Robert Tomes.

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

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Charleston to the interior. Rendezvous
ing at Rogues ford, on the Edisto, his fol
lowers spread themselves on every hand,

and committed the most horrible exces>
ses against persons and property. In most
cases, they found only defenceless people
in their houses. No mercy to age or sex
was shown by these wretches. The men
were commonly shot or cut down ; the
women experienced various brutalities;
boys of fifteen were hewn to pieces ; the
horses and all moveable property carried
off, and, when not moveable, burnt. " The
horrid massacres, on Cloud s creek, of Tur
ner s troop," says Simnis, from whom we
gather the closing details of the southern
campaign, " at Edgehill, of Hayes party,
where scores of men were butchered at
the same moment after capture, are still
reported w r ith shuddering by the people
of the regions where these terrible atro
cities were committed The detailed

crimes of this bloody scout, as still dwelt
upon by the preserving tradition, would
crowd a volume." But his banditti was
finally dispersed and destroyed, few es
caping the red hand of the avenger. The
miscreant leader survived the war, and re
turned to Europe ; but, in all the region
of country thus ravaged, he remains to
this day the proverbial monster. His atro
cious deeds were indignantly repudiated
by the British General Leslie, and also by
General Cunningham, the representative
of a remote branch of the same family.
In the meanwhile, Colonel Stewart was
busy ravaging the low country, laying in
pro visions for sustaining a siege in Charles
ton, and accumulating that plunder with
which the enemy s fleet of three hundred
sail was laden when they afterward took
flight from the waters of Cooper river. In
the space of a few weeks, Major Doyle



had succeeded in stripping the country on
the Santee and Congaree of every negro,
and of almost every thing else in the shape
of property that could be carried away,
and would have extended his ravages be
yond those rivers, but that Marion and
Hampton guarded their opposite banks.
The intelligence of the surrender of
Yorktown reached Greene s headquarters
about the last of October, and the day
w r as observed as a jubilee in the camp,
and the grateful tidings increased the de
sire of the American general to cross the
rivers which separated him from the ene
my, and drive them down to the sea.

The camp at the HiiHi hills of
Nov. 18. .

the ban tee was at length broken

up, and the American army again put in
motion. As the route led away from the
support of Marion, who was to guard the
left wingon the march, Captain Eggleston,
with the legion and a detachment of Vir
ginians, was sent to strengthen him. The
main army proceeded by the way of Sim-
mons s and M Cord s ferries, through Or-
angeburg, to Riddlespurger s ; thence by
the Indianfield road to Ferguson s mill,
where that road crosses the Edisto the
intention of Greene being apparently to
gain a position on Four Holes, in order to
cover the country beyond him, and con
trol the movements of the enemy on his
right. Another object was to intercept
the flight of the British to Savannah, in
telligence having been received by Mari
on, from Charleston, that such was their

About this time, to the astonishment
of all, the mountaineers, in the absence
of Colonel Shelby, deserted the camp, af

ter a service of only three weeks. They
had been placed under the command of
Marion, who sought to give them suffi
cient employment ; but, though his num
bers were much inferior, he found it im
possible to bring the British into the open
field. Detachments of about two hundred
of the mountain-men, however, supported
by Maham s cavalry, had moved against
the redoubts at Wappetaw, which were
abandoned at their approach. The same
body attacked Fairlawn, while the enemy
lay at Wantoot. In passing the latter
post, Marion showed himself, but did not
succeed in decoying the British cavalry
into the field. At Fairlawn, the attack by
Colonel Shelby was successful : the place
surrendered at discretion ; and the whole
garrison, with some three hundred stand
of arms, stores, and provisions, fell into
the hands of the Americans. The house
with its con tents, and the abatiis, were com
mitted to the flames.

The sudden desertion of the mountain
eers greatly weakened the army of Gen
eral Greene, but he had advanced too far
to recede ; Marion had passed the Santee,
and any disaster to him would have com
pelled an immediate retreat. Greene re
solved to act with boldness, and if possi
ble force the British commander to retire
into Charleston. With this object, he left
the army, on its march, under the com
mand of Colonel Williams, of Maryland ;
and, at the head of two hundred cavalry,
and as many infantry, moved briskly tow
ard Dorchester. The cavalry consisted
of Lee s and Washington s, and one hun
dred men drawn from the command of
Sumter. The infantry were those of the




legion, and some of the Virginia and Ma
ryland troops. The command of this de
tachment was given to Colonel Hampton.

Greene flattered himself that he should
be able to surprise the post at Dorchester;
but the enemy, hearing of his approach,
lay upon their arms all night. A party
which had been sent out to obtain intel
ligence was cut to pieces by Hampton s
advanced guard, and the survivors hotly
pursued close to the enemy s post. The
whole British cavalry and a strong force
of infantry now issued forth to charge the
pursuers, and Greene with pleasure saw
their approach; but they recoiled and fled
from the fierce onset of Hampton s horse.
Twenty or thirty were slain, wounded, or
captured ; and such an alarm did the pres
ence of Greene in person inspire among
them, under the belief that his whole ar
my was at hand, that the garrison at Dor
chester destroyed everything during the
night, threw their cannon into the river,
and made a rapid retreat to Charleston.
The panic of the enemy increased, their
outposts were all abandoned, and their
whole force concentrated at the quarter-
house, six miles from the city. At this
point, where the isthmus is narrow, the
fugitives halted, and were joined by Colo
nel Stewart, who meantime had been hur
rying toward the town by another route.

General Leslie now succeeded Stewart,
and prepared for immediate attack. His
force was nearly five thousand men, exclu
sive of the negroes which he embodied in
regiments, while Greene could not mus
ter in all more than eight hundred, but
the fears of the fugitives had magnified
nis force to more than three thousand.

Thus driven in from all their outposts,
the British were confined in their opera
tions to the city, the neck, and the neigh
boring islands. The object of General
Greene, and all that he could effect, in the
feeble condition of his army, was attained;
and in January, after an interreg
num of nearly two years, Governor
Rutledge convened the legislature of the
state at Jacksonborough, a little village
on the Edisto river, about twenty miles
from the sea, and thirty from Charleston.
The army, in the meantime, took post at
the plantation of Colonel Skirving, some
six miles below Jacksonborough, and on
the road leading to the city.

But few military movements occurred
during the season. A vain attempt was
made to dislodge the British from John s
island. In a skirmish on the Combahee,

the brave Colonel John Laurens

,. n TJ T -, . ., Aug. 27.

fell. He was succeeded in the

command of the light-troops near Charles
ton by Kosciusko.* General Wayne had
been sent into Georgia, where he forced
the British to abandon their outposts, and

* After the American war, this illustrious Pole returned
to his native country, where he lived in retirement till 17S9,
when the diet appointed him. a major-general. In the brief
struggle of 1792 he behaved with distinguished valor; hut
as soon as the fate of Poland was scaled, he retired into vol
untary exile. lie kept up, however, a correspondence with
the friends of liberty in his native land; and when, ir. 1794,
the Poles resolved to make one more effort to break their
chains, they placed Kosciusko at their head. He began his
career by defeating the Russian general, Denisoff, at liashi-
vice. But the enemy poured in on all sides, and at length,
after having for six months delayed the fall of Poland, he
was wounded and taken prisoner, on the 4th of October, at
the battle of Macciowiee. He was sent to St. Petersburg,
and incarcerated until the accession of the emperor Paul, who
visited him in prison, embraced him, and set him at liberty.
His latter years were spent in America, France, and Swit
zerland, but chiefly in France. He died at Soleure, in Swit
zerland, October 17, 1817, aged seventy-one years




finally to evacuate Savannah, the garrison
retiring to Charleston. In September, Sir
Samuel Hood arrived, with a convoying
fleet, to cover the departure of the British.

Meanwhile, General Leslie pressed his
preparations for the final evacuation of
Charleston. Greatly constrained by the
cordon which the American general had
contrived to maintain around his foe, Les
lie, in order to eke out his provisions, suf
fered numerous loyalists to leave the city
and make their peace with their country
men, a privilege of which hundreds readi
ly availed themselves. He also expelled
from the town all those who were alleged
to favor the American cause.

Having levelled the walls of the town
and of Fort Johnson, the British command
er opened a communication with General
Greene, apprizing him of the intended
evacuation, and proposing terms, in order
that his departure might be a peaceable
one. An arrangement accordingly fol-

o o /

lowed, by which the Americans w r ere to
take possession as the enemy s rear-guard
retired ; the former pledging themselves
to forbear all hostile attempts upon the
movements of the British, on condition
that they should do no injury to the city.
On Saturday, the 14th of December,
1782, this event took place. The morn
ing gun was the signal for the British rear
guard to abandon its advanced redoubts.
General Wayne, at the head of three hun
dred infantry, the cavalry of the legion,
and a detachment of artillery, with two
six-pounders, having been sent from the
American army, had crossed Ashley river
the previous night, and was stationed in
readiness to follow up the enemy.

At the sound of the morning gun, the
two parties were put in motion, at an as
signed distance asunder of two hundred
yards. They moved down the King-street
road, till they had passed the lines, when
the British filed off to Gadsden s wharf,
where they embarked in boats that await
ed them. " It was a grand and pleasing
sight," says General Moultrie in his me
moirs, " to see the enemy s fleet, upward
of three hundred sail, lying at anchor from
Fort Johnson to Five-Fathom Hole, in a
curve-line, as the current runs ; and what
made it more agreeable, they were ready
to depart."

The reluctance of the one party to leave,
and the impatience of the other to succeed
them in the possession of the city, led the
British, now-and-then during the march,
to cry aloud to General Wayne that he
was pressing too rapidly upon them a
proceeding highly characteristic of "Mad
Anthony? who fully sympathized with the
natural impatience of the Carolinians to
behold those dear homes from which they
had been so long exiled.* Wayne moved
forward, and halted on the south side of
Broad street, nearly opposite to Church.
Next to the American advance came Gov
ernor Rutledge and General Greene, es
corted by two hundred cavalry, and fol
lowed by the council and long troops of
officers and citizens on horseback, amid
the acclamations of the populace."}*

* At the close of the war, General Wayne retired to his
native state of Pennsylvania. In 1737, he was a member of
the state convention which ratified the constitution of the
United States. In 1792, he succeeded to the command of
the western army on the defeat of St. Clair, and gained a
comjlete victory over the savages at the battle of the Mi-
anris, in 1794. He died iu 1796, at the age of fifty -one.

\ Simms.



[PART n.


Lord Cornwallis from Portsmouth to YorUtown.- Description of Yorktown. Its Defences. Confidence of his Lordship.
A Change. Arrival of a French Fleet. Skilful Manoeuvres of Lafayette Contemptuous Indifference of Cornwal
lis. Arrival of Count de Grasse. Landing of Troops. Junction with Lafayette. Cornwallis shut up by Sea and

Land. A Desperate Expedient. Hopeful of Aid. Washington s Plans. Proposed Attack upon New York. The

Scheme abandoned. A Ruse. The March to Virginia. The British at New York kept in the Dark. March of the
Allies. Entrance into Philadelphia. Appearance of the American Troops. The "Gay artel Glorious" French.
Admiration of the Ladies. A Grand Review. The French Minister. A Public Dinner. Good News. "Long live
Louis XVI.!" The Grumbling Americans. Out of Pocket. A Windfall. Progress of the March southward.
Arrival at the Head of the Elk, Washington at Mount Vernon. Old Virginian Hospitality. Washington at Wil-
liamsburg. The Allies before Yorktown.


LORD CORNWALLIS having, in ac
cordance with the instructions of
Sir Henry Clinton, again landed at Ports
mouth the detachment of troops about to
sail for New York, moved his whole force,
consisting of about seven thousand men,

to Yorktown. This small place,
Aug. 22, , L 4r i

situated on I ork river, was se
lected as a good defensive post, and one
capable of affording protection to ships-
of-the-line. Sir Henry, with this purpose
in view, had suggested Yorktown, or Old
Point Comfort, as a point d appui for the
coming campaign in Virginia. By the
advice of his naval officers and engineers,
the earl chose the former. On the north
and opposite side of the river, which was
a mile wide, and of sufficient depth for
large vessels, was Gloucester Point, which,
like Yorktown, had a high and command
ing position. His lordship now proceed
ed to fortify both places (at the former
of which was stationed Colonel Tarleton
and a part of his legion), and with such
satisfactory progress, that, confident of
his security, he soon wrote to Sir Henry

Aug. 30.

Clinton, offering to send a detachment of
a thousand men to the aid of New York,
then threatened, as was supposed, by an
attack from Washington.

Earl Cornwallis was, however, suddenly
aroused from his sense of security by the
arrival in the Chesapeake of Ad
miral Count de Grasse, with a
French fleet of twenty-eight sail-of-the-
line and several frigates, having upward
of three thousand troops on board. The
young marquis Lafayette, a ware of Wash
ington s designs against the enemy in Vir
ginia, and prepared by early intelligence
for this arrival of his countrymen, had in
the meantime skilfully manoeuvred to co
operate with them. His object was to
cut off the escape of Cornwallis by land,
while the French fleet should close up
his egress by sea.

Lafayette had made every disposition
of his force necessary to his purpose with
out exciting the suspicion of Cornwallis,
who, intent upon his fortifications, regard
ed his young antagonist almost with con
teinptuous indifference. Having sent the




Pennsylvania troops, commanded by Gen
eral Wayne, to the south side of James
river, under the feint of attacking Ports
mouth, and collected a large militia-force,
the marquis himself inarched to Williams-
burg, in order to form a junction with the
French troops as soon as they should land.

On the arrival of Count de Grasse, he
was met off Cape Henry by an officer de
spatched by Lafayette to inform him of
the exact state of affairs in Virginia. De
Grasse, guided by this information, imme
diately sent four ships-of-the-line to block
ade York river, and to convey the land-
troops to James river, where Lafayette
was awaiting them. Nothing occurred to
mar these designs so skilfully laid. Corn-
wallis found himself shut up by sea, and
obstructed on land by the combined forces
of Lafayette and the marquis de St. Si
mon, who, taking post at Williamsburg,
kept close watch upon his lordship. The
earl was at last conscious of his danger,
and would have striven to break through
the toils which had been so artfully woven,
and to force his way into North Carolina,
had he not hoped that such aid would
soon reach him from Sir Henry Clinton
as to render so desperate an expedient
unnecessary. In the mean time, Washing
ton, in his camp in New Jersey, was seal
ing the fate of his unconscious lordship.
Let us now turn to the North.

When intelligence was first received of
the intention of Count de Grasse to sail
from the West Indies to the United States
with his powerful fleet, Count de Rocham-
beau, who had also received despatches
from the French court, requested a per
sonal interview with Washington, to con-

May 18,

cert a plan of action for the approaching
campaign. The latter suggested Weath-
ersfield, in Connecticut, as the place of
meeting, and the 22d of May as the time
Accordingly, the commander-in-chief set
out from headquarters, at New
Windsor, accompanied by Gen
erals Knox and Du Portail, and met Ro-
chambeau and the marquis de Chastellux
at the time agreed upon. A French frig
ate had recently arrived at Boston, hav
ing on board the count de Barras, who
was appointed to succeed the deceased
Admiral de Ternay in the command of
the French fleet at Newport, and he was
expected to join the conference at Weath-
ersfielcl, but the appearance of a British
squadron off Block island prevented his

At that interview, the respective com
manders, being as yet ignorant of the in
vasion of Virginia by Lord Cornwallis,
discussed the propriety of a joint expe
dition to the Carolinas. The difficulties
of such an expedition, at that time of the
year, when the sickly season was about
to set in at the South, were fully consid
ered, and it was agreed that an effective
blow might be made by the combined ar
mies for the recovery of the city of New
York, which would at the same time re
lieve the southern states. It was finally
determined, as a preliminary step toward
opening the campaign, that the entire
land-force of the French (whose infantry
had remained in repose at Newport for
nine months), with the exception of about
two hundred, who were to be left as a
guard over their heavy baggage at Provi
dence, should march with all despatch to





join Washington s army at the Highlands
of the Hudson, and at a proper time the
united force was to move toward New

The commander-in-chief at once sent
letters to Governor Livingston, of New-
Jersey, and the executive authorities of
New England, urging them to provide
immediately the quotas of men and sup
plies which had been voted by their re
spective states. General Rochambeau, in
the meanwhile, despatched a messenger
to the West Indies, to inform the count
de Grasse of the proposed attack upon
New York, and to solicit the co-operation
of his fleet.

Toward the close of June, while the
French troops were moving through the
western part of Connecticut, on their way
to the Hudson, Washington made strong
preparations to oppose the British on York
island and in Westchester county. He
planned a joint expedition against Colo
nel Delancey s corps of loyalists stationed
at Morrisania, and the military works on
the upper end of the island. The duke
de Lauzun, with his fine cavalry-legion,
was to conduct the former; and General
Lincoln, with detachments from the main
army, had charge of the latter. But the
enemy were on the alert.

Lincoln, with a force of eight hundred
men, went down from the camp
at Peekskill, in boats propelled
by muffled oars. At the same time, leav
ing his baggage, Washington followed on
land with the main army, and encamped
at Phillipsburg, near Dobbs s ferry, nearly
twelve miles from the north end

July 1,

July 4,

of York island. Lincoln, accom

panied by one or two officers, crossed to
Fort Lee, on the western bank of the
Hudson, to reconnoitre Fort Washington
from the cliffs of the Palisades, when he
discovered a British encampment on the
upper end of the island, and a vessel-of-
war lying in the river, off Spuyten-devil
creek. He at once saw that a surprisal
of the enemy s forts was impossible ; and,
accordingly, landing his troops, he took
possession of the high grounds lying to
the northeast of Harlem river, with the
intention of offering aid to the duke de

In this position, Lincoln was attacked
by a fo raging-party, numbering about fif
teen hundred men. A desultory skirmish
followed ; and De Lauzun, who had just
arrived at Eastchester, hearing the sound
of cannon, hastened forward to meet his
American ally. Washington likewise ad
vanced, and the British, believing that
the whole force of the Americans was ap
proaching, fled to their boats, and retired
in haste to their camp. The surprise of
Delancey s corps being regarded
as improbable, Washington with
drew to Dobbs s ferry, at which place he
was joined by General Rochambeau.

The American and French forces now
encamped among the verdant and beau
tiful hills of Greenburg, near Tarrytown,
about thirty miles from New York. The
former, who lay in two lines, had their
right resting on Dobbs s ferry, and ex
tending eastward toward the Neparan or
Sawmill river ; and the latter encamped
in a single line upon the hills still farther
to the east, with their left resting on the
river Bronx. In this position they re-

July 0.


mained upward of three weeks, without
making any movement of importance.

In the meantime, the invasion of Vir
ginia by Lord Cornwallis had caused great
alarm throughout that and the adjoining
states ; and the American chief received
urgent letters, earnestly imploring him to
advance southward with a powerful force,
and expel the earl and his followers. The
time for such an expedition, however, had
not yet come.

Washington, accompanied by Rocham-
beau and other French officers, now pro
ceeded to the summit of the Pali-
July 18,

sades, for the purpose or recon
noitring the British posts on the north
end of York island. On the following
day, they took a view of those at Kings-
bridge ; and it was resolved that a force
of five thousand Americans and French,
commanded by Generals Lincoln and De
Chastellux, should occupy a line across
the entire county of Westchester from the
Hudson to the East river, in order to cover
an extended reconnoissance, break up the
haunts of the tories, and confine Colonel
Delancey s corps of marauders within the
British lines.

This important movement was begun
with great secresy on the evening of the
21>st, the three separate columns moving
simultaneously toward York island, while
detachments of infantry scoured the fields
between the lines of march. Before day
break the entire force confront-
Jtily 22.

ed the British on the upper end

of the island. The flashing of the arms
of the allies in the beams of the morning
sun was the first intimation which the
enemy had of the movement.

While the British were held in check
by this strong force, Washington and Ro-
chambeau, with their respective attend
ants, effected a complete reconnoissance
from the Hudson to Long-island sound ;
and in the meantime the American light-
troops, and De Lauzun s lancers, broke up
every post of the loyalists and refugees.
Having made a thorough and scientific
reconnoissance of the whole ground, the
allied troops returned to their respective
encampments among the Greenburg hills

Sir Henry Clinton became alarmed at
this movement, and despatched a message
to Lord Cornwallis, directing him to order
three of the regiments in South Carolina
to sail immediately for New York, and to
hold a portion of his own troops in readi
ness for the same destination. On hear
ing of this requisition, Washington made

the following comment in a let-

Julv 30,

ter to Lafayette: "I think we

have already effected one part of the plan
of the campaign settled at Weathersfield ;
that is, giving a substantial relief to the
southern states, by obliging the enemy to
recall a considerable part of their forces

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 116 of 126)