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FIGHT AT BLACK STOCK HILL.
possible to dislodge the Americans from their rustic fortress. At the approach of night he fell back to join his infantry, leaving the ground strewed with his killed and wounded. The latter were treated with great humanity by Sumter. The loss of the
Americans was only three killed and four wounded.
Sumter, who had received a severe wound in the breast, remained several hours on the field of action; but, understanding the enemy would be powerfully reinforced in the morning, he crossed the Tyger River in the night. He was then placed on a litter between two horses, and thus conducted across the country by a few faithful adherents. The rest of his little army dispersed themselves through the woods. Tarleton, finding his enemy had disappeared, claimed the credit of a victory; but those who considered the affair rightly, declared that he had received a severe check.
While the attention of the enemy was thus engaged by the enterprises of Sumter and Marion and their swamp warriors, General Gates was gathering together the scattered fragments of his army at Hillsborough. When all were collected, his whole force, exclusive of militia, did not exceed fourteen hundred men. It was, as he said, "rather a shadow than a substance." His troops, disheartened by defeat, were in a forlorn state, without clothing, without pay, and sometimes without provisions. Destitute of tents, they constructed hovels of fence-rails, poles, brushwood, and the stalks of Indian corn, the officers faring no better than the men.
The vanity of Gates was completely cut down by his late He had lost, too, the confidence of his officers, and was unable to maintain discipline among his men; who through their irregularities became a terror to the country people.
On the retreat of Cornwallis from Charlotte, Gates advanced to that place to make it his winter-quarters. Huts were ordered to be built, and a regular encampment was commenced. Small- ' wood, with a body of militia, was stationed below on the Cataw-. ba to guard the road leading through Camden; and further down was posted Brigadier-general Morgan, with a corps of light troops.
To add to his depression of spirits, Gates received the melancholy intelligence of the death of an only son, and, while he was yet writhing under the blow, came official despatches informing him of his being superseded in command. A letter from Washington, we are told, accompanied them, sympathizing with him in his domestic misfortunes, adverting with peculiar delicacy to his reverses in battle, assuring him of his undiminished confidence in his zeal and capacity, and his readiness to give him the command of the left wing of his army as soon as he could make it convenient to join him.
The effect of this letter was overpowering. Gates was found walking about his room in the greatest agitation, pressing the letter to his lips, breaking forth into ejaculations of gratitude and admiration, and when he could find utterance to his thoughts, declared that its tender sympathy and considerate delicacy had conveyed more consolation and delight to his heart than he had believed it possible ever to have felt again.*
General Greene arrived at Charlotte, on the 2d of December. On his way from the North he had made arrangements for supplies from the different States; and had left the Baron Steuben
* Related by Dr. Wm. Reed, at that time superintendent of the Hospital department at Hillsborough, to Alex. Garden, aide-de-camp to Greene.— Garden's Anecdotes, p. 350.
GREENE TAKES COMMAND.
in Virginia to defend that State and procure and send on reinforcements and stores for the Southern army. On the day following his arrival, Greene took formal command. The delicacy with which he conducted himself towards his unfortunate predecessor is said to have been "edifying to the army." Consulting with his officers as to the court of inquiry on the conduct of General Gates, ordered by Congress; it was determined that there was not a sufficient number of general officers in camp to sit upon it; that the state of General Gates's feelings, in consequence of the death of his son, disqualified him from entering upon the task of his defence; and that it would be indelicate in the extreme to press on him an investigation, which his honor would not permit him to defer. Beside, added Greene, his is a case of misfortune, and the most honorable course to be pursued, both with regard to General Gates and the government, is to make such representations as may obtain a revision of the order of Congress directing an inquiry into his conduct. In this opinion all present concurred.
Gates, in fact, when informed in the most delicate manner of the order of Congress, was urgent that a court of inquiry should be immediately convened: he acknowledged there was some important evidence that could not at present be procured; but he relied on the honor and justice of the court to make allowance for the deficiency. He was ultimately brought to acquiesce in the decision of the council of war for the postponement, but declared that he could not think of serving until the matter should have been properly investigated. He determined to pass the interim on his estate in Virginia. Greene, in a letter to Washington (December 7th), writes: "General Gates sets out to-morrow for the northward. Many officers think very favorably of his con
duct, and that, whenever an inquiry takes place, he will honorably acquit himself.”
The kind and considerate conduct of Greene on the present occasion, completely subdued the heart of Gates. The coldness, if not ill-will, with which he had hitherto regarded him, was at an end, and, in all his subsequent correspondence with him, he addressed him in terms of affection.
We take pleasure in noting the generous conduct of the General Assembly of Virginia towards Gates. It was in session when he arrived at Richmond. "Those fathers of the commonwealth," writes Col. H. Lee, in his Memoirs, "appointed a committee of their body to wait on the vanquished general, and assure him of their high regard and esteem, that their remembrance of his former glorious services was never to be obliterated by any reverse of fortune; but, ever mindful of his great merit, they would omit no opportunity of testifying to the world the gratitude which Virginia, as a member of the American Union, owed to him in his military character."
Gates was sensibly affected and comforted by this kind reception, and retired with a lightened heart to his farm in Berkeley County.
The whole force at Charlotte, when Greene took command, did not much exceed twenty-three hundred men, and more than half of them were militia. It had been broken in spirit by the recent defeat. The officers had fallen into habits of negligence; the soldiers were loose and disorderly, without tents and camp equipage; badly clothed and fed, and prone to relieve their necessities by depredating upon the inhabitants. Greene's letters written at the time, abound with military aphorisms suggested by the squalid scene around him. "There must be either pride
or principle,” said he, "to make a soldier. No man will think himself bound to fight the battles of a State that leaves him perishing for want of covering; nor can you inspire a soldier with the sentiment of pride, while his situation renders him an object of pity, rather than of envy. Good feeding is the first principle of good service. It is impossible to preserve discipline where troops are in want of every thing-to attempt severity will only thin the ranks by a more hasty desertion."
The state of the country in which he was to act was equally discouraging. "It is so extensive," said he, "and the powers of government so weak, that every body does as he pleases. The inhabitants are much divided in their political sentiments, and the whigs and tories pursue each other with little less than savage fury. The back country people are bold and daring; but the people upon the sea shore are sickly, and but indifferent
"War here," observes he in another letter, "is upon a very different scale to what it is at the Northward. It is a plain business there. The geography of the country reduces its operations to two or three points. But here it is every where; and the country is so full of deep rivers and impassable creeks and swamps, that you are always liable to misfortunes of a capital nature. The whigs and tories," adds he, "are continually out in small parties, and all the middle country is so disaffected that you cannot lay in the most trifling magazine, or send a waggon through the country with the least article of stores without a guard."
A recent exploit had given some animation to the troops. Lieutenant-colonel Washington, detached with a troop of lighthorse to check a foraging party of the enemy, scoured the coun