Part 4 out of 6
to put in requisition the mill saws of the country, and his blacksmiths
were busy in manufacturing blades, which, as we are told by a contemporary,
were sufficiently keen and massy to hew a man down at a blow.
This body of cavalry he assigned to the command of Col. P. Horry.
Horry was an admirable infantry officer. His ability to manage
a squadron of cavalry was yet to be ascertained. He labored under
one disqualification, as he plainly tells us in his own manuscript.
He was not much of a horseman. But he had several excellent officers
under him. As the brigade was not strong enough to allow of the employment,
in body, of his whole command, its operations were commonly by detachment.
The colonel, at the head of one of his parties consisting of sixty men,
had soon an opportunity of testing his capacity and fortune
in this new command. We glean the adventure from his own manuscript.
He was sent to the Waccamaw to reconnoitre and drive off some cattle.
After crossing Socastee swamp, a famous resort for the Tories,
he heard of a party of British dragoons under Colonel Campbell.
Horry's men had found a fine English charger hid in a swamp.
This he was prevailed upon to mount, in order to spare his own.
It so happened, somewhat unfortunately for him, that he did so
with an enemy at hand. With his own horse he was sufficiently familiar
to escape ordinary accidents. It will be seen that he incurred some risks
with the more spirited quadruped. His patrol had brought in a negro,
whom he placed under guard. He had in his command a Captain Clarke,
who, knowing the negro, set him free during the night.
"Reader," says our colonel, with a serenity that is delightful,
"behold a militia captain releasing a prisoner confined
by his colonel commandant, and see the consequence!"
The negro fell into the hands of the British, and conducted them
upon the steps of our partisan. It so happened that the same Captain Clarke,
who seems to have been a sad simpleton, and something of a poltroon,
had been sent in front with five horsemen as an advanced guard.
Near the great Waccamaw road, the bugles of the British were heard
sounding the charge. Horry was fortunately prepared for the enemy,
but such was not the case with Clarke. He confounded
the martial tones of the bugle with the sylvan notes of the horn.
"Stop," says our militia captain, to his men -- "stop, and you will see
the deer, dogs and huntsmen, as they cross the road." He himself
happened to be the silly deer. The huntsmen were upon him in a few moments,
and he discovered his mistake only when their broadswords were about his ears.
He was taken, but escaped. A short encounter followed
between Campbell and Horry, in which the former was worsted.
Six of his men fell at the first fire, three slain, and as many wounded.
Horry's pieces were common shot guns, and the only shot that he had
were swan shot, or the mischief would have been greater.
Campbell's horse was killed under him, and he narrowly escaped.
Horry was dismounted in the encounter, -- in what manner we are not told, --
and would have been cut down by a British sergeant, but for his wearing
a uniform that resembled that of a British colonel. He was helped to a horse
at a most fortunate moment. He did not know, in consequence of
the blunder of Clarke, that the dragoons whom he had fought and beaten,
were only an advanced guard of a body of infantry. Horses and men
were in his hands, and, dividing his force, he sent off one party of his men
in charge of the prisoners and trophies. A sudden attack
of the British infantry took the small party which remained with him
totally by surprise. They broke and left him almost alone,
with nothing but his small sword in his hand. It was at this moment
that a brave fellow of the second regiment, named McDonald,
yielded his own pony to his commander, by which he escaped.
McDonald saved himself by darting into the neighboring swamp.
The British, dreading an ambuscade, did not pursue, and Horry rallied his men,
and returned, with a reinforcement sent by Marion, to the scene of battle;
but the enemy had left it and retired to Georgetown.
Horry proceeded to Sand Hill, where, finding himself in good quarters,
among some rich and friendly Whigs, living well on their supplies,
he proceeded to entrench himself in a regular redoubt.
But from this imposing situation Marion soon and sensibly recalled him.
"He wrote me," says Horry, "that the open field was our play -- that the enemy
knew better how to defend forts and entrenched places than we did,
and that if we attempted it, we should soon fall into their hands."
Marion's farther instructions were to join him immediately, with every man
that he could bring, for that it was his purpose to attack the enemy
as soon as possible. Horry admits that he quitted his redoubt and good fare
very reluctantly. He set out with eighty men, but when he joined
his commander in Lynch's Creek Swamp, they were reduced to eighteen.
It seems that his force had been made up in part of new recruits,
who had but lately joined themselves to Marion. Horry calls them
"wild Tories or half-made new Whigs -- volunteers, assuredly,
not to fight, but plunder, -- who would run at the sight of the enemy."
His recent surprise and danger had rendered the colonel sore.
It was on this occasion, that, as we have already related,
he was nearly drowned, and only saved by clinging to
the impending branches of a tree.
While Horry was skirmishing with Campbell, Major John Postelle,
who was stationed to guard the lower part of the Pedee,
succeeded in capturing Captain Depeyster, with twenty-nine grenadiers.
Depeyster had taken post in the dwelling-house of Postelle's father.
The latter had with him but twenty-eight militia, but he knew the grounds,
and gaining possession of the kitchen, fired it, and was preparing
to burn the house also, when Depeyster submitted.
We find, at this time, a correspondence of Marion with
two of the British officers, in relation to the detention, as a prisoner,
of Captain Postelle, who, it seems, though bearing a flag,
was detained for trial by the enemy. Portions of these letters,
in which Marion asserts his own humanity in the treatment of prisoners,
we quote as exhibiting his own sense, at least, of what was
the true character of his conduct in such matters. The reader
will not have forgotten the charges made against him, in this respect,
in an earlier part of this volume by Lt.-Col. Balfour, in a letter
to General Moultrie. One of the present letters of Marion
is addressed to Balfour.
"I am sorry to complain of the ill treatment my officers and men meet with
from Captain Saunders. The officers are closely confined in a small place
where they can neither stand nor lie at length, nor have they
more than half rations. I have treated your officers and men
who have fallen into my hands, in a different manner. Should these evils
not be prevented in future, it will not be in my power to prevent retaliation.
Lord Rawdon and Col. Watson have hanged three men of my brigade
for supposed crimes, which will make as many of your men,
in my hands, suffer."
Again, on the same subject, in a letter to Col. Watson --
"The hanging of prisoners and the violation of my flag,
will be retaliated if a stop is not put to such proceedings,
which are disgraceful to all civilized nations. All of your officers and men,
who have fallen into my hands, have been treated with humanity and tenderness,
and I wish sincerely that I may not be obliged to act
contrary to my inclination."
The British officers thus addressed, alleged against Postelle that he had
broken his parole. If this were so, it was a just cause of detention;
but it will be remembered that the British themselves revoked these paroles
on the assumption that the province was conquered, and when, as citizens,
they wished to exact military service from the people. In these circumstances
the virtue of the obligation was lost, and ceased on the part of the citizen,
because of the violation on the part of the conqueror, of the immunities
which he promised. Marion took decisive measures for compelling
the necessary respect to his flag, by seizing upon Captain Merritt,
the bearer of a British flag, and putting him in close keeping as a security
for Postelle. We do not know that he retaliated upon the British soldiers
the cruel murders, by hanging, which had been practised upon his own.
His nature would probably recoil from carrying his own threat into execution.
In answer to one of Marion's reproaches, we are told by Col. Watson,
that "the burning of houses and the property of the inhabitants,
who are our enemies, is customary in all civilized nations."
The code of civilisation is certainly susceptible of liberal constructions.
Its elasticity is not the least of its many merits.
Cornwallis pursued Greene into North Carolina, and after much manoeuvering
between the armies, they met at Guilford on the 15th of March, 1781.
The honors of the victory, small as it was, lay with the British.
Their loss, however, was such, that the advantages of the field
enured to the Americans. From this field, Cornwallis took his way
to Virginia, and his career as a commander in America was finally arrested
at the siege of York. During the absence of Greene from South Carolina,
Marion's was the only force in active operation against the British.
An opportunity so favorable for harassing and distressing the enemy,
as that afforded by the absence of their main army in North Carolina,
was not neglected; and, calling in his detachments,
he once more carried dismay into the heart of the Tory settlements,
on both sides of the Santee. His incursions, and those of his officers,
were extended as far as the confluence of the Congaree and Wateree,
and as low down as Monk's Corner, -- thus breaking up
the line of communication between Charleston and the grand army,
and intercepting detachments and supplies, sent from that place
to the line of posts established through the country. This sort of warfare,
which seldom reaches events such as those which mark epochs
in the progress of great bodies of men, is yet one which calls
for constant activity. We have details of but few of the numerous conflicts
which took place between our partisan and the Tory leaders.
These were scattered over the country, living by plunder,
and indulging in every species of ferocity. Greene writes,
"The Whigs and Tories are continually out in small parties,
and all the middle country is so disaffected, that you cannot lay in
the most trifling magazine or send a wagon through the country
with the least article of stores without a guard." In addressing himself
to this sort of warfare, Marion was pursuing a course of the largest benefit
to the country. In overawing these plunderers, subduing the savage spirit,
and confining the British to their strong places, he was acquiring
an importance, which, if we are to estimate the merits of a leader
only by the magnitude of his victories, will leave us wholly at a loss
to know by what means his great reputation was acquired.
But the value of his services is best gathered from the effect
which they had upon the enemy. The insults and vexations
which he unceasingly occasioned to the British, were not to be borne;
and Col. Watson was dispatched with a select force of five hundred men
to hunt him up and destroy him. We have seen Tarleton and others engaged in
the pursuit, but without success. Watson was destined to be less fortunate.
In the meanwhile, and before Watson came upon his trail, Col. Peter Horry
had been engaged in a series of petty but rather amusing skirmishes,
in the neighborhood of Georgetown. A party of the British were engaged in
killing beeves at White's bridge near Georgetown. Horry's men charged them
while at this employment, and killing some, pursued the rest
towards that place. The firing was heard in the town,
and the facts of the case conjectured. This brought out a reinforcement,
before which the detachment of Horry was compelled to retreat.
But, on gaining the woods, they were joined also by their friends;
and the fight was resumed between the Sampit and Black river roads,
with a dogged fierceness on both sides, that made it particularly bloody.
In the course of the struggle, Horry at one moment found himself alone.
His men were more or less individually engaged, and scattered
through the woods around him. His only weapon was his small sword.
In this situation he was suddenly assailed by a Tory captain, named Lewis,
at the head of a small party. Lewis was armed with a musket,
and in the act of firing, when a sudden shot from the woods tumbled him
from his horse, in the very moment when his own gun was discharged.
The bullet of Lewis took effect on Horry's horse. The shot which
so seasonably slew the Tory, had been sent by the hands of a boy named Gwin.
The party of Lewis, apprehending an ambush, immediately fell back
and put themselves in cover. The conflict lasted through
the better part of the day, one side gaining ground, and now the other.
It closed in the final defeat of the enemy, who were pursued
with a savage and unsparing spirit. One half of their number
were left dead upon the ground. Their leader was Major Gainey.
Great expectations were formed of his ability to cope with Marion.
On this occasion, though he made his escape, his mode of doing so
was characterized by a peculiar circumstance, which rendered it
particularly amusing to one side and annoying to the other.
He was singled out in the chase by Sergeant McDonald, a fierce young fellow,
who was admirably mounted. Gainey was fortunate in being well mounted also.
McDonald, regarding but the one enemy, passed all others.
He himself said that he could have slain several in the chase.
But he wished for no meaner object than their leader.
One man alone who threw himself in the way of the pursuit became its victim.
Him he shot down, and, as they went at full speed down the Black river road,
at the corner of Richmond fence, the sergeant had gained so far
upon his enemy, as to be able to plunge his bayonet into his back.
The steel separated from his gun, and, with no time to extricate it,
Gainey rushed into Georgetown, with the weapon still conspicuously showing
how close and eager had been the chase, and how narrow the escape.
The wound was not fatal.
The next affair was with Col. Tynes, who had been defeated by Marion
some time before, made prisoner and sent to North Carolina.
But the North Carolina jailors seem to have been pretty generally Tories,
for we find Horry complaining that they discharged the prisoners quite as fast
as they were sent there; and it was the complaint of some of Marion's officers
that they had to fight the same persons in some instances,
not less than three or four times. Tynes had collected a second force,
and, penetrating the forests of Black river, was approaching
the camp of our partisan. Marion went against him, fell upon him suddenly,
completely routed him, taking himself and almost his whole party prisoners.
He made his escape a second time from North Carolina, and with a third
and larger force than ever, reappeared in the neighborhood of Marion's camp.
Horry was sent against him with forty chosen horsemen.
He travelled all night, and stopped the next day at the house of a Tory,
where he obtained refreshments. His men succeeded in obtaining
something more. The Tory most liberally filled their canteens
with apple-brandy; and when the Colonel got within striking distance
of Tynes and his Tories, scarcely one of his troops was fit for action.
He prudently retreated, very much mortified with the transaction.
Marion captured a part of Tynes' force a few days after,
and this luckless loyalist seems to have disappeared from the field
from that moment.
Watson's march against Marion was conducted with great caution.
The operations of the partisan, meanwhile, were continued
without interruption. About the middle of February, he was apprised of
the march of Major McIlraith from Nelson's Ferry, at the head of a force
fully equal to his own. This British officer seems to have been
singularly unlike his brethren in some remarkable particulars.
He took no pleasure in burning houses, the hospitality of which
he had enjoyed; he destroyed no cattle wantonly, and hung no unhappy prisoner.
The story goes that while Marion was pressing upon the steps of the enemy,
he paused at the house of a venerable lady who had been always
a friend to the Whigs, and who now declared her unhappiness at seeing him.
Her reason being asked, she declared that she conjectured his purpose --
that he was pursuing McIlraith, and that so honorable and gentle
had been the conduct of that officer, on his march, that she was really
quite unwilling that he should suffer harm, though an enemy.
What he heard did not impair Marion's activity, but it tended somewhat
to subdue those fiercer feelings which ordinarily governed the partisans
in that sanguinary warfare. He encountered and assailed McIlraith on the road
near Half-way Swamp, first cutting off two picquets in his rear in succession,
then wheeling round his main body, attacked him at the same moment
in flank and front. McIlraith was without cavalry, and his situation
was perilous in the extreme. But he was a brave fellow,
and Marion had few bayonets. By forced marches and constant skirmishing,
the British major gained an open field upon the road. He posted himself
within the enclosure upon the west of the road. Marion pitched his camp
on the edge of a large cypress pond, which lay on the east,
and closely skirted the highway. Here McIlraith sent him a flag,
reproaching him with shooting his picquets, contrary, as he alleged,
to all the laws of civilized warfare, and concluded with defying him
to combat in the open field. The arguments of military men, on the subject of
the laws of civilized warfare, are sometimes equally absurd and impertinent.
Warfare itself is against all the laws of civilisation, and there is
something ludicrous in the stronger reproaching the feebler power,
that it should resort to such means as are in its possession,
for reconciling the inequalities of force between them.
Marion's reply to McIlraith was sufficiently to the purpose.
He said that the practice of the British in burning the property of those
who would not submit and join them, was much more indefensible
than that of shooting picquets, and that while they persisted
in the one practice, he should certainly persevere in the other.
As to the challenge of McIlraith, he said that he considered it that of a man
whose condition was desperate; but concluded with saying that if he,
McIlraith, wished to witness a combat between twenty picked soldiers
on each side, he was not unwilling to gratify him.
Here was a proposal that savored something of chivalry.
McIlraith agreed to the suggestion, and an arrangement was made for a meeting.
The place chosen for the combat was in a part of a field,
which is very well known, south of an old oak tree, which was still,
up to the year 1821, pointed out to the stranger. It may be standing
to this day, for the oak outlasts many generations of brave men.
Marion chose for the leader of his band, Major John Vanderhorst,
then a supernumerary officer in his brigade. The second in command
was Capt. Samuel Price, of All Saints. The names of the men
were written on slips of paper and handed to them severally.
Gavin Witherspoon received the first. The names of the others
are not preserved. Not one of them refused. When they were separated
from their comrades, they were paraded near the fence,
and Marion addressed them in the following language:
"My brave soldiers! you are twenty men picked this day
out of my whole brigade. I know you all, and have often
witnessed your bravery. In the name of your country,
I call upon you once more to show it. My confidence in you is great.
I am sure it will not be disappointed. Fight like men,
as you have always done -- and you are sure of the victory."
The speech was short, but it was effectual. It was, perhaps, a long one
for Marion. His words were usually few, but they were always to the purpose.
More words were unnecessary here. The combatants heard him with pride,
and hailed his exhortations with applause. While their cheers were loudest,
Marion transferred them to their leader.
Vanderhorst now asked Witherspoon, "at what distance he would prefer,
as the most sure to strike with buckshot?"
"Fifty yards, for the first fire," was the answer.
"Then," said Vanderhorst, "when we get within fifty yards, as I am not
a good judge of distances, Mr. Witherspoon will tap me on the shoulder.
I will then give the word, my lads, and you will form on my left
opposite these fellows. As you form, each man will fire at the one
directly opposite, and my word for it, few will need a second shot."
Nothing, indeed, was more certain than this; and how McIlraith proposed
to fight with any hope of the result, knowing how deadly was the aim
of the Americans, is beyond conjecture. If he relied upon the bayonet,
as perhaps he did, his hope must have rested only upon those who survived
the first fire; and with these, it was only necessary for the Americans
to practise the game of the survivor of the Horatii, in order to gain
as complete a victory. They had but to scatter and re-load --
change their ground, avoid the push of the bayonet, till they could secure
a second shot, and that certainly would have finished the business.
But McIlraith had already reconsidered the proceeding. His men were formed
in a straight line in front of the oak. Vanderhorst was advancing
and had got within one hundred yards, when a British officer
was seen to pass hurriedly to the detachment, and the next moment
the men retreated, with a quick step, towards the main body.
Vanderhorst and his party gave three huzzas, but not a shot was fired.
McIlraith committed two errors. He should not have made the arrangement,
but, once made, he should have suffered it to go on at all hazards.
The effect was discreditable to himself, and detrimental
to the efficiency of his men. Marion would have fought his enemy all day
on the same terms. His followers were on their own ground,
with a familiar weapon, while the soldiers of the British
were deprived of all their usual advantages -- the assurance of support
after the fire of the enemy was drawn. The militia seldom stood
the encounter of the bayonet, but they as seldom failed to do famous execution
with the first two or three discharges.
That night McIlraith abandoned his heavy baggage, left fires burning,
and retreating silently from the ground, hurried, with all dispatch,
along the river road towards Singleton's Mills, distant ten miles.
Marion discovered the retreat before daylight, and sent Col. Hugh Horry
forward with one hundred men, to get in advance of him
before he should reach the mill. But Horry soon found this to be impossible,
and he detached Major James, at the head of a select party, well mounted
on the swiftest horses, with instructions to cross the mill-pond above,
and take possession of Singleton's houses. These standing on a high hill,
commanded a narrow defile on the road between the hill and the Wateree swamp.
James reached the house as the British advanced to the foot of the hill.
But here he found a new enemy, which his foresters dreaded much more
than the British or Tories -- the small-pox. Singleton's family
were down with it, and James shrank from availing himself of any advantage
offered by the situation. But before he retired, one of his men,
resting his rifle against a tree, shot the commander of the British advance.
He was mortally wounded, and died the next day. Marion was displeased
with this achievement. The forbearance of McIlraith, while passing
through the country, had touched his heart. He withdrew his forces,
not displeased that his enemy had secured a stronghold in Singleton's Mill.
The conscientiousness of the British officer is said to have incurred
the displeasure of his commander, and that of his brother officers.
When he reached Charleston he was put into coventry. Our authorities
ascribe this to his gratuitous humanity, his reluctance to burn and plunder,
with such excellent examples before him, as Cornwallis and Tarleton.
We rather suspect, however, that it was in consequence of the unfortunate
issue of the pitched battle, as agreed upon between himself and Marion;
a more probable cause of odium among his comrades, than any reluctance,
which he might express, to violate the common laws of humanity.
Watson and Doyle pursue Marion -- He baffles and harasses them --
Pursues Doyle -- His Despondency and final Resolution.
The preparations of Col. Watson for pursuing and destroying our partisan
in his stronghold, were at length complete. He sallied forth
from Fort Watson about the first of March, and, with a British regiment
and a large body of loyalists -- a force quite sufficient, as was thought,
for the desired object -- marched down the Santee, shaping his course
for Snow's Island. At the same time, Col. Doyle, at the head of
another British regiment, intended for cooperation with Watson,
was directed to proceed by way of M`Callum's Ferry, on Lynch's,
and down Jeffers' Creek, to the Pedee. Here they were to form a junction.
Marion had no force to meet these enemies in open combat. His number
did not much exceed three hundred, but he had other resources of his own
which better served to equalize them. Doyle's approach was slow,
and it seems partially unsuspected. In fact, in order to meet his enemies,
and make the most of his strength, Marion had generally called in
his scouting parties. Of Watson's movements he had ample information.
His scouts, well provided with relays of horses, traversed the country
between his camp and Camden. Advised correctly of Watson's progress,
he made one of those rapid marches for which he was famous, and met him
at Wiboo Swamp, about midway between Nelson's and Murray's ferries.
At this place commenced a conflict as remarkable as it was protracted.
The advance of Watson consisted of the Tory horse, under Col. Richboo.
Col. Peter Horry led Marion's advance, consisting of about thirty men.
The remainder of the brigade lay in reserve. The encounter
of the two advanced parties produced a mutual panic,
both recoiling upon their main bodies; but that of Horry
was the first to recover; and the command to charge, given by Marion himself,
produced the desired effect. Horry was at length driven back
by Watson's regulars, and the field-pieces, which finally dislodged him.
They were pursued by the Tory horse of Harrison, which, pressing upon
the main body, gained some advantages; and, in the uncertainty of the event,
while there was some confusion, afforded an opportunity
for several instances of great individual valor. As the column of Harrison
pressed over the causeway, which was narrow, Gavin James,
a private of great spirit and gigantic size, mounted on a strong grey horse,
and armed with musket and bayonet, threw himself in advance of his comrades,
and directly in the path of the enemy. Taking deliberate aim, he fired
his piece, dropped his man, and drew a volley from those in front of him,
not a shot of which took effect. His determined position and presence,
in the centre of the narrow causeway, produced a pause in the advance.
A dragoon rushed upon him, and was stricken down by the bayonet.
A second, coming to the assistance of his comrade, shared the same fate,
but, in falling, laid hold of the muzzle of James' musket,
and was dragged by him in the retreat some forty or fifty paces.
This heroism was not without its effect. If the men of Marion
faltered for a moment, such examples, and the voice of their general,
re-invigorated their courage. Capts. Macauley and Conyers,
at the head of the cavalry, arrested the advance of the Tories;
and Harrison himself fell, mortally wounded, by the hands of Conyers.
The Tories were dispersed, and sought shelter from the infantry of Watson,
before the advance of which Marion deemed it prudent for the time to retire.
Marion lost nothing by this meeting. Its effect upon the Tories
was highly beneficial. They had suffered severely in killed and wounded,
and were thus intimidated at the outset. Watson encamped that night
on the field of battle, and Marion a few miles below. The next morning
the pursuit was resumed. Watson marched down the river, Marion keeping
just sufficiently ahead of him to be able to post an ambuscade for him
at the first point that seemed suitable for such a purpose. At Mount Hope,
Watson had to build up the bridges, and sustain a second conflict
with a chosen party of Marion's, led by Col. Hugh Horry. By bringing forward
his field-pieces, and drilling the swamp thickets with grape,
he succeeded in expelling Horry, and clearing the way for his column.
But the same game was to be renewed with every renewal of the opportunity.
When Watson drew near to Murray's Ferry, he passed the Kingstree road;
and, coming to that of Black river, which crosses at the lower bridge,
he made a feint of still continuing along the Santee;
but soon after wheeled about, and took the former route.
This manoeuvre might have deceived a less wary antagonist than Marion.
He was soon aware of the enemy's intention. Detaching Major James,
at the head of seventy men, thirty of whom were M`Cottry's rifles,
he ordered him to destroy the bridge, and so post himself as to command it.
He himself kept his eye fixed upon Watson. This bridge was on the main pass
to Williamsburg, and the men chosen for its defence were judiciously taken
from that part of the country. It was naturally supposed that,
in sight of their cottage smokes, they would struggle manfully
against the enemy's forces.
James proceeded with great rapidity, and, avoiding the road,
crossed the river by a shorter route. He reached the bridge in time
to throw down two of the middle arches, and to fire the string pieces
at the eastern extremity. As soon as the chasm was made, he placed
M`Cottry's riflemen at the end of the bridge and on each side of the ford.
The rest of his detachment were so stationed as to cooperate,
when required, with their comrades. Marion arriving soon after,
strengthened the force of James with the Pedee company under Captain Potts,
and took post himself, with the main body, in the rear.
These arrangements had scarcely been effected when Watson made his appearance.
At this place the west bank of the river is considerably higher than the east.
The latter is low and somewhat swampy. On the west, the road passes
to the bridge through a ravine. The river was forty or fifty yards wide,
and though deep, was fordable below the bridge. The ravine was commanded
by M`Cottry's rifles. As soon as Watson approached the river,
which he did from the west, his field-pieces opened upon the passage
which conducted to the ford. But the position assigned to Marion's men,
on the eastern side of the river, effectually protected them.
To bring the field-pieces to bear upon the low grounds which they occupied,
was to expose the artillerists, upon the elevated banks which they occupied,
to the deliberate and fatal fire of the riflemen. Watson was soon made aware
of the difficulties of the passage. Not a man approached within gun-shot
that did not pay the penalty of his rashness; and those who drew nigh
to succor or carry off the wounded, shared the same fate.
It was determined to attempt the ford, and the advance was put forward,
as a forlorn hope, with this desperate purpose. The officer leading it,
came on very gallantly, waving his sword aloft and loudly encouraging his men.
His progress was fatally arrested by M`Cottry's rifle.
The signal drew the fire of the riflemen and musketeers,
with whom the banks were lined, and the heavy and deliberate discharge
drove back and dispersed the British advance, nor did the reserve
move forward to its assistance. Four brave fellows attempted to carry off
the officer who had fallen, but they remained with him.
Watson was terrified. He was heard to say that "he had never seen
such shooting in his life." There was no effecting the passage
in the face of such enemies, and stealing down to the banks of the river,
on the side which they occupied, and wherever the woods afforded shelter,
the British skirmished with Marion's flankers across the stream
until night put an end to the conflict.
The next morning Watson sent that dispatch to Marion which,
from its lugubrious tenor, has acquired a degree of notoriety
much greater than the name of the officer from whom it emanated.
He complained to Marion of his modes of fighting, objected to the ambuscades
of the partisan, and particularly complained that his picquets and sentinels
should be shot down when they had no suspicion of danger.
He concluded by urging upon Marion to come out and fight him
like a gentleman and Christian, according to the laws of civilized warfare.
While the tone of the letter was thus lugubrious, its language was offensive.
He applied to the partisans the epithets "banditti and murderers".
Marion returned no answer to this precious document, but renewed his order
to his nightly patrols, to shoot the sentinels and cut off the picquets
as before. He thought the measure quite as legitimate in such a war,
as the burning the house and hanging the son of the widow.
But though Marion returned no answer by the flag, to the letter of Watson,
there was a dispatch by one of the brigade, of a somewhat curious character.
There was a sergeant in the brigade by the name of McDonald,
of whom something has been heard before. He was the same bold fellow
who had so closely pursued Major Gainey into Georgetown,
leaving his bayonet in the possession and person of the latter.
He was distinguished by his great coolness and courage,
an extraordinary degree of strength, and a corresponding share of agility.
He was as notorious among the enemy for his audacity,
as he was among his comrades for his great modesty and goodness of heart.
It appears that, among some of Watson's captures, while pressing hard
upon our partisans, had been the entire wardrobe of McDonald.
The sergeant felt it as something more than a loss of property
that his clothes should be taken by the enemy. It was a point of honor
that he should recover them. His message to Watson was of this purport.
He concluded with solemnly assuring the bearer of the flag,
that if the clothes were not returned he would kill eight of his men.
Watson was furious at a message which increased the irritation
of his late discomfiture. Knowing nothing himself of McDonald,
he was disposed to treat the message with contempt; but some of his officers,
who knew better the person with whom they had to deal,
begged that the clothes of the sergeant might be returned to him,
for that he would most certainly keep his word if they were not.
Watson complied with the suggestion. When the clothes appeared,
McDonald said to the bearer, "Tell Col. Watson, I will now kill
but four of his men." Two days after he shot Lieut. Torriano through the knee
with a rifle, at a distance of three hundred yards.
Marion, the next day, took post on a ridge below the ford of the river,
which is still popularly called "The General's Island". His rifles
still effectually commanded the passage and baffled every attempt of Watson
to cross. Pushing M`Cottry and Conyers over the river,
they exercised themselves in cutting off his patrols and picquets.
To save himself from these annoyances, Watson retreated
a little higher up the river and pitched his camp at Blakeley's plantation,
in the most open field that he could find. Here he remained for ten days
almost environed by his adroit and active enemy. Night and day was he kept
in a condition of alarm and apprehension. The cavalry beat up his quarters
when he slept, while the riflemen picked off his men the moment
they exposed themselves. It was while he was in this situation that
the brave Capt. Conyers presented himself daily before the lines of the enemy,
either as a single cavalier, or at the head of his troop,
demanding an opponent. The anecdote has been already narrated
in another chapter.
The temper of Watson was very much subdued by this sort of warfare.
His next letter to Marion was of very different tone from that sent
but a few days before. He now solicits a pass from his enemy
for Lieut. Torriano and others wounded, whom he desired to send to Charleston.
This was promptly granted. Meanwhile he employed a negro
from Chevin's plantation to carry a letter to the commandant at Georgetown.
In endeavoring to make his way, the negro was killed and the letter fell
into the hands of Marion. It contained a woful complaint of the unfair
mode of fighting pursued by the partisans, and implored a reinforcement.*
In fact Watson was literally besieged. His supplies were cut off,
his progress arrested, and so many of his men perished
in the continual skirmishing, that he is reported by tradition
to have sunk them in Black river in order to conceal their numbers.
He was finally compelled to decamp. If his path was beset with dangers,
it was death to remain in his present situation. Making a forced march
down the Georgetown road, he paused when he reached Ox swamp,
six miles below the lower bridge. His flight had been harassed
by light parties of the Americans; but here he found them prepared for,
and awaiting him. The road through which he was to pass,
was skirted by a thick boggy swamp, and before him the causeway
was covered with trees which had been felled to obstruct his passage.
The bridges were destroyed, and Marion lay directly in his path,
prepared for a final encounter. Watson shrunk from the prospect,
and determined upon another route. Wheeling to the right
he dashed through the open pine woods, for the Santee road,
about fifteen miles. When overtaken by Marion upon this road,
his infantry were hurrying forward, like horses, at a full trot.
But few natural obstacles attended his progress on this path,
and the extraordinary rapidity of his flight had put him
considerably ahead of his pursuers. But he was not yet to escape.
The cavalry of Horry, and the riflemen of M`Cottry, galled him at every step
in flank and rear. When he reached Sampit bridge a last skirmish took place,
which might have terminated in the complete defeat of the enemy,
but for the cowardice of a Lieut. Scott, of Horry's detachment.
Watson was attacked fiercely in the flank and rear by the whole
force of Marion. His horse was killed, and his own life endangered.
The affair was equally short and sharp, and had it not been
that the ambush placed by Horry failed to discharge its duty,
Watson would, in all probability, never have reached Georgetown,
or only reached it on parole. He gained it finally in safety,
thoroughly harassed and discomfited by the subtle enemy
whom he had gone forth, with a superior force, and a confident hope,
to destroy or capture.
* Horry's MS.
But the success of our partisan against Watson did not necessarily
dispose of his enemies. While he had been engaged in the events,
as just given, Col. Doyle had succeeded in penetrating to his haunts
on Snow's Island. That famous retreat had been entrusted
to a small body of men under the command of Col. Ervin.
Ervin was defeated, and Doyle obtained possession of all Marion's stores.
Arms and ammunition were emptied into Lynch's Creek, and this at a period,
when every ounce of powder, and pound of shot, were worth, to our partisans,
their weight in gold. It was while moving from Sampit towards Snow's Island,
that Marion was apprised of this mortifying intelligence.
It was a matter to be deplored certainly, but it was one of those events
that could not have been prevented. The force of Marion was too small
to suffer him to play the admirable game, already described, with Watson,
yet leave a sufficient body of men in camp for its protection.
He had only to console himself by taking his revenge,
and he turned the head of his columns in pursuit of Doyle.
This officer made his way to Witherspoon's Ferry, on Lynch's Creek,
where he lay in a good position on the north side of the Ferry.
Marion approached him cautiously, with M`Cottry's mounted riflemen in advance.
Arriving at the creek a detachment of the British was found
on the opposite side, engaged in scuttling the ferry boat. The riflemen
drew nigh unperceived, and poured in a well directed and deadly fire,
which produced the utmost consternation. The fire was returned in volleys,
but the limbs and branches of the trees suffered infinitely more
than the riflemen who lay behind them. Marion now made his arrangements
for crossing the stream. But this was not to be done
in the face of the enemy, with the creek before him wide and swollen.
Marion moved rapidly up the creek, which he swam at the first favorable point
some five miles above Witherspoon's. This brought him nearer
to Doyle's position, but the latter had not waited for him.
Whether it was that he had little taste for the sort of annoyances
to which Watson had been subjected, or that he had received instructions
from Lord Rawdon to join him at Camden, in all haste, it is certain
that he made the greatest speed in hurrying in that direction.
It was at this period that Marion held a consultation with Horry, in which
he is represented by that officer as in an unusual state of despondency.
His enemies were accumulating around him with unwonted rapidity,
and in greater force than ever. Watson, furious at his late disasters,
and mortified with the result of his confident anticipations,
had sallied forth from Georgetown with a reinforcement.
He had gone towards the Pedee, where he strengthened himself
with the large body of Tories which Gainey had commanded. Horry tells us
of a third body of men at the same time in the field, with Doyle and Watson,
and all addressing themselves to the same object, his utter expulsion
from the country. At that moment the expulsion of our Partisan
would leave the conquest of the State complete.
In these emergencies, with these foes accumulating around him,
the mind of Marion naturally addressed itself with more gravity than usual
to the task of his extrication from his enemies. His countenance,
as Horry describes it, was troubled. But, with his usual taciturnity,
he said nothing on the subject of his anxieties. Seeing him walking alone,
and in deep revery, Horry approached him, and said --
"General, our men are few, and, if what I hear be true,
you never wanted them more."
Marion started, and replied --
"Go immediately to the field officers, and know from them,
if, in the event of my being compelled to retire to the mountains,
they will follow my fortunes, and with me carry on the war, until the enemy
is forced out of the country. Go, and bring me their answer without delay."
It was a peculiarity in Marion's character, that he should have entrusted
such a commission to a subordinate. But it accords with all
that we have seen of the reserve and shyness of his moods.
The simple remark to Horry indicates his admirable firmness,
his calculations, even of possible necessities long in advance,
and his instinctive mode of encountering them as he best might.
His determination, on his own account, to carry on the war against the enemy
in the mountains, till they or himself were expelled from the country,
denotes the unsubmitting patriot. The reader must not forget that,
at this moment, there was no force in the State but his own,
arrayed against the British. Sumter was still `hors de combat'
from his wound. The army of Greene, having with it Pickens, and other
native militia, was in North Carolina, watching the movements of Cornwallis.
Lord Rawdon, with a strong British garrison, held Camden.
Charleston and Georgetown, Ninety-Six and Granby, Forts Watson and Motte,
were all held, with numerous other conspicuous points, by the British;
and with Watson, whose force now numbered a thousand men,
Doyle half that number, and several active and large bodies of Tories
prepared to cooperate with these against our partisan,
the danger of Marion's situation, and his patriotic resolve of character,
are conspicuous at a glance.
Horry sought the officers, and promptly returned to his commander.
To a man they had pledged themselves to follow his fortunes,
however disastrous, while one of them survived, and until their country
was freed from the enemy. Marion's countenance instantly brightened --
we cannot forbear the use of Horry's own language, though it may
provoke a smile -- "he was tip-toed" -- (i.e.) -- he rose upon his toes --
and said "I am satisfied -- one of these parties shall soon feel us."*
* Horry's MS., pp. 59, 60.
Marion renews his Pursuit of Doyle -- Confronts Watson --
Is joined by Col. Lee -- Invests and takes Fort Watson --
Fort Motte taken -- Anecdote of Horry and Marion.
Marion instantly put his men in motion in pursuit of Doyle.
In crossing the swamp of Lynch's Creek, during the night,
several of the soldiers lost their arms, in consequence of the freshet.
The swamp was inundated, and it required all their dexterity and promptitude
to save themselves. Snatching a hasty breakfast, the pursuit
was continued all day, and resumed the next morning until ten o'clock,
when they found such signs of the superior speed and haste of the enemy,
as to preclude all possibility of overtaking him. They had been necessarily
delayed by the passage of the swamp, and had not made sufficient allowance
for the speed with which an enemy might run when there was occasion for it.
Here they found that Doyle had destroyed all his heavy baggage,
and had sped in such confusion towards Camden, that his encampment,
and the road which he traversed, were strewn with canteens and knapsacks,
and everything, not necessary to defence, which might retard his progress.
Marion, somewhat surprised at a flight for which he could not then account,
for his own force was far inferior to that of Doyle, yet saw that the fugitive
was beyond present pursuit. He wheeled about, accordingly,
and set his men in motion for another meeting with Watson. That commander,
now strengthened, and just doubling the numbers of our partisan,
with fresh supplies of provisions and military stores, had once more
pushed for the Pedee. He took the nearest route across Black river,
at Wragg's Ferry, and, crossing the Pedee at Euhaney,
and the Little Pedee at Potato Ferry, he halted at Catfish Creek,
one mile from the present site of Marion Courthouse.
Marion crossed the Pedee, and encamped at the Warhees,
within five miles of the enemy. Here he planted himself,
in vigilant watch of the force which he could not openly encounter.
In addition to the want of men, he labored under a still greater
want of ammunition. When asked by Capt. Gavin Witherspoon,
whether he meant to fight Watson -- a measure which Witherspoon thought
particularly advisable -- before he was joined by any more bodies of Tories,
he answered, "That would be best, but we have not ammunition."
"Why, general," said Witherspoon, "my powder-horn is full."
"Ah, my friend!" was the reply of Marion, "YOU are an extraordinary soldier;
but for the others, there are not two rounds to a man."
Thus stood the two parties; and thus it but too frequently stood
with our partisan -- wanting the most simple resources by which to make
his own genius and the valor of his men apparent. That the former
was alive and equal to emergencies, even in such a condition of necessity,
may be inferred from the fact, that he should dare take such a position,
so immediately contiguous to an enemy double his own force,
and abounding in all the requisite materials of war. The inactivity of Watson
is only to be accounted for by his total ignorance of the resourceless state
of Marion's rifles.
While Marion and Watson were thus relatively placed,
the former was apprised of the return of Greene to South Carolina.
This intelligence accounted for the hasty retreat of Doyle.
He was summoned by Lord Rawdon to Camden, to strengthen that position
against the American force, which was advancing in that direction.
The reappearance of Greene was a source of heartfelt joy
to those who, but a little while before, had anticipated
the necessity of flying before the foe, and taking shelter in the mountains.
It was because of the absence of the American army that Rawdon was enabled,
as we have seen, to concentrate his chief force upon Marion.
The presence of Greene, which had caused the recall of Doyle,
must, as Marion well knew, effect that of Watson also.
He was preparing himself accordingly, when further advices
brought him news of the approach of Colonel Lee, with the Continental Legion,
to his own assistance. He dispatched a guide to Lee, and by means of boats,
which he always kept secreted, the Legion was transported over the Pedee,
and a junction with Marion's force was effected on the fourteenth of April.
The tidings which had brought such gratification to the camp of Marion,
had as inspiring, though not as grateful an effect in that of Watson.
He lost no time in breaking up his encampment. The safety of Rawdon
and Camden was paramount, and, wheeling his two field-pieces
into Catfish Creek, and burning his baggage, as Doyle had done,
he sped, with similar precipitation, in the same direction.
The route taken in his flight declared his apprehensions of Marion.
He trembled at the recollection of the recent race between them --
the harassings and skirmishings night and day -- the sleepless struggles,
and unintermitting alarms. Recrossing the Little Pedee, and avoiding Euhaney,
he passed the Waccamaw at Greene's Ferry, and, retreating through the Neck,
between that river and the sea, crossed Winyaw Bay, three miles in width,
and, in this manner, arrived in Georgetown. A slight glance
at any map of the country, keeping in mind that Watson's object
was really Camden, will show the reader the extent of his fears
of that wily and indefatigable enemy from whom he had previously escaped
with so much difficulty.
Marion was exceedingly anxious to pursue Watson, but Lee,
though subordinate, succeeded in preventing this desire.
Instructions which he brought from Greene, and which he earnestly dwelt upon,
required their cooperation against the British posts below Camden.
Lee urged, also, that such a pursuit would take them too far from Greene,
with the movements of whose army it was important that Marion's force
should act as intimately as possible. Marion yielded the point
with great reluctance, and was heard repeatedly after to regret
that his orders did not permit him to follow the dictates of his own judgment.
Had he done so, with his force strengthened by the Continental bayonets,
and new supplies of powder for his rifles, Watson's flight to Georgetown,
which he could scarcely have reached, would have been far more uncomfortable
than he found it on the previous occasion.
Lee led the way with his legion towards the Santee, while Marion,
placing Witherspoon with a small party on the trail of Watson,
pursued his line of march through Williamsburg. Having once resolved,
Marion's movements were always rapid and energetic.
On the fifteenth of April, only a day after the junction with Lee,
he was before Fort Watson.
This was a stockade fort, raised on one of those remarkable elevations
of an unknown antiquity which are usually recognized as Indian mounds.
It stands near Scott's Lake on the Santee river, a few miles below
the junction of the Congaree and Wateree. The mound is forty feet in height,
and remote from any other elevation by which it might be commanded.
The garrison at this post consisted of eighty regular troops,
and forty loyalists. It was commanded by Lieut. McKay,
a brave officer, of the regular service. To the summons of Marion
he returned a manly defiance, and the place was regularly invested.
Besieged and besiegers were alike without artillery; with a single piece,
the former might well have defied any force which Marion could bring
against him. The place would have been impregnable to the Americans.
As it was, its steep sides and strong palisades forbade any attempt to storm.
To cut off the garrison from Scott's Lake, where it procured water,
was the first step taken by the besiegers. But the besieged, by sinking
a well within the stockade, below the level of the contiguous water,
counteracted the attempt. For a moment, the assailants were at fault,
and, without artillery, the prospect was sufficiently discouraging.
But while doubting and hesitating, Col. Mayham, of the brigade,
suggested a mode of overawing the garrison which was immediately adopted.
At a short distance from the fort there grew a small wood,
a number of the trees of which were hewn down, and transported
upon the shoulders of the men within a proper distance of the mound.
Here, during the night, all hands were actively employed in piling
the wood thus brought, in massive and alternate layers, crosswise,
until the work had reached a sufficient elevation. At dawn,
the garrison were confounded to find themselves, at wakening,
under a shower of rifle bullets. Thus overlooked, the fort was
no longer tenable; and a party of volunteers from the militia,
headed by Ensign Baker, and another of Continentals, from the legion,
led by Mr. Lee, a volunteer, ascended the mound with great intrepidity,
and gained the abbatis, which they proceeded to destroy. This movement
brought the garrison to terms, and a capitulation immediately followed.
But the leaguer had consumed eight days, the progress of which had been
watched with equal anxiety by both parties. The Americans apprehended,
and the garrison anticipated, the approach of Watson
with an overwhelming force for the relief of the besieged.
But Watson did not appear. He no longer had an overwhelming force.
His flight to Georgetown was marked by loss and desertion.
It appears that his panic, or his sense of duty, led him rather
to avoid Marion and to reach Camden without interruption.
He very prudently, therefore, after crossing the Santee, on the route
from Georgetown, moved down by Monk's Corner, added to his force
the garrison of that place, and then cautiously advanced to the Santee.
He resolved rather to leave Fort Watson to its fate,
than risk a force which might be necessary to the exigencies of Rawdon.
Watson was considered by the British one of their best partisans,
yet never had poor warrior been so worried and harassed,
as, with a superior force, he had been by Marion. Yet,
in his second expedition in pursuit of the latter, had he been able
to cooperate with Doyle, with the Tories of Harrison and Gainey,
all preparing for the same object, the escape of our partisan
would have been miraculous. At no time, during their pursuit of him,
was his force equal to the smallest one of theirs. He must have been
expelled the country, as he himself seemed to apprehend,
or he must have fallen in the conflict.
We have so little at the hands of Marion, in the shape of correspondence,
that we are tempted to give his official letter to General Greene,
apprising him of the fall of Fort Watson. It is dated --
Fort Watson (Scott's Lake), April 23, 1781.
Lieut.-Col. Lee made a junction with me at Santee, the 14th inst.,
after a rapid march from Ramsay's mill, on Deep River, which he performed
in eight days. The 15th we marched to this place and invested it.
Our hope was to cut off their water. Some riflemen and Continentals
immediately took post between the fort and the lake. The fort is situated
on a small hill, forty feet high, stockaded, and with three rows of abbatis
round it. No trees near enough to cover our men from their fire.
The third day after we had invested it, we found the enemy had sunk a well
near the stockade which we could not prevent them from [doing];
as we had no entrenching tools to make our approach, we immediately determined
to erect a work equal in height to the fort. This arduous work
was completed this morning by Major Maham, who undertook it.
We then made a lodgment on the side of the mound, near the stockade.
This was performed with great spirit and address by Ensign Johnson,
and Mr. Lee, a volunteer in Col. Lee's legion, who with difficulty
ascended the hill and pulled away the abbatis, which induced the commandant
to hoist a flag. Col. Lee and myself agreed to the enclosed capitulation,
which I hope may be approved by you. Our loss on this occasion is two killed,
and three Continentals and three militia wounded. I am particularly indebted
to Col. Lee for his advice and indefatigable diligence in every part of these
tedious operations, against as strong a little post as could well be made,
and on the most advantageous spot that could be wished for.
The officers and men of the legion and militia performed everything that
could be expected; and Major Maham of my brigade, had, in a particular manner,
a great share of this success by his unwearied diligence in erecting the tower
which principally occasioned the reduction of the fort. In short, sir,
I have had the greatest assistance from every one under my command.
Enclosed is a list of the prisoners and stores taken, and I shall,
without loss of time, proceed to demolish the fort; after which
I shall march to the high hills of Santee, encamp at Capt. Richardson's,
and await your orders.
(Signed) Francis Marion.
In taking post at the Santee Hills, the object of Marion was to take
such a position as would enable him to watch all the several roads
by which Watson could make his way to Camden. It was important,
if possible, to prevent his junction with Lord Rawdon, thus increasing
the ability of that commander to cope with Greene's army,
which now lay before that place. But Marion was not able
to encounter Watson without assistance. Lee, with his legion,
had been withdrawn by Greene soon after the capture of Fort Watson,
and our partisan's force in camp, from concurring circumstances,
was now reduced to about eighty men. Eighty of his brigade were detached
under Col. Irvine to Rafting Creek, in order to cut off supplies from Camden.
Another party was engaged in watching a rising of the Tories on the Pedee,
who, in the absence of Marion himself, had manifested a disposition
to resume the offensive; Col. Harden, with another detachment,
was on the Salkehatchie, having first succeeded in the capture of Fort Balfour
at Pocotaligo, in which he made nearly a hundred prisoners.
Other small detachments had thinned the little army of our partisan
to such a degree that it was of small efficiency where it was;
and, just at this juncture, numerous desertions took place
from two concurring circumstances. The approach of Marion to the hills
had brought on the battle of Camden. Unwilling that Greene's force
should be increased by the militia of the former, Rawdon had resolved
not to wait for Watson, but to march out and give battle
before the coming of either. He did so. The affair was not decisive,
but Greene was compelled to yield the field to his enemy. He lost nothing,
whether of honor or position, by this result. But, as the news spread,
the defeat was exaggerated. It was supposed to be another affair such as
that of Gates, and Marion's small body of men was still farther lessened
by desertion. There was still another reason for its present feebleness.
The time of the year was the very height of the planting season,
and the farmer-soldiers, in numbers, left the camp in order to
hurry to their homes and set their crops. This, though not allowed
by the regular disciplinarian, was, in the mind of the militia-man,
a duty quite as imperative as any that he owed to his family.
Indeed, it was inseparable from his necessities that,
where the Government did not give him bread, he must make it for himself.
His family could not starve, and if he could fight without pay,
it was not possible that he should do so without food. In the sort of warfare
which Marion had hitherto carried on, he had been willing to recognize
these necessities on the part of his followers. Cooperating with an army
differently constituted, it was scarcely possible to do so,
with any hope of their permanent usefulness. Just at this juncture,
in particular, he felt the peculiarly mortifying character of his situation.
To enable Marion to contend with Watson, Greene dispatched Major Eaton,
with a body of Continentals, to his assistance, with instructions
to throw himself across the path of Watson. But Eaton, by an unhappy
misunderstanding of his duty, failed to reach him in season for this object.
When he did join him, which was on the evening of the 2d of May,
it was too late. Marion, writing to Greene, says, "Major Eaton's
not coming up sooner has made me lose a great deal of precious time.
I shall cross the Santee at Wright's Bluff to-morrow." He did so,
but Watson had already passed, and succeeded in eluding Greene also,
and in reaching Camden in safety.
We have spoken of Col. Harden's proceedings against Fort Balfour,
and the capture of that post. This officer was a very brave
and active gentleman, rapid in his movements, and resolute in his objects.
As soon as Marion had received intelligence of Greene's approach
to South Carolina, he had dispatched Harden with seventy select men,
well mounted, to penetrate through the country, and crossing the enemy's
lines of communication, to stir up the people in all that region which lies
southwest of Charleston. So rapid and unexpected were his movements,
that he took the enemy everywhere by surprise, and rendered himself,
for the time, the very terror of the loyalists upon the route.
His force increased with its progress. The inhabitants yearned
for an escape from British authority, and joined his troop. His seventy men
soon became two hundred, and while he baffled the pursuit of the superior,
he visited with sudden and severe chastisement the disaffected,
along and on both sides of the Savannah river. Ascending this, he soon
communicated with Pickens, then operating against Augusta and Ninety-Six.
Nothing now was wanting but the fall of the enemy's chain of posts,
to complete the recovery of the whole country within thirty miles of the sea.
In contributing to this desirable object Marion, now strengthened by
the Continentals of Lee and Eaton, invested Fort Motte on the river Congaree.
This post was the principal depot of the convoys from Charleston to Camden,
and sometimes of those destined for Forts Granby and Ninety-Six.
A large new mansion-house belonging to Mrs. Motte, situated on
a high and commanding hill, had been chosen for this establishment.
It was surrounded with a deep trench, along the inner margin of which
a strong and lofty parapet was raised. To this post had been assigned
a sufficient garrison of one hundred and fifty men. This force was increased
by a small detachment of dragoons from Charleston, which had been
thrown into it a few hours before the appearance of the Americans.
The garrison was commanded by Capt. McPherson, a firm and gallant officer.
Opposite to Fort Motte, to the north, stood another hill, where Mrs. Motte,
who had been expelled from her dwelling, resided in an old farm-house.
On this, Lee took position with his corps: Marion's men occupied
the eastern declivity of the same ridge on which stood the fort.
The place was very soon invested. The six pounder with which Greene
had furnished Marion, was mounted on a battery raised in the quarter
which he occupied, for the purpose of raking the northern face
of the enemy's parapet. McPherson was in the possession of a wall-piece,
but he had not been able to adapt it for use before the investment took place.
It does not seem to have been even used during the siege. His chief hopes
lay in being relieved by a detachment from Camden, not doubting its arrival
before his assailant could push his preparations to maturity.
The works of the latter advanced rapidly, and the place was summoned
on the 20th of May. The reply declared the determination of the besieged
to try the strength and patience of the besiegers. These had now
every motive for perseverance. They were advised of the approach of Rawdon,
with all his force, to the relief of the fort. That stern commander,
finding Camden was no longer tenable against the increasing forces
of the Americans, and unable to maintain his several posts
with his diminished strength, was aiming to contract his scattered bodies
into narrower limits. Having made a second, but unsatisfactory,
demonstration upon Greene, he destroyed his unnecessary baggage,
and, leaving Camden in flames, he once more abandoned it to the Americans.
Greene advised Marion of his retreat, and urged him to expedition.
On the next night he reached the country opposite Fort Motte,
and his numerous fires on the highest grounds on his route,
encouraged the garrison with hopes of success, which were not to be realized.
What was to be done, was to be done quickly, on the part of the besiegers.
The process of battering by cannon would be too slow.
Some shorter mode was to be adopted, to anticipate the approach of Rawdon.
The ready thought of our partisan suggested this process.
It was known that the large mansion of Mrs. Motte occupied
the greater part of the area of the fort; but a few yards of ground
within the works remained uncovered by it. To burn the house by fire
would compel the surrender of the garrison.
The necessity was very reluctantly communicated to the widow
by whom the property was owned. But she was one of those glorious
dames of the Revolution, to whom the nation is so largely indebted
for the glory of that event. She had received the American officers with
a hospitality which made them almost shrink from suggesting their purposes;
but as soon as they were made known, she put them perfectly at ease
upon the subject. With something more than cheerfulness -- with pride --
that any sacrifice on her part should contribute to the success
of her countrymen, in so dear an object, she herself produced a bow,
with all the necessary apparatus, which had been brought from India,*
and which she had preserved. By the arrows from this bow
the fire was to be communicated to her dwelling.
* The origin of this bow, though unimportant, is nonetheless
the subject of great differences. James says an "Indian bow and arrows",
though one would expect he meant "American Indian" from the context.
Weems implies that it was from Africa. -- A. L., 1996.
Everything being in readiness, the lines were manned and an additional force
stationed at the batteries, lest the enemy, in the moment of desperation,
might prefer risking an assault, rather than endure the mortification
of a surrender. A flag was sent to McPherson, but the sight of Rawdon's fires
on the other side of the river encouraged him with the belief
that he might still resist successfully.
The bow was put into the hands of Nathan Savage, a private
in Marion's brigade. It was noon when the attempt was made.
The scorching rays of the noonday sun had prepared the roof
for the conflagration. Balls of blazing rosin and brimstone
were attached to the arrows, and three several shafts were sent
by the vigorous arm of the militia-man against the roof.
They took effect, in three different quarters, and the shingles
were soon in a blaze. McPherson immediately ordered a party to the roof,
but this had been prepared for, and the fire of the six-pounder
soon drove the soldiers down. The flames began to rage,
the besiegers were on the alert, guarding every passage,
and no longer hopeful of Rawdon, McPherson hung out the white flag
imploring mercy. The gentle nature of Marion readily yielded to his prayer,
though, as Lee tells us, "policy commanded death."
In this siege Marion lost two brave fellows, one of whom has been
more than once conspicuous in this narrative -- the daring Sergeant McDonald,
and Lieutenant Cruger. McDonald had reached a lieutenancy before he fell.
The prisoners were paroled, but their officers before leaving
partook of a sumptuous dinner given by Mrs. Motte to the victors.
This noble lady, whose grace of demeanor is represented as quite equal
to her patriotism, presided at her table, in such a manner as to render
all parties at home. Col. P. Horry tells us of some of the incidents
which took place at the dinner. A captain of the British army,
taken among the prisoners, on finding himself near Horry, said to him:
"You are Col. Horry, I presume, sir." Horry answered in the affirmative.
"Well," said the other, "I was with Col. Watson when he on Sampit
fought your General Marion. I think I saw you there with a party of horse.
I think you were also at Nelson's Ferry, when Marion surprised our party
at the house? But," added the officer, "I was hid in high grass and escaped.
Were you not there also?" Horry answered, "No! It was my brother Hugh."
"Well," said the captain, "YOU were fortunate in your escape [at Sampit]
for Watson and Small had 1200 men." "If so," said Horry, "I certainly
was fortunate, for I did not suppose they had more than half that number."
The captain then added -- "I consider myself equally fortunate
in escaping at Nelson's old field." "Truly, you were," answered Horry drily;
"for Marion had but 30 militia on that occasion." "At this,"
says our worthy Colonel, "the captain's countenance fell, and he retired,
and avoided me the rest of the day. General Greene, the next day
(Greene had reached Marion's camp that night) said to me, `Col. Horry,
how came you to affront Capt. Ferguson?' I answered, he affronted himself
by telling his own story. It militated so greatly against himself
as to compel the officers who were near to laugh. The captain and I, sir,
agreed that we were both equally fortunate in war. Greene replied,
`Capt. Ferguson's memory was only too good.'"*
* Horry's MS. Narrative, pp. 74-75.
While at the hospitable table of Mrs. Motte, it was whispered
in Marion's ears, that Col. Lee's men were even then engaged in hanging
certain of the Tory prisoners. Marion instantly hurried from the table,
seized his sword, and running with all haste, reached the place of execution
in time to rescue one poor wretch from the gallows. Two were already
beyond rescue or recovery. With drawn sword and a degree of indignation
in his countenance that spoke more than words, Marion threatened to kill
the first man that made any further attempt in such diabolical proceedings.*
* Horry's MS. Narrative, p. 75.
Correspondence of Marion and Greene -- Anecdote of Colonel Snipes --
Marion takes Georgetown -- Attempt of Sumter and Marion on Col. Coates --
Battle of Quinby Bridge.
It was while Marion was most actively engaged in the investment of Fort Motte,
that a correspondence took place between himself and General Greene,
which had nearly resulted in the loss of his invaluable services
to the country. A pure and noble spirit, Marion was particularly sensitive
to reproach, and felt deeply its injustice. From the moment that Greene
took command of the southern army, he had yielded the most profound deference
to his wishes, had seconded his slightest suggestions, timed his own movements
with a studied regard to those contemplated by the commander,
and, whenever the service would allow, had devoted his little band
to such duties as would lead to the promotion of all those larger plans
which were contemplated for the execution of the grand army. His scouts
had served for pioneers, his cavalry procured provisions for the camp,
and it was to Marion alone that Greene looked for all his intelligence.
But there was one favorite object which Greene had in view, to which
our partisan could contribute little. The want of a cavalry force had been
particularly felt by the former, and he had been sedulous in the endeavor
to supply this want, from the very first of his southern campaigns.
He had been pressingly calling upon Sumter, Marion, and every officer,
who might be thought able to procure him a supply of horses;
and active agents of his own had been scouring every quarter of the country
in search of this indispensable agent of all great military operations.
His quest had been comparatively vain. The British had been before him
throughout the country. The dragoons of Tarleton had swept the stables;
and, where this was not the case, the horses were held by militia men,
to whom they were quite as indispensable as to the grand army.
Marion's troopers could only be of service while in possession of their horses
-- they had large and extensive tracts of country to traverse --
could procure no intelligence without -- and, any attempt
to dismount a soldier from his favorite steed, would be to produce
a degree of discontent in his mind which would most certainly
deprive the country of his services. To expect that the partisan militia
under Marion and Sumter, who had been constantly on horseback,
in the face of the enemy, should deliver their horses up to others
who possessed no higher claim upon the country than themselves,
was to expect more largely than was altogether reasonable,
from the liberality or the patriotism of any set of men.
A few, such as could be spared, had been supplied by Marion.
He never, for an instant, contemplated the dismounting of his troopers --
those hardy fellows who had been constant in all vicissitudes --
who had murmured at no tasks -- shrunk from no adventures --
and spared neither themselves nor their property, when the necessities
of the country required, at periods when there was no grand army
to divide with themselves the honors and the dangers of the war.
Nay, to dismount them was, in fact, to disarm himself. It appears, however,
that this was expected of him. An unfortunate letter of Col. Lee,
dated the 23d May, and addressed to Greene, contained this paragraph:
"General Marion," says the letter, "can supply you, if he will,
with one hundred and fifty good dragoon horses, most of them impressed horses.
He might, in my opinion, spare sixty, which would be a happy supply."
The effect of this communication upon Greene was immediate and painful.
Believing that he had been ill-used, and vexed that Marion,
knowing his necessities, and with the power to relieve them,
should yet have forborne to do so, though urgently exhorted,
he frankly declared his feelings in the very next letter to our partisan.
Marion did not dissemble his indignation in his reply. He repels the charge
that he had ever withheld supplies which he might have furnished,
and concludes his letter by requesting permission to resign --
firmly, but respectfully, intimating his resolution to retire from service
as soon as Fort Motte should be reduced. Greene, in an instant,
from this reply, perceived the mischief that he had done.
He wrote instantly to Marion, and succeeded, though with difficulty,
in overcoming his resolution. He says: "My reason for writing so pressingly
for the dragoon horses, was from the distress we were in. It is not my wish
to take the horses from the militia, if it will injure the public service.
The effects and consequences you can better judge of than I can.
You have rendered important services to the public with the militia
under your command, and have done great honor to yourself,
and I would not wish to render your situation less agreeable with them,
unless it is to answer some very great purpose; and this, I persuade myself,
you would agree to, from a desire to promote the common good." . . .
From the same letter, we make another extract: "I shall always be happy
to see you at headquarters, but cannot think you seriously mean
to solicit leave to go to Philadelphia. It is true, your task
has been disagreeable, but not more so than others. It is now going on
seven years since the commencement of this war. I have never had
leave of absence one hour, nor paid the least attention
to my own private affairs. Your State is invaded -- your all is at stake.
What has been done will signify nothing, unless we persevere to the end.
I left a family in distress, and everything dear and valuable,
to come and afford you all the assistance in my power, to promote the service.
It must throw a damp upon the spirits of the army, to find that
the first men in the State are retiring from the busy scene,
to indulge themselves in more agreeable amusements. However,
your reasons for wishing to decline the command of the militia,
and go to Philadelphia, may be more pressing than I imagine;
I will, therefore, add nothing more on this subject till I see you."
The adroit mixture of reproach with commendation, was not done
without reflection. Greene seems to have understood the character of Marion.
But there was some oblique injustice in his letter. A man's patriotism
is not to be reproached, because he wishes to escape injustice and indignity.
The best of patriots will be apt to become disgusted with a service
in which their claims are neglected, their performances slurred over,
and their motives impeached; and this, too, at a period,
and after long periods, of service, in which they have watched,
toiled, and fought, without hope or prospect of reward. When General Greene
compared the disagreeableness of Marion's toils with those of others,
he certainly overlooked, not only the peculiar character of those toils,
but the peculiar privations which distinguished the career of Marion's men,
and the particularly painful duties which so frequently belonged to it.
His own previously expressed opinions with regard to the warfare,
as carried on between Whig and Tory in the south, will be found to furnish
a sufficient commentary upon the comparison which he thus makes.
Greene himself, by the way, is not without blame in some respects,
in relation to the southern commanders of militia. The slighting manner
in which he spoke of them, and of their services, in letters not intended
to be public, was such, that some of them, Sumter for example,
never forgave him. His prejudices were those of the regular service,
the policy of which is always to disparage the militia. To Marion himself,
his language was of a different character. Take the following
extract of a letter, written to the latter only one month before
the correspondence above referred to. This letter is dated,
from the camp before Camden, April 24, 1781, and will give
a faint idea of the true claims of Marion upon the regard of his country.
"When I consider," writes Greene, "how much you have done and suffered,
and under what disadvantage you have maintained your ground,
I am at a loss which to admire most, your courage and fortitude,
or your address and management. Certain it is, no man has a better claim
to the public thanks than you. History affords no instance wherein an officer
has kept possession of a country under so many disadvantages as you have.
Surrounded on every side with a superior force, hunted from every quarter
with veteran troops, you have found means to elude their attempts,
and to keep alive the expiring hopes of an oppressed militia,
when all succor seemed to be cut off. TO FIGHT THE ENEMY BRAVELY
WITH THE PROSPECT OF VICTORY, IS NOTHING; BUT TO FIGHT WITH INTREPIDITY UNDER
THE CONSTANT IMPRESSION OF DEFEAT, AND INSPIRE IRREGULAR TROOPS TO DO IT,
IS A TALENT PECULIAR TO YOURSELF. Nothing will give me greater pleasure
than to do justice to your merit, and I shall miss no opportunity of declaring
to Congress, to the commander-in-chief of the American army, and to the world,
the great sense I have of your merit and your services."
The correspondence of Greene with Marion, on the subject of the horses,
closed with a letter on the part of the latter, in which
he turned off the affair on grounds that proved his feelings tranquillized.
A present of a fine horse, for Greene's own use, accompanied this letter.
It has been shown that, on the day of the capture of Fort Motte, Greene rode
into the camp of Marion, at that place. We can conceive of no other motive
for his presence here, than a desire to make his reconciliation perfect.
He brought no force with him to promote the object of the besiegers,
and his stay was limited to a brief interview.
But the evil effect of this affair did not end here. The militia,
alarmed at the idea of having their horses taken from them,
soon began to scatter, and, pleading the planting season
upon which they had entered -- some, indeed, without any plea, --
they left the camp in numbers, and before the leaguer was well over,
the force of Marion was reduced to something less than two hundred men.
With this remnant of his brigade, as soon as Fort Motte was yielded,
Marion detached himself from the regular troops and struck down
towards Monk's Corner, hanging upon the skirts of Lord Rawdon's army,
then in full retreat from Camden.
Perhaps the most interesting portions of our traditionary history
in the South, will be found to have occurred to the scattered bodies
of the partisan cavalry, while on their return movements to and from the army,
after such a dispersion as that from which the brigade of Marion
was now suffering. It was no easy matter for the small group,
or the single trooper, to regain the family homestead,
or the friendly neighborhood in which their wives and little ones
were harbored. Every settlement through which they passed
had its disaffected population. It might be small or large, but its numbers
did not affect its activity, and, with the main body of the Whigs in camp,
or on the road, the Tories, in remote sections of the country, were generally
equally strong and daring. These waylaid the customary pathways,
and aware of all the material movements of the regular troops,
made their arrangements to cut off stragglers or small detached bodies.
When we consider the active malignity by which the civil war in Carolina
was marked; the wild forests in which it took place; the peculiar ferocity
which it stimulated, and the various characteristics of the local
modes of warfare, the chase and the surprise, we shall have
no occasion for wonder at the strange and sometimes terrible events
by which it was distinguished. One of these, which occurred to Captain,
afterwards Colonel Snipes, of Marion's brigade, is a remarkable instance;
and, as it has been told elsewhere, in connection with the life of Marion,
it may well claim a place in this narrative.
Snipes was a Carolinian, of remarkable strength and courage.
He was equally distinguished for his vindictive hatred of the Tories.
He had suffered some domestic injuries at their hands, and he was one
who never permitted himself to forgive. His temper was sanguinary
in the extreme, and led him, in his treatment of the loyalists,
to such ferocities as subjected him, on more than one occasion,
to the harshest rebuke of his commander. It is not certain
at what period in the war the following occurrence took place,
but it was on one of those occasions when the partisan militia
claimed a sort of periodical privilege of abandoning their general
to look after their families and domestic interests. Availing himself
of this privilege, Snipes pursued his way to his plantation. His route was
a circuitous one, but it is probable that he pursued it with little caution.
He was more distinguished for audacity than prudence. The Tories fell upon
his trail, which they followed with the keen avidity of the sleuth-hound.
Snipes reached his plantation in safety, unconscious of pursuit.
Having examined the homestead and received an account of all things done
in his absence, from a faithful driver, and lulled into security
by the seeming quiet and silence of the neighborhood, he retired to rest,
and, after the fatigues of the day, soon fell into a profound sleep.
From this he was awakened by the abrupt entrance and cries of his driver.
The faithful negro apprised him, in terror, of the approach of the Tories.
They were already on the plantation. His vigilance alone prevented them
from taking his master in bed. Snipes, starting up, proposed to take shelter
in the barn, but the driver pointed to the flames already bursting
from that building. He had barely time to leave the house,
covered only by his night shirt, and, by the counsel of the negro,
to fly to the cover of a thick copse of briars and brambles,
within fifty yards of the dwelling, when the Tories surrounded it.
The very task of penetrating this copse, so as to screen himself from sight,
effectually removed the thin garment which concealed his nakedness.
The shirt was torn from his back by the briars, and the skin shared
in its injuries. But, once there, he lay effectually concealed from sight.
Ordinary conjecture would scarcely have supposed that any animal
larger than a rabbit would have sought or found shelter in such a region.
The Tories immediately seized upon the negro and demanded his master,
at the peril of his life. Knowing and fearing the courage
and the arm of Snipes, they did not enter the dwelling, but adopted
the less valorous mode of setting it on fire, and, with pointed muskets,
surrounded it, in waiting for the moment when their victim should emerge.
He, within a few steps of them, heard their threats and expectations,
and beheld all their proceedings. The house was consumed, and the intense
heat of the fire subjected our partisan, in his place of retreat,
to such torture, as none but the most dogged hardihood could have endured
without complaint. The skin was peeled from his body in many places,
and the blisters were shown long after, to persons who are still living.*
But Snipes too well knew his enemies, and what he had to expect
at their hands, to make any confession. He bore patiently the torture,
which was terribly increased, when, finding themselves at fault,
the Tories brought forward the faithful negro who had thus far
saved his master, and determined to extort from him, in the halter,
the secret of his hiding-place. But the courage and fidelity of the negro
proved superior to the terrors of death. Thrice was he run up the tree,
and choked nearly to strangulation, but in vain. His capability to endure
proved superior to the will of the Tories to inflict, and he was at length
let down, half dead, -- as, in truth, ignorant of the secret which
they desired to extort. What were the terrors of Snipes in all this trial?
What his feelings of equal gratitude and apprehension? How noble
was the fidelity of the slave -- based upon what gentle and affectionate
relationship between himself and master -- probably from boyhood!
Yet this is but one of a thousand such attachments, all equally
pure and elevated, and maintained through not dissimilar perils.
* See a biographical sketch of Tarlton Brown, of Barnwell, S.C.,
a soldier in the revolutionary army. Charleston, 1844, p. 8.
While Marion was operating against Forts Watson and Motte, Sumter,
with like success, had besieged the British posts at Orangeburg and Granby.
It was the loss of these posts, and the dread of the subsequent concentration
of the whole American force against Camden, that had prompted
the destruction and abandonment of that place by Lord Rawdon.
This was the plan and object of Greene. The precipitate movements of Rawdon,
who anticipated the purpose of the former, necessarily defeated it.
Pickens was operating against Augusta; while Sumter,
leaving the investment of Granby, the conquest of which was considered sure,
to Col. Taylor, proceeded down the country, with the two-fold object
of harassing the descent of the British army, and to prevent them
from carrying off the cattle of the inhabitants. In the former object,
neither Marion nor himself had much success. They did not succeed
in effecting a junction, and the sanguine desire of Sumter,
with united forces, to operate boldly upon the retreating army of Rawdon,
was not encouraged by Greene, who preferred a safe and sure,
though slow progress, to any attainment of his end by a hazardous attempt,
however glorious. The task of holding Rawdon in check,
was confided to Marion and Sumter, while Greene proceeded with his whole army,
to the investment of the post of Ninety-Six, at the village of Cambridge.
In the execution of their duties, the two partisans closed in
upon the British commander, until he established a line of fortified posts,
extending from Georgetown, by Monk's Corner, Dorchester, &c.,
to Coosawhatchee. Within this line our partisans continually made incursions,
keeping the enemy in constant check and apprehension. They were not in force
to do more. Georgetown, however, separated by water courses and swamps
of great magnitude, from the other posts, was left with a garrison so feeble,
as to tempt Marion to proceed against it. The parishes that lie
along the Santee, on both sides, towards its mouth, had turned out
with so much zeal on his return into their neighborhood,
that he soon found himself in sufficient force to cover the country
with a strong detachment under Col. Mayham, while, with his main body,
he went against Georgetown. He appeared before this place on the 6th of June,
and instantly began his approaches. But his simple demonstration
was sufficient. The enemy made but a show of resistance.
As the attempt was pressed, the garrison fled to their galleys,
and took a position in the bay beyond the reach of the Americans.
They finally abandoned the harbor altogether. It was not
in the power of Marion to man the post efficiently, and his policy forbade
that he should do it inadequately. Accordingly, he deliberately removed
the military stores and public property, up the Pedee, then,
demolishing the works, returned to join his detachment in St. Stephens.
While at Georgetown, however, it is recorded that he replenished his wardrobe,
and fitted himself out with a becoming suit of regimentals.
This was an event, in the career of our partisan, to be remembered
by his followers. He indulged, it seems, for the first time,
in some other of the luxuries of the campaigner. A couple of mules
were employed for the transportation of his baggage, and his usual beverage
of vinegar and water was occasionally diversified by a bowl of coffee
at breakfast. A little before this, -- perhaps soon after General Greene
had penetrated the State, -- he had appointed himself a couple of secretaries
for the purpose of greater dispatch in letter writing --
his correspondence necessarily increasing, in consequence of his connection
with the more expanded operations of the army. State, he did not affect,
and the simplicity and modesty of his character may be easily inferred
from this petty enumeration of the aids and comforts which he thought proper
to draw from his successes.
While Marion, in person, proceeded against Georgetown, Col. Peter Horry
was dispatched with a strong body of men against the loyalists on the Pedee,
a wild and bloodthirsty band of borderers, under the conduct of Major Gainey,
of whom we have had occasion to speak already. Horry succeeded
in awing Gainey into submission, and in extorting from him a treaty
by which he consented, with his officers and men, to maintain a condition
of neutrality. This submission, though complete, was but temporary.
It required subsequently the decisive proceedings of Marion,
and his personal presence, to enforce its provisions. But of this hereafter.
While Greene, with the main American army, was proceeding against Ninety-Six,
preparations were made by the British in Charleston,
for ravaging the country on the south side of the Santee.
The people of St. John's and St. Stephen's parishes, had shown too active
a zeal in the cause of liberty, to escape punishment, and it was resolved
that their country should be laid waste. The loyalists of Charleston,
and that vicinity, had been embodied in a regiment, and, under Col. Ball,
prepared to carry this design into execution. But Marion,
apprised by his scouts and spies of every movement in the city,
and unable with his present force to meet with that of Ball,
determined, however painful the necessity, to anticipate his proceedings;
and, with his usual celerity, he laid waste the country himself;
removing across the Santee to places of safety, not only
all the stock and cattle, but all the provisions, that could be collected.
They were thus saved, as well for the subsistence of his men,
as for the proprietor. Anxious to oppose himself more actively to the enemy,
he sent pressing dispatches to Greene for assistance in covering the country.
Col. Washington, with his admirable corps of cavalry, was accordingly
dispatched to his assistance. We have seen that the commander-in-chief
had proceeded in person against the British post at Ninety-Six.
To Sumter and Marion had been entrusted the care of Rawdon.
They were required to check and prevent his progress
in the event of any attempt which he might make to relieve the post.
They were unsuccessful in doing so. The arrival of a British fleet
with reinforcements, comprising three fresh regiments from Ireland,
enabled Rawdon to despise any attempts, which, with their inferior force,
our partisans might make. Some idea of the diligence of Marion
and the excellence of his plans for procuring intelligence,
may be gathered from the fact that the Charleston paper of the 2d of June,
announcing the arrival of these regiments, was in his possession
the very day on which it was printed, and transmitted instantly,
through Sumter's command, to Greene.* Greene was unsuccessful
in his attempts on Ninety-Six. The place was relieved,
after an obstinate defence, by Rawdon, who, with his new troops,
by forced marches, arrived in time for its deliverance.
Greene was compelled to retreat after much sanguinary fighting.
He was pursued by Rawdon for a small distance; but the latter,
contenting himself with having rescued, withdrew the garrison,
and abandoned the place to the Americans. He was in no condition
to pursue his enemy or to maintain his position. His Irish regiments
were not to be trusted, and the maintenance of the city and the seaboard
were paramount considerations. With such active and enterprising foes
as Marion and Sumter, between his army and his garrison, he felt
the insecurity of his hold upon the country. His posts in the interior
had now everywhere fallen into the hands of the Americans.
Augusta, with the three posts, Cornwallis, Grierson and Galphin,
had just been yielded to the arms of Pickens and Lee.
There were no longer any intermediate posts of defence,
from Orangeburg to Ninety-Six, and the latter was now so thoroughly isolated,
that prudence led to its abandonment. This necessity brought with it another,
which was much more painful and humiliating to the unfortunate loyalists
of that country, who had so long sided with the British arms
against their countrymen. They were compelled to abandon their homes
and share the fortunes of the retreating army. They were without refuge,
and the spirit of the warfare had been such as to leave them hopeless of mercy
in any encounter with the Whigs. A mournful cavalcade followed
in the train of the British army, and retarded its progress.
Greene, as he discovered Rawdon's movements to be retrograde,
turned upon his retreating footsteps. His cavalry harassed the enemy
and hastened his flight. At Ancrum's ferry on the Congaree,
Greene, in advance of his army, joined Marion and Washington,
the latter with his cavalry, the former with four hundred mounted militia;
and, at the head of these two corps, pressing down the Orangeburg road,
on the 6th of July, he succeeded in passing Lord Rawdon.
Retaining command of Washington's cavalry, he dispatched Marion
with his mounted militia to intercept a valuable convoy, freighted not only
for relief of Rawdon's army, but with all the various supplies and material
necessary for the establishment of the British post at Granby.
Marion was unsuccessful. The convoy under Lieut.-Col. Stewart escaped
without being conscious of its danger. He had taken one of two roads,
while Marion watched for him upon the other. On the morning of the 8th,
Stewart and Rawdon effected a junction in Orangeburg.
The condition of the British army on that day is thus described
in a letter of Marion to Greene:
* Johnson's Greene, vol. 2, p. 146.
"Their troops are so fatigued they cannot possibly move. Three regiments
were going to lay down their arms, and it is believed they will to-day,
if they are ordered to march. They have no idea of any force
being near them."
At Orangeburg, Rawdon was too strongly posted for any attempts of Greene.
Here, with his own force and that of Stewart, numbering fifteen hundred men,
he was joined by Col. Cruger from Ninety-Six, with thirteen hundred more.
Orangeburg is situated on the east bank of the North Edisto, which half
encircles it. North and south are swamps and ravines, which so nearly
approach each other as to leave but a narrow and broken passage
on the east side. The gaol, a strong brick building of two stories,
not inferior to a strong redoubt, with some other buildings,
commanded the approach. "The crown of the hill on which it stood,
was sufficiently spacious for manoeuvering the whole British army,
and the houses and fences afforded shelter against all attempts
of the American cavalry or mounted militia," while, in case of defeat,
the bridge in their rear afforded as secure means of retreat. An attempt
upon such a position, with a force consisting chiefly of mounted infantry,
would have been folly, and Greene, after a brief demonstration,
determined to withdraw one half of his army towards the Congaree,
while the other was sent forward upon that memorable incursion
into the lower country, by which the enemy, from all quarters,
were driven into Charleston; and, with the exception of the force
at Orangeburg, for a brief period, every vestige of British power
was swept away, down to the very gates of the former place.
The command of this detachment was given to Sumter. Acting under him,
were Marion, Lee, the Hamptons, Taylor, Horry, Mayham, and others
of those active partisans who had kept alive the war from the beginning.
The command consisted of all the State troops, Lee's legion,
and a detachment of artillery, with one field piece; in all
about a thousand men. The object of this movement was not only to strike
at the British line of posts, but to divert the attention of Rawdon
from the Congaree, where it was his policy to re-establish himself in force.
The force under Sumter, as it approached the scene of operations,
was broken into separate detachments. Dorchester was yielded
without resistance to the corps under Lee, while Col. Wade Hampton,
pressing to the very lines of Charleston, captured the guard and patrol
at the Quarter House, and spread terror through the city.
Sumter and Marion then proceeded against the post at Biggin,
held by Col. Coates of the British army, a spirited officer,
with a garrison of five hundred infantry, one hundred and fifty horse,
and one piece of artillery. The post at Biggin consisted of a redoubt
at Monk's Corner, and the church, about a mile distant, near Biggin Bridge.
This church was a strong brick building, which covered the bridge,
and secured the retreat at that point, by way of Monk's Corner.
Biggin Creek is one of many streams which empty into Cooper river.
Of these, it is the most northwardly. On the east of this creek,
the road to Charleston crosses Watboo and Quinby Creeks.
The destruction of Watboo bridge rendered impracticable
the retreat by the eastern route, and this bridge, accordingly,
became an important object to both the British and Americans.
A detachment of Marion's men, under Col. Mayham, was sent forward
to destroy the Watboo bridge, and thus cut off the retreat of the enemy.
But the position and force of Col. Coates prevented the approach of Mayham,
and he waited the advance of the main body. On the 16th July,
he was reinforced by a detachment under Col. Peter Horry,
who, assuming the command, proceeded to the attempt upon the bridge.
The enemy's cavalry opposed themselves to the attempt;
a short action ensued; they were defeated, and driven back with loss.
The mounted riflemen broke through them, and a number of prisoners were taken.
Horry then dispatched a party to destroy the bridge, and remained
to cover the men engaged in the work. But the enemy soon reappeared in force,
and Horry, with his working party, was compelled to retire, in turn,
upon the main body. Sumter, believing that Coates had marched out
to give him battle, took post in a defile, and awaited him;
but the purpose of the enemy was only to gain time -- to wear out the day,
amusing him, while they made secret preparations for flight.
Their stores were accumulated in the church, which had been their fortress,
and, at midnight, the flames bursting through the roof of the devoted building
announced to the Americans the retreat of the foe. The pursuit was
immediately commenced, and, in order that it might not be impeded,
the only piece of artillery which Sumter had, was unfortunately left behind,
under Lieut. Singleton. Lee and Hampton led the pursuit until,
having passed the Watboo, they discovered that the cavalry of the enemy
had separated from the infantry, taking the right hand route.
Hampton then struck off in pursuit of the former, in hope to overtake them
before they could reach the river; but he urged his panting horses in vain.
They had completed their escape, and secured the boats on the opposite side,
before he could come up with them.
Marion's cavalry, meanwhile, under Col. Mayham, had joined the Legion cavalry
in pursuit of the infantry. About a mile to the north of Quinby Creek,
the rearguard of the retreating army was overtaken. With this body,
which consisted of one hundred men, under Capt. Campbell, was nearly
all the baggage of the British army. Terrified by the furious charge
of the Americans, they threw down their arms without firing a gun.
Favored by this circumstance, the cavalry of Mayham, and the Legion,
pressed forward. Coates had passed Quinby Bridge, and made dispositions
for its demolition, as soon as the rear-guard and baggage should have passed.
The planks which covered the bridge had been loosened from the sleepers,
and a howitzer, at the opposite extremity, was placed to check the pursuit.
But, as the rear-guard had been captured without firing a shot,
their commander was unapprised of their fate, and unprepared for
immediate defence. Fortunately for his command, he was present at the bridge
when the American cavalry came in view. His main body, at this moment,
was partly on the causeway, on the south side of the bridge,
and partly pressed into a lane beyond it -- in both situations so crowded
as to be almost wholly incapable of immediate action. Coates, however,
coolly took measures for his safety. Orders were dispatched to them to halt,
form, and march up, whilst the artillerists were summoned to the howitzer,
and the fatigue party to the destruction of the bridge.
The legion cavalry were in advance of Mayham's command. Captain Armstrong
led the first section. Their approach to the bridge was marked
by all the circumstances of danger. They were pressing upon each other
into a narrow causeway, the planks of the bridge were fast sliding
into the water, and the blazing port-fire hung over the howitzer.
The disappearance of the fatigue party from the bridge would be the signal
for it to vomit death upon the ranks of the approaching Americans.
There was no time for deliberation. Armstrong, followed close by his section,
dashed over the bridge and drove the artillerists from the gun.
Lieutenant Carrington followed, but the third section faltered.
Mayham, of Marion's cavalry, feeling the halt, charged by them;
but the death of his horse arrested his career. Captain Macauley,
who led his front section, pressed on and passed the bridge. The causeway
was now crowded; the conflict was hand to hand. Some of the working party,
snatching up their guns, delivered a single fire and fled.
Two of the legion dragoons were slain at the mouth of the howitzer,
several wounded. But the officers remained unhurt. Coates,
with several of the British, covered by a wagon, opposed them
with their swords, while their troops were hurrying forward
to where they could display. Meanwhile, Lee, with the rest of the legion,
had reached the bridge, which they proceeded to repair.
A momentary pause for reflection, a glance before and around them,
revealed to Armstrong and Macauley, the fact that they were almost alone,
unsupported by their party, and with the British recovering themselves
in front. They reflected that, only while the British officers
were in their rear, should they be secure from the fire of the enemy in front;
and, urging their way through the flying soldiers on the causeway,
they wheeled into the woods on their left, and escaped by heading the stream.
Had they been followed by the whole party, boldly charging across the bridge,
the entire force of the enemy must have laid down their arms.
The British were so crowded in the lane and causeway, in such
inextricable confusion, without room to display or to defend themselves,
that they must have yielded by spontaneous movement to avoid being
cut to pieces. The reproach lies heavily against the halting cavalry,
that could leave to their fate the brave fellows who had crossed the bridge.
Colonel Coates dared not longer trust himself in the open country
in the face of a cavalry so active and powerful. Retiring to
Shubrick's plantation, after destroying the bridge, he resolved
to defend himself under cover of the buildings. These were situated
on a rising ground, and consisted of a dwelling-house of two stories,
with outhouses and fences. They afforded security against cavalry,
and a good covering from the American marksmen.
It was not till 3 o'clock, P.M., that Sumter, with the main body
of the Americans, reached the ground. He found the British
drawn up in a square in front of the house, and ready to receive him.
As he had very few bayonets, to march directly up to the attack
would have been out of the question. He divided his force into three bodies.
His own brigade, led by Cols. Middleton and Polk, Taylor and Lacy,
advanced in front, under shelter of a line of negro houses, which they
were ordered to occupy. Marion's brigade, thrown into two divisions,
was ordered to advance on the right of the British, where there was no shelter
but that of fences, and those within forty or fifty yards of the houses
held by the enemy. The cavalry constituted a reserve, to cover the infantry
Sumter's brigade soon gained the negro houses, from whence
they delivered their rifles with great effect. Col. Taylor
with about forty-five men of his regiment, pressing forward to the fences
on the enemy's left, drew upon him the bayonets of the British,
before which they yielded. Marion's men, in the meantime,
seeing the danger of Taylor's party, with a degree of firmness and gallantry
which would have done honor to any soldiers, rushed through a galling fire
and extricated them; and, notwithstanding the imperfect covering
afforded them by the rail fence along which they ranged themselves,
they continued to fight and fire as long as a single charge of ammunition
remained with the corps. The brunt of the battle fell upon them,
and they maintained in this, the reputation acquired
in many a border struggle. More than fifty men, all of Marion's,
were killed or wounded in this affair, but the loss did not dispirit
the survivors. They were drawn off in perfect order,
only when their ammunition was expended.
The fight lasted three hours, from four o'clock until dark.
Seventy of the British fell. But the want of the field-piece
left behind with Singleton, and the failure of their ammunition,
not a charge of which remained with the Americans at the close of the fight,
saved the enemy, whose infantry alone, according to Sumter, was superior
to his whole force. The Americans attacked them with half their number.
But Coates held his position, and tidings of the approach of Rawdon,
who had left Orangeburg, prompted Sumter to retreat across the Santee.
His expedition had not been successful. It does not concern us
to inquire by whose errors or defects it failed. Enough, that, in all things,
where Marion and his men were concerned, they acquitted themselves in a manner
calculated to sustain their former reputation. The attack upon Coates
at the house, we are told, was made against Marion's opinion,
who blamed Sumter for wasting the lives of his men. Without a field-piece,
it was scarcely possible that an inferior should have succeeded against
a superior force, in a strong position. Sumter was courageous to rashness.
His spirit could not be restrained in sight of the enemy.
With a brave force at his command, he was not satisfied to be idle,
and his courage was frequently exercised at the expense of his judgment.
The men of Marion complained that they had been exposed unnecessarily
in the conflict. It is certain that they were the only sufferers.
Had Sumter but waited for his artillery, and simply held the enemy in check,
the victory must have been complete, and this victory
was of the last importance to the Americans. It would have involved
the loss of one entire British regiment, at a moment when,
two others having been required at New York from South Carolina,
the force remaining with Rawdon would have been barely adequate
to the retention of Charleston. This necessity would have withdrawn
the latter general at once from Orangeburg, and the subsequent
bloody battle of Eutaw would have been averted accordingly.
Greene, speaking of this combat, writes: -- "The affair was clever,
but by no means equal to what it ought to have been.
The whole regiment of six hundred men would have been captured,
if General Sumter had not detailed too much, and had not mistaken
a covering party for an attack." It may be added, that the party
actually engaged in the attack on Coates, were almost exclusively
South Carolina militia. Under favorite leaders they had betrayed
no such apprehensions as are natural enough to men who lack confidence
in themselves and captains. They had shown the courage of veterans,
though they may have failed of that entire success which is usually supposed
to follow from a veteran experience.
Marion moves secretly to Pon-Pon -- Rescues Col. Harden --
Defeats Major Frazier at Parker's Ferry -- Joins the main Army under Greene
-- Battle of Eutaw.
After the battle of Quinby the joint forces of Sumter and Marion
were separated. The former retired up the Congaree; the latter took charge
of the country on the Santee; while Greene placed himself in a camp of rest
at the High Hills in the district which has since taken the name of Sumter.
His troops were in a wretched state of incapacity, in consequence of sickness.
The region to which he retired was famous for its salubrity,
and the intense heat of the season effectually forbade much military activity.
The opposing generals were content to watch each other.
It was while he held this position that Col. Hayne, of the militia,
was executed as a traitor by the British. The case of this gentleman
was that of many in the State. He had taken parole at a time when the country
was overrun by the enemy. This parole was subsequently withdrawn
by the conquerors, when they supposed the people to have been subdued,
and desired their services as militia. But the British were in turn
driven from the field. The Americans acquired the ascendant.
The section of the country in which Hayne resided was overrun by a detachment
of Marion, under Col. Harden, and Hayne availed himself of the occasion
to take up arms for his country. He was a popular gentleman,
and soon gathered a strong party of militia. His career was distinguished
by some small successes, and, with a party of Col. Harden's horse,
by a sudden dash in the vicinity of Charleston, he succeeded
in taking prisoner General Williamson, formerly of the Americans,
whose life was forfeited to the country. The capture of Williamson
put all the available cavalry of the British into activity,
and by an unfortunate indiscretion, Hayne suffered himself to be overtaken.
His execution soon followed his capture. This was a proceeding equally
barbarous and unjustifiable -- neither sanctioned by policy nor propriety.
It took place after a brief examination, and without any trial.
The proceeding was equally unauthorized by civil and martial law.
It was not long before this, as the reader will remember, that Marion,
in consequence of the execution of some of his men by the British,
had threatened them with retaliation. Greene, who knew the decisive character
of Marion, and was apprehensive that this wanton crime would render him
as prompt as he was fearless, in avenging it, thus writes to prevent him:
"Do not take any measures in the matter towards retaliation,
for I do not intend to retaliate upon the TORY officers, but the BRITISH.
It is my intention to demand the reasons of the Colonel's being put to death;
and if they are unsatisfactory, as I am sure they will be,
and if they refuse to make satisfaction, as I expect they will,
to publish my intention of giving no quarter to British officers, of any rank,
that fall into our hands. Should we attempt to retaliate
upon their militia officers, I am sure they would persevere in the measure,
in order to increase the animosity between the Whigs and Tories,
that they might stand idle spectators, and see them butcher each other.
As I do not wish my intentions known to the enemy but through
an official channel, and as this WILL BE DELAYED FOR SOME FEW DAYS
TO GIVE OUR FRIENDS IN ST. AUGUSTINE TIME TO GET OFF,
I wish you not to mention the matter to any mortal out of your family."
Weems represents Marion as being greatly averse to this measure
of retaliation, and as having censured those officers of the regular army
who demanded of Greene the adoption of this remedy. But the biographer
wrote rather from his own benevolent nature than from the record.
Marion had no scruples about the necessity of such a measure
in particular cases; and, however much he might wish to avoid its execution,
he was yet fully prepared to adopt it whenever the policy of the proceeding
was unquestionable. Fortunately, the decisive resolutions which were
expressed by the Americans, their increasing successes, the fact that
they had several British officers of reputation in their hands, --
all conspired to produce, in the minds of the enemy, a greater regard
to the rights of justice and humanity. As retaliation in such cases
is justifiable only as a preventive and remedial measure,
it now ceased to be necessary; and, with proper views of the affair,
the resolves of Greene and Marion were suffered to remain unexpunged,
in proof of their indignation, rather than their purpose. But a few days
had elapsed after the execution of Hayne when a party of Marion's men,
under Captain Ervine, fell in with and captured a favorite British officer,
Captain Campbell, with two subalterns, in charge of a convoying detachment.
They were at once committed to the provost guard, and soon communicated
their apprehensions to Charleston. A meeting of British officers was held,
and their dissatisfaction at this new feature, introduced into
the warfare of the country, was expressed in such terms, as contributed,
along with the prompt proceedings of the Americans, to bring Balfour,
the commandant of Charleston, under whose authority the execution of Hayne
had taken place, to a better sense of mercy and prudence. We shall have
no farther occasion to refer to these proceedings. It is enough
that the threat of retaliation, followed up by such decided movements
as left no doubt of the resolution of the Americans,
produced all the beneficial effects which could have accrued
from its execution.
The incursion of Sumter and Marion into the low country, drew Lord Rawdon
from Orangeburg, with five hundred men, to Charleston, from which place,
after lingering just long enough to witness the death of Hayne,
he sailed for New York. He left Lieut.-Col. Stewart in command at Orangeburg.
From this post, Stewart moved to McCord's ferry, on the Congaree,
on the south side of which he took post, amidst the hills near the confluence
of the Wateree and Congaree. Greene's camp lay directly opposite,
and the fires of the mutual armies were distinctly seen by each other.
The heat of the weather suspended all regular military operations.
Two large rivers intervening secured each from sudden attack,
and their toils were confined to operating in small detachments,
for foraging or convoy. In this service, on the American side,
Col. Washington was detached -- as soon as the course of Stewart
was ascertained -- down the country across the Santee; Lee was sent upward,
along the north bank of the Congaree; the latter to operate
with Col. Henderson, then in command of Sumter's brigade,
at Fridig's ferry, and the former to strike at the communication
between the enemy and Charleston, and to cooperate with Marion and Mayham,
in covering the lower Santee. Col. Harden, at the same time,
with a body of mounted militia, had it in charge to straiten the enemy
upon the Edisto.
The activity of these several parties and their frequent successes,
were such that Stewart was compelled to look for his supplies to the country
below him. This necessity caused him to re-establish and strengthen the post
at Dorchester, in order to cover the communication by Orangeburg; and to place
a force at Fairlawn, near the head of the navigation of Cooper river,
from which supplies from Charleston were transported to headquarters
over land. As this route was watched by Marion, Washington and Mayham,
the British commander was compelled, in order to secure
the means of communication with the opposite bank of the Congaree
and to draw supplies from thence, to transport boats adapted to the purpose,
on wagon-wheels, from Fairlawn to the Congaree.
Such were the relative positions of the two armies until the 22d of August,
when Greene, calling in all his detachments except those under Marion,
Mayham and Harden, broke up his camp at the High Hills and proceeded
to Howell's ferry, on the Congaree, with the intention
immediately to cross it and advance upon Stewart. That officer,
on hearing of the movement of the Americans, fell back upon
his reinforcements and convoys, and took up a strong position
at the Eutaw Springs.
Meanwhile, Marion disappeared from the Santee on one of those
secret expeditions in which his wonderful celerity and adroit management
conducted his men so frequently to success. His present aim was the Pon-Pon.
Col. Harden was at this time in that quarter, and closely pressed
by a superior British force of five hundred men. Detaching a party
of mounted militia to the neighborhood of Dorchester and Monk's Corner,
as much to divert the enemy from his own movements as with any other object,
he proceeded with two hundred picked men on his secret expedition.
By a forced march, he crossed the country from St. Stephen's to the Edisto --
passing through both lines of the enemy's communication with Charleston,
and reached Harden -- a distance of one hundred miles -- in season for
his relief. His approach and arrival were totally unsuspected by the enemy,
for whom he prepared an ambush in a swamp near Parker's ferry.
A small body of his swiftest horse were sent out to decoy the British
into the snare. A white feather, rather too conspicuously worn
by one of his men in ambush, had nearly defeated his design.
Some Tories passing, discovered this unnecessary plumage, and one of them
fired upon the wearer. This led to an exchange of shots; but Major Frazier,
by whom the British were commanded, assuming the party thus concealed
to be that of Harden, whom it was his aim to find, pursued the horsemen
whom Marion had sent out to entice him to the ambuscade. His cavalry
was led at full charge within forty yards of the concealed riflemen.
A deadly fire was poured in, under which the British recoiled;
attempting to wheel and charge the swamp, they received a second;
and, closely wedged as their men were upon the narrow causeway
over which they came, every shot bore its warrant. There was no retreating,
no penetrating the ambush, and the British cavalry had but to go forward,
along the road to the ferry, thus passing the entire line of the ambuscade.
The corps was most effectually thinned by the time it got beyond rifle reach;
and still more fatal would have been the affray to the advancing
infantry of Frazier -- a large body, with a field-piece --
but for one of those lamentable deficiencies of materiel,
which so frequently plucked complete success from the grasp of the Americans.
The ammunition of our partisan failed him, and he was compelled
to yield the ground to the enemy, who was otherwise wholly in his power.
The British loss was unknown. Twenty-seven dead horses
were counted on the field the day after; the men had all been buried.
As Marion's men fired with either a ball or heavy buck-shot, and as none
would aim at horses, the loss of the British must have been very great.
Nine days after, at the battle of Eutaw, they had few cavalry in the field.
But, though the victory was incomplete, Marion had attained his object.
He had rescued Harden, without loss to himself. He had traversed
more than two hundred miles of country, through a region held by the enemy;
returned by the same route, -- delivered his prisoners to the care of Mayham,
-- returned twenty miles below the Eutaw, in order to watch the communication
between that place and Fairlawn -- then, at the call of Greene,
made a circuit and passed the British army, so as to reach a position
on the south side of the Santee, in the track of Greene's advance;
and all this in the brief compass of six days. Yet, of these movements,
which merited and received the particular thanks of Congress, we are without
any data in our records. The complimentary resolution of Congress
fixes the battle at Parker's ferry on the 31st August.
Seventeen miles from Eutaw Springs, at Lauren's plantation,
Marion effected a junction with the commander-in-chief.
Greene was pressing forward to a meeting with Stewart. Of this object
the latter seemed to have been profoundly ignorant up to this moment.
But the day before, he knew that Marion was twenty miles below him,
and did not conjecture that, by marching the whole night,
he had thrown himself above him to join with Greene. Without this junction
he had no apprehension that the latter, with an inferior force,
would venture an attack upon him, in the strong position which he held.
On the afternoon of the 7th September, the army reached Burdell's tavern
on the Congaree road, seven miles from the Eutaws. The force under Greene
amounted to two thousand men, all told. That under General Stewart
was probably about the same. It is estimated to have been
two thousand three hundred. These were all disciplined troops,
and a large proportion of the old regiments consisted of native marksmen
from the ranks of the loyalists. In cavalry, Greene had the advantage,
but a great portion of his men were militia. In artillery the two armies
were equal. The British had five and the Americans four pieces.
The memorable battle of the Eutaw Springs was fought on the 8th September.
At four o'clock in the morning the Americans moved from their bivouac
down to the attack. The day was fair, but intensely hot; but the combatants
at the commencement of the battle were relieved by the shade of the woods.
The South Carolina State troops and Lee's legion formed the advance
under Colonel Henderson. The militia, both of South and North Carolina,