Slike strani

Er. 48.]


dent Reed to extraordinary exertions. "This is a time," writes he, "to hazard and to take a tone of energy and decision. All parties but the disaffected will acquiesce in the necessity and give it their support." He urges Reed to press upon the legislature of Pennsylvania the policy of investing its executive with plenipotentiary powers. "I should then," writes he, 66 expect every thing from your ability and zeal. This is no time for formality or ceremony. The crisis in every point of view is extraordinary, and extraordinary expedients are necessary. I am decided in this opinion."

His letter procured relief for the army from the legislature, and a resolve empowering the president and council, during its recess, to declare martial law, should circumstances render it expedient. "This," observes Reed, "gives us a power of doing what may be necessary without attending to the ordinary course of law, and we shall endeavor to exercise it with prudence and moderation.” *

In like manner, Washington endeavored to rouse the dormant fire of Congress, and impart

to it his own indomitable energy. "Certain I

am," writes he to a member of that body, "unless Congress speak in a more decisive tone, unless they are vested with powers by the several States, competent to the purposes of war, or assume them as matters of right, and they and the States respectively act with more energy than they have hitherto done, that our cause is lost. We can no longer drudge on in the old way. By ill-timing the adoption of measures, by delay in the execution of them, or by unwarrantable jealousies, we incur enormous expenses and derive no benefit from them. One State will comply with a requisition of Congress; another neglects to do it; a third executes it by halves; and all differ, either in

the manner, the matter, or so much in point of time, that we are always working up-hill; and, while such a system as the present one, or rather want of one, prevails, we shall ever be unable to apply our strength or resources to any advantage-I see one head gradually changing into thirteen. I see one army branch

ing into thirteen, which, instead of looking up to Congress as the supreme controlling power of the United States, are considering themselves dependent on their respective States. In a word, I see the powers of Congress declining too fast for the consideration and respect which

*Sparks, Corr. of the Rev., vol. il., p. 466.


are due to them as the great representative body of America, and I am fearful of the consequences."*

At this juncture came official intelligence from the South, to connect which with the general course of events, requires a brief notice of the operations of Sir Henry Clinton in that quarter.


In a preceding chapter we left the British fleet under Admiral Arbuthnot, preparing to force its way into the harbor of Charleston. Several days elapsed before the ships were able, by taking out their guns, provisions, and water, and availing themselves of wind and tide, to pass the bar. They did so on the 20th of March, with but slight opposition from several galleys. Commodore Whipple, then, seeing the vast superiority of their force, made a second retrograde move, stationing some of his ships in Cooper River, and sinking the rest at its mouth so as to prevent the enemy from running up that river, and cutting off communication with the country on the east: the crews and heavy cannon were landed to aid in

the defence of the town.

The reinforcements expected from the North were not yet arrived; the militia of the State did not appear at Governor Rutledge's. com(t 'Many mand, and other reliances were failing.

of the North Carolina militia whose terms have expired leave us to-day," writes Lincoln to “They Washington, on the 20th of March. cannot be persuaded to remain longer, though enemy are in our neighborhood." +


At this time the reinforcements which Sir

Henry Clinton had ordered from Savannah were marching toward the Cambayee under Brigadier-General Patterson. On his flanks moved Major Ferguson with a corps of riflemen, and Major Cochrane with the infantry of the British legion; two brave and enterprising officers. It was a toilsome march, through swamps and difficult passes. Being arrived in

the neighborhood of Port Royal, where Tarleton had succeeded, though indifferently, in remounting his dragoons, Patterson sent orders to that officer to join him. Tarleton hastened to obey the order. His arrival was timely.

* Letter to Joseph Jones. Sparks, vii. 67.
† Correspondence of the Rev., vol. ii., p. 419.



The Carolina militia having heard that all the British horses had perished at sea, made an attack on the front of General Patterson's force, supposing it to be without cavalry. To their surprise, Tarleton charged them with his dragoons, routed them, took several prisoners, and, what was more acceptable, a number of horses, some of the militia, he says, "being accoutred as cavaliers."

Tarleton had soon afterwards to encounter a worthy antagonist in Colonel William Washington, the same cavalry officer who had distinguished himself at Trenton, and was destined to distinguish himself still more in this Southern campaign. He is described as being six feet in height, broad, stout, and corpulent. Bold in the field, careless in the camp; kind to his soldiers; harassing to his enemies; gay and good-humored; with an upright heart and a generous hand, a universal favorite. He was now at the head of a body of Continental cavalry, consisting of his own and Bland's lighthorse, and Pulaski's hussars. A brush took place in the neighborhood of Rantoul's Bridge. Colonel Washington had the advantage, took several prisoners, and drove back the dragoons of the British legion, but durst not pursue them for want of infantry.*

On the 7th of April, Brigadier-General Woodford with seven hundred Virginia troops, after a forced march of five hundred miles in thirty days, crossed from the east side of Cooper River, by the only passage now open, and threw himself into Charleston. It was a timely reinforcement, and joyfully welcomed; for the garrison, when in greatest force, amounted to little more than two thousand regulars and one thousand North Carolina militia.

About the same time Admiral Arbuthnot, in the Roebuck, passed Sullivan's Island, with a fresh southerly breeze, at the head of a squadron of seven armed vessels and two transports. "It was a magnificent spectacle, satisfactory to the royalists," writes the admiral. The whigs regarded it with a rueful eye. Colonel Pinckney opened a heavy cannonade from the batteries of Fort Moultrie. The ships thundered in reply, and clouds of smoke were raised, under the cover of which they slipped by, with no greater loss than twenty-seven men killed and wounded. A store-ship which followed the squadron ran aground, was set on fire and abandoned, and subsequently blew up. The

* Gordon, Ill. p. 352-see also Tarleton, Hist. Campaign,

P. 8.

ships took a position near Fort Johnston, just without the range of the shot from the American batteries. After the passage of the ships, Colonel Pinckney and a part of the garrison withdrew from Fort Moultrie.

The enemy had by this time completed his first parallel, and the town being almost entirely invested by sea and land, received a joint 'summons from the British general and admiral to surrender. "Sixty days have passed," writes Lincoln in reply, "since it has been known that your intentions against this town were hostile, in which, time has been afforded to abandon it, but duty and inclination point to the propriety of supporting it to the last extremity."

The British batteries were now opened. The siege was carried on deliberately by regular parallels, and on a scale of magnitude scarcely warranted by the moderate strength of the place. A great object with the besieged was to keep open the channel of communication with the country by the Cooper River, the last that remained by which they could receive reinforcements and supplies, or could retreat, if necessary. For this purpose, Governor Rutledge, leaving the town in the care of Lieutenant-Governor Gadsden, and one-half of the executive council, set off with the other half, and endeavored to rouse the militia between the Cooper and Santee Rivers. His success was extremely limited. Two militia posts were established by him; one between these rivers, the other at a ferry on the Santee; some regular troops, also, had been detached by Lincoln, to throw up works about nine miles above the town, on the Wando, a branch of Cooper River, and at Lempriere's Point; and Brigadier-General Huger,* with a force of militia and Continental cavalry, including those of Colonel William Washington, was stationed at Monk's Corner, about thirty miles above Charleston, to guard the passes at the head waters of Cooper River.

Sir Henry Clinton, when proceeding with his second parallel, detached Lieutenant-Colonel Webster with fourteen hundred men to break up these posts. The most distant one was that of Huger's cavalry at Monk's Corner. The surprisal of this was intrusted to Tarleton, who, with his dragoons, was in Webster's advanced guard. He was to be seconded by Major Patrick Ferguson with his riflemen.


* Pronounced Hugee-of French Huguenot descent.


ting the dragoons to instant death, but Colonel Webster did not think his powers warranted such a measure. "They were sent to head-quarters," adds the historian, “and, I believe, afterwards tried and whipped." *

Ferguson was a fit associate for Tarleton, in | by this time Colonel Webster had arrived. hardy, scrambling, partisan enterprise; equally Major Ferguson, we are told, was for putintrepid and determined, but cooler and more open to impulses of humanity. He was the son of an eminent Scotch judge, had entered the army at an early age, and served in the German wars. The British extolled him as superior to the American Indians, in the use of the rifle, in short, as being the best marksman living. He had invented one which could be loaded at the breach and discharged seven times in a minute. It had been used with effect by his corps. Washington, according to British authority, had owed his life at the battle of Germantown, solely to Ferguson's ignorance of his person, having repeatedly been within reach of the colonel's unerring rifle.*

On the evening of the 13th of April, Tarleton moved with the van toward Monk's Corner. A night march had been judged the most advisable. It was made in profound silence and by unfrequented roads. In the course of the march, a negro was descried attempting to avoid notice. He was seized. A letter was found on him from an officer from Huger's camp, from which Tarleton learned something of its situation and the distribution of the troops. A few dollars gained the services of the negro as a guide. The surprisal of General Huger's camp was complete. Several officers and men who attempted to defend themselves, were killed or wounded. General Huger, Colonel Washington, with many others, officers and men, escaped in the darkness, to the neighboring swamps. One hundred officers, dragoons, and hussars, were taken, with about four hundred horses and near fifty waggons, laden with arms, clothing, and ammunition.

Biggins Bridge on Cooper River was likewise secured, and the way opened for Colonel Webster to advance nearly to the head of the passes, in such a manner as to shut up Charleston entirely.

In the course of the maraud which generally accompanies a surprisal of the kind, several dragoons of the British legion broke into a house in the neighborhood of Monk's Corner, and maltreated and attempted violence upon ladies residing there. The ladies escaped to Monk's Corner, where they were protected, and a carriage furnished to convey them to a place of safety. The dragoons were apprehended and brought to Monk's Corner, where

* Annual Register, 1781, p. 52.

We gladly record one instance in which the atrocities which disgraced this invasion met with some degree of punishment; and we honor the rough soldier, Ferguson, for the fiat of "instant death," with which he would have requited the most infamous and dastardly outrage that brutalizes warfare.

During the progress of the siege, General Lincoln held repeated councils of war, in which he manifested a disposition to evacuate the place. This measure was likewise urged by General Du Portail, who had penetrated, by secret ways, into the town. The inhabitants, however, in an agony of alarm, implored Lincoln not to abandon them to the mercies of an infuriated and licentious soldiery, and the general, easy and kind-hearted, yielded to their entreaties.

The American cavalry had gradually reassembled on the north of the Santee, under Colonel White of New Jersey, where they were joined by some militia infantry, and by Colonel William Washington, with such of his dragoons as had escaped at Monk's Corner. Cornwallis had committed the country between Cooper and Wando Rivers to Tarleton's charge, with orders to be continually on the move with the cavalry and infantry of the legion; to watch over the landing places; obtain intelligence from the town, the Santee River, and the back country, and to burn such stores as might fall into his hands, rather than risk their being retaken by the enemy.

Hearing of the fortuitous assemblage of American troops, Tarleton came suddenly upon them by surprise at Laneau's Ferry. It was one of his bloody exploits. Five officers and thirtysix men were killed and wounded, and seven officers and six dragoons taken, with horses, arms, and equipments. Colonels White, Washington, and Jamieson, with other officers and men, threw themselves in the river, and escaped by swimming; while some, who followed their example, perished.

The arrival of a reinforcement of three thousand men from New York enabled Sir Henry

*Stedman, il. 183.





Clinton to throw a powerful detachment, under | Brown, was to move up the Savannah to Lord Cornwallis, to the east of Cooper River, to complete the investment of the town and cut off all retreat. Fort Moultrie surrendered. The batteries of the third parallel were opened upon the town. They were so near, that the Hessian yagers, or sharpshooters, could pick off the garrison while at their guns or on the parapets. This fire was kept up for two days. The besiegers crossed the canal; pushed a double sap to the inside of the abatis, and prepared to make an assault by sea and land.

Augusta, on the borders of Georgia. Another, under Lieutenant-Colonel Cruger, was to proceed up the south-west side of the Santee River to the district of Ninety-Six,* a fertile and salubrious region, between the Savannah and the Saluda Rivers; while a third under Cornwallis was to cross the Santee, march up the north-east bank and strike at a corps of troops under Colonel Buford, which were retreating to North Carolina with artillery and a number of waggons, laden with arms, ammunition, and clothing.

Colonel Buford, in fact, had arrived too late for the relief of Charleston, and was now making a retrograde move; he had come on with three hundred and eighty troops of the Virginia line, and two field-pieces, and had been joined by Colonel Washington with a few of his cavalry that had survived the surprisal by Tarleton. As Buford was moving with celerity, and had the advantage of distance, Cornwallis detached Tarleton in pursuit of him, with one hundred and seventy dragoons, a hundred mounted infantry, and a three-pounder. The bold partisan pushed forward with his usual ardor and rapidity. The weather was sultry, many of the horses gave out through fatigue and heat; he pressed others by the way, leav ing behind such of his troops as could not keep pace with him. After a day and night of forced march he arrived about dawn at Bugeley's Mills. Buford, he was told, was about twenty miles in advance of him, pressing on with all diligence to join another corps of Americans. Tarleton continued his march; the horses of the three-pounder were knocked

All hopes of successful defence were at an end. The works were in ruins; the guns almost all dismounted; the garrison exhausted with fatigue, the provisions nearly consumed. The inhabitants, dreading the horrors of an assault, joined in a petition to General Lincoln, and prevailed upon him to offer a surrender on terms which had already been offered and rejected. These terms were still granted, and the capitulation was signed on the 12th of May. The garrison were allowed some of the honors of war. They were to march out and deposit their arms, between the canal and the works, but the drums were not to beat a British march nor the colors to be uncased. The Continental troops and seamen were to be allowed their baggage, but were to remain prisoners of war. The officers of the army and navy were to retain their servants, swords and pistols, and their baggage unsearched; and were permitted to sell their horses; but not to remove them out of the town. The citizens and the militia were to be considered prisoners on parole; the latter to be permitted to return home, and both to be protected in person and property as long as they kept their parole. Among the prison-up and unable to proceed; his wearied troops ers, were the lieutenant-governor and five of the council.

The loss of the British in the siege was seventy-six killed and one hundred and eightynine wounded; that of the Americans nearly the same. The prisoners taken by the enemy, exclusive of the sailors, amounted to five thousand six hundred and eighteen men; comprising every male adult in the city. The Continental troops did not exceed two thousand,

five hundred of whom were in the hospital;

the rest were citizens and militia.

were continually dropping in the rear. Still he urged forward, anxious to overtake Buford before he could form a junction with the force he was seeking. To detain him he sent forward Captain Kinlock of his legion with a flag, and the following letter:

"SIR,-Resistance being vain, to prevent the effusion of blood, I make offers which can never be repeated. You are now almost encompassed by a corps of seven hundred light Sir Henry Clinton considered the fall of troops on horseback; half of that number are infantry with cannons. Earl Cornwallis is likeCharleston decisive of the fate of South Caro-wise within reach with nine British regiments. lina. To complete the subjugation of the country, he planned three expeditions into

*So called in early times from being ninety-six miles

the interior. One, under Lieutenant-Colonel from the principal town of the Cherokee nation.

ET. 48.]


I warn you of the temerity of further inimical proceedings."

He concluded by offering the same conditions granted to the troops at Charleston; "if you are rash enough to reject them," added he, "the blood be upon your head."

Kinlock overtook Colonel Buford in full march on the banks of the Waxhaw, a stream on the border of North Carolina, and delivered the summons. The colonel read the letter without coming to a halt, detained the flag for some time in conversation, and then returned

the following note:

[ocr errors]


The whole British loss was two officers and three privates killed, and one officer and fourteen privates wounded. What, then, could excuse this horrible carnage of an almost pros trate enemy? We give Tarleton's own excuse for it. It commenced, he says, at the time he was dismounted, and before he could mount another horse; and his cavalry were exasperated by a report that he was slain. Cornwallis apparently accepted this excuse, for he approved of his conduct in the expedition, and recommended him as worthy of some distinguished mark of royal favor. The world at large, however, have not been so easily satisfied,

SIR,-I reject your proposals, and shall de- and the massacre at the Waxhaw has refend myself to the last extremity.

"I have the honor, &c."

Tarleton, who had never ceased to press forward, came upon Buford's rear-guard about three o'clock in the afternoon, and captured a sergeant and four dragoons. Buford had not expected so prompt an appearance of the enemy. He hastily drew up his men in order of battle, in an open wood, on the right of the road. His artillery and waggons, which were in the advance escorted by part of his infantry, were ordered to continue on their march.

There appears to have been some confusion on the part of the Americans, and they had an impetuous foe to deal with. Before they were well prepared for action they were attacked in front and on both flanks by cavalry and mounted infantry. Tarleton, who advanced at the head of thirty chosen dragoons and some infantry, states that when within fifty paces of the Continental infantry, they presented, but he heard their officers command them to retain their fire until the British cavalry were nearer. It was not until the latter were within ten yards that there was a partial discharge of musketry. Several of the dragoons suffered by this fire. Tarleton himself was unhorsed, but his troopers rode on. The American battalion was broken; most of the men threw down their arms and begged for quarter, but were cut down without mercy. One hundred and thirty were slain on the spot, and one hundred and fifty so mangled and maimed that they could not be moved. Colonel Buford and a few of the cavalry escaped, as did about a hundred of the infantry, who were with the baggage in the advance. Fifty prisoners were all that were in a condition to be carried off by Tarleton as trophies of this butchery.

mained a sanguinary stain on the reputation of that impetuous soldier.

The two other detachments which had been sent out by Clinton, met with nothing but submission. The people in general, considering resistance hopeless, accepted the proffered protection, and conformed to its humiliating terms. One class of the population in this colony seems to have regarded the invaders as deliverers. "All the negroes," writes Tarleton, men, women, and children, upon the appearance of any detachment of king's troops, thought themselves absolved from all respect to their American masters, and entirely released from servitude. They quitted the plantations and followed the army.'

[ocr errors]

Sir Henry now persuaded himself that South Carolina was subdued, and proceeded to station garrisons in various parts, to maintain it in subjection. In the fulness of his confidence, he issued a proclamation on the 8d of June, discharging all the military prisoners from their paroles after the 20th of the month, excepting those captured in Fort Moultrie and Charleston. All thus released from their parole were reinstated in the rights and duties of British subjects; but, at the same time, they were bound to take an active part in support of the government hitherto opposed by them. Thus the protection afforded them while prisoners was annulled by an arbitrary fiat-neutrality was at an end. All were to be ready to take up arms at a moment's notice. Those who had families were to form a militia for home defence. Those who had none, were to serve with the royal forces. All who should neglect to return to their allegiance, or should refuse to take up arms against the independence of their

* Tarleton's Hist. of Campaign, p. 80.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »