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GREENE CHANGES HIS PLAN.
nimity which has always supported them, and for which they deserve every thing of their country."-"I shall take every measure," adds he, "to avoid a misfortune. But necessity obliges me to commit myself to chance, and, I trust, my friends will do justice to my reputation, if any accident attends me.”
In this brave spirit he apprised Sumter, Pickens, and Marion, by letter, of his intentions, and called upon them to be ready to co-operate with all the militia they could collect; promising to send forward cavalry and small detachments of light infantry, to aid them in capturing outposts before the army should arrive.
To Lafayette he writes at the same time. "I expect by this movement to draw Cornwallis out of this State, and prevent him from forming a junction with Arnold. If you follow to support me, it is not impossible that we may give him a drubbing, especially if General Wayne comes up with the Pennsylvanians."
In pursuance of his plan, Greene, on the 30th of March, discharged all his militia with many thanks for the courage and fortitude with which they had followed him through so many scenes of peril and hardship; and joyously did the poor fellows set out for their homes. Then, after giving his "little, distressed, though successful army," a short taste of the repose they needed, and having collected a few days' provision, he set forward on the 5th of April toward Camden, where Lord Rawdon had his head-quarters.
Cornwallis, in the mean time, was grievously disappointed in the hopes he had formed of obtaining ample provisions and forage at Cross Creek, and strong reinforcements from the royalists in that neighborhood. Neither could he open a communication by Cape Fear River, for the conveyance of his troops to Wilmington. The distance by water was upwards of a hundred miles, the VOL. IV.-11*
breadth of the river seldom above one hundred yards, the banks high, and the inhabitants on each side generally hostile. He was compelled, therefore, to continue his retreat by land, quite to Wilmington, where he arrived on the 7th of April, and his troops, weary, sick and wounded, rested for the present from the "unceasing toils and unspeakable hardships, which they had undergone during the past three months.” *
It was his lordship's intention, as soon as he should have equipped his own corps and received a part of the expected reinforcements from Ireland, to return to the upper country, in hopes of giving protection to the royal interests in South Carolina, and of preserving the health of his troops until he should concert new measures with Sir Henry Clinton.† His plans were all disconcerted, however, by intelligence of Greene's rapid march toward Camden. Never, we are told, was his lordship more affected than by this news. "My situation here is very distressing," writes he. "Greene took the advantage of my being obliged to come to this place, and has marched to South Carolina. My expresses to Lord Rawdon on my leaving Cross Creek, warning him of the possibility of such a movement, have all failed; mountaineers and militia have poured into the back part of that province, and I much fear that Lord Rawdon's posts will be so distant from each other, and his troops so scattered, as to put him into the greatest danger of being beaten in detail, and that the worst of consequences may happen to most of the troops out of Charleston."
*See Letter of Cornwallis to Lord G. Germain, April 18. Also Ann. Register, 1781, p. 72.
Answer to Clinton's Narrative, Introduction, p. vi.
It was too late for his lordship to render any aid by a direct move towards Camden. Before he could arrive there, Greene would have made an attack; if successful, his lordship's army might be hemmed in among the great rivers, in an exhausted country, revolutionary in its spirit, where Greene might cut off their subsistence, and render their arms useless.
All thoughts of offensive operations against North Carolina were at an end. Sickness, desertion, and the loss sustained at Guilford Court-house, had reduced his little army to fourteen hundred and thirty-five men.
In this sad predicament, after remaining several days in a painful state of irresolution, he determined to take advantage of Greene's having left the back part of Virginia open, to march directly into that province, and attempt a junction with the force acting there under General Phillips.
By this move, he might draw Greene back to the northward, and by the reduction of Virginia, he might promote the subjugation of the South. The move, however, he felt to be perilous. His troops were worn down by upwards of eight hundred miles of marching and counter-marching, through an inhospitable and impracticable country; they had now three hundred more before them; under still worse circumstances than those in which they first set out; for, so destitute were they, notwithstanding the supplies received at Wilmington, that his lordship, sadly humorous, declared, "his cavalry wanted every thing, and his infantry, every thing but shoes." *
There was no time for hesitation or delay; Greene might return and render the junction with Phillips impracticable: hav
* Annual Register, 1781, p. 90.
ing sent an express to the latter, therefore, informing him of his coming, and appointing a meeting at Petersburg, his lordship set off on the 25th of April, on his fated march into Virginia.
We must now step back in dates to bring up events in the more northern parts of the Union.
ARNOLD AT PORTSMOUTH IN VIRGINIA-EXPEDITIONS SENT AGAINST HIMINSTRUCTIONS TO LAFAYETTE-WASHINGTON AT NEWPORT-CONSULTATIONS WITH DE ROCHAMBEAU-SAILING OF THE FRENCH FLEET-PURSUED BY THE ENGLISH-EXPEDITION OF LAFAYETTE TO VIRGINIA-ENGAGEMENT BETWEEN THE ENGLISH AND FRENCH FLEETS-FAILURE OF THE EXPEDITION AGAINST ARNOLD-LETTER OF WASHINGTON TO COLONEL LAURENSMEASURES TO REINFORCE GREENE-GENERAL PHILLIPS IN COMMAND AT PORTSMOUTH-MARAUDS THE COUNTRY-CHECKED BY LAFAYETTE-MOUNT
VERNON MENACED-DEATH OF PHILLIPS.
In a former chapter we left Benedict Arnold fortifying himself at Portsmouth, after his ravaging incursion. At the solicitation of Governor Jefferson, backed by Congress, the Chevalier de la Luzerne had requested the French commander at the eastward to send a ship of the line and some frigates to Chesapeake Bay to oppose the traitor. Fortunately, at this juncture a severe snowstorm (Jan. 22d) scattered Arbuthnot's blockading squadron, wrecking one ship of the line and dismasting others, and enabled the French fleet at Newport to look abroad; and Rochambeau wrote to Washington that the Chevalier Destouches, who commanded the fleet, proposed to send three or four ships to the Chesapeake.
Washington feared the position of Arnold, and his wellknown address, might enable him to withstand a mere attack by