Tarleton Brown.

Memoirs of Tarleton Brown : a captain of the revolutionary army online

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which he was disabled from doing duty for some time.
This unfortunate circumstance interrupting our further
march, we were compelled to retrace our steps and re-
turn to headquarters, Savannah River.

At this time my father's family lived at the Big
House, now belonging to Col. Hay, of the Boiling
Springs, and a man by the name of Adam Wood lived a
near neighbor to them, with whom I formed an acquaint-
ance, and entered into an agreement with, that in the
event either of our families were attacked, we should ren-
der each other every assistance in our power. But a
short time elapsed from the period of the said agreement
before a band of tories, passing through that section at
night, stopped at Wood's house, killed him, and com-
menced a general work of destruction, laying waste
everything which chanced to be in their way, I dis-


tinctly heard the uproar and the firing of arms, and
from the direction I knew Wood was attacked. Having
retired for the night, I immediately arose, and in com-
pany with three others set out for the seat of action.
When within a few yards of the house, observing their
large and overwhelming numbers, I deemed it prudent
to secrete ourselves by the roadside until they had
passed. We lay concealed but a few minutes when,
having completed their work of death and desolation,
the whole party rode by, two deep. As they passed I
counted them, and they numbered one hundred and
fifty, headed by those notorious scoundrels, robbers, and
murderers, who defeated the gallant Roberts on the
Edisto, as before stated, Chaney and Williams. They
now made their way for the "Big House, "but appa-
rently pressed for time, and finding no one at home,
(my father's family having taken the precaution during
my absence to remove therefrom) they proceeded on
their course towards Capt. Vince's station, on Savannah
River. Believing that they intended an attack upon
the fort, I suggested to John Cave, one of my compan-
ions, that we had better set out forthwith, and if possi-
ble head them, and apprise Capt. Vince of his danger.
So mounting our fleetest horses, we sallied forth with


all possible speed, and after considerable difficulty,
threading our way through the swamps, we arrived at
the fort just before the break of day. I requested the
sentinel to inform the captain that I had important in-
telligence to communicate to him, and desired as quick
an interview as possible. The captain returned an
answer that he was sick and confined to his bed. I re-
plied that I could take no excuse, — sick or well, he
must come out directly. This authoritative command
brought him forth immediately. I then related to him
what had transpired at the Big House, of the enemy's
numbers, and of his approach towards that garrison,
advising him, at the same time, to evacuate the fort as
soon as possible, unless he felt assured of his safety,
and of his being able successfully to contend against
so formidable a body, tendering, at the same time, our
assistance. He stated to us that his force consisted of
but twenty-five men, expressed great doubts of his
ability to defend himself against such a numerous
enemy, and thought it policy to adopt my suggestion
to leave the fort, which was agreed on, and in a few
minutes the fort was left to the mercy of the enemy,
who in the course of one hour afterwards made a charge
upon it with his full force, confidently expecting a prize

MEMoms. 27

but instead of a prize they had the sore mortification
io find that their deep laid scheme and hellish design
on this occasion, was completely baffled.

From this point they turned towards their headquar-
ters, on Edisto. In crossing the Lower Three Runs, they
stopped at the house of a Mr. Collins, a very quiet and
inoffensive man, and far advanced in years, say about
eighty-five. Whatever may have been the sentiments
of this old gentleman, he maintained a strictly neutral
position, shouldering arms on neither side ; yet those
fiends of darkness dispatched him, with his head as
white as snow, by the frost of many winters, for an
eternal world. How, how could these monsters in hu.
man shape dream of prospering, when murdering the
aged and inoffensive in this horrid and brutal manner,
— and why all this bloodshed ? Because the honest
Whigs of the Revolution, knowing full well the rights of
man, and daring to maintain them, refused to be galled
by the servile chains of a foreign despot, and to bow
submissively to his barbarous impositions. It was this
which inspired them with invincible fortitude and zeal,
and enabled them to throw off the tyrant yoke, and to
declare themselves " free, sovereign, and independent."

I continued scouting both in Georgia and Carolina


with very little intermission, until the British, under
Sir Henry Clinton, took Charleston, with Gen. Lincoln's
army of 4,000 men in 1780, — the intelligence of which
threw the whole State into consternation and alarm.
Our strong-hold, with the major part -of our army, were
now effectually in the hands of the enemy, and those
poor deluded wretches, the Tories, by this success of
their allies at Charleston, seemed urged on with re-
newed impetuosity in their cruel and diabolical pur-
poses. And dark indeed were the prospects of the
friends of liberty about this juncture — despair was
depicted in every countenance — our sun became ob-
scured, and seemed ready to go down to rise no more,
and the bird of liberty appeared as if taking its part-
ing gaze of the fertile and flowery region over which
it had hovered, to plant the tree of liberty — beneath
whose bowers the dispersed and oppressed of all nations
might find an asylum.

What now to do I knew not. It appeared like mad-
ness to remain longer surrounded by an overwhelming
foe, liable at any moment to be butchered without mercy,
and to flee the country was almost equally trying, —
many were pursuing the latter expedient, leaving for
other sections, where danger was less threatenino: and



where hostilities had scarcely opened. And my brother,
Bartlet Brown, and myself thought it advisable for us
to pursue the same course, so we returned to Virginia,
our native State. In consequence of the scarcity of
clothing during the war, we were poorly clad, and in a
bad condition to set out on a journey of 500 miles, and
that too with but the paltry sum of three dollars in our
pockets to defray expenses. On reaching the " Eidge,"
about seventy miles from home, our little party had
augmented to the number of sixty or seventy, all flee-
ing the country with the same object in view as our-
selves. Journeying onward, we arrived at Fishing
Creek, where we encamped a day or two, not wishing
to progress too rapidly for fear of overtaking a detach-
ment of British cavalry under Colonel Tarletou, (lO)who
we learned had been sent by Lord Cornwallis (11) to
attack Col. Buford, and had surprised and defeated him
at the Waxhaws, (12) and were on their line of march
through Charlotte, North Carolina, which lay directly
in our route. Whilst encamped at Fishing Creek, a
fellow by the name of Mobley, a Tory, came into our
camp as a spy. This fellow was so inquisitive, and so
particular in examining every body and everything
about the premises that our suspicions were very much


excited in regard to his true character. We, however,
suffered him to depart unmolested. And we afterwards
learned that he returned to the encampment, at the
head of a large gang of Tories, with a view to capture
us, but we anticipated his design, and escaped from his
clutches, being at the distance of fifteen or twenty
miles when he made his charge upon the tents. Con-
tinuing onward, we arrived in sight of Charlotte, when
we again encamped, remaining several days. Here
many of our party separated from us for different
routes, reducing our number to about thirty. »

The citizens of Charlotte despatched a messenger to
lis, praying that in the event the British, who were
marching towards that quarter, attacked the town, we
would render them assistance. This we promised to
do, provided they would furnish us with ammunition,
our supply being almost exhausted. On the return of
their messenger, they sent us a keg of powder, and
lead in proportion. But at the expiration of three days,
waiting for the anticipated attack, the citizens of Char-
lotte informed us that the enemy had gone back. We
then " struck our tents" and resumed our march, taking
with us the ammunition sent to us by the citizens of
Charlotte, which served us in the place of money, as


we could barter it for bacon and corn at the mills as
we passed on. Throughout the rest of our journey,
nothing of importance transpired. We reached our
place of destination in Virginia, our mother country, all
safe and sound. Shortly after our arrival there, intel-
ligence was received that depredations and outrages, to
an alarming extent, had been perpetrated in South Caro-
Ima, particularly in our own district. The substance of
which was that McGeart (13) and his company of Tories
crossed the Savannah River from Georgia, at Summer-
lin's Ferry, (now called Stone's Ferry), taking the
course of the river, and killing every man he met who
had not sworn allegiance to the King. This notorious
scoundrel passed in this trip through the neighborhood
where my father lived, and brutally murdered seventeen
of the inhabitants, among whom were my father, Henry
Best, and Moore, leaving John Cave for dead, who after-
wards recovered. They burnt my father's house level
with the ground, and destroyed everything he possessed
— my mother and sisters escaping by fleeing to the
woods, in which they concealed themselves until the
vile wretches departed. But the work of death did not
stop here. This atrocious deed of the sanguinary
McGeart and his band, was shortly succeeded by an-


other, equally, nay, doubly cruel. The British Colonel
Brown (14) marched down from Augusta with an over-
whelming force of Tories and Indians, and taking their
stand at " Wiggins' Hill," commenced a slaughter of
the inhabitants. The news of which reached the ears
of those brave and dauntless officers. Cols. McCoy and
Harden, who soon hastened to the defence of the terri-
fied Whigs, and coming upon the enemy, charged upon
them, and killed and routed them to a man, Col. Brown
escaping to the woods. Colonels McCoy and Harden,
having accomplished all that was required of them,
retired from the field of action, after which, Brown re-
turned w^ith the residue of his force, and retook the
*' Hill," at which he remained until he hung five of our
brave fellows, Britton Williams, Charles Blunt, and
Abraham Smith, the names of the other two not recol-
lected, — then he decamped for Augusta. My brother
and myself were now in Virginia, among our relations
and friends, and would have been as happy as we de-
sired had it not been for the intelligence from South
Carolina, particularly of the section we had left. Hear-
ing that the British Tories and Indians had murdered
our father, and sixteen more of his neighbors, burning
to ashes his house, and all within it, our mother and


sisters escaping to the woods, with little or nothing to
support upon, and no male friend to help them, my
"blood boiled within my veins, and my soul thirsted for
vengeance. We now learnt that General Washington
had sent an army to the South, under the command of
Gen. Gates (15) and Baron DeKalb, fl6) and we deter-
mined forthwith to set out for the seat of strife we
had left. In our journey we passed Anson Court House,
North Carolina, which we found to be a hot bed of
Tories. Col. Wade and his company were stationed
there, and the Tories were flocking in and rallying under
him from all quarters. On the day of our arrival there,
a large gang came in, headed by a fellow who doubt-
less thought he was doing great things for the King
and his servile subjects. My mind could but revolve
upon their delusion, and the little value they set upon the
rich gems of liberty and independence, with which the
Whigs were so enamored, and for which they so hard
struggled. It has often been a matter of astonishment
to me how we escaped the swarm of Tories at Anson C.
II. But so it is, we did, and being eager to accom-
plish our joLuney and lose no time, we traveled through
long and chilling rains, it being in the fall season, ex-
posing ourselves to imminent danger, for the fever


raged with great mortality at that time in that region
of country. While at Anson C. H. a fellow endeavored
to prevail on us to stay all night with him, but from his
suspicious appearance we declined his invitation, and
declared our intention to pursue our route, notwith-
standing the storm that was then raging. On that
night, as well as on several preceding ones, we took
shelter under large trees in the swamp, our clothes
being as wet as water could make them, and our bodies
almost chilled through. In the morning it cleared off",
and we pursued our journey.

Overtaking General Marion (It) at " Kingstree,"
Black River, S. C, we immediately united with his
troops. Marion's route lay then between the Santee
and Little Pedee Rivers ; and being desirous to in-
tercept and defeat Col. Watts, who was then marching
at the head of 400 men, between Camden and George-
town. Every arrangement and preparation was made
to carry into execution his design. All things being
now ready. Watts appeared in sight at the head of his
large force, and as they marched down the road with
great show and magnificence, (hoping, no doubt, to ter-
rify and conquer the country) they spied us ; at which
time, the British horse sallied forth to surround us.


Marion, with his characteristic shrewdness and saga-
city, discovered their manoeuvres, anticipated their
object, and retreated to the woods, some four or five
hundred yards, and prepared for them. In a few mo-
ments they came dashing up, expecting to find us all
in confusion and disorder, but to their astonishment we
were ready for the attack, and perceiving this, they
called a halt, at which time Marion and Horry ordered
a charge. Col. Horry (IS) stammered badly, and on this
occasion he leaned forward, spurred his horse, waved his
sword, and ran fifty or sixty yards, endeavoring to utter
the word charge, and finding he could not, bawled out,
" damn it, boys, you, you know what 1 mean, go onP

We were then doing what we could, pressing with
all rapidity to the strife, and before the British could
get back to the main body, we slew a goodly number
of them. Being eager to do all the damage we could,
we pursued the fellows very close to the line of their
main body, and as soon as they got in. Watts began to
thunder his cannon at us, and to tear down the limbs
and branches of the trees, which fell about us like hail,
but did no other damage than to wound one of our men,
Natt. Hutson, and one horse slightly. Marion, now
finding his force, which consisted only of two hundred


men, (though sterling to a man, brave, fearless, and
patriotic) was too small to give Watts open battle,
guarded the bridges and swamps in his route, and
annoyed and killed his men as they passed.

For prudence sake, Marion never encamped over two
nights in one place, unless at a safe distance from the
enemy. He generally commenced the line of march
about sun-set, continuing through the greater part of
the night. By this policy he was enabled effectually to
defeat the plans of the British and to strengthen his
languishing cause. For while the one army was en-
camping and resting in calm and listless security, not
dreaming of danger, the other, taking advantage of
opportunity, and advancing through the sable curtains
of the night unobserved, often effectually vanquished
and routed their foes. It was from the craftiness and
ingenuity of Marion, the celerity with which he moved
from post to post, that his enemies gave to him the
significant appellation of the " Swamp Fox." Upon
him depended almost solely the success of the provin-
cial army of South Carolina, and the sequel has proven
how well he performed the trust reposed in him. His
genuine love of country and liberty, and his unwearied
vigilance and invincible fortitude, coupled with the


eminent success which attended him through his bril-
liant career, has endeared him to the hearts of his
countrymen, and the memory of his deeds of valor shall
never slumber so long as there is a Carolinian to speak
his panegyric.

The heavy rains which prevailed at this time, and
inundated the country to a considerable extent, proved
very favorable to Marion. He now sent a detachment
of seventy men, myself one of the number, across the
Santee, to attack the enemy stationed at " Scott^s Lake"
and " Monk's Corner." (19) We crossed the river at
night in a small boat, commanded by Captains James
and John Postell, dividing our force into two compa-
nies, each consisting of thirty-five men. Capt. James
Postell took one company and proceeded to " Scott's
Lake," but ascertaining the strength of the enemy, and
finding the place too well fortified to warrant an attack,
he abandoned the project and returned again to the
river, and awaited the arrival of Capt. John Postell,
who, in the meantime, had marched with the other com.
pany to " Monk's Corner." It was my good fortune to
accompany the latter. Just about the break of day we
charged upon the enemy. Our appearance was so sud-
den and unexpected that they had not time even to fire a


single gun. We took thirty-three prisoners, found
twenty odd hogsheads of old spirits, and. a large supply
of provisions. The former we destroyed, but returned
with the latter and our prisoners to the army on San-
tee. The news of our attack on " Monk's Corner" hav-
ing reached the enemy at " Scott's Lake," they forth-
with marched to their assistance, but arrived too late
to extend any : — we had captured their comrades,
bursted their hogsheads of spirits, gathered their provi-
sions, and decamped before their arrival. Capt. James
Postell, being apprised of their march to assist their
friends at " Monk's Corner," returned to the fort, set fire
to it, and burned it level to the ground.

Shortly after this circumstance, one of our most effi-
cient officers, Col. Harden, (whom I have before men-
tioned as having had an important engagement with
Brown at " Wiggins' Hill") joined the army under
Marion, as also did Major Snipes, who had recently
made*a miraculous escape from the Tories through the
faithfulness of his negro man, Cudjo. Major Snipes
related the whole circumstance to me, and displayed
the blisters upon his body, occasioned by the intense
heat of the flames from the house set on fire by the
Tories as be lay concealed in a brier patch close by, a


particular account of which may be seen in Horry's life
of General Marion (20).

On the first day of April, 1180, I left Gen. Marion on
the Big Pedee River, in company with eighty others,
forming a detachment under the command of Cols.
Harden and Baker, and Major John Cooper. The two
last mentioned officers were from Midway settlement,
Georgia. There were also several other brave and
energetic men, who rendered themselves conspicuous
in the war in our detachment, Fountain Stewart, Robert
Salley, the Sharps and Goldings from Georgia. Our
route lay by the " Four Holes." Crossing the Edisto at
Givham's Ferry, we fell in with a man who assisted
Brown in hanging the five brave fellows at " Wiggins'
Hill." We gave him his due, and left his body at the
disposal of the birds and wild beasts. Pursuing our
march, we cam.e to " Red Hill," within about two miles
of Patterson's Bridge, Salt katchie. It was now in the
night, but the moon being in full strength, and not a
cloud to darken her rays, it was almost as bright as
day : near this place were stationed a body of Tories,
commanded by Capt. Barton. They were desperate
fellows, killing, plundering and robbing the inhabitants
without mercy or feeling. A company of men, com-


manded by Major Cooper, were now sent to see what
tliey could do with those murderers. In a few minutes
after their departure we heard them fighting, which
continued for nearly one hour, when Cooper returned,
and told us he had killed the greater part of them,
with but the loss of one man, John Steward from

We then proceeded on for Pocataligo. Soon after we
left Eed Hill, we entered upon a long, high causeway ;
a man came meeting us, and told us Col. Fenwick, with
the British horse, were marching on just behind. We
paid no attention to him, not knowing who he was, but
went ahead ; however, we did not go many rods before
the advance parties met, and hailed each other — a
charge was now ordered on both sides, and we directly
came together on the causeway, which was so high
that there was no getting off on either side, so a fight
was inevitable, and at it we went like bull dogs. The
British at length made their way through, though they
found it tough work in doing so. We put one of their
men to his final sleep on the causeway, and wounded
eight more badly, one of whom they had to leave on
the road. They wounded one of our men, Capt. James
Moore, in thirteen places^ though very slightly, and two
others who never laid up for their wounds.


We now lay by for two or three days, and then
marched for the fort at Pocataligo. When we came in
sight of it, I took thirteen of the best mounted men to
survey the premises and to lead them out if possible.
When we had got within about two hundred yards of
Bambifer^s house, where the British had deposited their
wounded, I saw a negro run in the house, and immedi-
ately I saw several men running for the fort — we struck
spurs to our horses, and soon came up with them and
took them prisoners. When we had gotten them to our
company we found them to be Cols. Fennick and Leach-
more, (21) who had been out to see their wounded.
When we arrived at the fort we had not the smallest
hope of taking it, but now finding we had two of their
most efficient oiBScers, [Major Andrew Devo (22) the
only one in the fort] Colonels Harden and Baker sent a
flag in for them to give up the fort. When the flag
was passing by Col. Fennick, he asked what that meant.
On being told it was for them to surrender the fort, he
ripped and swore, and hoped " that if they did surren-
der it, they might all be in hell before the morrow."

After deliberation in the fort for the space of two
hours, they all marched out, well armed, tied their
horses to what was then called "Abatis," advanced

42 ! , MEMOIRS.

some little distance from the fort, and formed a line.
We then marched between them and the fort and took
them prisoners, — they having one hundred and ten men,
and we eighty. If all the men in the fort had been
brave and true to their cause, I don't think one thous-
and men could have taken them, for the fort was advan-
tageously located and well fortified, approachable only
at three points, all of which were well guarded by a
deep creek and cannons. Part of the men in the fort
were as good Whigs as we had — Col. Stafford, Col.
Davis, Capts. Felts and Green, whose son was with us,
also others. We now paroled the prisoners and sent
them to Charleston, then burnt the house and leveled the
fort with the ground. Next day Col. McCoy, who had
been out-laying, came down to us, and my brother Bart-
lett and myself left Col. Harden and came off with him.
On our way we called in at old Mr. Hext, at Coosaw-
hatchie, the father of the late Lawrence Hext, of the
Boiling Springs, Beaufort District. After we left Mr.
Hext's, and had progressed some distance, a young man
behind us, named Wald, whose horse was jaded and
traveled slowly, met Ned Williams, with a gang of
Tories, who asked him who those were that turned up
the lane. He told them that it was Col. McCoy and his


company, and that the fort at Pocataligo was taken.
They then broke for the Saltkatchie. Wald now came
up and told us the circumstance, and we immediately
pushed after them, and followed them into the Salt-
katchie swamp, but could not overtake them. We re-
turned, got dinner, and encamped that night near the
water pond, on the side next to Capt. John Cater's
Boiling Springs, in a pine thicket, a little below the
Springs. Next morning we went up to the "Big

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Online LibraryTarleton BrownMemoirs of Tarleton Brown : a captain of the revolutionary army → online text (page 2 of 4)