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252

SOUTHERN TROOPS-CONNECTICUT LIGHT-HORSE.

[1776.

ing on this subject, observes: "The Southern | for the homespun-clad officers from Connecticut troops, comprising the regiments south of the River! Delaware, looked with very unkind feelings on those of New England; especially those from Connecticut, whose peculiarities of deportment made them the objects of ill-disguised derision among their fellow-soldiers."*.

The Pennsylvania regiment under Shee, according to Graydon, promoted balls and other entertainments in contradistinction to the fastdays and sermons borrowed from New England. There was nothing of the puritanical spirit among the Pennsylvanian soldiery.

In the same sectional spirit, he speaks of the Connecticut light-horse: "Old-fashioned men, truly irregulars; whether their clothing, equip

Among the troops thus designated as Southern, were some from Virginia under a Major Leitch; others from Maryland, under Colonel Smallwood; others from Delaware led by Colonel Haslet. There were four continental bat-ments, or caparisons were regarded, it would talions from Pennsylvania, commanded by Colonels Shee, St. Clair, Wayne, and Magaw; and provincial battalions, two of which were severally commanded by Colonels Miles and Atlee. The continental battalion under Colonel Shee, was chiefly from the city of Philadelphia, especially the officers; among whom were Lambert Cadwalader and William Allen, members of two of the principal and most aristocratic families, and Alexander Graydon, to whose memoirs we are indebted for some graphic pictures of the times.

have been difficult to have discovered any circumstance of uniformity. Instead of carbines and sabres, they generally carried fowlingpieces, some of them very long, such as in Pennsylvania are used for shooting ducks. Here and there one appeared in a dingy regimental of scarlet, with a triangular, tarnished laced hat. These singular dragoons were volunteers, who came to make a tender of their services to the commander-in-chief. But they stayed not long in New York. As such a body of cavalry had not been counted upon, there was in all probability a want of forage for their jades, which, in the spirit of ancient knighthood, they absolutely refused to descend from; and as the general had no use for cavaliers in his insular operations, they were forthwith dismissed, with. suitable acknowledgments for their truly chival rous ardor." *

The troops thus satirized, were a body of between four and five hundred Connecticut

These Pennsylvania troops were under the command of Brigadier-General Mifflin, who, in the preceding year, had acted as Washington's aide-de-camp, and afterwards as quartermastergeneral. His townsman and intimate, Graydon, characterizes him as a man of education and cultivated manners, with a great talent at haranguing; highly animated in his appearance, full of activity and apparently of fire; but rather too much of a bustler, harassing his men unne-light-horse, under Colonel Thomas Seymour. cessarily. "He assumed," adds Graydon, a│On an appeal for aid to the governor of their little of the veteran, from having been before State, they had voluntarily hastened on in adBoston." His troops were chiefly encamped vance of the militia, to render the most speedy near King's Bridge, and employed in construct- succor. Supposing, from the suddenness and ing works at Fort Washington. urgency of the call upon their services, that they were immediately to be called into action and promptly to return home, they had come on in such haste, that many were unprovided even with a blanket or a change of clothing.

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Smallwood's Maryland battalion was one of the brightest in point of equipment. The scarlet and buff uniforms of those Southerners contrasted vividly with the rustic attire of the yeoman battalions from the East. Their officers, too, looked down upon their Connecticut compeers, who could only be distinguished from their men by wearing a cockade. "There were none," says Graydon, "by whom an unofficerlike appearance and deportment could be tolerated less than by a city-bred Marylander; who, at this time, was distinguished by the most fashionable cut coat, the most macaroni cocked hat, and hottest blood in the Union." Alas,

*Life of Reed, vol. 1., p. 239.

Washington speaks of them as being for the most part, if not all, men of reputation and property. They were, in fact, mostly farmers. As to their sorry jades, they were rough country horses, such as farmers keep, not for show, but service. As to their dingy regimentals, we quote a word in their favor from a writer of that day. "Some of these worthy soldiers assisted in their present uniforms at the reduction of Louisburg, and their 'lank cheeks and

* Graydon's Memoirs, p. 155.

Et. 44.]

ARMY JEALOUSIES EMBARRASSMENTS OF WASHINGTON.

war-worn coats,' are viewed with more veneration by their honest countrymen, than if they were glittering nabobs from India, or bashaws with nine tails.” *

On arriving, their horses, from scarcity of forage, had to be pastured about King's Bridge. In fact, Washington informed them that, under present circumstances, they could not be of use as horsemen ; on which they concluded to stay, and do duty on foot till the arrival of the new levies. In a letter to Governor Trumbull (July 11), Washington observes : "The officers and men of that corps have manifested so firm an attachment to the cause we are engaged in, that they have consented to remain here, till such a body of troops are marched from your colony as will be a sufficient reinforcement, so as to admit of their leaving this city with safety. * * * * They have the additional merit of determining to stay, even if they are obliged to maintain their horses at their own expense."

In a very few days, however, the troopers, on being requested to mount guard like other soldiers, grew restless and uneasy. Colonel Seymour and his brother field-officers, therefore, addressed a note to Washington, stating that, by the positive laws of Connecticut, the lighthorse were expressly exempted from staying in garrison, or doing duty on foot, apart from their horses; and that they found it impossible to detain their men any longer under that idea, they having come "without the least expectation or preparation for such services." They respectfully, therefore, asked a dismission in form. Washington's brief reply shows that he was nettled by their conduct.

"Gentlemen: In answer to yours of this date, I can only repeat to you what I said last night, and that is, that if your men think themselves exempt from the common duty of a soldier will not mount guard, do garrison duty, or service separate from their horses-they can no longer be of any use here, where horses cannot be brought to action, and I do not care how soon they are dismissed."

In fact, the assistance of these troops was much needed; yet he apprehended the exemption from fatigue and garrison duty which they demanded as a right, would, if granted, set a dangerous example to others, and be productive of many evil consequences.

* Am. Archives, 5th Series, 1. 178.

+ Webb to Gov. Trumbull,

Am. Archives, 5th Series, 1. 192.

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In the hurry of various concerns he directed his aide-de-camp, Colonel Webb, to write in his name to Governor Trumbull on the subject.

Colonel Seymour, on his return home, addressed a long letter to the governor explanatory of his conduct. "I can't help remarking to your honor," adds he, "that it may with truth be said, General Washington is a gentleman of extreme care and caution: that his requisitions for men are fully equal to the necessities of the case. * * * I should have stopped here, but am this moment informed that Mr. Webb, General Washington's aide-decamp, has written to your honor something dishonorable to the light-horse. Whatever it may be I know not, but this I do know, that it is a general observation, both in camp and country, if the butterflies and coxcombs were away from the army, we should not be put to so much difficulty in obtaining men of common sense to engage in the defence of their country.'

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As to the Connecticut infantry which had been furnished by Governor Truinbull in the present emergency, they likewise were substantial farmers, whose business, he observed, would require their return, when the necessity of their further stay in the army should be over. They were all men of simple rural manners, from an agricultural State, where great equality of condition prevailed; the officers were elected by the men out of their own ranks, they were their own neighbors, and every way their equals. All this, as yet, was but little understood or appreciated by the troops from the South, among whom military rank was more defined and tenaciously observed, and where the officers were men of the cities, and of more aristocratic habits.

We have drawn out, from contemporary sources, these few particulars concerning the sectional jealousies thus early springing up among the troops from the different States, to show the difficulties with which Washington had to contend at the outset, and which formed a growing object of solicitude throughout the rest of his career.

John Adams, speaking of the violent passions, and discordant interests at work throughout the country, from Florida to Canada, observes: "It requires more serenity of temper, a deeper understanding, and more courage than fell to the lot of Marlborough, to ride in this whirlwind." +

* Am. Archives, 5th Series, 1. 513.
† Ibid., 4th Scries, v. 1112.

254

FORTIFICATIONS AT CHARLESTON-LEE'S ARRIVAL.

CHAPTER XXIX.

LETTERS from General Lee gave Washington intelligence of the fate of Sir Henry Clinton's expedition to the South; that expedition which had been the subject of so much surmise and perplexity. Sir Henry in his cruise along the coast had been repeatedly foiled by Lee. First, as we have shown, when he looked in at New York; next, when he paused at Norfolk in Virigina; and lastly, when he made a bold attempt at Charleston in South Carolina; for scarce did his ships appear off the harbor, than the omnipresent Lee was marching his troops into the city.

Within a year past, Charleston had been fortified at various points. Fort Johnson, on James Island, three miles from the city, and commanding the breadth of the channel, was garrisoned by a regiment of South Carolina regulars under Colonel Gadsden. A strong fort had recently been constructed nearly opposite, on the south-west point of Sullivan's Island, about six miles below the city. It was mounted with twenty-six guns, and garrisoned by three hundred and seventy-five regulars and a few militia, and coinmanded by Colonel William Moultrie, of South Carolina, who had constructed it. This fort, in connection with that on James Island, was considered the key of the harbor.

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capture of which, he thought, would insure the reduction of Charleston.

The Americans immediately threw up works on the north-eastern extremity of Sullivan's Island, to prevent the passage of the enemy over the Breach, stationing a force of regulars and militia there, under Colonel Thompson. General Lee encamped on Haddrell's Point, on the mainland, to the north of the island, whence he intended to keep up a communication by a bridge of boats, so as to be ready at any moment to aid either Moultrie or Thompson.

Sir Henry Clinton, on the other hand, had to construct batteries on Long Island, to oppose those of Thompson, and cover the passage of his troops by boats or by the ford. Thus time was consumed, and the enemy were, from the 1st to the 28th of June, preparing for the attack; their troops suffering from the intense heat of the sun on the burning sands of Long Island, and both fleet and army complaining of brackish water, and scanty and bad provisions. At length, on the 28th of June, the Thunder Bomb commenced the attack, throwing shells at the fort, as the fleet, under Sir Peter Parker, advanced. About eleven o'clock the ships dropped their anchors directly before the front battery. "I was at this time in a boat," writes Lee, " endeavoring to make the island; but the wind and tide being violently against us, drove us on the main. They immediately commenced the most furious fire I ever heard or saw. I confess I was in pain, from the little confidence I reposed in our troops; the officers being all boys, and the men raw recruits. What angmented my anxiety was, that we had no bridge finished for retreat or communication; and the creek or cove which separates it from the continent is near a mile wide. I had received, likewise, intelligence that their land troops intended at the same time to land and assault. I never in my life felt myself so uneasy; and what added to my uneasiness was, that I knew our stock of ammunition was miserably low. I had once thought of ordering the commanding officer to spike his guns, and, when his ammunition was spent, to retreat with as little loss as possible. However, I thought proper previousThe British ships, in fact, having passed the ly to send to town for a fresh supply, if it could bar with some difficulty, landed their troops on possibly be procured, and ordered my aide-deLong Island, situated to the east of Sullivan's camp, Mr. Byrd (who is a lad of magnanimous Island, and separated from it by a small creek courage), to pass over in a small canoe, and recalled the Breach. Sir Henry Clinton meditat-port the state of the spirit of the garrison. If ed a combined attack with his land and naval it had been low, I should have abandoned all forces on the fort commanded by Moultrie; the thoughts of defence. His report was flatter

Cannon had also been mounted on Пaddrell's Point, on the mainland, to the north-west of Sullivan's Island, and along the bay in front of the town.

The arrival of General Lee gave great joy to the people of Charleston, from his high reputation for military skill and experience. According to his own account in a letter to Washington, the town on his arrival was "utterly defenceless." He was rejoiced, therefore, when the enemy, instead of immediately attacking it, directed his whole force against the fort on Sullivan's Island. "He has lost an opportunity," said Lee, "such as I hope will never occur again, of taking the town."

Br. 44.]

BATTLE AT SULLIVAN'S ISLAND-THE ENEMY REPULSED.

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ing. I then determined to maintain the post | fifty guns, lost an arm, and was otherwise at all risks, and passed the creek or cove in a wounded. Captain Morris, commanding the small boat, in order to animate the garrison in Acteon, was slain. So also was Lord Campbell, propria personâ; but I found they had no oc- late governor of the province, who served as a casion for such an encouragement. volunteer on board of the squadron.

"They were pleased with my visit, and assured me they never would abandon the post but with their lives. The cool courage they displayed, astonished and enraptured me, for I do assure you, my dear general, I never experienced a better fire. Twelve full hours it was continued without intermission. The noble fellows who were mortally wounded, conjured their brethren never to abandon the standard of liberty. Those who lost their limbs deserted not their posts. Upon the whole, they acted like Romans in the third century."

Much of the foregoing is corroborated by the statement of a British historian. "While the continued fire of our ships," writes he, "seemed sufficient to shake the fierceness of the bravest enemy, and daunt the courage of the most veteran soldier, the return made by the fort could not fail calling for the respect, as well as of highly incommoding the brave seamen of Britain. In the midst of that dreadful roar of artillery, they stuck with the greatest constancy and firmness to their guns; fired deliberately and slowly, and took a cool and effective aim.. The ships suffered accordingly, they were torn almost to pieces, and the slaughter was dreadful. Never did British valor shine more conspicuous, and never did our marine in an engagement of the same nature with any foreign enemy, experience so rude an encounter."*

The fire from the ships did not produce the expected effect. The fortifications were low, composed of earth and palmetto wood, which is soft, and makes no splinters, and the merlons were extremely thick. At one time there was a considerable pause in the American fire, and the enemy thought the fort was abandoned. It was only because the powder was exhausted. As soon as a supply could be forwarded from the mainland by General Lee, the fort resumed its fire with still more deadly effect. Through unskilful pilotage, several of the ships ran aground, where one, the frigate Acteon, remained; the rest were extricated with difficulty. Those which bore the brunt of the action were much cut up. One hundred and seventy-five men were killed, and nearly as many wounded. Captain Scott, commanding the Experiment, of

* Hist. Civil War in America, Dublin, 1779. Annual Register.

Sir Henry Clinton, with two thousand troops and five or six hundred seamen, attempted repeatedly to cross from Long Island, and co-operate in the attack upon the fort, but was as often foiled by Colonel Thompson, with his battery of two cannons, and a body of South Carolina rangers, and North Carolina regulars. "Upon the whole," says Lee, "the South and North Carolina troops, and Virginia rifle battalion we have here, are admirable soldiers."

The combat slackened before sunset, and ceased before ten o'clock. Sir Peter Parker, who had received a severe contusion in the engagement, then slipped his cables, and drew off his shattered ships to Five Fathom Hole. The Acteon remained aground.

On the following morning Sir Henry Clinton made another attempt to cross from Long Island to Sullivan's Island; but was again repulsed, and obliged to take shelter behind his breastworks. Sir Peter Parker, too, giving up all hope of reducing the fort in the shattered condition of his ships, ordered that the Acteon should be set on fire and abandoned. The crew left her in flames, with the guns loaded, and the colors flying. The Americans boarded her in time to haul down her colors, and secure them as a trophy, discharge her guns at one of the enemy's ships, and load three boats with stores. They then abandoned her to her fate, and in half an hour she blew up.

Within a few days the troops were re-embarked from Long Island; the attempt upon Charleston was for the present abandoned, and the fleet once more put to sea.

In this action, one of the severest in the whole course of the war, the loss of the Americans in killed and wounded, was but thirty-five men. Colonel Moultrie derived the greatest. glory from the defence of Sullivan's Island; though the thanks of Congress were voted as well to General Lee, Colonel Thompson, and those under their command.

"For God's sake, my dear general," writes Lee to Washington, "urge the Congress to furnish me with a thousand cavalry. With a thousand cavalry I could insure the safety of these Southern provinces; and without cavalry I can answer for nothing. From want of this species of troops we had infallibly lost this capital, but

256

PUTNAM'S MILITARY PROJECTS-FIRE-SHIPS.

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the dilatoriness and stupidity of the enemy | York. He had attempted an enterprise of the saved us."

The tidings of this signal repulse of the enemy came most opportunely to Washington, when he was apprehending an attack upon New York. He writes in a familiar vein to Schuyler on the subject. "Sir Peter Parker and his fleet got a severe drubbing in an attack upon our works on Sullivan's Island, just by Charleston in South Carolina; a part of their troops at the same time, in attempting to land, were repulsed." He assumed a different tone in announcing it to the army in a general order of the 21st July. "This generous example of our troops under the like circumstances with us, the general hopes, will animate every officer and soldier to imitate, and even outdo them, when the enemy shall make the same attempt on us. With such a bright example before us of what can be done by brave men fighting in defence of their country, we shall be loaded with a double share of shame and infamy if we do not acquit ourselves with courage, and manifest a determined resolution to conquer or die."

CHAPTER XXX.

GENERAL PUTNAM, beside his bravery in the field, was somewhat of a mechanical projector. The batteries at Fort Washington had proved ineffectual in opposing the passage of hostile ships up the Hudson. He was now engaged on a plan for obstructing the channel opposite the fort, so as to prevent the passing of any more ships. A letter from him to General Gates (July 26th) explains his project. "We are preparing chevaux-de-frise, at which we make great despatch by the help of ships, which are to be sunk―a scheme of mine which you may be assured is very simple; a plan of which I send you. The two ships' sterns lie towards each other, about seventy feet apart. Three large logs, which reach from ship to ship, are fastened to them. The two ships and logs stop the river two hundred and eighty feet. The ships are to be sunk, and when hauled down on one side, the pricks will be raised to a proper height, and they must inevitably stop the river, if the enemy will let us sink them." It so happened that one Ephraim Anderson, adjutant to the second Jersey battalion, had recently submitted a project to Congress for destroying the enemy's fleet in the harbor of New

kind against the British ships in the harbor of Quebec during the siege, and, according to his own account, would have succeeded, had not the enemy discovered his intentions, and stretched a cable across the mouth of the harbor, and had he not accidentally been much burnt.

His scheme was favorably entertained by Congress, and Washington, by a letter dated July 10th, was instructed to aid him in carrying it into effect. Anderson, accordingly, was soon at work at New York constructing fire-ships, with which the fleet was to be attacked. Simultaneous with the attack, a descent was to be made on the British camp on Staten Island, from the nearest point of the Jersey shore, by troops from Mercer's flying camp, and by others stationed at Borgen under Major Knowlton, Putnam's favorite officer for daring enterprises.

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Putnam entered into the scheme as zealously as if it had been his own. Indeed, by the tenor of his letter to Gates, already quoted, he seemed almost to consider it so. "The enemy's fleet," writes he, now lies in the bay, close under Staten Island. Their troops possess no land here but the island. Is it not strange that those invincible troops, who were to lay waste all this country with their fleets and army, are so fond of islands and peninsulas, and dare not put their feet on the main? But I hope, by the blessing of God, and good friends, we shall pay them a visit on their island. For that end we are preparing fourteen fire-ships, to go into their fleet, some of which are ready charged and fitted to sail, and I hope soon to have them all fixed."

Anderson, also, on the 31st July, writes from New York to the President of Congress: “I have been for some time past very assiduous in the preparation of fire-ships. Two are already complete, and hauled off into the stream; two more will be off to-morrow, and the residue in a very short time. In my next, I hope to give you a particular account of a general conflagration, as every thing in my power shall be exerted for the demolition of the enemy's fleet. I expect to take an active part, and be an instrument for that purpose. I am determined (God willing) to make a conspicuous figure among them, by being a 'burning and shining light,' and thereby serve my country, and have the honor of meeting the approbation of Congress.'

* Am. Archives, 4th Series, 1. 155.

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