Maurice G. (Maurice Garland) Fulton.

Southern life in southern literature; selections of representative prose and poetry online

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a lambent smile and what he intended to be an elegant and
condescending composure, " Your name, sir, if I mought take
the freedom ? "

" Ensign St. Jermyn, of his Majesty s seventy-first regiment
of light infantry."

" Ensign, your servant," added Horseshoe, still preserving
this unusual exhibition of politeness. " You have defended your
post like an old sodger, although you ha n t much beard on your
chin ; but, seeing you have given up, you shall be treated like
a man who has done his duty. You will walk out now and
form yourselves in line at the door. I 11 engage my men
shall do you no harm ; they are of a marciful breed."

When the little squad of prisoners submitted to this command
and came to the door, they were stricken with equal astonish
ment and mortification to find, in place of the detachment of
cavalry which they expected to see, nothing but a man, a boy,


and a horse. Their first emotions were expressed in curses,
which were even succeeded by laughter from one or two of
the number. There seemed to be a disposition on the part of
some to resist the authority that now controlled them ; and
sundry glances were exchanged which indicated a purpose to
turn upon their captors. The sergeant no sooner perceived
this than he halted, raised his rifle to his breast, and, at the
same instant, gave Andrew Ramsay an order to retire a few
paces and to fire one of the captured pieces at the first man
who opened his lips.

" By my hand," he said, ".if I find any trouble in taking
you all five safe away from this here house, I will thin your num
bers with your own muskets ! And that s as good as if I had
sworn to it."

" You have my word, sir," said the ensign ; " lead on."

" By your leave, my pretty gentleman, you will lead, and
I 11 follow ! " replied Horseshoe. " It may be a new piece
of drill to you ; but the custom is to give the prisoners the
post of honor."

" As you please, sir," answered the ensign. " Where do you
take us to ? "

" You will march back by the road you came," said the

Finding the conqueror determined to execute summary martial
law upon the first who should mutiny, the prisoners submitted,
and marched in double file from the hut back towards Ramsay s
-Horseshoe, with Captain Peter s bridle dangling over his
arm, and his gallant young auxiliary Andrew, laden with double
the burden of Robinson Crusoe (having all the firearms packed
upon his shoulders), bringing up the rear. In this order victors
and vanquished returned to David Ramsay s.

" Well, I have brought you your ducks and chickens back,
mistress," said the sergeant, as he halted the prisoners at the


door ; " and what s more, I have brought home a young sodger
that s worth his weight in gold.

" Heaven bless my child ! my brave boy ! " cried the mother,
seizing the lad in her arms, unheeding anything else in the
present perturbation of her feelings. " I feared ill would come
of it; but Heaven has preserved him. Did he behave hand
somely, Mr. Robinson ? But I am sure he did."

" A little more venturesome, ma am, than I wanted him to
be," replied Horseshoe ; " but he did excellent service. These
are his prisoners, Mistress Ramsay ; I should never have got
them if it had n t been for .Andy. In these drumming and fifing
times the babies suck in quarrel with their mother s milk. Show
me another boy in America that s made more prisoners than
there was men to fight them with, that s all ! "

[This capture of the British ensign Horseshoe Robinson was
able to turn to good account as a means of saving Butler. He
exacted from the ensign a letter to his British companions telling
them of his capture and begging them to be lenient with their
prisoner, Major Butler, in order that his life might not be for
feit for any harsh treatment to Butler. This letter reached the
British just in time to stay a sentence of death from being
pronounced upon Butler. The next day brought the news of a
decisive defeat of the Americans under General Gates, and this
led the British to think that they might carry out the sentence
against Butler without endangering the life of Ensign Jermyn.
Accordingly Butler was notified that he would be executed
two days hence. Horseshoe, however, brought up a small force
of Americans to attack the British camp just in time to save
Butler s life, but after the defeat of the British Butler could not
be found. James Curry had succeeded in conducting him from
the camp at the beginning of the engagement and eventually
carried him to Allen Musgrove s mill. Through the aid of


Mary Musgrove, Butler effected his escape, but in a short time
was captured by another Tory party.

In the meantime Mildred Lindsay, hearing of Butler s cap
ture through letters brought from him by Horseshoe Robinson,
had started from her home at Dove Cote with her brother for
Cornwallis headquarters in the hope of securing her lover s
safety. While in Cornwallis camp she learned of Butler s
escape and started on her return to Virginia. On her way she
met Mary Musgrove and her father, who had been driven from
their home and were fleeing to the North, and learned from
them of Butler s recapture. Immediately she turned back to
follow and join Butler, accompanied by her brother Henry,
Horseshoe Robinson, Mary Musgrove, and Allen Musgrove.
This party journeyed toward Gilbert-town unconscious of the
fact that military developments were bringing the British troops
under Ferguson, whose prisoner Butler was, in the same direc
tion. In the meantime, events had been leading up to the
battle of King s Mountain, in which the threads of the story
are dramatically brought together into an effective climax.]


Towards noon the army reached the neighborhood of
King s Mountain. The scouts and parties of the advance had
brought information that Ferguson had turned aside from his
direct road and taken post upon this eminence, where, it was
evident, he meant to await the attack of his enemy. Campbell,
therefore, lost no time in pushing forward and was soon re
warded with a view of the object of his pursuit. Some two or
three miles distant, where an opening through the forest first
gave him a sight of the mass of highland, he could indistinctly
discern the array of the adverse army perched on the very
summit of the hill.


The mountain consists of an elongated ridge rising out of
the bosom of an uneven country to the height of perhaps five
hundred feet, and presenting a level line of summit, or crest,
from which the earth slopes down, at its southward termination
and on each side, by an easy descent ; whilst northward it is
detached from highlands of inferior elevation by a rugged valley,
thus giving it the character of an insulated promontory not
exceeding half a mile in length. At the period to which our
story refers it was covered, except in a few patches of barren
field or broken ground, with a growth of heavy timber, which
was so far free from underwood as in no great degree to em
barrass the passage of horsemen ; and through this growth the
eye might distinguish, at a considerable distance, the occasional
masses of gray rock that were scattered in huge bowlders over
its summit and sides.

The adjacent region lying south from the mountain was
partially cleared and in cultivation, presenting a limited range
of open ground, over which the march of Campbell might have
been revealed in frequent glimpses to the British partisan for
some three or four miles. We may suppose, therefore, that
the two antagonists watched each other during the advance
of the approaching army across this district with emotions
of various and deep interest. Campbell drew at length into
a ravine which, bounded by low and short hills and shaded
by detached portions of the forest, partly concealed his troops
from the view of the enemy, who was now not more than
half a mile distant. The gorge of this dell, or narrow valley,
opened immediately towards the southern termination of the
mountain ; and the column halted a short distance within,
where a bare knoll, or round, low hill, crowned with rock,
jutted abruptly over the road and constituted the only im
pediment that prevented each party from inspecting the array
of his opponent.


It was an hour after noon, and the present halt was improved
by the men in making ready for battle. Meanwhile the chief
officers met together in front and employed their time in sur
veying the localities of the ground upon which they were soon
to be brought to action. The knoll I have described furnished
a favorable position for this observation, and thither they had
already repaired.

I turn from the graver and more important matters which
may be supposed to have occupied the thoughts of the leaders,
as they were grouped together on the broad rock, to a subject
which was at this moment brought to their notice by the un
expected appearance of two females on horseback, on the road
a full half mile in the rear of the army, and who were now ap
proaching at a steady pace. They were attended by a man who,
even thus far off, showed the sedateness of age ; and a short
space behind them rode a few files of troopers in military array.

It was with mingled feelings of surprise and admiration at
the courage which could have prompted her at such a time to
visit the army that the party recognized Mildred Lindsay and
her attendants in the approaching cavalcade. These emotions
were expressed by them in the rough and hearty phrase of
their habitual and familiar intercourse.

" Let me beg, gentlemen," said Campbell, interrupting them,
" that you speak kindly and considerately of yonder lady. By
my honor, I have never seen man or woman with a more
devoted or braver heart. Poor girl ! she has nobly followed
Butler through his afflictions and taken her share of suffering
with a spirit that should bring us all to shame. Horseshoe
Robinson, who has squired her to our camp, even from her
father s house, speaks of a secret between her and our captive
friend that tells plainly enough to my mind of sworn faith and
long-tried love. As men and soldiers we should reverence it.
Williams, look carefully to her comfort and safety. Go, man,


at once and meet her on the road. God grant that this day
may bring an end to her grief ! " . . .

It was three o clock before these arrangements were com
pleted. I have informed my reader that the mountain termi
nated immediately in front of the outlet from the narrow dell in
which Campbell s army had halted, its breast protruding into
the plain only some few hundred paces from the head of the
column, whilst the valley, that forked both right and left, af
forded an easy passage along the base on either side. Ferguson
occupied the very summit, and now frowned upon his foe from
the midst of a host confident in the strength of their position
and exasperated by the pursuit which had driven them into
this fastness.

Campbell resolved to assail this post by a spirited attack, at
the same moment, in front and on the flanks. With this intent
his army was divided into three equal parts. The center was
reserved to himself and Shelby ; the right was assigned to
Sevier and M Dowell ; the left, to Cleveland and Williams.
These two latter parties were to repair to their respective sides
of the mountain, and the whole were to make the onset by
scaling the heights as nearly as possible at the same instant.

The men, before they marched out of the ravine, had dis
mounted and picketed their horses under the winding shelter
of the hills, and, being now separated into detached columns
formed in solid order, they were put in motion to reach their
allotted posts. The Amherst Rangers were retained on horse
back for such duty as might require speed and were stationed
close in the rear of Campbell s own division, which now merely
marched from behind the shelter of the knoll and halted in the
view of the enemy until sufficient delay should be afforded to
the flanking divisions to attain their ground.

Mildred, attended by Allen Musgrove and his daughter, still
maintained her position on the knoll and from this height


surveyed the preparations for combat with a beating heart. The
scene within her view was one of intense occupation. The air
of stern resolve that sat upon every brow ; the silent but onward
movement of the masses of men advancing to conflict ; the few
brief and quick words of command that fell from the distance
upon her ear ; the sullen beat of the hoof upon the sod, as an
occasional horseman sped to and fro between the more remote
bodies and the center division, which yet stood in compact
phalanx immediately below her at the foot of the hill ; then the
breathless anxiety of her companions near at hand, and the short
note of dread and almost terror that now and then escaped
from the lips of Mary Musgrove, as the maiden looked eagerly
and fearfully abroad over the plain all these incidents wrought
upon her feelings and caused her to tremble. Yet amidst these
novel emotions she was not insensible to a certain lively and
even pleasant interest arising out of the picturesque character
of the spectacle. The gay sunshine striking aslant these mov
ing battalions, lighting up their fringed and many-colored
hunting-shirts and casting a golden hue upon their brown and
weather-beaten faces, brought out into warm relief the chief
characteristics of this peculiar woodland army. And Mildred
sometimes forgot her fears in the fleeting inspiration of the
sight, as she watched the progress of an advancing column at
one time moving in close ranks, with the serried thicket of rifles
above their heads, and at another deploying into files to pass
some narrow path, along which, with trailed arms and bodies
bent, they sped with the pace of hunters beating the hillside
for game. The tattered and service-stricken banner that shook
its folds in the wind above these detached bodies likewise lent
its charm of association to the field in the silence and stead
fastness of the array in which it was borne, and its constant
onward motion, showing it to be encircled by strong arms and
stout hearts.


Turning from these, the lady s eye was raised, with a less
joyous glance, towards the position of the enemy. On the most
prominent point of the mountain s crest she could descry the
standard of England fluttering above a concentrated body whose
scarlet uniforms, as the sun glanced upon them through the
forest, showed that here Ferguson had posted his corps of
regulars and held them ready to meet the attack of the center
division of the assailants ; whilst the glittering of bayonets
amidst the dark foliage, at intervals, rearward along the line of
the summit, indicated that heavy detachments were stationed
in this quarter to guard the flanks. The marching and coun
termarching of the frequent corps from various positions on
the summit, the speeding of officers on horseback, and the occa
sional movement of small squadrons of dragoons, who were at
one moment seen struggling along the sides of the mountain
and, at another, descending towards the base or returning to
the summit, disclosed the earnestness and activity of the prep
aration with which a courageous soldier may be supposed to
make ready for his foe.

It was with a look of sorrowful concern which brought tears
into her eyes that Mildred gazed upon this host and strained
her vision in the vain endeavor to catch some evidences of the
presence of Arthur Butler. . . .

Meanwhile Campbell and Shelby, each at the head of his
men in the center division of the army, steadily commenced
the ascent of the mountain. A long interval ensued, in which
nothing was heard but the tramp of the soldiers and a few.
words of almost whispered command, as they scaled the
height; and it was not until they had nearly reached the
summit that the first peal of battle broke upon the sleeping
echoes of the mountain.

Campbell here deployed into line, and his men strode briskly
upwards until they had come within musketshot of the British


regulars, whose sharp and prolonged volleys, at this instant,
suddenly burst forth from the crest of the hill. Peal after
peal rattled along the mountain side, and volumes of smoke,
silvered by the light of the sun, rolled over and enveloped the

When the breeze had partially swept away this cloud, and
opened glimpses of the battle behind it, the troops of Camp
bell were seen recoiling before an impetuous charge of the
bayonet, in which Ferguson himself led the way. A sudden
halt by the retreating Whigs, and a stern front steadfastly
opposed to the foe, checked the ardor of his pursuit at an
early moment, and, in turn, he was discovered retiring towards
his original ground, hotly followed by the mountaineers. Again
the same vigorous onset from the royalists was repeated, and
again the shaken bands of Campbell rallied and turned back
the rush of battle towards the summit. At last, panting and
spent with the severe encounter, both parties stood for a space
eyeing each other with deadly rage and waiting only to gather
breath for the renewal of the strife.

At this juncture the distant firing heard from either flank
furnished evidence that Sevier and Cleveland had both come
in contact with the enemy. The uprising of smoke above the
trees showed the seat of the combat to be below the summit
on the mountain sides and that the enemy had there halfway
met his foe, whilst the shouts of the soldiers, alternating be
tween the parties of either army, no less distinctly proclaimed
the fact that at these remote points the field was disputed
with bloody resolution and various success.

It would overtask my poor faculty of description to give my
reader even a faint picture of this rugged battlefield. During
the pause of the combatants of the center Campbell and Shelby
were seen riding along the line and by speech and gesture en
couraging their soldiers to still more determined efforts. Little


need was there for exhortation ; rage seemed to have refreshed
the strength of the men, who, with loud and fierce huzzas,
rushed again to the encounter. They were met with a defiance
not less eager than their own, and for a time the battle was again
obscured under the thick haze engendered by the incessant
discharges of firearms. From this gloom a yell of triumph was
sometimes heard, as momentary success inspired those who
struggled within ; and the frequent twinkle of polished steel
glimmering through the murky atmosphere, and the occasional
apparition of a speeding horseman, seen for an instant as he
came into the clear light, told of the dreadful earnestness and
zeal with which the unseen hosts had now joined in conflict.
The impression of this contact was various. Parts of each force
broke before their antagonists, and in those spots where the
array of the fight might be discerned through the shade of the
forest or the smoke of battle, both royalists and Whigs were
found, at the same instant, to have driven back detached frag
ments of their opponents. Foemen were mingled hand to hand,
through and among their adverse ranks, and for a time no
conjecture might be indulged as to the side to which victory
would turn.

The flanking detachments seemed to have fallen into the same
confusion and might have been seen retreating and advancing
upon the rough slopes of the mountain in partisan bodies,
separated from their lines, thus giving to the scene an air
of bloody riot, more resembling the sudden insurrection of
mutineers from the same ranks than the orderly war of trained

Through the din and disorder of this fight it is fit that I
should take time to mark the wanderings of Galbraith Robin
son, whose exploits this day would not ill deserve the pen of
Froissart. The doughty sergeant had, for a time, retained his
post in the ranks of the Amherst Rangers, and with them had


traveled towards the mountain top, close in the rear of Camp
bell s line. But when the troops had recoiled before the fre
quent charges of the royalists, finding his station, at best, but
that of an inactive spectator, he made no scruple of deserting
his companions and trying his fortune on the field in such form
of adventure as best suited his temper. With no other weapon
than his customary rifle, he stood his ground when others re
treated, and saw the ebb and flow of " flight and chase " swell
round him, according to the varying destiny of the day. In
these difficulties it was his good fortune to escape unhurt, a
piece of luck that may, perhaps, be attributed to the coolness
with which he either galloped over an adversary or around
him, as the emergency rendered most advisable.

In the midst of this busy occupation, at a moment when one
of the refluxes of battle brought him almost to the summit, he
descried a small party of British dragoons, stationed some dis
tance in the rear of Ferguson s line, whose detached position
seemed to infer some duty unconnected with the general fight.
In the midst of these he thought he recognized the figure and
dress of one familiar to his eye. The person thus singled out
by the sergeant s glance stood bareheaded upon a project
ing mass of rock, apparently looking with an eager gaze
towards the distant combat. No sooner did the conjecture that
this might be Arthur Butler flash across his thought than he
turned his steed back upon the path by which he had ascended
and rode with haste towards the Rangers.

" Stephen Foster," he said, as he galloped up to the lieu
tenant and drew his attention by a tap of the hand upon his
shoulder, " I have business for you, man you are but wasting
your time here pick me out a half dozen of your best fellows
and bring them with you after me. Quick Stephen quick ! "

The lieutenant of the Rangers collected the desired party
and rode after the sergeant, who now conducted this handful


of men, with as much rapidity as the broken character of the
ground allowed, by a circuit for considerable distance along
the right side of the mountain until they reached the top. The
point at which they gained the summit brought them between
Ferguson s line and the dragoons, who, it was soon perceived,
were the party charged with the custody of Butler, and who
had been thus detached in the rear for the more safe guardian
ship of the prisoner. Horseshoe s maneuver had completely
cut them off from their friends in front, and they had no re
source but to defend themselves against the threatened assault
or fly towards the parties who were at this moment engaged
with the flanking division of the Whigs. They were taken by
surprise, and Horseshoe, perceiving the importance of an
immediate attack, dashed onwards along the ridge of the moun
tain with precipitate speed, calling out to his companions to
follow. In a moment the dragoons were engaged in a desperate
pell-mell with the Rangers.

" Upon them, Stephen ! Upon them bravely, my lads ! Huzza.
for Major Butler ! Fling the major across your saddle the
first that reaches him," shouted the sergeant, with a voice that
was heard above all the uproar of battle. " What ho James
Curry ! " he cried out, as soon as he detected the presence
of his old acquaintance in this throng; "stand your ground,
if you are a man ! "

The person to whom this challenge was directed had made
an effort to escape towards a party of his friends whom he was
about summoning to his aid, and in the attempt had already
ridden some distance into the wood, whither the sergeant had
eagerly followed him.

" Ah, ha, old Truepenny, are you there ? " exclaimed Curry,
turning short upon his pursuer and affecting to laugh as if in
scorn. " Horseshoe Robinson, well met ! " he added sternly,
" I have not seen a better sight to-day than that fool s head of


yours upon this hill. No, not even when just now Patrick
Ferguson sent your yelping curs back to hide themselves be
hind the trees."

" Come on, James ! " cried Horseshoe, " I have no time to
talk. We have an old reckoning to settle, which perhaps you
mought remember. I am a man of my word, and, besides, I
have set my eye upon Major Butler," he added, with a tone
and look that were both impressed with the fierce passion of

Online LibraryMaurice G. (Maurice Garland) FultonSouthern life in southern literature; selections of representative prose and poetry → online text (page 8 of 35)