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

Part 6 out of 16

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itself to action, since the position of affairs at the North did not
admit of large detachments from the force under his own immediate
command. He ordered, however, that some regular troops enlisted in
Maryland for the war should be sent to the southward. To show how
attentive he was to all the details of the necessary measures for
defending the South we copy his letter of September 12th (1780) to
Governor Rutledge, of South Carolina, who had been armed with
dictatorial power by the Legislature of that State. [7]

"I am fully impressed," he writes, "with the importance of the southern
States, and of course with the necessity of making every effort to
expel the enemy from them. The late unlucky affair near Camden renders
their situation more precarious and calls for every exertion to stop at
least the further progress of the British army. It is to be wished that
the composition of our force in this quarter, our resources, and the
present situation of the fleet and army of our ally would admit of an
immediate and sufficient detachment, not only to answer the purpose I
have just mentioned, but to carry on operations of a more serious and
extensive nature. But this not being the case, for reasons which must
be obvious to you, let it suffice that your Excellency be informed that
our views tend ultimately to the southward.

"In the meantime our endeavors in that quarter should be directed
rather to checking the progress of the enemy by a permanent, compact,
and well-organized body of men, than attempting immediately to recover
the State of South Carolina by a numerous army of militia, who, besides
being inconceivably expensive, are too fluctuating and undisciplined to
oppose one composed chiefly of regular troops. I would recommend to
you, therefore, to make use of your influence with the States from
Maryland southward, to raise without delay at least 5,000 men for the
war, if it can be effected; if not, for as long a time as possible.
These, with the militia in the vicinity, would answer the purpose I
have last mentioned, and would in proper time make a useful body,
either to form a diversion in favor of, or to cooperate with, a force
upon the coast.

"I have hinted the outlines of a plan to your Excellency which for many
reasons should be in general kept to yourself. You will oblige me by
informing yourself as accurately as possible, what may be the present
resources of the country as to meat, corn, wheat, or rice, and
transportation, as I suppose circumstances may have occasioned a
considerable change. And if it is possible to form magazines of either,
it should be done, especially of salt meat, which is an article so
essential to military operations, that the States of Virginia and North
Carolina should be requested to lay up, as soon as the weather will,
permit, at least 4,000 barrels in proportion to their respective
ability. You will also be pleased to endeavor to gain a knowledge of
the force of the enemy, the posts they occupy, the nature and state of
those posts, and the reinforcements they may probably derive from the
people of the country. As you receive these several intelligences you
will be pleased to communicate them to me with your opinion of the best
place for debarking troops, in case of an expedition against the enemy
in the southern States, and the names of the persons in that quarter
whose opinion and advice may be serviceable in such an event."

In the following extract from a letter to Count de Guichen in the West
Indies, September 12, 1780, we have from Washington a view of the
general state of affairs after the battle of Camden. Its object was to
induce the French admiral to come immediately to the United States. The
letter did not reach the West Indies until De Guichen had sailed to

"The situation of America," Washington writes, "at this time is
critical. The government is without finances. Its paper credit is sunk
and no expedients can be adopted capable of retrieving it. The
resources of the country are much diminished by a five years' war in
which it has made efforts beyond its ability. Clinton, with an army of
10,000 regular troops (aided by a considerable body of militia, whom
from motives of fear and attachment he has engaged to take arms), is in
possession of one of the capital towns and a large part of the State to
which it belongs. The savages are desolating the frontier. A fleet
superior to that of our allies not only protects the enemy against any
attempt of ours, but facilitates those which they may project against
us. Lord Cornwallis, with seven or eight thousand men, is in complete
possession of two States, Georgia and South Carolina, and by recent
misfortunes North Carolina is at his mercy. His force is daily
increasing by an accession of adherents, whom his successes naturally
procure in a country inhabited by emigrants from England and Scotland
who have not been long enough transplanted to exchange their ancient
habits and attachments in favor of their new residence.

"By a letter received from General Gates we learn that in attempting to
penetrate and regain the State of South Carolina he met with a total
defeat near Camden in which many of his troops have been cut off and
the remainder dispersed with the loss of all their cannon and baggage.
The enemy are said to be now making a detachment from New York for a
southern destination. If they push their successes in that quarter we
cannot predict where their career may end. The opposition will be
feeble unless we can give succor from hence, which, from a variety of
causes must depend on a naval superiority."

The remainder of the letter gives more details and urges the admiral to
give his aid to the United States.

It will be recollected by the reader that Gates when in the height of
his glory did not make any report to Washington of the surrender of
Burgoyne. This was in the days of the Conway Cabal. He then slighted
and almost insulted the great commander, whom, it is not improbable he
hoped to supersede. But in the hour of disaster and defeat it was to
Washington himself that he turned for help, protection, and
countenance. He is prompt enough with his official report now although
he writes his first dispatch to Congress in order that his apology may
be published. The following letter to Washington is dated at
Hillsborough, August 30, 1780: [8]

"My public letter to Congress has surely been transmitted to your
Excellency. Since then I have been able to collect authentic returns of
the killed, wounded, and missing of the officers of the Maryland line,
Delaware regiment, artillerists, and those of the legion under Colonel
Armand. They are enclosed. The militia broke so early in the day, and
scattered in so many directions upon their retreat, that very few have
fallen into the hands of the enemy.

"By the firmness and bravery of the Continental troops the victory is
far from bloodless on the part of the foe, they having upwards of 500
men, with officers in proportion, killed and wounded. I do not think
Lord Cornwallis will be able to reap any advantage of consequence from
his victory as this State seems animated to reinstate and support the
army. Virginia, I am confident, will not be less patriotic. By the
joint exertions of these two States there is good reason to hope that
should the events of the campaign be prosperous to your Excellency all
South Carolina might be again recovered. Lord Cornwallis remained with
his army at Camden when I received the last accounts from thence. I am
cantoning ours at Salisbury, Guilford, Hillsborough, and Cross creek.
The Marylanders and artillerists, with their general hospital, will be
here; the cavalry near Cross creek, and the militia to the westward.
This is absolutely necessary as we have no magazine of provisions and
are only supplied from hand to mouth. Four days after the action of the
16th, fortune seemed determined to distress us; for Colonel Sumter
having marched near forty miles up the river Wateree halted with the
wagons and prisoners he had taken the 15th; by some indiscretion the
men were surprised, cut off from their arms, the whole routed, and the
wagons and prisoners retaken.

"What encouragement the numerous disaffected in this State may give
Lord Cornwallis to advance further into the country I cannot yet say.
Colonel Sumter, since his surprise and defeat upon the west side of the
Wateree, has reinstated and increased his corps to upwards of 1,000
men. I have directed him to continue to harass the enemy upon that
side. Lord Cornwallis will therefore be cautious how he makes any
considerable movement to the eastward while his corps remains in force
upon his left flank, and the main body is in a manner cantoned in his
front. Anxious for the public good I shall continue my unwearied
endeavors to stop the progress of the enemy, to reinstate our affairs,
to recommence an offensive war and recover all our losses in the
southern States. But if being unfortunate is solely reason sufficient
for removing me from command, I shall most cheerfully submit to the
orders of Congress and resign an office few generals would be anxious
to possess, and where the utmost skill and fortitude are subject to be
baffled by the difficulties which must for a time surround the chief in
command here. That your Excellency may meet with no such difficulties,
that your road to fame and fortune may be smooth and easy is the
sincere wish of, sir, your Excellency's most obedient, etc."

In the following extract from a letter of the 3d of September (1780),
he again calls Washington's attention to his own pitiable case: "If I
can yet render good service to the United States," he writes, "it will
be necessary it should be seen that I have the support of Congress and
your Excellency; otherwise some men may think they please my superiors
by blaming me, and thus recommend themselves to favor. But you, sir,
will be too generous to lend an ear to such men, if such there be, and
will show your greatness of soul rather by protecting than slighting
the unfortunate. If, on the contrary, I am not supported and
countenance is given to everyone who will speak disrespectfully of me
it will be better for Congress to remove me at once from where I shall
be unable to render them any good service. This, sir, I submit to your
candor and honor, and shall cheerfully await the decision of my
superiors. With the warmest wishes for your prosperity, and the
sincerest sentiments of esteem and regard, I am, sir, your Excellency's
most obedient, humble servant."

Notwithstanding these letters and any friendly help which Washington
may have rendered to his fallen rival, the fickle Congress, as we shall
presently see, deserted at his utmost need the man who they had
advanced against Washington's advice.

After the battle of Camden, Cornwallis was unable to follow up the
victory with his usual activity. His little army was diminished by the
sword and by disease. He had not brought with him from Charleston the
stores necessary for a long march, and he did not deem it expedient to
leave South Carolina till he had suppressed that spirit of resistance
to his authority which had extensively manifested itself in the
province. In order to consummate, as he thought, the subjugation of the
State, he resorted to measures of great injustice and cruelty. He
considered the province as a conquered country, reduced to
unconditional submission and to allegiance to its ancient sovereign,
and the people liable to the duties of British subjects and to
corresponding penalties in case of a breach of those duties. He forgot,
or seemed to forget, that many of them had been received as prisoners
of war on parole; that, without their consent, their parole had been
discharged, and that, merely by a proclamation, they had been declared
British subjects instead of prisoners of war.

In a few days after the battle of Camden, when Cornwallis thought the
country was lying prostrate at his feet, he addressed the following
letter to the commandant of the British garrison at Ninety-six: "I have
given orders that all the inhabitants of this province who have
subscribed and taken part in the revolt should be punished with the
utmost rigor; and also those who will not turn out, that they may be
imprisoned and their whole property taken from them or destroyed. I
have also ordered that compensation should be made out of these estates
to the persons who have been injured or oppressed by them. I have
ordered, in the most positive manner, that every militiaman who has
borne arms with us and afterward joined the enemy shall be immediately
hanged. I desire you will take the most vigorous measures to punish the
rebels in the district you command and that you obey, in the strictest
manner, the directions I have given in this letter relative to the
inhabitants of the country." Similar orders were given to the
commanders of other posts. [9]

In any circumstances, such orders given to officers often possessing
little knowledge and as little prudence or humanity could not fail to
produce calamitous effects. In the case under consideration, where all
the worst passions of the heart were irritated and inflamed, the
consequences were lamentable. The orders were executed in the spirit in
which they were given. Numbers of persons were put to death; many were
imprisoned and their property was destroyed or confiscated. The country
was covered with blood and desolation, rancor and grief.

The prisoners on parole thought they had a clear right to take arms,
for from their parole they had been released by the proclamation of the
20th of June (1780), which indeed called them to the duty of subjects,
a condition to which they had never consented, and therefore they
reckoned that they had as good a right to resume their arms as the
British commander had to enjoin their allegiance. The case of those who
had taken British protections in the full persuasion that they were to
be allowed to live peaceably on their estates, but who, on finding that
they must fight on one side or the other, had repaired to the standards
of their country, was equally hard. Deception and violence were
practiced against both. So long as the struggle appeared doubtful the
Colonists met with fair promises and kind treatment, but at the moment
when resistance seemed hopeless and obedience necessary they were
addressed in the tone of authority, heard stern commands and bloody
threatenings, and received harsh usage. Hence the province, which for
some time presented the stillness of peace, again put on the ruthless
aspect of war.

A number of persons of much respectability remained prisoners of war in
Charleston since the capitulation of that town, but, after the battle
of Camden, Cornwallis ordered them to be carried out of the province.
Accordingly, early in the morning of the 27th of August (1780), some of
the principal citizens of Charleston were taken out of bed, put on
board a guard-ship, and soon afterward transported to St. Augustine.
They remonstrated with Lieutenant-Colonel Balfour, the commandant of
Charleston, but experienced only the insolence of authority from that

While Cornwallis endeavored by severe measures to break the spirits of
the people and to establish the royal authority in South Carolina, he
did not lose sight of his ulterior projects. He sent emissaries into
North Carolina to excite the Loyalists there, and to assure them of the
speedy march of the British army into that province. On the 8th of
September (1780) he left Camden, and toward the end of the month
arrived at Charlottetown, in North Carolina, of which place he took
possession after a slight resistance from some volunteer cavalry under
Colonel Davie. Though symptoms of opposition manifested themselves at
Charlotte yet he advanced toward Salisbury and ordered his militia to
cross the Yadkin. But Cornwallis was suddenly arrested in his
victorious career by an unexpected disaster. He made every exertion to
embody the Tory inhabitants of the country and to form them into a
British militia. For that purpose he employed Major Ferguson of the
Seventy-first regiment with a small detachment in the district of
Ninety-six, to train the Loyalists and to attach them to his own party.
From the operations of that officer he expected the most important

Ferguson executed his commission with activity and zeal, collected a
large number of Loyalists, and committed great depredations on the
friends of independence in the back settlements. When about to return
to the main army in triumph he was detained by one of those incidents
which occasionally occur in war and influence the course of events and
the destiny of nations. Colonel Clarke, of Georgia, who had fled from
that province on its reduction by Campbell in 1779, had retired to the
northward, and having collected a number of followers in the Carolinas,
he returned to his native province at the head of about 700 men, and
while Cornwallis was marching from Camden to Charlottetown, attacked
the British post at Augusta. Lieutenant-Colonel Brown, who commanded at
that place with a garrison of about 150 Provincials, aided by some
friendly Indians, finding the town untenable, retired toward an
eminence on the banks of the Savannah, named Garden Hill. But the
Americans occupied it before his arrival; by bringing his artillery,
however, to bear upon them, after a desperate conflict he succeeded in
dislodging them and in gaining possession of the hill, but with the
loss of his cannon. There Clarke besieged him till informed of the near
approach of a British detachment from Ninety-six, under Colonel Kruger.
He then retreated, abandoning the cannon which he had taken, and,
though pursued, effected his escape. Notice was instantly sent to
Ferguson of Clarke's retreat and of his route, and high hopes of
intercepting him were entertained. For that purpose Ferguson remained
longer in those parts and approached nearer the mountains than he would
otherwise have done. As he had collected about 1,500 men he had no
apprehension of any force assembling in that quarter able to embarrass

Meanwhile the depredations committed by Ferguson exasperated many of
the inhabitants of the country, some of whom, fleeing across the
Allegheny mountains, gave their western brethren an alarming account of
the evils with which they were threatened. Those men, living in the
full enjoyment of that independence for which the Atlantic States were
struggling, resolved to keep the war at a distance from their
settlements. The hardy mountaineers of the western parts of Virginia
and North Carolina assembled under Colonels Campbell, Shelby,
Cleveland, and Sevier. Other parties, under their several leaders,
hastened to join them. They were all mounted and unencumbered with
baggage. Each man had his blanket, knapsack, and rifle, and set out in
quest of Ferguson, equipped in the same manner as when they hunted the
wild beasts of the forest. At night the earth afforded them a bed and
the heavens a covering; the flowing stream quenched their thirst; their
guns, their knapsacks, or a few cattle driven in their rear, supplied
them with food. Their numbers made them formidable, and the rapidity of
their movements rendered it difficult to escape them. They amounted to
nearly 3,000 men.

On hearing of their approach Ferguson began to retreat toward Charlotte
and sent messengers to Cornwallis to apprise him of his danger. But the
messengers were intercepted, and Cornwallis remained ignorant of the
perilous situation of his detachment. In the vicinity of Gilbert town
the Americans, apprehensive of Ferguson's escape, selected 1,000 of
their best riflemen, mounted them on their fleetest horses, and sent
them in pursuit. Their rapid movements rendered his retreat
impracticable, and Ferguson, sensible that he would inevitably be
overtaken, chose his ground on King's mountain on the confines of North
and South Carolina, and waited the attack.

On the 7th of October (1780) the Americans came up with him. Campbell
had the command, but his authority was merely nominal, for there was
little military order or subordination in the attack. They agreed to
divide their forces in order to assail Ferguson from different
quarters, and the divisions were led on by Colonels Cleveland, Shelby,
Sevier, and Williams. Cleveland, who conducted the party which began
the attack, addressed his men as follows:

"My brave fellows! we have beaten the Tories and we can beat them. When
engaged you are not to wait for the word of command from me. I will
show you by my example how to fight; I can undertake no more. Every man
must consider himself an officer and act on his own judgment. Though
repulsed, do not run off; return and renew the combat. If any of you
are afraid you have not only leave to withdraw, but are requested to do

Cleveland instantly began the attack, but was soon compelled to retire
before the bayonet. But Ferguson had no time to continue the pursuit,
for Shelby came forward from an unexpected quarter and poured in a
destructive fire. Ferguson again resorted to the bayonet and was again
successful. But at that moment Campbell's division advanced on another
side and a new battle began. Campbell, like his comrades, was obliged
to retreat. But Cleveland had now rallied his division and advanced
anew to the combat. The Royalists wheeled and met this returning
assailant. In this way there was an unremitting succession of attacks
for about fifty minutes. Ferguson obstinately defended himself and
repulsed every assailant, but at last he fell mortally wounded, and the
second in command, seeing the contest hopeless, surrendered. Ferguson
and 150 of his men lay dead on the field; as many were wounded; nearly
700 laid down their arms, and upwards of 400 escaped. Among the
prisoners the number of regular British soldiers did not amount to 100.
The Americans lost about twenty men, who were killed on the field, and
they had many wounded. They took 1,500 stand of arms. Major Ferguson's
position was good, but the hill abounded with wood and afforded the
Americans, who were all riflemen, an opportunity of fighting in their
own way and of firing from behind trees.

The Americans hanged ten of their prisoners on the spot, pleading the
guilt of the individuals who suffered and the example of the British,
who had executed a great number of Americans. One of the victims was a
militia officer, who accepted a British commission, although he had
formerly been in the American service. Those rude warriors, whose
enterprise was the spontaneous impulse of their patriotism or revenge,
who acknowledged no superior authority, and who were guided by no
superior counsels, having achieved their victories and attained their
object, dispersed and returned home. Most of the prisoners were soon
afterward released on various conditions.

The ruin of Ferguson's detachment, from which so much had been
expected, was a severe blow to Cornwallis; it disconcerted his plans
and prevented his progress northward. On the 14th of October (1780), as
soon after obtaining certain information of the fall of Major Ferguson
as the army could be put in motion, he left Charlotte, where Ferguson
was to have met him and began his retreat toward South Carolina. In
that retrograde movement the British army suffered severely; for
several days it rained incessantly; the roads were almost impassable;
the soldiers had no tents, and at night encamped in the woods in an
unhealthy climate. The army was ill supplied with provisions; sometimes
the men had beef, but no bread; at other times bread, but no beef. Once
they subsisted during five days on Indian corn collected as it stood in
the fields. Five ears were the daily allowance of two men, but the
troops bore their toils and privations without a murmur.

In these trying circumstances the American Loyalists who had joined the
royal standard were of great service, but their services were ill
requited, and several of them, disgusted by the abusive language and
even blows, which they received from some of the officers, left the
British army forever. At length the troops passed the Catawba, and on
the 29th of October (1780) reached Wynnesborough, an intermediate
station between Camden and Ninety-six. During this difficult march
Cornwallis was ill and Lord Rawdon had the command.

Washington directed the operations of this southern campaign as far as
it was in his power. But he was interfered with by the pragmatical,
imbecile, and conceited Congress. Had Greene been appointed to take
command of the southern army, according to Washington's desire, instead
of Gates, he would soon have assembled around him that "permanent,
compact, and well-organized body of men," referred to in Washington's
letter to Governor Rutledge, which we have quoted, and would have given
a very different account of the British from that of Gates. Greene was
second only to the Commander-in-Chief in ability--second to none in
courage, coolness, and perseverance. His campaign in the South, as we
shall presently see, was one of the most remarkable performances of the
war. But Congress would not send him to the South till repeated
disasters compelled them to listen to Washington's advice. The old
virus of the Conway Cabal must have been still lurking among the
members or they would scarcely have preferred Gates to Greene. We must
now leave the South for a season and turn to the course of events in
the northern States.

1. Footnote: This was a recent conquest of the British fleet in the
West Indies.

2. Footnote: The reader will recollect that Fort Moultrie received its
name from its defense by Colonel Moultrie in 1776.

3. Footnote: The reader will recollect that Fort Moultrie received its
name from its defense by Colonel Moultrie in 1776.

4. Footnote: Washington, who had long ago taken the measure of Gates'
capacity, was desirous that Greene should receive the appointment to
the command of the southern army at this time; but his wishes were
overruled by Congress. Had Greene been appointed, or even had De Kalb
been left in command, the campaign of 1780 would have been quite
another affair.

5. Footnote: Charles Armand, Marquis de la Rouerie, was a French
officer of note when he entered our army as colonel in 1777, and was
ordered to raise a corps of Frenchmen not exceeding 200 men. He served
in Jersey and Pennsylvania in 1777, and in Westchester county, New
York, in 1778, where he captured Major Baremore and his Loyalists, as
mentioned in Washington's certificate below. In 1779 he was stationed
at Ridgefield, Connecticut, under Gen. Robert Howe. He was sent with a
legion composed of his own and Pulaski's cavalry to aid in Gates'
southern expedition, as mentioned in the text. In 1781 he went to France
to obtain clothes and equipments, and returned soon enough to assist at
the siege of Yorktown. Washington recommended him strongly to
Congress, who gave him the commission of brigadier-general in the
spring of 1783. He returned to France in 1784, engaged in the French
revolution, and took an active part. He died January 30th, 1793.
On the occasion of Colonel Armand's going to join the southern army
under Gates, Washington gave him the following certificate under his
own hand:


I certify that the Marquis de la Rouerie has served in the army of
the United States since the beginning of 1777, with the rank of
colonel, during which time he has commanded an independent corps
with much honor to himself and usefulness to the service. He has
upon all occasions conducted himself as an officer of distinguished
merit, of great zeal, activity, vigilance, intelligence, and
bravery. In the last campaign, particularly, he rendered very
valuable services, and towards the close of it made a brilliant
partisan stroke, by which, with much enterprise and address, he
surprised a major and some men of the enemy in quarters, at a
considerable distance within their pickets, and brought them off
without loss to his party. I give him this certificate In testimony
of my perfect approbation of his conduct, and esteem for himself

6. Footnote: Colonel Armand censured Gates' conduct on this occasion
severely. It is clear that he chose the ground best suited for the
enemy's purpose. "I will not say," Armand remarked, "that the general
contemplated treason, but I will say, that if he had desired to betray
his army, he could not have chosen a more judicious course."

7. Footnote: Sparks, "Writings of Washington," vol. VII, p.201. 8.
Footnote: Sparks, "Correspondence of the Revolution," vol. III, P.66.

9. Footnote: The orders of Rawdon and Cornwallis to the subordinates to
treat the Americans in this cruel manner were intercepted and sent to
Washington, who transmitted them, with a sharp letter, to Sir Henry
Clinton. His reply sustained Rawdon and Cornwallis. The original
letters and the whole correspondence may be found in the 7th volume of
Sparks, "Writings of Washington."



The contest between Great Britain and her revolted Colonies had
involved her in other wars. Spain had already joined with France in the
alliance against her, and the Dutch were now drawn into the contest.
Great Britain had claimed and exercised what she called the "right of
search," which included the right to seize the property of an enemy,
wherever found, at sea. The Dutch, who had an extensive carrying trade
with France, being plundered by the British under their insolent "right
of search," were already preparing to join the other allies and
commence open hostilities.

The next act in the drama was the formation of the armed neutrality
denying the "right of search," and declaring that free ships made free
goods. Catharine II. of Russia was at its head. Sweden and Denmark
immediately joined it. It was resolved that neutral ships should enjoy
a free navigation even from port to port and on the coasts of the
belligerent powers; that all effects belonging to the subjects of the
said belligerent powers should be looked upon as free on board such
neutral ships, except only such goods as were stipulated to be
contraband, and that no port should be considered under blockade unless
there should be a sufficient force before it to render the blockade
effectual. The other European powers were invited to join this
confederacy. France and Spain agreed to do so at once; Portugal
hesitated and declined, and the United Provinces delayed for a time
their answer. The Emperor of Germany and the King of Prussia joined the
armed neutrality in 1781.

Meanwhile, Henry Laurens having been taken prisoner on his way to
Holland (1780) to solicit a loan for the United States, and his papers
having made the British ministry acquainted with the fact that
overtures for a treaty between Holland and America were under
consideration, England, at the close of 1780, resolved upon a war with
the States General. Thus England, by this step, without friend or
allies, prepared to wage, single-handed, the contest with enemies in
every quarter of the globe.

In the beginning of the year 1781, the affairs of the American Union
wore a gloomy and alarming aspect. Vigorous and united efforts were
needful; but all seemed feeble and irresolute. The people were heartily
tired of the war; and, though no better affected to the parent State
than before, yet they earnestly desired deliverance from the multiplied
miseries of the protracted struggle.

The alliance with France had promised a speedy termination to the war;
but hitherto, while its existence made the Americans comparatively
remiss in their own exertions to prosecute hostilities, the French
fleet and army had performed no important service.

Congress had called for an army of 37,000 men, to be in camp on the 1st
of January (1781). The resolution, as usual, was too late, but even
although it had been promulgated in due time, so large a force could
not have been brought into the field. The deficiencies and delays on
the part of the several States exceeded all reasonable anticipation. At
no time during this active and interesting campaign did the regular
force, drawn from Pennsylvania to Georgia inclusive, amount to 3,000
men. So late as the month of April (1781), the States, from New Jersey
to New Hampshire inclusive, had furnished only 5,000 infantry, but this
force was slowly and gradually increased, till, in the month of May,
including cavalry and artillery which never exceeded 1,000 men, it
presented a total of about 7,000, of whom upwards of 4,000 might have
been relied on in active service. A considerable part of this small
force arrived in camp too late to acquire during the campaign that
discipline which is essential to military success. Inadequate as this
army was for asserting the independence of the country, the prospect of
being unable to support it was still more alarming. The men were in
rags; clothing had long been expected from Europe but had not yet
arrived and the disappointment was severely felt.

The magazines were ill supplied, the troops were often almost starving
and the army ready to be dissolved for want of food. The arsenals were
nearly empty. Instead of having the requisites of a well-appointed army
everything was deficient and there was little prospect of being better
provided, for money was as scarce as food and military stores. Congress
had resolved to issue no more bills on the credit of the Union, and the
care of supplying the army was devolved upon the several States
according to a rule established by that body. Even when the States had
collected the specified provisions, the quartermaster-general had no
funds to pay for the transportation of them to the army to accomplish
which military impressment was resorted to in a most offensive degree.
Congress was surrounded with difficulties, the several States were
callous and dilatory, and affairs generally wore an aspect of debility
and decay.

To deepen the general gloom there were portentous rumors of
preparations for savage warfare along the whole extent of the western
frontier and of an invasion on the side of Canada. In the midst of
financial difficulties and apprehensions of attack both from foreign
and domestic enemies, a new and alarming danger appeared in a quarter
where it was little expected and which threatened to consummate the
ruin of American independence. The privations and sufferings of the
troops had been uncommonly great. To the usual hardships of a military
life were added nakedness and hunger, under that rigor of climate which
whets the appetite and renders clothing absolutely necessary. By the
depreciation of the paper currency their pay was little more than
nominal, and it was many months in arrear.

Besides those evils which were common to the whole army the troops of
Pennsylvania imagined that they labored under peculiar grievances.
Their officers had engaged them for three years or during the war. On
the expiration of three years the soldiers thought themselves entitled
to a discharge; the officers alleged that they were engaged for the
war. The large bounties given to those who were not bound by previous
enlistment heightened the discontent of the soldiers, and made them
more zealous in asserting what they thought their rights. In the first
transports of their patriotism they had readily enlisted, but men will
not long willingly submit to immediate and unprofitable hardships in
the prospect of distant and contingent rewards.

The discontents engendered by the causes now mentioned had for some
time been increasing and on the 1st of January, 1781, broke out into
the open and almost universal mutiny of the troops of Pennsylvania. On
a signal given, the greater part of the noncommissioned officers and
privates paraded under arms, declaring their intention of marching to
the seat of Congress at Philadelphia to obtain a redress of grievances,
or to abandon the service. The officers made every exertion to bring
them back to their duty, but in vain; in the attempt, a captain was
killed and several other persons wounded. General Wayne interposed,
but, on cocking his pistols at some of the most audacious of the
mutineers, several bayonets were at his breast, the men exclaiming, "We
respect you--we love you; but you are a dead man if you fire! Do not
mistake us: we are not going to the enemy, on the contrary, were they
to come out, you should see us fight under you with as much resolution
and alacrity as ever, but we wish a redress of grievances and will no
longer be trifled with." Such of the Pennsylvania troops as had at
first taken no part in the disturbance were prevailed on to join the
mutineers and the whole, amounting to 1,300 men, with six field pieces,
marched from Morristown under temporary officers of their own election.
Washington's headquarters were then at New Windsor on the North river.

Next day (Jan. 2, 1781), General Wayne and Colonels Butter and Stewart,
officers who in a high degree enjoyed the confidence and affection of
the troops, followed the mutineers, but though civilly received, they
could not succeed in adjusting the differences or in restoring
subordination. On the third day the mutineers resumed their march and
in the morning arrived at Princeton. Congress and the Pennsylvania
government, as well as Washington, were much alarmed by this mutiny
fearing the example might be contagious and lead to the dissolution of
the whole army. Therefore a committee of Congress, with President Reed
[1] at their head and some members of the executive council of
Pennsylvania, set out from Philadelphia for the purpose of allaying
this dangerous commotion.

Sir Henry Clinton, who heard of the mutiny on the morning of the 3d
(January 1781), was equally active in endeavoring to turn it to the
advantage of his government. He ordered a large corps to be in
readiness to march on a moment's notice and sent two American spies by
way of Amboy and two by way of Elizabethtown, as agents from himself to
treat with the mutineers. But two of the persons employed were actually
spies on himself and soon disclosed his proposals to the American
authorities. The two real spies on reaching Princeton were seized by
the mutineers and afterwards delivered up to General Wayne who had them
tried and executed on the 10th.

At first the mutineers declined leaving Princeton, but finding their
demands would be substantially complied with they marched to Trenton on
the 9th, and before the 15th (January 1781), the matter was so far
settled that the committee of Congress left Trenton and returned to
Philadelphia. All who had enlisted for three years or during the war
were to be discharged, and in cases where the terms of enlistment could
not be produced the oath of the soldier was to be received as evidence
on the point. They were to receive immediate certificates for the
depreciation on their pay, and their arrears were to be settled as soon
as circumstances would admit. On those terms about one-half of the
Pennsylvania troops obtained their discharge, numbers of them having,
as afterwards appeared, made false declarations concerning the terms of
their enlistment.

Intelligence of this mutiny was communicated to Washington at New
Windsor before any accommodation had taken place. Though he had been
long accustomed to decide in hazardous and difficult situations yet it
was no easy matter in this delicate crisis to determine on the most
proper course to be pursued. His personal influence had several times
extinguished rising mutinies. The first scheme that presented itself
was to repair to the camp of the mutineers and try to recall them to a
sense of their duty, but on mature reflection this was declined. He
well knew that their claims were founded in justice, but he could not
reconcile himself to wound the discipline of his army by yielding to
their demands while they were in open revolt with arms in their hands.
He viewed the subject in all its relations and was well apprised that
the principal grounds of discontent were not peculiar to the
Pennsylvania line, but common to all the troops.

If force was requisite he had none to spare without hazarding West
Point. If concessions were unavoidable they had better be made by any
person than the Commander-in-Chief. After that due deliberation which
he always gave to matters of importance he determined against a
personal interference and to leave the whole to the civil authorities
which had already taken it up, but at the same time prepared for those
measures which would become necessary if no accommodation took place.
This resolution was communicated to Wayne, with a caution to regard the
situation of the other lines of the army in any concessions which might
be made and with a recommendation to draw the mutineers over the
Delaware, with a view to increase the difficulty of communicating with
the enemy in New York. The result, however, showed that this last was
an unnecessary precaution.

The success of the Pennsylvania troops in exacting from their country
by violence what had been denied to the claims of equity produced a
similar spirit of insubordination in another division of the army. On
the night of the 20th of January (1781), about 160 of the Jersey
brigade, which was quartered at Pompton, complaining of grievances
similar to those of the Pennsylvania line and hoping for equal success,
rose in arms, and marched to Chatham with the view of prevailing on
some of their comrades stationed there to join them. Their number was
not formidable and Washington, knowing that he might depend on the
fidelity of the greater part of his troops detached Gen. Robert Howe
against the mutineers, with orders to force them to unconditional
submission and to execute some of the most turbulent of them on the
spot. These orders were promptly obeyed and two of the ringleaders were
put to death.

Sir Henry Clinton, as in the case of the Pennsylvanians, endeavored to
take advantage of the mutiny of the Jersey brigade. He sent emissaries
to negotiate with them, and detached General Robertson with 3,000 men
to Staten Island to be in readiness to support them if they should
accede to his proposals, but the mutiny was so speedily crushed that
his emissaries had no time to act.

The situation of Congress at this time was trying in the extreme. The
contest was now one for very existence. A powerful foe was in full
strength in the heart of the country; they had great military
operations to carry on, but were almost without an army and wholly
without money. Their bills of credit had ceased to be of any worth; and
they were reduced to the mortifying necessity of declaring by their own
acts that this was the fact, as they no longer made them a legal tender
or received them in payment of taxes. Without money of some kind an
army could neither be raised nor maintained. But the greater the
exigency the greater were the exertions of Congress. They directed
their agents abroad to borrow, if possible, from France, Spain, and
Holland. They resorted to taxation, although they knew that the measure
would be unpopular and that they had not the power to enforce their
decree. The tax laid they apportioned among the several States, by
whose authority it was to be collected. Perceiving that there was great
disorder and waste, or peculation, in the management of the fiscal
concerns they determined on introducing a thorough reform and the
strictest economy. They accordingly appointed as treasurer Robert
Morris of Philadelphia, a man whose pure morals, ardent patriotism, and
great knowledge of financial concerns eminently fitted him for this
important station. The zeal and genius of Morris soon produced the most
favorable results. By means of the "Bank of North America," to which in
the course of the year he obtained the approbation of Congress, he
contrived to draw out the funds of wealthy individuals. By borrowing in
the name of the government from this bank and pledging for payment the
taxes not yet collected, he was enabled to anticipate them and command
a ready supply. He also used his own private credit which was good
though that of the government had failed, and at one time bills signed
by him individually, were in circulation to the amount of $581,000.

The establishment of a revenue subject to the exclusive control and
direction of the Continental government was connected inseparably with
the restoration of credit. The efforts, therefore, to negotiate a
foreign loan were accompanied by resolutions requesting the respective
States to place a fund under the control of Congress which should be
both permanent and productive. A resolution was passed recommending the
respective States to vest a power in Congress to levy for the use of
the United States a duty of five per centum ad valorem on all goods
imported into any of them, and also on all prizes condemned in any of
the American courts of admiralty.

This fund was to be appropriated to the payment of both the principal
and interest of all debts contracted in the prosecution of the war, and
was to continue until those debts should be completely discharged.

Congress at that time contained several members who perceived the
advantages which would result from bestowing on the government of the
nation the full power of regulating commerce, and consequently, of
increasing the imports as circumstances might render advisable; but
State influence predominated and they were overruled by great
majorities. Even the inadequate plan which they did recommend was never
adopted. Notwithstanding the greatness of the exigency and the pressure
of the national wants, never during the existence of the Confederation
did all the States unite in assenting to this recommendation, so
unwilling are men possessed of power to place it in the hands of

About the same time a reform was introduced into the administration the
necessity of which had been long perceived. From a misplaced prejudice
against institutions sanctioned by experience all the great executive
duties had been devolved either on committees of Congress or on boards
consisting of several members. This unwieldy and expensive system had
maintained itself against all the efforts of reason and public utility.
But the scantiness of the national means at length prevailed over
prejudice, and the several committees and boards yielded to a secretary
for foreign affairs, a superintendent of finance, a secretary of war,
and a secretary of marine. But so miserably defective was the
organization of Congress as an executive body that the year (1781) had
far advanced before this measure, the utility of which all
acknowledged, could be carried into complete operation by making all
the appointments.

The war had continued much longer than was originally anticipated, and
the natural resources of the country, mismanaged by the inexperience of
the government and its ignorance of the principles of political economy
were so much exhausted that it became apparent the war could not be
carried on without a foreign loan and France, sufficiently embarrassed
with her own affairs, was the only country to which Congress could look
for pecuniary aid. Accordingly, Lieutenant-Colonel Laurens, who had
been one of Washington's aids, was employed on this mission, and
besides endeavoring to negotiate a loan was instructed to press on the
French monarch the advantage of maintaining a naval superiority in the
American seas. While the energies of America were thus paralyzed by the
financial difficulties of Congress, the mutinous spirit of part of the
army and the selfishness and apathy of several of the States, the
British interest in the Provinces seemed in a prosperous condition.
General Greene, as we shall presently see, was maintaining a doubtful
and hazardous struggle against Cornwallis on the northern frontier of
North Carolina. A British detachment from New York had made a deep
impression on Virginia where the resistance was neither so prompt nor
so vigorous as had been expected from the strength of that State and
the unanimity of its citizens.

On the 1st of May, 1781, Washington commenced a military journal. The
following statement is extracted from it: "I begin at this epoch a
concise journal of military transactions, &c. I lament not having
attempted it from the commencement of the war in aid of my memory, and
wish the multiplicity of matter which continually surrounds me and the
embarrassed state of our affairs which is momentarily calling the
attention to perplexities of one kind or another may not defeat
altogether or so interrupt my present intention and plan as to render
it of little avail.

"To have the clearer understanding of the entries which may follow it
would be proper to recite in detail our wants and our prospects, but
this alone would be a work of much time and great magnitude. It may
suffice to give the sum of them, which I shall do in a few words, viz.:

"Instead of having magazines filled with provisions we have a scanty
pittance scattered here and there in the distant States.

"Instead of having our arsenals well supplied with military stores they
are poorly provided, and the workmen all leaving them. Instead of
having the various articles of field equipage in readiness the
quartermaster-general is but now applying to the several States to
provide these things for their troops respectively. Instead of having a
regular system of transportation established upon credit, or funds in
the quartermaster's hands to defray the contingent expenses thereof we
have neither the one nor the other; and all that business, or a great
part of it being done by impressment, we are daily and hourly
oppressing the people, souring their tempers, and alienating their
affections. Instead of having the regiments completed agreeable to the
requisitions of Congress, scarce any State in the Union has at this
hour one-eighth part of its quota in the field, and there is little
prospect of ever getting more than half. In a word, instead of having
anything in readiness to take the field, we have nothing; and, instead
of having the prospect of a glorious offensive campaign before us we
have a bewildered and gloomy prospect of a defensive one, unless we
should receive a powerful aid of ships, troops, and money from our
generous allies, and these at present are too contingent to build

While the Americans were suffering the complicated calamities which
introduced the year 1781 their adversaries were carrying on the most
extensive plan of operations against them which had ever been
attempted. It had often been objected to the British commanders that
they had not conducted the war in the manner most likely to effect the
subjugation of the revolted provinces. Military critics found fault
with them for keeping a large army idle at New York, which, they said,
if properly applied, would have been sufficient to make successful
impressions at one and the same time on several of the States. The
British seemed to have calculated the campaign of 1781 with a view to
make an experiment of the comparative merit of this mode of conducting
military operations. The war raged in that year not only in the
vicinity of the British headquarters at New York, but in Georgia, South
Carolina, North Carolina, and in Virginia.

In this extensive warfare Washington could have no immediate agency in
the southern department. His advice in corresponding with the officers
commanding in Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, was freely and
beneficially given, and as large detachments sent to their aid as could
be spared consistently with the security of West Point. In conducting
the war his invariable maxim was to suffer the devastation of property
rather than hazard great and essential objects for its preservation.
While the war raged in Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, the Governor, its
representatives in Congress, and other influential citizens, urged his
return to the defense of his native State. But considering America as
his country and the general safety as his object, he deemed it of more
importance to remain on the Hudson. There he was not only securing the
most important post in the United States but concerting a grand plan of
combined operations which, as shall soon be related, not only delivered
Virginia but all the States from the calamities of the war. In
Washington's disregard of property when in competition with national
objects he was in no respect partial to his own. While the British were
in the Potomac they sent a flag to Mount Vernon requiring a supply of
fresh provisions. Refusals of such demands were often followed by
burning the houses and other property near the river. To prevent this
catastrophe the person entrusted with the management of the estate went
on board with the flag and carrying a supply of provisions, requested
that the buildings and improvements might be spared. For this he
received a severe reprimand in a letter to him in which Washington
observed: "It would have been a less painful circumstance to me to have
heard that in consequence of your noncompliance with the request of the
British they had burned my house and laid my plantation in ruins. You
ought to have considered yourself as my representative, and should have
reflected on the bad example of communicating with the enemy and making
a voluntary offer of refreshment to them with a view to prevent a

To the other difficulties with which Washington had to contend in the
preceding years of the war a new one was about this time added. While
the whole force at his disposal was unequal to the defense of the
country against the common enemy, a civil war was on the point of
breaking out among his fellow-citizens. The claims of Vermont to be a
separate, independent State, and of the State of New York to their
country, as within its chartered limits, together with open offers from
the royal commanders to establish and defend them as a British
province, produced a serious crisis which called for the interference
of the American chief. This was the more necessary, as the governments
of New York and Vermont were both resolved on exercising a jurisdiction
over the same people and the same territory. Congress, wishing to
compromise the controversy, on middle ground, resolved, in August,
1781, to accede to the independence of Vermont on certain conditions
and within certain specified limits which they supposed would satisfy
both parties. Contrary to their expectations this mediatorial act of
the national Legislature was rejected by Vermont, and yet was so
disagreeable to the Legislature of New York as to draw from them a
spirited protest against it. Vermont complained that Congress
interfered in their internal police; New York viewed the resolve as a
virtual dismemberment of their State, which was a constituent part of
the Confederacy. Washington, anxious for the peace of the Union, sent a
message to Governor Chittenden of Vermont desiring to know "what were
the real designs, views, and intentions of the people of Vermont;
whether they would be satisfied with the independence proposed by
Congress, or had it seriously in contemplation to join with the enemy
and become a British province." The Governor returned an unequivocal
answer: "That there were no people on the continent more attached to
the cause of America than the people of Vermont, but they were fully
determined not to be put under the government of New York; that they
would oppose this by force of arms and would join with the British in
Canada rather than submit to that government." While both States were
dissatisfied with Congress, and their animosities, from increasing
violence and irritation, became daily more alarming, Washington, aware
of the extremes to which all parties were tending, returned an answer
to Governor Chittenden in which were these expressions: "It is not my
business, neither do I think it necessary now to discuss the origin of
the right of a number of inhabitants to that tract of country formerly
distinguished by the name of the New Hampshire grants, and now known by
that of Vermont. I will take it for granted that their right was good,
because Congress by their resolve of the 17th of August imply it, and
by that of the 21st are willing fully to confirm it, provided the new
State is confined to certain described bounds. It appears, therefore,
to me that the dispute of boundary is the only one that exists, and
that being removed all other difficulties would be removed also and the
matter terminated to the satisfaction of all parties. You have nothing
to do but withdraw your jurisdiction to the confines of your old limits
and obtain an acknowledgment of independence and sovereignty under the
resolve of the 21st of August (1781), for so much territory as does not
interfere with the ancient established bounds of New York, New
Hampshire, and Massachusetts. In my private opinion, while it behooves
the delegates to do ample justice to a body of people sufficiently
respectable by their numbers and entitled by other claims to be
admitted into that confederation, it becomes them also to attend to the
interests of their constituents and see that under the appearance of
justice to one they do not materially injure the rights of others. I am
apt to think this is the prevailing opinion of Congress."

The impartiality, moderation, and good sense of this letter, together
with a full conviction of the disinterested patriotism of the writer,
brought round a revolution in the minds of the Legislature of Vermont,
and they accepted the propositions of Congress though they had rejected
them four months before. A truce among the contending parties followed
and the storm blew over. Thus the personal influence of one man,
derived from his pre-eminent virtues and meritorious services,
extinguished the sparks of civil discord at the time they were kindling
into flame. [2]

While Washington, during the early part of the year 1781, was thus
contending with every species of discouragement and difficulty,
prevented from acting offensively by want of means, and thus apparently
wasting away the fighting season in comparative inaction the war was
actively raging in the southern States. To this grand theater of
hostilities, as interesting as they are terrible, we must now call the
reader's attention.

1. Footnote: Gen. Joseph Reed, formerly secretary to Washington.

2. Footnote: It was during this dispute between New York and Vermont
that Gen. Ethan Allen, then residing in the latter State, received
large offers from the British to use his influence to detach Vermont
from the Union and annex it to Canada. Of course these offers were
indignantly rejected.



In our last notice of the movements and operations of the contending
armies in the southern States, we left Cornwallis, after a dreary and
disastrous retreat, at Wynnsborough. The Americans, in the meantime,
were not idle. Defeated, but not subdued, they were active in preparing
to renew the struggle. After the defeat and dispersion of his army at
Camden, General Gates retreated to Charlotte, eighty miles from the
field of battle. There he halted to collect the straggling fugitives
and to endeavor from the wreck of his discomfited army to form a force
with which he might check or impede the advancing foe. He was soon
joined by Generals Smallwood and Gist, and about 150 dispirited
officers and soldiers. Most of the militia who escaped returned home,
and General Caswell was ordered to assemble those of the neighboring
counties. Major Anderson of the Third Maryland regiment, who had
collected a number of fugitives not far from the field of battle,
proceeded toward Charlotte by easy marches in order to give stragglers
time to join him. But as Charlotte was utterly indefensible and as no
barrier lay between it and the victorious enemy Gates retreated to
Salisbury and sent Colonel Williams, accompanied by another officer, on
the road leading to Camden to gain information of the movements of
Cornwallis, and to direct such stragglers as he met to hasten to
Salisbury. From Salisbury Gates proceeded to Hillsborough, where he
intended to assemble an army with which he might contend for the
southern Provinces.

It was from Hillsborough that he wrote the letter to Washington, which
we have already quoted, desiring the exertion of his influence to
prevent his being superseded in the command of the southern army.

At Hillsborough every exertion was made to collect and organize a
military force and ere long Gates was again at the head of 1,400 men.
Even before the royal army entered North Carolina that State had called
out the second division of its militia, under Generals Davidson and
Sumner, and they were joined by the volunteer cavalry under Colonel

When Cornwallis entered Charlotte, Gates ordered General Smallwood to
take post at the fords of the Yadkin in order to dispute the passage of
the river, and Morgan, who had joined the southern army with the rank
of brigadier-general, was employed with a light corps to harass the

When Cornwallis retreated Gates advanced to Charlotte; he stationed
General Smallwood further down the Catawba on the road to Camden and
ordered Morgan to some distance in his front. Such was the position of
the troops when Gates was superseded in the command of the southern

On the 5th of October (1780) Congress, without any previous indications
of dissatisfaction, had passed a resolution requiring Washington to
order a court of inquiry into the conduct of Major-General Gates, as
commander of the southern army, and to appoint another officer to that
command till such inquiry should be made. The order of Congress to
inquire into the conduct of Gates was unsatisfactory, as we have
already seen, to Washington. It was afterward dispensed with and Gates
restored to a command in the army.

Meanwhile Washington recommended Major-General Greene to Congress as a
person qualified to command the southern army. Greene, by his activity,
intrepidity, and good conduct, had gained the confidence of Washington
long ago; he had desired him to have the command when Gates was
appointed, as we have already seen, and he now again recommended him as
an officer in whose ability, fortitude, and integrity he could trust.
On the 2d of December (1780) Greene arrived at Charlotte and informed
Gates of his commission. That was the first official notice which
Gates, the former favorite of Congress, received of his removal from
the command of the southern army. Next day Gates resigned the command
of the army with becoming dignity and patriotism, and Greene, who was
dissatisfied with the treatment which he had received, behaved toward
him with the most polite attention.

In a few hours after Greene entered on his command he received the
report of one of Morgan's foraging parties, not far from Camden. The
party advanced to the vicinity of the British posts at Clermont, which
was viewed by Col. William A. Washington, who saw that it was too
strong to be taken by small arms and cavalry, the only weapons and
force present; he therefore had recourse to stratagem. Having made an
imposing show of part of his men and having placed the trunk of a pine
tree in such a situation as, at a distance, to have the appearance of a
cannon, he summoned the post to surrender, and it yielded without
firing a shot. The Tory Colonel Rugely and 112 men whom he had
collected in the place were made prisoners. This inconsiderable event
elated Greene's army and was considered by them as a good omen of
success under their new leader.

General Greene's situation was embarrassing. His army was feeble,
consisting, on the 8th of December (1780), of 2,029 infantry, of whom
1,482 were in camp and 547 in detachments; 821 were Continentals and
1,208 were militia. Besides these there were 90 cavalry, 60
artillerymen, and 128 Continentals on extra service, constituting in
all a force of 2,307 men.

In North Carolina there were many Loyalists, and hostilities were
carried on between them and their republican neighbors with the most
rancorous animosity. The country was thinly inhabited and abounded in
woods and swamps. The cultivated parts were laid waste by hostile
factions, and no magazines for the army were provided. The troops were
almost naked, and Greene obliged to procure subsistence for them day by

He found that he could not long remain at Charlotte for the country
between that place and Camden, having been traversed by the contending
armies, was quite exhausted. In order, therefore, to procure
subsistence for his troops, as well as to distract and harass the
enemy, Greene, though fully aware of the danger of such a measure, felt
himself constrained to divide his little army.

General Morgan had been invested with the command of the light troops
by Gates, and Greene placed him at the head of one of the divisions of
his army, consisting of nearly 400 infantry under Lieutenant-Colonel
Howard, 170 Virginia riflemen under Major Triplett, and 80 light
dragoons under Lieut.-Col. William A. Washington. With this small force
Morgan was sent to the south of the Catawba to observe the British at
Wynnsborough and Camden and to shift for himself, but was directed to
risk as little as possible. On the 25th of December (1780) he took a
position toward the western frontier of South Carolina, not far from
the confluence of the Pacolet and Broad rivers, and about fifty miles
northwest from Wynnsborough. With the other division of his army Greene
left Charlotte on the 20th of the same month (December, 1780), and on
the 29th arrived at Hick's Corner on the east side of the Pedee,
opposite the Cheraw hills, about seventy miles northeast from
Wynnsborough, where he remained some time. He marched to that place in
the hope of finding more plentiful subsistence for his troops, but his
difficulties in that respect were not much diminished, for the country
was almost laid waste by the cruel feuds of the hostile factions.

General Morgan did not long remain inactive. On the 27th of December
(1780) he detached Colonel Washington with his dragoons and 200
militia, who next day marched forty miles, surprised a body of
Loyalists at Ninety-six, killed or wounded 150 of them, and took 40
prisoners, without sustaining any loss. At that time Morgan was joined
by Major M'Dowell with 200 North Carolina, and by Colonel Pickens with
70 South Carolina militia.

The British had to contend not only with the force under Greene and
Morgan, but were also obliged to watch other adversaries not less
active and enterprising. Sumter had been defeated by Tarleton on the
18th of August (1780), and his followers dispersed, but that daring and
indefatigable partisan did not long remain quiet. He was soon again at
the head of a considerable band and had frequent skirmishes with his
adversaries. Always changing his position about Enoree, Broad, and
Tiger rivers, he often assailed the British posts in that quarter. On
the 12th of November (1780) he was attacked at Broad river by Major
Wemyss, but repulsed the party and made the major prisoner. On the 20th
of the same month he was attacked by Tarleton at Black Stocks, near
Tiger river; the encounter was sharp and obstinate; Tarleton was
repulsed with loss, but Sumter was wounded in the battle, and, being
unfitted for active service, his followers dispersed. Sumter showed
much humanity to his prisoners. Although Wemyss had deliberately hanged
Mr. Cusack in the Cheraw district, and although he had in his pocket a
list of several houses burned by his orders, yet he met with every
indulgence. At Black Stocks the wounded were kindly treated.

Other partisan chiefs arose and among them General Marion held a
distinguished place. He had commanded a regiment in Charleston at the
time of the siege, but having received a wound which fractured his leg,
and being incapable of discharging the [1] active duties of his office,
he withdrew from the town. On the advance of Gates, having procured a
band of followers, he penetrated to the Santee, harassed the British
detachments, and discouraged the Loyalists. After the defeat of the
Americans at Camden he rescued a party of Continental prisoners who
were under a British guard. So ill was he provided with arms that he
was obliged to forge the saws of the sawmills into rude swords for his
horsemen, and so scanty was his ammunition that at times he engaged
when he had not three cartridges to each of his party. He secured
himself from pursuit in the recesses of the forest and in deep swamps.

Cornwallis impatiently waited the arrival of reinforcements. After the
victory at Camden, when he was flushed with the sanguine hope not only
of overrunning North Carolina, but of invading Virginia, General Leslie
was detached from New York to the southward with a considerable body of
troops, and, according to orders, landed in Virginia, expecting to meet
the southern army in that State. On finding himself unable to
accomplish his lofty schemes, and obliged to fall back into South
Carolina, Cornwallis ordered Leslie to re-embark and sail for
Charleston. He arrived there on the 13th of December (1780), and on the
19th began his march with 1,500 men to join Cornwallis. His lordship
resolved to begin offensive operations immediately on the arrival of
his reinforcements, but, in the meantime, alarmed by the movements of
Morgan for the safety of the British post at Ninety-six, he detached
Tarleton with the light and legion infantry, the fusiliers or Seventh
regiment, the first battalion of the Seventy-first regiment, 350
cavalry, 2 field pieces, and an adequate number of the royal artillery,
in all about 1,100 men, with orders to strike a blow at Morgan and
drive him out of the province. As Tarleton's force was known to be
superior to that under Morgan, no doubt whatever was entertained of the
precipitate flight or total discomfiture of the Americans.

Meanwhile Cornwallis left Wynnsborough and proceeded toward the
northwest, between the Broad and Catawba rivers. General Leslie, who
had halted at Camden in order to conceal as long as possible the road
which the British army was to take, was now ordered to advance up the
Catawba and join the main body on its march. By this route Cornwallis
hoped to intercept Morgan if he should escape Tarleton, or perhaps to
get between General Greene and Virginia and compel him to fight before
the arrival of his expected reinforcements. The British generals
encumbered with baggage and military stores, marching through bad
roads, and a country intersected by rivulets which were often swollen
by the rains, advanced but slowly. Tarleton, however, with his light
troops, proceeded with great celerity and overtook Morgan probably
sooner than was expected.

On the 14th of January (1781) Morgan was informed of the movements of
the British army and got notice of the march of Tarleton and of the
force under his command. Sensible of his danger he began to retreat,
and crossed the Pacolet, the passage of which he was inclined to
dispute, but, on being told that Tarleton had forded the river six
miles above him, he made a precipitate retreat, and at ten at night on
the 16th of January the British took possession of the ground which the
Americans had left a few hours before.

Although his troops were much fatigued by several days' hard marching
through a difficult country, yet, determined that Morgan should not
escape, Tarleton resumed the pursuit at three next morning, leaving his
baggage behind under a guard with orders not to move till break of day.
Morgan, though retreating, was not disinclined to fight. By great
exertions he might have crossed Broad river or reached a hilly tract of
country before he could have been overtaken. He was inferior to
Tarleton in the number of his troops, but more so in their quality, as
a considerable part of his force consisted of militia, and the British
cavalry were three times more numerous than the American. But Morgan,
who had great confidence both in himself and in his men, was
apprehensive of being overtaken before he could pass Broad river, and
he chose rather to fight voluntarily than to be forced to a battle.
Therefore, having been joined by some militia under Colonel Pickens, he
halted at a place called the Cowpens, about three miles from the line
of separation between North and South Carolina. Before daylight on the
morning of the 17th of January (1781), he was informed of the near
approach of Tarleton, and instantly prepared to receive him.

The ground on which Morgan halted had no great advantages, but his
dispositions were judicious. On rising ground, in an open wood, he drew
up his Continental troops and Triplett's corps, amounting together to
nearly 500 men, under Lieutenant-Colonel Howard. Colonel Washington
with his cavalry was posted in their rear, behind the eminence, ready
to act as occasion might require. At a small distance in front of his
Continentals was a line of militia under Colonel Pickens and Major
M'Dowell, and 150 yards in front of Pickens was stationed a battalion
of North Carolina and Georgia volunteers under Major Cunningham, with
orders to give one discharge on the approaching enemy, and then to
retreat and join the militia. Pickens was directed, when he could no
longer keep his ground, to fall back with a retreating fire and form on
the right of the Continentals.

Scarcely were those dispositions made when the British van appeared.
Tarleton, who had been informed by two prisoners of Morgan's position
and strength, instantly formed his troops. The light and legion
infantry and the Seventh regiment, and a captain with fifty dragoons on
each flank, constituted his first line; the first battalion of the.
Seventy-first regiment and the rest of the cavalry composed the
reserve. Formerly Tarleton had succeeded by sudden and impetuous
assaults, and, entertaining no doubt of speedy and complete victory on
the present occasion, he led on his men to the attack with
characteristic ardor, even before his troops were well formed. The
British rushed forward impetuously, shouting and firing as they
advanced. The American volunteers, after a single discharge, retreated
to the militia under Pickens. The British advanced rapidly, and
furiously attacked the militia, who soon gave way and sought shelter in
the rear of the Continentals. Tarleton eagerly pressed on, but the
Continentals, undismayed by the retreat of the militia, received him
firmly, and an obstinate conflict ensued. Tarleton ordered up his
reserve, and the Continental line was shaken by the violence of the
onset. Morgan ordered his men to retreat to the summit of the eminence
and was instantly obeyed. The British, whose ranks were somewhat
thinned, exhausted by the previous march and by the struggle in which
they had been engaged, and believing the victory won, pursued in some
disorder, but, on reaching the top of the hill, Howard ordered his men
to wheel and face the enemy; they instantly obeyed and met the pursuing
foe with a well-directed and deadly fire. This unexpected and
destructive volley threw the British into some confusion, which Howard
observing, ordered his men to charge them with the bayonet. Their
obedience was as prompt as before, and the British line was soon
broken. About the same moment Washington routed the cavalry on the
British right, who had pursued the flying militia and were cutting them
down on the left and even in the rear of the Continentals. Ordering his
men not to fire a pistol, Washington charged the British cavalry sword
in hand. The conflict was sharp, but not of long duration. The British
were driven from the ground with considerable loss and closely pursued.
Howard and Washington pressed the advantage which they had gained; many
of the militia rallied and joined in the battle. In a few minutes after
the British had been pursuing the enemy, without a doubt of victory,
the fortune of the day entirely changed; their artillerymen were
killed, their cannon taken, and the greater part of the infantry
compelled to lay down their arms. Tarleton, with about forty horse,
made a furious charge on Washington's cavalry, but the battle was
irrecoverably lost, and he was reluctantly obliged to retreat. Upwards
of 200 of his cavalry, who had not been engaged, fled through the woods
with the utmost precipitation, bearing away with them such of the
officers as endeavored to oppose their flight. The only part of the
infantry which escaped was the detachment left to guard the baggage,
which they destroyed when informed of the defeat, and, mounting the
wagons and spare horses, hastily retreated to the army. The cavalry
arrived in camp in two divisions; one in the evening, with the tidings
of their disastrous discomfiture, and the other, under Tarleton
himself, appeared next morning. In this battle the British had ten
commissioned officers and upwards of 100 privates killed. More than 500
were made prisoners, nearly 200 of whom, including twenty-nine
commissioned officers, were wounded. Two pieces of artillery, two
standards, 800 muskets, thirty-five baggage wagons and about 100 horses
fell into the hands of the Americans whose loss amounted only to 12 men
killed and 60 wounded. The British force under Tarleton has been
commonly estimated at 1,100 men, and the American army at 1,000,
although Morgan, in his official report to Greene, written two days
after the battle, states it to have been only 800. [3]

Cornwallis was at Turkey creek, twenty-five miles from the Cowpens,
confident of the success of his detachment or at least without the
slightest apprehension of its defeat. He was between Greene and Morgan
and it was a matter of much importance to prevent their junction and to
overthrow the one of them while he could receive no support from the
other. For that purpose he had marched up Broad river and instructed
General Leslie to proceed on the banks of the Catawba in order to keep
the Americans in a state of uncertainty concerning the route which he
intended to pursue, but the unexpected defeat of his detachment was an
occurrence equally mortifying and perplexing and nothing remained but
to endeavor to compensate the disaster by the rapidity of his movements
and the decision of his conduct.

He was as near the fords of the Catawba as Morgan and flattered himself
that, elated with victory and encumbered with prisoners and baggage,
that officer might yet be overtaken before he could pass those fords.
Accordingly, on the 18th of January, (1781) he formed a junction with
General Leslie and on the 19th began his remarkable pursuit of Morgan.
In order the more certainly to accomplish his end at Ramsour's Mills he
destroyed the whole of his superfluous baggage. He set the example by
considerably diminishing the quantity of his own and was readily
imitated by his officers although some of them suffered much less by
the measure. He retained no wagons except those loaded with hospital
stores and ammunition and four empty ones for the accommodation of the
sick and wounded. But notwithstanding all his privations and exertions
he ultimately missed his aim for Morgan displayed as much prudence and
activity after his victory as bravery in gaining it. Fully aware of his
danger he left behind him, under a flag of truce, such of the wounded
as could not be moved with surgeons to attend them, and scarcely giving
his men time to breathe he sent off his prisoners under an escort of
militia and followed with his regular troops and cavalry, bringing up
the rear in person. He crossed Broad river at the upper fords, hastened
to the Catawba, which he reached on the evening of the 28th, and safely
passed it with his prisoners and troops next day--his rear having
gained the northern bank only about two hours before the van of the
British army appeared on the opposite side.

Much rain had fallen on the mountains a short time before and it rained
incessantly during the night. The river rose and in the morning was
impassable. Morgan made a hair-breadth escape, for had the river risen
a few hours sooner he would have been unable to pass and probably would
have been overtaken and overwhelmed by his pursuers and had the flood
in the river been a little later Cornwallis might have forced a passage
and entirely discomfited the American division. But it was two days
before the inundation subsided, and in that interval Morgan sent off
his prisoners towards Charlottesville, in Virginia, under an escort of
militia and they were soon beyond the reach of pursuit. The Americans
regarded the swelling of the river with pious gratitude as an
interposition of Heaven in their behalf and looked forward with
increased confidence to the day of ultimate success.

Morgan called for the assistance of the neighboring militia, and
prepared to dispute the passage of the river; but on the 31st of
January (1781), while he lay at Sherwood's ford, General Greene
unexpectedly appeared in camp and took on himself the command. Toward
the end of December, (1781) Greene, as already mentioned, took a
position at Hick's creek on the east side of the Peedee, and had in
camp 1,100 Continental and State troops fit for service. On the 12th of
January (1781) he was joined by Col. Henry Lee's partisan legion which
arrived from the North and consisted of 100 well-mounted horsemen and
120 infantry. This reinforcement was next day dispatched on a secret
expedition and in order to divert the attention of the enemy from the
movements of the legion, Major Anderson, with a small detachment was
sent down the Peedee. On the night of the 24th, Lee surprised
Georgetown and killed some of the garrison, but the greater part fled
into the fort which Lee was not in a condition to besiege.

Although Cornwallis perceived that he would meet with opposition yet he
determined to force the passage. The river was about 500 yards wide,
three feet deep, and the stream rapid. The light infantry of the guards
under Colonel Hall, accompanied by a guide, first entered the ford;
they were followed by the grenadiers who were succeeded by the
battalions. As soon as Davidson perceived the direction of the British
column he led his men to the point where it was about to land. But
before he arrived the light infantry had overcome all difficulties and
were ascending the bank and forming. While passing the river, in
obedience to orders, they reserved their fire, and, on gaining the
bank, soon put the militia to flight. Davidson was the last to retreat
and on mounting his horse to retire he received a mortal wound.

The defeat of Davidson opened the passage of the river. All the
American parties retreated, and on the same day the rest of the British
army crossed at Beattie's ford. Tarleton, with the cavalry and the
Twenty-third regiment, was sent in pursuit of the militia, and being
informed on his march that the neighboring militia were assembling at
Tarrant's tavern, about ten miles distant, he hastened with the cavalry
to that place. About 500 militia were assembled and seemed not
unprepared to receive him. He attacked them with his usual impetuosity
and soon defeated and dispersed them with considerable slaughter. The
passage of the river and the total discomfiture of the party at
Tarrant's tavern so much intimidated the inhabitants of the country
that the royal army received no further trouble from the militia till
it had passed the Yadkin.

A grand military race now began between the retreating Americans under
Greene and the pursuing British under Cornwallis. Greene marched so
rapidly that he passed the Yadkin at the trading ford on the night
between the 2d and 3d of February (1781), partly by fording and partly
by means of boats and flats. So closely was he pursued that the British
van was often in sight of the American rear and a sharp conflict
happened not far from the ford, between a body of American riflemen and
the advanced guard of the British army, when the latter obtained
possession of a few wagons. Greene secured all the boats on the south
side and here it again happened as at the Catawba--the river suddenly
rose by reason of the preceding rains and the British were unable to
pass. This second escape by the swelling of the waters was interpreted
by the Americans as a visible interposition of Heaven in their behalf
and inspired then with a lofty enthusiasm in that cause which seemed to
be the peculiar care of Omnipotence.

Greene, released from the immediate pressure of his pursuers, continued
his march northward and on the 7th of February joined his division
under Huger and Williams near Guilford Courthouse.

In order to cover his retreat and to check the pursuing enemy Greene
formed a light corps out of Lee's legion, Howard's infantry,
Washington's cavalry, and some Virginia riflemen under Major Campbell,
amounting to 700 men, the flower of the southern army. As General
Morgan was severely indisposed the command of these light troops was
given to Col. Otho Holland Williams, formerly adjutant-general.

Having refreshed his troops, and made the necessary arrangements on the
morning of the 10th of February (1781), Greene left Guilford Courthouse
on his march towards the Dan, and was pursued by Cornwallis, who had
been detained by the long circuit which he was obliged to make in order
to pass the Yadkin. The retreat and pursuit were equally rapid, but the
boldness and activity of the American light troops compelled the
British to march compactly and with caution, for on one occasion
Colonel Lee charged the advanced cavalry of the British army suddenly
and furiously, killed a number, and made some prisoners. On this
occasion Cornwallis felt the loss of the light troops who had been
killed or taken at the Cowpens. He was destined to regret their loss
through the rest of the campaign.

Greene's precautions and preparations for passing the Dan were
successful and on the 14th of February he crossed that river at Boyd's
and Irwin's ferries with his army, baggage, and stores. Although his
light troops had marched forty miles that day, yet the last of them had
scarcely reached the northern bank when the advanced guard of the
British army appeared on the other side of the river.

The escape of Greene into Virginia without a battle and without any
loss except a few wagons at the Yadkin, was a severe disappointment to
Cornwallis. He had entirely failed in his attempts against Greene, but
he was consoled by the reflection that he had completely driven him out
of North Carolina, and that now there was nothing to hinder the loyal
inhabitants from openly espousing the British cause and reinforcing the
royal army.

Cornwallis now gave up the pursuit and repaired to Hillsborough with
the view of calling out and organizing the Royalist forces. His
adherents, though here particularly strong, did not come forward to the
extent expected. The larger portion, as elsewhere, regarded the cause
with that passive and inert attachment which we have remarked to be
generally prevalent and even the more zealous having suffered severely
by former premature displays, dreaded lest the republican cause should
regain the ascendancy. The view also of the distress and exhaustion of
the British troops after so long a march was by no means alluring. Yet
seven companies were formed and detachments began to come in from
different quarters.

On the other hand, Greene, having obtained a reinforcement of Virginia
militia, repassed the Dan and with his light troops endeavored to annoy
the British army and prevent recruiting. Major Lee surprised a
detachment of Royalists who mistook him for Tarleton and cut them
nearly to pieces. On account of the exhausted state of the country at
Hillsborough, Cornwallis soon withdrew to a position on the Allimance
creek between Haw and Deep rivers, where he could be better supplied
and support his friends who were numerous there. Greene, however, by an
active use of his cavalry and light troops, severely harassed his
opponent and by changing his own position every night, eluded the
attempt to bring him to an engagement.

At length General Greene, having received reinforcements which raised
his army to above 4,200 men, of whom about a third were regulars,
determined to offer battle. This was what Cornwallis had eagerly
sought, yet his own effective force being reduced to somewhat under
2,000 he felt now some hesitation, and probably would have acted more
wisely in maintaining the defensive. Even the enterprising Tarleton
observes that in his circumstances defeat would have been total ruin,
while any victory he might expect to gain could yield little fruit. All
the habits and views of Cornwallis, however, being directed to an
active campaign, he formed his resolution and, on the 15th of March
(1781), proceeded to the attack. Greene had drawn up his army very
judiciously near Guilford Courthouse mostly on a range of hills covered
with trees and brushwood.

Greene made disposition of his troops in the following order: The first
line was composed of North Carolina militia, the right under General
Eaton and the left under General Butler, with two pieces of artillery
under Captain Singleton. The right flank was supported by Kirkwood's
Delawareans, Lynch's riflemen, and the cavalry, all under Lieutenant-
Colonel Washington, and the left in like manner by Lieutenant-Colonel
Campbell's riflemen and the infantry of the legion, all under
Lieutenant-Colonel Lee. The second line, which was formed 300 yards in
the rear of the first, consisted of two brigades of Virginia militia,
the right under General Lawson and the left under General Stevens. The
third, 400 yards in reserve was formed upon the brow of the hill near
the courthouse. The right of this line was composed of Hawes's and
Greene's Virginia regiments under General Huger; the left of the first
and second Maryland regiments, the former under Gunby, the latter under
Ford--the whole commanded by Colonel Williams. In the center of the
last line was placed the remainder of the artillery.

Captain Singleton commenced his fire, which was returned by the enemy,
who had formed their line of battle--the right wing under General
Leslie and the left under Lieutenant-Colonel Webster, with the
artillery in the center under Lieutenant-Colonel McLeod. The first
battalion of the guards, under Lieutenant-Colonel Norton, served as a
support for the right, and the second, with one company of grenadiers
under General O'Hara, for the left wing. Tarleton's dragoons were held
in reserve. The British commander having made all his dispositions
advanced, fired one round, and charged bayonets. Our militia having
given a few shots while the enemy was at a distance were seized by a
panic when they saw him coming down upon them. Many of them threw away
their muskets, and the entreaties of Butler, Eaton, and Davie, with the
threats of Lee, were of no avail. Almost the entire body fled. The
artillery now retired to the left of the Marylanders. At this crisis
the enemy considered victory as already within his grasp and continued
to push on when he was attacked on his right and left by Lee and
Washington. Cornwallis perceiving this threw one regiment out to engage
Lee, and one regiment together with his light infantry and yagers to
resist Washington, filling up the breach thus created by advancing the
grenadiers with two battalions of the guards, which had formed the
supports to the flanks. Lee and Washington fell back in good order,
delivering their fire until they came up with the second line which
gave battle in good earnest. The right flank was supported by
Washington, who ordered Lynch's riflemen to fall upon the left of
Webster, who had to be supported by O'Hara. Here Webster ordered the
Thirty-third regiment to attack Lynch and was thereby in a measure
relieved. O'Hara charged the Virginia right wing, which was obliged to
yield ground. Lee on the left nobly did his duty and firmly held his
position. When the militia on the right gave way those on the left fell
back and were not rallied until they came up on the left of the third
line. Campbell's riflemen and Lee's legion stood perfectly firm and
continued the contest against one regiment, one battalion, and a body
of infantry and riflemen. The American reserve, with the artillery
posted in a most favorable position, was fresh and ready for the word
of command. Webster having overcome the Americans of the second line in
his front advanced upon the third and was received by Gunby's Maryland
regiment with a most galling fire which made his troops falter. Gunby
advanced, charging bayonets, when the enemy was completely routed.

Leslie, after the left of the Virginia militia gave way, advanced to
the support of O'Hara, who had forced the American right wing, and the
combined commands of these generals charged the Second Maryland
regiment of the third line. This regiment, panic-stricken, fled.
Gunby, coming up at the time, held the enemy in check and a deadly
conflict ensued. Gunby having his horse shot under him,
Lieutenant-Colonel Howard assumed the command. Washington seeing how
hot was the battle at this point pushed forward and charged the enemy,
and Howard advancing with his bayonets leveled, the British were
completely routed.

The pursuit was continued for some distance when Cornwallis came up and
determined to gain the victory at any cost. He opened the fire of his
artillery alike on friend and foe, causing an indiscriminate slaughter
of British and Americans.

The British were rallied at all points, and Greene, considering it
better to preserve the advantages he had gained, withdrew his forces.
This was done in good order and Cornwallis continued the pursuit but a
short distance. The loss of the Americans was about 400 in killed and
wounded; that of the British about 800. The enemy retained the field,
but his victory was both empty, and disastrous.

Notwithstanding Cornwallis claimed a victory he resolved to fall back
on Wilmington, near the mouth of Cape Fear river, where he could
recruit his troops and obtain supplies and reinforcements by sea.

Greene retreated about fifteen miles, taking post behind a small stream
called Troublesome creek, where he expected and awaited an attack.

1. Footnote: Marion was a strict temperance man. Being at a dinner
party where the guests, determined on a hard drinking bout, had locked
the door to prevent his exit, he jumped out of a second-story window,
and broke his leg. This was the wound above referred to. It occasioned
him to leave the city. He thus escaped surrendering when Charleston
fell, and his temperance preserved to the country one of its bravest

2. Footnote: Marion, on account of his successful stratagems and sudden
surprises of the British, was called by them the _Swamp-Fox_. His own
countrymen styled him the _Bayard_ of the South.

3. Footnote: The action at the Cowpens was one of the medal victories.
Congress had separate gold medals struck in honor of it, and presented
to Morgan, Howard, and Col. William A. Washington. The name Cowpens,
according to Irving, comes from the old designation of Hannah's
Cowpens, the place being part of a grazing establishment belonging to a
man named Hannah. The worthy grazier could hardly have foreseen the
immortality which was destined to attach to his Cowpens.



While the events recorded in the last chapter were passing Washington
was by no means a passive spectator. He held a constant correspondence
with Greene and sent him all the aid he could. Writing to him on the
9th of January, 1781, he says: "It is impossible for anyone to
sympathize more feelingly with you in the sufferings and distresses of
the troops than I do, and nothing could aggravate my unhappiness so
much as the want of ability to remedy or alleviate the calamities which
they suffer and in which we participate but too largely.

"The brilliant action of General Sumter and the stratagem of Colonel
Washington deserve great commendation. It gives me inexpressible
pleasure to find that such a spirit of enterprise and intrepidity still
prevails." [1]

Writing to Greene again (on the 21st of March, 1781), he says: "You may
be assured that your retreat before Lord Cornwallis is highly applauded
by all ranks and reflects much honor on your military abilities." Such
words, from such a man, must have inspirited Greene amidst his toils
and perils.

Greene, writing to Washington three days after the battle of Guilford
Courthouse, says: "In my former letters I enclosed to your Excellency
the probable strength of the British army, since which they have been
constantly declining. Our force, as you will see by the returns, was
respectable, and the probability of not being able to keep it long in
the field, and the difficulty of subsisting men in this exhausted
country, together with the great advantages which would result from the
action if we were victorious, and the little injury if we were
otherwise, determined me to bring on an action as soon as possible.
When both parties are agreed in a matter all obstacles are soon
removed. I thought the determination warranted by the soundest
principles of good policy and I hope events will prove it so though we
were unfortunate. I regret nothing so much as the loss of my artillery,
though it was of little use to us, nor can it be in this great
wilderness. However, as the enemy have it, we must also."

"Lord Cornwallis," he writes in the same letter, "will not give up this
country without being roundly beaten. I wish our force was more
competent to the business. But I am in hopes, by little and little, to
reduce him in time. His troops are good, well found, and fight with
great obstinacy.

"Virginia has given me every support I could wish or expect since Lord
Cornwallis has been in North Carolina, and nothing has contributed more
to this than the prejudice of the people in favor of your Excellency
which has been extended to me from the friendship you have been pleased
to honor me with."

The reader will not fail to observe the soundness of Greene's judgment
as to the beneficial effect of the battle of Guilford Courthouse. It
was truly a disastrous victory for Cornwallis and a fortunate defeat
for Greene, whose subsequent operations we must now notice.

When Greene took his position at the ironworks on Troublesome creek
after the battle of Guilford Courthouse he expected that Cornwallis
would follow up his advantage and attack him without delay. He
therefore prepared again to fight. His army, indeed, was much
diminished, but he had lost more in numbers than in effective strength.
The militia, many of whom had returned home, had shown themselves very
inefficient in the field. As soon as he received certain information
that instead of pursuing, Cornwallis was retreating, he resolved to
follow him and advanced accordingly.

Greene was now in his turn the pursuer and followed Cornwallis so
closely that skirmishes occasionally happened between his advanced
parties and the rear guard of the British army, but no conflict of
importance ensued. On the morning of the 28th of March he arrived at
Ramsay's Mills, on Deep river, a strong post which the British had
evacuated a few hours before, crossing the river by a bridge erected
for the purpose. There Greene paused and meditated on his future
movements. His army, like that of the British, for some time past had
suffered much from heavy rains, deep roads, and scarcity of provisions.
On reaching Ramsay's Mills his men were starving with hunger and fed
voraciously on some fresh quarters of beef left behind by the British
army. The troops were much exhausted and stood in need of repose and
refreshment. Besides in that critical state of the campaign he found
himself reduced to a handful of Continentals. Most of the militia had
left him. Small as his army was he found great difficulty in procuring
subsistence for it.

Cornwallis had fairly the start of the Americans and was advancing to a
place where he would find more plentiful supplies and easily
communicate with the sea; so that Greene was sensible that with the
force then under his command he could make no impression on him. He
resolved, therefore, instead of following his opponent, to proceed to
South Carolina. That step, he thought, would oblige Cornwallis either
to follow him or to abandon his posts in the upper parts of the
southern States. If he followed him North Carolina would be relieved
and enabled to raise its quota of men for the Continental service, but
if he remained in that State or proceeded to the northward it was
likely that the greater part of the British posts in South Carolina and
Georgia would be reduced and that those States would be restored to the
Union. He entertained little apprehension of Cornwallis being able with
the force then under his command to make any permanent impression on
the powerful State of Virginia.

Having refreshed his troops and collected provisions for a few days
Greene moved from Ramsay's Mills, on Deep river, on the 5th of April
(1781), toward Camden, and on the morning of the 20th of the same month
encamped at Logtown in sight of the British works at that place.

Soon after his arrival at Wilmington, Cornwallis received certain
information that Greene was proceeding to South Carolina, and it threw
him into much perplexity. He was alarmed for the safety of Lord Rawdon,
but, though desirous of assisting him, he was convinced that the
Americans were already so far advanced that it was impossible for him
to arrive at Camden in time to succor Rawdon if he should need it. His
lordship's fate and that of his garrison would probably be decided long
before he could reach them, and if Greene should be successful at
Camden, he, by attempting to relieve it, might be hemmed in between the
great rivers and exposed to the most imminent hazard. On the other
hand, if Rawdon should defeat Greene there would be no need of his
assistance. A movement so perilous in the execution and promising so
little in the result was abandoned and Rawdon left to his own

Greene, without regard to the movements of his opponent, pushed on and
established himself at Hobkirk's Hill, about a mile from Rawdon's
headquarters at Camden. The militia having either deserted or their
term of service being expired his force was reduced to 1,800 men, but
those in fact included all on whom he could ever place much dependence.
Camden was occupied by Rawdon with about 800 men, the other troops
being employed upon the defense of detached posts, yet his position was
judged so strong as to afford no hope of success in a direct attack.
The object aimed at was, by throwing out detachments which might
capture the forts and cut off the supplies in his rear, to compel him
gradually to fall back. Lee, for this purpose, was sent with a strong
party to cooperate with Marion and Sumter. The English general seeing
the hostile troops thus reduced to about 1,500, formed the bold
resolution of attacking them. Making a large circuit round a swamp he
came upon their left flank quite unexpectedly, while the soldiers were
busied in cooking and washing. This first surprise was never wholly
recovered, yet they quickly stood to their arms and formed in order of
battle. They had even gained some advantages when the First Maryland
regiment, considered the flower of the army and which had highly
distinguished itself both at Cowpens and Guilford, fell into confusion,
and when ordered to make a retrograde movement, converted it into a
complete retreat. The other corps also, beginning to give ground,
Greene thought it expedient to cause the whole to retire. The loss on
each side was about 260 killed and wounded, and the Americans carried
off fifty prisoners, including six officers.

This battle, commonly called the battle of Hobkirk's Hill, reflected
much honor on Lord Rawdon considering the disproportion of force which
was, in fact, greater than at Guilford, yet it did not change
materially the relative situation of the armies. Greene could still
maintain his position and support the detachments operating in the rear
of his adversary.

Lee and Marion proceeded next against Fort Watson on the Santee which
commanded in a great measure the communication with Charleston. Having
neither artillery nor besieging tools they reared a tower above the
level of the rampart whence their rifle fire drove the defenders, and
themselves then mounted and compelled the garrison to surrender. They
could not, however, prevent Colonel Watson from leading 500 men to
reinforce Lord Rawdon, who then advanced with the intention of bringing
Greene again to action, but found him fallen back upon so strong a
position as to afford no reasonable hope of success. His lordship
finding his convoys intercepted and viewing the generally insecure
state of his posts in the lower country, considered himself under at
least the temporary necessity of retreating thither. He had first in
view the relief of Mott's House, on the Congaree, but before reaching
it had the mortification to find that with the garrison of 165 it had
fallen into the hands of Marion and Lee. He continued his march to
Monk's Corner, where he covered Charleston and the surrounding country.

The partisan chiefs rapidly seized this opportunity of attacking the
interior posts and reduced successively Orangeburg and Granby on the
Congaree, and early in June, Augusta, the key of upper Georgia,
surrendered to Lee and Pickens. In these five forts they made 1,100
prisoners. The most important one, however, was that named Ninety-Six,
on the Saluda, defended by a garrison of 500 men. Orders had been sent
to them to quit and retire downward but the messenger was intercepted
and Colonel Cruger, the commander, made the most active preparations
for its defense. Greene considered the place of such importance that he
undertook the siege in person with 1,000 regulars. He broke ground
before it on the night of the 23d of May (1781), and though much
impeded by a successful sally on the following day, proceeded with such
energy that by the 3d of June the second parallel was completed and the
garrison summoned, but in vain, to surrender. On the 8th, he was
reinforced by Lee from the capture of Augusta and though he encountered
a most gallant and effective resistance trusted that the place must in
due time fall. Three days after, however, he learned that Rawdon,
having received a reinforcement from Ireland, was in full march to
relieve it and had baffled the attempts of Sumter to impede his
progress. The American leader, therefore, feeling himself unable to
give battle saw no prospect of carrying the fortress unless by storm.
On the 18th (June, 1781), an attack against the two most commanding
outworks was led by Lee and Campbell, the former of whom carried his
point, but the latter, though he penetrated into the ditch and
maintained his party there for three-quarters of an hour, found them
exposed to so destructive a fire as compelled a general retreat. [2]
The siege was immediately raised and Lord Rawdon, on the 21st, entered
the place in triumph. Being again master of the field, he pressed
forward in the hope of bringing his antagonist to battle but the latter
rather chose to fall back towards the distant point of Charlotte in
Virginia, while Rawdon did not attempt to pursue him beyond the

Notwithstanding this present superiority his lordship, having failed in
his hopes of a decisive victory and viewing the general aspect of the
country, considered it no longer possible to attempt more than covering
the lower districts, of South Carolina. He therefore fell back to
Orangeburg on the Edisto and though he attempted at first to maintain
Cruger with a strong body at Ninety-Six was soon induced to recall him.
Greene, being reinforced by 1,000 men under Marion and Sumter,
reconnoitered his position but, judging it imprudent to attack, retired
to the high hills of the Santee, July the 15th (1781), and both armies,
exhausted by such a series of active movements, took an interval of
repose during the heat of the season.

Lord Rawdon being at this time obliged by ill health to return to
England left the army under the command of Colonel Stuart, who, to
cover the lower country, occupied a position at the point where the
Congaree and Wateree unite in forming the Santee. Greene, having
received reinforcements from the North and collected all his partisan
detachments soon found himself strong enough to try the chance of
battle. His approach on the 7th of September (1781) with this evident
view induced the British to retire down the river to the strong post of
Eutaw Springs, whither the American army immediately followed.

On the 8th of September, Greene determined to attack the British camp,
placing as usual his militia in front, hoping that the English in
charging them would get into confusion, but from apprehension of this
the latter had been warned to keep their posts till ordered to move.
The American front, however, maintained their ground better than usual
and the British having become heated and forgetting the warnings given
pushed forward irregularly. They were then charged by the veterans of
the second line and after a very desperate struggle driven off the
field. There lay in their way, however, a large brick building and
adjacent garden, where Stuart had placed a strong corps which could not
be dislodged and which kept up a deadly fire which checked the victors,
enabling the retreating troops to be formed anew. At the same time
Colonel Washington attacked the British flank, but finding it strongly
posted amongst the woods he was repulsed with great loss and himself
taken prisoner. The American general seeing no hope of making any
further impression, retreated to his previous position. The conflict
lasted four hours and great bravery was shown on both sides. Colonel
Campbell was mortally wounded. Learning the British were dispersing he
exclaimed, like Wolfe at Quebec, "Then I die contented!" and
immediately expired.

In this bloody and doubtful battle both parties claimed the victory
though the Americans with most reason as the general result was greatly
to their advantage. It was certainly far from decisive and the British
loss in killed and wounded was much greater than that of the Americans,
who also carried off above 500 prisoners. The British commander,
prompted as well probably by the result of the day as by the general
state of the country and the numbers and activity of the American light
troops, conceiving himself unable to maintain so advanced a position,
retired during the evening of the 9th (September 1781), and proceeded
down to Monk's Corner, where he covered Charleston and its vicinity. To
this and to Savannah were now limited that proud British authority
which had lately extended so widely over the southern States. [3]

Thus ended the campaign of 1781 in South Carolina. At its commencement
the British were in force all over the State. History affords but a few
instances of commanders who have achieved so much with equal means as
was done by General Greene in the short space of twelve months. He
opened the campaign with gloomy prospects but closed it with glory. His
unpaid and half-naked army had to contend with veteran soldiers,
supplied with everything that the wealth of Great Britain or the
plunder of Carolina could procure. Under all these disadvantages he
compelled superior numbers to retire from the extremity of the State,
and confine themselves in the capital and its vicinity. Had not his
mind been of the firmest texture he would have been discouraged, but
his enemies found him as formidable on the evening of a defeat as on
the morning after a victory.

The reader will not fail to perceive how important a bearing the
operations of Greene in the South had upon those of Washington in the
North. Before recovering North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia,
Greene had partly led and partly driven Cornwallis into Virginia, where
he was destined to be conquered by Washington and the war was thus to
be virtually terminated. How this was accomplished will now be the
object of our attention. Virginia had insensibly, as it were, become
the principal theater of war. General Leslie had been sent thither to
reinforce Cornwallis, who it was hoped might penetrate through the
Carolinas, but after Ferguson's disaster he was ordered to go round by
Charleston. With the view, however, of creating a diversion in favor of
the southern army, Clinton, in December, 1780, sent Arnold with 1,600
men to the Chesapeake. That infamous traitor, displaying all his wonted
activity, overran a great extent of country and captured Richmond, the
capital, destroying great quantities of stores. Washington, most
anxious to strike a blow against him, prevailed upon Destouches, the
French admiral to proceed thither with a land force but the latter was
overtaken by Arbuthnot and endured a hard battle which though not
admitted to be a defeat obliged him to return to Newport; thus Arnold
escaped the danger of falling into the hands of his enraged countrymen.
Clinton, still with the same view, sent another force of 2,000 men
under General Phillips which arrived in the Chesapeake on the 26th of
March (1781). This officer being complete master of the field, overran
the country between the James and York rivers, seized the town of
Petersburg, as also Chesterfield Courthouse, the militia rendezvous,
and other stations, destroying great quantities of shipping and stores,
with all the warehoused tobacco. Lafayette, then in command of about
3,000 men for the defense of Virginia, succeeded by skilful maneuvering
in securing Richmond.

Operations seemed at a stand, when, late in April, intelligence was
received of Cornwallis' march from South Carolina toward Virginia and,
in spite of every effort of Lafayette, he, at the end of May (1781),
joined Phillips at Petersburg, taking the command of the whole army.
Being then decidedly superior he took possession of Richmond and began
a hot pursuit of Lafayette, who retreated into the upper country so
rapidly and so skillfully that he could not be overtaken. The English
general then turned back and sent a detachment under Colonel Simcoe,
who destroyed the chief magazine at the junction of the two branches of
James river. Tarleton pushed his cavalry so swiftly upon
Charlotteville, where the State Assembly was met, that seven members
were taken and the rest very narrowly escaped. Lafayette, however, now
returned with a considerable force and by his maneuvers induced the
British commander to retire to Williamsburg. He afterward continued his
retreat to Portsmouth in the course of which the former made an attack
but was repulsed and would have been totally routed had not his
strength been estimated above its real amount.

The movement of Cornwallis into Virginia had been wholly disapproved by
Clinton who complained that, contrary to all his views and intentions,
the main theater of war had been transferred to a territory into which
he never proposed more than partial inroads, considering it very
difficult to subdue and maintain. His grand object had always been
first to secure New York and, if sufficient strength was afforded, to
push offensive operations thence into the interior. Hoping, therefore,
that the Carolinas, once subdued, might be retained by a small force,
he had repeatedly solicited the partial return of the troops.
Cornwallis defended the movement by observing that his situation at
Wilmington, allowing no time to send for instructions, obliged him to
act on his own responsibility. Communicating also with the government
at home he urged that the Carolinas could not be securely held without
the possession also of Virginia; that this might be attained by a
vigorous effort, and would make Britain mistress of all the southern
Colonies, whose resources could be then employed in conquering the more
stubborn regions of the North. These arguments, recommended by his
lordship's brilliant achievements at Camden and elsewhere, convinced
the ministry, and Lord Germaine wrote to the Commander-in-Chief to
direct his principal attention to the war in Virginia and to the plan
of conquest from south to north. The latter, considering himself thus
slighted, solicited permission to resign and leave the command to an
officer who enjoyed greater confidence, but his merits being highly
estimated this tender was not accepted.

Under the apprehension inspired by the threatening movements of
Washington and the French army against New York, he had ordered a
considerable reinforcement from Virginia, but countermanded it on
receiving the above instructions, along with an additional body of
troops. He had formed, apparently, a favorite plan somewhat of a
compromise between the two. It is nowhere distinctly developed in his
letters, but by a passage in one very active operations were proposed
at the head of the Chesapeake, to be combined probably with a movement
from New York and comprehending Philadelphia and Baltimore. Aware that
this plan required the maritime command of that great inlet, he
inquired if ministers would insure its maintenance, and they made this
engagement without duly considering its difficulties. Under these views
he directed Cornwallis to occupy and fortify a naval position at the
entrance of the bay, specially recommending Old Point Comfort, at the
mouth of James river. This measure did not harmonize with Cornwallis'
views; however, he obeyed, but, the above position being declared by
the engineers indefensible, he recommended, in preference, Yorktown on
the York river, which was agreed to and operations actively commenced
at the latter end of August. The whole British force at this time in
Virginia was about 7,000 men.

1. Footnote: Referring to the affair at Rugely's Mills, where Colonel
Washington frightened the militia colonel into a surrender by means of
a pine log mounted like a cannon.

2. Footnote: On this occasion Kosciusko, the Polish general,
particularly distinguished himself.

3. Footnote: In the southern provinces the campaign of 1781 was
uncommonly active. The exertions and sufferings of the army were great.
But the troops were not the only sufferers; the inhabitants were
exposed to many calamities. The success of Colonel Campbell at Savannah
laid Georgia and the Carolinas open to all the horrors which attend the
movements of conflicting armies and the rage of civil dissensions for
two years.

In those provinces the inhabitants were nearly divided between the
British and American interests, and, under the names of Tories and
Whigs, exercised a savage hostility against each other, threatening the
entire depopulation of the country. Besides, each of the contending
armies, claiming the provinces as its own, showed no mercy to those
who, in the fluctuations of war, abandoned its cause or opposed its
pretensions. Numbers were put to death as deserters and traitors at the
different British posts. One of those executions, that of Colonel
Hayne, happened at Charleston on the 4th of August, while Lord Rawdon
was in that town, preparing to sail for Europe, and threatened to
produce the most sanguinary consequences.

Colonel Hayne had served in the American militia during the siege of
Charleston, but, after the capitulation of that place and the expulsion
of the American army from the province, he was, by several concurring
circumstances, constrained, with much reluctance, to subscribe a
declaration of allegiance to the British government being assured that
his services against his country would not be required. He was allowed
to return to his family, but, in violation of the special condition on
which he had signed the declaration, he was soon called on to take up
arms against his countrymen, and was at length threatened with close
confinement in case of further refusal. Colonel Hayne considered this
breach of contract on the part of the British, and their inability to
afford him the protection promised in reward of his allegiance, as
absolving him from the obligations into which he had entered, and
accordingly he returned to the American standard. In the month of July
he was taken prisoner, confined in a loathsome dungeon, and, by the
arbitrary mandate of Lord Rawdon and Colonel Balfour, without trial,
hanged at Charleston. He behaved with much firmness and dignity, and
his fate awakened a strong sensation.

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