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The general, informed that the enemy had crossed the Catawba at daybreak, awaited anxiously at the rendezvous the arrival of the militia. It was not until after midnight that he heard of their utter dispersion, and of the death of Davidson. Apprehending the rapid advance of Cornwallis, he hastened to rejoin Morgan, who with his division was pushing forward for the Yadkin, first sending orders to General Huger to conduct the other division by the most direct route to Guilford Court house, where the forces were to be united. Greene spurred forward through heavy rain and deep miry roads. It was a dreary ride and a lonely one, for he had detached his aidesde-camp in different directions, to collect the scattered militia. At mid-day he alighted

Br.49.] can sentinel. He challenged them three times, and receiving no answer, fired. Terrified by the report, the man who was guiding the British turned and fied. Colonel Hall, thus abandoned, led the way directly across the river; whereas the true ford inclined diagonally further down. Hall had to pass through deeper water, but he reached a part of the bank where it was unguarded. The American pickets, too, which had turned out at the alarm given by the sentinel, had to deliver a distant and slanting fire. Still it had its effect. Three of the British were killed, and thirty-six wounded. Colonel Hall pushed on gallantly, but was shot down as he ascended the bank. The horse on which Cornwallis rode was wounded, but the brave animal carried his lordship to the shore, where he sank under him. The steed of Brig-weary and travel-stained at the inn at Salisadier-General O'Hara rolled over with him into the water, and General Leslie's horse was borne away by the tumultuous current and with diffi-ceived him at the door, and inquired after his culty recovered.

General Davidson hastened with his men towards the place where the British were landing. The latter formed as soon as they found themselves on firm ground, charged Davidson's men before he had time to get them in order, killed and wounded about forty, and put the rest to flight.

General Davidson was the last to leave the ground, and was killed just as he was mounting his horse. When the enemy had effected the passage, Tarleton was detached with his cavalry in pursuit of the militia, most of whom dispersed to their homes. Eager to avenge his late disgrace, he scoured the country, and made for Tarrant's tavern, about ten miles distant, where about a hundred of them had assembled from different fords, on their way to the rendezvous, and were refreshing themselves. As Tarleton came clattering upon them with his legion, they ran to their horses, delivered a hasty fire, which emptied some of his saddles, and then made for the woods; a few of the worst mounted were overtaken and slain. Tarleton, in his account of his campaigns, made the number nearly fifty; but the report of a British officer, who rode over the ground shortly afterwards, reduced it to ten. The truth probably lay between. The survivors were dispersed beyond rallying. Tarleton, satisfied with his achievement, rejoined the main body. Had he scoured the country a few miles further, General Greene and his suite might have fallen into his hands.

bury, where the army physician who had charge of the sick and wounded prisoners re

well-being. "Fatigued, hungry, alone, and penniless," was Greene's heavy-hearted reply. The landlady, Mrs. Elizabeth Steele, overheard his desponding words. While he was seated at table, she entered the room, closed the door, and drawing from under her apron two bags of money which she had carefully hoarded in those precarious times, "Take these," said the noble-hearted woman; "you will want them, and I can do without them." This is one of the numberless instances of the devoted patriotism of our women during the Revolution. Their patriotism was apt to be purer and more disinterested than that of the men.

Cornwallis did not advance so rapidly as had been apprehended. After crossing the Catawba, he had to wait for his waggons and artillery, which had remained on the other side in the woods; so that by nightfall of the 1st of February, he was not more than five miles on the road to Salisbury. Eager to come up with the Americans, he mounted some of the infantry upon the baggage horses, joined them to the cavalry, and sent the whole forward under General O'Hara. They arrived on the banks of the Yadkin at night, between the 2d and 8d of February, just in time to capture a few waggons lingering in the rear of the American army, which had passed. The riflemen who guarded them retreated after a short skirmish. There were no boats with which to cross; the Americans had secured them on the other side. The rain which had fallen throughout the day had overflooded the ford





by which the American cavalry had passed. | Kosciuszko was sent with a party in advance The pursuers were again brought to a stand. to collect the boats and throw up breastworks After some doubt and delay, Cornwallis took at the ferries. his course up the south side of the Yadkin, and crossed by what is still called the Shallow Ford, while Greene continued on unmolested to Guilford Court-house, where he was joined by General Huger and his division, on the 9th. Cornwallis was now encamped about twentyfive miles above them at the old Moravian town of Salem. Greene summoned a council of war (almost the only time he was known to do so) and submitted the question whether or not to offer battle. There was a unanimous vote in the negative. A fourth part of the force was on the sick list, from nakedness and exposure. The official returns gave but two thousand and thirty-six, rank and file, fit for duty. Of these upwards of six hundred were militia.

In ordering his march, General Greene took the lead with the main body, the baggage, and stores. General Morgan would have had the. command of the rear-guard, composed of seven hundred of the most alert and active troops, cavalry and light-infantry; but, being disabled by a violent attack of ague and rheumatism, it was given to Colonel Otho H. Williams (formerly adjutant-general), who had with him Colonels Howard, Washington, and Lee.

Cornwallis had from twenty-five hundred to three thousand men, including three hundred cavalry, all thoroughly disciplined and well equipped. It was determined to continue the


The great object of Greene now was to get across the river Dan, and throw himself into Virginia. With the reinforcements and assistance he might there expect to find, he hoped to effect the salvation of the South, and prevent the dismemberment of the Union. The object of Cornwallis was to get between him and Virginia, force him to a combat before he could receive those reinforcements, or enclose him in between the great rivers on the west, the sea on the east, and the two divisions of the British army under himself and Lord Rawdon on the north and south. His lordship had been informed that the lower part of the Dan, at present, could only be crossed in boats, and that the country could not afford a sufficient number for the passage of Greene's army; he trusted, therefore, to cut him off from the upper part of the river, where alone it was fordable. Greene, however, had provided against such a contingency. Boats had been secured at various places by his agents, and could be collected at a few hours' notice at the lower ferries. Instead, therefore, of striving with his lordship for the upper fords, Greene shaped his course for Boyd's and Irwin's fords, just above the confluence of the Dan and Staunton Rivers which forms the Roanoke, and about seventy miles from Guilford Court-house. This would give him twenty-five miles advantage of Lord Cornwallis at the outset. General

This corps, detached some distance in the rear, did infinite service. Being lightly equip ped, it could manoeuvre in front of the British line of march, break down bridges, sweep off provisions, and impede its progress in a variety of ways, while the main body moved forward unmolested. It was now that Cornwallis most felt the severity of the blow he had received at the battle of the Cowpens in the loss of his light troops, having so few to cope with the élite corps under Williams.

Great abilities were shown by the commanders on either side in this momentous trial of activity and skill. It was a long and severe march for both armies, through a wild and rough country, thinly peopled, cut up by streams, partly covered by forests, along deep and frozen roads, under drenching rains, without tents at night, and with scanty supplies of provisions. The British suffered the least, for they were well equipped and comfortably clad; whereas the poor Americans were badly off for clothing, and many of them without shoes. The patriot armies of the Revolution, however, were accustomed in their winter marches to leave evidences of their hardships in bloody foot-prints.

We forbear to enter into the details of this masterly retreat, the many stratagems and manoeuvres of the covering party to delay and hoodwink the enemy. Tarleton himself bears witness in his narrative, that every measure of the Americans was judiciously designed and vigorously executed. So much had Cornwallis been misinformed at the outset as to the means below of passing the river, and so difficult was it, from want of light troops, to gain information while on the march, that he pushed on in the firm conviction that he was driving the American army into a trap, and would give it a signal blow before it could cross the Dan.

In the mean time, Greene, with the main

Er. 49.]



body, reached the banks of the river, and suc- | ward his baggage on the road to Halifax, and ceeded in crossing over with ease in the course securing the passage of the Staunton. At of a single day at Boyd's and Irwin's ferries, Halifax he was resolved to make a stand, sending back word to Williams, who with his rather than suffer the enemy to take possescovering party was far in the rear. That intel- sion of it without a struggle. Its situation on ligent officer encamped, as usual, in the evening, the Roanoke would make it a strong position at a wary distance in front of the enemy, but for their army, supported by a fleet, and would stole a march upon them after dark, leaving favor their designs both on Virginia and the his camp fires burning. He pushed on all Carolinas. With a view to its defence, innight, arriving at the ferry in the morning of trenchments had already been thrown up, under the 15th, having marched forty miles within the direction of Kosciuszko. the last four and twenty hours; and made such despatch in crossing, that his last troops had landed on the Virginia shore by the time the astonished enemy arrived on the opposite bank. Nothing, according to their own avowal, could surpass the grief and vexation of the British at discovering, on their arrival at Boyd's ferry, "that all their toils and exertions had been vain, and that all their hopes were frustrated."*


FOR a day the two armies lay panting within sight of each other on the opposite banks of the river, which had put an end to the race. In a letter to Thomas Jefferson, dated the day of the crossing, Greene writes: "On the Dan River, almost fatigued to death, having had a retreat to conduct of upwards of two hundred miles, manœuvring constantly in the face of the enemy to give time for the militia to turn out and get off our stores." And to Washington he writes (Feb. 15), "Lord Cornwallis has been at our heels from day to day ever since we left Guilford, and our movements from thence to this place have been of the most critical kind, having a river in our front and the enemy in our rear. The miserable condition of the troops for clothing has rendered the march the most painful imaginable, many hundred of the soldiers tracking the ground with their bloody feet. Your feelings for the sufferings of the soldier, had you been with us, have been severely tried." He concludes by an honorable testimonial in their favor: "Our army are in good spirits, notwithstanding their sufferings and excessive fatigue."


On the 16th the river began to subside; the enemy might soon be able to cross. Greene prepared for a further retreat by sending for

*Annual Register, 1781.

Lord Cornwallis, however, did not deem it prudent, under present circumstances, to venture into Virginia, where Greene would be sure of powerful reinforcements. North Carolina was in a state of the utmost disorder and confusion; he thought it better to remain in it for a time, and profit by having compelled Greene to abandon it. After giving his troops a day's repose, therefore, he put them once more in motion on the 18th, along the road by which he had pursued Greene. The latter, who was incessantly on the alert, was informed of this retrograde move, by a preconcerted signal; the waving of a white handkerchief, under cover of the opposite bank, by a female patriot.

This changed the game. Lee, with his legion, strengthened by two veteran Maryland companies, and Pickens, with a corps of South Carolina militia, all light troops, were transported across the Dan in the boats, with orders to gain the front of Cornwallis, hover as near as safety would permit, cut off his intercourse with the disaffected parts of the country, and check the rising of the royalists. but delay him for a day or two," said Greene, "he must be ruined." Greene, in the mean while, remained with his main force on the northern bank of the Dan; waiting to ascertain his lordship's real designs, and ready to cross at a moment's warning.

"If we can

The movements of Cornwallis, for a day or two, were of a dubious nature, designed to perplex his opponents; on the 20th, however, he took post at Hillsborough. Here he erected the royal standard, and issued a proclamation,

stating that, whereas it had pleased Divine Providence to prosper the operations of his majesty's arms in driving the rebel army out of the province, he invited all his loyal subjects to hasten to this standard with their arms and ten days' provisions, to assist in suppressing the remains of rebellion, and re-establishing good order and constitutional government.

By another instrument, all who could raise.



reached the place Tarleton had marched on; they captured two of his staff, however, who had remained behind, settling with the people of a farm-house for supplies furnished to the

independent companies were called upon to
give in their names at head-quarters, and a
bounty in money and lands was promised to
those who should enlist under them. The com-
panies thus raised were to be formed into regi-detachment.


These sounding appeals produced but little effect on the people of the surrounding districts. Many hundreds, says Tarleton, rode into the camp to talk over the proclamation, inquire the news of the day, and take a view of the king's troops. The generality seemed desirous of peace, but averse from any exertion to procure it. They acknowledged that the Continentals had been chased out of the province, but apprehended they would soon return. "Some of the most zealous," adds he, "promised to raise companies, and even regiments; but their followers and dependents were slow to enlist." Tarleton himself was forthwith detached with the cavalry and a small body of infantry, to a region of country lying between the Haw and Deep Rivers, to bring on a considerable number of loyalists who were said to be assembling there.

As Lee with

Being informed that Tarleton was to halt for the night at the distance of six miles, they still trusted to surprise him. On the way, however, they had an encounter with a body of three or four hundred mounted royalists, armed with rifles, and commanded by a Colonel Pyle, marching in quest of Tarleton. his cavalry was in the advance, he was mistaken for Tarleton, and hailed with loyal accla mations. He favored the mistake, and was taking measures to capture the royalists, when some of them, seeing the infantry under Pickens, discovered their error, and fired upon the rear-guard. The cavalry instantly charged upon them; ninety were cut down and slain, and a great number wounded; among the latter was Colonel Pyle himself, who took refuge among thickets on the borders of a piece of water which still bears his name. The Americans alleged in excuse for the slaughter, that it Rumor, in the mean time, had magnified the was .provoked by their being attacked; and effect of his lordship's proclamations. Word that the sabre was used, as a continued firing was brought to Greene, that the tories were might alarm Tarleton's camp. We do not flocking from all quarters to the royal standard. wonder, however, that British writers proSeven companies, it was said, had been raised nounced it a massacre; though it was but folin a single day. At this time the reinforce-lowing the example set by Tarleton himself, in ments to the American camp had been little more than six hundred Virginia militia, under General Stevens. Greene saw that at this rate, if Cornwallis were allowed to remain undisturbed, he would soon have complete command of North Carolina; he boldly determined, therefore, to recross the Dan at all hazards with the scanty force at his command, and give his lordship check. In this spirit he broke up his camp and crossed the river on the 23d.

In the mean time, Lee and Pickens, who were scouting the country about Hillsborough, received information of Tarleton's recruiting expedition to the region between the Haw and Deep Rivers. There was no foe they were more eager to cope with; and they resolved to give him a surprise. Having forded the Haw one day about noon, they learnt from a countryman that Tarleton was encamped about three miles off, that his horses were unsaddled, and that every thing indicated confident security. They now pushed on under covert of the woods, prepared to give the bold partisan a blow after his own fashion. Before they

After all, Lee and Pickens missed the object of their enterprise. The approach of night and the fatigue of their troops, made them defer their attack upon Tarleton until morning. In the mean time, the latter had received an express from Cornwallis, informing him that Greene had passed the Dan, and ordering him to return to Hillsborough as soon as possible. He hastened to obey. Lee with his legion was in the saddle before daybreak; but Tarleton's. troops were already on the march. "The legion," writes Lee, "accustomed to night expeditions, had been in the habit of using pinetorch for flambeau. Supplied with this, though the morning was dark, the enemy's trail was distinctly discovered, whenever a divergency took place in his route.

Before sunrise, however, Tarleton had forded the Haw, and "Light-Horse Harry" gave over the pursuit, consoling himself that though he had not effected the chief object of his enterprise, a secondary one was completely executed, which would repress the tory spirit just

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beginning to burst forth. "Fortune," writes he in his magniloquent way, "Fortune, which sways so imperiously the affairs of war, demonstrated throughout the operation its supreme control.* Nothing was omitted on the part of the Americans, to give to the expedition the desired termination; but the very bright prospects which for a time presented themselves, were suddenly overcast ;-the capricious goddess gave us Pyle and saved Tarleton."


carelessly posted, put his army suddenly in motion, and crossed the Alamance in a thick fog; with the design to beat up their quarters, drive them in upon the main army, and bring Greene to action should he come to their assistance. His movement was discovered by the American patrols, and the alarm given. Williams hastily called in his detachments, and retreated with his light troops across Reedy Fork, while Lee with his legion manœuvred in front of the enemy. A stand was made by the Americans The re-appearance of Greene and his army at Wetzell's Mill, but they were obliged to rein North Carolina, heralded by the scourings tire with the loss of fifty killed and wounded. of Lee and Pickens, disconcerted the schemes Cornwallis did not pursue; evening was apof Lord Cornwallis. The recruiting service proaching, and he had failed in his main object; was interrupted. Many royalists who were that of bringing Greene to action. The latter, on the way to his camp returned home. For- fixed in his resolve of avoiding a conflict, had age and provisions became scarce in the neigh-retreated across the Haw, in order to keep up borhood. He found himself, he said, "amongst his communication with the roads by which timid friends and adjoining to inveterate he expected his supplies and reinforcements. rebels." On the 26th, therefore, he aban- The militia of the country, who occasionally doned Hillsborough, threw himself across the flocked to his camp, were chiefly volunteers, Haw, and encamped near Alamance Creek, one who fell off after every skirmish, "going home," of its principal tributaries, in a country favor- as he said, "to tell the news." "At this time," able to supplies and with a tory population. said he on the 10th, "I have not above eight His position was commanding, at the point of or nine hundred of them in the field; yet there concurrence of roads from Salisbury, Guilford, have been upwards of five thousand in motion High Rockford, Cross Creek, and Hillsborough. in the course of four weeks. A force fluctuatIt covered also the communication with Wil-ing in this manner can promise but slender mington, where a depot of military stores, so important to his half-destitute army, had recently been established.

Greene, with his main army, took post about fifteen miles above him, on the heights between Troublesome Creek and Reedy Fork, one of the tributaries of the Haw. His plan was to cut the enemy off from the upper counties; to harass him by skirmishes, but to avoid a general battle; thus gaining time for the arrival of reinforcements daily expected. He rarely lay more than two days in a place, and kept his light troops under Pickens and Williams between him and the enemy; hovering about the latter; intercepting his intelligence; attacking his foraging parties, and striking at his flanks whenever exposed. Sharp skirmishes occurred between them and Tarleton's cavalry with various success. The country being much of a wilderness, obliged both parties to be on the alert; but the Americans, accustomed to bush-fighting, were not easily surprised.

On the 6th of March, Cornwallis, learning that the light troops under Williams were very

* Lee's Memoirs of the War, i. 319.

hopes of success against an enemy in high discipline, and made formidable by the superiority of their numbers. Hitherto, I have been obliged to effect that by finesse which I dare not attempt by force." *

Greene had scarcely written this letter when the long-expected reinforcements arrived, having been hurried on by forced marches. They consisted of a brigade of Virginia militia, under General Lawson, two brigades of North Carolina militia, under Generals Butler and Eaton, and four hundred regulars, enlisted for eighteen months. His whole effective force, according to official returns, amounted to four thousand two hundred and forty-three foot, and one hundred and sixty-one cavalry. Of his infantry, not quite two thousand were regulars, and of these, three-fourths were new levies. His force nearly doubled in number that of Cornwallis, which did not exceed two thousand four hundred men; but many of Greene's troops were raw and inexperienced, and had never been in battle; those of the enemy were veterans, schooled in warfare, and, as it were, welded

* Letter to Governor Jefferson, March 10.

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