loathsome dungeon, and, by the arbitrary mandate of Lord Rawdon and Colonel Balfour, without trial, hanged at Charleston. He behaved with much firmness and dignity, and his fate awakened a strong sensation.

General Greene, with his army, was then at the high hills of Santee ; and, as a considerable part of the province was wrested from the hands of the British, he was extremely indignant on the occasion, and demanded of the royal commanders their reasons for this execution. He received a letter from Colonel Balfour, acknowledging that it was the result of a joint order from Lord Rawdon and himself, but in obedience to the most express directions of Cornwallis, to put to death those who should be found in arms after having been, at their own request, received as subjects since the capitulation of Charleston and the clear conquest of the province in 1780. The irritation in General Greene's army on the occa, sion was great; and the officers petitioned him to retaliate the execution of Colonel Haynes. Accordingly, General Greene soon afterward issued a procla mation, threatening to make British officers the objects of retaliatory vengeance. By the execution of Colonel Haynes the British gained no advantage what

It excited a lively sympathy for the sufferer, and indignation against his enemies. If meant as a retaliation for the execution of Major André, it was without dignity. Its justice was questionable ; and it received no countenance from sound policy. It seems to have proceeded rather from the petty irritation of disappointed ambition, than from the cool dictates of enlightened justice or political wisdom.

In the end of November, General Greene with a detachment of his army suddenly appeared before the British post at Dorchester; and, after some skirmishing, the British garrison retired to the vicinity of Charleston. General Greene posted his troops on both sides of the river Ashley; completely covered the country from the Cooper to the Edisto ; and confined the British to Charleston Neck and the neighboring islands. In Georgia, the British force was concentrated at Savannah. Thus, in the course of the campaign, all the interior parts of those provinces were wrested from the British government, and restored to the American Union. In that service General Greene was greatly assisted by a small, but active, indefatigable, and daring body of cavalry.

During this campaign, an expedition was conducted by General Pickens against the Cherokees, who had been instigated by the British, by promises of rewards for scalps, &c., to take up the hatchet against the Americans. The savages were vanquished, and compelled to sue for peace.

ever.

CHAPTER XIII.

Having brought the active campaign of 1781 in the southern states to a close, we shall now return to the northward, glance at the general condition of American affairs in the early part of the year, and then attend to the military operations on the Hudson and in Virginia.

Congress had called for an army of 37,000 men, to be in camp on the ist of January. The resolution, as usual, was too late ; but, even although it had been promulgated in due time, it is not likely that so large a force could have been brought into the field. The deficiencies and delays on the part of the several states exceeded all reasonable anticipation. At no time during this active and interesting campaign did the regular force, drawn from Pennsylvania to Georgia inclusive, amount to 3,000 men. So late as the month of April, the states from New Jersey to New Hampshire inclusive had furnished only 5,000 infantry ; but this force was slowly and gradually increased: till, in the month of May, including cavalry and artillery, which never exceeded 1,000 men, it presented a total of about 7,000, of whom upward of 4,000 might have been rolied on in active service. A considerable part of this small force arrived in camp too late to acquire, during the campaign, that discipline which is essential to military success." Inadequate as this army was for asserting the independence of the country, the prospect of being unable to support it was still more alarming. The men were in rags : clothing had long been expected from Europe, but had not yet arrived, and the disappointment was severely felt.

The magazines were ill supplied ; the troops were often almost starving; and the army ready to be dissolved for want of food. The arsenals were nearly empty. Instead of having the requisites of a well-appointed army, everything was deficient; and there was little prospect of being better provided, for money was as scarce as food and military stores. Congress had resolved to issue no more bills on the credit of the Union; and the care of supplying the army was devolved upon the several states, according to a rule established by that body. Even when the states had collected the specified provisions, the quartermastergeneral had no funds to pay for the transportation of them to the army, to accomplish which, military impressment was resorted to, in a most offensive degree. Congress was surrounded with difficulties : the several states were callous and dilatory; and American affairs wore an aspect of debility and decay.

To deepen the general gloom, there were portentous rumors of preparations for savage warfare along the whole extent of the western frontier : and of an invasion on the side of Canada. In the midst of financial difficulties, and apprehensions of attack both from foreign and domestic enemies, a new and alarming danger appeared, in a quarter where it was little expected, and which threatened to consummate the ruin of American independence. The privations and sufferings of the troops had been uncommonly great. To the usual hardships of a military life were added nakedness and hunger, under that rigor of climate which whets the appetite, and renders clothing absolutely necessary. By the depreciation of the paper currency their pay was little more than nominal, and it was many months in arrear.

Besides those evils, which were common to the whole army, the troops of Pennsylvania imagined that they labored under peculiar grievances. Their officers had engaged them for three years, or during the war. On the expiration of three years, the soldiers thought themselves entitled to a discharge : the officers alleged, that they were engaged for the war. The large bounties given to those who were not bound by previous enlistment heightened the discontent of the soldiers, and made them more zealous in asserting what they thought their right. In the first transports of their patriotism they had readily enlisted; but men will not long willingly submit to immediate and unprofitable hardships, in the prospect of distant and contingent rewards.

The discontents engendered by the causes now mentioned had for some time been increasing; and, on the 1st of January, 1781, broke out into open and almost universal mutiny of the trons of Pennsylvania. On a signal given, the greater part of the non-commissioned officers and privates paraded under arms, declaring their intention of marching to the seat of congress, to obtain a redress of grievances, or to abandon the service. The officers made every exertion to bring them back to their duty, but in vain : in the attempt a captain was killed, and several other persons wounded. General Wayne interposed ; but, on cock

« AnteriorContinuar »