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commenced by the left of the American line, and soon became general. The militia fought for a time with the spirit and firmness of regulars. Their two fieldpieces were dismounted; so was one of the enemy's; and there was great carnage on both sides. The militia fought until they had expended seventeen rounds, when they gave way, covered by Lee and Henderson who fought bravely on the flanks of the line.
Sumner, with the regulars who formed the second line, advanced in fine style to take the place of the first. The enemy likewise brought their reserve into action; the conflict continued to be bloody and severe. Colonel Henderson, who commanded the State troops in the second line, was severely wounded; this caused some confusion. Sumner's brigade, formed partly of recruits, gave way under the superior fire of the enemy. The British rushed forward to secure their fancied victory. Greene, seeing their line disordered, instantly ordered Williams with his Marylanders to "sweep the field with the bayonet." Williams was seconded by Colonel Campbell with the Virginians. The order was gallantly obeyed. They delivered a deadly volley at forty yards' distance, and then advanced at a brisk rate, with loud shouts and trailed arms, prepared to make the deadly thrust. The British recoiled. While the Marylanders and Virginians attacked them in front, Lee with his legion turned their left flank and charged them in rear. Colonel Hampton with the State cavalry made a great number of prisoners, and Colonel Washington, coming up with his reserve of horse and foot, completed their defeat. They were driven back through their camp; many were captured;
BATTLE OF EUTAW SPRINGS.
many fled along the Charleston road, and others threw themselves into the brick house.
Major Majoribanks and his troops could still enfilade the left flank of the Americans from their covert among the thickets on the border of the stream. Greene ordered Colonel Washington with his dragoons and Kirkwood's Delaware infantry to dislodge them, and Colonel Wade Hampton to assist with the State troops. Colonel Washington, without waiting for the infantry, dashed forward with his dragoons. It was a rash move. The thickets were impervious to cavalry. The dragoons separated into small squads, and endeavored to force their way in. Horse and riders were shot down or bayoneted; most of the officers were either killed or wounded. Colonel Washington had his horse shot under him; he himself was bayoneted, and would have been slain had not a British officer interposed, who took him prisoner.
By the time Hampton and Kirkwood came up the cavalry were routed; the ground was strewed with the dead and the wounded; horses were plunging and struggling in the agonies of death; others galloping about without their riders. While Hampton rallied the scattered cavalry, Kirkwood with his Delawares charged with bayonet upon the enemy in the thickets. Majoribanks fell back with his troops, and made a stand in the palisadoed garden of the brick house.
Victory now seemed certain on the side of the Americans. They had driven the British from the field, and had taken possession of their camp; unfortunately the soldiers thinking the day their own fell to plundering the tents, devouring the food and carousing
on the liquors found there. Many of them became intoxicated and unmanageable—the officers interfered in vain; all was riot and disorder.
The enemy in the mean time recovered from their confusion, and opened a fire from every window of the house and from the palisadoed garden. There was a scattering fire also from the woods and thickets on the right and left. Four cannon, one of which had been captured from the enemy, were now advanced by the Americans to batter the house. The fire from the windows was so severe that most of the officers and men who served the cannon were either killed or wounded. Greene ordered the survivors to retire they did so, leaving the cannon behind.
Colonel Stuart was by this time rallying his left wing and advancing to support the right; when Greene, finding his ammunition nearly exhausted, determined to give up the attempt to dislodge the enemy from their places of refuge, since he could not do it without severe loss; whereas the enemy could maintain their posts but a few hours, and he should have a better opportunity of attacking them on their retreat.
He remained on the ground long enough to collect his wounded, excepting those who were too much under the fire of the house, and then, leaving Colonel Hampton with a strong picket on the field, he returned to the position seven miles off, which he had left in the morning; not finding water any where nearer.
The enemy decamped in the night after destroying a large quantity of provisions, staving many barrels of rum, and breaking upwards of a thousand stand of arms which they threw into the springs of the Eutaw;
BATTLE OF EUTAW SPRINGS.
they left behind also seventy of their wounded who might have impeded the celerity of their retreat. Their loss in killed, wounded, and captured in this action was six hundred and thirty-three, of whom five hundred were prisoners in the hands of the Americans; the loss sustained by the latter in killed, wounded and missing, was five hundred and thirty-five. One of the slain most deplored was Colonel Campbell, who had so bravely led on the Virginians. He fell in the shock of the charge with the bayonet. It was a glorious close of a gallant career. In his dying moments he was told of the defeat of the enemy, and is said to have uttered the celebrated ejaculation of General Wolfe, "I die contented."
In the morning General Greene, who knew not that the enemy had decamped, detached Lee and Marion to scour the country between Eutaw Springs and Charleston, to intercept any reinforcements which might be coming to Colonel Stuart and to retard the march of the latter should he be retreating. Stuart, however, had met with reinforcements about fourteen miles from Eutaw, but continued his retreat to Monk's Corner within twenty-five miles of Charleston.
Greene, when informed of the retreat, had followed with his main force almost to Monk's Corner; finding the number and position of the enemy too strong to be attacked with prudence, he fell back to Eutaw, where he remained a day or two to rest his troops, and then returned by easy marches to his old position near the heights of Santee.
Thence, as usual, he despatched an account of affairs to Washington. "Since I wrote to you before
we have had a most bloody battle. most obstinate fight I ever saw.
It was by far the Victory was ours; and had it not been for one of those little incidents which frequently happen in the progress of war, we should have taken the whole British army. *
I am trying to collect a body of militia to oppose Lord Cornwallis should he attempt to escape through North Carolina to Charleston. Charleston itself may be reduced if you will bend your forces this way, and it will give me great pleasure to join your Excellency in the attempt; for I shall be equally happy, whether as a principal or subordinate, so that the public good is promoted."
Such was the purport of the intelligence received from Greene. Washington considered the affair at Eutaw Springs a victory, and sent Greene his congratulations. 66 Fortune," writes he, "must have been coy indeed, had she not yielded at last to so persevering a pursuer as you have been."
"I can say with sincerity, that I feel with the highest degree of pleasure the good effects which you mention as resulting from the perfect good understanding between you, the marquis and myself. I hope it will never be interrupted, and I am sure it never can be while we are all influenced by the same pure motive, that of love to our country and interest in the cause in which we are embarked."
We will now resume our narrative of the siege of Yorktown.