Robert Tomes.

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

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At noon, the second cannon was fired.
Campbell and Lee rushed to the
assault. " Cruger, always pre
pared," says Lee, who was on the spot,
and relates his own experience, " received
them with his accustomed firmness. The
parapets were manned with spike and bay
onet ; and the riflemen, fixed at the sand
bag apertures, maintained a steady and
destructive fire. Duval and Selden en
tered the enemy s ditch at different points,
and Campbell stood prepared to support
them, in the rear of the party furnished
with hooks to pull down the sand-bags.
This party had also entered the enemy s
ditch, and began to apply the hook. Un
covering the parapet now would have
given us victory ; and such was the vig-

Juue IS.

orous support afforded by the musketry
from the third parallel, from the riflemen
in the tower, and from the artillery mount
ed in battery, that sanguine anticipations
of this happy issue were universally in
dulged. The moment the bags in front
were pulled down, Campbell would have
mounted the parapet, where the struggle
could not have been long maintained.
Cruger had prepared an intermediate bat
tery with his three pieces, which he oc
casionally applied to right and left. At
first, it was directed against Lee s left;
but very soon every piece was applied
upon Campbell s right, which was very
injurious to his column.

"Major Greene, commanding ir the
star- redoubt, sensible of the danger to
which he was exposed, if the attempted
lodgment upon his front curtain succeed
ed, determined to try the bayonet in his
ditch as well as on his parapet. To Cap
tains Campbell and French was commit
ted this bold effort. Entering into the
ditch through a sally-port in the rear of
the star/ they took opposite directions,
and soon came in contact, the one with
Duval, the other with Selden. Here en
sued a desperate conflict. The Americans,
not only fighting with the enemy in front
but with the enemy overhead, sustained
gallantly the unequal contest, until Duval
and Selden became disabled by wounds,
when they yielded, and were driven back
with great loss to the point of entry. The
few surviving escaped with the hookmen
to our trenches, where yet remained Colo
nel Campbell, the sand-bags not being re

" On the left, the issue was very differ-



[PART n.

ent. Rudolph gained the enemy s ditch,
and, followed by the column, soon opened
his way into the fort, from which the en
emy, giving their last fire, precipitately
retreated. Measures were in train, on the
part of Lee, to follow up his blow, by pas
sing the rivulet, entering the town, and
forcing the fortified prison, whence the
left might have yielded substantial aid to
the attack upon the star, by compelling
Cruger to struggle for the town, or forcing
him with all his troops to take refuge in
the star; a situation not long to be held,
crowded as he must have been, and desti
tute of water."

General Greene, however, at this mo
ment, sent orders to Campbell to with
draw, as his brave men were being sacri
ficed without apparent advantage ; and
Lee was commanded to hold the stock
ade-fort, but to cease advancing. Nearly
two thirds of the assailants were struck
down in the attack on the star-battery,
yet the strife was maintained for almost
three quarters of an hour ; and in their
retreat, though still under a galling fire
from the garrison, the survivors brought
off the greater number of their wounded
comrades. One hundred and eighty were
the killed and wounded on the side of the
Americans, and eighty-five on that of the

June 18.

The attempt to carry the works of the
foe by assault was thus shown to be fruit
less. Moreover, intelligence soon came
that Lord Rawdon, with his twenty-five
hundred men, having broken through the
obstructions offered by the partisan forces
under General Marion, had appeared in
the neighborhood, and was now rapidly
approaching, to give his promised succor
to the beleagured loyalists. Under these
circumstances, with a far inferior force,
and his troops dispirited by their repulse,
there was nothing left to the American
commander but immediate retreat. As
soon, as the night closed in, ac
cordingly, Lee was ordered to
abandon the stockade-fort which he had
so gallantly taken, and Greene withdrew
from Ninety-Six with his whole force.

" Had a few days time been allowed to
Greene s approaches on Ninety-Six," ob
serves Simms, " or had the supplies of mi
litia promised from Virginia reached him,
the prize for which he struggled must
have been in his possession. Now, baf
fled, if not beaten, he fell back slowly and
sullenly before the pursuit of Rawdon,
until the latter, weary of a chase which
promised to be hopeless, and warned by
circumstances which called him elsewhere,
abandoned equally the pursuit and the




Mortification a General Greene. He resolves to conquer the Country, or die. His Retreat. Lord Rawdon in Pursuit.
His Lord.ship back again at Ninety-Six. Retirement of Rawdon. Desertion of the Loyalist Inhabitants. Greene
faces about. Pursuit. Challenge to Battle. Bold Stroke of Colonel Lee. Hurry of Rawdon. Arrival at Granby.
Orangeburg. Mutinous Soldiers. Another Challenge. Greene among the High Hills of the Santee. His Camp
of Repose. Sumter s Expedition. Thundering at the Gates of Charleston. Rapid Movements. Fall of Dorchester.
Wade Hampton before the Walls of Charleston. Fright of the Inhabitants. Stolen Thunder. Junction. The
Enemy abandon Monk s Corner. surprised. Fight at the Bridge. Bold Leap. Success of Coates. Prepara
tion for Sumter. Another Conflict. Discord among the Americans. Their Retirement. Earl Rawdon departs for
Europe. Inaction. Civil Strife. Blood and Slaughter. Execution of Colonel Isaac Hayne. Inhuman Insult.
Want of Reinforcements by the Americans. Victory or Ruin. Services of the Partisan Leaders. General Greene
marches to meet the Enemy. Ready for Battle.


IT was exceedingly mortifying to
General Greene that, after an ardu
ous siege of twenty-eight days, he should
be obliged to leave Ninety-Six, defeated
in his object, at the very moment that a
triumph was about to crown his labors.
Some of his friends were so disheartened
at the result, and so distrustful of the fu
ture in South Carolina, that they urged
him to quit the state, and retire with his
small force to Virginia, " No," answered
Greene, resolutely ; u I mU recover the coun
try, or die in the attempt !" He thus began
his retreat, vanquished for the moment,
but still hopeful. On the second
day after his repulse at Ninety-
Six, he crossed the Saluda. On the 24th
he arrived on the banks of the Guorree,
and did not come to a halt until he had
crossed that river, as also the Tiger and
the Broad.

Lord Rawdon pursued the retreating
Americans until he reached the banks of
the Guorree, when, finding it impossible
to come up with Greene, he returned to
Ninety-Six. His march had served only

June 20,

to extricate Cruger from his immediate
difficulty. He now determined to aban
don that post, as it was too remote to be
readily supported ; and the proofs were
convincing, all around him, that the day
had gone by when a foreign foe could
maintain itself among the recovering in
habitants. The famous post of Ninety-
Six, in defence of which so much blood
had been already shed, was accordingly
evacuated, and left in possession of the
patriots, from whom it had been so lately
rescued. The neighboring loyalists, who
had so bravely fought for the royal cause,
claimed all the s}^mpathy of the English
earl, and he so far provided for their safe
ty as to leave Colonel Cruger, with one
half his force, to escort them, when ready,
to Charleston ; while he himself pushed
on, with eight hundred infantry and sixty
horsemen, toward the Congaree river.

Piteous, indeed, was the misery of the
wretched loyalists, whom this abandon
ment of Ninety-Six virtually surrendered
to the rage of the long-persecuted patri
ots. A fearful day of retribution was at



[PART n.

hand, which they did not venture to await.
At a season when their farms were most
lovely in the promise of a plenteous har
vest, they were compelled to surrender
them and fly.

Vainly did their chiefs expostulate with
the British chief against his desertion of
those who, to serve the cause of their
sovereign, had incurred the enduring hos
tility of their countrymen. But the ne
cessity was not less pressing upon Lord
Eawdon than upon his wretched allies ;
and, with a last look upon their homes,
a mournful cavalcade of men, women, and
children, prepared to abandon the fields
of equal beauty and plenty which their
treachery to their country had richly for
feited, but for which they were still wil
ling to perish rather than depart.

Sullenly the strong men led the way,
while, with eyes that streamed and still
looked backward, the women and chil
dren followed reluctantly, and with souls
full of wretchedness and grief. How bit
terly in their ears, at such a moment, must
have sounded the notes of that drum and
trumpet which had beguiled them from
the banners of their country to those of
its invader ! AVhat a pang to the bosoms
of the fathers ! what a lesson to the sons,
guiltless of the offence, yet condemned to
share in its penalties I*

On discovering the retrograde move
ment of Lord Rawdon, and the division
of his force, General Greene immediately
faced about, to pursue in his turn, and
provoke his lordship to battle. The ac
tive Lee was sent in advance, with his
cavalry, to hover about the British, and

* Simms.

to harass them in their retreat, should
they refuse to stand their ground and to
accept the challenge which Greene was
proffering them. The earl, however, had
no disposition to lose a moment by the
way, as his object was to hasten to Gran-
by, where he had summoned Colonel Stew
art to meet him with a small detachment
of troops from Charleston.

In the advance which Greene contin
ued to make upon the retreating foe, an
opportunity offered to Lee of striking a
blow at his cavalry. Rawdon had with
him but a small number of dragoons, his
chief strength in this description of troops
being engaged in distant operations.

Major Eagles ton, with a strong body
of the American cavalry, throwing him
self in advance of the enemy, placed an
ambush in reserve, and presented himself
with a small number in view of the Brit
ish. This drew upon him, as was antici
pated, an attack of the whole hostile cav
alry. His flight enticed them to the thick
et where the rest of the troop was con
cealed, and their joint charges completely
overwhelmed the foe. Many were slain,
and forty-five men and horses, with sev
eral commissioned officers, within a mile
of the whole British army, fell into the
hands of the Americans.

This bold stroke of Lee s legion, togeth
er with the accumulating numbers and au
dacity of the Americans, greatly alarmed
Earl Rawdon, and gave increased speed
to his flight. Indeed, so urgently did he
press on his men in their march, that no
less than fifty fell dead by the roadside,
from fatigue, privation, and the excessive
heat of the weather ! His lordship thus




succeeded, by his unwonted,, efforts, in
reaching Granby before General Greene
could come up. The expected reinforce
ments from Charleston, however, not hav
ing arrived, the earl sought safety by re
tiring to Orangeburg, where he posted
himself on strong ground, and waited for
the junction of Colonels Stewart and Cru-
ger. Here he could give a breathing-time
to his hard-pressed troops, whose powers
of endurance had been at last so exhaust
ed, that they were ready to lay down their
arms in mutinous disobedience if ordered
to continue their march.

Greene, with the aid of Marion, strove
in vain to prevent the junction of Stew
art with Rawdon. After this disappoint
ment, he moved forward and encamped
within five miles of Orangeburg. Here
he endeavored to provoke his lordship to
battle. The earl, how r ever, refused to be
drawn from his strong ground, and the
American general was too feeble to justi
fy an attack upon him in his works. Sev
eral efforts which he made with his cav
alry, to arrest the approach of supplies
to the British, having proved abortive,
and tidings having reached him of the
advance of Cruger with fifteen hundred
men to the relief of Rawdon, compelled
General Greene to retire from a position
which he could not have retained after
this accession of strength to his antago
nist. Finding it thus imprudent to strike
a blow, the American command
er withdrew to a camp of repose
among the "High hills" of the San tee,
while he meditated upon other modes for
the expulsion of the enemy from their
strong position on the Edisto.

July 5.

In the meanwhile, General Pickens and
his militia had been equally unsuccessful
in preventing the junction of Cruger with
Earl Rawdon, which so strength
ened his lordship, that he would
now have gladly gone out with his pow
erful force against the Americans ; but,
by his timely and prudent retreat on the
previous day, Greene had placed himself
out of reach beyond the Congaree.

While the American general was thus
in his " camp of repose," he was not the
less active in preparing means for driving
out the enemy from South Carolina. The
evacuation of Camden having been effect
ed by striking at the posts below it, it
was now proposed to try the same plan
to force the British from Orangeburg. An
expedition to the low country was imme
diately set on foot for this purpose, con
sisting of about a thousand men, most of
whom belonged to the Carolinas, although

o / o

Lee with his legion, and a small artillery-
force with one fieldpiece, were added.
This was the famous " raid of the clou;-


days." It took place in midsummer, when
the continentals dared not inarch. The
chief command of the expedition was giv
en to Sumter, with whom were united Ma
rion, Lee, the two Hamptons, Taylor, ITor-
ry, Maham, and Lacy, all gallant officers
of the South. General Greene well knew
the men whom he had intrusted with this
enterprise, and spoke to them in sympa
thy with their adventurous and energetic
spirit. " There is no time to be lost," wrote
Greene, in his orders to Sumter. " Push
your operations night and day. Keep a
party to watch the enemy s motions at
Orangeburg, as they move down. Should



[PART n.

they move in any other direction, I will
advise yon. Keep Colonel Lee and Gen
eral Marion advised of all matters from
above, and tell Colonel Lee to thunder
even at the gates of Charleston !"

These gallant men eagerly strove to
obey the spirited instructions of their
commander. Sumter at once moved rap
idly down with his main body along the
south side of the Congaree. Lee, with
Lieutenant-Colonel Wade Hampton, was
despatched to attack the British post at
Dorchester. Colonel Henry Hampton was
stationed at Orangeburg, to keep a watch
on the main body of the enemy ; and all
were to reunite at Monk s Corner, and at
tack its strong works, which were held by
Colonel Coates.

On his march, Lee took all the wagons
and wagon-horses belonging to a convoy
of provisions. He then advanced to Dor
chester, which fell at once. The garrison,
which had been much reduced, and was
in a state of mutiny, no sooner discovered
the approach of the small party which had
been sent by Lee, under Wade Hampton,
to the bridge at Goose creek, in order to
cut off the communication with Monk s
Corner, than it precipitately abandoned
the post.

While Lee was collecting the spoils at
Dorchester, consisting of about two hun
dred horses and a large supply of ammu
nition, Colonel Wade Hampton dashed
down the road to Charleston, captured a
party of fifty dragoons by the way, and
suddenly appeared so close to the walls
of the town, that the inhabitants, in their
terror, believed the whole American army
had come. The bells of the churches were

rung, the alarm-guns fired, and every man
was up in arms. Hampton had thus sto
len a march upon Lee, and robbed him
of the " thunder" with which Greene had
bidden him knock at the gates of Charles
ton. Lee arrived next day, but too late
to win any laurels.*

In this foray, Hampton also burnt four
vessels, laden with valuable stores for the
British army. Lee and Hampton now
hastened to join Sumter, and unite with
him in the contemplated attack upon Colo
nel Coates at Monk s Corner.

Meanwhile a detachment of Marion s
men, under Colonel Mali am, passing the
head of Cooper river and Wad boo creek,
penetrated below to the eastward of Big
gin church, to obstruct the retreat of the
garrison at the church, by destroying the
Wadboo bridge.

The church near Biggin bridge was a
strong brick building, about a mile from
Monk s Corner, where the British had a
redoubt. The church covered the bridge,
and secured the retreat at that point by
way of the corner. It was strongly gar
risoned by a British force of nearly seven
hundred men ; and the detachment under
Maham did not dare to advance with
any confidence w T hile unsupported by the
main force of the Americans.

Lee and Hampton having effected a
junction with General Sumter, the latter
advanced to support Maham in
his attempt upon the bridge. Ke-
inforcing his troop with a detachment un
der Colonel Peter Horry, the command
devolved upon that oflicer, who at once
proceeded to the destruction of the bridge.

* Irving.

July 16.




The cavalry of the enemy now advanced
boldly to defeat his purpose, but were re
ceived by the mounted American riflemen,
who broke entirely through them, killing
some, and taking a number of prisoners.

This defeat drew out the British in such
force, that the party engaged in destroy
ing the bridge was compelled to fall back
upon the main body. Sumter, believing
that the enemy had marched out to give
him battle, retired behind a defile at a
little distance in the rear, and prepared
to receive the attack in the most advan
tageous position.

But the British colonel had no such
purpose. In proportion as the confidence
of the Americans rose in the conflict, that
of the invaders invariably fell. The de
sign of Coates was simply to wear out the
day. With the approach of evening, he
accumulated the stores of the garrison
within the church, and then set them on
fire, to prevent their falling into the hands
of the Americans. During the night, the
British decamped, taking the road to the
eastward by Wadboo and Quinby.

As soon as the flames were ob
served bursting through the roof
of the sacred edifice, and Sumter had thus
discovered the departure of the enemy,
he led out his troops in pursuit ; but, un
fortunately, Lieutenant Singleton, with a
piece of artillery, was ordered to remain
upon the ground, that he might not de
lay the movements of the infantry. Lee
and his legion, with Colonel Hampton,
were in advance, until, having passed the
Wadboo, they discovered that the cavalry
of the enemy had separated from the in
fantry, and had taken the route to the

right. Hampton accordingly diverged in
this direction, urging his panting horses to
the utmost, in the hope of overtaking the
dragoons before they could effect their
passage of the river. In this he was un
successful, and only returned to witness
the equally fortunate escape of the ene
my s infantry, the only remaining object
of pursuit.

Marion s cavalry had in the meantime
joined that of Lee, and, after a quick run
of eighteen miles, they came up, about a
mile to the north of Quinby creek, with
the rear-guard of the retreating army,
consisting of one hundred men. These,
being composed of raw recruits, were so
frightened at the approach of the cavalry
in furious onset, as to be almost incapable
of the power of resistance. They threw
down their arms without firing a gun, and
begged for quarter, which was granted

Colonel Coates, having crossed Quinby
bridge with his main body, had already
commenced its demolition, and was only
awaiting the passage of the rear-guard and
his baggage to complete its destruction.
The planks which covered the bridge were
loosened from their sleepers, and a how
itzer, at its opposite extremity, was so
placed as to protect the party engaged
in throwing them off At this moment,
Captain Armstrong, with the advance sec
tion of Lee s horse came dashing up. As
the rear-guard had been overcome with
out any fight, no alarm -gun had been
fired, and no express had been sent to ap
prize the British commander of his dan
ger. Thus taken by surprise, he was al
most wholly unprepared for defence. The




panic oy which he had lost one important
part of his force, had nearly involved the
destruction of the remainder.

He happened, however, fortunately for
himself, to be at the bridge when the cav
alry of the Americans came rushing into
view. His main body was at this moment
partly on the causeway, on the south side
of the bridge, and partly pressed into a
lane beyond it. Thus crowded, they were
wholly disabled for immediate action; but
Coates nevertheless coolly prepared him
self, as well as he might, to remedy the
difficulties of his situation, and make his
resistance as effectual as possible. Orders
were despatched to his troops on the ad
vance to halt, form, and march up. while
the artillerists were called to the howit
zer, and the fatigue-party to the renewal
of their labors for the destruction of the

If the situation of the British was thus
perilous, that of the pursuing Americans
for a time became scarcely less so. The
planks sliding into the water, and the
open jaws of the howitzer, ready to send
destruction into their crowded ranks, left
them little time for deliberation. Pres
sing upon each other, a dense mass upon
a narrow causeway, they felt that the
withdrawal of the enemy s fatigue-party
from the bridge would be the signal for
applying the lighted port-fire to the how
itzer. A moment longer, and the iron
hail would have mowed down their col
umns !

Armstrong saw the danger, and availed
himself of the single moment that was
left him. Dashing across the bridge, he


drove the artillerists from their gun. In

the rush of their horses, Armstrong and
his troopers had displaced some of the
loose planks of the bridge. This left a
gap, over which Lieutenant Carrington
and the second section of Lee s dragoons
were obliged to leap, as they spurred on
to the succor of their comrades. Colonel
Lee himself now came up with his third
section ; but, as the gap had been much
enlarged, the horses faltered, and refused
to take it. Maham, however, at the head
of Marion s men, feeling the halt, charged
by the legionary cavalry ; but the death
of his steed arrested his progress. Cap
tain M Cauley, who led his front section,
pressed on, passed over the fearful chasm,
and joined in the fierce hand-to-hand melee
that was going on upon the causeway be
yond. The stream was too deep and the
banks too muddy to attempt to ford, and
Lee was obliged to retire, while Carring
ton, Armstrong, and M Cauley, were thus
bravely struggling with the enemy within
his sight on the opposite side.

The narrow causeway was now crowd
ed, and a confused and desperate encoun
ter ensued. Some of the working-party,
snatching up their guns, delivered a sin
gle fire, and then fled. Two of Lee s dra
goons fell dead at the mouth of the how
itzer, and several were badly wounded.
Still, the others remained unhurt. Colo
nel Coates, with his officers, covered by a
wagon, opposed them with their swords;
while the British infantry, having formed,
hastened forward to find an opening in
which they might display.

In the meanwhile, some of Lee s men
were engaged with Maham and Doctor Ir
ving, his surgeon, in replacing the planks




upon the bridge, so as to enable the rest
of the force to cross to the relief of the
few brave men who had already effected
their passage.

At this moment, Armstrong, Carring-
ton, and M Cauley,found themselves alone.
Their men had failed to cross the bridge


while the passage was available, and, of
the few by whom they had been followed,
but a single soldier was left. Coates and

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 113 of 126)