Robert Tomes.

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

. (page 94 of 126)
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it was hoped effectual opposition might
be offered to the advance of the -enemy s

The British admiral lay with his ships
lightened of their guns outside of the bar
for two weeks, waiting for wind and tide ;




War, 25,

April 9,

but he finally crossed it without
the least difficulty, and came to
anchor in Five-Fathom hole, the previous
station of the American squadron. Com
modore Whipple now moved bis vessels
a second time ; and, fearing lest the Brit
ish would enter Cooper river, where they
mi i^ht bring: their guns to bear with effect

o o o

upon the town, and cut off the only com
munication of the garrison with the coun
try, he anticipated them by placing his
own squadron in that position. Here, af
ter landing his guns, to assist in the de
fence of the town, he sunk most of his
vessels, in order to obstruct the channel
of the river.

Admiral Arbuthnot weighed
anchor again, and, with a strong
southerly wind and on the flood of the tide,
passed Fort Moultrie, in spite of the op
position of Colonel Pinckney and his gar
rison; only twenty-seven men were killed
or \voimded, as the admiral triumphant
ly passed and anchored his eight men-of-
war and two transports within the harbor,
near the ruins of Fort Johnson, and out
of reach of all damage from the American
batteries. The British ships, however,
sustained considerable damage in passing
the fort. The fore-topmast of the Rich
mond was shot away, and the Acetus run
aground near Haddrell s point, and was
destroyed by her crew, under a heavy fire
from two fieldpieces, commanded by Colo
nel Gadsden; the crew escaped in boats.
" Fort Moultrie being now of less use
than the men who manned ,it, they were
in great part withdrawn, and it soon fell
into the hands of the enemy. Colonel
Pinckney s force, together with that which

had served to man the small fleet of the
Americans, was transferred to the city
where they helped to swell the inconsid
erable numbers of the garrison. This
force, at no time, amounted to four thou
sand men ; they were required to defend
an extent of works which could not be
well manned by less than ten thousand :
yet even for this small army a sufficient
quantity of provisions had not been fur
nished, and, before the siege was over, the
citizens were suffering from starvation."*

On the day the British admiral made
his successful advance into the harbor,
Sir Henry Clinton, who was proceeding
according to all the deliberate formalities
of a scientific siege, had completed his
first parallel. He now demanded the sur
render of the town. General Lincoln re
plied : "Sixty days have been past since
it has been known that your intentions
against the town were hostile, in which
time has been afforded to abandon it ;
but duty and inclination point to the pro
priety of supporting it to the last ex
tremity." The British commander now
rejoined with a severe cannonade, which
was kept up almost without intermission.

The expected reinforcements sent by
Washington at length arrived ; and Brig
adier-General Woodford, having marched
five hundred miles in twenty-eight days,
with seven hundred men of the Virginia


line, was gladly welcomed as he entered
Charleston. General Lincoln had now
only one communication open with the
country by which to receive reinforce
ments or supplies; this was by the Coop
er river, on his left, and on the east of

* Siinms.



the beleagured city. He strove to secure
it. Governor Rutledge, with one half of
the executive council, had gone out, leav
ing the other half and the lieutenant-gov
ernor to perform all the civic functions
in his absence, and was now doing his
best to stir up the militia to the defence
of the country between the Santee and
Cooper rivers, through which was the only
communication to the besieged in Charles

Rutledge s success was meager in com
parison with the fullness of his dictato
rial powers, and he was only able to en
roll a small number of militia, which he
divided into two portions, stationing one
between the Cooper and the Santee, and
the other at the ferry on the latter river.
Lincoln had despatched Brigadier-Gen
eral linger, with some militia, and Lieu
tenant-Colonel Washington s corps of cav
alry, to Monk s Corner, thirty miles above
Charleston, and near the head-waters of
the Cooper river. A small force was also
sent to throw up works on the Wando, a
branch of the Cooper, nine miles above
the town, and to Lanprier s Point, so as
to guard the pass in that direction.

Sir Henry Clinton went on perseve-
ringly with his parallels, and, while en
gaged upon the second, sent out Lieuten
ant-Colonel Webster, with fifteen hundred
men, to strike at the American posts on
the Cooper, and thus complete the inves
titure of Charleston. The fierce and en
ergetic Tarleton with his dragoons, and
the spirited Ferguson, with his rillemen,
composed the van of Webster s corps, and
to them and their ferocious followers was
intrusted the enterprise of attacking by

April 13.

surprise the American post at Monk s

As Tarleton started out at night on his
concealed expedition, he caught
sight of a negro, skulking near
his van ; and, having seized him, he found
upon his person a letter from one of Hu-
ger s officers, from which information was
obtained about the American position.
The negro, moreover, was readily bribed
by a piece of gold to shift his service to
the British, and he became their guide,
leading them through some neglected by
paths to the post. The American guards
were on the watch a mile in advance of
their post, and Colonel Washington had
his cavalry-horses all bridled and saddled ;
but Tarleton drove in and followed the
videttes with such promptitude, that he
entered the camp with them.

The assault was so rapid and impetu
ous, that the American cavalry was rout
ed without resistance. General linger,
Colonel Washington, and most of his
corps, saved themselves by pushing their
horses across the country, with every foot
of which they were familiar. Tarleton
and his dragoons showed little mercy ;
arid Major Bernie, of Pulaski s legion, who
was mangled shockingly, died cursing the

o o */ o

British for their barbarity in having re
fused quarter after he had surrendered.
Four captains, one lieutenant, and two
privates, of the Americans, were killed,
and some seventeen more wounded or
taken prisoners. Nearly two hundred
horses, and a large quantity of ammuni
tion, baggage, baggage-wagons, and mili
tary stores, likewise fell into the hands
of the enemy.




Some British dragoons, brutalized by
the plentiful supply of ruin which had
fallen to them as their share of booty,
entered a gentleman s house in the neigh
borhood, and attempted to gratify their
lusts upon the defenceless women of the
family. The ladies, however, succeeded
in making their escape, and were protect
ed from further violence by the interpo
sition of the English officers. The dra
goons themselves were arrested and ta
ken to Monk s Corner, where Lieutenant-
Colonel Patrick Ferguson/ 1 who was as
gallant as he was brave, would have put
them to instant death. Colonel Webster,
however, was opposed to the exercise of
such extreme measures, and sent the vil
lains, under guard, to the British head
quarters, where " I believe," says the Eng
lish historian Stedman, " they were after
ward tried and whipped."

Colonel Webster was now enabled to
establish a post on the Wando, and thus
secure the whole country between that
river and the Cooper. General Lincoln
learned with dismay of this position, so
fatal to his only communication with the
country, and determined to attack it ; but
a council of war being called, it was de
cided that a sufficient force could not be
spared for the purpose. Thus this post,
held by only six hundred infantry and
two hundred and fifty horse, was left un

Sir Henry Clinton had now 7 received

from New York a reinforcement
April IS,

or three thousand troops, under

* Ferguson was a. spirited officer, and almost as formida
ble as Tarlcton in partisan warfare, but freer from the
charge of cruelly. He was a famous shot, and was as sure
with his rifle as the best of the American marksmen.

the command of Earl Cornwallis and Lord
Rawdon, and was thus enabled to throw
a large force on the east side of Cooper
river, to complete the work of investing
Charleston in that quarter which was be
gun by Colonel Webster. As soon as
Cornwallis presented himself, the posts at
Lanprier s Point and on Wando river were
abandoned ; and the British had almost
free range of the country, although there
was still some show of opposition on the
part of a remnant of H tiger s force.

The American cavalry, after its surprise
at Monk s Corner, had withdrawn to the
north of the Santee, where Lieutenant-
Colonel White took the command. This
officer, discovering that Lord Cornwallis
extended his fo raging-parties to the south
ern banks of the river on which he was
encamped, determined to intercept them.
Accordingly, upon the first notice of the
enemy s approach, White passed the San-
tee, struck at the foe, and captured most
of the party. He now r retired with his
prisoners to Lenud s ferry, where he had
ordered boats to be in readiness, and Colo
nel Buford, who was stationed on the op
posite bank of the river, to be on the
alert to cover the transportation of his
men. Neither the colonel nor the boats,
however, were to be found, and White in-
cautiouslv lingered at the place.

*/ O 1

Tarleton, in the meanwhile, who was
scouring the country with his usual activ
ity, having learned of White s late success
and his present position, made all haste
after him. On reaching Lenud s ferry.
Tarleton with his dragoons made one of
his habitually rapid and impetuous on
slaughts, and succeeded in killing and cap-




April 12.

luring between thirty and forty of the
American cavalry. Colonels White, Wash
ington, Jamieson, and the rest of the offi
cers and men, took to flight, and escaped
by swimming the river, or hiding them
selves in the swamps.

Though the lines of Charleston were
field-works only, the British commander
made his advances with great caution.
At the completion of his first parallel, the
town was summoned to surren
der ; and its defiance was the sig
nal for the batteries on both sides to open,
which they did with great animation.

Sir Henry Clinton, having completed
his second parallel, and entirely invested
the town (having cut off the only com
munication of the besieged with the coun
try), a spirited but ineffectual night-sortie
of two hundred men, under Lieutenant-
Colonel Henderson, was the last effort of
the garrison, when a council of war was

called by General Lincoln. At
April 26, . .

this time the flesh provisions of

the city were not sufficient for a week s
rations. There was now no hope of de
fending the to\vn, and no chance of es
cape by retreat. The engineers admitted
that the lines could not be maintained
ten days longer, and might be carried by
assault in ten minutes. There was no
prospect of either supplies or reinforce
ments. It was therefore determined to
make an offer of surrender, on the con
dition that the inhabitants should be se
cured the safety of their persons and prop
erty, and the garrison allowed to continue
in arms.

" General Lincoln," says Sinims, " was
disposed to accept Clinton s offer, but he

was opposed by the citizens, who were
required by Clinton to be considered as
prisoners on parole." The above offer,
made in council, being sent out to the
British commander with a flag, it was at
once rejected, and the third parallel be
gun, answer being returned that hostili
ties should be rene\ved at eight o clock in
the evening. When that hour arrived,
the garrison looked for the most vigorous
assault, and prepared, with a melancholy
defiance, to meet the assailants at their
ruined bulwarks. But an hour elapsed
without a gun being fired. Both armies
seemed to dread the consequences of an
assault, aod to wish for a continuance of

the truce. At nine in the even-

xi i p ,i May 6,

ing, the batteries oi the garrison

were reopened, and, being answered by
those of the British, the fight was resumed
with more vigor and execution than had
been displayed at any time from the be
ginning of the siege.*

The third parallel having been com
pleted, Sir Henry and the British
admiral now demanded a surren
der for the third time. General Lincoln
saw, as before, that there was no hope of
resistance, and assented at once to give
up his troops; but the inhabitants ear
nestly begged him to make an exception
in their favor. This exception was made
accordingly in his answer, but was de
clared inadmissible by the enemy.

The siege was now renewed. Two
hundred heavy cannon and mortars were
brought to bear. Ships and galleys, the
forts on James s and John s islands, on
Wappoo, and the army on the neck, uni-

* Simms.




Hay 11.

ted in cne voluminous discharge of iron
upon the devoted garrison. Shells and
carcasses were constantly thrown into the
town, and at one time it was on fire in
five different places.

The batteries of the third par
allel were opened, and, under
their fire, the works were pushed to the
brink of the canal. This was drained by
sapping the dam. A double sap was also
carried under the abattis, and the enemy,
in possession of the outer defences, were
close to the main works of the besieged.
The fire was constant and severe from the
British batteries. The opposing parties
were brought within speaking-distance of
each other ; and " the rifles of the Hessian
yagers," says Simms, " were fired at so
short a distance as never to be discharged
without effect. The defenders could no
longer show themselves above the lines
with safety. A hat raised upon a cane
was instantly riddled with bullets."

Sir Henry Clinton was now prepared
to strike the decisive blow, and was about
to give orders to begin the assault, when
at midnight, General Lincoln, seeing that
further resistance would be sheer mad
ness, called a council of the civil authori
ties. The inhabitants of Charleston, fear
ful of the approaching horrors, should the
city be taken by storm, with one accord
begged Lincoln to waive the exception
made in their favor, and accept the terms
proffered by the enemy. At two o clock
in the morning, a proposition was
therefore made fof a surrender.
The firing then ceased. All the guns
were silent at daybreak, and at noon the
continental troops marched out and laid

down their arms. The British command
er did not presume upon the advantage
at which he now had the town, but hon
orably agreed to the terms which had
been before proffered and were rejected,
Charleston was thus surrendered, on the
12th of May, six weeks after Clinton had
sat down before it and begun the siege.

"Lincoln had maintained his post with
honor," adds Simms, " if not with success ;
had shown himself steadfast and firm, if
not brilliant. For nearly three months,
with less than four thousand ill-fed, ill-clad,
and undisciplined militiamen, he had main
tained himself in Avails the lines of which
required thrice that number to man them,
and had thus long baffled fully twelve
thousand of the best troops in the British
service, headed by their best generals."

The enemy had lost seventy killed, and
had one hundred and ninety-nine wound
ed. The whole loss of the Americans was
one hundred and two killed and one hun
dred and fifty-seven wounded. Lincoln s
force which surrendered amounted to not
more than twenty-five hundred ; but the
British estimated their prisoners at five
thousand in all, as they probably included
all the citizens capable of bearing arms.
Nearly four hundred pieces of ordnance
were given up. The loss of ammunition,
stores, and shipping, was likewise heavy,
and was greatly deplored throughout the
whole country. By the terms of the ca
pitulation, the troops of the garrison were
permitted to march out to a place desig
nated, where they were to deposite their
arms. The drums were not to beat a Brit
ish march, and the colors were not to be





Operations of Sir Henry Clinton. Proclamations. Expeditions. Prepress of Earl Cornv/aliis. Tarleton in Pursuit.
Speed and Bottom. Colonel Buford surprised. No Quarter. A Bloody Massacre. The British at Camden. Sir
Henry Clinton departs for New York. Lord Cornwallis in Command in Carolina. His Lordship as an Administra
tor. The Tories suffer. Prostrate Patriotism. Thomas Sumter. Hif Life and Character. Francis Marion. His
Life and Character. Pickcns. Guerilla Warfare. Hard Eiders and Good Marksmen. Success of Sumter. The
Patriots encouraged. The March of De Kalb. General Gates appointed to the Command at the South. Northern
Laurels and Southern Willows.

1 780,

AFTER the fall of Charleston, Sir
Henry Clinton, in order to confirm
his conquest, issued proclamations, prof
fering pardon to those who should return
to their allegiance to the British crown,
and sent out troops to subject those who
were still in open resistance. Retaining
a small force to hold the town. Clinton
despatched the main body of his army,
under Lord Cornwallis, toward the fron
tiers of South Carolina. One division,
under Lieutenant-Colonel Brown, moved
up the Savannah, to Augusta ; another,
commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Bal-
four, marched along the southern banks
of the Wateree, to Ninety-Six ; and Earl
Cornwallis himself pushed on with the
third toward Camden, where Colonel Bu
ford, who was on his way to reinforce
General Lincoln, had retired on hearing
of the surrender of Charleston.

Augusta and Ninety-Six yielded, on the
approach of the British, without a blow.
Colonel Buford abandoned Camden, and
marched precipitately into North Caroli
na, Lord Cornwallis, as he crossed the
Santee, having learned of Buford s flight,
moved with a portion of his troops to

take possession of Camden, and sent his
trusty Tarleton in pursuit of the fugitives.
This famous colonel of dragoons was at
once in his saddle, at the head of his cav
alry. His corps had been strengthened
by the addition of a hundred mounted in
fantry and a three-pounder; but Tarle-
ton s impatience would not allow him to
wait for these tardy riders : so he spurred
on in advance with his hundred and sev
enty dragoons. He got so rapidly over
the ground, that in fifty-four hours he had
made a hundred and five miles, although
his Carolina horses were neither remark
able for mettle nor high condition. The
weather was hot, and some of the animals
gave out; but Tarleton always pressed
on ahead, followed by those of sufficient
speed and bottom to keep up with him.

When within twenty miles of Buford,
who was hastening to form a junction
with a force in North Carolina, Tarleton
sent one of his best-mounted captains for
ward, with a summons to Buford to sur
render, while he himself and his troopers
galloped close at his heels.

The captain overtook Buford on the
banks of the Wexhaw river, and handed


him Tarleton s summons to surrender, on
the same terms as had been granted to
the garrison at Charleston, accompanied
with this threat, however : " If you are
rash enough to reject them, the blood be
upon jour head !" Without halting his
troops, Buford spoke for a moment with
the British captain, and then gave him
this brief and emphatic answer:

" SIR : I reject your proposal, and shall
defend myself to the last extremity.



" Commander of British Legion."

The rapid Tarleton was close at hand,
and, upon receiving Buford s reply, was

ready for an onslaught. The hit-
May 29, 3

ter behaved with neither decis
ion nor prudence. His rear-guard of a
sergeant and four dragoons having fallen,

O o o

Buford was thus first apprized of the close
approach of the enemy. He had barely
time to draw up his men in an open wood,
and send his artillery and baggage in ad
vance, when Tarleton and his merciless
dragoons, with drawn sabres, came down
the road with an impetuous swoop. Lit
tle resistance was made ; and the Ameri
cans, taken so suddenly and surrounded,
soon sued for quarter, but no quarter was

Tarleton, who was foremost in the at
tack, at the head of thirty of his trustiest
troopers, was dismounted by a chance
shot. His dragoons, however, did not lin
ger in their barbarous woi;k, but forced
their horses on, sabring their unresisting
enemy right and left. It soon became a
bloody massacre, in which no less than a



hundred and thirteen of the Americans
were slaughtered, while a hundred and
fifty were, according to Tarleton s own
account of the butchery, so badly man
gled as to be incapable of removal from
the field of action. That the British met
with butfeeble resistance, may be inferred
from the fact that their loss amounted to
only seven killed and twelve wounded.

Tarleton and his dragoons now rode to
Camden, carrying with them fifty-three
American prisoners, the few who had been
spared in that merciless attack. Lord
Cornwallis received his cruel officer with
a warm welcome, and bestowed the high
est praise upon him for his bloody enter
prise. Friend and foe, ho we-ver, have not
hesitated to speak of the conduct of Tarle
ton as an outrage upon humanity. Even
in England, the liberal press and all men
of humane views denounced his ferocity ;
and his own conscience smote him, if not
to repentance, at least to an attempt at
justification. He declared that his men,
on the one hand, became exasperated to
revenge upon supposing, when he was
dismounted, that he had been slain ; and
that, on the other, his dragoons had been
provoked to rage by the firing of the
Americans after they had surrendered
and begged for quarter. To the errors
of Buford may be ascribed the defeat of
his party ; but the effect of this wanton
massacre was beneficial to the southern
country, in rousing a proper spirit of re
sentment in the breasts of its defenders.
The Americans thenceforth were taught
to expect no indulgence from their foes.
The name and barbarity of the English
cavalry-leader were now synonymous;



June 5.

and even his mercy was deemed so piti
less, that "Tarleton s quarter" became a
proverbial expression for cruelty: and a
spirit of revenge, in all subsequent con
flicts, gave a keener edge to the military
resentments of the people in the south
ern states.

Sir Henry Clinton, after his military
triumphs., finally believing that he had
secured the state of South Carolina in
firm allegiance to the throne, embarked
at Charleston for New York, with
a portion of his troops, leaving
Earl Cornwallis in command of four thou
sand regulars, to carry the war into North
Carolina and Virginia. His lordship, for
a time unopposed by any active military
hostility, had an opportunity of exercising
his talents as a civil administrator. Hav
ing left Lord Rawdon in command of the
division which Sir Henry had led up the
Santee to Camden, he himself proceeded
to Charleston, where he was ensured in

7 o O

administering the affairs of the state un
der its renewed royal government.

As Cornwallis proposed to make an in
cursion into North Carolina as soon as the
hot season was over, he was preparing
his way by an active correspondence with
the royalist inhabitants. He urged upon
them to remain patient until he was pre
pared to enter their province with his
troops. But in the fullness of their loy
alty they could not avoid making a pre
mature manifestation, and thus brought
down upon themselves a crushing blow
from the patriots. Some eight hundred,
however, of the loyal North-Carolinians,
under Colonel Bryan, with a band of reso
lute republican militia at their heels, suc

ceeded in making their escape, though in
a sorry plight, to the British post at Che-
raw hill.

Prostrate as South Carolina was, there
were still some of her inhabitants who
clung resolutely to their arms ; and, al
though forced temporarily to leave their
own state, they were impatiently wait
ing for a favorable opportunity to strike a

Online LibraryRobert TomesBattles of America by sea and land. With biographies of naval and military commanders (Volume 01) → online text (page 94 of 126)