Part 5 out of 6
moved next, under Marion. Then followed the regulars under Gen. Sumner;
and the rear was closed by Washington's cavalry, and Kirkwood's Delawares,
under Col. Washington. The artillery moved between the columns.
The troops were thus arranged in reference to their order of battle.
Of the approach of the Americans Stewart was wholly ignorant on the evening
of the 7th. The only patrol which had been sent up the Congaree road
had been captured during the night, and Stewart himself says, in excuse,
that "the Americans had waylaid the swamps and passes in such a manner
as to cut off every avenue of intelligence." So entirely secure
had he felt himself in his position, which was a strong one,
that he had sent out an unarmed party of one hundred men,
in the very direction of Greene's advance, to gather sweet potatoes.
This party, called a rooting party, after advancing about three miles,
had pursued a road to the right, which led to the river plantations.
Advised, by two deserters from the North Carolina militia,
of Greene's approach, Stewart dispatched Captain Coffin, with his cavalry,
to recall the rooting party, and to reconnoitre the Americans.
Before Coffin could effect either object, he encountered
the American advance, and, in total ignorance of its strength,
charged it with a degree of confidence, which led Greene to imagine
that Stewart with his whole army was at hand. Coffin was easily repulsed;
the rooting party, alarmed by the firing, hurried from the woods,
and were all made prisoners. Meanwhile, Stewart, now thoroughly aware
of the proximity of his enemy, pushed forward a detachment of infantry,
a mile distant from the Eutaw, with orders to engage and detain
the American troops while he formed his men and prepared for battle.
But Greene, whom the audacity of Coffin had deceived, halted his columns
where they stood, and proceeded to display them. The column of militia
formed the first line; the South Carolina militia in equal divisions
on the right and left, and the North Carolinians in the centre.
General Marion commanded the right, General Pickens the left,
and Col. Malmedy the centre. Col. Henderson, with the State troops,
including Sumter's brigade, covered the left of this line,
and Col. Lee, with his legion, the right. The column of regulars
also displayed in one line. The North Carolinians, under Gen. Sumner,
occupied the right; the Marylanders, under Col. Williams, the left;
the Virginians, under Col. Campbell, the centre. Two pieces of artillery
were assigned to each line. Col. Washington moved in column in the rear,
keeping himself in reserve. In this order, the troops pressed forward slowly,
as the country on both sides of the road was in wood,
and prevented much expedition. Moving thus, the first line encountered
the advance parties of Stewart, and drove them before it,
until the entire line of the British army, displayed in order of battle,
received, and gave shelter to, the fugitives.
The troops of Stewart were drawn up in one line at about two hundred yards
west of the Eutaw Springs; the Buffs on the right, Cruger's corps
in the centre, and the 63d and 64th on the left. Major Marjoribanks,
with three hundred of his best troops, was strongly posted,
so as to flank the Buffs, under shelter of a thick wood on the Eutaw Creek,
which covered the right of the whole line; the left was,
in military `parlance', `in air' -- resting in the wood,
and supported by Coffin's cavalry -- reduced to a very small number --
and a respectable detachment of infantry. His ground was altogether in wood,
but, at a small distance, in the rear of his line, was an open field,
on the edge of which stood a strong brick dwelling, with offices, out-houses,
and a palisadoed garden, in all of which a stout resistance might be made.
On this brick house, Stewart had already cast his eyes,
as the means of saving his army in any `dernier' necessity.
The house was of two stories, and abundantly strong to resist small arms.
Its windows commanded all the open space around. Major Sheridan
was ordered to throw himself into it, with his command,
in case of an unfavorable issue to the fight; and in this position
to overawe the Americans, and cover the army. Feeble in cavalry,
in which the Americans were strong, there was no other means
for retreat and support in the event of a capital misfortune.
The American approach was from the west. The first line,
consisting wholly of militia, went into action, and continued in it
with a coolness and stubbornness which, says Greene, "would have graced
the veterans of the great king of Prussia." Such conduct
was almost invariable on their part, wherever Marion or Pickens commanded.
Steadily and without faltering, they advanced into
the hottest of the enemy's fire, with shouts and exhortations,
which were not lessened by the continual fall of their comrades around them.
Their line was all the while receiving the fire of double their number --
they were opposed to the entire line of the British. The carnage was severe,
and very equal on both sides. The two pieces of artillery
were at length disabled, and after exchanging seventeen rounds with the enemy,
the militia began to falter. Gen. Sumner was ordered up to their support,
with the North Carolina Continentals. With the advance of Sumner,
Stewart brought into line on his left, the infantry of his reserve,
and the battle, between fresh troops on both sides, raged with renewed fury.
From the commencement of the action, the infantry of the American
covering parties, right and left, had been steadily engaged.
The State troops, under Henderson, had suffered greatly. The American left,
which they flanked, falling far short of the British right in length,
they were exposed to the oblique fire of a large proportion
of the British left, and particularly of the battalion
commanded by Marjoribanks. Henderson himself was disabled, and his men,
denied to charge the enemy under whose fire they were suffering --
for they were necessary to the safety of the artillery and militia --
were subjected to a trial of their constancy, which very few soldiers,
whatever may have been their training, would have borne so well.
Meanwhile, the brigade of Sumner recoiled from the fire of the greater numbers
opposed to them in front. At this sight, the exultation of the British Left
hurried them forward, assured of certain victory. Their line became deranged,
and the American general, promptly availing himself of the opportunity,
issued his command to Col. Williams, who had in charge the remaining portion
of his second line, to "advance, and sweep the field with his bayonets."
The two battalions obeyed the order with a shout. The Virginians,
when within forty yards of the enemy, poured in a destructive fire,
and the whole second line with trailed arms pressed on to the charge.
The advanced left of the British recoiled, and, just at this juncture,
the legion infantry delivered an enfilading fire, which threw them into
irretrievable disorder. The British centre, pressed upon by the fugitives,
began to give way from left to right, and the fire of the Marylanders,
poured in at the proper moment, completed their disaster.
Their whole front yielded, and the shouts of the Americans
declared their exultation, as at a victory already won.
Unquestionably, the day was theirs. The enemy had fled from the battle.
But a new one was to begin, in which victory, at present so secure,
was taken from their grasp. In the effort to prevent the enemy from rallying,
and to cut him off from the brick dwelling, into which Sheridan,
obeying the commands of Stewart, had thrown himself as soon as the necessity
became apparent, the greatest loss of the Americans was sustained.
Marjoribanks still held his ground, with his entire battalion,
in the thick woods which skirted Eutaw Creek, and so well covered was he that,
in an attempt to penetrate with his cavalry, Col. Washington became entangled
in the thicket, and fell into the hands of the enemy, while his men
suffered severely from their fire, and his troop was routed. A second time
were they brought to the charge, but with no better success than before.
Marjoribanks still maintained his position, watching the moment
when to emerge from the thicket with the best prospect of safety to himself,
and hurt to the Americans. He was soon to have an opportunity.
The British line had yielded and broken before the American bayonet.
The latter pressed closely upon their heels, made many prisoners,
and might have cut them off, and, by isolating Marjoribanks,
forced him to surrender, but for one of those occurrences
which so frequently in battle change the fortunes of the day.
The course of the fugitives led them directly through the British encampment.
There everything was given up for lost. The tents were all standing,
the commissaries had abandoned their stores, and the numerous
retainers of the army were already in full flight for Charleston.
When the pursuing Americans penetrated the encampment, they lost sight
of the fugitives in the contemplation of various objects of temptation which,
to a half-naked and half-starved soldiery, were irresistible.
The pursuit was forborne; the Americans fastened upon
the liquors and refreshments scattered among the tents; and the whole army,
with the exception of one or two corps, then fell into confusion.
Yet, so closely had the British been pursued to the shelter of the house,
and so narrow was their escape, that some of the Americans had nearly
obtained entrance with them. It was only by shutting the door against
some of their own officers, that they made it secure against the enemy;
and in retiring from the house, now a citadel, the Americans only found safety
by interposing the bodies of the officers, thus made captive
at the entrance, between themselves and the fire from the windows.
One ludicrous incident is told of Major Barry, who was taken in this manner,
and made use of as a shield by Lieut. Manning, as he retreated
from before the house, which otherwise he could not have left in safety.
Without struggling or making the slightest effort for his extrication,
Barry only enumerated his own titles with a profound solemnity.
"Sir, I am Henry Barry, Deputy Adjutant General of the British army,
Secretary to the Commandant of Charleston, Captain in the 52d regiment," &c.
"Enough, enough, sir," answered Manning. "You are just the man
I was looking for. Fear nothing: you shall SCREEN ME from danger,
and I shall take special care of you." Manning escaped in safety
with his prisoner. But there were many brave officers far less fortunate.
Many were destined to perish in the miserable after struggle,
who had gone gloriously through the greater dangers of the fight.
The British tents had done what the British arms had failed to do.
Victory was lost to the Americans. Scattered throughout the encampment,
the soldiers became utterly unmanageable. The enemy, meanwhile,
had partially recovered from their panic. The party of Sheridan
were in possession of the house. Another party held possession
of the palisaded garden. Coffin was active with his remnant of cavalry,
and Marjoribanks still held a formidable position in the thicket
on Eutaw Creek. From the upper windows of the house,
the musketry of Sheridan traversed the encampment, which the Americans
now trembled to leave, lest they should suffer from their fire.
Every head that emerged from a tent was a mark for their bullets.
Aware, by this time, of the extent of his misfortune,
Greene ordered a retreat, which Hampton's cavalry was commanded to cover.
In the execution of this duty Hampton encountered the British cavalry.
A sharp action ensued; the latter fled, and in the ardor of pursuit,
the American horse approached so near to the position of Marjoribanks
as to receive a murderous fire, which prostrated one-third of their number
and scattered the rest. Before they could again be brought together,
Marjoribanks, seizing upon the chance afforded by a temporary
clearing of the field, emerged from the wood, at a moment which enabled him
to put a successful finish to the labors of the day. Two six-pounders,
which had been abandoned by the British, had been turned upon the house
by the Americans; but in their eagerness they had brought the pieces
within the range of fire from the windows of the house. The artillerists
had been shot down; and, in the absence of the American cavalry,
Marjoribanks was enabled to recover them. Wheeling them under
the walls of the house, he took a contiguous position, his own being
almost the only portion of the British army still in a condition
to renew the action. The Americans yielded the ground about the house,
but were promptly rallied in the skirts of the wood. The British were
too much crippled to pursue; and the respite was gladly seized upon
by the Americans to plunge headlong into the neighboring ponds,
to cool the heat and satisfy the intense thirst occasioned
by such efforts under the burning sun of a Carolina September.
Both sides claimed the victory, and with equal reason.
In the first part of the day it was clearly with the Americans.
They had driven the enemy from the field, in panic and with great loss.
They were in possession of five hundred prisoners, nearly all of whom
they retained. They had taken two out of the five pieces of artillery
which the British had brought into the action; and, something more to boast,
considering the proverbial renown of the British with this weapon,
it was at the point of the bayonet that they had swept the enemy
from the ground. The British took shelter in a fortress from which
the Americans were repulsed. It is of no consequence to assert
that the latter might have taken it. They might -- it was in their power
to have done so, -- but they did not; and the promptitude with which
the British availed themselves of this security, entitles them to the merit
which they claim. We are constrained to think that the business of the field
was strangely blundered by the Americans at the sequel. This may have arisen
from the carnage made at this period among their officers, particularly in
their persevering, but futile endeavors, to extricate the soldiers
from their tents. Under cover of a contiguous barn, the artillery presented
the means of forcing the building and reducing the garrison to submission.
The attempts made at this object, by this arm of the Americans, were rash,
badly counselled, and exposed to danger without adequate protection.
The British were saved by this error, by the luxuries contained
within their tents, by the spirited behavior of Coffin,
and the cool and steady valor of Marjoribanks.
Retreat of the British from Eutaw -- Pursuit of them by Marion and Lee --
Close of the Year.
That the results of victory lay with the Americans, was shown
by the events of the ensuing day. Leaving his dead unburied,
seventy of his wounded to the enemy, breaking up a thousand stand of arms,
and destroying his stores, General Stewart commenced a precipitate retreat
towards Fairlawn. The British power in Carolina was completely prostrated
by this battle. Five hundred prisoners fell into the hands of the Americans,
and it was Greene's purpose to have renewed the fight on the next day;
but the flight of Stewart anticipated and baffled his intentions.
He commenced pursuit, and detached Marion and Lee, by a circuitous route,
to gain the enemy's front, and interpose themselves between him
and the post at Fairlawn, from which Major M`Arthur had been summoned,
with five hundred men, to cover the retreat. But this plan was unsuccessful.
So precipitate was the march of Stewart, and so happily concerted
the movements of the two British officers, that they effected a junction
before Marion and Lee could reach Ferguson's Swamp,
their place of destination. The cavalry of the enemy's rear-guard
fell into the hands of the Americans, but Stewart was beyond pursuit.
In this flight, amongst others, the British lost the brave Major Marjoribanks,
who died of a fever, and was buried on the road. While they admitted a loss,
in killed, wounded, and missing, of half the number brought into the field,
that of the Americans was nearly equally severe, and fell
with particular severity upon the officers. Sixty-one of these
were killed or wounded; twenty-one died upon the field.
The returns exhibit a loss of one hundred and fourteen rank and file killed,
three hundred wounded, and forty missing -- an aggregate exceeding
a fourth of all who marched into battle. Many of Marion's men were killed,
though not so many as he lost in the affair of Quinby. Among his officers,
Capt. John Simons, of Pedee, was slain, and Col. Hugh Horry wounded.
Greene retired to the high hills of Santee, while Marion proceeded
to encamp at Payne's plantation, on Santee river swamp. This was
one of his favorite places of retreat. Here, in the depths of a cane-brake,
within a quarter of a mile from the Santee, he made himself a clearing,
"much," says Judge James, "to his liking," and, with the canes,
thatched the rude huts of his men. The high land was skirted by lakes,
which rendered the approach difficult; and here, as in perfect security,
he found forage for his horses, and provisions in abundance for his men.
Such a place of encampment, at such a season, would hardly commend itself now
to the citizen of Carolina. The modes and objects of culture,
and probably the climate, have undergone a change. The time was autumn,
the most sickly period of our year; and, to sleep in such a region now,
even for a single night, would be considered certain death to the white man.
It does not seem, at that period, that much apprehension of malaria was felt.*
* Judge James refers to this place as Peyre's, not Payne's, plantation,
and notes "It appears now there was very little sickness at that day."
In a footnote, he goes on to say: "Very soon after the revolutionary war,
this scene was entirely changed. Planters, in clearing their land,
had rolled logs and other rubbish from their fields,
into the lakes and creeks leading from the river, and many
threw trees into it to get them quickly out of the way. . . .
The waters below being obstructed, they flooded the low grounds. . . ."
This would explain the early absence, and later presence, of malaria,
as the mosquitoes necessary for transmitting it would thrive
in the still waters created by the planters. -- A. L., 1996.
But Marion did not linger long in any one situation. Hearing that the British
were about to send their wounded from Fairlawn to Charleston,
his restless enterprise prompted him to aim at the capture of the detachment.
Moving rapidly by night, he threw himself below the former place,
on the opposite bank of the river, and would certainly have intercepted them,
but for a slave of one of the plantations, who, hastening to the British camp,
reported his proximity. The arrival of a superior force compelled him
to steal away with a caution like that which marked his approach.
The command of the British army, in consequence of a wound
received by General Stewart at Eutaw, had devolved on Major Doyle.
This army, recruited by the force of M`Arthur, was still,
after all its losses, fully two thousand men. That of Greene,
reduced by wounds and sickness, could not muster one thousand fit for duty.
His cavalry had been greatly thinned by the late battle, and it was
not until the cavalry of Sumter's brigade could be brought together,
with Marion's mounted infantry, and the horse of Horry and Mayham,
that the superiority of the American general could be restored.
Doyle had taken post at Fludd's plantation, three miles above Nelson's Ferry,
on the Santee, with the main body of the British; M`Arthur held
the post at Fairlawn, with a detachment of three hundred.
Doyle, with some instinctive notion that his time was short, busied himself
in a career of plunder which threatened to strip the plantations
south of the Santee and Congaree, and westward to the Edisto, not only
of every negro which they contained, but of all other kinds of property.
Over this region, the feebleness of the American forces,
and their present deficiency in cavalry, gave him almost entire control.
The opposite banks were guarded by Marion and Hampton,
who afforded protection to everything that could be moved across,
and presented themselves at every point to the enemy, whenever he attempted
the passage of the river. Marion was at this time an invalid, but,
however much he might need, he asked for no repose or exemption from service
when the enemy was in the field. His force was also reduced by sickness.
Col. Mayham alone had no less than one hundred men unfit for duty.
Other circumstances kept the militia from coming to the summons of Marion.
Those on the borders of North Carolina were detained to meet and suppress
a rising of the loyalists of that State under Hector M`Neil,
and even those in his camp were unprovided with ammunition. Early in October,
we find him writing pressingly to General Greene and Governor Rutledge
for a supply. Rutledge answers, on the 10th of that month,
"I wish to God it was in my power to send you ammunition instantly,
but it is not." Col. Otho Williams, in the temporary absence of Greene,
writes, in answer: "Our stock of ammunition is quite exhausted --
we have not an ounce of powder, or a cartridge, in store." And yet,
it was under similar deficiencies that the men of Marion had labored
from the beginning; and half the time had they gone into battle
with less than three rounds of powder to a man. Williams further writes:
"His Excellency, Governor Rutledge, has intimated that you meditate
an expedition over the Santee. In making your determination,
if it is not settled, permit me to recommend to your consideration,
that THE GENERAL DEPENDS UPON YOU ENTIRELY FOR INTELLIGENCE
OF THE ENEMY'S MOTIONS." The activity of our partisan,
his elasticity of character, his independence of resources,
and usefulness to others, are all to be gathered from these two extracts.
Late in September of this year, Governor Rutledge issued a proclamation,
requiring that the disaffected should come in within thirty days, and perform
a six months tour of duty. The condition of pardon for all previous offences
was attached to this requisition. The idea of this proclamation
was borrowed from similar ones of the British generals,
when they first overran the country. The object was to secure those persons,
of whom there were numbers, who, in the declining fortunes of the British,
were not unwilling to turn upon and rend their old friends, no longer capable
of protecting or providing for them. The measure was of doubtful policy,
since it appealed to the basest feelings of humanity.
Its effects were considerable, however; numbers presented themselves
in the ranks of Marion, showing finely in contrast with
his ancient and half-naked veterans. "Their new white feathers,"
says James, "fine coats, new saddles and bridles, and FAMISHED horses,
showed that they had lately been in the British garrison." Their appearance,
not to speak of their previous career, naturally inspired distrust
in the minds of those whose scars and nakedness were the proofs
of their virtue; and another measure, which was adopted about this time,
had the further effect of impairing the value of that efficient brigade
upon which Marion had been accustomed to rely. In order to promote
the growth of the new regiments, it was permitted to all such persons
as could hire a substitute, to claim exemption from military duty.
This was a temptation too great to be resisted by those old soldiers who
had served from the first, who had left their families in wretched lodgings,
in poverty and distress, and from whose immediate neighborhood
the presence of the war was withdrawn. The six months men
were easily bought up to fill their places. The result was very injurious
to the `morale' of the brigade, and the evil effects of the measure
were soon felt in the imperfect subordination, the deficient firmness,
and the unprincipled character of the new recruits. It was productive
also of differences between two of Marion's best officers,
Horry and Mayham, which wrought evil consequences to the country.
Being commissioned on the same day as colonels of the new regiments,
they quarrelled about precedency. The fruits of this difference
will be seen hereafter.
As the winter set in, the army began to recruit, and the militia to embody
under their several commanders. Greene was joined by Cols. Shelby and Sevier,
with five hundred mountaineers, and these, with Horry and Mayham,
were ordered to place themselves under Marion, to operate in the country
between the Santee and Charleston. Sumter, at the same time,
with a brigade of State troops and some companies of militia,
was ordered to take post at Orangeburg, to cover the country
from the inroads of the loyalists from Charleston. Pickens, in the meantime,
with his regiments, traversed the border country, keeping in awe the Indians,
and suppressing the predatory movements of the Tories.
About the 1st November, the separate commands of Marion and Sumter
crossed the rivers, and advanced in the direction of the enemy.
The latter soon fell in with Cunningham's loyalists in force, and found it
prudent to fall back. But he kept Cunningham in check with a body of men
fully equal to his own. Marion, also, was compelled to come to a halt,
by encountering General Stewart, posted at Wantoot, with nearly
two thousand men. Stewart was at this time following up the peculiar labors
which had been undertaken by Major Doyle when in temporary charge of the army.
He was collecting slaves and laying in provisions, preparing for siege in,
and subsequent flight from, Charleston. The fall of Cornwallis, at Yorktown,
was known in the American camp on the 9th of November. It had been
anticipated in the British some time before. With the fate of that commander,
virtually terminated the British hope of re-conquering the country,
and the proceedings of their officers in the south, as elsewhere,
looked forward to the approaching necessity of flight. It was only becoming
that they should spoil the Egyptians previous to their departure.
The capture of Cornwallis produced a jubilee in the American camp.
In that of Marion the ladies of Santee were permitted to partake.
He gave them a fete -- we are not told what were the refreshments --
at the house of Mr. John Cantey. "The General," says James,
"was not very susceptible of the gentler emotions; he had his friends,
and was kind to his inferiors, but his mind was principally absorbed
by the love of country;" and the Judge rather insinuates that
the pleasure he felt on this occasion arose more from the fall of Cornwallis
than from the presence of the ladies.
On the same day, the 9th October,* he received the thanks of Congress
for "his wise, decided, and gallant conduct, in defending the liberties
of his country, and particularly for his prudent and intrepid attack
on a body of British troops on the 31st August last;
and for the distinguished part he took in the battle of the 8th September."
* This date is given in both Simms's and James's accounts --
both say that Marion received the thanks of Congress on the 9th October,
while celebrating the defeat of Cornwallis. But Cornwallis was defeated
on the 19th of that month. This date should probably be the 9th November,
and is most likely a repetition of James's error. -- A. L., 1996.
On the 18th November, the camp of the Hills was broken up,
and General Greene advanced with his army to the Four Holes, on the Edisto,
in full confidence that the force under Marion would be adequate
to keep General Stewart in check. But, by the 25th of the same month,
our partisan was abandoned by all the mountaineers under Shelby and Sevier,
a force of five hundred men. This was after a three weeks' service.
This miserable defection was ascribed to the withdrawal of Shelby
from the army on leave of absence. But, in all probability, it was due
to their impatience of the wary sort of warfare which it was found necessary
to pursue. The service was not sufficiently active for their habits.
Marion had been warned that he must keep them actively employed,
but all his efforts to do so had been unsuccessful. He had approached Stewart
at Wantoot, but, though the force of the latter was nominally far superior
to that of the partisan, he could not be drawn out of his encampment.
This was a subject of equal surprise and chagrin to Marion. Subsequently,
the reason of this timidity on the part of the British general was discovered.
A return, found on an orderly-sergeant who fell into Marion's hands,
showed that, out of two thousand two hundred and seventy-two men,
Stewart had nine hundred and twenty-eight on the sick list.
The only services in which the mountaineers were employed,
while with Marion, were in attacks on the post at Fairlawn,
and the redoubts at Wappetaw; and these required detachments only.
The movement against the latter was instantly successful --
the enemy abandoned it on the approach of the Americans.
But the post at Fairlawn was of more value, in better condition of defence,
a convenient depot, and, being in the rear of the British army,
then stationed at Wantoot, promised a stout resistance.
The American detachment against this place was led by Mayham.
In passing the post at Wantoot, he was ordered to show himself,
and, if possible, to decoy the British cavalry into the field.
The manoeuvre did not succeed, but it brought out a strong detachment,
which followed close upon his heels, and required that
what he should undertake should be done quickly. On approaching Fairlawn,
he found everything prepared for defence. He lost no time
in making his advances. A part of his riflemen were dismounted,
and, acting as infantry, approached the abbatis, while his cavalry
advanced boldly and demanded a surrender. The place, with all its sick,
three hundred stand of arms, and eighty convalescents,
was yielded at discretion.
With these small affairs ended the service of the mountaineers
in Marion's army. They retired to their native hills,
leaving Marion and Greene enmeshed in difficulties. It was on the strength
of this force, chiefly, that the latter had descended from the hills,
and he was now unable to recede. Marion, too, relying upon their support,
had crossed the Santee and placed himself in close proximity
on the right of the enemy. But the feebleness and timidity of Stewart,
and his ignorance of the state of affairs in Marion's camp,
saved these generals from the necessity of a retreat which would have been
equally full of danger and humiliation. The movement of Greene
across the Congaree induced him to draw towards Charleston, and Marion
was left in safety. The timidity shown by the enemy encouraged Greene,
and, dispatching a select party of horse under Wade Hampton,
he followed hard upon their steps with as many chosen infantry.
His purpose was the surprise of Dorchester. Stewart was descending
to the city by another route. Hampton's advance fell in with
a reconnoitring party of fifty men, and suffered few to escape;
and though Greene did not succeed in surprising the post at Dorchester,
his approach had the effect of producing its abandonment. During the night,
the garrison destroyed everything, threw their cannon into the river,
and retreated to Charleston. Greene did not venture to pursue,
as the enemy's infantry exceeded five hundred men. Meanwhile,
Stewart had hurried on by Goose Creek Bridge, and, joining the fugitives
from Dorchester, halted at the Quarter House, and prepared to encounter
the whole army of Greene, which, in their panic, was supposed to be
upon their heels. Such was the alarm in Charleston that General Leslie,
who now succeeded Stewart, proceeded to embody the slaves, in arms,
for the defence of that place, -- a measure which was soon repented of,
and almost as soon abandoned.
Greene fell back upon his main army, which had now advanced
to Saunders' plantation on the Round O., while Marion,
pressing nearer to Charleston, kept the right of the enemy in check.
The movements of our partisan were left to his own discretion.
Greene, in all cases, not only suffers the judgment of the former to determine
for himself his course, giving him a thoroughly independent command,
but he betrays the most respectful desire on frequent occasions
to have his opinion. Thus, on the 5th of November, he writes to him: --
"Gen. Sumter has orders to take post at Orangeburgh, to prevent the Tories
in that quarter from conveying supplies to town, and his advanced parties
will penetrate as low as Dorchester; therefore, you may act
in conjunction with him, or employ your troops on the enemy's left,
as you may find from information they can be best employed.
Please to give me your opinion on which side they can be most useful."
On the 15th of the same month, he writes again: "You are at liberty
to act as you think advisedly. I have no particular instructions to give you,
and only wish you to avoid surprise." The latter caution
to a soldier of Marion's character and prudence was scarcely necessary,
but he was so near the enemy, and the latter in such superior force,
that the suggestion, on the part of Greene, was only natural. Where Greene
himself lay, two rivers ran between his army and that of the British.
Without ammunition himself, and informed of reinforcements
which the enemy had received, to preserve a respectful distance between them,
was, on the part of the American commander, only a becoming caution.
It was now December, and the troops, both of Greene and Marion,
were without the necessary clothing. They had neither cloaks nor blankets.
On the 14th of that month, Greene received a supply of ammunition,
ALL of which he sent to Marion -- no small proof of the confidence
which he felt that, in such hands, it would not be thrown away.
Thus closed the campaign of 1781. By manoeuvre, and a successful
combination of events, the British troops had been driven down the country
and restrained within the narrow neck of land contiguous to Charleston.
The encampment of the main army continued at the Round O.
Marion was at Watboo on Cooper river, watching the enemy's right;
Sumter held Orangeburg and the bridge at Four Holes;
Hampton with fifty State cavalry kept open the communication
between Marion and the commander-in-chief; Cols. Harden and Wilkinson
watched the enemy's movements on the south between Charleston and Savannah:
and Col. Lee, posted in advance, with a light detachment,
kept him from prying into the real weakness of the American army.
In the ignorance of the British general, lay the security of the American;
for, at this particular time, there were not eight hundred men
at Greene's headquarters. A glance at any map of South Carolina
will show the judgment with which these several posts were taken,
at once for easy cooperation of the Americans, as for the control
of all the country above the positions actually held by the British.
The territory of the State, with the exception of that neck of land which lies
twelve or fifteen miles up from Charleston, between the approaching rivers
Ashley and Cooper, had all been recovered from the enemy.
But the necessities of the Americans, the want of military `materiel',
the thinness of the regiments, and the increasing strength of the British,
derived from foreign troops and accessions from other posts in America,
left it doubtful, under existing circumstances, whether it could be
long retained. But this misgiving was not allowed to prejudice or impair
the popular hope, resulting from the apparent successes of their arms;
and one of the modes adopted for contributing to this conviction
was the formal restoration of the native civil authority.
The members of the State Assembly, of whom Marion was one,
were accordingly required by the proclamation of Governor Rutledge --
who had held almost dictatorial powers from the beginning of the war --
to convene at Jacksonborough at an early day of the ensuing year.
Marion summoned to the Camp of Greene -- Defeats the British Horse
at St. Thomas -- Leaves his Command to Horry, and takes his Seat
in the Assembly at Jacksonborough, as Senator from St. John's, Berkeley --
Proceedings of the Assembly -- Confiscation Act --
Dispute between Cols. Mayham and Horry -- The Brigade of Marion surprised,
during his absence, by a Detachment from Charleston -- Marion's Encounter
with the British Horse -- Conspiracy in the Camp of Greene.
While the army of Greene lay at Round O., considerable alarm
was excited in the American camp by tidings of large reinforcements
made to the British strength in Charleston. General Leslie was now
in command of the latter. The contraction of the American military `cordon'
had very greatly straitened the resources and comforts of the British general.
The numerous refugees who had taken shelter in the city with their families,
the great accumulation of horses within the lines, and the vigilant watch
which was maintained over the islands and the neck by the American
light detachments, soon contributed to lessen the stock of provisions
in the capital, and to cut off its supplies. One consequence
of this condition was to compel Leslie to put two hundred of his horses
to death; while, by all other possible means, he collected his provisions
from the surrounding country. Considerable parties were kept upon the alert
for this object, and, to facilitate the movements of these parties,
strong posts were established at Haddrel's Point and Hobcaw.
The situation of these posts, on the extremities of tongues of land,
to which assistance might easily be conveyed by water, and from which retreat,
to an attacking enemy, was difficult, rendered them comparatively safe,
for the present, against the Americans. But the situation of Leslie
was one of uncomfortable constraint, and it was natural
that he should avail himself of any prospect which might promise him relief.
It was readily believed, therefore, in the American camp,
that, with the acquisition of new strength, by the arrival of reinforcements
from abroad, Leslie would seek to break through the cordon put around him.
The rumor of his approach, in strength, caused Greene to issue
his orders to Marion to repair to headquarters with all the force
he could draw after him. Our partisan promptly obeyed the summons;
but, on his way to join with Greene, he left a detachment of mounted infantry
in the neighborhood of Monk's Corner, to watch the motions of the enemy.
But Leslie's purpose was mistaken. His strength had been exaggerated.
He had no designs upon the camp of Greene, being no doubt
quite as ignorant of his weakness as the latter was of the British strength.
But the detachment left by Marion near Monk's Corner
caught the attention of the enemy, and, in the absence of the partisan,
it was thought accessible to a proper attempt from Charleston.
In all the movements of the British, it is very evident
that they attached no small importance to the presence of this chief.
A detachment of three hundred men, cavalry and infantry,
was transported by water to the north bank of the Wando river.
This body moved with equal secrecy and celerity. But they were disappointed
in their aim. Marion had returned from the Continental camp to his own.
The storm which threatened the former was overblown, and he was in season
to avert that by which the latter was threatened. His force was scarcely
equal to that of the enemy. He nevertheless resolved upon attacking them.
In order to keep them in play, while he advanced with his main body,
Cols. Richardson and Scriven, with a part of Mayham's horse,
were dispatched with orders to throw themselves in front of the British,
and engage them until he could come up. This order was gallantly executed.
They encountered the enemy's advance near the muster-house of St. Thomas,
charged them vigorously, and succeeded in putting them to flight,
with some slaughter. Capt. Campbell, of the British, and several others,
were killed. But the pursuit was urged too far. The cavalry of Mayham,
by which this success had been obtained, was of new organization.
Their training had been partial only. It was seen that,
though they drove the British horse before them, their own charge
was marked by disorder. Hurried forward by success,
they rushed into the jaws of danger, and were only brought to their senses
by an encounter with the whole of the British infantry.
A volley from this body drove them back in confusion, while the cavalry,
which had been flying before them, encouraged by the presence of the infantry,
rallied upon the steps of the pursuers, and drove them in turn.
They suffered severely, wedged upon a narrow causeway,
which gave them as little room for escape as evolution.
Twenty-two fell upon the spot, by the fire of the infantry.
The rest were rallied when sufficiently far from the more formidable enemy,
and, turning upon the British cavalry, once more put them to flight.
But the event left Marion too weak to press the encounter.
He contented himself with watching the motions of the British,
and they were sufficiently respectful not to press him
to any less pacific performance. They were satisfied to pursue their march,
and, gathering a few head of cattle, to retire to Haddrell's,
foregoing the more important object of their incursion. The field clear,
Marion left his brigade in charge of Horry, and repaired to Jacksonborough,
to attend the Assembly, to which he had been elected a member
from St. John, Berkeley, the same parish which he represented
in the Provincial Congress at the beginning of the war.
This was early in the year 1782. The Legislature met at Jacksonborough,
a little village on the Edisto or Pon-Pon river, on the 18th January
of this year. This position, almost within striking distance
of the British army at Charleston, was chosen with particular reference
to the moral influence which the boldness of such a choice
would be likely to have upon the people, and the confidence which
it seemed to declare in the ability of the American army
to render the place secure. To make it so, Greene moved his troops
across the Edisto, and took post at Skirving's plantation,
six miles in advance of Jacksonborough, and on the road which leads
to Charleston. There was yet another step necessary to this object.
The British, in addition to Charleston and the "Neck", held possession
of two islands, James and John, which belong to that inner chain of isles
which stretches along the coast from Charleston to Savannah,
separated from the main by creeks and marshes, and from one another
by the estuaries of rivers, sounds, or inlets. On John's Island,
which is fertile, extensive, and secure, the enemy held
a very respectable force under Col. Craig. Jacksonborough was within
striking distance of this force. It could be approached by boats or galleys,
in a single tide. It was equally assailable from this point by land.
As a matter of precaution, it was considered necessary to disperse this force,
and it was soon ascertained, not only that the island was accessible,
but that the enemy, relying upon the protection of his armed galleys,
was unapprehensive of attack. The attempt was entrusted
to Cols. Lee and Laurens, who, with separate parties,
were to reach the point of destination by different routes.
One of the parties lost the road, and failed to cooperate with the other.
The movement was only partially successful. A second was designed,
and succeeded. The galleys were driven from their station by the artillery,
and Laurens penetrated to Craig's encampment. But the latter had already
abandoned it. A few stragglers fell into the hands of the Americans,
but nothing more. The preceding attempt had just sufficed to convince Craig
of the insecurity of the place, and he had taken timely precautions
against suffering from a repetition of the attempt.
The Legislature assembled according to appointment. The proclamation
of the Governor, to whom, from the beginning of the war, had been accorded
almost dictatorial powers, precluded from election and suffrage all persons
who had taken British protections; and, as those who were true to the State
had been very generally active in the ranks of her military,
it followed, as a matter of course, that a great proportion of the members
were military men. Among these were Sumter and Marion. The former,
about this time, yielded his commission to the authorities,
on account of some slight or injustice to which he had been subjected,
and left the army when he took his seat in the Assembly.
General Henderson succeeded to his command. The Jacksonborough Assembly
was highly distinguished, as well for its talent as for
its worth and patriotism. Its character was, perhaps,
rather military than civil. Constituting as they did, in a slave community,
a sort of feudal aristocracy, and accustomed, as, for so long a time
they had been, to the use of the weapons of war, its members wore
the deportment of so many armed barons, gathered together quite as much
for action as resolve. It was not only unavoidable, but highly important
at this juncture, that such should be the character of this body.
Who could so well determine what were the necessities of the country --
what the exigencies of the people -- what the local resources and remedies --
as those who had fought its battles, traversed every acre of its soil,
and represented its interests and maintained its rights when there was
no civil authority? What legislators so likely to wield the popular will,
as men who, like Marion and Sumter, had become its rallying leaders --
whom the people had been accustomed to obey and follow, and by whom
they had been protected. It was equally important that the legislation
should come from such sources, when we consider the effect upon the enemy,
still having a foothold in the State. They might reasonably apprehend
that the laws springing from such a body would be marked
by a stern directness and decision of purpose which would leave nothing
to be hoped by disaffection or hostility; and their proceedings
did not disappoint the expectations of friend or foe.
The measures of this Assembly were marked by equal prudence and resolve.
They passed a new act respecting the militia, and one for raising
the State quota of Continental troops. One of their measures
has been questioned as unwise and impolitic -- that, namely,
for amercing and confiscating the estates of certain of the loyalists,
and for banishing the most obnoxious among them. Something,
certainly, is to be said in favor of this act. If vindictive,
it seems to have been necessary. It must be remembered that,
in consequence of a previous proclamation of the Governor,
none but the most implacable and virulent of the Tories
were liable to its operation -- none but those who had rejected
very liberal offers of indulgence and conciliation. This proclamation
had opened the door to reconciliation with the State, on very easy terms
to the offenders. It gave them timely warning to come in,
enrol themselves in the American ranks, and thus assure themselves
of that protection and safety which they had well forfeited.
Their neglect or refusal to accept this proffer of mercy, properly incurred
the penalties of contumacy. These penalties could be no other
than confiscation of property and banishment of person. Reasons of policy,
if not of absolute necessity, seemed to enforce these penalties.
How was the war to be carried on? Marion's men, for example, received no pay,
no food, no clothing. They had borne the dangers and the toils of war,
not only without pay, but without the hope of it. They had done more --
they had yielded up their private fortunes to the cause.
They had seen their plantations stripped by the enemy, of negroes, horses,
cattle, provisions, plate -- everything, in short, which could tempt
the appetite of cupidity; and this, too, with the knowledge,
not only that numerous loyalists had been secured in their own possessions,
but had been rewarded out of theirs. The proposed measure seemed
but a natural and necessary compliance with popular requisition.
Besides, the war was yet to be carried on. How was this to be done?
How long was it yet to last? What was to be its limit?
Who could predict? Congress was without money -- the State without means.
For a space of three years, South Carolina had not only supported
the war within, but beyond her own borders. Georgia was utterly destitute,
and was indebted to South Carolina for eighteen months for her subsistence;
and North Carolina, in the portions contiguous to South Carolina,
was equally poor and disaffected. The Whigs were utterly impoverished
by their own wants and the ravages of the enemy. They had nothing more
to give. Patriotism could now bestow little but its blood.
It was with an obvious propriety resolved, by the Jacksonborough Assembly,
that those who had proved false to the country should be made to suffer
in like degree with those who had been true, and who were still suffering
in her defence. As a measure of prolonged policy -- contemplated beyond
the emergency -- there may be objections to the Confiscation Act;
but the necessities of the time seemed to demand it, and it will be difficult
for any judgment, having before it all the particulars of the cruel civil war
through which the country had gone -- not to speak of the army,
and the present and pressing necessity for maintaining it --
to arrive at any other conclusion, or to censure the brave men
who urged and advocated the measure. The proceeding seems
perfectly defensible on general principles, though in particular instances --
as in the application of all general principles -- it may have been
productive of injury. The estates of the loyalists, by this measure,
were seized upon as a means for building up the credit of the State,
supplying it with the necessary funds for maintaining order as well as war,
and for requiting and supporting that army which was still required
to bleed in its defence.
What part was taken in this act by Marion, is not known.
Though kind and indulgent in his nature, he was stern and resolute in war.
We have no reason to suppose that he entertained any scruples
about a proceeding, the necessity of which, at the time,
seems to have been beyond all dispute.
The absence of our partisan from his brigade, was almost fatal to it.
He left it with reluctance, and only with the conviction
that his presence in the Senate was important to the interests
equally of the army and the country. Indeed, without him there would
not have been a quorum. There were only thirteen Senators present.
He was interested, besides, in the passage of the new Militia Act,
and in one designed to raise the State quota of Continental troops.
These were sufficient to compel his presence. But he remained
with reluctance. His letters from Jacksonborough betray
the most constant anxiety about his brigade. He had yielded it to Horry
with the most earnest exhortations to caution. By his orders,
the latter, the more completely to ensure its safety, removed to a position
on the north side of Wambaw, a creek emptying into the Santee.
Here, in an angle formed by the two roads which pass from Lenud's Ferry road
to Horry's plantation, about a quarter of a mile from the bridge,
Horry occupied a post which caution might have rendered safe.
In his rear was a wood. His newly raised regiment, not half complete,
lay at Durant's plantation, about a mile above, under the command
of Major Benson. Horry does not seem to have been remiss in his duties,
but about this time he fell sick, and, for some time before,
he had been, and still was, somewhat wilful. There was an unhappy dispute
between himself and Col. Mayham, touching rank and precedence.
The latter refused to be commanded by the former, claiming to be
equal in commission, and, when Marion went to Jacksonborough,
separated his corps from the brigade, posted them higher up the river,
and, being a member of the Legislature, proceeded to Jacksonborough also.
Greene was not unwilling, in the present juncture of affairs,
that the native officers should be present at the deliberations of this body.
The civil objects were just then even more important than the military.
The contumacy of Mayham was a subject of the most earnest discussion.
Both Marion and Greene decided against him; yet both were reluctant
to offend him, as they knew his value as a cavalry officer.
Mayham seems to have acted under some erroneous impressions
of the independence of a legionary brigade, as he claimed his to be.
He also complained of the free use which Marion made of his cavalry,
and the severe duties he was required to perform. To this, Greene replies:
"You are to consider how extensive the country he has to guard,
and how much he depends upon your corps. This will account
for the hard service you have been put to. The general is a good man,
and when you consider his difficulties, and make just allowances,
perhaps you will have little to complain of but the hard necessity
of the service."
But this reply did not produce its effect, and Mayham certainly erred,
as a soldier, in complaining of the severity of his tasks. In the old
chivalrous periods, the peculiar severity of the duties assigned to knighthood
was recognized gratefully, as a matter of compliment and trust.
He still held off; and Marion promptly demanded, that, if Mayham had
any independent right of command, while nominally under him,
he might be at once withdrawn from the brigade. Mayham's manner and tone
were quite respectful, but tenacious; and while the discussion
was in progress, and he holding off from Horry, events were brewing
which were destined to terminate the unfortunate dispute
by a capital misfortune.
Again taking advantage of the absence of Marion, an expedition was set on foot
in Charleston, against Horry. A detachment of two hundred horse,
five hundred infantry, and two pieces of artillery, under Col. Thomson
(better known in after-times as Count Rumford), prepared to ascend
Cooper river. Its preparations were not conducted with such caution, however,
but that they became known to the vigilant friends of the Americans
in and about the city. The army was warned of their preparations.
Greene hinted to Marion the necessity of returning to his command.
The latter replies, by declaring his great anxiety to do so,
but urges the impossibility of leaving the Senate, lest the Assembly
should be broken up -- an event which might be of fatal importance
to the cause, unless the great business of the session were first disposed of.
He promises to move as soon as this should be the case.
The actual movement of the British detachment made it impossible that Marion
should longer delay to rejoin his brigade, and, accompanied by Col. Mayham,
he reached the ground on which the regiment of the latter was encamped,
by a circuitous route and rapid riding, on the 24th February.
Here they were unhappily told that the enemy was retiring.
Marion, accordingly, remained to rest and refresh himself, while Mayham paid
a visit to his own plantation. In a few hours after Mayham's departure,
an express arrived with the mortifying intelligence that the brigade
had been surprised and dispersed. Marion, instantly putting himself
at the head of Mayham's regiment, hurried on toward Wambaw,
the scene of the event, to check pursuit and collect and save the fugitives.
We have seen the position of Horry. He had sent out his scouts
on all the roads by which the approach of an enemy might be apprehended.
Feeling himself secure, and being sick, he went over the river on the 24th,
the day of the catastrophe, to his plantation, leaving the brigade
under the command of Col. M`Donald. Major Benson, as will be remembered,
held a position, with the incomplete regiment of Horry,
at Durant's plantation, about a mile above that of the brigade.
By some unaccountable remissness of patrols or videttes, the British cavalry,
under Coffin, surprised the latter post. Benson, it is said,
had been told by Capt. Bennett, who commanded the scouts in St. Thomas's,
that the enemy was approaching; but the information was brought to him
while at dinner, and a keen appetite made him slow to believe tidings
which might have lessened the enjoyment of the meal. Bennett proceeded
to Horry's headquarters, where Col. M`Donald happened to be at dinner also.
He proved equally incredulous, but desired Major James, who had just
arrived in camp, to take command of his regiment. The surprise of Benson
was complete, and he paid for his remissness or indifference with his life.
The firing at Durant's convinced M`Donald of his error;
but, in all probability, the surprise was quite as complete in the one command
as in the other. There were two regiments of "six-months' men" --
that is to say, "reformed Tories" -- persons who had come in
under the proclamation issued by Governor Rutledge. These broke
at the first encounter with the enemy. In their flight,
and to prevent pursuit, they threw off the planks from Wambaw bridge.
Fortunately, a strong body, under Major James, checked the pursuit
for a space, and gave an opportunity for the fugitives to save themselves.
Many of them crossed the river by swimming, but some were drowned
in the attempt. The thickets saved the infantry. No prisoners were taken.
The British gave no quarter. Successful against Benson and M`Donald,
the enemy pressed forward in the direction of Marion's approach,
but without having any knowledge of his proximity. He had halted
with the cavalry of Mayham, at the house of Mrs. Tydiman, about four miles
from the scene of the disaster, to refresh his men and horses.
The latter were unbitted and feeding, when the whole of the enemy's cavalry
made their appearance. It would seem, from the indecision of their commander,
that he was no less surprised at falling in with this body of Marion's men,
than was our partisan at his sudden appearance. His hesitation
under this surprise gave the Americans an opportunity to recover themselves.
It was the opinion of Mayham, that, had the charge been sounded
the moment that he came in view, the whole regiment must have been lost.
There was no retreat, save by the river, and by the lane through which
they had entered the plantation, and of this the enemy had full command.
The halt and hesitation of the British -- their seeming alarm --
at once afforded Marion the means of extrication from his predicament.
To bit and mount their horses, was, for his cavalry, the work of a moment.
Though not counting half the numbers of the enemy,
Marion's instant resolution was to issue forth by the lane, and attack them.
They had displayed themselves in front of it. Just before the lane
was an old field, and a little to the right a pond of water.
Marion, placing a small body of infantry to great advantage along the fence,
ordered his column of cavalry to advance through the lane to the attack.
His men were well mounted; in this respect, if inferior in numbers,
they had a manifest advantage over the British. The latter had been
too long cooped up in the walls of Charleston, on short commons,
to be very serviceable; and the cavalry of Mayham, though somewhat too much
crowded with the "new-made Whigs", were yet confident, from long experience,
in their ability to contend with the enemy. Marion himself was confident,
but was destined, in this instance, to lose, what he himself,
in his dispatches, has styled, "a glorious opportunity of cutting up
the British cavalry." His men moved to the extremity of the lane,
before which the enemy had halted, with a firm and promising countenance.
The front section was led by Capt. Smith, an officer of approved courage,
who, in a very recent affair at St. Thomas' muster-house,
had signally distinguished himself. Yet, seized with a sudden panic,
the moment that he reached the end of the lane, he dashed into the woods
on the right, and drew after him the whole regiment. Marion himself,
who was near the head of the column, was borne away by the torrent,
which he in vain struggled to withstand. The rush was irresistible --
the confusion irretrievable. All efforts to restrain or recover the fugitives
were idle, until they had reached the woods. There Marion succeeded
in rallying a party, and at this point the pursuit of the enemy was checked,
and the fugitives partly rallied. They had sustained but little
loss in lives; but the shame, the disgrace of such a panic,
were immeasurably humiliating. The British showed no eagerness
in the pursuit. They seemed to doubt the bloodless victory
which they had won, and, content with their own escape,
were not unreasonably urgent with fortune to make their victory complete.
They subsequently, after they had fully recovered from their panic,
contrived greatly to exaggerate the importance of the event.
One of the newspapers of the day has the following: -- "Things bear
a better prospect than they did. Colonel Thomson has defeated General Marion
in South Carolina, killed one hundred men, and Marion was drowned,
attempting to escape." The only officer drowned in the flight,
was Lieut. Smyzer of Horry's cavalry.
The loss of the brigade in horses and accoutrements was greater than in men.
Their greater loss, however, was of that confidence in themselves
and one another, which it was one of the greatest objects of Marion's training
to inspire. The true secret of the superiority of regulars over militia-men
lies in the habit of mutual reliance. They feel each other's elbows,
in military parlance -- they are assured by the custom of mutually depending
one upon the other. This habit impresses them with a conviction,
which the terrors of conflict do not often impair, that they will
not be deserted; and, thus assured, they hurry into the battle,
and remain in it so long as the body with which they move
can act together. Once broken, however, the cry is `sauve qui peut'.
Not so with militia-men. They never forget their individuality.
The very feeling of personal independence is apt to impair their confidence
in one another. Their habit is to obey the individual impulse.
They do not wait to take their temper from their neighbor right and left.
Hence their irregularity -- the difficulty of restraining them --
of making them act in routine, and with entire reference
to the action of other bodies. So far from deriving strength
from feeling another's elbow, they much prefer elbow room.
Could they be assured of one another, they were the greatest troops
in the world. They ARE the greatest troops in the world --
capable of the most daring and heroic achievements --
wherever the skill of the commander can inspire this feeling
of mutual reliance. Frequent cooperation of the same persons
under the same leader produces it, and makes them veterans.
The old soldiers of the brigade had it in perfection.
It was one of the excellences of Marion that it followed
so certainly and rapidly from his peculiar training.
That it should be lost or impaired, was a most serious evil.
That it would not have been endangered, we are sure, had it not been
that the brigade no longer consisted of the brave fellows who had clung to him
through the campaigns of the last two years. The new recruits were,
in all probability, to blame for the mischance; and something,
perhaps, is due to the unhappy quarrel between Mayham and Horry.
The former was terribly mortified by the affair -- mortified that Marion
should have hurried to the scene of action without apprising him,
and vexed that his own regiment should have behaved so badly.
He complains that others should "expend the strength of the regiment
without giving HIM the satisfaction of being present."
Captain John Caraway Smith, the officer who led the column
thus disastrously aside, resigned the day after the affair. His conduct
had been habitually brave. But a short time before, as already shown,
he had behaved with the most determined and audacious gallantry
at the head of the same troop. That their training was defective
is beyond question, but no imputation rested upon their courage or his own.
Nevertheless, we have Napoleon's authority for the opinion that every man
has his `moment de peur'. No man is equally firm on all occasions.
There are moods of weakness and irresolution in every mind,
which is not exactly a machine, which impair its energies,
and make its course erratic and uncertain. The truth was known
in earlier ages. The old poets ascribed it to supernatural influence.
Envious deities interposed between valor and its victim,
paralysing the soul of the one and strengthening that of the other.
Thus we find even Hector, upon occasion, the slave of panic, and Paris,
on the other hand, almost emulating the spirit of his brother.
The conduct of Captain Smith, in this affair, has been excused by Mayham.
He ascribes it to an error of Marion himself. He says that,
"Marion (who was an infantry officer) gave the order to `file off
from the house to the right,' instead of ordering `to charge!'
This induced his officers to believe that they were to retreat
and not to fight." This may be true; but it is scarcely probable.
Retreat from the house, except into the river, seems to have been cut off.
The only other avenue was the lane. At the end of this was the enemy,
drawn out in order of battle. Upon these the advance was ordered.
We have seen that Marion himself exulted in the conviction that the enemy
was in his power. His exultation could not have been entirely concealed
from his officers. It must have declared itself in some way.
The halt and hesitation of the British were perceptible to all.
They were in superior numbers, and when they reached the head of the lane,
the horses of the American cavalry were unbitted and feeding.
A sudden and resolute charge, according to Mayham, on the part of the British,
would have resulted in the entire defeat of the regiment.
That they did not order this charge betrayed their apprehensions,
and should have encouraged, in similar degree, the Americans --
DID encourage them, and hence the resolve of Marion to advance upon them.
That it should be supposed he would hurry forward, in the very teeth
of the enemy, only to dash aside in confusion from the struggle,
is scarcely reasonable. But Mayham was offended with Marion.
The latter had decided against him in the controversy with Horry;
and the subsequent movement against the British, without stopping
to require his presence, was another mortifying circumstance
which he was not likely to forget. Biased by his feelings,
he was not willing to believe that the seeming slight was in reality
due to the emergency of the case, which would not allow a moment's hesitation
in Marion's movement at such a juncture.
As soon as the presence of Marion was known, the fugitives gathered
around him. But for his absence they had never been dispersed.
Horry's regiment was very much crippled; Mayham's in equally bad condition.
Of M`Donald's, and the brigade, a few hundred were soon brought together;
and with his deranged and dispirited band, our partisan retired
beyond the Santee to repair and recruit his strength,
and revive the confidence of his men in their leaders and themselves.
In the meanwhile, the country which he had so recently covered and protected
was harried by the British. They improved the interval of his absence
by successful incursions. The cattle had been already put beyond their power,
on the other side the Santee; but they stripped the plantations within
their reach, as well of slaves as of provisions. Greene could do nothing
to prevent them. His own army was in a state of convulsion and commotion;
suffering from distress and discontent, and threatened with dissolution.
Recent occurrences had awakened his fears for his own security.
One result of Marion's recent disaster was to put an end to the dispute
between Horry and Mayham. Their respective regiments were so reduced,
after the affair at Wambaw, that it was deemed advisable to amalgamate them.
Having resolved upon this measure, Gov. Mathews, who had succeeded Rutledge,
applied to Marion to know who of the two was the best cavalry officer --
an opinion which Marion yielded with great reluctance.
His personal preferences went with Horry, but he could not hesitate
in declaring for Mayham. Horry, with the ambition of a spirited soldier,
eagerly desired a command of cavalry, -- was a good infantry officer,
and had all the requirements of skill and bravery. But he was no horseman,
and it is said that, in several of his charges, he was indebted
to some one or other of his men for his own safety, being commonly unhorsed.
His gallantry and patriotism were equally unquestionable.
They had been displayed from the beginning of the war.
The preference shown Mayham caused Horry's resignation from the service;
but to console him for the mortification, Marion made him
commandant of Georgetown, a post which united the responsibilities and duties
of a military and civil service.
With the adjournment of the Assembly at Jacksonborough,
the army of Greene moved down from Skirving's plantation to Bacon's bridge,
at the head of Ashley river. Here, within twenty miles of the enemy,
a dangerous conspiracy ripened almost to maturity among
the Pennsylvania troops, composed in part of the very mutineers
who had triumphed over government in the insurrection in Jersey,
and who, as Lafayette observed,* "had been well paid and well clothed
in consequence of it." This, we believe, was the only body of troops
furnished to the Southern army, during the Revolution, from any of the States
north of Maryland and Delaware. We make this remark with the view
to the correction of a very general error, arising from the vague manner
in which it is customary for our historians to speak of the sources
of the personnel of the Southern army. The armies led by Gates and Greene,
to the defence of Carolina, were truly from States north of her,
but they were not Northern States. Two fine bodies of troops came from
Maryland and Delaware, but the rest were from Virginia and North Carolina, --
with the exception of the Pennsylvania line, of which we have now to speak.
These, as we have seen, had been refractory in Jersey, and instead of
being punished, were paid for their sedition. It was natural that they
should endeavor to renew an experiment which had already proved so profitable.
The mutineers were directed by one Sergeant Gornell. Their number is unknown.
They were solely of the Pennsylvania line, and might have been successful
but for an attempt which they made upon the fidelity of the Marylanders.
Their purpose was to deliver Greene to the enemy, and otherwise facilitate
the objects of the latter, who were to make a concerted movement,
in force, upon the American army, at a prescribed moment.
The integrity of the Marylanders, whom Gornell approached,
was not to be shaken; and to their fidelity and the quick ears
of one of the camp-women, the army was indebted for its safety.
The circumstances were all in favor of the success of the conspirators.
There was a general discontent in the army. The troops were
badly fed and clothed -- were unpaid, doubtful of pay, and suffering
present distresses. They were inactive. Many of them were new recruits.
Greene was no longer surrounded by the tried and true men and officers,
who had borne the brunt of the contest. The term of service of the former
had in great part expired, some of his best officers were on furlough,
and he had offended others. Sumter had left the army in disgust;
Pickens was operating against the Indians; Marion was recruiting his brigade
on the Santee; Williams had gone home; Howard was in Maryland,
scarcely recovered from his wounds; Wayne was in Georgia, doing good service
in that quarter; St. Clair was absent on leave; Lee had gone to Virginia
to get married, and his legion was almost shorn of officers;
Eggleston had gone with him to Virginia, and the brave fellows,
Armstrong and Carrington, had fallen into the hands of the enemy.
The time was well chosen for mutiny, and as the hour drew near
for the consummation of the purpose of the conspirators,
the British army was set in motion from below, -- not so secretly, however,
but that their movements were made known to the Americans.
Symptoms of mutiny became apparent in the camp, and it was necessary
to proceed with vigor. Doubtful of a large number of those around him,
Greene summoned Marion with all his force from the Santee, while his own army
was kept in order of battle. The arrest of Gornell, with that of four others,
all sergeants of the Pennsylvania line, took place the night before
the conspiracy was to take effect. Gornell was tried and executed;
the others were sent under guard into the interior. This proceeding
was the signal for the flight of at least a dozen more, who,
having been committed, broke away on the night of Gornell's seizure,
and found protection with the enemy, who advanced in force
to receive them. This prompt proceeding suppressed the mutiny.
The development of the conspiracy, the state of preparedness
in the camp of Greene, and the movement of Marion, had the effect
of discouraging the farther advance of the British army;
and Marion, while yet in motion for the camp of Greene,
from which he was but eight miles distant, was summoned in haste
to the protection of Georgetown, against which the enemy was reported
to have sailed from Charleston. A forced march of four days
brought him to White's Bridge, when it was discovered that the alarm
was unfounded. The enemy had not shown himself, and was not nigh.
In this march of one hundred and sixty miles, Marion's men had
but a single ration of rice. Their sole food, with this exception,
was lean beef. The march took place in April, when there is no forage
for cattle, and when such as survive the winter, are compelled to wander
far in the swamps and thickets in search of the scanty herbage
which sustains them. The march of our partisan in these two expeditions
was conducted solely on foot. The country south of the Santee
had been so completely foraged by the British, during his vacation of it,
that he was compelled to dismount his infantry in his movements
until the spring herbage should enable him to feed his horses.
His force was reduced to two hundred militia and one hundred and twenty horse.
It was the wish of General Greene that he should take post
as near the enemy as possible, in order both to shorten his limits
beyond Cooper river, and to enable Col. Laurens, who now commanded
the legion of Lee, to pass the Ashley, and close upon the British
between the latter river and Goose Creek. But with his infantry dismounted,
he dared not venture so completely within the reach of an enemy so superior;
and with the double purpose of securing a retreat, if necessary,
and of forming a junction with any party when desirable,
either at Huger's Bridge, over the west branch of Cooper river,
or at Strawberry Ferry, he took post at Sinkler's plantation on the Santee.
This left him within twenty-five miles of each of these designated routes.
His cavalry meanwhile patrolled the country as low as Haddrell and Hobcaw,
and in sight of the British posts at those places. They thus procured
the earliest news of the enemy's movements, and checked his incursions
in that quarter. The effect of Marion's presence with his brigade
was soon felt, as well by his people as by the British.
By the latter it was deemed important to relieve themselves from a neighbor
at once so vigilant and inconvenient. A messenger, feigning to be a deserter,
was dispatched by General Leslie, whose plan was to make his way through
the scouts of Marion, to the Scotch and loyal settlements on the borders
of North Carolina. These were to be stirred up to insurrection,
and Marion was to be diverted from a quarter in which his presence
was particularly annoying. The messenger succeeded in his object,
but was less fortunate in his return. He had done the mischief required
at his hands, fomented the insurrection, and set the loyalists in motion.
The proofs were conclusive against him, and he perished by military execution.
The timely notice which Marion obtained of his labors enabled him
to prepare against the event.
* Johnson's Life of Greene, Vol. 2, p. 319.
Marion summoned with his Force to that of Greene --
Insurrection of the Loyalists on the Pedee -- Marches against them --
Subdues them -- Treats with Gainey -- Fanning -- Protects the Tory, Butler,
from his Men -- Returns to the Country between the Santee and the Cooper --
Moves to protect Georgetown from the British Fleet -- Takes post at Watboo,
on Cooper River -- Defeats the British Cavalry under Major Frasier.
Meanwhile, the main body of the army under Greene continued
to suffer diminution. On the first of May a large proportion
of the North Carolina troops were entitled to and claimed their discharge.
No recruits were expected from the North, and it became necessary
to draw together all the force that South Carolina could afford.
The Government of this State, from its first re-organization,
had faithfully endeavored to re-establish the South Carolina line,
but without money or means, with very little corresponding success.
A few recruits were obtained from among those who had recently
received their discharge, but the service had been of a kind
to baffle all the temptations and arguments of the recruiting officers.
In the emergency of the case, it became indispensable to look to the militia
under Marion, Pickens and Henderson; and these leaders were accordingly
required to repair to headquarters.
The withdrawal of the former, with his troops, from the region of country
which they had so lately covered, was the signal for that rising
of the loyalists upon the Pedee, to instigate which the unfortunate
emissary of General Leslie had been dispatched from Charleston.
The absence of Marion was considered auspicious to the new movement.
He had scarcely reached Dorchester when his ancient enemy, Major Gainey,
appeared in arms at the head of a considerable body of troops,
both cavalry and infantry. A small command under Col. Baxter,
which had been left by Marion to observe their movements, was too feeble
to make head against them, and it became necessary for Marion himself
to retrace his steps, and arrest the progress of the insurrection.
Placing himself at the head of Mayham's cavalry, he promptly advanced
in the direction of the enemy. So rapid were his movements, so vigilant
his watch, so well devised his plans, that he reached the Pedee country
long before his approach was suspected. His presence,
on the present occasion, was a surprise. It had long been a terror;
so much so that but for his remoteness at the camp of Greene,
they had, in all probability, never ventured to resume their arms.
Three separate bodies of men, by a judicious arrangement of our partisan,
were prepared to enter their country at the same moment.
These were so placed, that, though operating separately,
they might yet be made to cooperate if desired. The effect was such
as to paralyse the incipient resolution of the loyalists.
They showed no disposition for fight; and feeling their temper,
conscious of his difficulties, and now no longer hopeful of help
from the British, Gainey dispatched a flag to Marion with proposals
to treat for a pacification. He was not unwilling to renew the treaty which,
just one year before, he had entered into with Horry,
who then acted as the lieutenant of our partisan. This treaty,
influenced by British emissaries, the Tories had very imperfectly kept.
In small squads they had been perpetually rising, and committing trespasses
upon their neighbors whenever the withdrawal of Marion's men
afforded them opportunity. They had now everything to fear from his anger;
but they also knew his willingness to forgive. Relying upon this,
and making a merit of necessity, the communication of Gainey expressed
the warmest solicitude for peace. To this Marion was prepared to listen.
Commissioners were appointed on both sides. They met, but, unhappily,
they recognized in each other well known personal opponents. They had often
met in strife, and could not forbear alluding to their encounters.
The conversation grew warm, the parties excited, and instead of coming
to terms, the commissioners almost came to blows. They separated
with increased resentment. A fierce skirmish followed, and the attempt
to adjust their differences was renewed between the respective commanders.
Marion was anxious to effect a pacification. His services were required below
on the Santee and Cooper, to check the incursions of the British,
and he consented to meet and confer with Gainey in person. This determination
was censured by some of his officers. They denounced Gainey
as a leader of banditti; and, certainly, his conduct, on many occasions,
deserved the reproach. They reproached Marion for committing his dignity
in treating with such a person. But this suggestion did not affect him.
He was governed by views and principles very far superior to those
which influence the ordinary soldier. His pride did not suffer
from such censures. His reply was equally prompt and conclusive.
He told them that he "aimed at no higher dignity than that of essentially
serving his country."
The result was satisfactory to our partisan. Making a merit of necessity,
Gainey yielded without requiring any farther resort to blows.
At the Bowling Green, between the Great and Little Pedee,
more than five hundred men laid down their arms, submitting to conditions
which were rather strict than severe. Marion and Gainey met at Birch's mill
on the 8th June, when a treaty was drawn up having for its basis
the articles of the preceding arrangement with Horry. By this treaty,
Gainey and his men were to lay down their arms and not to resume them
unless ordered to do so by the authorities of the State;
they bound themselves to deliver up all negroes, horses,
cattle and other property of which they had dispossessed the people
of this or any other State -- to demean themselves as peaceable citizens,
and submit to the laws of the State -- to deliver up
all contumacious and rebellious persons within their district --
to deliver up all deserters from the regular service --
to sign a declaration of allegiance to the United States,
and to South Carolina in particular, and to abjure the British crown,
and to surrender all British property. Compliance with these conditions,
was to ensure them full pardon for their treasons to the State,
and the enjoyment of their property as citizens within it;
while individuals not choosing to comply, were to be permitted,
with their wives and children, a safe progress to the British lines.
From the benefits of this treaty, some few atrocious offenders were excepted.
Major Gainey removed with those who preferred to adhere
to the fortunes of the British. He did not side with their determination,
but he deemed it a duty to see that those who had followed his arms,
should be put in safety beyond the reach of their enemies:
an honorable resolve certainly. Before his departure
he waited upon Marion and said: "Honor, sir, requires that I should yield
my commission to Col. Balfour, from whom I received it; but this done,
I shall immediately return to the country and seek your protection."
This was frankly promised him, and with every confidence in the assurance
of Marion, as soon as he had concluded his affairs in Charleston,
he promptly returned and enrolled himself in the American ranks.
One of the loyalists, specially exempted from the privileges of the treaty
with Gainey, was a notorious marauder by the name of Fanning.
He was a sanguinary ruffian, with considerable talents, but brutal, reckless,
and most inveterate in his hostility to the American cause.
Shortly after the treaty with Gainey, this person appeared in the truce ground
at the head of a small party. It was feared that he would
stir up the revolt anew. He came for that purpose. Marion was at once
upon the alert. His force, divided into three bodies,
occupied various parts of the lately disaffected districts,
and overawed the spirit of revolt, if it yet existed. Finding the cause
hopeless in that quarter, Fanning sent a flag to Marion with a request
that he would grant a safe-conduct to his wife, and some property,
to the British garrison in Charleston. Against any such concession
the officers of Marion expostulated. They were unwilling
that so cruel a ruffian should receive any indulgence. But Marion looked
more deeply into the matter, and yielded a prompt compliance with the request.
"Let but his wife and property reach the British lines, and Fanning
will follow. Force them to remain, and we only keep a serpent in our bosom."
Such was his reasoning, and the truth of it was very soon apparent.
Finding the hope of insurrection fruitless, Fanning fled the country,
and was as soon in Charleston as his wife.
The disaffected district was now covered by his troops,
busied in securing all persons who, declining to retire to the British,
still withheld their submission from the American authorities.
In the execution of this duty, some licentiousness followed --
such irregularities as are apt to occur where soldiers traverse
a subdued territory. Intimations of these irregularities
reached the ears of the partisan. No individual was charged with offence,
and no particulars were given; but Marion took occasion
to declare his indignation in the presence of officers and men.
"I have heard insinuations," said he, "which, if true, would disgrace
my command; no accusation has been made; but I wish you clearly to know
that let officer or soldier be proved guilty of crime,
and he shall hang on the next tree." His firmness and sincerity were known;
and he heard of no more license. While engaged in the irksome duty
of arresting the recusant, he was equally busy in granting written protections
to those who subscribed frankly to the conditions of the treaty.
The judicious disposition and immediate presence of his force -- the terror
inspired by his successes -- the knowledge which they had of his mercy,
and their evident abandonment by the British -- had the effect
of bringing crowds to his camp, trebling the number of his own troops,
seeking the proffered securities. Such was the consumption of paper
on this occasion, or rather such the poverty at headquarters,
that old letters were torn up, the backs of which were put in requisition
for this object. While at Birch's mills, on the Pedee,
among others who sought the protection of Marion was one Capt. Butler,
who had made himself particularly odious by his crimes and ferocity.
He had been conspicuous as the oppressor of the Whig inhabitants of the Pedee.
He was not ignorant of the detestation in which he was held,
and it was with some misgivings that he sought the required protection.
His appearance in the American camp was the signal for a commotion.
There were among the men of Marion some who were connected with persons
who had suffered by the atrocities of Butler. They determined
to avenge their friends. They resolved that no protection should save him,
and an intemperate message to that effect was sent to Marion.
Marion instantly took Butler to his own tent, and firmly answered those
by whom the message was brought: "Relying on the pardon offered,
the man whom you would destroy has submitted. Both law and honor sanction
my resolution to protect him with my life." A still more intemperate message
reached him, declaring that "Butler should be dragged to death
from his tent -- that to defend such a wretch was an insult to humanity."
To this Marion made no reply, but calling around him
the members of his family, and some of his most trusty followers,
he gave them to understand that he should expect their cooperation
at all hazards in protecting the culprit from violence. "Prepare to give me
your assistance, for though I consider the villainy of Butler unparalleled,
yet, acting under orders as I am, I am bound to defend him.
I will do so or perish." The mutiny threatened to be formidable,
and that night, Marion succeeded with a strong guard in conveying the prisoner
to a place of safety. The treaty with Gainey put an end to the domestic feuds
upon the Pedee, and anxious to regain the local confidence
which they had forfeited, numbers of the loyalists of this quarter,
following the example of their leader, entered the ranks of the Americans,
and though too late to be of effectual service in the war,
yet furnished sufficient proofs of their fidelity.
No farther necessity appearing for the longer stay of Marion on the Pedee,
he prepared to return to his former range along the rivers Cooper and Santee.
His absence from this region afforded an opportunity for the enemy
to renew their depredations from Charleston. Marion had left Colonel Ashby
in command of his infantry, when, at the head of Mayham's horse,
he hurried to encounter Gainey, and quell his insurrection. Ashby,
pressed by a superior British force, had been compelled to yield before it,
and this intelligence left our partisan no moment of respite
after quelling the commotions on the Pedee, before he was required
to return and cover the country which had so long been indebted
to his vigilance for protection. In leaving the Pedee,
with still some doubts of the newly converted loyalists of that quarter,
he left Col. Baxter with one hundred and fifty trusty men,
to maintain the ascendency which he had just acquired.
This object was of the last importance, not only with reference to
the doubtful `personnel' of the country, but the valuable `materiel',
cattle and provisions, which might have been carried off to the enemy.
Suspicious of the fidelity of the loyalists, there was every reason to fear
that it might be too strongly tested. The British were known to be preparing
a fleet of small vessels for some enterprises directed northwardly,
and no object of importance seemed more obvious than that of renewing
the disturbances on the Pedee and possessing themselves of the immense plunder
which that region of country might still afford.
All precautions taken, our partisan hurried his return.
But had he not been joined by a newly raised corps under Major Conyers,
he must have marched alone. So rapid had been his movements,
so unremitting his duties, that the cavalry of Mayham which he led,
were completely broken down. He was compelled to leave them
behind him to recruit. At Murray's Ferry, on the Santee,
he halted to collect his militia, and await the arrival of Mayham's corps.
Here he consolidated the commands of Mayham and Conyers into one regiment;
and about the middle of July was enabled once more to cross the Santee
with a force of three hundred dismounted infantry, and a respectable
body of horse. With these he took post on the Wassamasaw,
in a position which, while it was secure, enabled him to cooperate
with the detachments of the main army in covering the country.
Here his vigilance was again conspicuous. His parties were constantly busy.
His own movements to and fro, wherever an enemy could approach,
or was suspected, were continual, from the Cooper to the Santee.
His objects were threefold -- to check the irruptions of the enemy,
to cut off their supplies, and to provide for his own people.
His scouting parties penetrated in every hostile direction --
sometimes as low as Daniel's Island and Clement's Ferry --
points almost within the ken of the British garrison.
But the enemy was no longer enterprising. They were not often met.
Their cavalry was few and inferior, and their exigencies may be inferred from
their uniforming and converting some of their captured negroes into troopers.
One corps of these black dragoons, consisting of twenty-six men,
was cut to pieces by one of Marion's scouting parties of twelve,
commanded by Capt. Capers.
The British, tired of the war, were preparing to evacuate the country.
Preparatory to this, it was necessary that they should lay in
sufficient store of provisions. General Leslie had been preparing
for this necessity and, late in July, a numerous fleet of small vessels,
conveying eight hundred men, and convoyed by galleys and armed brigs,
left Charleston to proceed, as it was conjectured, against Georgetown.
This compelled Marion to hasten in that direction. Here he made
every arrangement for moving the public stores to a place of safety.
Black Mingo was preferred as the depot, for the honorable reason, as given
in Marion's own words, that it was "a settlement of good citizens and of
my earliest and most faithful followers." But the enterprise of the enemy
was less hazardous. The collection of rice was their object.
This was to be found in the greatest quantity on the Santee,
from the banks of which river they carried off about six hundred barrels.
Marion's force was thrown over the Sampit so as to intercept their march
to Georgetown, but he could not impede their progress up the South Santee,
protected as they were under the guns of their galleys.
With the departure of the enemy from the river, the completion of
his arrangements for the removal of the stores at Georgetown,
and the defence of that place, Marion again recrossed the Santee
and hurried to Watboo, on the Cooper. This river, leading to Charleston,
to which the fleet of the enemy had returned, was naturally thought
to be the next which they would attempt to penetrate. He had left
a small body of infantry at this place, but this was deemed inadequate
to the required duties. But they were sufficient at least
to attract the attention of the British. Ignorant of Marion's return,
believing him to be still at Georgetown, whither, it was known,
he had taken all his cavalry, -- a detachment of dragoons,
more than one hundred strong, was sent from Charleston, under Major Frasier,
against the post at Watboo. The rapidity of Marion's movements
brought him back in season for its safety. It happened unfortunately, that,
when he heard of the approach of this detachment, his cavalry were absent,
patrolling down the river, maintaining their watch for the British fleet,
which was the chief subject of apprehension. This fleet, meanwhile,
had gone southwardly, pursuing the object of its former quest
up the waters of the Combahee. With the approach of Frasier,
Marion dispatched his messengers in search of his cavalry,
and to call in his pickets. Some of the latter had joined him
before the enemy appeared. Frasier exhibited considerable conduct
in making his approaches. He had taken an unfrequented route,
and had succeeded in capturing some of the out-sentinels of our partisan.
He advanced upon him in the fullest confidence of effecting a surprise --
not of Marion, but of the smaller force under Col. Ashby,
which he still believed to be the only force opposed to him.
He was soon undeceived and found his enemy rather stronger than he expected,
and drawn up in readiness for his reception. It was about the 25th of August.
Marion lay at the plantation of Sir John Colleton, on the south side
of Watboo Creek, and a little above the bridge. The situation pleased him,
and it was one of his frequent places of encampment when he happened to be
operating in the vicinity. The owner was a loyalist and had left the country.
The mansion and his extensive range of negro houses afforded
ample shelter for such a force as that which Marion commanded.
With the gradual advance of Frasier, Marion seems to have been acquainted,
but in the absence of his cavalry his only mode of obtaining intelligence
was through his officers. These alone, of all the party in camp,
were provided with horses. Of these, he ordered out a party
under Capt. Gavin Witherspoon to reconnoitre. While they were absent,
Marion put his infantry in order of battle. The main body occupied
an avenue of venerable cedars, which, neglected during the war,
in their untrimmed state, stood overgrown with branches, their long boughs
trailing almost to the ground. His left, by which the enemy was compelled
to advance, were placed under cover of some of the out-buildings.
Thus prepared, he waited the approach of the British,
though not without sundry misgivings. It must be confessed that,
at this juncture, he had not the most perfect confidence
in the force under his command. They consisted, in great proportion,
of those who, in that day, were known as new-made Whigs --
men who had deserted the enemy and been cleansed of their previous treasons
by the proclamation of Governor Rutledge, which, not long before,
had promised immunity to all who came in promptly with their adhesion
and joined the American ranks. There were also present some of those who,
under Gainey, had recently received the protection of Marion,
on the truce ground of Pedee. Major Gainey himself was among them,
and with forty of his people, was placed conspicuously in the column
in preparation for the British approach. Well might Marion feel
some uneasiness at his situation, particularly in the absence of the cavalry
on which he could rely. But our partisan had the art of securing
the fidelity of those around him, in quite as great a degree
as he possessed that other great military art, of extracting good service
out of the most doubtful materials. He concealed his apprehensions,
while he endeavored to dissipate those of his men.
Meanwhile, Witherspoon, with the reconnoitring party, advanced but
a little distance in the woods, when they were met by the enemy's cavalry
and instantly charged. A long chase followed, which soon brought the pursuers
into view of the partisan. His men were half concealed
behind the thick boughs of the cedars beneath which they were drawn up.
The interest of the chase, as they drew more near, was increased
by a little incident which was greatly calculated to encourage the militia.
When in full view, the horse of Witherspoon failed him,
or his rider purposely fell behind to bring up the rear of his little escort.
At this sight a British dragoon darted forward to cut him down.
Witherspoon coolly suffered him to advance until he was almost
within striking distance. With sword uplifted, the assailant
had already risen in his stirrups to smite, when, quick as lightning,
Witherspoon, who had watched him narrowly, poured the contents of his carbine
into his breast. This was followed by a shout from the Americans,
and, with furious yells, the British dashed forward upon Marion's left.
The reconnoitring party melted before them, and the infantry
delivered their fire with fatal effect. A dozen saddles
were instantly emptied, Capt. Gillies of the British, who led the charge,
being one of the first victims. The enemy soon rallied, and attempted
first his right and then his left flank; but the evolutions of Marion
were quite as ready, and, by changing his front promptly,
and availing himself of the cover afforded by the houses and the fences,
he showed the hazard of attempting a second charge to be too great
for such a force as that of Frasier. For an hour after,
the British manoeuvred around them, but without discovering
any opportunity of retrieving or revenging their disaster.
A single fire terminated this affair, and seldom has a single fire,
where so small a front has been engaged, done such considerable execution.
One officer and eight men were instantly killed; three officers
and eight men wounded; five horses fell dead upon the field,
a few were taken and many wounded. The discharge took place at thirty paces,
and Marion's men usually fired with heavy buck-shot. His new-made Whigs
stood the test bravely, showing a steadiness and courage, whilst opposed
to their old allies, which soon set the heart of our partisan at ease.
They had very good reasons for steadiness and valor. They fought with halters
about their necks. Not a man of them, if taken, would have escaped
the cord and tree. Marion did not lose a man, but he suffered a very serious
loss of another sort. In the midst of the confusion of the fight,
the driver of his ammunition wagon took fright, and made off with his charge
in a direction which betrayed its flight to the enemy,
who immediately sent a small detachment, by which it was taken.
Marion had no cavalry to recover it; but five of his men,
armed with the broad-swords of the British whom they had just slain,
and mounted on their captured horses, volunteered to recover it.
They actually succeeded in rescuing it from the detachment
by which it was taken, but could retain it only till the fugitives
could reach their main body and return with a force to which our volunteers
could oppose no resistance. They were compelled to abandon the prize, which,
had fortune seconded their endeavors, was certainly due to their merits.
This little affair is a sample of that generous service
which it was the happy faculty of our partisan to extract from his followers.
It is to tradition that we owe the vague memory of numerous like advantages,
of which history preserves no records. Under his guidance,
his men seldom suffered panic. They fancied themselves invincible
when he led. In the present instance he declared that not a man faltered --
that he even had to restrain their eagerness, and prevent them rushing out
into the open field, to meet the charge of the cavalry.
His own coolness never deserted him. He never lost sight of the whole field,
in the vehement action of a part. His keenness of vision,
his vigilance of watch, his promptness in opposing his best resources
to the press of danger, of covering his weak points,
and converting into means and modes of defence and extrication,
all that was available in his situation -- were remarkable endowments,
which soon fixed the regards of his followers, and upon which
they unhesitatingly relied. In the absence of his cavalry,
a defeat would have been a rout; his infantry would have been cut to pieces,
and his cavalry subsequently exposed to similar disaster.
Had the latter been present, the safety of the British must have depended
solely on the fleetness of their steeds. With this affair ended
the actual conflicts of our partisan. His men were not yet disbanded.
He himself did not yet retire from the field which he had so often
traversed in triumph. But the occasion for bloodshed was over.
The great struggle for ascendancy between the British crown and her colonies
was understood to be at an end. She was prepared to acknowledge
the independence for which they had fought, when she discovered
that it was no longer in her power to deprive them of it.
She will not require any eulogium of her magnanimity
for her reluctant concession.
The British propose Terms of Pacification -- Rejected by
the Civil Authorities -- They penetrate the Combahee with their Fleet --
Death of Col. Laurens -- Anecdote of Marion -- Death of Wilmot --
The British evacuate Charleston -- Marion separates from his Brigade
at Watboo -- His Military Genius.
Though the war in Carolina was understood to be nearly at an end,
and the toils and dangers of the conflict well nigh over, yet motives
for vigilance still continued. There was ample room for vicissitudes.
The British still held possession of Charleston and its harbor,
but they were confined to these narrow limits. Here, watched on all sides
by the impatient Americans, they made their preparations
for a reluctant departure. The sole remaining contest
between the opposing armies lay, in the desire of the one to bear with them
as much of the spoils of war as possible, and of the other to prevent them.
The greater motives for the war on both sides were at an end.
The mother country had declared her willingness to forego the exercise
of her ancient authority, and the Colonies were admitted to the freedom which
they sought. In this state of things neither army attempted enterprises,
the result of which could not affect the objects of either nation.
Thus was spared the unnecessary shedding of blood. The forces under Greene
continued gradually to contract their limits; while those of General Leslie
remained comparatively quiescent. The British officer was governed
by a proper wisdom. As the evacuation of Charleston was determined on,
there was little use in keeping up the appearances of a struggle
which had virtually ceased to exist. He suggested accordingly to Greene,
that an intercourse should be established between town and country,
by which the troops in the former might procure their necessary supplies
in barter with the people. To provision his fleet and army
was his object. For this he proposed a cessation of hostilities.
It is to be regretted that this pacific proposition was not entertained.
Some valuable lives might have been saved to the country --
we may instance that of Col. Laurens. General Greene was not adverse
to the proposition, but the civil authorities objected.
Their reasons for opposing this humane suggestion are scarcely satisfactory.
They believed that Leslie only aimed to accumulate provisions
for the support of the British forces in the West Indies, and thus enable them
to prosecute the war more vigorously against our French allies.
This was an objection rather urged than felt. There was probably
some feeling, some impatience of temper at the bottom,
which prompted them to dispute, at the point of the sword, rather than yield
to any suggestions of an enemy at whose hands they had suffered
such protracted injuries. A little more coolness and reflection
might have shown them, that, by refusing the application of Leslie,
they only rendered it necessary that the British should pay in blood
for those supplies for which they were not unwilling to pay in money.
And blood usually calls for blood. The combat is never wholly on one side.
It was virtually saying we can spare a few more citizens.
The concession might have been made to the wishes of the British commander
not only without any detriment to the service, but with absolute benefit
to the people and the army. The provisions which the enemy required
would have found a good market in Charleston, and the clothing,
in lack of which the army was suffering severely, might have been
procured for them at the same place on the most reasonable terms.
Besides, the rejection of the overture was not necessarily a prevention
of the purpose of the British. The American army was quite too feeble
either to expel them from the country, or to arrest their foraging parties.
The only effect of the rejection of the humane and pacific proposition
of the British commander, was to compel the preparation of
that fleet of small craft, which, under the guns of his galleys,
was now penetrating the rivers, and rifling the grain from
the wealthy plantations. We have seen Marion opposing himself to this fleet
at Georgetown, and have witnessed their success upon the South Santee.
The prompt return of our partisan to the head waters of Cooper river,
in all probability, preserved that neighborhood from the foragers.
With the tidings of their progress up the Combahee,
the American light brigade, under General Gist, was ordered to oppose them.
It was here that one of those events took place which furnished
a conclusive commentary upon the ill-judged resolution
by which the cessation of hostilities was rejected, and the British denied
the privilege of procuring supplies in a pacific manner.
Hearing of the movement of Gist, Col. Laurens, who was attached
to his brigade, and was always eager for occasions of distinction,
rose from a sick bed to resume the command of his division.
He overtook the brigade on the north bank of the Combahee river,
near the ferry. Twelve miles below, the extreme end of Chehaw neck
protrudes into the bed of the river, which, between these points,
is bounded by extensive swamps and rice fields. At this point
a redoubt had been thrown up by General Gist. The enemy was already above,
on the opposite side of the stream. Laurens solicited
the command of this post for the purpose of annoying them in their retreat.
Meanwhile, the American cavalry under Major Call, had been ordered round
by Salkehatchie bridge, to join with the militia collected in that quarter
for the purpose of striking at the enemy. With a howitzer,
some matrosses and fifty infantry, Laurens moved down the river,
and on the evening of the 26th reached the place of Mrs. Stock,
sufficiently near to Chehaw Point to take post there by daylight
the next morning. But the British were there before him.
Baffled by the light brigade of Gist, in procuring provisions
on the south side of the river, they had crossed it, and, apprised of
the movements of Laurens, placed an ambush for him on his road to the Point.
That night was spent by Laurens among the ladies of the place
where he lingered. It is recorded that the company did not separate
until a couple of hours before the time when the detachment was set in motion.
The prospect of his encounter was the topic of conversation,
and with the cheery, elastic spirit of youth, he gaily offered the ladies
a conspicuous place from which they might enjoy a sight of the action
without incurring its dangers. Before sunrise his voice was hushed for ever.
Unsuspicious of an enemy, he rode at the head of his command.
The British were posted in a place thickly covered with fennel and high grass.
With the advance guard when they were discovered, he promptly
ordered a charge, gallantly leading which, he fell at the first fire.
Laurens was one of those brave and ardent spirits, generous, high-souled,
and immaculate, which, in times of sordid calculation and drilled soldiership,
recall to our minds the better days of chivalry. He was the Bayard
of the southern youth in the war of the revolution, uniting all the qualities
of the famous chevalier, `sans peur et sans reproche'.
That he should have fallen, unnecessarily, at the close of the war,
when nothing was to be gained, and nothing to be saved, by valor, --
and in an obscure encounter on a field of mere predatory warfare,
doubles the mortification of such a close to a noble and admirable career.
A lesson from the pure and correct code of Marion's military morals
would have saved this precious blood, and preserved this gallant youth
for nobler fortunes. The following anecdote will illustrate
the admirable character of his mode of thinking on such subjects.
While he held his position at Watboo, after he had beaten Frasier,
he was advised that a British party, which had been dispatched
to procure water at Lempriere's Point, could be cut off
with little difficulty. The British were then preparing for embarkation.
A parting blow was recommended, as calculated to hurry their movements,
as well as to add something to the measure of patriot revenge
for the wrongs and resentments of the past. But Marion resolutely
refused to sanction the enterprise. His answer proves equally
the excellence of his judgment and the benevolence of his heart.
"My brigade," said he, "is composed of citizens, enough of whose blood
has been shed already. If ordered to attack the enemy, I shall obey;
but with my consent, not another life shall be lost, though the event
should procure me the highest honors of the soldier. Knowing, as we do,
that the enemy are on the eve of departure, so far from offering to molest,
I would rather send a party to protect them."
This noble feeling would have saved the lives of Laurens, Wilmot, Moore,
and other gallant young men, who were sacrificed at the last hour
when all provocations to strife had ceased -- when the battle
was already won -- when the great object of the war had been attained
by the one party, and yielded, however reluctantly, by the other.
Capt. Wilmot, with a small command, was stationed to cover John's Island,
and to watch the passage by Stono. Fond of enterprise he was tempted
occasionally to cross the river and harass the enemy on James' Island.
In one of these adventures, undertaken in conjunction with
the celebrated Kosciusko, against an armed party of the enemy's wood-cutters,
he fell into an ambuscade, was himself slain, while his second in command,
Lieut. Moore, severely wounded, fell into the hands of the British.
This was the last blood shed in the American revolution.
It need not to have been shed. The denouement of the protracted drama
had already taken place. The conquest of the Indians by Pickens was complete;
the Tories no longer appeared in bodies, though, for some time after,
individuals of the scattered bands occasionally continued
the habits of outlawry which the war had taught them,
and dealt in deeds of midnight robbery and crime; -- and the British armies
were simply preparing to depart. On the 14th of December,
while the American columns entered the city from the neck,
those of the British retired to their ships; the movements of which,
as their white sails distended to the breeze, presented,
in the language of Moultrie, "a grand and pleasing sight."
It was a sight, however, which the militia, always undervalued,
always misunderstood and misrepresented, were not permitted to behold.
They had fought the battle, it was true, "but the civil authority"
conceived their uses to be over, and "they were excluded
as dangerous spectators;" an unworthy and most ungrateful decision, in which,
we are pleased to learn from a self-exculpatory letter of General Greene,
he had no participation, and which he did not approve.
The forces of the British withdrawn from the shores of Carolina, the country,
exhausted of resources, and filled with malcontents and mourners, was left
to recover slowly from the hurts and losses of foreign and intestine strife.
Wounds were to be healed which required the assuasive hand of time,
which were destined to rankle even in the bosoms of another generation,
and the painful memory of which is keenly treasured even now.
But the civil authority takes the place of the military,
and with the disappearance of the invader, the warrior lays aside his sword,
-- satisfied if he may still retain the laurels which his valor has won.
Our partisan, yielding himself at the call of his country,
was not the man to linger unnecessarily long upon the stage.
The duties which had called him into the field were faithfully performed;
how faithfully it has been the effort of this humble narrative to show.
The time was come when he was to part with his brigade forever --
when he was to take leave of those brave fellows, whom he had so frequently
led to victory, never to dishonor. The separation was touching,
but without parade. On this occasion his deportment was as modest
as it had been through the whole period of their connection.
Gathered around him among the cedars at his Watboo encampment,
his followers were assembled to receive his last farewell. The simplicity
which had marked his whole career, distinguished its conclusion.
His address was brief but not without its eloquence -- such eloquence
as belongs to the language of unaffected and unadulterated truth.
He acknowledged, with thanks, the services of the officers and men;
dwelt passingly upon particular events of which they had reason to be proud,
and bade them a friendly and affectionate farewell. The brief review
which he made of their campaigns was well calculated to awaken
the most touching recollections. He had been their father and protector.
No commander had ever been more solicitous of the safety and comfort
of his men. It was this which had rendered him so sure of their fidelity,
which had enabled him to extract from them such admirable service.
His simple entreaty stayed their quarrels; and the confidence
which they yielded to his love of justice, made them always willing
to abide the decisions of his judgment. Officers and men equally yielded
to the authority of his opinion, as they did to that which he exercised
in the capacity of their commander. No duel took place among his officers
during the whole of his command.
The province which was assigned to his control by Governor Rutledge,
was the constant theatre of war. He was required to cover
an immense extent of country. With a force constantly unequal
and constantly fluctuating, he contrived to supply its deficiencies
by the resources of his own vigilance and skill. His personal bravery
was frequently shown, and the fact that he himself conducted an enterprise,
was enough to convince his men that they were certain to be led to victory.
In due degree with their conviction of his care and consideration
for themselves, was their readiness to follow where he commanded.
He had no lives to waste, and the game he played was that which enabled him
to secure the greatest results, with the smallest amount of hazard.
Yet, when the occasion seemed to require it, he could advance and strike
with an audacity, which, in the ordinary relations of the leader
with the soldier, might well be thought inexcusable rashness.
We have, already, in the opening of this biography, adverted to
the melancholy baldness of the memorials upon which the historian
is compelled to rely for the materials of his narrative.
The reader will perceive a singular discrepancy between the actual events
detailed in the life of every popular hero, and the peculiar fame
which he holds in the minds of his countrymen. Thus, while Marion
is everywhere regarded as the peculiar representative in the southern States,
of the genius of partisan warfare, we are surprised, when we would trace,
in the pages of the annalist, the sources of this fame, to find the details
so meagre and so unsatisfactory. Tradition mumbles over his broken memories,
which we vainly strive to pluck from his lips and bind together
in coherent and satisfactory records. The spirited surprise,
the happy ambush, the daring onslaught, the fortunate escape, --
these, as they involve no monstrous slaughter -- no murderous
strife of masses, -- no rending of walled towns and sack of cities,
the ordinary historian disdains. The military reputation of Marion
consists in the frequent performance of deeds, unexpectedly,
with inferior means, by which the enemy was annoyed and dispirited,
and the hearts and courage of his countrymen warmed into corresponding
exertions with his own. To him we owe that the fires of patriotism
were never extinguished, even in the most disastrous hours,
in the low country of South Carolina. He made our swamps and forests sacred,
as well because of the refuge which they gave to the fugitive patriot,
as for the frequent sacrifices which they enabled him to make,
on the altars of liberty and a becoming vengeance. We are in possession of
but few of the numerous enterprises in which he was engaged;
imperfect memories of the aged give us glimpses of deeds
for the particulars of which we turn in vain to the dusty pages
of the chronicler. But we need not generalize farther
upon the traits of his military character. We have endeavored to make these
speak for themselves, page by page, in the narration of the events,
so far as we know them, by which his reputation was acquired.
It is enough that his fame has entered largely into that of his country,
forming a valuable portion of its sectional stock of character.
His memory is in the very hearts of our people. Of the estimation in which
he was held by contemporaries more might be said, but these pages bear
ample testimony of the consideration which he commanded from friend and foe.
The testimonials of Moultrie, Greene, Lee and others, are conclusive of that
rare worth and excellence -- that combination of military and civil virtues --
which biography cannot easily be found to excel.
Marion retires to his Farm, which he finds in Ruins -- Is returned
to the Senate from St. John -- His Course on the Confiscation Act --
Anecdotes -- Is made Commandant at Fort Johnson -- His Marriage --
A Member of the State Convention in 1794 -- Withdraws from Public Life --
It was with no reluctance but with the cheerful preference
which Marion had always given, since manhood, to the life of the farmer,
that he returned to its simple but attractive avocations.
But the world with him was, as it were, to be begun anew;
no easy matter to one whose habits had been necessarily rendered irregular
by the capricious and desultory influences of a military career;
still more difficult in the case of one who has entered upon the last
period of life. The close of the Revolution found him destitute of means,
almost in poverty, and more than fifty years old. His health was good,
however; his frame elastic; his capacity for endurance, seemingly,
as great as ever. But his little fortune had suffered irretrievably.
His interests had shared the fate of most other Southern patriots,
in the long and cruel struggle through which the country had gone.
His plantation in St. John's, Berkeley, lay within a mile
of one of the ordinary routes of the British army, and his career
was not calculated to move them to forbearance in the case of one,
whose perpetual activity and skill so constantly baffled their designs.
His estate was ravaged, and subjected to constant waste and depredation.
One-half of his negroes were taken away, and the rest only saved to him
by their fidelity. The refuge in swamp and forest was as natural
to the faithful negro, on the approach of the British uniforms,
as to the fugitive patriot. Ten workers returned to him, when he was prepared
to resume his farm, but he was destitute of everything beside.
The implements of culture, plantation utensils, household furniture,
stock, cattle and horses, clothes and provisions for his people,
were all wanting, and all to be purchased, and he penniless. He received
no compensation for his losses, no reward for his sacrifices and services.
The hope of half pay was held out to him by his more sanguine friends,
but this promise was never realized. But, with that cheerful spirit
which hopes all things from time, and a meek compliance with what it brings,
Marion proceeded to work out his deliverance by manly industry,
and a devotion to his interests as true as that which he had yielded
to the interests of his country. He had become fond of rural life,
and the temporary estrangement of war seemed only to increase his desire
for that repose in action, which the agricultural life in the South
so certainly secures. But he was not permitted to retire from public service.
The value of his services was too well known, and there was too much
yet to be done, towards the repose and security of the country, to suffer them
to be dispensed with. He was again returned to the Senate of the State
by the people of St. John's. In this situation, he still maintained
those noble and disinterested characteristics which had made him
equally beloved and venerated. Two anecdotes are preserved of him
in his official character, which deserve mention. Both of these
grew out of the events of the war. The importance of the Confiscation Act,
passed at the session of January, 1782, at Jacksonborough, arose chiefly
from the necessity of providing for the emergencies of the State and military,
during the continuance of the war. Under existing circumstances,
the measure was sustained by our partisan. But the case was altered
when the British ministry abandoned their pretensions to the country,
and when it was left by their armies. It was then that numerous offenders --
those who had been least conspicuous for their Tory predilections --
applied for the indulgence and forbearance of the State.
Petitions were poured into the Legislature, sustained by
such pleas and friends as the circumstances of the suppliants could procure --
excusing their conduct, asserting their repentance, and imploring
the restoration of their possessions. Marion's course
in regard to these suppliants may be inferred from his previous character.
There was nothing vindictive in his nature. He was superior
to the baser cravings of a dogged vengeance, and his vote and voice
declared his magnanimity. It so happened that the first of these petitions
upon which he was called to act, came from one of that class of timid,
time-serving persons, who, with no predilections for virtue,
no sympathy for principles or country, simply shape their course
with regard to safety. He was a man of wealth, and the effect of wealth
in perilous times is but too frequently to render selfishness
equally cowardly and dishonest. The amount of his offence
consisted in trimming, while the strife was doubtful, between Whig and Tory,
and siding with the latter when the British gained the ascendency.
He did not take up arms, took no active part in public affairs,
and was content to shelter his person and possessions
under a cautious insignificance. About eighteen months before,
Marion had met the petitioner at a gathering of the people.
The latter approached and offered our partisan his hand. But the juncture
was one in which it behooveth patriotism to speak out at all hazards.
The struggle was for life and death, on the part equally of Whig and Tory.
Marion knew the character of the person, and disdained it.
To the surprise of all, who knew how scrupulous of insult he was, --
how indulgent and forbearing, -- he turned away from
the trimmer and the sycophant without recognition. This treatment
was greatly censured at the time, and when Marion rose in the Senate,
to speak on the subject of the petition of the man whom he had
so openly scorned, it was taken for granted that he would again
give utterance to feelings of the sort which moved him then.
The miserable offender, who was himself present, grew pale, trembled,
and gave up his cause as lost. What was his surprise and delight
to hear the venerable patriot advocate his application!
He was successful in obtaining for the suppliant the mercy which he implored.
The opponents of the petitioner, some of whom were of that class of patriots
who hunger for the division of the spoils, were aghast, and having counted
on Marion's support, now loudly proclaimed his inconsistency.
But to these his answer was equally prompt and satisfactory. His reasons
were true to his principles. He had been governed in his previous views
by the necessity of the case. With the disappearance of that necessity
he recognized other laws and influences. "Then," said he, "it was war.
It is peace now. God has given us the victory; let us show
our gratitude to heaven, which we shall not do by cruelty to man."
The expediency of humanity was always the uppermost sentiment with Marion.
A nobler expression of it never fell from the lips of mortal.
The next anecdote of the legislative career of Marion is one which directly
related to himself. At an early period in the action of the Assembly,
after the war, it was deemed advisable to introduce a bill
by which to exempt from legal investigation the conduct of the militia
while the war had lasted. It was thought, justly enough,
that, from the nature of the services in which they were engaged,
and the necessities which coerced them, they might need,
in numerous instances, to be sheltered from legal persecution.
They had been compelled to war with a heavy hand, to seize frequently
upon private property, and subject the possessions of the citizen
to the exigencies of the community. The necessities of the service
being recognized, the Legislature were ready to justify them;
and the Act which was prepared for the purpose, included amongst others,
thus specially exempted, the name of Marion. But, scarcely had it
been announced from the paper, when the venerable man arose,
and with flushed cheeks and emphatic brevity, demanded that his name
should be expunged from the catalogue. He declared himself
friendly to the Bill -- he believed it to be equally just and necessary;
but for his own part, as he was not conscious of any wrong
of which he had been guilty, he was not anxious for any immunity.
"If," said he, "I have given any occasion for complaint,
I am ready to answer in property and person. If I have wronged any man