Robert Tomes.

Battles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) online

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his commander and friend grasped his
other hand. He could not speak then ;
he kissed Campbell s hand, smiled, loosed
the hold which stanched in life, and the
Christian and patriot went to his reward.
Four Edmondstons fell in this fight, and,
with them, Craigs and Beatties, Bowens
and Willoughbys, Blackburrfs and Craw-
fords, Campbells and Cummings."

* " The tradition," says Simms, " reports that Williams
and Ferguson perished by each other s hands ; that, after
Ferguson had fallen by the pistol of Williams, and lay
wounded on the ground, the latter approached and offered
him mercy ; and that his answer was a fatal bullet from the
pi-stol of the dying man!"




The bloody conflict of King s mountain
was marked by a crowning sacrifice of
vengeance. Ten of the prisoners loy
alists, conspicuous for their outlawries,
and well known were tried, condemned,
and hung, by the conquerors, almost in
the moment of victory. Thirty were con
demned, but twenty respited. They are
all alleged to have been notorious for
their crimes, the monstrous atrocity of
which forbade the plea of pity in the ears
of their captors. They had long been
doomed, by a thousand threats of ven
geance, from as many outraged enemies.
Something, too, is alleged in behalf of this
wild and summary justice, in the right
and policy of retaliation for the murders
which Cornwallis had committed on his

captives at Camden, Ninety-six, and Au
gusta. The deed was supposed to be justi
fied by that code which requires eye for
eye, tooth for tooth, life for life.*

To this day the traveller reads on a
rude stone at the foot of the scene of bat
tle, and near the spring from which he
quenches his thirst, this inscription : " Sa
cred to the memory of Major William
Chronicle, Captain John Mattocks, Wil
liam Robb, and John Boyd, who were
killed at this place on the 7th day of Oc
tober, 1780, fighting in defence of Amer
ica." On the opposite side of the stone
is read : "Colonel Ferguson, an officer of
his Britannic majesty, was defeated and
killed at this place on the 7th day of Oc
tober, 1780."


General Gates arid his Wretched Force. Lord Cornwallis discouraged. Retreat of the British. Their Sufferings and
Disasters. The March to Winnsborough. Illness of Cornwallis. Lord Rawdon in Command. Tarleton and Sum-
ter. General Greene supersedes Gates. An Affecting Incident. Life and Character of Greene. His Age and Per
sonal Appearance. His Manners. His Fidelity, and Friendship for Washington.


GENERAL GATES, having gathered
the scattered remnants of his army
at Ilillsborough, in North Carolina, found
that his whole continental force, exclu
sive of the militia, did not exceed fifteen
hundred men. These, moreover, were in
want of almost every necessity. En
camped in the woods near the town, the
soldiers, in lieu of tents, built wigwams
of fence-rails, and rudely thatched them
with Indian-corn sheaves.

Although in

rags, without pay, " with only a half ra
tion, and never with a whole one," the
men bore up with wonderful fortitude,
and cheerfully submitted to the severest

In the meantime, Lord Cornwallis had
pushed on as far as Salisbury, near the
borders of Virginia ; and, in the expecta
tion of being able to reach that State, a
reinforcement of troops intended for him





under General Leslie, was ordered to en
ter the Chesapeake. After learning the
fatal result at King s mountain, however,
the earl was no longer disposed to pene
trate farther into a country whence had
suddenly risen such a formidable band of
foes as Campbell had led to victory. His
lordship now no longer thought of ex
tending his conquests northward. His
only care was to secure those which he
had already made. He was determined
to retire to South Carolina, and there con
centrate his force, lest he should be sur
rounded and cut off from that province
by some of the bold and active " mount

The retrograde movement commenced
about the middle of October. It was a
difficult and disastrous re treat, as the Brit
ish authorities themselves acknowledge.
It rained for several days without inter
mission, and the roads were knee-deep in
mud and water. The men had no tents,
and hardly enough food to support life.
At one time, they had beef and no bread ;
at another, bread and no beef. For five
days their only sustenance was the Indian
corn which they collected as it stood in
the fields. They were, moreover, greatly
harassed by the militia of the co nutty,
who would come upon them unawares,
and shoot down their guards and cut off
their foraging-parties. Nor could the ut
most vigilance on the part of the British
general secure his troops against these
surprises. The militia, being mounted,
and \\ ell acquainted with, the country,
were here, there, and everywhere. At
the most unexpected moment, a rifle-shot
from some covert would lay low a sentry ;

Get, 29,

and, before the alarm was fairly given,
the hidden marksman was again in his
saddle and away, without fear of pursuit
in that wild country, where neither foot
nor horse soldier ventured to follow. On
the march from Charlotte, single riflemen
often rode up within gunshot of the ene
my, singled out their victims, and, having
discharged their pieces, galloped away in

After this long and trying tramp, the
British army reached the Catawba river,
which they were obliged to ford at a part
where it was six hundred yards wide, and
in some places as deep as nine or ten feet.
The enemy now encamped at
Winnsborough, midway between
the Catawba and Broad rivers, in Fail-field
district, South Carolina. Here Cornwal-
lis was taken ill with a bilious fever, and
the command devolved upon the young
Lord Rawdon, who remained inactive,
however, until an answer should be re
ceived from General Leslie, who had ar
rived in the Chesapeake with a force des
tined for Virginia, but which Cornwallis
now wished to co-operate with him in the
Carolinas. Leslie was therefore instruct
ed to proceed by sea to Charleston.

The retreat of Cornwallis, following
thus closely upon Ferguson s defeat, and
the confession of weakness betrayed by
this retreat, gave new encouragement to
the Americans. They everywhere began
to repair in considerable numbers the
sparseness of population considered to
the camps of their respective command
ers. Of these there were large numbers,
captains and colonels, in the field, of whom
the historians say little ; and day by clay



they achieved successes, on a small scale,
of which but little has been reported.

These parties, with their leaders, now
began to acknowledge and to exercise a
better discipline, and to become more effi
cient as soldiers. They had suffered too
many disasters from the neglect of duty
by the militia not to feel the necessity of
vigilance, and a better observance of the
duties of the regular service. The legis
lature of North Carolina put all the mili
tia of the state under General Smallwood,
of the continental army. Generals Sum-
ner and Davidson had likewise large com
mands of militia, and were good officers.
Major Davie was also an active and effi
cient partisan of that state, as were Shel
by, Se vie r,M/Do well, and Lock. Georgia
contributed several able officers, in Colo
nels Clark, M Call, Jackson, and Twiggs;
and there was not a precinct in South
Carolina that had not some body of troops
in the field, under a favorite leader, Ham
mond, the Hamptons, Harden, Cleveland,
as well as Marion, Sumter, and Pickens.

It was one of the mistakes of the Brit
ish to suppose that the spirit of the coun
try, thus excited and active, could be sub
dued by cruelty and terror. Cornwallis
issued his orders to hang, and burn, and
oppress the " rebels," in every possible
way; and his lieutenants, such as Tarle-
ton, Wemyss, and others, were not unwil
ling to follow out his decrees to the ful
lest extent of privilege and persecution
which they allowed.*

The active British cavalry-leader, find
ing all attempts to surprise the ever-vigi
lant Marion futile, now directed his eflbrts

* Sirnms.

Aug. 18,

against the audacious Sumter. This gal
lant partisan-leader, after the surprise of
his band, had soon collected an
other, composed of the remnant
of his old corps and some fresh volunteers
from among the people of York district,
a section of the state which had never
made any concessions to the invaders.
Though unsupported by any continental
force, Sumter was enabled to keep the
field. Varying his position about the En-
oree, Broad, and Tiger rivers, he made
frequent attacks upon the British. He
beat up their quarters, cut off their con
voys, and kept them in a constant state
of alarm and disquietude. Having re
cruited his command to an imposing force,
he advanced within twenty-eight miles
of the British camp at Winnsborough.

This audacity suggested to Cornwallis
a plan of surprising him in his encamp
ment. Such importance was attached to
securing his individual person, that an
officer, with five dragoons, had it special
ly in charge to force their way to his tent
and take him, dead or alive. " The Gamc-
Coclc" as Sumter was called by the Caro
linians, was, in the language of his lord
ship, the greatest trouble which the Brit
ish had encountered in the country.

The conduct of this enterprise was in
trusted to Major Wemyss, who, with a con
siderable force of cavalry and infantry,
approached the encampment of the par
tisan leader at Broad river with equal
promptitude and caution. Fortunately,
Sumter had given unusual strength to his
advanced guard. His force had lain so
long in its position, that he naturally ex
pected attack. Colonel Taylor, by whom



[PAUT ii.

Xov, 12.

the advanced guard was commanded, had
taken particular precautions. Fires had
been lighted in front of his line, and his
men were ordered, in case of alarm, to
form so far in the rear of the fires as to
be concealed, while the approaching ene
my would be conspicuous in their light.
The videttes and pickets did
their duty, and the guard was
ready to receive the attack. A murder
ous discharge prostrated twenty-three of
the British as they reached the fires. The
rest recoiled, then retreated for a hundred
yards before they rallied. They were
brought again steadily to the attack, and
a close conflict followed ; but the well-
directed fire of the Americans completed
what their advanced guard had so well
be^un. The British were driven from the


field, and found safety only in the dark
ness of the night. Wemyss fell into the
hands of the Americans, being wounded
through both thighs, and deserted by his
men in the precipitation of their flight.

After this affair, Sumter changed his
position ; and Tarleton, having given up
his vain pursuit of Marion, now turned
in headlong chase after the former, whom
he overtook at Blackstock s,near
Tiger river, and had no difficulty
in bringing him to action. Blackstock s
house, situated on the southwest bank of
the stream, consisted of a large van, built
of logs, the apertures of which formed
capital loopholes for marksmen. It af
forded a favorable position for the em
ployment of a small force in battle, and
Sumter stationed his troops so as to avail
himself of all its advantages. On this oc
casion, he had with him Clarke,

Kov, 20,

and Chandler, of Georgia ; and Colonels
Thomas, Bratton, and Majors M Call and
Samuel Hammond, of South Carolina, who
had joined forces with his some ten days
before. Notdoubting that Tarleton s en
tire force was upon him, he resolved to
maintain his ground during the day, and,
under cover of the night, escape across
the river.

Tarleton s command consisted of his le
gion, a battalion of the seventy-first regi
ment, a detachment of the sixty-third, and
a lieutenant s command of the royal ar
tillery, with one fieldpiece. But, of this
force, only four hundred mounted men
had yet come up with the Americans.

As soon as Sumter made this discovery,
his plans were changed ; and he resolved
to commence the attack, and cut up his
enemy in detail. Tarleton, supposing that
he had the game in his own hands, had,
immediately on arriving, secured an ele
vated piece of ground in front of Sumter s
position, and, dismounting his men to re
lieve themselves and horses, prepared to
await the arrival of his infantry and ar

But the assault of Sumter compelled
him to take to his arms. The Americans
descended from their heights, and poured
in a well-directed fire upon the enemy.
They were met by the bayonet, and, be
ing armed only with rifles, were obliged
to retire. The British now advanced, but
were met by a reserve of rifles, which pros
trated many and repulsed the rest. As
he beheld his danger, Tarleton ordered
a second and desperate charge, directly
up the hill ; but the Americans stood firm,
and received him with their rifles, under



the united fire of which his men could not
be made to stand. Drawing off his whole
force, he now wheeled upon Sumter s left,
where the ground was less precipitous.
Tarleton was here met by a little corps
of Georgians, about one hundred and fifty
in number, who displayed the courage of
veterans. Clarke and Hammond, espe
cially, distinguished themselves in this
action. But the pressure of the whole
British force was too much for them to
contend against. They yielded, after a
noble resistance, and gave way ; but the
timely interposition of the reserve, under
Colonel Winn, and the fire of a company
stationed at the house, determined the
issue. Tarleton fled, leaving nearly two
hundred men upon the field of conflict.
The loss of the Americans was trifling, but
their brave commander received a severe
wound in the breast, which kept him for
several months from active service. On
being disabled, Colonel Twiggs succeeded
to the command.*

Lord Cornwallis having retired to the
south, General Gates moved his force and
took post at Charlotte, soon after its evac
uation by the enemy, in the latter part
of October, with the view of making it
his winter-quarters. While here, Gates
was overwhelmed with misfortune. First
came the sad intelligence of the death of
his only son ; and next followed a de
spatch informing him that he had been
superseded in the command of the south
ern department by General Greene.

Heavy, however, as were these blows,
General Gates s sensibility was still more
wrought upon by an affecting incident


which we give in the words of an eye
witness: "I found him," says the narra
tor, " traversing the apartment which he
occupied, under the influence of high ex
citement. His agitation was excessive ;
every feature of his countenance, every
gesture, betrayed it. Official despatches,
informing him that he was superseded,
and that the command of the southern
army had been transferred to General
Greene, had just been received and pe
rused by him. His countenance, however,
betrayed no expression of irritation or re
sentment; it was sensibility alone that
caused his emotion. An open letter, which
he held in his hand, was often raised to
his lips and kissed with devotion, while
the exclamation repeatedly escaped them
i Great man ! Noble, generous proce
dure ! When the tumult of his mind had
subsided, and his thoughts found utter
ance, he with strong expression of feeling
exclaimed : I have received this day a
communication from the commander-in-
chief, which has conveyed more consola
tion to my bosom, more ineffable delight
to my heart, than I had believed it pos
sible for it ever to have felt again. With
affectionate tenderness he sympathizes
with me in my domestic misfortunes, and
condoles with me on the loss I have sus
tained by the recent death of an only son ;
and then, with peculiar delicacy, lament
ing my misfortune in battle, assures me
that his confidence in my zeal and capa
city is so little impaired, that the com
mand of the right wing of the army will
be besto\ved on me as soon as I can make
it convenient to join him. "*

c Thacher.




Dec, 4,

General Greene now arrived at Char
lotte, to assume the command of
the southern army. As we are
about to narrate the history of a cam
paign in which this Revolutionary hero,
although heretofore among the most con
spicuous of Washington s generals, won
his most signal triumphs, it seems appro
priate that we should here briefly record
the early incidents of his life.

NATHANIEL GREENE was born at Warwick,
in Rhode Island, May 27, 1742, on the
banks of the Potonhommeth, where his
father, a blacksmith by trade, worked a
mill and forge. The elder Greene was a
rigid Quaker, and frequently held forth
at the " meeting," where he was noted as
among the soundest and most forcible of
the preachers. The son was brought up
in the strictest principles of the sect, but
early exhibited a desire to give his mind
a freer scope than was conformable with
the restricted views of his somewhat as
cetic father. With a strong passion for
books, the young Greene was resolved
upon pursuing a course of more liberal
study than could be taught by the well-
thumbed family bible and the old homi
lies on the paternal book-shelf. He re
ceived no encouragement in this pursuit
from his father, who looked suspiciously
upon an} wanderings in the fields of "pro
fane" literature. The youth, however, suc
ceeded by his own efforts in buying books
and reading them, in spite of the paternal
protest. The father, at last finding how
resolute his son was in the pursuit of
learning, ceased to thwart him, and final
ly allowed him to provide himself with a
teacher, who was able to impart to the

earnest student of fortune the elements
of Latin and mathematics. The black
smith s son at the same time was no less
busy at his father s forge ; and, while his
mind was ripening with study, his body
was daily growing in strength. The fa
ther, moreover, finding thai the youth s
ardor for learning did not lessen his labor
or diminish its profits, ceased to oppose,
though he continued to regret, the world
ly tastes of his son.

The severity of the Quaker was, how
ever, too rigid to relax when he found
that his son was not only devoted to "pro
fane" studies, but was likewise given to
" profane" amusements. The youth, now
over eighteen, was tempted by the charms
of the gay daughters of the neighborhood
to indulge in the pleasures of the dance.
But these were only to be enjoyed secret
ly ; and the young man would steal away
at night, when the whole house was quiet
in sleep, and, after taking his fill of the
forbidden enjoyment, return cautiously
to his bed again without disturbing the

o o

repose or agitating the principles of the
slumbering Quaker. He was not always,
however, equally lucky.

There was a great ball in the neighbor
hood, to which young Greene had been
secretly invited. In the night, watching
his opportunity, he made his escape by
the usual window, and after dancing, the
gayest of the gay, until midnight, groped
his way homeward. Arriving near the
house, his eye caught a glimpse of his fa
ther, standing, with a whip in his hand,
below the window through which alone
he could gain entrance. " There was no
means of escaping him. The stern old




Quaker was one of that class of people
who are apt to unite the word and blow
together, the latter being quite likely to
make itself felt before the other. In this
emergency, conscious that there was no
remedy against or rescue from the rod,
young Greene promptly conceived an
idea which suggests a ready capacity for
military resource. A pile of shingles lay
at hand ; and, before he supposed his fa
ther to behold his approach, he insinuated
beneath his jacket a sufficient number of
thin layers of shingle to shield his back
and shoulders from the thong. With this
secret corslet he approached and received
his punishment with the most exemplary

Greene, however, never allowed his
love of pleasure to master his habits of
industry and study. He pursued his busi
ness so steadily, and so much to the sat-
isfaction of his father, that in his increas
ing prosperity he made him his partner,
and manager of a new mill which he erect
ed at Coventry. The son, in the mean
time, added to his librarv, and increased

/ /

his acquirements. Young Greene soon
became a noticeable person from his ac
complishments, and, as he sympathized
with the popular sentiment in political
affairs which were at that time agitated
by the quarrels with the mother-country,
he soon became prominent as a revolu
tionist. When, however, on the prospect
of war, he began to add the works of mil
itary authors to his library, and to carry
out their principles in actively organizing
the militia of the neighborhood, his peace
ful fellow-Quakers first rebuked, and, at

Life of General Greene, by W. Gilmore Simms.

last, when they found him pertinacious,
"read him out of meeting."

In 1770, Greene was elected a member
of the general assembly of the colony of
Rhode Island. In 1774, he enrolled him
self in the ranks of the "Kentish Guards;"
and in the same year he married Cathe
rine Littlefield. whose attractions had first
led him to those forbidden balls. After
the battle of Lexington, in April, 1775,
he was raised to the command of the mi
litia of Rhode Island, with the rank of
major-general. His subsequent career, till
his appointment to the head of the south
ern armies, has been already fully nar
rated in the course of this history.

At the beginning of the Revolutionary
War, Greene was thirty-three years of
age. His personal appearance at this pe
riod was impressive. In height he was
about five feet and ten or eleven inches.
His figure was stout and muscular. His
face, though somewhat disfigured by a
blemish in one of his eyes from the effects
of small-pox, was pleasing from the fresh
ness of its complexion and the elevation
of its expression. His air was that of a
calm and thoughtful person, rather than
of an impulsive man of action. He was,
however, elastic in his movements, though
his right leg was slightly lame from the
effects of his severe labors in early life.
His manners were quiet, but courteous ;
and General Greene, notwithstanding the
rude experiences of his youth, was notice
able as among the most gentlemanly as
well as accomplished of the American of
ficers. He was greatly beloved by Wash-
in o-ton, and was held in such general es-

O / O

teem, that it was common to speak of him


[PART n.

as th e probable successor to the command-
er-in-chief, should any misfortune have de
prived the country of his great services.
Washington always relied upon him in
his severest trials. On the discovery of
Arnold s treason while the chief hardly

knew whom to trust, he did not hesitate
to confide the command of West Point to
General Greene ; and again, when the
southern country in its despair called for
succor, it was Greene whom Washington
sent to raise it from its despondency .*


Interview between Generals Greene and Gates. Generous Friendship of Greene. Retirement of Gates. Gratitude ot
Virginia. Greene and his Troops. Good Feeling and Good Service. State of the Country. Success of Morgan.
The Rugelys surrender. An Unlucky Colonel. Greene on the Pedee. Earl Cornwallis for North Carolina. Tarle-
ton pushing ahead. Pursuit of Morgan. Morgan at Cowpens. Tactics. Disposition of Troops. Morgan to his
Men. The Battle. American Victory. Colonel Washington. The Resolute Tarleton. Washington and Tarleton.
Personal Conflict. Losses. Lord Cornwallis on a March. Lightening the Troops. Quick Pursuit. Morgan for
the Catawba.


THE interview between Generals
Greene and Gates at Charlotte was
marked by every manifestation of cour
tesy. The former was modest in assu
ming, while the latter was diinii-
Uec, 4, f

fied in resigning, the command.

General Greene was announced to the
army as commanding officer ; and on the
same day the new general addressed the
troops, and paid his predecessor the com
pliment of confirming all his standing or

Directions had been given that a court
of inquiry should be instituted by Greene

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 104 of 126)