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Life And Times Of Washington, Volume 2 by John Frederick Schroeder and Benson John Lossing

Part 5 out of 16

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of a North, a Germaine, or a Sandwich can best decide. It is too deep
and refined for the comprehension of common understandings and the
general run of politicians."

1. Footnote: For their bravery and good conduct at Stony Point, Wayne
received a gold, and Stewart and Fleury silver medals, with the thanks
of Congress. A separate medal was designed and struck for each of them.

2. Footnote: Lee, for this exploit at Paulus Hook, was presented with a
gold medal by Congress.

3. Footnote: Irving



During the winter which followed the campaign of 1779, Washington, with
his army hutted on the heights of Morristown, was beset by pressing and
formidable difficulties. The finances of Congress were in a most
depressed condition, and the urgent wants of the army were but ill
supplied. The evils of short enlistment, though distinctly understood
and strongly felt, could not be remedied, and the places of those men
who were leaving the army on the expiration of their stipulated term of
service could not easily be filled up. Besides, the troops were in
danger of perishing by cold and famine. During the preceding year
General Greene and Colonel Wadsworth had been at the head of the
quartermaster and commissary departments, and notwithstanding their
utmost exertions, the wants of the army had been ill supplied. After
being put into winter quarters it was in great danger of being
dissolved by want of provisions or of perishing through famine. The
Colonial paper money was in a state of great and increasing
depreciation, and in order to check the alarming evil Congress, which,
like other popular assemblies had in it no small share of ignorance and
self-sufficiency, resolved to diminish the circulation and keep up the
value of their paper currency by withholding the necessary supplies
from the public agents. This foolish resolution threatened the ruin of
the army. Nobody was willing to make contracts with the public and some
of those entered into were not fulfilled.

Congress, jealous of the public agents, because ignorant of what was
really necessary, repeatedly changed the form of its engagements with
them, and, at length, by its fluctuating policy, real wants, and
imprudent parsimony, brought matters to such extremities that
Washington was compelled to require the several counties of the State
of New Jersey to furnish his army with certain quantities of provisions
within six days in order to prevent them from being taken by force.
Although the province was much exhausted, yet the people instantly
complied with the requisition and furnished a temporary supply to the
army. [1]

Soon after Clinton sailed on his expedition against Charleston a frost
of unexampled intensity began. The Hudson, East river, and all the
waters around New York were so completely frozen that an army with its
artillery and wagons might have crossed them in all directions with
perfect safety. New York lost all the advantages of its insular
situation and became easily accessible on every side. The city was
fortified by the British, but on account of its insular situation,
several parts being considered of difficult access were left
undefended. By the strength of the ice, however, every point became
exposed, and in that unforeseen emergency, Knyphausen who commanded in
the city with a garrison of 10,000 men took every prudent precaution
for his defense and fortified every vulnerable part, but the
inefficiency of the American army was his best security. Washington
easily perceived the advantages which the extraordinary frost gave him,
but from the destitute state of his army he was unable to avail himself
of them. The army under his immediate command was inferior in number to
the garrison of New York; it was also ill clad, scantily supplied with
provisions, and in no condition to undertake offensive operations.

The British had a post on Staten Island, and as the ice opened a free
communication between the island and the New Jersey coast, Washington,
notwithstanding the enfeebled condition of his army resolved to attack
the garrison, and appointed Lord Stirling to conduct the enterprise.
The night of the 14th of January (1780) was chosen for the attempt,
but, though the Americans used every precaution, the officer commanding
on Staten Island discovered their intention and took effectual measures
to defeat it. The attack was repulsed, but little loss was sustained on
either side.

The extreme cold occasioned much suffering in New York by want of
provisions and fuel, for as the communication by water was entirely
stopped the usual supplies, were cut off. The demand for fuel in
particular was so pressing that it was found expedient to break up some
old transports, and to pull down some uninhabited wooden houses for the
purpose of procuring that necessary article. As the British paid in
ready money for provisions or firewood carried within the lines many of
the country people, tempted by the precious metals, so rare among them,
tried to supply the garrison. The endeavors of the British to encourage
and protect this intercourse and the exertions of the Americans to
prevent it brought on a sort of partisan warfare in which the former
most frequently had the advantage. In one of the most important of
those encounters, early in February (1780), near White Plains, a
captain and 14 men of a Massachusetts regiment were killed on the spot,
17 were wounded, and 90, with Colonel Thompson, the officer who
commanded the party, were made prisoners. Washington, writing to
General Heath respecting this affair, says: "It is some consolation
that our officers and men appear to have made a brave resistance. I
cannot help suspecting that our officers in advance quarter too long in
a place. By these means the enemy by their emissaries gain a perfect
knowledge of their cantonments and form their attacks accordingly. Were
they to shift constantly the enemy could scarcely ever attain this

Congress found itself placed in very difficult circumstances. It always
contained a number of men of talents and manifested no small share of
vigor and activity. Many of the members were skilful in the management
of their private affairs, and having been successful in the world
thought themselves competent to direct the most important national
concerns, although unacquainted with the principles of finance,
legislation, or war. Animated by that blind presumption which generally
characterizes popular assemblies they often entered into resolutions
which discovered little practical wisdom. In pecuniary matters they
were dilatory and never anticipated trying emergencies, or made
provision for probable events, till they were overtaken by some urgent
necessity. Hence they were frequently deliberating about levying troops
and supplying the army when the troops ought to have been in the field,
and the army fully equipped for active service. This often placed
Washington in the most trying and perilous circumstances.

Congress had solemnly resolved not to exceed $200,000,000 in
Continental bills of credit. In November, 1779, the whole of that sum
was issued and expended also. The demand on the States to replenish the
treasury by taxes had not been fully complied with, and even although
it had been completely answered would not have furnished a sum adequate
to the expenses of government. Instead of maturely considering and
digesting a plan, adhering to it, and improving it by experience,
Congress often changed its measures, and even in the midst of those
distresses which had brought the army to the verge of dissolution, was
busy in devising new and untried expedients for supporting it. As the
treasury was empty and money could not be raised, Congress, on the 25th
of February (1780), resolved to call on the several States for their
proportion of provisions, spirits, and forage for the maintenance of
the army during the ensuing campaign, but specified no time within
which these were to be collected, and consequently the States were in
no haste in the matter. In order to encourage and facilitate compliance
with this requisition it was further resolved that any State which
should have taken the necessary measures for furnishing its quota, and
given notice thereof to Congress, should be authorized to prohibit any
Continental quartermaster or commissary from purchasing within its

Every man who had a practical knowledge of the subject easily perceived
the defective nature and dangerous tendency of this arrangement. It was
an attempt to carry on the war rather by separate provincial efforts
than by a combination of national strength, and if the army received
from any State where it was acting the appointed quantity of
necessaries it had no right, though starving, to purchase what it stood
in need of. Besides the carriage of provisions from distant parts was
troublesome, expensive, and sometimes impracticable.

The troops were ill clothed, their pay was in arrear, and that of the
officers, owing to the great depreciation of the paper currency, was
wholly unequal to their decent maintenance. These multiplied privations
and sufferings soured the temper of the men, and it required all the
influence of Washington to prevent many of the officers from resigning
their commissions. The long continuance of want and hardship produced
relaxation of discipline which at length manifested itself in open
mutiny. On the 25th of May (1780) two regiments belonging to
Connecticut paraded under arms, with the avowed intention of returning
home, or of obtaining subsistence at the point of the bayonet. The rest
of the soldiers, though they did not join in the mutiny, showed little
disposition to suppress it. At length the two regiments were brought
back to their duty, but much murmuring and many complaints were heard.
While the army was in such want the inhabitants of New Jersey, where
most of the troops were stationed, were unavoidably harassed by
frequent requisitions, which excited considerable discontent. Reports
of the mutinous state of the American army and of the dissatisfaction
of the people of New Jersey, probably much exaggerated, were carried to
General Knyphausen, who, believing the American soldiers ready to
desert their standards and the inhabitants of New Jersey willing to
abandon the Union, on the 6th of June (1780), passed from Staten Island
to Elizabethtown, in Jersey, with 5,000 men. That movement was intended
to encourage the mutinous disposition of the American troops, and to
fan the flame of discontent among the inhabitants of the province.
Early next morning he marched into the country toward Springfield by
the way of Connecticut Farms, a flourishing plantation, so named
because the cultivators had come from Connecticut. But even before
reaching that place which was only five or six miles from
Elizabethtown, the British perceived that the reports which they had
received concerning the discontent of the Americans were incorrect, for
on the first alarm the militia assembled with great alacrity and aided
by some small parties of regular troops, annoyed the British by an
irregular but galling fire of musketry, wherever the nature of the
ground presented a favorable opportunity, and although those parties
were nowhere strong enough to make a stand, yet they gave plain
indications of the temper and resolution which were to be encountered
in advancing into the country. At Connecticut Farms the British
detachment halted. The settlers were known to be zealous in the
American cause and therefore with a little spirit of revenge, the
British, among whom was General Tryon, laid the flourishing village,
with its church and the minister's house, in ashes. Here occurred one
of those affecting incidents which being somewhat out of the ordinary
course of the miseries of war make a deep impression on the public
mind. Mr. Caldwell, minister of the place, had withdrawn toward
Springfield, but had left his wife and family behind believing them to
be in no danger. The British advanced to the industrious and peaceful
village. Mrs. Caldwell, trusting to her sex for safety and unsuspicious
of harm, was sitting in her house with her children around her when a
soldier came up, leveled his musket at the window, and shot her dead on
the spot in the midst of her terrified family. On the intercession of a
friend the dead body was permitted to be removed when the house was set
on fire. This atrocious deed excited such general horror and
detestation that the British thought proper to disavow it, and to
impute the death of Mrs. Caldwell to a random shot from the retreating
militia, though the militia did not fire a musket in the village. The
wanton murder of the lady might be the unauthorized act of a savage
individual, but can the burning of the house after her death be
accounted for in the same way? Knyphausen was a veteran officer and
cannot be supposed capable of entering into local animosities or of
countenancing such brutality, but Tryon was present and his conduct on
other occasions was not unblemished.

Mr. Caldwell had rendered himself particularly obnoxious to the enemy,
and was cordially hated by Tryon for his zealous devotion to the
patriotic cause. He had served as a chaplain in the army, was
exceedingly popular among the patriots of New Jersey, had given up his
church to be used as a hospital, and had exerted himself by eloquent
appeals to arouse his countrymen to unflinching resistance against the
enemy. For this Tryon caused his church to be burnt and did not prevent
the soldiers from shooting his wife.

After destroying the Connecticut Farms, Knyphausen advanced toward
Springfield, where the Jersey brigade, under General Maxwell, and a
large body of militia had taken an advantageous position and seemed
resolved to defend it. General Knyphausen, however, had met with a
reception so different from what he expected that without making any
attempt on the American post he withdrew during the night to

On being informed of the invasion of New Jersey, Washington put his
army in motion early on the morning of the day in which Knyphausen
marched from Elizabethtown and proceeded to the Short hills behind
Springfield, while the British were in the vicinity of that place.
Feeble as his army was, he made the necessary dispositions for
fighting, but the unexpected retreat of Knyphausen rendered a battle
unnecessary. The British were followed by an American detachment, which
attacked their rear guard next morning but was repulsed. Instead of
returning to New York, Knyphausen lingered in the vicinity of
Elizabethtown and on Staten Island, and Washington, unwilling with his
inadequate force to hazard an engagement except on advantageous ground,
remained on the hills near Springfield to watch the movements of the
British army. At that time the army under the immediate orders of
Washington did not exceed 4,000 effective men.

On the 18th of June (1780), Sir Henry Clinton returned from South
Carolina with about 4,000 men, and after receiving this reinforcement
the British force in New York and its dependencies amounted to 12,000
effective and regular troops, most of whom could be brought into the
field for any particular service; besides these, the British commander
had about 4,000 militia and refugees for garrison duty. The British
army directed on any one point would have been irresistible; therefore
Washington could only follow a wary policy, occupying strong ground,
presenting a bold front, and concealing the weakness of his army as far
as possible.

The embarkation of troops by Sir Henry Clinton awakened the
apprehensions of Washington lest he should sail up the Hudson and
attack the posts in the Highlands. Those posts had always been objects
of much solicitude to Washington, and he was extremely jealous of any
attack upon them. In order to be in readiness to resist any such
attack, he left General Greene at Springfield, with 700 Continentals,
the Jersey militia, and some cavalry, and proceeded toward Pompton with
the main body of the army. Sir Henry Clinton, after having perplexed
the Americans by his movements, early on the morning of the 23d of June
(1780), rapidly advanced in full force from Elizabethtown toward
Springfield. General Greene hastily assembled his scattered detachments
and apprised Washington of the march of the royal army, who instantly
returned to support Greene's division. The British marched in two
columns--one on the main road leading to Springfield and the other on
the Vauxhall road. Greene scarcely had time to collect his troops at
Springfield and make the necessary dispositions when the royal army
appeared before the town and a cannonade immediately began. A fordable
rivulet, with bridges corresponding to the different roads, runs in
front of the place. Greene had stationed parties to guard the bridges
and they obstinately disputed the passage, but after a smart conflict
they were overpowered and compelled to retreat.

Greene then fell back and took post on a range of hills, where he
expected to be again attacked. But the British, instead of attempting
to pursue their advantage, contented themselves with setting fire to
the village and laying the greater part of it in ashes. Discouraged by
the obstinate resistance they had received and ignorant of the weakness
of the detachment which opposed them, they immediately retreated to
Elizabethtown, pursued with the utmost animosity by the militia, who
were provoked at the burning of Springfield. They arrived at
Elizabethtown about sunset, and, continuing their march to Elizabeth
Point, began at midnight to pass over to Staten Island. Before 6 next
morning they had entirely evacuated the Jerseys and removed the bridge
of boats which communicated with Staten Island.

In the skirmish at Springfield the Americans had about 20 men killed
and 60 wounded. The British suffered a corresponding loss. Clinton's
object in this expedition seems to have been to destroy the American
magazines in that part of the country. But the obstinate resistance
which he met with at Springfield deterred him from advancing into a
district abounding in difficult passes, where every strong position
would be vigorously defended. He seems also to have been checked by the
apprehension of a fleet and army from France.

Washington was informed of Clinton's march soon after the British left
Elizabethtown, but, though he hastily returned, the skirmish at
Springfield was over before he reached the vicinity of that place.

After Clinton left the Jerseys, Washington planned an enterprise
against a British post at Bergen point, on the Hudson, opposite New
York, garrisoned by seventy Loyalists. It was intended to reduce the
post and also to carry off a number of cattle on Bergen Neck, from
which the garrison of New York occasionally received supplies of fresh
provisions. General Wayne was appointed to conduct the enterprise. With
a respectable force he marched against the post, which consisted of a
blockhouse covered by an abattis and palisade. Wayne pointed his
artillery against the blockhouse, but his field pieces made no
impression on the logs. Galled by the fire from the loopholes, some of
his men rushed impetuously through the abattis and attempted to storm
the blockhouse, but they were repulsed with considerable loss. Though
the Americans, however, failed in their attempt against the post, they
succeeded in driving off most of the cattle.

On the commencement of hostilities in Europe, Lafayette, as we have
seen, returned home in order to offer his services to his King, still,
however, retaining his rank in the army of Congress. His ardor in
behalf of the Americans remained unabated and he exerted all his
influence with the court of Versailles to gain its effectual support to
the United States. His efforts were successful and the King of France
resolved vigorously to assist the Americans both by sea and land.
Having gained this important point, and perceiving that there was no
need for his military services in Europe, he obtained leave from his
sovereign to return to America and join his former companions in arms.
He landed at Boston toward the end of April (1780), and, on his way to
Congress, called at the headquarters of Washington and informed him of
the powerful succor which might soon be expected from France. He met
with a most cordial reception both from Congress and Washington on
account of his high rank, tried friendship, and distinguished services.

The assistance expected from their powerful ally was very encouraging
to the Americans, but called for corresponding exertions on their part.
Washington found himself in the most perplexing circumstances; his army
was feeble, and he could form no plan for the campaign till he knew
what forces were to be put under his orders. His troops, both officers
and privates, were ill clothed and needed to be decently appareled
before they could be led into the field to cooperate with soldiers in
respectable uniforms, for his half-naked battalions would only have
been objects of contempt and derision to their better-dressed allies.
In order to supply these defects and to get his army in a state of due
preparation before the arrival of the European auxiliaries, Washington
made the most pressing applications to Congress and to the several
State Legislatures. Congress resolved and recommended, but the States
were dilatory, and their tardy proceedings ill accorded with the
exigencies of the case or with the expectations of those who best
understood the affairs of the Union. Even on the 4th of July (1780),
Washington had the mortification to find that few new levies had
arrived in camp and some of the States had not even taken the trouble
to inform him of the number of men they intended to furnish.

In the month of June the State of Massachusetts had resolved to send a
reinforcement, but no part of it had yet arrived. About the same time a
voluntary subscription was entered into in Philadelphia for the purpose
of providing bounties to recruits to fill up the Pennsylvania line, and
the President or Vice-President in council was empowered, if
circumstances required it, to put the State under martial law.

The merchants and other citizens of Philadelphia, with a zeal guided by
that sound discretion which turns expenditure to the best account,
established a bank, for the support of which they subscribed L315,000,
Pennsylvania money, to be paid, if required, in specie, the principal
object of which was to supply the army with provisions. By the plan of
this bank its members were to derive no emolument whatever from the
institution. For advancing their credit and their money they required
only that Congress should pledge the faith of the Union to reimburse
the costs and charges of the transaction in a reasonable time, and
should give such assistance to its execution as might be in their

The ladies of Philadelphia, too, gave a splendid example of patriotism
by large donations for the immediate relief of the suffering army. [2]

This example was extensively followed, but it is not by the
contributions of the generous that a war can or ought to be maintained.
The purse of a nation alone can supply the expenditures of a nation,
and when all are interested in a contest all ought to contribute to its
support. Taxes and taxes only can furnish for the prosecution of a
national war means which are just in themselves or competent to the

Notwithstanding these donations the distresses of the army, for
clothing especially, still continued and were the more severely felt
when a cooperation with French troops was expected. So late as the 20th
of June (1780) Washington informed Congress that he still labored under
the painful and humiliating embarrassment of having no shirts for the
soldiers, many of whom were destitute of that necessary article. "For
the troops to be without clothing at any time," he added, "is highly
injurious to the service and distressing to our feelings, but the want
will be more peculiarly mortifying when they come to act with those of
our allies. If it be possible, I have no doubt immediate measures will
be taken to relieve their distress.

"It is also most sincerely wished that there could be some supplies of
clothing furnished to the officers. There are a great many whose
condition is still miserable. This is, in some instances, the case with
the whole lines of the States. It would be well for their own sakes and
for the public good if they could be furnished. They will not be able,
when our friends come to cooperate with us, to go on a common routine
of duty, and if they should, they must, from their appearance, be held
in low estimation."

This picture presents in strong colors the real patriotism of the
American army. One heroic effort, though it may dazzle the mind with
its splendor, is an exertion most men are capable of making, but
continued patient suffering and unremitting perseverance in a service
promising no personal emolument and exposing the officer unceasingly
not only to wants of every kind, but to those circumstances of
humiliation which seem to degrade him in the eyes of others,
demonstrate a fortitude of mind, a strength of virtue, and a firmness
of principle which ought never to be forgotten.

Washington was greatly embarrassed by his uncertainty with respect to
the force which he might count upon to cooperate with the expected
succors from France. Writing to Congress on this subject he said: "The
season is come when we have every reason to expect the arrival of the
fleet, and yet, for want of this point of primary consequence, it is
impossible for me to form a system of cooperation. I have no basis to
act upon, and, of course, were this generous succor of our ally now to
arrive, I should find myself in the most awkward, embarrassing, and
painful situation. The general and the admiral, from the relation in
which I stand, as soon as they approach our coast, will require of me a
plan of the measures to be pursued, and there ought of right to be one
prepared; but, circumstanced as I am, I cannot even give them
conjectures. From these considerations I have suggested to the
committee, by a letter I had the honor of addressing them yesterday,
the indispensable necessity of their writing again to the States,
urging them to give immediate and precise information of the measures
they have taken and of the result. The interest of the States, the
honor and reputation of our councils, the justice and gratitude due to
our allies, all require that I should, without delay, be enabled to
ascertain and inform them what we can or cannot undertake. There is a
point which ought now to be determined, on the success of which all our
future operations may depend, on which, for want of knowing our
prospects, I can make no decision. For fear of involving the fleet and
army of our allies in circumstances which would expose them, if not
seconded by us, to material inconvenience and hazard, I shall be
compelled to suspend it, and the delay may be fatal to our hopes."

While this uncertainty still continued, the expected succors from
France, consisting of a fleet of eight ships of the line, with frigates
and other vessels, under the Chevalier de Ternay, having about 6,000
troops on board under General the Count de Rochambeau, reached Rhode
Island on the evening of the 10th of July (1780), and in a few days
afterward Lafayette arrived at Newport from Washington's headquarters
to confer with his countrymen.

At the time of the arrival of the French in Rhode Island, Admiral
Arbuthnot had only four sail of the line at New York, but in a few days
Admiral Graves arrived from England with six sail of the line, which
gave the British a decided superiority over the French squadron, and
therefore Sir Henry Clinton, without delay, prepared for active
operations. He embarked about 8,000 men and sailed with the fleet to
Huntington bay, in Long Island, with the intention of proceeding
against the French at Newport. The militia of Massachusetts and
Connecticut were ordered by Washington to join the French forces in
Rhode Island, and the combined army there thought itself able to give
the British a good reception.

As the garrison of New York was weakened by the sailing of the armament
under Clinton, Washington, having received considerable reinforcements,
suddenly crossed the North river and advanced toward New York; that
movement brought Clinton back to defend the place and consequently
Washington proceeded no further in his meditated enterprise.

The want of money and of all necessaries still continued in the
American camp, and the discontent of the troops, gradually increasing,
was matured into a dangerous spirit of insubordination. The men,
indeed, bore incredible hardships and privations with unexampled
fortitude and patience, but the army was in a state of constant
fluctuation; it was composed, in a great measure, of militia harassed
by perpetual service and obliged to neglect the cultivation of their
farms and their private interests in order to obey the calls of public
duty, and of soldiers on short enlistments, who never acquired the
military spirit and habits.

In consequence of an appointment, Washington and suite set out to a
conference with Count Rochambeau and Admiral de Ternay, and on the 21st
of September (1780) met them at Hartford, in Connecticut, where they
spent a few days together, and conversed about a plan for the next

The conference was useful in making the respective commanders well
acquainted with each other, and promoting a spirit of harmony between
them; but it led to no settled plan for the next campaign. A plan of
operations for the combined forces, which had been drawn up by
Washington and sent to Rochambeau by Lafayette when he went to Newport,
had contemplated the superiority of the naval force of the French,
which had now ceased to exist in consequence of the arrival of Admiral
Graves with a fleet of six ships of the line. It was consequently
agreed that nothing could be done in the way of offensive movements
until the arrival of a second division of the French fleet and army
from Brest, which was expected, or that of the Count de Guichen from
the West Indies. In the sequel, neither of these arrivals took place.
The second French division was blockaded at Brest, and never came to
this country, and de Guichen sailed direct to France from the West
Indies. Meantime Admiral Arbuthnot blockaded the French fleet at
Newport, and Rochambeau's army remained there for its protection. Both
the parties remained watching each other's movements, and depending on
the operations of the British and French fleets. Washington crossed the
Hudson to Tappan and remained there till winter.

Washington did not relinquish without infinite chagrin the sanguine
expectations he had formed of rendering this campaign decisive of the
war. Never before had he indulged so strongly the hope of happily
terminating the contest. In a letter to an intimate friend, this
chagrin was thus expressed: "We are now drawing to a close an inactive
campaign, the beginning of which appeared pregnant with events of a
very favorable complexion. I hoped, but I hoped in vain, that a
prospect was opening which would enable me to fix a period to my
military pursuits and restore me to domestic life. The favorable
disposition of Spain, the promised succor from France, the combined
force in the West Indies, the declaration of Russia (acceded to by
other powers of Europe, humiliating the naval pride and power of Great
Britain), the superiority of France and Spain by sea in Europe, the
Irish claims and English disturbances, formed in the aggregate an
opinion in my breast (which is not very susceptible of peaceful
dreams), that the hour of deliverance was not far distant; for that,
however unwilling Great Britain might be to yield the point, it would
not be in her power to continue the contest. But, alas, these
prospects, flattering as they were, have proved delusive, and I see
nothing before us but accumulating distress. We have been half of our
time without provisions and are likely to continue so. We have no
magazines nor money to form them. We have lived upon expedients until
we can live no longer. In a word, the history of the war is a history
of false hopes and temporary devices, instead of system and economy. It
is in vain, however, to look back, nor is it our business to do so. Our
case is not desperate if virtue exists in the people, and there is
wisdom among our rulers. But to suppose that this great revolution can
be accomplished by a temporary army, that this army will be subsisted
by State supplies and that taxation alone is adequate to our wants is
in my opinion absurd, and as unreasonable as to expect an inversion of
the order of nature to accommodate itself to our views. If it were
necessary it could be easily proved to any person of a moderate
understanding that an annual army or any army raised on the spur of the
occasion besides being unqualified for the end designed is, in various
ways that could be enumerated, ten times more expensive than a
permanent body of men under good organization and military discipline,
which never was nor will be the case with raw troops. A thousand
arguments, resulting from experience and the nature of things, might
also be adduced to prove that the army, if it is to depend upon State
supplies, must disband or starve, and that taxation alone (especially
at this late hour) cannot furnish the means to carry on the war. Is it
not time to retract from error and benefit by experience? Or do we want
further proof of the ruinous system we have pertinaciously adhered to?"

While the respective armies were in the state of inaction to which we
have just referred, the whole country was astounded by the discovery of
Arnold's treason. The details of this sad affair disclosed traits in
the character of this officer which were previously unknown, and, by
the public generally, unsuspected.

The great service and military talents of General Arnold, his courage
in battle and patient fortitude under excessive hardships had secured
to him a high place in the opinion of the army and of his country. Not
having sufficiently recovered from the wounds received before Quebec
and at Saratoga to be fit for active service, and having large accounts
to settle with the government, which required leisure, he was, on the
evacuation of Philadelphia in 1778, appointed to the command in that

Unfortunately that strength of principle and correctness of judgment
which might enable him to resist the various seductions to which his
fame and rank exposed him in the metropolis of the Union, were not
associated with the firmness which he had displayed in the field and in
the most adverse circumstances. Yielding to the temptations of a false
pride and forgetting that he did not possess the resources of private
fortune, he indulged in the pleasures of a sumptuous table and
expensive equipage, and soon swelled his debts to an amount which it
was impossible for him to discharge. Unmindful of his military
character, he engaged in speculations which were unfortunate, and with
the hope of immense profits took shares in privateers which were
unsuccessful. His claims against the United States were great and he
looked to them for the means of extricating himself from the
embarrassments in which his indiscretions had involved him; but the
commissioners to whom his accounts were referred for settlement had
reduced them considerably, and on his appeal from their decision to
Congress, a committee reported that the sum allowed by the
commissioners was more than he was entitled to receive.

He was charged with various acts of extortion on the citizens of
Philadelphia, and with peculating on the public funds. [3]

Not the less soured by these multiplied causes of irritation, from the
reflection that they were attributable to his own follies and vices, he
gave full scope to his resentments, and indulged himself in expressions
of angry reproach against what he termed the ingratitude of his
country, which provoked those around him, and gave great offense to
Congress. Having become peculiarly odious to the government of
Pennsylvania, the executive of that State (President Reed, formerly aid
to Washington) exhibited formal charges against him to Congress, who
directed that he should be arrested and brought before a court-martial.
His trial was concluded late in January, 1779, and he was sentenced to
be reprimanded by the Commander-in-Chief. This sentence was approved by
Congress and carried into execution. [4]

From the time the sentence against him was approved, if not sooner, his
proud unprincipled spirit revolted from the cause of his country and
determined him to seek an occasion to make the objects of his
resentment the victims of his vengeance.

Turning his eyes on West Point as an acquisition which would give value
to treason and inflict a mortal wound on his former friends, he sought
the command of that fortress for the purpose of gratifying both his
avarice and his hate.

To New York the safety of West Point was peculiarly interesting, and in
that State the reputation of Arnold was particularly high. To its
delegation he addressed himself; and one of its members had written a
letter to Washington, suggesting doubts respecting the military
character of General Robert Howe, to whom its defense was then
entrusted, and recommending Arnold for that service. This request was
not forgotten. Some short time afterward General Schuyler mentioned to
Washington a letter he had received from Arnold intimating his wish to
join the army, but stating his inability, in consequence of his wounds,
to perform the active duties of the field. Washington observed that, as
there was a prospect of a vigorous campaign he should be gratified with
the aid of General Arnold--that so soon as the operations against New
York should commence, he designed to draw his whole force into the
field, leaving even West Point to the care of invalids and a small
garrison of militia. Recollecting, however, the former application of a
member of Congress respecting this post, he added that "if, with this
previous information, that situation would be more agreeable to him
than a command in the field, his wishes should certainly be indulged."

This conversation being communicated to Arnold, he caught eagerly at
the proposition, though without openly discovering any solicitude on
the subject, and in the beginning of August (1780) repaired to camp,
where he renewed the solicitations which had before been made

At this juncture Clinton embarked on an expedition he meditated against
Rhode Island, and Washington was advancing on New York. He offered
Arnold the left wing of the army, which he declined under the pretexts
mentioned in his letter to Schuyler.

Incapable of suspecting a man who had given such distinguished proofs
of courage and patriotism, Washington was neither alarmed at his
refusal to embrace so splendid an opportunity of recovering the favor
of his countrymen nor at the embarrassment accompanying that refusal.
Pressing the subject no further, he assented to the request which had
been made and invested Arnold with the command of West Point. Previous
to his soliciting this station Arnold had, in a letter to Colonel
Robinson, of the British army, signified his change of principles, and
his wish to restore himself to the favor of his prince by some signal
proof of his repentance. This letter opened the way to a correspondence
with Clinton, the immediate object of which, after obtaining the
appointment he had solicited, was to concert the means of delivering
the important post he commanded to the British general.

Major John Andre, an aide-de-camp of Clinton, and adjutant-general of
the British army, was selected as the person to whom the maturing of
Arnold's treason, and the arrangements for its execution should be
entrusted. A correspondence was carried on between them under a
mercantile disguise in the feigned names of Gustavus and Anderson; and
at length, to facilitate their communications, the Vulture,
sloop-of-war, moved up the North river and took a station convenient
for the purpose, but not so near as to excite suspicion.

The time when Washington met Rochambeau at Hartford was selected for
the final adjustment of the plan, and as a personal interview was
deemed necessary Andre came up the river and went on board the Vulture.
The house of a Mr. Smith, without the American posts, was appointed for
the interview, and to that place both parties repaired in the
night--Andre being brought under a pass for John Anderson in a boat
dispatched from the shore. While the conference was yet unfinished,
daylight approached, and to avoid discovery Arnold proposed that Andre
should remain concealed until the succeeding night. They continued
together during the day, and when, in the following night, his return
to the Vulture was proposed, the boatmen refused to carry him because
she had shifted her station during the day, in consequence of a gun
which was moved to the shore without the knowledge of Arnold and
brought to bear upon her. This embarrassing circumstance reduced him to
the necessity of endeavoring to reach New York by land. To accomplish
this purpose, he reluctantly yielded to the urgent representations of
Arnold, and laying aside his regimentals, which he had hitherto worn
under a surtout, put on a plain suit of clothes and received a pass
from Arnold, authorizing him, under the name of John Anderson, to
proceed on the public service to White Plains or lower if he thought

With this permit he had passed all the guards and posts on the road
unsuspected and was proceeding to New York in perfect security, when
one of three militiamen who [5]

[missing text]

night, and the other troops lay on the field of battle with their arms
in their hands. Washington passed the night in his cloak in the midst
of his soldiers.
The British employed the early part of the morning in removing their
wounded, and about midnight marched away in such silence that their
retreat was not perceived until day.

As it was certain that they must gain the high grounds about Middletown
before they could be overtaken, as the face of the country afforded no
prospect of opposing their embarkation, and as the battle already
fought had terminated in a manner to make a general impression
favorable to the American arms, Washington decided to relinquish the
pursuit. Leaving a detachment to hover about the British rear, the main
body of the army moved towards the Hudson.

Washington was highly gratified with the conduct of his troops in this
action. Their behavior, he said, after recovering from the first
surprise occasioned by the unexpected retreat of the advanced corps,
could not be surpassed. Wayne he particularly mentioned, and spoke of
the artillery in terms of high praise.

The loss of the Americans in the battle of Monmouth was 8 officers and
61 privates killed, and about 160 wounded. Among the slain were
Lieutenant-Colonel Bonner, of Pennsylvania, and Major Dickinson, of
Virginia, both of whom were much regretted. One hundred and thirty were
missing, but a considerable number of these afterward rejoined their

In his official letter, Sir Henry Clinton states his dead and missing
at 4 officers and 184 privates; his wounded, at 16 officers and 154
privates. This account, so far as it respects the dead, cannot be
correct, as 4 officers and 245 privates were buried on the field by
persons appointed for the purpose, who made their report to Washington;
and some few were afterward found, so as to increase the number to
nearly 300. The uncommon heat of the day proved fatal to several on
both sides.

As usual, when a battle has not been decisive, both parties claimed the
victory. In the early part of the day the advantage was certainly with
the British; in the latter part it may be pronounced with equal
certainty to have been with the Americans. They maintained their
ground, repulsed the enemy, were prevented only by the night and by the
retreat of the hostile army from renewing the action, and suffered less
in killed and wounded than their adversaries.

It is true that Sir Henry Clinton effected what he states to have been
his principal object--the safety of his baggage. But when it is
recollected that the American officers had decided against hazarding an
action, that this advice must have trammeled the conduct and
circumscribed the views of Washington, he will be admitted to have
effected no inconsiderable object in giving the American arms that
appearance of superiority which was certainly acquired by this

Independent of the loss sustained in the action, the British army was
considerably weakened in its march from Philadelphia to New York. About
100 prisoners were made, and near 1,000 soldiers, chiefly foreigners,
deserted while passing through Jersey. Many of the soldiers had formed
attachments in Philadelphia, which occasioned their desertion.
Clinton's whole loss, including killed, wounded, prisoners, and
deserters, amounted to at least 2,000 men.

The conduct of Lee was generally disapproved. As, however, he had
possessed a large share of the confidence and good opinion of the
Commander-in-Chief, it

[missing text]

were employed between the lines of the two armies, springing suddenly
from his covert into the road, seized the reins of his bridle and
stopped his horse. Losing his accustomed self possession, Andre,
instead of producing the pass from Arnold, asked the man hastily where
he belonged. He replied, "To below," a term implying that he was from
New York. "And so," said Andre, not suspecting deception, "am I." He
then declared himself to be a British officer on urgent business, and
begged that he might not be detained. The appearance of the other
militiamen disclosed his mistake too late to correct it. He offered a
purse of gold and a valuable watch, with tempting promises of ample
reward from his government if they would, permit him to escape; but his
offers were rejected, and his captors proceeded to search him. They
found concealed in his stockings, in Arnold's handwriting, papers
containing all the information which could be important respecting West
Point. When carried before Lieutenant-Colonel Jameson, the officer
commanding the scouting parties on the lines, he maintained his assumed
character and requested Jameson to inform his commanding officer that
Anderson was taken. Jameson dispatched an express with this
communication. On receiving it, Arnold comprehended the full extent of
his danger, and flying from well-merited punishment took refuge on
board the Vulture.

When sufficient time for the escape of Arnold was supposed to have
elapsed, Andre, no longer effecting concealment, acknowledged himself
to be the adjutant-general of the British army. Jameson, seeking to
correct the mischief of his indiscreet communication to Arnold,
immediately dispatched a packet to the Commander-in-Chief containing
the papers which had been discovered, with a letter from Andre relating
the manner of his capture and accounting for the disguise he had

The express was directed to meet the Commander-in-Chief, who was then
on his return from Hartford, but, taking different roads, they missed
each other, and a delay attended the delivery of the papers, which
ensured the escape of Arnold.

Washington, with Generals Lafayette and Knox, had turned from the
direct route in order to visit a redoubt. Colonels Hamilton and
M'Henry, the aides-de-camp of Washington and Lafayette, went forward to
request Mrs. Arnold not to wait breakfast. Arnold received Andre's
billet in their presence. He turned pale, left them suddenly, called
his wife, communicated the intelligence to her, and left her in a
swoon, without the knowledge of Hamilton and M'Henry. Mounting the
horse of his aide-de-camp, which was ready saddled, and directing him
to inform Washington on his arrival that Arnold was gone to receive him
at West Point, he gained the river shore, and was conveyed in a canoe
to the Vulture.

Washington, on his arrival, was informed that Arnold awaited him at
West Point. Taking it for granted that this step had been taken to
prepare for his reception he proceeded thither without entering the
house, and was surprised to find that Arnold was not arrived. On
returning to the quarters of that officer he received Jameson's
dispatch which disclosed the whole mystery.

Every precaution was immediately taken for the security of West Point,
after which the attention of the Commander-in-Chief was turned to
Andre. A board of general officers, of which General Greene was
president, and Lafayette and Steuben were members, was called, to
report a precise state of his case, and to determine the character in
which he was to be considered, and the punishment to which he was

The frankness and magnanimity with which Andre had conducted himself
from the time of his appearance in his real character had made a very
favorable impression on all those with whom he had held any
intercourse. From this cause he experienced every mark of indulgent
attention which was compatible with his situation, and, from a sense of
justice as well as of delicacy, was informed, on the opening of the
examination that he was at liberty not to answer any interrogatory
which might embarrass his own feelings. But, as if only desirous to
rescue his character from imputations which he dreaded more than death,
he confessed everything material to his own condemnation, but would
divulge nothing which might involve others.

The board reported the essential facts which had appeared, with their
opinion that Major Andre was a spy and ought to suffer death. The
execution of this sentence was ordered to take place on the day
succeeding that on which it was pronounced.

Superior to the terrors of death, but dreading disgrace, Andre was
deeply affected by the mode of execution which the laws of war decree
to persons in his situation. He wished to die like a soldier not as a
criminal. To obtain a mitigation of his sentence in this respect he
addressed a letter to Washington, replete with the feelings of a man of
sentiment and honor. But the occasion required that the example should
make its full impression, and this request could not be granted. He
encountered his fate with composure and dignity, and his whole conduct
interested the feelings of all who witnessed it.

The general officers lamented the sentence which the usages of war
compelled them to pronounce, and never perhaps did the Commander-in-
Chief obey with more reluctance the stern mandates of duty and policy.
The sympathy excited among the American officers by his fate was as
universal as it is unusual on such occasions, and proclaims alike the
merit of him who suffered, and the humanity of those who inflicted
the punishment.

Great exertions were made by Sir Henry Clinton, to whom Andre was
particularly dear, first, to have him considered as protected by a flag
of truce, and afterward as a prisoner of war.

Even Arnold had the hardihood to interpose. After giving a certificate
of facts tending, as he supposed, to exculpate the prisoner, exhausting
his powers of reasoning on the case, and appealing to the humanity of
Washington, he sought to intimidate that officer by stating the
situation of many of the most distinguished individuals of South
Carolina, who had forfeited their lives, but had hitherto been spared
through the clemency of the British general. This clemency, he said,
could no longer be extended to them should Major Andre suffer.

It may well be supposed that the interposition of Arnold could have no
influence on Washington. He caused Mrs. Arnold to be conveyed to her
husband in New York, and also transmitted his clothes and baggage, for
which he had written, but in every other respect his letters, which
were unanswered, were also unnoticed.

The night after Arnold's escape, when his letter respecting Andre was
received, the general directed one of his aides to wait on Mrs. Arnold,
who was convulsed with grief, and inform her that he had done
everything which depended on him to arrest her husband, but that, not
having succeeded, it gave him pleasure to inform her that her husband
was safe. It is honorable to the American character that, during the
effervescence of the moment, Mrs. Arnold was permitted to go to
Philadelphia to take possession of her effects, and to proceed to New
York under the protection of a flag without receiving the slightest

This treatment of Mrs. Arnold by Washington is the more remarkable for
its delicacy when we recollect that she was under very strong
suspicions at the time of being actively concerned in the treason of
her husband. Historians are still divided on the question of her guilt
or innocence.

The mingled sentiments of admiration and compassion excited in every
bosom for the unfortunate Andre, seemed to increase the detestation in
which Arnold was held. "Andre," said General Washington in a private
letter, "has met his fate with that fortitude which was to be expected
from an accomplished man and a gallant officer, but I am mistaken if at
this time Arnold is undergoing the torments of a mental hell. He wants
feeling. From some traits of his character which have lately come to my
knowledge, he seems to have been so hardened in crime, so lost to all
sense of honor and shame, that while his faculties still enable him to
continue his sordid pursuits, there will be no time for remorse."

The traits in his character above alluded to, were disclosed in a
private letter from Hamilton, who said: "This man (Arnold) is in every
sense despicable. In addition to the scene of knavery and prostitution
during his command in Philadelphia, which the late seizure of his
papers has unfolded, the history of his command at West Point is a
history of little as well as great villainies. He practiced every dirty
act of peculation, and even stooped to connections with the sutlers to
defraud the public." [6]

From motives of policy, or of respect for his engagements, Sir Henry
Clinton conferred on Arnold the commission of a brigadier-general in
the British service, which he preserved throughout the war. Yet it is
impossible that rank could have rescued him from the contempt and
detestation in which the generous, and honorable, and the brave could
not cease to hold him. It was impossible for men of this description to
bury the recollection of his being a traitor--a sordid traitor--first
the slave of his rage, then purchased with gold, and finally secured at
the expense of the blood of one of the most accomplished officers in
the British army.

His representations of the discontent of the country and of the army,
concurring with reports from other quarters, had excited the hope that
the Loyalists and the dissatisfied, allured by British gold and the
prospect of rank in the British service, would flock to his standard
and form a corps at whose head he might again display his accustomed
intrepidity. With this hope he published an address to the inhabitants
of America in which he labored to palliate his own guilt, and to
increase their dissatisfaction with the existing state of things.

This appeal to the public was followed by a proclamation addressed "To
the officers and soldiers of the Continental army, who have the real
interests of their country at heart, and who are determined to be no
longer the tools and dupes of Congress or of France."

The object of this proclamation was to induce the officers and soldiers
to desert the cause they had embraced from principle by holding up to
them the very flattering offers of the British general, and contrasting
the substantial emoluments of the British service with their present
deplorable condition. He attempted to cover this dishonorable
proposition with a decent garb, by representing the base step he
invited them to take as the only measure which could restore peace,
real liberty, and happiness to their country.

These inducements did not produce their intended effect. Although the
temper of the army might be irritated by real suffering, and by the
supposed neglect of government, no diminution of patriotism had been
produced. Through all the hardships, irritations, and vicissitudes of
the war Arnold remains the solitary instance of an American officer who
abandoned the side first embraced in this civil contest, and turned his
sword upon his former companions in arms.

In the whole course of this affair of Arnold's treason, Washington,
according to the habitually religious turn of his mind, distinctly
recognized the hand of Divine Providence. Writing to Col. John Laurens
he says: "In no instance since the commencement of the war has the
interposition of Providence appeared more remarkably conspicuous than
in the rescue of the post and garrison of West Point from Arnold's
villainous perfidy. How far he meant to involve me in the catastrophe
of this place does not appear by any indubitable evidence, and I am
rather inclined to think he did not wish to hazard the more important
object of his treachery by attempting to combine two events, the less
of which might have marred the greater. A combination of extraordinary
circumstances, an unaccountable deprivation of presence of mind in a
man of the first abilities, and the virtue of three militiamen, threw
the adjutant-general of the British forces, with full proofs of
Arnold's treachery, into our hands. But for the egregious folly, or the
bewildered conception, of Lieutenant-Colonel Jameson, who seemed lost
in astonishment and not to know what he was doing, I should undoubtedly
have got Arnold."

Arnold, however, had not yet displayed the whole of his character.
Savage revenge and ruthless cruelty were yet to become apparent in his
conduct as an officer in the British service. It seems to have been the
design of Providence that Americans, in all ages, should learn to
detest treason by seeing it exhibited in all its hideous deformity, in
the person of "ARNOLD, THE TRAITOR." [7]

1. Footnote: While Washington was in winter quarters at Morristown, he
requested Congress to send a committee to the camp, as had been
previously done at Valley Forge, for the purpose of giving effect to
the arrangements for the ensuing campaign, and drawing more
expeditiously from the States their respective quotas of soldiers and
supplies. General Schuyler, who had retired from the army and was then
in Congress, was a member of this committee. He rendered essential
service at this time by his judgment and experience. The committee
remained in camp between two and three months.

2. Footnote: It is pleasant to know that Mrs. Washington was at the head
of this movement. Dr. Spencer says: "In all parts of the country the women
displayed great zeal and activity, particularly in providing clothing for
the soldiers. In Philadelphia they formed a society, at the head of which
was Martha Washington, wife of the Commander-in-Chief. This lady was as
prudent in private affairs as her husband was in public. She alone
presided over their domestic finances, and provided for their common
household. Thus it was owing to the talents and virtues of his wife, that
Washington could give himself wholly to the dictates of that patriotism
which this virtuous pair mutually shared and reciprocally invigorated.
Mrs. Washington, Mrs. Reed, Mrs. Bache, the daughter of Dr. Franklin,
with the other ladies who had formed the society, themselves subscribed
considerable sums for the public; and having exhausted their own means,
they exerted their influence, and went from house to house to stimulate
the liberality of others."

3. Footnote: While these charges were hanging over his head, Arnold
courted and married Miss Shippen, a young lady, not yet eighteen, the
daughter of Mr. Edward Shippen, of Philadelphia.

4. Footnote: "Our service,"--such were his words,--"is the chastest of
all. Even the shadow of a fault tarnishes the lustre of our finest
achievements. The least inadvertence may rob us of the public favor, so
hard to be acquired. I reprimand you for having forgotten, that in
proportion as you had rendered yourself formidable to our enemies, you
should have been guarded and temperate in your deportment toward your

"Exhibit anew those noble qualities which have placed you on the list of
our most valued commanders. I will myself furnish you, as far as it may
be in my power, with opportunities of gaining the esteem of your

5. Footnote: The names of these militiamen were John Paulding, David
Williams, and Isaac Van Wart.

6. Footnote: "I am inclined to believe that Arnold was a finished
scoundrel from early manhood to his grave; nor do I believe that he had
any real and true-hearted attachment to the Whig cause. He fought as a
mere adventurer, and took sides from a calculation of personal gain,
and chances of plunder and advancement."--_Sabine's "American
Loyalists_," p. 131.

7. Footnote: On the third of November it was resolved, "That Congress
have a high sense of the virtuous and patriotic conduct of John
Paulding, David Williams, and Isaac Van Wart; in testimony whereof,
ordered, that each of them receive annually $200 in specie, or an
equivalent in the current money of these States, during life, and that
the Board of War be directed to procure for each of them a silver
medal, on one side of which shall be a shield, with this
inscription--FIDELITY: and on the other, the following motto--VINCIT
AMOR PATIAE, and forward them to the Commander-in-Chief, who is
requested to present the same, with a copy of this resolution, and the
thanks of Congress for their fidelity, and the eminent service they
have rendered their country."



Although Washington was aware that the British were aiming at the
conquest of the southern States he still considered the middle States
to be the main theater of war, and felt the necessity of reserving his
main force for the defense of that portion of the Union. He did not
believe that the possession by the British of a few posts in the South
would contribute much to the purposes of the war, and he sent no more
troops to that part of the country than he could conveniently spare
from the main army. Writing to Lafayette in Paris, after the fall of
Savannah (8th March, 1779), he says: "Nothing of importance has
happened since you left us except the enemy's invasion of Georgia and
possession of its capital, which, though it may add something to their
supplies on the score of provisions, will contribute very little to the
brilliancy of their arms; for, like the defenseless Island of St.
Lucia, [1] it only required the appearance of force to effect the
conquest of it, as the whole militia of the State did not exceed 1,200
men, and many of them disaffected. General Lincoln is assembling a
force to dispossess them, and my only fear is that he will precipitate
the attempt before he is fully prepared for the execution."

As early as September 1778, General Lincoln had been appointed to
supersede Gen. Robert Howe in the command of the southern army. Lincoln
had baffled the attempts of General Prevost on South Carolina, and had
commanded the American forces in the unsuccessful siege of Savannah,
acting in concert with D'Estaing. He was still in command at Charleston
when Clinton, whose departure from New York on an expedition to the
South we have already noticed, made his descent on South Carolina. In
this command at Charleston General Lincoln unfortunately labored under
great disadvantages and discouragements.

The failure of the attack on Savannah (in which bombardment 1,000 lives
were lost, Count Pulaski, the Polish patriot, was mortally wounded, and
the simple-hearted Sergeant Jasper died grasping the banner presented
to his regiment at Fort Moultrie), with the departure of the French
fleet from the coast of America, presented a gloomy prospect and was
the forerunner of many calamities to the southern States. By their
courage and vigor the northern provinces had repelled the attacks of
the enemy and discouraged future attempts against them. And although
having bravely defended Sullivan's Island, in 1776, the southern
colonists were latterly less successful than their victorious brethren
in the North. The rapid conquest of Georgia and the easy march of
Prevost to the very gates of Charleston had a discouraging effect and
naturally rendered the southern section vulnerable to attack. In the
North the military operations of 1778 and 1779 had produced no
important results, and, therefore, the late transactions in Georgia and
South Carolina more readily attracted the attention of the British
Commander-in-Chief to those States.

Savannah, the chief town of Georgia, as we have already seen, was in
the hands of the British troops, and had been successfully defended
against a combined attack of the French and Americans, and therefore
Sir Henry Clinton resolved to gain possession of Charleston also, the
capital of South Carolina, which would give him the command of all the
southern parts of the Union. Having made the necessary preparations he
sailed, as we have seen, from New York on the 26th of December 1779,
under convoy of Admiral Arbuthnot, but did not arrive at Savannah till
the end of January (1780). The voyage was tempestuous; some of the
transports and victuallers were lost, others shattered, and a few taken
by the American cruisers. Most of the cavalry and draught horses
perished. One of the transports, which had been separated from the
fleet and captured by the Americans, was brought into Charleston on the
23d of January, and the prisoners gave the first certain notice of the
destination of the expedition.

As soon as it was known that an armament was fitting out at New York
many suspected that the southern States were to be assailed, and such
was the unhappy posture of American affairs at that time, that no
sanguine expectations of a successful resistance could be reasonably
entertained. The magazines of the Union were everywhere almost empty,
and Congress had neither money nor credit to replenish them. The army
at Morristown, under the immediate orders of Washington, was
threatened, as we have seen, with destruction by want of provisions,
and consequently could neither act with vigor in the North, nor send
reinforcements to the South.

General Lincoln, though aware of his danger,--was not in a condition to
meet it. On raising the siege of Savannah he had sent the troops of
Virginia to Augusta; those of South Carolina were stationed partly at
Sheldoa, opposite Port Royal, between thirty and forty miles north from
Savannah, and partly at Fort Moultrie, which had been allowed to fall
into decay; those of North Carolina were with General Lincoln at
Charleston. All these detachments formed but a feeble force, and to
increase it was not easy, for the Colonial paper money was in a state
of great depreciation; the militia, worn out by a harassing service,
were reluctant again to repair to the standards of their country, and
the brave defense of Savannah had inspired the people of the southern
provinces with intimidating notions of British valor. The patriotism of
many of the Colonists had evaporated; they contemplated nothing but the
hardships and dangers of the contest and recoiled from the protracted

In these discouraging circumstances Congress recommended the people of
South Carolina to arm their slaves, a measure to which they were
generally averse; although, had they been willing to comply with the
recommendation, arms could not have been procured. Washington had, as
we have already seen, ordered the Continental troops of North Carolina
and Virginia to march to Charleston, and four American frigates, two
French ships of war; the one mounting twenty-six and the other eighteen
guns, with the marine force of South Carolina under Commodore Whipple,
were directed to cooperate in the defense of the town. No more aid
could be expected; yet, under these unpromising circumstances, a full
house of assembly resolved to defend Charleston to the last extremity.

Although Clinton had embarked at New York on the 26th of December,
1779, yet, as his voyage had been stormy and tedious, and as some time
had been necessarily spent at Savannah, it was the 11th of February,
1780, before he landed on John's Island, thirty miles south from
Charleston. Had he even then marched rapidly upon the town he would
probably have entered it without much opposition, but mindful of his
repulse in 1776 his progress was marked by a wary circumspection. He
proceeded by the islands of St. John and St. James, while part of his
fleet advanced to blockade the harbor. He sent for a reinforcement from
New York, ordered General Prevost to join him with 1,100 men from
Savannah, and neglected nothing that could insure success.

General Lincoln was indefatigable in improving the time which the slow
progress of the royal army afforded him. Six hundred slaves were
employed in constructing or repairing the fortifications of the town;
vigorous though not very successful measures were taken to bring the
militia into the field; and all the small detachments of regular troops
were assembled in the capital. The works which had been begun on
Charleston Neck when General Prevost threatened the place were resumed.
A chain of redoubts, lines, and batteries was formed between the Cooper
and Ashley rivers. In front of each flank the works were covered by
swamps extending from the rivers; those opposite swamps were connected
by a canal; between the canal and the works were two strong rows of
abattis, and a ditch double picketed, with deep holes at short
distances, to break the columns in case of an assault. Toward the
water, works were thrown up at every place where a landing was
practicable. The vessels intended to defend the bar of the harbor
having been found insufficient for that purpose, their guns were taken
out and planted on the ramparts, and the seamen were stationed at the
batteries. One of the ships, which was not dismantled, was placed in
the Cooper river to assist the batteries, and several vessels were sunk
at the mouth of the channel to prevent the entrance of the royal fleet.
Lincoln intended that the town should be defended until such
reinforcements would arrive from the North as, together with the
militia of the State, would compel Clinton to raise the siege. As the
regular troops in the town did not exceed 1,400, a council of war found
that the garrison was too weak to spare detachments to obstruct the
progress of the royal army. Only a small party of cavalry and some
light troops were ordered to hover on its left flank and observe its

While these preparations for defense were going on in Charleston the
British army was cautiously but steadily advancing toward the town. As
he proceeded Clinton erected forts and formed magazines at proper
stations, and was careful to secure his communications with those forts
and with the sea. All the horses of the British army had perished in
the tedious and stormy voyage from New York to Savannah, but on landing
in South Carolina Clinton procured others to mount his dragoons, whom
he formed into a light corps, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel
Tarleton. That officer was extremely active in covering the left wing
of the army and in dispersing the militia. In one of his excursions he
fell in with Lieut.-Col. William Washington, who commanded the remnant
of Baylor's regiment, and who beat him back with loss.

On the 20th of March (1780) the British fleet, under Admiral Arbuthnot,
consisting of 1 ship of 50 guns, 2 of 44 each, 4 of 32 each, and an
armed vessel, passed the bar in front of Rebellion Road, and anchored
in Five Fathom Hole.

It being now thought impossible to prevent the fleet from passing Fort
Moultrie, and taking such stations in Cooper river as would enable them
to rake the batteries on shore, and to close that communication between
the town and country, the plan of defense was once more changed, and
the armed vessels were carried into the mouth of Cooper river, and sunk
in a line from the town to Shute's Folly.

This was the critical moment for evacuating the town. The loss of the
harbor rendered the defense of the place, if not desperate, so
improbable, that the hope to maintain it could not have been rationally
entertained by a person who was not deceived by the expectation of aids
much more considerable than were actually received.

When this state of things was communicated to Washington by
Lieutenant-Colonel Laurens he said in reply: "The impracticability of
defending the bar, I fear, amounts to the loss of the town and
garrison. At this distance it is impossible to judge for you. I have
the greatest confidence in General Lincoln's prudence, but it really
appears to me that the propriety of attempting to defend the town
depended on the probability of defending the bar, and that when this
ceased, the attempt ought to have been relinquished. In this, however,
I suspend a definitive judgment, and wish you to consider what I say as
confidential." Unfortunately this letter did not arrive in time to
influence the conduct of the besieged.

On the 4th of April (1780), Admiral Arbuthnot, taking advantage of a
strong southerly wind and a flowing tide, passed Fort Moultrie [2] and
anchored just without reach of the guns of Charleston. The fort kept up
a heavy fire on the fleet while passing which did some damage to the
ships and killed or wounded twenty-seven men.

On the 29th of March the royal army reached Ashley river and crossed it
ten miles above the town without opposition, the garrison being too
weak to dispute the passage. Sir Henry Clinton having brought over his
artillery, baggage, and stores marched down Charleston Neck, and on the
night of the 1st of April, broke ground at the distance of 800 yards
from the American works. The fortifications of Charleston were
constructed under the direction of Mr. Laumoy, a French engineer of
reputation in the American service, and, although not calculated to
resist a regular siege, were by no means contemptible; and Clinton made
his approaches in due form. Meanwhile the garrison received a
reinforcement of 700 Continentals under General Woodford, and, after
this accession of strength, amounted to somewhat more than 2,000
regular troops, besides 1,000 militia of North Carolina, and the
citizens of Charleston.

On the 9th of April (1780) Clinton finished his first parallel, forming
an oblique line between the two rivers, from 600 to 1,100 yards from
the American works, and mounted his guns in battery. He then, jointly
with the admiral, summoned Lincoln to surrender the town. Lincoln's
answer was modest and firm: "Sixty days," said he, "have passed since
it has been known that your intentions against this town were hostile,
in which time was afforded to abandon it, but duty and inclination
point to the propriety of supporting it to the last extremity."

On receiving this answer Clinton immediately opened his batteries, and
his fire was soon felt to be superior to that of the besieged. Hitherto
the communication with the country north of the Cooper was open and a
post was established to prevent the investiture of the town on that
side. After the summons, Governor Rutledge, with half of his council,
left the town for the purpose of exercising the functions of the
executive government in the State, and in the hope of being able to
bring a large body of the militia to act on the rear or left flank of
the besieging army, but the militia were as little inclined to embody
themselves as to enter the town.

For the purpose of maintaining the communication with the country north
of the Cooper, of checking the British foragers, and of protecting
supplies on their way to the town, the American cavalry, under General
Huger, had passed the river and taken post at Monk's Corner, thirty
miles above Charleston. Posts of militia were established between the
Cooper and Santee and at a ferry on the last-named river, where boats
were ordered to be collected in order to facilitate the passage of the
garrison, if it should be found necessary to evacuate the town. But
Clinton defeated all these precautions. For as the possession of the
harbor rendered the occupation of the forts to the southward
unnecessary, he resolved to call in the troops which had been employed
in that quarter, to close the communication of the garrison with the
country to the northward, and to complete the investiture of the town.
For these purposes, as the fleet was unable to enter the Cooper river,
he deemed it necessary to dislodge the American posts and employed
Tarleton to beat up the quarters of General Huger's cavalry at Monk's
Corner. Conducted during the night by a negro slave through
unfrequented paths, Tarleton proceeded toward the American post, and,
although General Huger had taken the precaution of placing sentinels a
mile in front of his station and of keeping his horses saddled and
bridled, yet Tarleton advanced so rapidly that, notwithstanding the
alarm was given by the outposts, he began the attack before the
Americans could put themselves in a posture of defense, killed or took
about thirty of them, and dispersed the rest. General Huger, Colonel
Washington, and many others made good their retreat through the woods.
Such as escaped concealed themselves for several days in the swamps.
The horses taken by the British fell very seasonably into their hands,
as they were not well mounted. After this decisive blow it was some
time before any armed party of the Americans ventured to show
themselves south of the Santee. That part of the country was laid open
to the British, who established posts in such a way as completely to
enclose the garrison. The arrival of 3,000 men from New York greatly
increased the strength of the besiegers.

The second parallel was completed, and it daily became more apparent
that the garrison must ultimately submit. An evacuation of the town was
proposed and Lincoln seems to have been favorable to the measure, but
the garrison could scarcely have escaped, and the principal inhabitants
entreated the general not to abandon them to the fury of the enemy.

The British troops on the north of the Cooper were increased, and
Cornwallis was appointed to command in that quarter. On the 20th April
(1780) General Lincoln again called a council of war to deliberate on
the measures to be adopted. The council recommended a capitulation;
terms were offered, but rejected, and hostilities recommenced. After
the besiegers had begun their third parallel, Colonel Henderson made a
vigorous sally on their right, which was attended with some success;
but, owing to the weakness of the garrison, this was the only attempt
of the kind during the siege.

After the fleet passed it, Fort Moultrie became of much less importance
than before, and part of the garrison was removed to Charleston. The
admiral, perceiving the unfinished state of the works on the west side,
prepared to storm it. On the 7th of May, everything being ready for the
assault, he summoned the garrison, consisting of 200 men, who, being
convinced of their inability to defend the place, surrendered
themselves prisoners of war without firing a gun. On the same day the
cavalry which had escaped from Monk's Corner, and which had reassembled
under the command of Colonel White, were again surprised and defeated
by Colonel Tarleton. After Cornwallis had passed the Cooper and made
himself master of the peninsula between that river and the Santee, he
occasionally sent out small foraging parties. Apprised of that
circumstance, Colonel White repassed the Santee, fell in with and took
one of those parties, and dispatched an express to Colonel Buford, who
commanded a regiment of new levies from Virginia, requesting him to
cover his retreat across the Santee at Lanneau's ferry, where he had
ordered some boats to be collected to carry his party over the river.
Colonel White reached the ferry before Buford's arrival, and, thinking
himself in no immediate danger, halted to refresh his party.
Cornwallis, having received notice of his incursion, dispatched
Tarleton in pursuit, who, overtaking him a few minutes after he had
halted, instantly charged him, killed or took about thirty of the
party, and dispersed the rest.

Charleston was now completely invested, all hopes of assistance had
been cruelly disappointed, and the garrison and inhabitants were left
to their own resources. The troops were exhausted by incessant duty and
insufficient to man the lines. Many of the guns were dismounted, the
shot nearly expended, and the bread and meat almost entirely consumed.
The works of the besiegers were pushed very near the defenses of the
town, and the issue of an assault was extremely hazardous to the
garrison and inhabitants. In these critical circumstances, General
Lincoln summoned a council of war, which recommended a capitulation.
Terms were accordingly proposed, offering to surrender the town and
garrison on condition that the militia and armed citizens should not be
prisoners of war, but should be allowed to return home without
molestation. These terms were refused, hostilities were recommenced,
and preparations for an assault were in progress. The citizens, who had
formerly remonstrated against the departure of the garrison, now became
clamorous for a surrender. In this hopeless state Lincoln offered to
give up the place on the terms which Clinton had formerly proposed. The
offer was accepted and the capitulation was signed on the 12th of May

The town and fortifications, the shipping, artillery, and all public
stores were to be given up as they then were; the garrison, consisting
of the Continental troops, militia, sailors, and citizens who had borne
arms during the siege, were to be prisoners of war; the garrison were
to march out of the town and lay down their arms in front of the works,
but their drums were not to beat a British march, and their colors were
not to be uncased; the Continental troops and sailors were to be
conducted to some place afterward to be agreed on, where they were to
be well supplied with wholesome provisions until exchanged; the militia
were to be allowed to go home on parole; the officers were to retain
their arms, baggage, and servants, and they might sell their horses,
but were not permitted to take them out of Charleston; neither the
persons nor property of the militia or citizens were to be molested so
long as they kept their parole. [3]

On these terms the garrison of Charleston marched out and laid down
their arms, and General Leslie was appointed by Clinton to take
possession of the town. The siege was more obstinate than bloody. The
besiegers had 76 men killed and 189 wounded; the besieged had 92 killed
and 148 wounded; about 20 of the inhabitants were killed in their
houses by random shots. The number of prisoners reported by Clinton
amounted to upward of 5,000, exclusive of sailors, but in that return
all the freemen of the town capable of bearing arms, as well as the
Continental soldiers and militia, were included. The number of
Continental troops in the town amounted only to 1,777, about 500 of
whom were in the hospital. The effective strength of the garrison was
between 2,000 and 3,000 men. The besieging army consisted of about
9,000 of the best of the British troops.

After the British got possession of the town the arms taken from the
Americans, amounting to 5,000 stand, were lodged in a laboratory near a
large quantity of cartridges and loose powder. By incautiously snapping
the muskets and pistols the powder ignited and blew up the house, and
the burning fragments, which were scattered in all directions, set fire
to the workhouse, jail, and old barracks, and consumed them. The
British guard stationed at the place, consisting of fifty men, was
destroyed, and about as many other persons lost their lives on the
disastrous occasion.

Clinton carried on the siege in a cautious but steady and skilful
manner. Lincoln was loaded with undeserved blame by many of his
countrymen, for he conducted the defense as became a brave and
intelligent officer. The error lay in attempting to defend the town,
but, in the circumstances in which Lincoln was placed, he was almost
unavoidably drawn into that course. It was the desire of the State that
the capital should be defended, and Congress, as well as North and
South Carolina, had encouraged him to expect that his army would be
increased to 9,000 men--a force which might have successfully resisted
all the efforts of the royal army. But neither Congress nor the
Carolinas were able to fulfill the promises which they had made, for
the militia were extremely backward in taking the field, and the
expected number of Continentals could not be furnished. Lincoln,
therefore, was left to defend the place with only about one-third of
the force which he had been encouraged to expect. At any time before
the middle of April he might have evacuated the town, but the civil
authority then opposed his retreat, which soon afterward became
difficult, and ultimately impracticable.

At General Lincoln's request Congress passed a resolve directing the
Commander-in-Chief to cause an inquiry to be made concerning the loss
of Charleston and the conduct of General Lincoln while commanding in
the southern department. Washington, who knew Lincoln's merit well,
determined to give Congress time for reflection before adopting any
measure which had the least appearance of censure. The following
extract from his letter to the President of Congress (10th July, 1780)
points out clearly the impropriety of the hasty proceedings which had
been proposed in regard to this able and deserving officer:

"At this time," Washington writes, "I do not think that the
circumstances of the campaign would admit, at any rate, an inquiry to
be gone into respecting the loss of Charleston, but, if it were
otherwise, I do not see that it could be made so as to be completely
satisfactory either to General Lincoln or to the public, unless some
gentlemen could be present who have been acting in that quarter. This,
it seems, would be necessary on the occasion, and the more so as I have
not a single document or paper in my possession concerning the
department, and a copy of the instructions and orders which they may
have been pleased to give General Lincoln from time to time and of
their correspondence. And besides the reasons against the inquiry at
this time, General Lincoln being a prisoner of war, his situation, it
appears to me, must preclude one till he is exchanged, supposing every
other obstacle were out of the question. If Congress think proper, they
will be pleased to transmit to me such papers as they may have which
concern the matters of inquiry, that there may be no delay in
proceeding in the business when other circumstances will permit."

The fall of Charleston was matter of much exultation to the British and
spread a deep gloom over the aspect of American affairs. The southern
army was lost, and, although small, it could not soon be replaced. In
the southern parts of the Union there had always been a considerable
number of persons friendly to the claims of Britain. The success of her
arms roused all their lurking partialities, gave decision to the
conduct of the wavering, encouraged the timid, drew over to the British
cause all those who are ever ready to take part with the strongest, and
discouraged and intimidated the friends of Congress.

Clinton was perfectly aware of the important advantage which he had
gained, and resolved to keep up and deepen the impression on the public
mind by the rapidity of his movements and the appearance of his troops
in different parts of the country. For that purpose he sent a strong
detachment under Cornwallis over the Santee toward the frontier of
North Carolina. He dispatched an inferior force into the center of the
province, and sent a third up the Savannah to Augusta. These
detachments were instructed to disperse any small parties that still
remained in arms, and to show the people that the British troops were
complete masters of South Carolina and Georgia.

Soon after passing the Santee, Cornwallis was informed that Colonel
Buford was lying, with 400 men, in perfect security, near the border of
North Carolina. He immediately dispatched Colonel Tarleton, with his
cavalry, named the Legion, to surprise that party. After performing a
march of 104 miles in fifty-four hours, Tarleton, at the head of 700
men, overtook Buford on his march, at the Waxhaws, and ordered him to
surrender, offering him the same terms which had been granted to the
garrison of Charleston. On Buford's refusal, Tarleton instantly charged
the party, who were dispirited and unprepared for such an onset. Most
of them threw down their arms and made no resistance, but a few
continued firing, and an indiscriminate slaughter ensued of those who
had submitted as well as of those who had resisted. Many begged for
quarter, but no quarter was given. Tarleton's quarter became proverbial
throughout the Union and certainly rendered some subsequent conflicts
more fierce and bloody than they would otherwise have been. Buford and
a few horsemen forced their way through the enemy and escaped; some of
the infantry, also, who were somewhat in advance, saved themselves by
flight, but the regiment was almost annihilated. Tarleton stated that
113 were killed on the spot, 150 left on parole, so badly wounded that
they could not be removed, and 53 brought away as prisoners. So feeble
was the resistance made by the Americans that the British had only 12
men killed and 5 wounded. The slaughter on this occasion excited much
indignation in America. The British endeavored to justify their conduct
by asserting that the Americans resumed their arms after having
pretended to submit, but such of the American officers as escaped from
the carnage denied the allegation. For this exploit, Tarleton was
highly praised by Cornwallis.

After the defeat of Buford there were no parties in South Carolina or
Georgia capable of resisting the royal detachments. The force of
Congress in those provinces seemed annihilated and the spirit of
opposition among the inhabitants was greatly subdued. Many, thinking it
vain to contend against a power which they were unable to withstand,
took the oath of allegiance to the King or gave their parole not to
bear arms against him.

In order to secure the entire submission of that part of the country,
military detachments were stationed at the most commanding points, and
measures were pursued for settling the civil administration and for
consolidating the conquest of the provinces. So fully was Clinton
convinced of the subjugation of the country and of the sincere
submission of the inhabitants, or of their inability to resist, that,
on the 3d of June (1780), he issued a proclamation, in which, after
stating that all persons should take an active part in settling and
securing his majesty's government and in delivering the country from
that anarchy which for some time had prevailed, he discharged from
their parole the militia who were prisoners, except those only who had
been taken in Charleston and Fort Moultrie, and restored them to all
the rights and duties of inhabitants; he also declared that such as
should neglect to return to their allegiance should be treated as
enemies and rebels.

This proclamation was unjust and impolitic. Proceeding on the
supposition that the people of those provinces were subdued rebels,
restored by an act of clemency to the privileges and duties of
citizens, and forgetting that for upward of four years they had been
exercising an independent authority, and that the issue of the war only
could stamp on them the character of patriots or rebels. It might
easily have been foreseen that the proclamation was to awaken the
resentment and alienate the affections of those to whom it was
addressed. Many of the Colonists had submitted in the fond hope of
being released, under the shelter of the British government, from that
harassing service to which they had lately been exposed, and of being
allowed to attend to their own affairs in a state of peaceful
tranquility; but the proclamation dissipated this delusion and opened
their eyes to their real situation. Neutrality and peace were what they
desired, but neutrality and peace were denied them. If they did not
range themselves under the standards of Congress, they must, as British
subjects, appear as militia in the royal service. The people sighed for
peace, but, on finding that they must fight on one side or the other,
they preferred the banners of their country and thought they had as
good a right to violate the allegiance and parole which Clinton had
imposed on them as he had to change their state from that of prisoners
to that of British subjects without their consent. They imagined that
the proclamation released them from all antecedent obligations. Not a
few, without any pretense of reasoning on the subject, deliberately
resolved to act a deceitful part and to make professions of submission
and allegiance to the British government so long as they found it
convenient, but with the resolution of joining the standards of their
country on the first opportunity. Such duplicity and falsehood ought
always to be reprobated, but the unsparing rapacity with which the
inhabitants were plundered made many of them imagine that no means of
deception and vengeance were unjustifiable.

Hitherto the French fleets and troops had not afforded much direct
assistance to the Americans, but they had impeded and embarrassed the
operations of the British Commander-in-Chief. He had intended to sail
against Charleston so early as the month of September, 1779, but the
unexpected appearance of Count D'Estaing on the southern coast had
detained him at New York till the latter part of December. It was his
intention, after the reduction of Charleston, vigorously to employ the
whole of his force in the subjugation of the adjacent provinces, but
information, received about the time of the surrender of the town, that
Monsieur de Ternay, with a fleet and troops from France, was expected
on the American coast, deranged his plan and induced him to return to
New York with the greater part of his army, leaving Cornwallis at the
head of 4,000 men to prosecute the southern conquests. Clinton sailed
from Charleston on the 5th of June.

After the reduction of Charleston and the entire defeat of all the
American detachments in those parts, an unusual calm ensued for six
weeks. Imagining that South Carolina and Georgia were reannexed to the
British empire in sentiment as well as in appearance, Cornwallis now
meditated an attack on North Carolina. Impatient, however, as he was of
repose, he could not carry his purpose into immediate execution. The
great heat, the want of magazines, and the impossibility of subsisting
his army in the field before harvest, compelled him to pause. But the
interval was not lost. He distributed his troops in such a manner in
South Carolina and the upper parts of Georgia as seemed most favorable
to the enlistment of young men who could be prevailed on to join the
royal standard; he ordered companies of royal militia to be formed; and
he maintained a correspondence with such of the inhabitants of North
Carolina as were friendly to the British cause. He informed them of the
necessity he was under of postponing the expedition into their country,
and advised them to attend to their harvest and to remain quiet till
the royal army advanced to support them. Eager, however, to manifest
their zeal and entertaining sanguine hopes of success, certain Tories
disregarded his salutary advice and broke out into premature
insurrections, which were vigorously resisted and generally suppressed
by the patriots, who were the more numerous and determined party. But
one band of Tories, amounting to 800 men, under a Colonel Bryan,
marched down the Yadkin to a British post at the Cheraws and afterward
reached Camden.

The people of North Carolina were likely to prove much more intractable
than those of South Carolina and Georgia. They were chiefly descendants
of Scotch-Irish settlers--stern Presbyterians and ardent lovers of
liberty. When Tryon was their governor, they had resisted his tyranny
under the name of Regulators, and at Mecklenburg had published a
declaration of independence more than a year before Congress took the
same attitude of defiance. Such were the North Carolinians; and their
State was destined to be the scene of many battles in which the power
of Britain was bravely resisted.

Having made the necessary dispositions Cornwallis entrusted the command
on the frontier to Lord Rawdon and returned to Charleston in order to
organize the civil government of the province and to establish such
regulations as circumstances required. But Cornwallis showed himself
more a soldier than a politician, and more a tyrant than either.
Instead of endeavoring to regain, by kindness and conciliation, the
good will of a people whose affections were alienated from the cause in
which he was engaged, Cornwallis attempted to drive them into
allegiance by harshness and severity. Indeed, many of the British
officers viewed the Americans merely in the light of rebels and
traitors, whose lives it was indulgence to spare; treated them not only
with injustice, but with insolence and insult more intolerable than
injustice itself; and exercised a rigor which greatly increases the
miseries without promoting the legitimate purposes of war.

By the capitulation of Charleston, the citizens were prisoners on
parole, but successive proclamations were published, each abridging the
privileges of prisoners more than that which had gone before. A board
of police was established for the administration of justice, and before
that board British subjects were allowed to sue for debts, but
prisoners were denied that privilege; they were liable to prosecution
for debts, but had no security for what was owing them, except the
honor of their debtors, and that, in many instances, was found a feeble
guarantee. If they complained they were threatened with close
confinement; numbers were imprisoned in the town and others consigned
to dungeons at a distance from their families. In short, every method,
except that of kindness and conciliation, was resorted to in order to
compel the people to become British subjects. A few, who had always
been well affected to the royal cause, cheerfully returned to their
allegiance, and many followed the same course from convenience. To
abandon their families and estates and encounter all the privations of
fugitives required a degree of patriotism and fortitude which few

In that melancholy posture of American affairs, many of the ladies of
Charleston displayed a remarkable degree of zeal and intrepidity in the
cause of their country. They gloried in the appellation of rebel
ladies, and declined invitations to public entertainments given by the
British officers, but crowded to prison ships and other places of
confinement to solace their suffering countrymen. While they kept back
from the concerts and assemblies of the victors they were forward in
showing sympathy and kindness toward American officers whenever they
met them. They exhorted their brothers, husbands, and sons to an
unshrinking endurance in behalf of their country, and cheerfully became
the inmates of their prison and the companions of their
exile--voluntarily renouncing affluence and ease and encountering
labor, penury, and privation.

For some time the rigorous measures of the British officers in South
Carolina seemed successful and a deathlike stillness prevailed in the
province. The clangor of arms ceased and no enemy to British authority
appeared. The people of the lower parts of South Carolina were
generally attached to the revolution, but many of their most active
leaders were prisoners. The fall of Charleston and the subsequent
events had sunk many into despondency, and all were overawed. This
gloomy stillness continued about six weeks when the symptoms of a
gathering storm began to show themselves. The oppression and insults to
which the people were exposed highly exasperated them; they repented
the apathy with which they had seen the siege of Charleston carried on,
and felt that the fall of their capital, instead of introducing safety
and rural tranquility, as they had fondly anticipated, was only the
forerunner of insolent exactions and oppressive services. Peaceful and
undisturbed neutrality was what they desired and what they had
expected; but when they found themselves compelled to fight, they chose
to join the Provincial banners, and the most daring only waited an
opportunity to show their hostility to their new masters.

Such an opportunity soon presented itself. In the end of March (1780)
Washington dispatched the troops of Maryland and Delaware, with a
regiment of artillery, under the Baron de Kalb, to reinforce the
southern army. That detachment met with many obstructions in its
progress southward. Such was the deranged state of the American
finances that it could not be put in motion when the order was given.
After setting out it marched through Jersey and Pennsylvania, embarked
at the head of Elk river, was conveyed by water to Petersburgh in
Virginia, and proceeded thence towards the place of its destination.
But as no magazines had been provided, and as provisions could with
difficulty be obtained, the march of the detachment through North
Carolina was greatly retarded. Instead of advancing rapidly, the troops
were obliged to spread themselves over the country in small parties, in
order to collect corn and to get it ground for their daily subsistence.
In this way they proceeded slowly through the upper and more fertile
parts of North Carolina to Hillsborough, and were preparing to march by
Cross creek to Salisbury, where they expected to be joined by the
militia of North Carolina.

The approach of this detachment, together with information that great
exertions were making to raise troops in Virginia, encouraged the
irritation which the rigorous measures of the British officers had
occasioned in South Carolina; and numbers of the inhabitants of that
State, who had fled from their homes and taken refuge in North Carolina
and Virginia, informed of the growing discontents in their native
State, and relying on the support of regular troops, assembled on the
frontier of North Carolina.

About 200 of these refugees chose Colonel Sumter, an old Continental
officer, called by his comrades the "Gamecock," as their leader. On the
advance of the British into the upper parts of South Carolina, this
gentleman had fled into North Carolina, but had left his family behind.
Soon after his departure a British party arrived, turned his wife and
family out of door, and burned his house and everything in it. This
harsh and unfeeling treatment excited his bitterest resentment, which
operated with the more virulence by being concealed under the fair veil
of patriotism.

At the head of his little band, without money or magazines, and but ill
provided with arms and ammunition, Sumter made an irruption into South
Carolina. Iron implements of husbandry were forged by common
blacksmiths into rude weapons of war; and pewter dishes, procured from
private families and melted down, furnished part of their supply of

This little band skirmished with the royal militia and with small
parties of regular troops, sometimes successfully, and always with the
active courage of men fighting for the recovery of their property.

Sometimes they engaged when they had not more than three rounds of shot
each, and occasionally some of them were obliged to keep at a distance
till, by the fall of friends or foes, they could be furnished with arms
and ammunition. When successful, the field of battle supplied them with
materials for the next encounter.

This party soon increased to 600 men, and, encouraged by its daring
exertions, a disposition manifested itself throughout South Carolina
again to appeal to arms. Some companies of royal militia, embodied
under the authority of Cornwallis, deserted to Sumter and ranged
themselves under his standard.

Cornwallis beheld this change with surprise: he had thought the
conflict ended, and the southern provinces completely subdued; but, to
his astonishment, saw that past victories were unavailing, and that the
work yet remained to be accomplished. He was obliged to call in his
outposts and to form his troops into larger bodies.

But Cornwallis was soon threatened by a more formidable enemy than
Sumter, who, though an active and audacious leader, commanded only an
irregular and feeble band, and was capable of engaging only in
desultory enterprises. Congress, sensible of the value and importance
of the provinces which the British had overrun, made every effort to
reinforce the southern army; and, fully aware of the efficacy of public
opinion and of the influence of high reputation, on the 13th of June
(1780) appointed General Gates to command it. He had acquired a
splendid name by his triumphs over Burgoyne, and the populace, whose
opinions are formed by appearances and fluctuate with the rumors of the
day, anticipated a success equally brilliant. [4]

On receiving notice of his appointment to the command of the southern
army, Gates, who had been living in retirement on his estate in
Virginia, proceeded southward without delay, and on the 25th of July
(1780) reached the camp at Buffalo ford, on Deep river, where he was
received by De Kalb with respect and cordiality. The army consisted of
about 2,000 men, and considerable reinforcements of militia from North
Carolina and Virginia were expected. In order that he might lead his
troops through a more plentiful country, and for the purpose of
establishing magazines and hospitals at convenient points, De Kalb had
resolved to turn out of the direct road to Camden. But Gates, in
opposition to De Kalb's advice, determined to pursue the straight route
toward the British encampment, although it lay through a barren
country, which afforded but a scanty subsistence to its inhabitants.

On the 27th of July (1780) he put his army in motion and soon
experienced the difficulties and privations which De Kalb had been
desirous to avoid. The army was obliged to subsist chiefly on poor
cattle, accidentally found in the woods, and the supply of all kinds of
food was very limited. Meal and corn were so scarce that the men were
compelled to use unripe corn and peaches instead of bread. That
insufficient diet, together with the intense heat and unhealthy
climate, engendered disease, and threatened the destruction of the
army. Gates at length emerged from the inhospitable region of
pine-barrens, sand hills, and swamps, and, after having effected a
junction with General Caswell, at the head of the militia of North
Carolina, and a small body of troops under Lieutenant-Colonel
Porterfield, he arrived at Clermont, or Rugely's Mills, on the 13th of
August (1780), and next day was joined by the militia of Virginia,
amounting to 700 men, under General Stevens.

On the day after Gates arrived at Rugley's Mills, he received an
express from Sumter, stating that a number of the militia of South
Carolina had joined him on the west side of the Wateree, and that an
escort of clothes, ammunition, and other stores for the garrison at
Camden was on its way from Ninety-Six and must pass the Wateree at a
ford covered by a small fort nor far from Camden.

Gates immediately detached 100 regular infantry and 300 militia of
North Carolina to reinforce Sumter, whom he ordered to reduce the fort
and intercept the convoy. Meanwhile he advanced nearer Camden, with the
intention of taking a position about seven miles from that place. For
that purpose he put his army in motion at 10 in the evening of the 15th
of August, having sent his sick, heavy baggage, and military stores not
immediately wanted, under a guard to Waxhaws. On the march Colonel
Armand's [5] legion composed the van; Porterfield's light infantry,
reinforced by a company of picked men from Stevens' brigade, marching
in Indian files, two hundred yards from the road, covered the right
flank of the legion, while Major Armstrong's light infantry of North
Carolina militia, reinforced in like manner by General Caswell, in the
same order, covered the left. The Maryland division, followed by the
North Carolina and Virginia militia, with the artillery, composed the
main body and rear guard; and the volunteer cavalry were equally
distributed on the flanks of the baggage. The American army did not
exceed 4,000 men, only about 900 of whom were regular troops, and 70

On the advance of Gates into South Carolina, Lord Rawdon had called in
his outposts, and concentrated his force at Camden. Informed of the
appearance of the American army, and of the general defection of the
country between the Pedee and the Black river, Cornwallis quitted
Charleston and repaired to Camden, where he arrived on the same day
that Gates reached Clermont.

The British force was reduced by sickness, and Cornwallis could not
assemble more than two thousand men at Camden. That place, though
advantageous in other respects, was not well adapted for resisting an
attack; and as the whole country was rising against him, Cornwallis
felt the necessity of either retreating to Charleston, or of instantly
striking a decisive blow. If he remained at Camden, his difficulties
would daily increase, his communication with Charleston be endangered,
and the American army acquire additional strength. A retreat to
Charleston would be the signal for the whole of South Carolina and
Georgia to rise in arms; his sick and magazines must be left behind;
and the whole of the two provinces, except the towns of Charleston and
Savannah, abandoned. The consequences of such a movement would be
nearly as fatal as a defeat. Cornwallis, therefore, although he
believed the American army considerably stronger than what it really
was, determined to hazard a battle; and, at 10 at night, on the 15th of
August, the very hour when Gates proceeded from Rugely's Mills, about
thirteen miles distant, he marched towards the American camp.

About 2 in the morning of the 16th of August (1780) the advanced guards
of the hostile armies unexpectedly met in the woods, and the firing
instantly began. Some of the cavalry of the American advanced guard
being wounded by the first discharge, the party fell back in confusion,
broke the Maryland regiment which was at the head of the column, and
threw the whole line of the army into consternation. From that first
impression, deepened by the gloom of night, the raw and ill-disciplined
militia seem not to have recovered. In the reencounter several
prisoners were taken on each side, and from them the opposing generals
acquired a more exact knowledge of circumstances than they had hitherto
possessed. Several skirmishes happened during the night, which merely
formed a prelude to the approaching battle, and gave the commanders
some notion of the position of the hostile armies.

Cornwallis, perceiving that the Americans were on ground of no great
extent, with morasses on their right and left, so that they could not
avail themselves of their superior numbers to outflank his little army,
impatiently waited for the returning light, which would give every
advantage to his disciplined troops. [6]

Both armies prepared for the conflict. Cornwallis formed his men in two
divisions; that on the right was under the command of Lieutenant-
Colonel Webster, that on the left under Lord Rawdon. In front were four
field pieces. The Seventy-first regiment, with two cannon, formed the
reserve; and the cavalry, about 300 in number, were in the rear, ready
to act as circumstances might require.

In the American army the second Maryland brigade, under General Gist,
formed the right of the line; the militia of North Carolina, commanded
by General Caswell, occupied the center; and the militia of Virginia,
with the light infantry and Colonel Armand's corps, composed the left;
the artillery was placed between the divisions. The First Maryland
brigade was stationed as a reserve 200 or 300 yards in the rear. Baron
de Kalb commanded on the right; the militia generals were at the head
of their respective troops, and General Gates resolved to appear
wherever his presence might be most useful.

At dawn of day Cornwallis ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Webster, with the
British right wing, to attack the American left. As Webster advanced he
was assailed by a desultory discharge of musketry from some volunteer
militia who had advanced in front of their countrymen, but the British
soldiers, rushing through that loose fire, charged the American line
with a shout. The militia instantly threw down their arms and fled,
many of them without even discharging their muskets, and all the
efforts of the officers were unable to rally them. A great part of the
center division, composed of the militia of North Carolina, imitated
the example of their comrades of Virginia; few of either of the
divisions fired a shot, and still fewer carried their arms off the
field. Tarleton with his legion pursued and eagerly cut down the
unresisting fugitives. Gates, with some of the militia general
officers, made several attempts to rally them, but in vain. The further
they fled the more they dispersed, and Gates in despair hastened with a
few friends to Charlotte, eighty miles from the field of battle.

De Kalb at the head of the Continentals, being abandoned by the
militia, which had constituted the center and left wing of the army,
and being forsaken by the general also, was exposed to the attack of
the whole British army. De Kalb and his troops, however, instead of
imitating the disgraceful example of their brethren in arms, behaved
with a steady intrepidity and defended themselves like men. Rawdon
attacked them about the time when Webster broke the left wing, but the
charge was firmly received and steadily resisted, and the conflict was
maintained for some time with equal obstinacy on both sides. The
American reserve covered the left of De Kalb's division, but its own
left flank was entirely exposed by the flight of the militia, and,
therefore, Webster, after detaching some cavalry and light troops in
pursuit of the fugitive militia, with the remainder of his division
attacked them at once in front and flank. A severe contest ensued. The
Americans, in a great measure intermingled with British, maintained a
desperate conflict. Cornwallis brought his whole force to bear upon
them; they were at length broken and began to retreat in confusion. The
brave De Kalb, while making a vigorous charge at the head of a body of
his men, fell pierced with eleven wounds. His aide-de-camp, Lieutenant-
Colonel de Buysson, embraced the fallen general, announced his rank and
nation to the surrounding enemy, and while thus generously exposing his
own life to save his bleeding friend, he received several severe
wounds, and was taken prisoner with him. De Kalb met with all possible
attention and assistance from the victorious enemy, but that gallant
officer expired in a few hours. Congress afterward ordered a monument
to be erected to his memory.

Never was victory more complete or defeat more total. Every regiment
was broken and dispersed through the woods, marshes, and brushwood,
which at once saved them from their pursuers and separated them more
entirely from each other. The officers lost sight of their men and
every individual endeavored to save himself in the best way he was
able. The British cavalry pursued; and for many miles the roads were
strewed with the wrecks of a ruined army. Wagons or fragments of
wagons, arms, dead or maimed horses, dead or wounded soldiers, were
everywhere seen. General Rutherford, of the North Carolina militia, was
made prisoner, but the other general officers reached Charlotte at
different times and by different routes.

About 200 wagons, a great part of the baggage, military stores, small
arms, and all the artillery fell into the hands of the conquerors. This
decisive victory cost the British only 80 men killed and 245 wounded.
Eight hundred or 900 of the Americans were killed or wounded, and about
1,000 taken prisoners. The militia endeavored to save themselves by
flight; the Continentals alone fought, and almost half their number

While the army under Gates was completely defeated and dispersed
Colonel Sumter was successful in his enterprise. On the evening in
which Cornwallis marched from Camden he reduced the redoubt on the
Wateree, took the stores on their way to Camden, and made about 100
prisoners. On hearing, however, of the disastrous fate of the army
under Gates, Sumter, fully aware of his danger, retreated hastily with
his stores and prisoners up the south side of the Wateree. On the
morning of the 17th (September, 1780) Cornwallis sent Tarleton, with
the legion and a detachment of infantry, in pursuit of him. That
officer proceeded with his usual rapidity. Finding many of his infantry
unable to keep pace with him he advanced with about 100 cavalry and
sixty of the most vigorous of the infantry, and on the 18th (September,
1780) suddenly and unexpectedly came upon the Americans.

Sumter, having marched with great diligence, thought himself beyond the
reach of danger, and his men being exhausted by unremitting service and
want of sleep, he halted near the Catawba ford to give them some repose
during the heat of the day. In order to prevent a surprise he had
placed sentinels at proper stations to give warning of approaching
danger, but overcome by fatigue and equally regardless of duty and
safety the sentinels fell asleep at their post and gave no alarm.
Tarleton suddenly burst into the encampment of the drowsy and
unsuspecting Americans, and, though some slight resistance was at first
made from behind the baggage, soon gained a complete victory. The
Americans fled precipitately toward the river or the woods. Between 300
and 400 of them were killed or wounded. Sumter escaped, galloping off
on horseback, without coat, hat, or saddle, but all his baggage fell
into the hands of the enemy, while the prisoners and stores which he
had taken were recovered. About 150 of his men made good their retreat.

By the complete defeat and dispersion of the army under Gates and of
Sumter's corps, South Carolina and Georgia appeared to be again laid
prostrate at the feet of the royal army, and the hope of maintaining
their independence seemed more desperate than ever.

Affairs did not seem desperate, however, to Washington. He knew the
defensible nature of the country--intersected in every direction by
rivers and swamps, and affording every facility for partisan warfare
against regular troops, and he knew that the infamous conduct of the
British in the South had thoroughly roused the indignation of the
people. While Gates was gathering together a new army and stationing
detachments in different posts near Hillsborough, Washington received
intelligence of the disastrous battle of Camden. The sad news came
unexpectedly, as the previous reports had given hopes of some brilliant
feat on the part of Gates. The unlooked-for disaster, however, did not
for a moment dishearten Washington. He was fully aware of the
determination of the British to conquer the South, and if possible to
detach it from the confederacy, and he was determined on his part to
defeat their purpose. This was to be done chiefly by rousing the South

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