Slike strani

arms, and near as many with arms in such condition as to be rather calculated to discourage than animate the user." The same day the British fleet arrived with gen. Howe's troops from Halifax. They took possession of Staten-Island July the 2d. On the 4th the American adjutant-general, col. Joseph Reed, wrote to a member of congress, "With an army of force before and a secret one behind, we stand on a point of land, with 6000 old troops, if a year's service of about half, can entitle them to the name, and about 1500 new levies of this province, many disaffected, and more doubtful. In this situation we are, every man in the army, from the general to the private (acquainted with our true situation) is exceedingly discouraged. Had I known the true posture of affairs, no consideration would have tempted me to have ta ken an active part of this scene; and this sentiment is universal."" Gen. Howe is sufficiently strong, considering the goodness of his troops, to make a successful attempt upon the Americans; but being in daily expectation of the reinforcement from Europe, he will undoubtedly remain inactive till their arrival.

This then is a proper opportunity for relating the operations in South Carolina.

The designs of ministry against the southern colonies, were providentially discovered before the arrival of Sir Peter Parker. In the beginning of April capt. James Barron arrived at Wil liamsburgh, with dispatches from the secretary of state, for governor Eden of Maryland, which he took from on board a small vessel sent by lord Dunmore to carry them to Annapolis. The secretary's letter is dated Whitehall, December 23, 1775, and says,


"An armament of seven regiments, with a fleet of frigates and small ships, is now in readiness to proceed to the southern colonies, in order to attempt the restoration of legal government in that part of America. It will proceed in the first place to North-Carolina, and from thence either to South-Carolina or Virginia, as circumstances shall point out." This discovery is rank. ed, by the American commander in chief, among many other signal interpositions of Providence, and as serving to inspire every reflecting mind with confidence. No one professes "a more firm reliance on the all-wise and powerful dispensations of the supreme Being, or thinks his aid more necessary."

[April 18.] The Ann and Isabella arrived at Cape-Fear with part of the 17th regiment; she was the first vessel of Sir Peter Parker's fleet. From her arrival to the second of May, thirteen transports got in. On the third of May, Sir Peter and twenty sail arrived

arrived with lord Cornwallis, gen. Vaughan and others; when they met with gen. Clinton, who after leaving New-York, proceeded to Virginia, where he saw lord Dunmore; but finding that no service could be effected in that colony, he repaired to Cape Fear river, and waited the arrival of the armament from Europe. [May 5.] Gen. Clinton issued out a proclamation from on board the Pallas transport, offering free pardon to all such as should lay down their arms, &c. excepting Cornelius Harnett and Robert Howe. The defeat of the highlanders and regulators in February, and the measures afterward taken for the safety of the colony, diverted the commanders from attempting any thing against it; and led them to conclude upon attacking Charleston, which they were in full expectation of subduing, as they had about 2800 land forces to co-operate with the men of war. Prior to their arrival and junction every exertion had been made to put the colony of South-Carolina, and especially its capital in a respectable posture of defence. As one mean conducing to it, works were erected on Sullivan's Island, situated so near the channel as to be a very convenient post for annoying ships approaching the town; and about thirty cannon, 32, 18 and 19 pounders, were mounted on a fort constructed with palmetto. This is a tree peculiar to the southern states, which grows from twenty to forty feet high, without branches, and then terminates in something resembling the head of a cabbage. The wood is remarkably spongy. A bullet entering it, makes no extended fracture, but buries itself without injuring the parts adjacent.

On the first of June advices were received in Charleston, that a fleet of forty or fifty sail was at anchor about six leagues to the northward of Sullivan's Island. The next day the alarm signal was fired, and expresses sent to the officers commanding the militia in the country, to repair to the immediate defence of the capital, with the forces under their respective command. In a few days several hundred of the enemy's troops were landed on LongIsland, situated to the eastward of Sullivan's, and separated from it by a creck. On the 10th the Bristol, a 50 gun ship, her guns being previously taken out, got safe over the bar. About this time a proclamation was sent ashore, in which gen. Clinton promised pardon to the inhabitants upon their laying down their arms and quietly submitting to the re-establishment of royal government. It produced none of the effects wished from it. The militia of the country very generally obeyed the summons of president Rutledge, and repaired in great numbers to the capital. The regular regiments of the adjacent northern colonies, having been ordered to the assistance of their southern neighbors, arrived at this critical juncture. The whole were commanded by gen. Lee, L who


who had been sent to the southward on gen. Clinton's leaving the Hook. The great opinion every where entertained of his abi lity and experience, add to the spirits of the troops and inhabitants. In a few days the Americans, including the militia of the town and country amounted to five or six thousand men, The first South-Carolina regular regiment, commanded by cot. Gadsden, was stationed at Fort Johnson, on the most northerly point of James Island, and within point blank shot of the chan nel. The second and third regular regiments of the colony, commanded by cols. Moultrie and Thompson, occupied the two extremities of Sullivan's Island. The other forces had their posts assigned them at Haddrell's Point, James Island, and along the bay in front of the town. The streets near the water were in different places strongly barricaded. The stores on the wharfs, though immensely valuable, were pulled down, and lines of de fence continued along the water's edge. Domestic conveniencies were exchanged for blankets and knapsacks, and gentlemen of the most independent fortune, labored with the hoe and spade in their hands. Gov. Rutledge, sore against his will, was obliged to adopt some absolute measures for the defence of the place. He pressed 700 negroes, with tools, &c. belonging to non-associa tors, to work upon the fortifications and trenches; and seized, for the present, the cash and papers of many associators in name only, to prevent their doing mischief, as they hung back in the hour of trial. In a few days, by the labor of the citizens, in conjunction with the negroes, such obstructions were thrown in the way, as would have greatly embarrassed the royal army, had it attempted landing in the town. [June 26.] The Experiment, of 50 guns, safely crossed the bar, after taking similar precau tions with the Bristol.

[June 28.] The fort on Sullivans's Island is now to be attacked by the two 50 gun ships the Bristol and Experiment, four frigates, the Active, Acteon, Solebay and Syren, each of 28 guns; the Sphynx, of 20 guns, the Friendship armed vessel, of 22 guns, the Ranger sloop and Thunder bomb, each of eight guns. The Thunder bomb, covered by the armed ship, takes her station in the morning, and begins to throw shells between the hours of ten and eleven. The Active, Bristol, Experiment and Solebay come boldly on to the attack. A little before eleven, the garri son fires four or five shot at the Active, while under sail. When she comes near the fort, she drops anchor, and pours in a broadside. Her example is followed by the three other vessels, and a most furious and incessant cannonade ensues. The Sphynx, Acteon and Syren are ordered to take their station between the end of the island and Charleston, partly to enfilade the works of the fort

fort, partly to cut off the communication between the island and the continent, and partly to prevent any attempts that may be made to interrupt the grand attack. The western extremity of the fort, off which they are to be stationed, is so unfinished as to afford very imperfect cover to the men at the guns in that part, and also so situated as to expose the men in the other parts of the fort to a very dangerous cross fire. Providence on this occasion remarkably interposes in behalf of the garrison, and saves them from a fate, that undoubtedly would otherwise be inevitable. About twelve o'clock, as the three last-mentioned ships are advancing, they all get entangled with a shoal call the Middle Ground; two of them run foul of each other. The Acteon sticks fast. The Sphynx, before she clears herself, loses her bowsprit; but the Syren gets off without much injury. They are too late however, or in no condition for executing the intended service. The Thunder bomb, after having thrown about 60 shells, is so damaged as to be incapable of firing longer. While the continued fire from the ships seemsufficient to shake the bra vest enemy, and daunt the courage of the most veteran soldier, the return made from the fort calls for the respect of the brave British seamen, though highly incommoded by it. The garrison, which consists of col. Moultrie, 344 regulars and a few volunteer militia, nearly all raw and unexperienced, stick to their guns with the greatest constancy and firmness, amidst a most dreadful roar of artillery. They fire deliberately and slowly, and take a cool and effective aim. The ships suffer accordingly.. They are torn almost to pieces, and the slaughter is deadful. Never did British valor shine more conspicuous, nor ever did their marine experience so rough an encounter, in an engagement of the same nature with any foreign enemy. The springs of the Bristol's cable being cut by the shot, she is for some time most dreadfully raked by the Americans. Capt. Morris, who com mands her, though he has received a number of wounds, disdains quitting his duty, till his arm being at length shot off, he is carried away in circumstances that afford no possibility of recovery. Sir Peter Parker suffers a slight contusion. Every man stationed in the beginning of the action on the quarter deck of the Bristol, is either killed or wounded. In the whole she has 40 men killed and 71 wounded. The Experiment had 23 killed and 76 wounded. Capt. Scott, who commands her, loses his arm and receives many other wounds. Lord Campbell, the late governor of the colony, who serves as a volunteer, with the greatest spirit and bravery, and is so condescending as to accept of the direction of some guns of the lower gun deck, receives a hurt in his left side,

which may finally prove mortalt. The fire of the fort is prin cipally directed against the Bristol and Experiment, which suffer very much in their hulls, masts and rigging. Not less than 70 balls go through the former. The Acteon has a lieutenant killed and six men wounded. The Solebay has eight men wounded. The loss of the garrison is only ten men killed and twentytwo wounded.

The guns at the fort were at on time so long silenced, that it was thought to have been abandoned. When the garrison had received a recruit of powder, the expenditure of their stock ha ving obliged them to cease firing, they began it again, and did amazing execution by its excessive severity. During the long, hot and obstinate conflict between the American fort and the British men of war, the seamen looked frequently and impatientiy to the eastward, expecting to see the land forces, under generat Clinton and lord Cornwallis, advance from Long-Island, and march up to second the attack; but in this they were disappointed. Though the creek between that island and Sullivan's is easily fordable in general, yet at that time, through a long series of easterly winds it was uncommonly deep, and impassable at the usual place of passage. The British troops might have crossed higher up; but then they must have been exposed so completely and so long to the American fire, that they would have run the risk of being defeated. Col. Thompson, with 300 riflemen of his regiment; col. Clark, with 200 regulars of the North-Carolina line; col. Horry with 200 South-Carolina militia, and the Raccoon company of militia riflemen, with an eighteen pounder and a field piece, were stationed at the east end of Sullivan's Istand to oppose their crossing.

The British fire was kept up without intermission till near se ven o'clock, when it slackened considerably. At half past nine, the firing on both sides ceased, and at eleven the shatered ships slipped their cables and withdrew from the scene of action, after an engagement which had been supported with uncommon courage and vigor on both sides for above ten hours. Next morning all the men of war, except the Acteon, had retired about two miles from the island. The garrison fired several shot at her; she at first returned them, but soon after the crew set her on fire and abandoned her, leaving the colours flying, the guns loaged, and all her ammunition and stores behind. She was in a short time boarded by a party of Americans, who brought off her colours, the ship's bell and as many sail and stores as three boats could contain. While the flames were bursting out on all sides, they fired three of her guns at the commodore, and

It at length occasioned his death.


« PrejšnjaNaprej »