Robert Tomes.

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

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on his arrival, to investigate the conduct
of Gates at Camden ; but, as Baron Steu-
ben had been left in command in Virginia,
there was no major-general to fill the va
cancy in the number requisite to consti
tute the court. The investigation was
accordingly postponed ; and Greene, who
looked with great indulgence upon his un-

Dcc. 5.

fortunate predecessor, pleaded his cause
so successfully, that Congress was finally
induced to rescind its resolution, and to
restore Gates to his old command in the
northern army. The unhappy general,
subdued by private griefs and public mis
fortune, started on his way to the
North the day after Greene s ar
rival at Charlotte, and in the meanwhile
retired to his "Traveller s Rest" as his es
tate was called, in Virginia. The general
assembly of his adopted state generously
consoled the feelings of the fallen officer
by appointing a committee to wait upon
him, and assure him of the high regard
and esteem in which he was held by its
members, and that their remembrance of
his former glorious services was never to
be obliterated by any reverse of fortune

At the close of the Revolution, General Greene returned
to Rhode Island. In 1785, he removed with his family to
Georgia, where he died suddenly in June of the following
year, in the forty-fourth year of his age.



Ever mindful of his great merit, they de
clared that they would omit no opportu
nity of testifying to the world the grati
tude which Virginia, as a member of the
American Union, owed to him in his mili
tary character.*

* In the neighborhood of Leetown, in Jefferson (formerly
Berkeley) county. Virginia not far beyond the Blue Ridge
and the Shenandoah, but nearer still to theOpequan, anoth
er stream which has had the good fortune to retain its musi
cal Indian name are the ancient and dilapidated residences
of three distinguished generals of the Revolution. Here,
within a radius of a mile or two, lived, long and weary years,
CHARLES LEE, the sinister hero of Monrnouth ; HOHATIO
GATES, loser of the battle of Camden, and of the southern
campaign : ADAM STEPHEN, the early friend of Washington,
but whose irregular habits induced Congress to remove him
from his command of a division and to bestow it upon the
marquis Lafayette ; and WILLIAM DAKKE, a hero of the
frontier, and the victor in a hundred personal combats with
the savages. In this little valley, beneath the shadow of the
great forests, remote from camps and the flashing world,
whose light and noise never penetrated the remote depths of
their retirement, these first-named warriors rusted out long
years of vigorous manhood in inglorious repose, their swords
in moth-eaten scabbards, their hearts in the great struggle
which approached its termination, but their bodies far away
from it. The eccentric career and death of General Lee
have already been detailed.

Somewhat removed from the county road, and between
the little villages of Kerneysville and Leetown, stood, and
still stands, the house of " Traveller s Rest," to which Gates
retired after the disastrous day of Camden. The only pecu
liarity perhaps worth noting in the dwelling, is the appear
ance of one of the apartments. It is a large room in one
wing of the house, with three windows, singularly arranged.
The origin of so eccentric an arrangement was, that some of
General Gates s family in England sent him, while the man
sion was in process of construction, three large damask cur
tains, of resplendent color then a great luxury. The win
dows of the great dining-room were made to fit these cur
tains, and they duly took their place. The house is going
to ruin. This banqueting-room was lately used as a corn-
crib by the owner of the estate. Alas for human pride, and
the glory of the world which passes away !

Gates went to Mount Vernon to see Washington imme
diately upon his arrival from England ; and here he met
with Lee, an old friend and companion in-arms. As yet the
three men thus assembled were as brothers, consulting upon
the safety of the republic. But when the Revolution broke
out. and Washington was made its chief, both Lee and Gates
had their partisans, who advocated a change of leadership,
the deposition of Washington, and the substitution of one or
the other of the successful Englishmen. Gates was known

Dec. 10,

General Greene found himself in com
mand of the mere shadow of an army.
He brought with him no troops, and but
a single aid-de-camp. The returns of the
whole force, made six days after
he joined the army at Charlotte,
gave but nine hundred and seventy con
tinentals and eleven hundred and thirteen
militia. The soldiers, moreover, were des
titute of pay, tents, or blankets, only half
clothed, and were but scantily supplied
with food and ammunition. Greene felt
the difficulties of his position. " Good
feeding," he says, " is the first principle
of good service. It is impossible to pre
serve discipline where troops are in want
of everything ; to attempt severity will

to desire it, and to work for the result. His attempt to cor
rupt the inflexible Morgan is well known, and the great sol
dier s noble reply: "I have one favor to ask of you, which is,
never to mention that detestable subject to me again ; for
under no other man than Washington, as commander-in-
chief, will I ever serve !"

The battle of Camden came; and Gates, the conqueror of
Burgoyne, the rival of Washington, came here to this house
of the "Traveller s Rest unattended and alone. Alas, how
fallen from his high estate! So ended the military career of
this man (who had shone as the king of the camp) as the ca
reer of Lee had ended. Gates did not die as unhappily as
his old companion, however. He removed, finally, to New
York ; served in the legislature there in 1800; and died in
April, 1806 (in the seventy-eighth year of his age), in his
house on Rose hill, near what is now the corner of Twenty-
third street and Second avenue. Washington had been dead
for nearly seven years, but "still lived" a more enduring life
than before. But Gates had died nearly a generation before,
on the day of Camden !

Gates always preserved a bland and courteous carriage,
with no little dignity of tone and address, as may be seen in
his correspondence, even when laboring under the severest
public odium. Personally, the contrast with his friend Lee
was very striking. The former was tall, thin, rude in his
manners, and slovenly in his apparel. Gates was full-faced,
with a florid complexion, and inclined to corpulency. His
manners were those of a courtier insinuating, mild, and
specious, producing in all the impression that he was famil
iar with "public offices and ante-chambers," and that he
would flatter and wheedle gentleman or commoner to gain
his ends. Harper $ Magazine, September, 1858.



[PART n.

only thin the ranks by a more hasty de

The southern country, too, with its ex
tensive territory, its feeble administration
of government, and its dissensions, was in


a condition unfavorable for a campaign.
The whigs and tories were pursuing each
other with the most barbarous rage ; and
the interior was so disaffected, that it was
impossible to send out a wagon with the
smallest load of stores without a guard.
The very face of the country, seamed with
deep rivers and impassable creeks, and
with morasses, rendered every military
manoeuvre liable to the most fatal chances.
Greene, however, who was " capable of
doing much with little," met every diffi
culty with a manly resistance, and by his
energetic perseverance effected such a tri
umph over natural and artificial obstacles
as secured him final success.

The British regular army at this time,
in South Carolina, numbered five thou
sand men, exclusive of loyalists, and were
so stationed as to cover the most impor
tant precincts in the state. They were
thus enabled to overawe the populous set
tlements. The garrison atWinnsborough
(which was now the headquarters of Earl
Cornwallis) completed a chain of posts
which the enemy had established, from
Georgetown to Augusta, in a circle, the
centre of which, equidistant from Charles
ton and Savannah, would have been Beau
fort, in South Carolina. These posts con
sisted of Georgetown, Camden, Winnsbor-
ough, Ninety-six, and Augusta. Within
this circle was another chain of posts, con
sisting of Fort Watson, on the road to
Camden ; Motte s house ; and Granby, on

the Congaree. Dorchester, Orangeburg,
Monk s Corner, and other places, were for
tified as posts of rest, deposite, and com
munication. These stations were all ju
diciously chosen, as well for procuring
subsistence as for covering the country.

At this period there were three distinct
commands of the South-Carolina militia:
Marion, in the low country; Sumter, in
the middle ; Williams, in the upper; and,
after his death, Pickens, assisted or sec
onded by Colonels Clarke and Twiggs, of

While General Gates was still in com
mand of the remnant of the defeated ar
my at Hillsborough, in North Carolina, he
had detached Brigadier-General Morgan,
early in October, with three hundred Del
aware and Maryland continental troops,
and some eighty dragoons, under Colonel
William Washington, to assist the patriots
in the counties of Mecklenburg and Row
an. Passing over the border into South
Carolina, this force now occupied the very
ground which had witnessed the defeat
of Gates.

On the very day of Greene s arrival at
Charlotte, General Morgan, who had been
sent into the country toward Camden on
a foraging-excursion, returned with no
cattle or grain, it is true, but with the re
port of a small triumph over the enemy,
which was hailed by the troops as a hap
py omen of prosperity under their new
leader. A Mr. Hugely, proprietor of the
estate of Clermont, near Camden, and a
devoted loyalist, had been raised to the
rank of lieutenant-colonel of militia, and
his son-in-law to that of major, in the ene-

* Simms.



my s service. Fortifying a large log-barn
with intrenchrnents and abattis, the Ruge-
lys garrisoned it with about a hundred
troops, regulars and volunteers. Morgan,
on his return from his unsuccessful fora-
ging-expedition, ordered Colonel Wash
ington with his troop of cavalry to go and
reconnoitre the post. The colonel, find
ing on his approach that the garrison was
evidently in a state of alarm, determined
to profit by it. Being without artillery,
and as it was useless to attempt to carry
the stockade by a cavalry-charge, Wash
ington resorted to a stratagem, in the ab
sence of the proper materials of war. He
accordingly dismounted his men, in order
that they might appear as infantry. A
pine-log, ingeniously hewn so as to resem
ble a fieldpiece, and mounted upon a pair
of wagon-wheuls, was brought up with
due formalities and pointed tow
ard the fort. This innocent piece
of timber, thus brought to bear upon the
eyes of the garrison, if not upon its works,
was invested by the militiamen with such
formidable power, that when a corporal of
dragoons was sent to summon the Rui> - e-

o o

lys to surrender, they were exceedingly
glad to find a prompt acceptance of their
submission. They did not hesitate a mo
ment in complying, and the whole garri
son marched out prisoners-of-war. But
the surrender was fatal to Colonel Ruge-
ly, as a hero and military man. His hope
of promotion was for ever cut off by his
too ready recognition of this new instru
ment of warfare. "Rugely will not be
made a brigadier-general," was the signifi
cant comment of Lord Cornwallis when
he was informed of this ludicrous event.

Dec, 4,

The unlucky colonel did not again appear
in arms.*

General Greene now moved his army
from Charlotte. The division under the
command of Brigadier-General Morgan,
and composed of four hundred continen
tal infantry, under Lieutenant-Colonel
Howard, of the Maryland line, two com
panies of Virginia militia, under Captains
Triplett and Tait, and a troop of a hun
dred dragoons, under Lieutenant-Colonel
Washington, numbering in all about one
thousand men, was ordered to pass the
Catawba. Morgan was directed to add
to his ranks from the militia on his route,
and take post near the junction of Broad
and Pacolet rivers, toward the station of
Ninety-six, in Union District, South Caro
lina, and some fifty miles to the left of
Lord Cornwallis, at Winnsborough.

The general-iii-chief marched the main
body down the Pedee, and encamped on
its eastern bank, at the junction of Hick s
creek, nearly opposite to Cheraw hill, and
about seventy miles to the right of Corn
wallis. "I am here," wrote Greene, "in
my camp of repose, improving
the discipline and spirits of my
men, and the opportunity for looking
about me. I am well satisfied with this
movement, for it has answered thus far
all the purposes for which I intended it.
It makes the most of my inferior force, for
it compels my adversary to divide his, and
holds him in doubt as to his own line of
conduct. He can not leave Morgan be
hind him to come at me, or his posts O A
Ninety-six and Augusta would be exposed.
And he can not chase Morgan far, or pros-

* Irving.

Dec. 26.




ecute his views upon Virginia, while I am
here, with the whole country open before

Greene had now stationed himself in
a fertile region near the head of boat-nav
igation on the Pedee, which had not yet
been traversed by an army of any mag
nitude. From this point he despatched
his engineers to explore the country. The
routes in all directions were carefully set
down; and, with Governor Rutledge, of
South Carolina, in his camp, he was not
suffered to remain in ignorance of any
matters which he deemed essential to his
contemplated invasion of the state.

While Generals Gates and Greene had
been busy in the accumulation of an army,
it must not be supposed that the little
bands under Marion and other partisan
commanders had been inactive. Marion,
whose mode of warfare had acquired for
him the nom de guerre o( "T/ie Swamp-Fox"
was never inactive. " Hundreds of little
successes," says Simms, " that do not prop
erly belong to the main stream of regular
history,yet concurred to render his career
memorable, and to influence equally the
hopes of his countrymen and the hostility
of the enemy. His command was a pe
culiar one, being chiefly formed from the
little and insulated section of country in
which he lived. His warriors were his
neighbors and friends, and the tie that
bound them together brought, into equal
activity the duty of the soldier and the
affections of the comrade. * Marion s bri
gade was the extra-military epithet which
distinguished his command. It might con
sist of live or five hundred it was still
Marion s brigade a membership in

which had a sort of Masonic value in the
estimation of his followers, which amply
compensated for all its privations and fa
tigues. Constantly active, it would be im
possible for the pen of the historian to fol
low the progress of the little corps."

After surprising Major Gainey and his
large band of tories which he had collect
ed between the Great and Little Pedee,
Marion defeated a second party of tories
at Shepherd s ferry, near Black Mingo
swamp. The loyalists were well posted
to receive the attack, and a desperate con
flict ensued. The parties were so near
each other, during the greater part of the
fight, that the wadding of their guns con
tinually struck on each side. Neither
party had bayonets, and buckshot was
quite as frequently used as ball.

This victory increased the " brigade"
to nearly four hundred men, with which
Marion inarched upon Colonel Tynes, who
had raised a large force of loyalists upon
Black river. Tynes was surprised, several
of his men slain, and his force dispersed,
while Marion lost not a man. In all these
inarches and conflicts, the partisans lived
entirely in the swamps, with no shelter
but the forest, almost without blankets or
clothing, commonly with no food but po
tatoes, and meat without salt. Marion
himself, for a long time, had neither hat
nor blanket !

The arrival of General Greene abridged
the independence of Marion s movements.
His brigade constituted a portion of the
men of the state, and was necessarily com
prised within the command of that officer.
The activity, courage, and successful con
duct of Marion, indicated him to Greene



Jan, 25,

as one well calculated, by his knowledge
of the country, for active employment;
and Colonel Henry Lee being joined to
his "brigade," a combined attempt was
made to surprise the strong British post
at Georgetown, on Winyaw bay, for the
purpose of obtaining supplies. This was
a more serious business than Marion had
yet undertaken. The town was entered,
and many w r ere killed and taken ; but the
garrison was on the alert, and, after a se
vere skirmish with a large party of Brit
ish and tories near the town, he was re
pulsed with loss. The failure of the as
sailants is ascribed to various causes ; but
the alarm of the guides, who missed their
way, and thus defeated the plan
of co-operation between the sev
eral parties, is a sufficient reason. With
this affair, General Greene opened the
campaign of 1781.

This failure, however, was more than
compensated by a brilliant event which
happened a few days before in the west
ern extremity of the state, to which Gen
eral Greene had detached Morgan with a
strong force, in order to restrain the bru
tal passions of the loyalists in that quar
ter. Shortly after his arrival, Morgan sent
Lieutenant-Colonel Washington, with a
regiment of foot and two hundred horse,
to attack a body of tories who had been
plundering the whig inhabitants. Wash
ington came up with them near Ham
mond s store, charged them vigorously,
and defeated them. General Cunning
ham, with a detachment of one hundred
and fiftj British militia, was also dispersed
by a party of Americans under Cornet
Simons, of Washington s command.

After the repulse of Marion at George
town, he marched up the country to the
confluence of Lynch s creek and the Pe-
dee, and formed a stationary camp upon
Snow s island, which consisted chiefly of
high-river swamp, dry, and covered with
a heavy forest abounding in game. He
fortified it as well as his means would al
low ; and from that almost inaccessible re
treat he led and sent out detachments, as
circumstances required, for many weeks,
which accomplished wonderful results in
harassing the superior foe, cutting off his
convoys, or breaking up, before they could
well embody, the gathering and undisci
plined loyalists. It was while encamped
upon this island, toward the close of 1780,
that an event occurred which, insignificant
in itself, is peculiarly illustrative of the
heroism displayed by the Americans at
that period, under the greatest privations.
A young British officer was sent from the
post at Georgetown to Marion s swamp-
camp, to effect an exchange of prisoners.
He had never seen Marion, and was great
ly astonished at finding such a noted man
so diminutive in size, especially when com
pared with the British generals then in
the field, whose average weight, it is said,
exceeded two hundred pounds. Having
finished their business, the young officer
prepared to depart, but was invited by
Marion to stop and dine. The invitation
was accepted, and the entertainment was
served up on pieces of bark. It consisted
entirely of roasted potatoes, of which the
general ate heartily, and requested his
guest to do the same, adding, "Hunger is
the best sauce." "But surely, general,"
said the astonished Briton, " this can not




Dec, 13,

be your ordinary fare ?" "Indeed, sir, it
is," replied Marion," and we are fortunate
on this occasion, entertaining company, to
have more than our usual allowance." It
is said that the young officer, on returning
to his post, threw up his commission, de
claring that men who could contentedly
endure such privations were not to be

In accordance with the orders of Lord
Corn wallis, Major-General Leslie gave up
his expedition to Virginia, and
proceeded to Charleston, whence
he marched with fifteen hundred of his
three thousand troops to reinforce the
main army of the British at Winnsbor-
ou<: h. While waiting for this accession

o o

to his force, the earl determined to clear
the way for his intended invasion of North
Carolina. It would not do to leave Mor
gan in his rear, who was now only fifty
miles from him, and threatening the post
of Ninety-Six. He therefore ordered his
faithful Tarleton to proceed with eleven
hundred men five hundred of whom
were the formidable legion which
had been carrying terror and con
quest through every quarter of the state
for so long a time, and the remainder in
fantry, supported by some fieldpieces
and push the daring Morgan "to the ut
most." That there should be no chance
for the escape of his prey, who lay on the
west side of Broad river, it was concerted
that the earl himself, with his main body,
should move deliberately northward as
far as King s mountain, that Morgan s re
treat might be cut off, and he compelled
to fight. ThatMorgan himself should de-

c Life of General Marion, by W. Gilmore Simms.


sire to encounter either of them, the Brit
ish commanders do not for a moment ap
pear to have suspected.

Tarleton was not the man to linger,
and was at once in his saddle, in eager

pursuit of his foe. The brave

n Jan, 11.

old Morgan, "always accustomed

to fight and conquer," instead of wishing
to avoid, was no less desirous of a collis
ion than the redoubtable British dragoon.
He would have stood his ground arid of
fered him immediate battle ; but finding
that Cornwallis, simultaneously with the
advance of Tarleton, had moved forward,
ready to co-operate, and fearful lest he
might be surrounded by an overwhelm
ing: force, Morgan, though at first inclined


to dispute the passage of the Pacolet (a
small river, which is ford able in many
places), found it advisable to cross that
stream, and retire toward Broad river.

After a severe inarch of several days
through a wild and rugged country, the
British commander came upon the traces
of his enemy, and passed through the de
serted American camp, on the banks of
the Pacolet, which, with its fires
still burning, and the half-cooked
provisions scattered about, showed that
Morgan had but just left. Having cap
tured two of the videttes, Tarleton learn
ed that his antagonist had halted at a
place among the Thicketty mountains,
in Spartanburg district, called the Cow-
pens, not far in front of him, and about
six miles from Broad river; and in the
middle of the night, without taking a mo
ment s rest, and leaving his baggage be
hind, he hurried on to overtake him. The
zealous British dragoon hoped to catch




his foe off his guard, and in the midst of
a con fuse; 1 flight.

Morgan, however, was determined to
stand his ground, and had no thoughts of
further retreat. His officers entreated
him to cross Broad river ; but he was not
to be moved from his position on the
heights of Cowpens, an eminence which
ascended gently for about three hundred
and fifty yards. It is true that the open
woods which covered this eminence af
forded a good field for the action of cav
alry, of which he knew his enemy had
much the greater strength. His flanks,
moreover, were unprotected ; and Broad
river, flowing parallel to his rear, cut off
all chances of retreat. He was, however,
resolved that his men should fight; and,
with the invincible Morgan, to fight was
to conquer. He characteristically justi
fied his position against all the arguments
of the tacticians, by declaring that, if he
crossed the river, one half of the militia
would abandon him. The old rifleman,
in his rough way, thus vindicated his judg
ment in after-years : " I would not have
had a swamp in view of my militia on any
consideration ; they would have made for
it, and nothing could have detained them
from it. As to covering my wings, I knew
my adversary, and was perfectly sure I
should have nothing but downright fight
ing. As to retreat, it was the very thing
I wished to cut off all hope of. I ivould
have ilianlicd Tarlcton had he surrounded me

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 105 of 126)