Robert Tomes.

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

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of the army and its pressing needs. At
daylight, the next morning, the colonel,
who had been up all night writing his let
ters, was summoned to headquarters, when
General Greene met him with a beaming
face and these encouraging words : " I
have sent to inform you that Rawdon is
preparing to evacuate Camden ! That
place was the key of the enemy s line of
posts. They will now all fall, or be evac
uated. All will go well. Burn your let
ters. I shall march immediately to the
Congaree !"

Lord Rawdon, finding that there was
no hope of aid from Cornwallis, of whose
march to Virginia he had just received
intelligence that his supplies were fail
ing daily, and that his force was too small
to allow of his detaching any portion of
it to strengthen the weaker posts de
termined to retire toward Charleston, in
order to secure his communication with
that city. Cainden was evacu
ated, and the jail, mills, and pri
vate dwellings of the town, were burned.
A great deal of the baggage of the army
was also consumed in the flames, that his
lordship might move with greater celeri
ty. " The British commander," remarks

May 10,




Simms, "baffled and disappointed, wreak
ed his vengeance upon the town which
he had so long garrisoned, but which he
felt himself no longer able to maintain.
Camden was reduced to ashes, and amid
the shrieks of its people, and the * curses,
not loud, but deep, of the loyalists whom
he could no longer protect, Lord Rawdon
prepared to descend the country. The
fall of Fort Watson had broken the chain
of communication with Charleston, and
Marion was even now busy in the leaguer
of Fort Motte. Having devastated the
country, it no longer yielded support to
Rawdon s troops. These the British com
mander resolved to save, though by the
loss of the post and the confidence of the
tories. These miserable people, whose sav
age fury had so long hunted their coun
trymen with fire and sword, no longer pro
tected from their vengeance by the arms
of the British, were compelled to abandon
their homes and follow the fortunes of the
enemy. They dared not await the jus
tice of the Americans. Hundreds followed
his lordship, scorned and despised by their
allies, and hated by their countrymen.
Their history may be dismissed in this
place. After sharing all the vicissitudes
of an army retiring before a pursuing foe,
they reached Charleston, and built for
themselves a settlement of huts without
the lines. This hamlet, by a miserable
mockery, was called Rawdontoivn? Here
men, women, and children, were crowded
together in a wretched condition of pov
erty and shame. They had dwelt hap
pily on their farms near Camden; and
perished in the utmost destitution, utter
ly unnoticed and unassisted by those for

whom they had sacrificed the ties of so
ciety and all the first claims of country.
The victims equally of disease and want,
they died, to use the emphatic language
of that time, like rotten sheep, upon the

In the meantime, the American parti
san leaders were active. British post
after post fell rapidly before them, and
completed the recovery of the state to
within thirty miles of the* sea. General
Greene, concluding, after the evacuation
of Camden by Lord Rawdon, that it would
be the earl s object to withdraw his posts
on the Congaree, and concentrate them
below the Santee, despatched expresses
to Marion and Sumter to prepare them
selves for such an event. He himself, or
dering the army to proceed by the Cam
den road for the Congaree, took an escort
of cavalry and moved down in person
toward Fort Motte.

On reaching M Cord s ferry, Greene re
ceived the tidings of the capitulation of
Fort Motte. This post lay above the fork
on the south side of the Congaree. The
works of the British were built around
the mansion-house of the lady whose name
it bore, and from which, in their savage
recklessness of shame, the British officers
had expelled her. It was a noble dwel
ling, of considerable value, but not of so
much worth as to abridge the patriotism
of the high-spirited owner. Defended by
a strong garrison, under a resolute com
mander, the fort promised to baffle for a
long time the progress of the besiegers.
Under these circumstances, Mrs. Motte,
who had been driven for shelter to a neigh
boring hovel, produced an Indian bo\v,




May 12,

which, with a quiver of arrows, she pre
sented to the American general. " Take
these," she said, " and expel the enemy.
These will enable you to fire the house."
Her earnest plea that this course might
be adopted, prevailed with the reluctant
Marion. Combustibles were fastened to
the arrows, which were shot into
the roof of the dwelling; and the
patriotic woman rejoiced in the destruc
tion of her property, when it secured the
triumph of her countrymen.

Driven out from their place of shelter,
the garrison at Fort Motte was forced to
surrender; and the force under Marion
was ready for operation in other quarters.
A portion of it, under Colonel Lee, was
immediately despatched by Greene, as the
van of the army, for the reduction of Fort
Granby, situated near the present city of
Columbia, and at about the centre of the

The fall of Fort Motte increased the
panic of the British ; and, two days after
that event, they evacuated their
post at Nelson s ferry, blew up
the defensive works, and destroyed their

Fort Granby, after a brief conflict, was
surrendered, with all its garrison, consist
ing of nearly four hundred men.
May 15, J

I he terms oi capitulation granted

by Colonel Lee were greatly complained
of by the Carolinians. These terms gave
the enemy the privilege of carrying off
their baggage, in which was included an
immense quantity of plunder. The ap
proach of Lord Rawdon, with his w T hole
army, is said to have hastened the opera
tions of Lee, and to have led to the lib-

31 ay 11,

end concessions which he made to the
garrison; but he has incurred the re
proach of hastening the capitulation, in
order to anticipate the arrival of General
Sumter and the main army. The siege
had been begun some time previously by
Sumter, who had left Colonel Taylor, with
a strong party, to maintain his position,
while he himself made a sudden descent
upon the enemy s post at Orangeburg, on
the North Edisto, in which he was thor
oughly successful. Sumter himself con
ceived that he had suffered injury by the
capitulation, in which nothing was gained
but the earlier possession of a post which
could not have been held many days long
er, and must have fallen, without condi
tions and with all its spoils, into the hands
of the Americans. It was with bitter feel
ings that the whig militia beheld the cov
ered wagons of the enemy drawn by
their own horses, and which they knew
to be filled with the plunder of their farms
and dwellings driven off before their

On the day after the evacuation of
Camden, the garrison at Orange-
burg, numbering about one hun
dred men, with all their stores and a large
supply of provisions, surrendered to Gen
eral Sumter, after a spirited assault. A
little later, Colonel Lee sent a
detachment of his legion, under
the command of Major Rudolph, which
reduced the British post at Silver Blufls.

The task of holding Lord Rawdon in
check in Charleston was confided to Ma
rion and Sumter. In the execution of
this duty, they closed in upon him, until


May 21.



[PART n.

he established a line of fortified posts, ex
pending from Georgetown, by the way of
Monk s Corner, Dorchester, &c., to Coo-
sawhatchie. The British were frequent
ly harassed by the partisans, who made
incursions within this line ; but the force
of the assailants was not adequate to any
serious attack upon any one of them, that
of Georgetown alone excepted. This sta
tion, on Winyaw bay, having been left
with a small garrison, and being separated
from the rest of the line by swamps and
water-courses of such magnitude as to
prevent any sudden relief from reaching
it, was attacked and carried by
Marion. The British fled to their
galleys ; while the American leader de
liberately moved all the military stores
and public property up the Pedee, demol
ished the fortifications, and returned with
out loss to his position in St. Stephens.

Thus in the space of about three weeks,
the British lost six posts, and abandoned
all the northeastern extremity of South
Carolina. The station at Ninety-Six, and
Forts Cornwallis and Griesson, however,
at Augusta, in Georgia, still held out.

From Fort Granby, Lee was detached
to join General Pickens, and lay siege to
Augusta; and three days after
the fall of the former post, his
legion was arrayed before the walls of
the latter. General Greene reserved the
enemy s post at Ninety-Six for himself,
against which he now marched with his
main body.

Lee and Pickens were successful at Au
gusta, but met with a desperate resist
ance. " The garrison," says Ramsay, " bu
ried themselves in a great measure under

May 18,

June 5,

ground and obstinately refused to capitu
late, till the necessity was so pressing.
that every man who attempted to fire on
the besiegers was immediately shot down.
At length, when further resistance would
have been madness, the fort, with about
three hundred men, surrendered
on honorable terms of capitula
tion." During the siege, the Americans
lost about forty men. After the surren
der, Lieutenant-Colonel Griesson, of the
British militia, was killed by an American,
who forced his horse into the house where
the prisoner was kept, and, without dis
mounting, shot him dead, and escaped be
fore he could be arrested. A reward of
a hundred pounds sterling was offered for
the discovery of the perpetrator of the
deed, but without avail.

In the meanwhile, General Greene had
encamped within cannon-shot of the fort
of Ninety-Six. The reduction of

,i f -A 11 K Wa y 22t

this formidable station was an ob
ject of the greatest interest. The village
of Cambridge (or, as it was called in that
day, the post of Ninety-Six) was at this
time the pivot of very extensive opera
tions. To possess it, therefore, was to give
the finishing blow to the British strength
in the interior of the state.

Greene s whole force consisted of one
thousand men. The enemy were but five
hundred and fifty strong, three hundred
and fifty of whom were royal Americans
from New York and New Jersey, who had
enlisted at an early period of the war,
and were considered among the best sol
diers in the British army. The remain
ing two hundred were volunteer tory ri
flemen recruited from the neighborhood.



These latter were men desperate from
their social position, and skilful marks
men, who were conspicuous in the suc
cessful defence of the place. The whole
were under the command of Lieutenant-
Colonel Cruger, a brave and zealous New-
York loyalist.

The fortifications of Ninety-Six were
old works which had been erected at the
commencement of the Revolution, as a
protection against the incursions of the
Indians, whose settlements were then in
its near neighborhood. The place was
remarkable as being the scene of the first
conflict in the southern war ; for here, in
1775, began that sanguinary hostility be
tween the whigs and tories which subse
quently desolated the beautiful country
around it.

During the invasion of the state by
the British, the works at Ninety-Six had
been reconstructed, according to all the
rules of military art, by some of the ablest
of the engineers in the army of Cornwal-
lis. On the approach of Greene, Cruger
had still further strengthened them by
judicious additions and improvements.
The principal work was the star-redoubt,
with sixteen salient and returning angles,
a ditch, frieze, and abattis. This star-bat
tery was defended by three pieces of ar
tillery, on wheel-carriages, which could
be moved readily from one point to an
other. There was also a stockade-fort,
strongly built on high ground, at conve
nient distances within which were erect
ed blockhouses of notched logs, that com
municated with the star-redoubt ; while
Cruger and his garrison had, by the most
laborious efforts, succeeded in throwing

up parapets of earth, making traverses,
and in otherwise increasing and strength
ening the works. On the north of the
village extends a valley, through which
flows a rivulet that supplied the garrison
with water. The county jail, lying near,
was fortified, and commanded the valley
on the side next the village ; its fire also
reached to the strong stockade-fort, with
its two blockhouses, on the opposite side
of the valley, which covered the commu
nication with the rivulet from that quar
ter. A covert way led from the town to
the rivulet. Thus secured, the enemy
were bold and defiant.

General Greene, when he beheld the
strength of the place, apprehended the
failure of his enterprise ; but this doubt
did not discourage him from his design,
and he accordingly broke ground on the
day after his arrival. Koscius-
ko, the skilful Polish engineer,
had hardly marked out his first parallel,
and the Americans commenced opera
tions before the formidable star-fort, which
was the first object of attack, than Cruger
prepared to interrupt them. He threw
out a platform in one of the angles of the
fort, mounted it with his three pieces of
artillery, and manned it with infantry.
Thus prepared, he began a brisk fire of
cannon and musketry, under the cover of
which a party sallied out of the fort with
fixed bayonets, and, making an impetuous
rush upon the American guards and work
ing-parties, drove all before them, demol
ished their works, and returned loaded
with their intrench ing- tools. The only
loss of the enemy was the death of the
gallant lieutenant who led them. Gen-




eral Greene sent a detachment to sustain
Kosciusko and liis working-party, but it
arrived too late upon the ground to give

Greene now found it necessary to be
more cautious. He therefore ordered the
approaches to be commenced at a more
respectful distance, and under the cover
of a ravine. The star-redoubt was still
the sole object of the besiegers, until the
the arrival (on the 8th of June) of Colonel
Lee, who, after his triumph at Augusta,
had hastened to co-operate with Greene.
After the completion of the first parallel,
a mine, directed against the star-fort, had
been begun, under the cover of a battery
erected on the enemy s right. The work
was prosecuted by the besiegers day and
night without intermission. The troops
labored alternately in the ditches, some
on guard while others toiled, and even
sleeping on their arms, to repel the sal
lies of the besieged, which were bold and
frequent, and resulted in long and spirited
conflicts. The American works steadily
advanced, however, in spite of these sal
lies ; but a fierce strife followed every
step in their progress, and not a night
passed without the loss of lives on both

The second parallel having been fin
ished, the garrison was summoned to sur
render. Cruger defiantly reject-


ed the demand, and continued
his daring but ineffective sallies. The
third parallel was then begun, when the
resolute enemy became still more active
and pertinacious in defence. Cruger had,
moreover, with timely prudence, incorpo
rated with his army his negro laborers ;

and he was further aided from without
by a marauding force under William Cun
ningham, which materially interfered with
the supplies, the recruits, and the general
intelligence, of the Americans.

The three field pieces from the platform
of the star-redoubt were plied by the foe
day and night. Greene built lofty tow
ers of roughly-hewn logs, mounted them
with riflemen, and, by picking off the ar
tillerymen, succeeded in silencing theii
guns by day, although they still kept up
a nightly discharge, and strove by red-
hot balls to set fire to the wooden struc
tures which were proving so formidable.
The enemy, however, finding that these
attempts were ineffective, from the uncer
tainty of the aim of the artillerymen in
the darkness of the night, and the incom
bustible nature of the green wood of
which the towers were constructed, final
ly ceased to throw hot shot.

On the arrival of Colonel Lee, that of
ficer was immediately ordered to
begin regular approaches against
the stockade-fort on the enemy s left. His
ditch was soon ready, his battery erected
and mounted with a six-pounder, and his
advances under their cover rapidly made.
Cruger still continued his nightly sallies
with undiminished spirit, striving to pos
sess himself of the trenches of the besieg
ers, and to " destroy with the spade what
ever he might gain by the bayonet." He
was, however, constantly foiled by the ac
tivity and vigilance of Greene, who was
ever on the alert.

The works of the besiegers were now
so near completion, that a further defence
of the place was limited to four days. Be-

Jime 8.



sides the towers before spoken of, one of
which was within thirty yards of the ene
my s ditch., the besiegers had several bat
teries of cannon within a hundred and
forty yards. One of these so completely
commanded the star-fort, that the garri
son were compelled to shelter themselves
behind bags of sand, which increased its
elevation by three feet. Through these
sand-bags, apertures were left for the use
of small-arms by day, and the withdrawal
of the sand-bags left embrasures for the
employment of the cannon by night.

Thus, for ten days, the besiegers and
besieged lay watching each other. Du
ring this time, not a man could show his
head on either side without incurring the
shot of the riflemen. Cruger s position,
however, as his besiegers closed hourly
upon him, was becoming desperate. His
water, too, was in danger of being cut off
by Lee s approach to the stockade-fort,
that defended the rivulet from which the
supply of the garrison was obtained. The
men were already forced to resort to the
expedient of sending out naked negroes
in the night to procure the water, trust
ing that, by the duskiness of the one and
the darkness of the other, they would es
cape the aim of the American marksmen.
Lee, conscious of the importance of pos
sessing or destroying the stockade-fort,
oy which alone the enemy were able to
command the stream, became impatient
of the slow siege-operations, and, follow
ing the example of Marion in the capture
of Fort Motte, strove to set fire to it with
flaming arrows. The enemy, however,
unroofed their buildings, and averted the

Lee now sent a sergeant with nine pri
vates of the legion, loaded with combus
tibles, to burn the fort, under the cover
of a dark storm which was threatening.
The brave men obeyed the order with
alacrity. They approached for awhile,
hidden by the nature of the ground ; but
when it became more open, they were
forced to move along on their bellies, to
avoid being seen. The sergeant, with
three of his men, succeeded in reaching
the ditch, the rest of the party being close
behind them, and was in the act of ap
plying the fire to the stockade-fort, when
he was discovered. In a moment, hun
dreds of muskets were aimed and fired.
The sergeant and five of his gallant band
were shot dead. Four escaped unhurt,
and, amid a shower of musket-balls, re
tired to the camp.

Notwithstanding the stubborn resist
ance of Colonel Cruger and his loyalist
garrison, there seemed little prospect of
their holding out much longer, when an
event occurred which at once aroused
their energies afresh and renewed their
hopes :

" In the evening," says Lee, who de
scribes the incident, of which he was an
eye-witness, " a countryman was seen ri
ding along our lines south of the town,
con versing familiarly with the officers and
soldiers on duty. He was not regarded,
as from the beginning of the siege our
friends in the country were in the habit
of visiting camp, and were permitted to
go wherever their curiosity led them, one
of whom this man was presumed to be.
At length he reached the great road lead
ing directly to the town, in which quarter



[PART n.

were only some batteries thrown up for
the protection of the guards. Putting
spur to his horse, he rushed with full
speed into town, receiving the ineffectual
fire of our sentinels and guards nearest
to him, and holding up a letter in his
hand as soon as he cleared himself of our
fire. The propitious signal gave joy to
the garrison, who, running to meet their
friend, opened the gate, Avelcoming his
arrival with loud expressions of delight.
He was the bearer of a despatch from
Rawdon to Cruder, communicating his ar-

o / O

rival at Orangeburg in adequate force,
and informing him that he was hastening?

o o

to his relief. This intelligence infused
new vigor into the intrepid leader and
his brave companions."

Simms gives the following explanation
of this curious incident : "A woman was
the instrument employed by the British
for encouraging @ruger to protract the
siege. Residing in the neighborhood, she
had visited the camp of Greene, under
some pretence of little moment. The
daughter of one tried patriot and the sis
ter of another, she had been received at
the general s table, and permitted the free
dom of the encampment. But she had
formed a matrimonial connection with a
British officer, and the ties of love had
proved stronger than those of any other
relationship. In the opportunities thus
afforded her, she contrived to apprize the
garrison that she had a communication
from Lord Rawdon. A young loyalist re
ceived it from her lips, at a farmhouse in
June 17, tlienL % nl)0rnoo ^nd,underthe
fires of the sentinels, dashing suc
cessfully and at full speed by the pickets,

he was admitted with hurrahs into the

General Greene had for several da}^s
been aware of the approach of Lord Raw
don, who, after waiting with anxious im
patience at Charleston for expected rein
forcements, was finally rejoiced by the
arrival of three regiments from Ireland.
Conscious of the danger awaiting Cruger.
at Ninety-Six, his lordship at the head of
twenty-five hundred men hastened for
ward by forced marches to the relief of
his subordinate. Greene strove to delay
his approach, ordering General Sumter
(to whose aid he had sent Lieutenant-
Colonel Washington with his cavalry and
Pickens with his militia) to keep in the
earl s front, and check his advance. Ma
rion, too, was directed to be on the alert,
and hasten from the low country as soon
as it should become apparent that Raw
don was marchinsr to Ninety-Six. This

O /

prospect of succor had, however, by the
vigilance of the Americans, been carefully
kept from the knowledge of Cruger, who
knew nothing of it until the bold push of
the countryman into the fort at this late
moment. Lord Rawdon had, moreover,
succeeded in outmanoeuvring Sumter, and
getting between him and Greene. His
approach was hourly expected ; and the
American commander, therefore, had to
choose at once between assailing the fort,
meeting his lordship, or retiring.

Greene decided upon storming the for
tress without delay. Lieutenant-Colonel
Campbell, of the first Virginia regiment,
with a detachment from the Maryland
and Virginia brigades, was to lead the
assault on the left, and Lieutenant-Colo-



nel Lee with the legion infantry, and Cap
tain Kirkwood with the remains of the
Delaware regiment, on the right. Lieu
tenant Duval, with a company of Mary-
landers, and Lieutenant Selden, with an
other of Virginians, led the forlorn hope
of Campbell ; and Major Rudolph, of the
legion, that of Lee, which was directed
against the stockade-fort. Fascines were
made ready to fill in the ditches, and long
poles, with hooks, to pull down the sand
bags with which the enemy had increased
the height of their parapets. The third
parallel having been manned, and the
sharpshooters stationed on the lofty tow
er in front of the star-fort, with orders to
clear the parapets of the garrison previ
ous to the advance of the storming-party,
the first signal was given, when the as
sailants entered the trenches, with every
manifestation of eagerness to begin the

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 112 of 126)