Robert Tomes.

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

. (page 114 of 126)
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his officers occupied the causeway, pro
tected by a wagon in front, and, until the
planks which he had succeeded in casting
from the sleepers could be restored, they
could hope for no assistance from their
countrymen. Had they been promptly
followed, the enemy might have been cut
in pieces. Now, they beheld nothing but
the seeming certainty of their own fate.
The resolution of these brave men, in
this predicament, was equally prompt and
decided with that by which they had be
come involved in it, and they saw that
their only hope of escape was in instant
flight. They knew that they should be
safe from the lire of the enemy in front
as long as Coates and his officers were in
the rear. Accordingly, putting spurs to
their horses, they dashed through the con
fused thron<>; still flyim*; alonijr the cause-


way, rapidly passed over it, gained the
shelter of the woods, and, wheeling to the
left, made their way along the bank of
the stream, until they reached a ford, by
which they succeeded in returning safely
to the opposite side.

Colonel Coates now completed the de
struction of the bridge, and pressed for
ward with his whole force to the neigh
boring plantation of Shubrick. Here, in

the dwellinghouse, outhouses, negro-huts,

and behind the fences, he stationed his

I men, and awaited the detachment under

; Surnter. The Americans, being obliged

to make a long circuit before reaching; a

<J o

! ford, did not come up until three o clock

I in the afternoon. Sumter found
,-, , , .. July 17.

the enemy drawn up and ready

to receive him. As the American force
consisted chiefly of riflemen and cavalry,
and very few had bayonets, it would have
been madness to advance directly to the
attack. The precedent of King s mount
ain furnished the partisan with his order
of battle. Accordingly, on reaching the
ground, he formed his men into three di
visions, his own brigade composing the
one, and Marion s (at that time much re
duced) the other two. The former, led
by Colonels Middleton, Polk, Taylor, and
Lacy, was ordered to advance under cover
of a range of negro-huts, and take posses
sion of them ; and the latter to the right,
and within short gunshot of the building
which the British occupied in force, and
there was no shelter against their fire
except the open rail-fences. The cavalry
of Lee was held back as a reserve, and to
cover the retreat should it be necessary.
The several parties moved to the attack
with alacrity. Sumter s men soon gained
their object, took possession of the negro-
huts, and under their cover, were enabled
to keep up a secure and effective fire with
their rifles. Colonel Taylor, with a small
command of forty-five men, pressed for
ward to the fences on the enemy s left,
whence he poured in a volley. This drew
upon him the British bayonet, which com
pelled him to retire,




Marion s brigade had much harder and
more perilous work before it. As the
men advanced to the rescue of Taylor s
command, under none but the slight cov
er of the rail-fences, they were greatly
exposed, but kept pushing on spiritedly,
until the enemy were driven into the va
rious buildings. From within these, and
from a picketed garden, the British main
tained the conflict till the sun was down.
The Americans, having no artillery with
them, and finding their ammunition al
most entirely exhausted, w r ere obliged to
retire, after a contest of three hours, in
which they lost forty men in killed and
wounded. All those killed in the action
were of Marion s men. The British loss
was seventy killed. Their force nearly
doubled that of the Americans, and was
composed chiefly of Irish troops, but for
whose inexperience in the use of firearms
the loss of Marion s men must have been
far more severe than it was.

Sumter drew ofFhis force in excellent
order, and, having repaired the bridge at
Quinby, sent for his artillery and a supply
of ammunition, with the view of return
ing to the attack. In the meantime, the
men of Marion s brigade,fmding that they
had been the chief losers in the conflict,
began to complain loudly that the brunt
of the battle had been imposed upon them,
while Sumter had favored his own men
by placing them under shelter. This gave
rise to such discontent, that the separate
divisions refused to act any longer togeth
er, and Sumter thus found his command
entirely disorganized. He would, never
theless, have again sought the enemy at
Shubrick s plantation, but he was not only

still short of ammunition, but also feared
the approach of Lord Eawdon, who was
reported to be advancing from Orange-
burg. He therefore made his way, with
all speed, to the camp of General Greene,
on the " High hills" of the Santee, where
Colonel Lee had gone in advance of him.

The British lost, in the several engage
ments of the expedition, apart from the
slain and wounded (the numbers of whom
could never be accurately known), nearly
two hundred prisoners, including nine
commissioned officers, a large quantity of
valuable stores, wagons, and horses, and
a prize no less rare than valuable in the
eyes of the starving Americans seven
hundred and twenty guineas, taken in the
paymaster s chest, with the baggage, at
Quinby bridge.

The expedition of Sumter, though not
as successful as it might have been for
Coates s entire command might have been
captured was of the highest service, as
it inspired the country with a wholesome
confidence in its native valor. The troops
actually engaged in the attack on Colo
nel Coates were almost exclusively South-
Carolina militia, and they displayed, with
the vivacious audacity of the partisan, the
firm, collected resolution of the drilled vet
eran/ 11

While General Greene lay at the hills,
a large portion of his men were on the
sick-list, and repose was therefore abso
lutely necessary to their recovery. But
this repose did not imply idleness. To
discipline his troops, no less than to re
store the sick, was a leading object of the
commander. His mind was occupied with

* Simms.




the necessity of grappling, on better terms
of equality, with the two able British gen
erals with whom he had already tried his
strength. His earnest desire was to drive
Lord Rawdon to Charleston, and confine
him within the limits of that city. This
would enable him to turn his arms against
Cornwallis, or at least contribute to the
detention of that formidable commander
in Virginia, But the business pressing
on the hands of Greene proved too vari
ous, and his resources too few, for the ac
complishment of his designs; and, fortu
nately for the cause of American liberty,
Cornwallis found other foes, too numer
ous for his safety or escape, in the state
which he had invaded.

In the meantime, Marion, with his bri
gade, returning to his old field of opera
tions, traversed the borders of the San tee
with a success and an activity that did
not suffer diminution because of the in
tense heats of August, He was still the
same cautious but enterprising, bold, yet
vigilant captain always in motion, and
always successful that he had shown
himself from the first. His contempora
ry, Sumter, at the same time, with equal
activity, returned to the Ninety-Six dis
trict, where the sanguinary war of whig
and tory had been renewed among the
inhabitants with great ferocity.

Sumter s incursion into the low coun
try induced Lord Rawdon to give up his
command in the field, and proceed rap
idly to Charleston, where he only stayed
long enough to sully his military honors
by many shameful and sanguinary acts,
and then, taking his final departure from
South Carolina, sailed for Europe.

Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart succeeded
his lordship in the command at Orange-
burg, but toward the close of July shifted
his post to the south side of the Congaree,
near its junction with the Wateree. Thus
the two armies were only fifteen miles
apart, and within sight of each other s
watch-fires : but two rivers and innumer
able swamps intervened, and the exces
sive heat during the height of the sum-

o <~j

mer served to prevent immediate hostil

Though the regular soldier was repo
sing for awhile on his arms, blood was still
flowing freely. " The whole country,"
wrote General Greene, " is one continued
scene of blood and slaughter." The civil
strife among the patriots and the royal
ists raged with unwonted fury. Houses
were burnt, property destroyed, and even
the women and children Avere not spared,
while the strong men were engaged in
their fierce partisan conflicts. " No lan
guage," says Simms, " can do justice to,
and visit with proper execration, the do
ings of that dismal civil war, which deso
lated the fair fields of Carolina, and del
uged her dwellings with the tears and
blood of her children In the single dis
trict of Ninety-Six there were no less than
fourteen hundred ividows and orphans made
by this savage ivarfare /"

The animosity which prevailed was ex
cited to a still greater degree by the cruel
execution of Colonel Isaac Hayne,an emi
nent and beloved citizen of South Caro
lina, a planter of good family and educa
tion, and highly esteemed for his amiable
manners and unblemished character. At
the siege of Charleston, he commanded a




troop of horse, and served meanwhile as
a senator in the state legislature. His
corps of cavalry, which operated in the
rear of the British army, and not within
the city, did not share in the general cap
tivity of the citizens in the fall of Charles
ton, but was supposed to be included in
its terms of capitulation. His men being
disbanded, Hayne returned with his fam
ily to the privacy of his plantation. The
British traversed the state, and declared
it to be conquered. In the meantime, a
military government was established over
it, and successive commandants were ap
pointed for the administration of its af
fairs, who, under Governor Bull, exercised
dictatorial powers. Among the most con
spicuous of these was Lieutenant-Colonel
Balfour, the commandant of Charleston,
a vain man, proud of his authority, and
solicitous of its exercise a sycophant to
the great, and a tyrant to the humble.

Under the despotic system of govern
ment thus inaugurated, there was only
one mode left for safety to those unhap
py Carolinians who, still devoted to their
country s liberties, were yet liable to be
torn and tortured through the bosom of
their exposed and suffering families. This
was to accept of the protection of British
power against the aggravated excesses of
their own infatuated countrymen. This
protection was granted only to those who
claimed it as British subjects.

To this wretched necessity was Colonel
Hayne soon reduced. A mean artifice
of a British officer seduced him from his
plantation to the city, where he was close
ly imprisoned, and obtained his release
from this duress, at the call of his dying

wife and of his children, only by subscri
bing a declaration to the British crown.
This he did, though not without expressly
excepting to that clause which required
him with his arms to support the royal
government ; and he received a verbal as
surance that such services would never
be required at his hands. " When the
regular forces of his majesty," were the
words of the British officers, -need the
aid of the inhabitants for the defence of
the province, it will be high time for them
to leave it." But, owing to the various
successes of the Americans, they required
this aid much sooner than they imagined.

Hayne, having made his peace with the
British government on the only terms
which it would admit, had scarcely re
turned to his plantation, where he received
the last breath of a dying wife, and buried
a second one of his children, when he was
peremptorily required to join the royal
standard !

His resolution was that of the patriot.
Forced to draw the sword, he drew it in
behalf of his country. He repaired to the
American camp, recruited his troop, and
commenced a career which was destined
to be as short as it was spirited. By a
sudden dash which he made upon the
quarterhouse, an outpost of the enemy in
the immediate neighborhood of Charles
ton, he succeeded in making General Wil
liamson a prisoner.

This man was a traitor to the state, and
his life was forfeited to the gallows. To
rescue him from this probable fate, the
British commandant in the city ordered
out his whole cavalry, which succeeded
in overtaking Hayne s party, dispersed it,




and rescued Williamson. Unfortunately,
Colonel Hayne also fell into their hands.

He was carried to Charleston, and kept
in close custody until Earl Rawdon, leav
ing Stewart at Orangeburg, arrived in the
city. Hayne was then brought before a
court of inquiry. The members of the
court upon this examination were not
sworn, nor were the witnesses; yet, in con
sequence of this examination, "Lord Raw
don and the commandant, Lieutenant-
Colonel Nesbitt Balfour, resolved upon his
execution, for having been found under
arms, and employed in raising a regiment
to oppose the British government, though
he had become a subject, and accepted
the protection of that government after
the reduction of Charleston."

Such were the terms and reasons for
this decision, which was ordered to be car
ried into effect two days after. This sud
den, unlooked-for, and unjust sentence,
was equally unexpected by the prisoner
himself and by the citizens. It was not
supposed that a mere court of inquiry
could be resolved into one of final trial
and cond-emnation. The men of the city,
including many British and loyalist resi
dents, with Governor Bull at their head,
pleaded in his behalf; the women peti
tioned in person, and with his little chil
dren implored on bended knees for remis
sion of the sentence ; but Raw r don and
Balfour were inexorable. It has likewise
been suggested that Hayne was only a
chosen sacrifice to the manes of the vic
tim of Arnold s treachery. Balfour en
dorsed one of the petitions, offered in be
half of Hayne, with the two words, "Major
Andre! The unhappy man was less moved

than his fellow-citizens and friends. He
expressed no alarm at the event, nnd only
requested the existing authorities to ac
commodate the mode of his execution to
a soldier s feelings ; but this was denied
him, and he perished on the scaffold.

The proceedings in his case were obvi
ously parallel to those of Andre. Attend
ed by thousands of spectators, gloomy and
sad as by an impending calamity to them
selves, he walked to the place of doom.
His carriage was firm, manly, and unos
tentatious. To his eldest son, a lad about
thirteen years of age, on the morning of
the fatal day, he delivered all the papers
which were connected with his fate, and
gave his final instructions as to the dis
position of his remains. Ascending the
scaffold, he parted from his friends with
the simple assurance that he would en
deavor to show them " how an American
should die ;" and, with that unshaken res
olution which had distinguished his de
portment throughout the painful scene,
he himself gave the signal which hurried
him into eternity.

The execution of Hayne greatly an
gered the whole country. General Greene
himself determined to revenge the out
rage, and wrote: "It is my intention to
demand the reasons of the colonel s bein;


put to death ; and if they are unsatisfac
tory, as I expect they will be, to publish
my intention of giving no quarters to
British officers, of any rank, that fall into
our hands."

Unsatisfied by the explanations which
were offered by the British commander,
Greene subsequently issued a proclama
tion, in which he declared it to be his res-




olute purpose " to make reprisals for all
such inhuman insults as often as they
take place." This proclamation was in
duced by the voluntary self-devotion of
all the officers of the southern army, who
met together and addressed a memorial
to the general-in-chief, in which, after de-
clarino- what had reached their ears of the


enormous cruelties practised by the Brit
ish, and of the bloody execution which
has just been recorded, they recommend
measures of immediate retaliation by a
similar treatment of all British subjects ;
avowing their perfect readiness to abide
by a recommendation which, in the event
of capture, at once placed themselves en
tirely without the pale of mercy from the
enemy. " But," concludes this noble doc
ument, " we had rather commit ourselves
to the most desperate situations than pros
ecute this just and necessary war upon
terms so dishonorable."

Fortunately for the cause of humanity,
but a little time elapsed after this when
the policy of the war rendered unneces
sary the adoption of such rigorous meas
ures. Still, the American general wore
the countenance of one who was inflexible
in his determination. A very few days
after the execution of Ilayne, Marion s
cavalry captured three British officers
with an enemy s party ; and the affair of
the Eutaw placed in the hands of Greene
a prisoner sufficiently distinguished to
awaken all the apprehensions of Balfour
for his safety .*

General Greene was disappointed of his
expected reinforcements. Wayne, with
his Pennsylvanians, had been held back

* Simms.

by Washington, who reserved him for the
more important field of action at York-
town. Only five hundred of the three
thousand five hundred North-Carolinians
promised had come forward, and these
were without arms. The seven hundred
mountaineers from beyond the Allegha-
nies, under Colonel Shelby, of Virginia,
had turned back, under the supposition
that Greene was too strong to need them.
General Sumter, being ill and displeased,
had retired from the service, leaving but
a small remnant of his band, under the
command of Colonel Henderson. The
patience of Greene was exhausted. " We
must have victory or ruin !" was the em
phatic expression of his eagerness to be
on the move.

The partisan corps, however, had not
been idle during this repose of the main
body upon the " benign" hills of the San-
tee. Colonel Washington had been doing
effective service in the country bordering
on the lower Santee, in which he cap
tured two bodies of the enemy s horse.
Colonels Lee and Henderson, crossing the
Congaree with their cavalry, penetrated
between the main body of the British ar
my and the post at Orangeburg, and, in
sight of the latter place, drove in, dis
persed, and captured, several of their de
tachments. Equally active with these of
ficers were Marion and Maharn, together
with Harden and his mounted militia,
in covering the low country bej^ond the.

Greene, speaking of his cavalry in these
expeditions, asserts it to be unexcelled by
any in the world. In this guerilla ser
vice the Americans soon proved their su



Aug. 22,

perior activity. Colonel Stewart, having
his communications with the interior thus
constantly interrupted, and his provisions
cut off, was confined to the sole resource
of getting his supplies from Charleston,
and this became everyday more and more
precarious. For every wagon-load of pro
visions he paid the price in blood.

General Greene, having resolved upon
action, broke up his camp on the
hills of the Santee, crossed the
"Wateree near Camden, then the Conga-
ree, and, moving along its southern bank,
finally reached Howell s ferry, on the lat
ter river. While the American
Aug. 28,

general, in consequence of the

swollen swamps and water-courses, was
obliged to make this extensive circuit of
more than seventy miles, Stewart took
the occasion to fall back to Eutaw springs,
some forty miles from his late post, and
within about sixty of Charleston, in order
to secure a junction with some reinforce
ments and provisions on their route from
that city.

The British commander was followed
by Colonel Lee, who was pushed forward
to watch his movements ; while General
Pickens, with the state militia, and Colo
nel Henderson, with the remnant of Sum-
ter s brigade, advanced with a similar ob
ject to the neighborhood of the enemy s
post at Orangeburg. These various corps
joined the main army of the Americans
as it moved slowly down the south bank
of the Congaree, toward the old post at
Motte s, where Greene, having resolved
upon a discontinuance of the pursuit, de
termined to await the progress of events.

This resolution, as it seemed to indicate

a want of confidence in the American com
mander, encouraged the British. Halting
upon his ground at Eutaw, Stewart pre
pared to meet and fight his enemy. Hav
ing withdrawn his garrison at Orangeburg
(which he established at Fairlawn), he re
called to his aid that which had been sta
tioned at the latter post as a foil to Ma
rion. This movement he was enabled to
make in consequence of the disappear
ance of the " Swamp-Fox," who, in one of
his secret expeditions, had rapidly crossed
the country to Pon-Pon, where Colonel
Harden was closely pressed by a British
force of five hundred men.

To pass through both lines of the ene
my s communication with Charleston ; to
surprise, defeat, and disperse this force,
under Major Fraser, numerically superior
to his own ; to return by the same route,
pass the Santee, put his prisoners in safe
ty, and then to advance upon the Eutaw,
where he effected a junction with
the main army, was but the work
of a few days and of ordinary effort with
this able warrior.

At Lamson s place, the point of junc
tion with Marion, General Greene left be
hind his baggage and tents, and pushed
on with greater rapidity until he
arrived at Burdell s tavern, with
in seven miles of the enemy, with whom
he determined to try his strength on the
coming morning.

The general-in-chief, with his usual read
iness to share the hardships of the com
mon soldier, lay down that night upon the
bare ground, with his head resting upon
the protruding root of an " ancient China-





Battle of Eutaw Springs. Comparative Numbers. Order of Battle. The Attack begins. The British Line. The Ke-
serve . The Struggle. The Militia give way. Spirit of the North-Carolinians. A Fierce Charge. The Marylanders
and Virginians. Fixed Bayonets. Desperate Resistance of the Enemy. Colonel Washington and his Troopers suf
fer. Washington receives a Wound. Heaps of Dead and Wounded. The Militia at the Hum-Casks. Sally of the
Enemy. General Greene in Possession of the Field of Battle. A Disputed Victory. Death of Colonel Campbell.
"I die content." The Prisoners. Major Barry. An Undignified Lift. "The Very Man." Colonel Stewart at
Monk s Corner. Greene on the Hills of the Santee. Close of the Campaign in Carolina.


NEXT morning, at the early hour
of four, the American troops were
on the march to attack the enemy. Gen
eral Greene s force was small, amounting
to only two thousand men. That of the
British numbered twenty-three hundred.
The former had the superiority in caval
ry, the latter in general discipline as well
as in numbers.

Greene led on his troops in
Sept, 8,

two columns. Ihe first, com
posed of the militia of North and South
Carolina,, was commanded by Marion and
Pickens, and Colonel de Mulmedy. The
second, comprising the continental troops
from North Carolina, Virginia, and Mary
land, were led on by General Simmer,
Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell, and Colo
nel Otho Williams. Lee, with his legion,
covered the right flank ; and Henderson,
with the troops of Sumter, the left. Colo
nel Washington, with his cavalry, and Cap
tain Kirkwood, with the Delawares, com
posed the reserve. Two pieces of artil
lery moved at the head of each column.
So completely had the detached par
ties of the Americans cut off those of the
British, that the advance of their army

was unsuspected. The only patrol had
been captured during the night; and so
entirely secure did Stewart esteem him
self in his position, that an unarmed par
ty of a hundred men had been sent out
to gather sweet potatoes.

Two deserters from Greene s army con
veyed to the British commander the first
intelligence of the approach of the Amer
icans ; and Captain Coffin, at the head of
his cavalry, was sent out, as well to recall
the "potato-rooting" party, as to recon
noitre the Americans and cover the par

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 114 of 126)