Francis Marion, Chapter III, Campaign of 1781, part 1

Help me bring America back to God & God's Law!

★★★★ ENLIST HERE ★★★★

and get Prayers of John and Abigail Adams FREE!

* indicates required

To increase the panic of the British, Serjt. M`Donald, with a rifle, shot Lieut. Torriano through the knee, at the distance of three hundred yards. This appears to have softened even the proud spirit of Watson; for, on the 15th of March, he wrote a letter to Marion, stating, “we have an officer and some men wounded, whom I should be glad to send where they could be better taken care of. I wish, therefore, to know if they will be permitted to pass to Charleston.” Gen. Marion wrote for a list of them, and next day sent the following pass: “Gen. Marion’s pass, granted to Lieut. Torriano and twelve privates. — One officer and six wounded men, with six attendants, of the British troops, are permitted to pass to Nelson’s ferry, thence to Charleston, unmolested,” &c. Col. Watson was now literally besieged; his supplies were cut off on all sides, and so many of his men killed, that, he is said by tradition, to have sunk them in Black river to hide their number. There is a quarry of rock in the neighbourhood of the place, and the only one in that part of the country, where, it is said, he sunk his men. At length Watson, decamping, made a forced march down the Georgetown road; but paused at Ox swamp, six miles below the lower bridge. On each side of the road there was then a thick, boggy swamp — trees were felled across the causeway — three bridges were destroyed, and Marion was watching him with the eye of an eagle. Thus situated, and having to force a more difficult pass at Johnson’s swamp, ten miles ahead, Watson most prudently wheeled to the right, and passed on, through open piney woods, to the Santee road, distant about fifteen miles. When overtaken by Marion upon this road, his infantry were passing like horses at a full trot. Here he had not so many obstacles to encounter as on the other road, and, by wheeling covertly and marching so briskly, had gained considerable ground. However, Col. Peter Horry now advanced ahead with the cavalry and riflemen, and annoyed him in flank and in front, while Marion attacked in the rear, until they reached Sampit bridge, where the last skirmish took place. News from Doyle appears to have arrested Marion’s progress, and summoned him to new perils.

Watson reached Georgetown, with two waggon loads of wounded men.6 It is evident from an intercepted letter of his of the 20th of March, that he had been hemmed in so closely that he was in want of every thing, and had taken this route to Georgetown, fifty miles out of his way, to obtain supplies. From Fort Watson to the lower bridge, he had not advanced more than forty miles on his premeditated route to join Doyle.

In the mean time, Col. Doyle, an active, enterprising officer, had driven Col. Ervin, who commanded only a weak guard, from Snow’s island. But before retreating he had Marion’s arms, stores and ammunition thrown into Lynch’s creek. This, at the crisis, was a most serious loss.

From Sampit, Gen. Marion marched back towards Snow’s island; on the way he received intelligence that Doyle lay at Witherspoon’s ferry, and he proceeded forthwith to attack him. Doyle had taken a position on the north side of the ferry, and when M`Cottry, in advance, with his mounted riflemen, arrived at the creek, the British were scuttling a ferry boat on the opposite side. He took a position behind trees, and gave them a well directed and deadly fire; they ran to their arms and returned a prodigious volley, which did no more harm than that of knocking off the limbs of trees among the riflemen. Doyle had received news, which occasioned him to retreat for Camden. The ferry boat being now scuttled and sunk on the opposite side, and Lynch’s creek being swollen, and at this place wide and deep, Gen. Marion proceeded up the creek, and swam over it at the first place he reached, five miles above Witherspoon’s. This was the shortest route to come at Doyle. He pursued all that day, and the next morning till nine or ten o’clock, when he came to a house where Doyle had destroyed all his heavy baggage, and had proceeded on with great celerity towards Camden. This seemed mysterious at the time; but here Marion halted.

 
It appears from what follows, shortly, as well as from Horry’s account, that this pursuit was undertaken by Gen. Marion with the desperate resolution of either selling his own life and that of his followers, as dearly as possible, or of cutting his way through the enemy to make good a retreat into North Carolina. Happily for his country, Doyle evaded him, and thus prevented the dangerous attempt. The general now received the melancholy account of the extent of his loss in ammunition and other stores on Snow’s island, which under present circumstances appeared irretrievable. However he was but little disposed to brood over misfortunes, and if he had, his enemies were not inclined to allow him leisure. In the mean time Col. Watson, having refreshed and reinforced his party, and received a fresh supply of military stores and provisions at Georgetown, proceeded again towards the Pedee. On his march he had nothing to impede him but a few bridges broken down. He took the nearest route across Black river at Wragg’s ferry, and crossing the Pedee at Euhany, and the little Pedee at Potato bed ferry, he halted at Catfish creek, a mile from where Marion court house now stands. — Here Ganey’s party flocked in to him in such numbers that he was soon nine hundred strong. Gen. Marion returning from the pursuit of Doyle, and hearing of the approach of Watson, crossed the Pedee and encamped at the Warhees, five miles from him. At this place he consulted with his field officers then in camp, and informed them that although his force was now recruited to five hundred men, that yet he had no more ammunition than about two rounds to each man, and asked them “if he should retreat into the upper parts of North Carolina, or if necessary to the mountains, whether they would follow him.” With a firm and unanimous voice the resolution to follow him was adopted. These field officers, whose names should be engraved on tablets of brass, were Cols. Peter Horry, Hugh Horry, James Postell and John Ervin, and Majors John James, John Baxter and Alexander Swinton.

Not long after this resolution was taken, Gen. Marion met Capt. Gavin Witherspoon, who said to him, “General had we not better fight Col. Watson before any more tories join him.” “My friend,” replied he, “I know that would be best, but we have not ammunition.” “Why, general,” said Witherspoon, “here is my powder horn full,” holding it up. “Ah! my friend,” said Marion, “you are an extraordinary soldier, but as for others, there are not two rounds to a man.” Witherspoon passed off in silent sorrow; but as soon as he reached his camp, met Baker Johnson, an old tried whig, who begged him for God’s sake to give him something to eat, and he set before him some cold rice in a pot. While Johnson was eating, Witherspoon sat pondering over what he had heard for some time; but at last inquired, “What news, Johnson?” “Fine news,” said he, “I saw a great number of continental troops, horse and foot, crossing at Long bluff.” “Come and tell the general,” said Witherspoon. “No,” replied the other, “I am starving with hunger, and if the general wants the news he must come to me.” Witherspoon immediately posted off to the general, who lost no time in going to Johnson; around whom some hundreds were soon collected. The bearer of the good tidings was to be depended on. The news was sudden and unexpected, and to men now in a state of desperation nothing could be more transporting. Scarce was there an eye but what was suffused with tears of joy. All sufferings appeared now to be at an end, and that balm of the soul hope began to revive. But while Johnson was still communicating his intelligence, it was confirmed by the sound of a drum in the rear; and soon after by the arrival of Major Conyers and Capt. Irby, with Lieut. Col. Lee’s legionary infantry. By Conyers, Marion received orders from Gen. Greene to join Lee, and cooperate with him in striking at the posts below Camden, and in furnishing provisions for the main army;7 and Lee had moved on towards the Santee for that purpose. Commencing his march immediately, Gen. Marion crossed the Pedee in his rear, and left Witherspoon with a small party to watch Watson. The line of march was directed through Williamsburgh; and Marion joined Lee near Fort Watson, on Scott’s lake.

About the same time, Capt. John Brockington, of the tories, had been up to his plantation at Cashway, and hearing the same news with Baker Johnson, pushed over the river, and gave Watson the like information. He lost no time, but immediately rolled his two field pieces into Catfish creek, destroyed all his heavy baggage, re-crossed the little Pedee, and not venturing by Euhany, he passed the Waccamaw at Greene’s ferry, and retreating through the neck, between that river and the sea, crossed Winyaw bay, three miles wide, and thus arrived in Georgetown. To those unacquainted with this route, a bare inspection of the map of the country will at once give information, how much Marion was dreaded by Watson.

Upon forming a junction with Col. Lee, it was decidedly the opinion of Gen. Marion, that they should pursue Watson, and either take him or prevent his junction with Lord Rawdon. But Lee was of opinion it would lead them too far from Gen. Greene. Gen. Marion must have given up his point with much reluctance, for he was afterwards heard repeatedly to regret that his orders did not permit him to pursue Col. Watson. But, perhaps the true reason was that Marion and Lee were both bare of ammunition, and could get it only by taking Fort Watson. It was left without the presence of its commander, and as in that day there was no road from Kingstree up Black river to Camden, and the swamps were impassable except to hunters, by taking a position at Scott’s lake, they would be on the only road there was from Georgetown, on a direct line, to intercept Watson, as he marched up to Camden. — But while Gen. Marion passed through Williamsburgh, his men having now performed a tour of duty of more than a month against Watson, which with all its watchings and privations was unusually severe, and being suddenly relieved from that pressure, many of them took the liberty of going home to recruit themselves; and he was left to his great mortification with only eighty men. However, they soon dropped in, one or two at a time.8

On the 15th of April, Gen. Marion invested Fort Watson, at Scott’s lake, without any other means of annoyance than musketry. The fort stood on an Indian mound, about forty feet high, and was stockaded, and had three rows of abbatis round it.9 The besiegers took post between the fort and the lake, to cut off the water; but the besieged sunk a well in the fort. As there were no trees or other covering near the fort, Marion’s riflemen were too much exposed at first to fire with effect; but Col. Maham contrived to raise a tower of logs in one night, so high that it overtopped the fort, and the marksmen began to fire into it. Gen. Marion had no entrenching tools to make a regular approach, but on the day after the investment, a party of militia under Ensign Baker Johnson, and of continentals under Mr. Lee, a volunteer in the legion, with a sudden movement, and much intrepidity, made a lodgment near the stockade, and began to pull away the abbatis and fling them down the mound. Lieut. M`Kay, who commanded, then hoisted a white flag, and the garrison, consisting of one hundred and fourteen men and officers, capitulated. Major Eaton had been detached by Gen. Greene, with one field piece, to join Marion, but arrived too late to participate in this siege. The loss of the Americans was only two militia men killed, and three continentals and three militia wounded. — As this fort lay on the great line of communication between Camden and Charleston, its fall was a great loss to the enemy; and by taking it Gen. Marion obtained supplies of ammunition, which he soon turned to great advantage.

During the siege, Col. Watson evaded Marion and Lee. Having arrived in Georgetown, and not yet recovered from his panic, he crossed the north and south Santee, at the lower ferries, and having surmounted this difficulty, he marched up the west side of the river and arrived in Camden by the way of the ferry near the town, with forces much impaired by the incessant attacks of Marion, and long marches, combined with much desertion; but his loss is not confessed by the enemy, nor could it be discovered by the Americans. — Had he been able to have cooperated with Doyle in sufficient time, with their overwhelming force, assisted by Harrison and Ganey, with an equal, if not greater number of tories; there can be little doubt, but Gen. Marion with his scanty means of defence, must either have fallen in the conflict or been driven out of the country. When he first marched from Scott’s lake, Col. Watson had only seventy miles to traverse, and only Black river to pass, before he reached Snow’s island; yet such was the consummate skill and indefatigable exertions of Gen. Marion, that from the 9th of March until the 10th of April, he had not reached his place of destination, and then made a hasty retreat through roads unfrequented, and over wide swamps and rivers, unpursued. To effect this he took a circuitous route, nearly one hundred miles out of his way, which detained him until about the 9th of May, more than two months from his first setting out on this expedition.

The year 1781 commenced under auspices more propitious than those of the last year. The British had exercised so much oppression and rapacity over all those who would not join them, and so much insolence over those who did, and were in the least suspected, that the people of South Carolina found there was no alternative but between a state of downright vassalage and warfare. Most of the men of principle already had, or were prepared to take up arms against the enemy, and in general the unprincipled only remained with them in the expectation of plunder. Their army too, being divided into different cantonments over the country, while it extended their oppression, exposed their weakness. The history of all ages shows that a country may be overrun with more facility than kept in a state of subjection, and that a partisan warfare is the best that can be carried on against an enemy of superior force and discipline.

During the present winter Lord Cornwallis formed a design of conquering the upper counties of North Carolina, and marched by the way of Charlotte towards Salisbury, for that purpose. This part of the country was thickly covered with underwood, and settled by a hardy race of industrious yeomanry, all friends of their country. He was fired upon from behind bushes and fences, trees and rocks, by companies in ambush, and individuals on foot and on horseback, and was so much annoyed that he was obliged to retreat back to Winnsborough. The news of this expedition was industriously spread abroad, and encouraged the people of South Carolina to follow the example. In the mean time, Gen. Gates had been superceded in the command of the southern army by Gen. Greene.

With the character of this leader it is intended to make the reader better acquainted than he has been heretofore. His command begun with a good omen, which in all times has had its effect. In a few hours after his arrival in camp at Charlotte, he received the news that Col. Washington had taken Rugely and one hundred men, by the well known stratagem of mounting a pine log over against his block house, which he mistook for a field piece.1 Gen. Greene had not only no more than one thousand continentals and about as many militia, but was also bare of ammunition and clothing, and had no money to pay them. With this force he marched down to Pedee, in South Carolina, and took a position near Hick’s creek, on the east side of the river, not many miles from Chatham. From this place his first despatch to Gen. Marion is dated, the 19th Jan. 1781, in which he says, “by the last accounts, Lieut. Col. Tarleton was in motion, with about one thousand troops, towards Gen. Morgan.” On the 23d Jan. Gen. Greene congratulates Marion on Morgan’s victory over Tarleton, and writes him the particulars. On the 25th he says, “before this I hope you have received the agreeable news of the defeat of Lieut. Col. Tarleton. After this nothing will appear difficult.”

As the defeat of Tarleton at the Cowpens has been related by many American writers, whose works are generally read, the account of the renowned chief himself, who was unexpectedly foiled, and which is now out of print, will be extracted for the amusement of the historical reader. “Near the end of the last year, (1780) information had been received by Lord Cornwallis, that Gen. Greene had made a division of his troops, which did not exceed fourteen hundred men, exclusive of militia, and that he had committed the light infantry and Col. Washington’s cavalry to Gen. Morgan, with directions to pass the Catawba and Broad rivers, to collect the militia, and threaten Ninety-Six. It is not to be supposed Gen. Greene would have adopted the hazardous plan of dividing his forces, if he had received information of Gen. Leslie’s command being withdrawn from Virginia, and united to the force in South Carolina; because such an accession of strength would produce a movement from Winnsborough (where Cornwallis then lay,) and might separate the two divisions of the American army, and endanger their safety. To attain this object, (the separation of the two divisions of the American army,) Col. Tarleton was now detached from the main army of Lord Cornwallis, and was to be supported by his lordship, and Gen. Leslie as soon as he arrived; with orders to push Morgan to the utmost. Tarleton’s force was his corps of cavalry and infantry of five hundred and fifty men; the first battalion of the 71st, of two hundred men; two hundred men of the 7th regiment, new recruits; and fifty dragoons of the 17th regiment — total one thousand men. Morgan retreated before Tarleton till the commanding officer in front of the British reported the American troops were halted and forming. (17th Jan.) Lieut. Col. Tarleton, having obtained a position he certainly might deem advantageous, did not hesitate to undertake the measures his commander and his own judgment recommended. He ordered the legion dragoons to drive in the militia, that Morgan’s disposition might be inspected. The American commander had formed a front line of about one thousand militia; his reserve of five hundred continental infantry, one hundred and twenty of Washington’s cavalry, and three hundred back woodsmen. Tarleton ordered his infantry to disencumber themselves of every thing except arms and ammunition, to file to the right, till they became equal to the flank of the American front line; the legion infantry were added to their left, and under the fire of a three pounder they were to advance within three hundred yards of the enemy. This situation being acquired, the 7th regiment was commanded to form on the left of the legion infantry, and the other three pounder was given to its right. A captain with fifty dragoons, was placed on each flank. The first battalion of the 71st extended to the left of the 7th, one hundred and fifty yards in the rear, and composed, with two hundred cavalry, the reserve. The animation of the officers and soldiers promised assurances of success. The troops moved in as good line as troops could move, at open files. The militia, after a short contest, were dislodged. The British approached the continentals, and the fire on both sides produced much slaughter. The cavalry on the right were ordered to charge the enemy’s left, and executed the order with great gallantry, but were driven back by the reserve and Col. Washington’s cavalry. As the contest between the British infantry and continentals was equally balanced, Tarleton brought the 71st into line, and ordered a movement in reserve to threaten the enemy’s right flank. Upon the advance of the 71st all the infantry again moved on; the continentals and back woodsmen gave ground; the British rushed forwards; an order was despatched to the cavalry to charge; an unexpected fire at this instant from the Americans who came about, stopped the British and threw them into confusion. Exertions to make them advance were useless. The part of the cavalry which had not been engaged, fell likewise into disorder, and an unaccountable panic extended along the whole line. The Americans advanced and augmented their astonishment. A general flight ensued. Neither promises nor threats could gain attention. All attempts to restore order, recollection or courage proved fruitless. Two hundred dragoons forsook their leader, fourteen officers and forty horsemen were, however, not unmindful of their own reputation, or their commanding officer. Col. Washington’s cavalry were charged and driven back into the continental infantry by this handful of brave men. Another party who had seized upon the baggage were dispersed, and this detachment retired towards Broad river unmolested. The number of the killed and wounded at the Cowpens, amounted to near three hundred on both sides, officers and men inclusive; this loss was almost equally shared. But the Americans took two pieces of cannon, the colours of the 7th regiment, and near four hundred prisoners.” Thus far Col. Tarleton. Gen. Moultrie received his account of this action of the Cowpens “from an officer of great veracity and high rank, who was conspicuous on that day;” supposed to be Col. Washington. The substance of his account shall now be given; that the two may be compared. Gen. Morgan drew up his men in an open pine barren, the militia of about four hundred men, under Col. Pickens, formed the first line. The continentals of about five hundred men, two hundred of whom were raw troops, formed the second line, under Col. Howard, two hundred yards in the rear. Col. Washington, with seventy-five continental cavalry, and forty-five militia under Capt. M`Call, in the rear. Pickens ordered his men to reserve their fire till the enemy came within fifty yards, which they did, and fired with great success; but they were soon obliged to give way and retreat behind the second line, which received them warmly; at length the second line began to give way. Col. Washington, perceiving this, rode up to their rear with his cavalry, and told Howard, “if he would rally his men and charge the enemy’s line, he would charge the cavalry who were cutting down the militia.” His riding so close to the rear stopped the British, and Howard rallied his men in the mean time, and charged with fixed bayonets. Col. Washington charged the cavalry and routed them; the militia at the same time recovered themselves and began to fire, and the whole threw the enemy into the utmost confusion. Howard called out to them, “to lay down their arms and they should have good quarters.” Upwards of five hundred men threw down their arms and surrendered. Two hundred were left dead on the field, and a great number wounded. Besides the two field pieces mentioned by Tarleton, six hundred men, eight hundred stand of arms, and thirty-five baggage waggons, fell into the hands of the Americans. Col. Washington pursued the British cavalry twenty-five miles.

By this last account the disparity in numbers was not great, and as one half the Americans were either militia or new levies, the superiority was on the side of Tarleton, whose men, except two hundred, were veterans, and he had two field pieces. The ground too he acknowledges was advantageous; so that every thing was in his favour, but an agency which he could not control. But in the last account we can find no place where he and his handful of brave men could encounter Col. Washington. In his bewildered fancy perhaps it was some other object he encountered, since for the space of five and twenty miles, not their faces, but only their backs were to be seen. The fact is, that never was victory more complete, never was vanity more humbled, nor cruelty more justly requited than in the defeat of this tyrannical man. Its first effect was to raise the spirits of the people; its ultimate consequence was the downfall of Cornwallis and peace to the country. But most severe trials are yet to be surmounted, and patriotism the most exemplary remains yet to be recorded.

On the day the last letter of Greene, of the 23d Jan. was written, Gen. Marion and Col. Lee projected a joint expedition to surprise Georgetown. Capts. Carnes and Rudulph, with ninety men, dropped down the Pedee from Snow’s island in a boat, to fall in on the back of the town by Winyaw bay, while Marion and Lee were to come down with the main body by land. — Carnes with his party went ashore at Mitchell’s landing, and marched over his rice-field bank into the town at day light. The surprise would have been complete, had they pushed up directly to the redoubt, but they delayed too long on the Bay. They took the commandant, Col. Campbell, out of his bed, and killed Major Irvine and some others; but Marion and Lee could not arrive in time to cooperate. The redoubt was alarmed and placed in a state of defence, and Carnes was obliged to retreat. The great cause of delay was the inclination to take the commandant, by which they lost the fort and the town. Lieut. Cryer killed Irvine, by whose orders he had received five hundred lashes some time before, for attempting to take away his horse from Georgetown.

On the 28th Jan. Gen. Huger transmitted an order from Greene to Marion, to strike at the posts beyond Santee. But this Gen. Marion had anticipated. — From Cordes’ plantation, in advance, at the distance of one hundred miles from Greene, and on the 29th Jan. he had detached Col. Postell and Major Postell on this important service. The latter had but thirty-eight men, and it is presumed from circumstances, the colonel had about an equal number. The colonel burnt a great quantity of valuable stores at Manigault’s ferry, and the major a great many more in its vicinity. — Thence the latter posted to Keithfield, near Monk’s corner, and burnt fourteen waggons loaded with soldiers’ clothing, baggage and other valuable stores, and took prisoners about forty British regulars, without losing a man. To the Postells “nothing indeed appeared difficult.” They received the thanks of Gen. Greene.

About the beginning of this year, Gen. Marion appointed two aids, Thomas Elliott and Lewis Ogier, the first of whom conducted the most of his correspondence. He formed a mess of which Col. Hugh Horry and Col. James Postell were inmates, and apparently his principal counsellors; Serjt. Davis was his caterer, and supplied his dinners, such as they were: heretofore he had seldom any thing but meat and sweet potatoes, and often not both of these at a time, but now he had the luxury of rice. He did what was of more consequence than this, he put in requisition all the saws in the country, and all the blacksmiths, and made swords for four troops of militia cavalry. — He had so little ammunition this expedient was necessary. He gave the command of this corps to Col. Peter Horry, who had been a captain with him in the second regiment and had been an excellent infantry officer. — His major was Benson, and his captains John Baxter, John Postell, Daniel Conyers and James M`Cauley; John T. Greene soon after succeeded Baxter, who was appointed colonel on the resignation of Ervine. Hugh Horry had command of M`Donald’s regiment, who was a prisoner on parole, and his officers have been mentioned. Capt. Wm. M`Cottry commanded a company of riflemen who were the dread of the enemy. As the brigade was not strong enough for this corps of horse to act in conjunction, single troops were commonly detached by the general. At the head of a party of this cavalry Col. Peter Horry had soon an opportunity to make a trial of his skill in cavalry evolutions. He met and charged a troop of British horse on Waccamaw neck, but by his own account he appears to have been rather worsted, for he was unhorsed himself and his life saved by Serjt. M`Donald; however he brought off some prisoners. Major John Postell, who was mentioned before, was stationed to guard the lower part of Pedee, had better fortune. On the 18th Jan. Capt. James Depeyster, with twenty-nine grenadiers of the British army, had posted himself in the dwelling house of the major’s father, and Postell commanded but twenty-eight militia men. Towards day on the morning after, the major, by knowing well the ground and avoiding the sentinels, got possession of the kitchen, and summoned Depeyster to surrender; this was at first refused, and the major set fire to the kitchen. He then summoned him a second time, with the positive declaration if he did not surrender he would burn the house; the British being intimidated, laid down their arms and surrendered unconditionally.

From a part of the correspondence of Gen. Marion with Capt. Saunders, now commandant of Georgetown, it appears that he had either soon after the 17th Jan. or before that, imprisoned Mr. John Postell, the father of the major; Gen. Marion offers “to exchange him, and hopes humanity will induce Capt. Saunders to treat him like a gentleman.”2 Mr. John Postell was at least seventy years of age, and much afflicted with disease, but possessed the spirit of a Cato.

Soon after this, Col. Peter Horry had a conflict with Major Ganey at White’s bridge, near Georgetown, which had a more decisive effect than could have been expected at the time. Early in the morning he made a charge upon a party who were killing beeves at the camp near that place. They fled and were pursued through the woods on the left towards Georgetown, with some disorder on the side of Horry. In the mean time the firing was heard in the town, and their tory friends came out to their assistance. A kind of savage warfare now took place in the woods, between the Sampit and Black river roads, during the whole morning. A party of Horry’s was at one time seen advancing, and the tories retreating; then again the tories were advancing, and a party of Horry’s retreating. At one time the commander was left as he thought alone, and Capt. Lewis at the head of a party was rushing on to shoot him down, when suddenly from behind a tree off went the gun of a boy by the name of Gwyn, and shot Lewis, whose party thinking more guns were behind trees ran away. As Lewis fell his gun went off and killed Horry’s horse. Finally the tories were routed. In this affair Serjt. M`Donald performed essential service; he had singled out Ganey as his object of attack, and the latter fled from him. — In going at full speed down the Black river road, at the corner of Richmond fence, M`Donald shot one of Ganey’s men, and overtaking him soon after thrust a bayonet up to the hilt in his back; the bayonet separated from the gun, and Ganey carried it into Georgetown; he recovered, but tired of a garrison life, after a few months he and his men deserted the British.

As the navigation of the Wateree river was at that time imperfect, the British were obliged to have most of their stores of rum, salt, ammunition and clothing sent over land, across Nelson’s ferry, to Camden, and as the Americans were destitute of these articles, constant conflicts took place upon that road to obtain them from the enemy. To secure these, they had established a line of posts, at Biggen, at Nelson’s, and at Scott’s lake. Besides this protection, their supplies were always attended by escorts, which, since the enterprizes of the two Postells, seldom consisted of less than three or four hundred men. About the middle of February, Major M’Ilraith was marching from Nelson’s ferry at the head of one of these escorts, and Marion with about an equal force assailed him near Halfway swamp, on the road; he first cut off two pickets in his rear in succession, then wheeling round his main body, attacked him in flank and in front. As M’Ilraith had no cavalry, his situation became perilous in the extreme. By a forced march, and constant skirmishing, he at length gained a field upon the road, now belonging to Mr. Matthew James; and as it was open and enclosed, he posted himself on the west of the road, within the enclosure. On the east, skirting the road, there is a large cypress pond stretching towards Halfway swamp, and on the verge of this Marion pitched his camp. Here M’Ilraith sent him a flag, reproaching him with shooting his pickets, contrary, as he alleged, to all the laws of civilized warfare, and defying him to a combat in the open field. Marion replied, that the practice of the British in burning the houses of all who would not submit and join them, was more indefensible than that of shooting pickets, and that as long as they persisted in the one he would persevere in the other. That as to his defiance, he considered it that of a man in desperate circumstances; but if he wished to witness a combat between twenty picked men on each side, he was ready to gratify him. The offer was accepted, and a place pitched upon to the south of an oak tree, which still stands in the field. Accordingly, Gen. Marion appointed Maj. John Vanderhorst, then a supernumerary officer, to take command of this band, and Capt. Samuel Price, of All Saints, to be second in command. The names of the men were written on slips of paper, and presented to them individually, and the first slip was handed to Gavin Witherspoon. Not one refused. Vanderhorst formed in Indian file, and they proceeded to the fence, where Gen. Marion met and harangued them to the following effect: “My brave soldiers! you are twenty men picked this day out of my whole brigade. I know you all, and have often witnessed your bravery. In the name of your country, I call upon you once more to show it. My confidence in you is great, and I am sure it will not be disappointed. Fight like men, fight as you have always done, and you are sure of the victory.” This short speech was received with applause by the combatants. Vanderhorst now asked Witherspoon, “What distance would you choose as the surest to strike with buck shot?” “Fifty yards for the first fire,” was the reply. Then, said the commander, “when we get within fifty yards, my boys, as I am not a good judge of distances, Mr. Witherspoon will tap me on the shoulder. I will then give the word, and you will form on my left opposite those fellows. As you form, each man will fire at the one directly opposite him, and my word for it, few will be left for a second shot.” The British had now formed in a single line in front of the oak, and Vanderhorst advanced boldly on within one hundred yards. At this juncture, an officer was seen to pass swiftly on toward the oak, and the enemy shouldered their muskets and retreated with a quick step towards the main body. Vanderhorst and his men gave them three huzzas! but did not at that distance fire a shot. Thus a British officer was met on his own boasted ground and proved recreant. The next morning Major M`Ilraith abandoned his heavy baggage, left his fires burning, and retired silently from the ground, along the river road towards Singelton’s mill, distant ten miles. Near day Marion discovered his movement, and detached Col. Hugh Horry with one hundred men to get ahead of him, before he should reach the mill. The colonel made all possible speed, but finding he could not overtake him, detached Major James at the head of a party mounted on the swiftest horses, to cross the mill pond above, and take possession of Singelton’s houses, which stood on a high hill, commanding a narrow defile on the road, between the hill and Wateree swamp. Major James reached the houses as the British advanced to the foot of the hill; but found Singelton’s family down with the small pox. This was more dreaded than the enemy. He gave them one fire, by which a captain was killed, and retired. As M`Ilraith was now in a strong hold, Marion pursued him no further.

The character of Major M`Ilraith has been constantly represented by the inhabitants of this state, among whom he passed as the most humane of all the officers of the British army. To those in their power even forbearance was at that time a virtue, but his virtues were active. It has been currently reported that he carried his dislike to house burning so far, that he neglected to carry into effect the orders of his commander in chief on that point to such an extent, as to gain his ill will and that of many other British officers. — How much it is to be regretted that the rigid rules of warfare should have arrayed such a man in opposition to Marion, when both professed the same humane principles.

We come now to the most interesting part of the warfare of Gen. Marion, which, bringing into action all the energies of his officers and men, at the same time developed all the skill and patience of their commander.

At the juncture of the retreat of Gen. Greene before Cornwallis, Sumter and Marion were left alone in South Carolina; Sumter on the Catawba, in York district, and Marion on the Pedee, at Snow’s island, about two hundred miles apart, and Lord Rawdon directly between them, with a much superior force. Thus situated his lordship laid a well digested plan to crush Marion. Col. Watson with a British regiment, and Harrison’s regiment of tories, amounting in the whole to more than five hundred men, was ordered to march down the Santee, towards Snow’s island; and he commenced his expedition from Fort Watson about the first of March.

Shortly after Col. Doyle with another British regiment, was directed to proceed by the way of M`Callum’s ferry on Lynch’s creek, and down Jeffer’s creek, to the Pedee road to the same point, where they were to form a junction. Doyle had to open a road from M`Callum’s to Pedee, and his approach, though slow, was unexpected; but Marion’s scouts placed from Camden down, with relays of horses, soon informed him of Watson’s movement. By one of his rapid marches he met him at Wiboo, about midway between Nelson’s and Murray’s ferry, and at this swamp commenced his arduous contest with Watson. Col. Peter Horry was placed in advance at the swamp, while the general with the cavalry, and remainder of the brigade, amounting to about four hundred men, lay in reserve. Horry made considerable impression upon the tories in advance; but Watson with two field pieces, and at the head of his column of regulars, dislodged him from the swamp, and the tory cavalry under Harrison pursued. As they advanced, Gavin James, a private of gigantic size and spirit, mounted on a strong grey horse, and armed with a musket and bayonet, threw himself in their way. He first deliberately fired upon the column and one man fell. The causeway was narrow and this occasioned a pause, in which a volley was fired at him without effect. One dragoon advanced and was struck off his horse by the bayonet. A second came to his aid and shared a like fate; in falling he laid hold of the musket near the muzzle to jerk it away, and James dragged him forty or fifty paces. This bold action produced a considerable effect, and was soon followed by many others, not so well recollected, and too numerous to be inserted. — Harrison had not pursued far, when Marion ordered the cavalry to charge; Capts. M`Cauley and Conyers, met him, and soon dispersed his force; whilst Conyers killed one of his officers, said to be Major Harrison, with his own hands. Thus were the tories intimidated at the outset.

On the 9th of March, Col. Watson encamped at Cantey’s plantation, and wrote a letter to Gen. Marion, in which he justifies (what the other had complained of by a previous communication,3) the burning of houses and the hanging of those citizens who had taken paroles, and afterwards joined the Americans, upon the principles of the laws of war and nations. — It seems the colonel had reference to the code of barbarous nations. Marion made him no reply, but gave orders to his nightly patroles, to shoot his sentinels and cut off his pickets. Such a retaliation was to be expected; and thus raged the civil warfare.

Watson marched down the river, and at Mount Hope had to build up the bridges, and to sustain a second conflict with Col. Hugh Horry, at the head of Marion’s advance. By dint of his field pieces, and the strength of his column, he at length made good his way. Near Murray’s ferry he passed the Kingstree road to his left, and when he came to the Black river road, which crosses at the lower bridge, he made a feint of still continuing down the Santee; but soon after wheeling took that road on which the lower bridge was, distant twelve miles. His manoeuvre did not long deceive Marion. He detached Major James at the head of seventy men, thirty of whom were riflemen under M`Cottry, to destroy the remnant of the bridge, which had been partially broken, and to take post there, while the general kept an eye on Watson.

The pass of the lower bridge was now to decide the fate of Williamsburgh, and seventy of her sons, under her most approved leaders, were gone forth to defend it. Maj. James proceeded with great expedition, and crossing the river by a shorter route than the road, arrived at the bridge in time to throw down two of the middle arches, and to fire the string pieces at the eastern end. At this place the west bank of the river is considerably elevated, the east low and somewhat swampy, and on the west the road passes to the bridge through a ravine; the river is forty or fifty yards wide, and though deep, was fordable below the bridge. As soon as the breach in it was effected, Maj. James drew up M’Cottry’s riflemen on each side of the ford and end of the bridge, so as to have a fair view of the ravine, and disposed the rest of his little band on the flanks. Not long after, Marion arriving, took post in the rear, and sent Capt. Thomas Potts, with his Pedee company, to reinforce Maj. James; and this had scarcely been effected, when Watson’s field pieces opened their fire, from the opposite bank to clear his way, for a passage at the ford. These field pieces could not be brought to bear on the low grounds to the east without exposing his artillerists on the hill to the fire of the riflemen. His balls hit the pines across the river, about midway their trunks, or passed over disregarded. This attempt not succeeding, Watson drew up his columns in the old field over the river, and his advance was now seen approaching the ford with an officer at its head, waving his sword. M`Cottry fired the signal gun, and the officer clapped his hand to his breast and fell to the ground. The riflemen and musketeers next poured in a well directed and deadly fire, and the British advance fled in disorder; nor did the reserve move forward to its support. Four men returned to bear off their officer, but all four shared his fate. In the evening, Watson succeeded in removing his dead and wounded, and took up his head quarters at John Witherspoon’s, a mile above the bridge. Here he was overheard to say, “that he never saw such shooting in his life.” To men fighting for their homes, wives, families, and their very existence, “nothing appeared difficult;” and good shooting, if not a virtue in them, was highly commendable. Gen. Marion took a position on a ridge below the ford of the river, which is still called the general’s island. Next day he pushed M`Cottry and Conyers over the river, and recommenced shooting Watson’s pickets and sentinels. Watson posted himself a little farther up the river, at Blakely’s plantation, where he pitched his camp in the most open place he could find, but still Marion kept him in a bad humour, (as his letters from that place indicate,) and his regulars in a constant panic. Here he remained for more than a week4 in inactivity and irresolution; perhaps he waited for Doyle to make an impression at Snow’s island; but if Marion heard of Doyle, he kept it a profound secret. While Blakely’s and Witherspoon’s provisions lasted, his present plan answered pretty well; but when they failed, it became necessary to have more at a greater distance, and these could not be obtained, but by daily skirmishes. In these Capt. Conyers was greatly distinguished. He was most daring, and sat and managed his horse so remarkably well, that as was the case with the centaur of old, they might have been taken for one animal. Conyers was at this time fighting under the auspicious eye of a young lady,5 to whom his faith had been plighted, and beneath her alternate smiles and fears, he presented himself daily before the lines of the enemy, either as a single champion, or at the head of his troop. Often did she hear them repeat, “Take care! there is Capt. Conyers!” It was a ray of chivalry athwart the gloom of unrelenting warfare.

To increase the panic of the British, Serjt. M`Donald, with a rifle, shot Lieut. Torriano through the knee, at the distance of three hundred yards. This appears to have softened even the proud spirit of Watson; for, on the 15th of March, he wrote a letter to Marion, stating, “we have an officer and some men wounded, whom I should be glad to send where they could be better taken care of. I wish, therefore, to know if they will be permitted to pass to Charleston.” Gen. Marion wrote for a list of them, and next day sent the following pass: “Gen. Marion’s pass, granted to Lieut. Torriano and twelve privates. — One officer and six wounded men, with six attendants, of the British troops, are permitted to pass to Nelson’s ferry, thence to Charleston, unmolested,” &c. Col. Watson was now literally besieged; his supplies were cut off on all sides, and so many of his men killed, that, he is said by tradition, to have sunk them in Black river to hide their number. There is a quarry of rock in the neighbourhood of the place, and the only one in that part of the country, where, it is said, he sunk his men. At length Watson, decamping, made a forced march down the Georgetown road; but paused at Ox swamp, six miles below the lower bridge. On each side of the road there was then a thick, boggy swamp — trees were felled across the causeway — three bridges were destroyed, and Marion was watching him with the eye of an eagle. Thus situated, and having to force a more difficult pass at Johnson’s swamp, ten miles ahead, Watson most prudently wheeled to the right, and passed on, through open piney woods, to the Santee road, distant about fifteen miles. When overtaken by Marion upon this road, his infantry were passing like horses at a full trot. Here he had not so many obstacles to encounter as on the other road, and, by wheeling covertly and marching so briskly, had gained considerable ground. However, Col. Peter Horry now advanced ahead with the cavalry and riflemen, and annoyed him in flank and in front, while Marion attacked in the rear, until they reached Sampit bridge, where the last skirmish took place. News from Doyle appears to have arrested Marion’s progress, and summoned him to new perils.

Watson reached Georgetown, with two waggon loads of wounded men.6 It is evident from an intercepted letter of his of the 20th of March, that he had been hemmed in so closely that he was in want of every thing, and had taken this route to Georgetown, fifty miles out of his way, to obtain supplies. From Fort Watson to the lower bridge, he had not advanced more than forty miles on his premeditated route to join Doyle.

In the mean time, Col. Doyle, an active, enterprising officer, had driven Col. Ervin, who commanded only a weak guard, from Snow’s island. But before retreating he had Marion’s arms, stores and ammunition thrown into Lynch’s creek. This, at the crisis, was a most serious loss.

From Sampit, Gen. Marion marched back towards Snow’s island; on the way he received intelligence that Doyle lay at Witherspoon’s ferry, and he proceeded forthwith to attack him. Doyle had taken a position on the north side of the ferry, and when M`Cottry, in advance, with his mounted riflemen, arrived at the creek, the British were scuttling a ferry boat on the opposite side. He took a position behind trees, and gave them a well directed and deadly fire; they ran to their arms and returned a prodigious volley, which did no more harm than that of knocking off the limbs of trees among the riflemen. Doyle had received news, which occasioned him to retreat for Camden. The ferry boat being now scuttled and sunk on the opposite side, and Lynch’s creek being swollen, and at this place wide and deep, Gen. Marion proceeded up the creek, and swam over it at the first place he reached, five miles above Witherspoon’s. This was the shortest route to come at Doyle. He pursued all that day, and the next morning till nine or ten o’clock, when he came to a house where Doyle had destroyed all his heavy baggage, and had proceeded on with great celerity towards Camden. This seemed mysterious at the time; but here Marion halted.

It appears from what follows, shortly, as well as from Horry’s account, that this pursuit was undertaken by Gen. Marion with the desperate resolution of either selling his own life and that of his followers, as dearly as possible, or of cutting his way through the enemy to make good a retreat into North Carolina. Happily for his country, Doyle evaded him, and thus prevented the dangerous attempt. The general now received the melancholy account of the extent of his loss in ammunition and other stores on Snow’s island, which under present circumstances appeared irretrievable. However he was but little disposed to brood over misfortunes, and if he had, his enemies were not inclined to allow him leisure. In the mean time Col. Watson, having refreshed and reinforced his party, and received a fresh supply of military stores and provisions at Georgetown, proceeded again towards the Pedee. On his march he had nothing to impede him but a few bridges broken down. He took the nearest route across Black river at Wragg’s ferry, and crossing the Pedee at Euhany, and the little Pedee at Potato bed ferry, he halted at Catfish creek, a mile from where Marion court house now stands. — Here Ganey’s party flocked in to him in such numbers that he was soon nine hundred strong. Gen. Marion returning from the pursuit of Doyle, and hearing of the approach of Watson, crossed the Pedee and encamped at the Warhees, five miles from him. At this place he consulted with his field officers then in camp, and informed them that although his force was now recruited to five hundred men, that yet he had no more ammunition than about two rounds to each man, and asked them “if he should retreat into the upper parts of North Carolina, or if necessary to the mountains, whether they would follow him.” With a firm and unanimous voice the resolution to follow him was adopted. These field officers, whose names should be engraved on tablets of brass, were Cols. Peter Horry, Hugh Horry, James Postell and John Ervin, and Majors John James, John Baxter and Alexander Swinton.

Not long after this resolution was taken, Gen. Marion met Capt. Gavin Witherspoon, who said to him, “General had we not better fight Col. Watson before any more tories join him.” “My friend,” replied he, “I know that would be best, but we have not ammunition.” “Why, general,” said Witherspoon, “here is my powder horn full,” holding it up. “Ah! my friend,” said Marion, “you are an extraordinary soldier, but as for others, there are not two rounds to a man.” Witherspoon passed off in silent sorrow; but as soon as he reached his camp, met Baker Johnson, an old tried whig, who begged him for God’s sake to give him something to eat, and he set before him some cold rice in a pot. While Johnson was eating, Witherspoon sat pondering over what he had heard for some time; but at last inquired, “What news, Johnson?” “Fine news,” said he, “I saw a great number of continental troops, horse and foot, crossing at Long bluff.” “Come and tell the general,” said Witherspoon. “No,” replied the other, “I am starving with hunger, and if the general wants the news he must come to me.” Witherspoon immediately posted off to the general, who lost no time in going to Johnson; around whom some hundreds were soon collected. The bearer of the good tidings was to be depended on. The news was sudden and unexpected, and to men now in a state of desperation nothing could be more transporting. Scarce was there an eye but what was suffused with tears of joy. All sufferings appeared now to be at an end, and that balm of the soul hope began to revive. But while Johnson was still communicating his intelligence, it was confirmed by the sound of a drum in the rear; and soon after by the arrival of Major Conyers and Capt. Irby, with Lieut. Col. Lee’s legionary infantry. By Conyers, Marion received orders from Gen. Greene to join Lee, and cooperate with him in striking at the posts below Camden, and in furnishing provisions for the main army;7 and Lee had moved on towards the Santee for that purpose. Commencing his march immediately, Gen. Marion crossed the Pedee in his rear, and left Witherspoon with a small party to watch Watson. The line of march was directed through Williamsburgh; and Marion joined Lee near Fort Watson, on Scott’s lake.

About the same time, Capt. John Brockington, of the tories, had been up to his plantation at Cashway, and hearing the same news with Baker Johnson, pushed over the river, and gave Watson the like information. He lost no time, but immediately rolled his two field pieces into Catfish creek, destroyed all his heavy baggage, re-crossed the little Pedee, and not venturing by Euhany, he passed the Waccamaw at Greene’s ferry, and retreating through the neck, between that river and the sea, crossed Winyaw bay, three miles wide, and thus arrived in Georgetown. To those unacquainted with this route, a bare inspection of the map of the country will at once give information, how much Marion was dreaded by Watson.

Upon forming a junction with Col. Lee, it was decidedly the opinion of Gen. Marion, that they should pursue Watson, and either take him or prevent his junction with Lord Rawdon. But Lee was of opinion it would lead them too far from Gen. Greene. Gen. Marion must have given up his point with much reluctance, for he was afterwards heard repeatedly to regret that his orders did not permit him to pursue Col. Watson. But, perhaps the true reason was that Marion and Lee were both bare of ammunition, and could get it only by taking Fort Watson. It was left without the presence of its commander, and as in that day there was no road from Kingstree up Black river to Camden, and the swamps were impassable except to hunters, by taking a position at Scott’s lake, they would be on the only road there was from Georgetown, on a direct line, to intercept Watson, as he marched up to Camden. — But while Gen. Marion passed through Williamsburgh, his men having now performed a tour of duty of more than a month against Watson, which with all its watchings and privations was unusually severe, and being suddenly relieved from that pressure, many of them took the liberty of going home to recruit themselves; and he was left to his great mortification with only eighty men. However, they soon dropped in, one or two at a time.8

On the 15th of April, Gen. Marion invested Fort Watson, at Scott’s lake, without any other means of annoyance than musketry. The fort stood on an Indian mound, about forty feet high, and was stockaded, and had three rows of abbatis round it.9 The besiegers took post between the fort and the lake, to cut off the water; but the besieged sunk a well in the fort. As there were no trees or other covering near the fort, Marion’s riflemen were too much exposed at first to fire with effect; but Col. Maham contrived to raise a tower of logs in one night, so high that it overtopped the fort, and the marksmen began to fire into it. Gen. Marion had no entrenching tools to make a regular approach, but on the day after the investment, a party of militia under Ensign Baker Johnson, and of continentals under Mr. Lee, a volunteer in the legion, with a sudden movement, and much intrepidity, made a lodgment near the stockade, and began to pull away the abbatis and fling them down the mound. Lieut. M`Kay, who commanded, then hoisted a white flag, and the garrison, consisting of one hundred and fourteen men and officers, capitulated. Major Eaton had been detached by Gen. Greene, with one field piece, to join Marion, but arrived too late to participate in this siege. The loss of the Americans was only two militia men killed, and three continentals and three militia wounded. — As this fort lay on the great line of communication between Camden and Charleston, its fall was a great loss to the enemy; and by taking it Gen. Marion obtained supplies of ammunition, which he soon turned to great advantage.

During the siege, Col. Watson evaded Marion and Lee. Having arrived in Georgetown, and not yet recovered from his panic, he crossed the north and south Santee, at the lower ferries, and having surmounted this difficulty, he marched up the west side of the river and arrived in Camden by the way of the ferry near the town, with forces much impaired by the incessant attacks of Marion, and long marches, combined with much desertion; but his loss is not confessed by the enemy, nor could it be discovered by the Americans. — Had he been able to have cooperated with Doyle in sufficient time, with their overwhelming force, assisted by Harrison and Ganey, with an equal, if not greater number of tories; there can be little doubt, but Gen. Marion with his scanty means of defence, must either have fallen in the conflict or been driven out of the country. When he first marched from Scott’s lake, Col. Watson had only seventy miles to traverse, and only Black river to pass, before he reached Snow’s island; yet such was the consummate skill and indefatigable exertions of Gen. Marion, that from the 9th of March until the 10th of April, he had not reached his place of destination, and then made a hasty retreat through roads unfrequented, and over wide swamps and rivers, unpursued. To effect this he took a circuitous route, nearly one hundred miles out of his way, which detained him until about the 9th of May, more than two months from his first setting out on this expedition.

Col. Watson was considered by the British one of their best partisans; yet we have seen how he was foiled. Had his regiment attempted, as was no doubt intended, to ford the river at the lower bridge, they would have found the passage narrow, and the river at that time deep; or had he undertaken to repair the bridge, in either case he must have lost a great portion of his men. He was, however, a better officer than historian or civilian, otherwise he would not have justified the practice of burning houses, in the face of the universal censure cast upon Lewis XIV. for adopting the same measure in the Palatinate. But when Watson, Balfour, and other British officers, professing to know the laws of war and nations, burnt houses and hanged those citizens who had taken deceptive paroles upon their authority, certainly it may be affirmed that Marion, who was self-taught, and had no book of the law of nations, or perhaps any other book in his camp, was justifiable as a matter of retaliation, to shoot down their pickets and cut off their sentinels wherever he could find them; and always to fight such invaders in their own barbarian manner. Nothing ever showed, in such a strong light, the plain good sense of Marion. Col. Watson had orders to burn houses, but did not however appear to wish to carry them rigourously into effect. It is believed he burnt but two; one was the house of Lieut. Dickson, who was with Marion; the other belonged to Nathaniel Dwight, of Waccamaw neck. Upon a retrospection, Col. Watson’s character appears in a favourable point of view; and, as far as was consistent with orders, his humanity is undoubted.

On the 18th of April, Col. William Harden, acting under the orders of Marion, took the British fort at Pocotaligo, with one militia colonel, one major, three captains, three lieutenants, sixty privates and twenty-two dragoons, prisoners. He writes, “I wish you would send some commissions, with your orders. It seems they wait for Col. Hayne, and he says he cannot act without a commission, and I am sure, if he turns out, at least two hundred will join him. If so, I am very certain that this part of the country may be held.” Every one has either read or heard of the subsequent melancholy fate of Col. Hayne; but more of that in the sequel.

Major John Postell had been pitched upon as the first victim. After distinguishing himself, as related, he obtained leave from his general to go with a flag to Georgetown, to obtain the release of his father, (who was still a prisoner) and of some others. Capt. Saunders, now the commandant, detained him, and threw him also into gaol, on the plea of his having broken his parole;10 and, in a long correspondence with Gen. Marion, he and Col. Balfour, the commandant of Charleston, vindicated the measure, as consistent with the laws of war and nations. It appears Balfour was the civilian of the British while here in power. He was just such a minion as would have suited the purposes of Tiberius Caesar. He had several hundreds of Americans pining in want and misery in loathsome prison-ships, and in dungeons under the Exchange, damp and noisome, which he called his provost.

He writes thus to Saunders, concerning Major Postell, “send him by water,” (by land was not safe) “by a fast sailer — under a guard — be so good as to let him have no chance of escaping.” Be so good here, meant to clap him in irons. This royal tiger, secure in his jungle, was now crouching to spring upon what he deemed defenceless prey; but, while reasoning about the law of nations, Saunders had the folly to send out Capt. Merrett with a flag. Marion immediately detained him, and swore a bitter oath, that if they touched a hair of Postell’s head he would hang Merrett. Major Postell lost all further opportunity of distinguishing himself, and underwent a long and rigourous imprisonment; but this had become a common case, and the British knew Marion too well to carry matters further. On the 25th of April,11 Gen. Greene lay at Hobkirk hill, at that time a mile out of Camden, but now partly in the town. His army consisted of only about seven hundred continentals, and as many militia; his left rested on Pinetree creek, and his right extended across the road leading to Lancaster, uncovered by any obstructions. Having just received a comfortable supply of provisions, which they much wanted, his men were employed in cooking and washing. At this juncture, Rawdon sallied out of Camden, at the head of nine hundred men, his whole disposable force. Between him and Greene, along Pinetree creek, were thick woods and shrubbery, and he preferred this route for concealment. His advance was not suspected, until he was fired upon by the American pickets; but these received him bravely, and during the contest with them, Greene formed his army. The Virginia brigade, under Gen. Huger, took the right; the Maryland brigade, under Col. Williams, the left. The continentals were thus disposed in one line, and the artillery, under Col. Harrison, were in the centre. The reserve were the cavalry, under Col. Washington, and two hundred and fifty North Carolina militia, under Col. Reade. Rawdon advanced with the King’s American regiment on the right, the New York volunteers in the centre, and the 63d on the left; his right supported by Robertson’s corps, and his left by the volunteers of Ireland. Greene discovering his narrow front, ordered Col. Campbell, of the Virginia, and Col. Ford, of the Maryland line, to turn his flanks; the centre regiments to advance with fixed bayonets, and Washington to gain his rear. Rawdon perceiving his danger, brought up the volunteers of Ireland into line. The battle opened with vigour, and Huger evidently gained ground. Washington in the rear, was carrying all before him, and Col. Hawes in the centre, was descending the hill with fixed bayonets. At this flattering moment, the veteran regiment of Gunby, the 1st Maryland, fired contrary to orders; while Capt. Armstrong, with two sections, was moving ahead upon the enemy. Gunby, being anxious to lead his regiment into battle thoroughly compacted, ordered Armstrong back, instead of making him the point of view in forming. Retrograde being the consequence of this order, the British shouted and pressed forward, and the regiment of Gunby, considered the bulwark of the army, never recovered from its panic. Williams, Gunby, and Howard, all strove in vain to bring it to order. The Virginia brigade and second Maryland regiment maintained the contest bravely; but the 2d Maryland, feeling the effect of the retreat of the 1st, became somewhat deranged, and its commander, Lieut. Col. Ford, being wounded in repressing it, this corps also fell back. Rawdon’s right having now gained the summit, and flanking Hawes, Gen. Greene ordered a retreat, which was covered by Hawes. Col. Washington having gained his point of attack, and taken two hundred prisoners, was confident of victory; but seeing the retreat, he paroled the officers on the field, and relinquished all the prisoners but fifty. These he brought off, and made good his retreat, with the loss of only three men. Greene’s field pieces were now likely to fall into the hands of the enemy, and seeing Capt. John Smith,12 with his company of picked light infantry, marching off the field in good order, he rode up and called to him, “Smith, my brave fellow, save the field pieces.” He immediately fell in the rear, and executed his orders, with the loss of his whole company. All were killed but one man and Smith, and they were made prisoners. Gen. Greene rallied his army at the pass of Sanders’ creek, six miles from Camden, and soon after occupied the position Gates had intended to take, at Gum swamp. The British lost between sixty and seventy, and Greene two hundred men. This affair shows upon how small an incident the fate of war generally depends.

Upon Watson’s arrival in Camden, Lord Rawdon being now reinforced, marched out to attack Gen. Greene, at Sawney’s creek, on the west side of the Wateree. Greene did not like his position for a general engagement, and took a new one at Cornal’s creek, leaving the horse, light infantry and pickets, at his old encampment. The enemy approached and drew up on the opposite side of the creek, but did not attempt to cross; and retired into Camden before night. Early in the morning of the next day (10th of May, 1781,) Lord Rawdon burnt the mill at Camden, the gaol, his stores, and many private houses, and evacuating it, retreated towards Nelson’s ferry. Thus was Camden evacuated in less than a year after the British obtained possession of it; but during that short period it had become the scene of innumerable spoliations, and other atrocities. While they held it, the loss of property, and being reduced to poverty, were the least considerable incidents, which happened to the inhabitants. To form an accurate idea, as well of the wretched situation of the people of that town and its vicinity, during this period, as to elucidate a part of history not yet explained, let the reader take the following narrative, partly in and partly out of its due order. Gen. Greene, having traversed that part of North Carolina from Guilford to Pedee, and passed through nearly one half the breadth of South Carolina, by the way of Cheraw hill, and Lynch’s creek, arrived at Town creek, four miles below Camden, about the middle of April. Except at the Pedee, the country through which he had marched was destitute of provisions, and no where, unless he had impressed salt provisions, could he find any thing better than beef driven out of the woods; which in April is well known to be lean and nauseating. For the last fifty miles, his route had been across the sand hills, between Pedee and the Wateree; here his guide deserted him, and when he arrived at Town creek, he and his men were at a loss which way to proceed, and were literally starving. The fine low grounds of the Wateree now lay before him, where he expected an abundance of provisions, but he was most grievously disappointed. The British had swept away every thing of the kind that could be found, and what little subsistence was left to the planters was hid in small parcels, and in different places in the swamps. Scarcely any thing fit to eat, was visible, where prior to this period, and subsequently, every kind of provisions had been so abundant. But Gen. Greene, in his distress, happily13 met with a young man, whom, while he had been at Hick’s creek in January last, he had appointed assistant commissary general; and who had served him with zeal and ability in that department. This young man, (the present Gen. Cantey, of Camden,) had but just returned from Dan river, where he had supplied Gen. Greene, with fifteen waggon loads of flour, and nearly one thousand head of hogs, which he had driven from the Pedee, by private ways, with so much skill and address, as to avoid Lord Cornwallis, and the numerous tories by whom he was surrounded; and Cantey was still zealous to serve his country. After gaining some intelligence of the enemy, Gen. Greene requested his commissary to endeavour to get them some provisions, for they were famishing. Cantey’s father lived not far off, and recollecting he had some bacon and corn meal hid in a swamp, he immediately went and brought enough for the general’s mess, and in a short time after, drove in beeves, such as they were, sufficient for a supper for the men; but so destitute was the neighbourhood, that Cantey recommended it to Gen. Greene to move above Camden, where provisions might be collected from the upper country, and it was more probable he would receive aid from the militia. But for this explanation, the good judgment of Gen. Greene, in taking post above Camden, might well be questioned; since his wisest, and hitherto favoured plan, had been to strike at the posts below. It is thought, if he could have taken a position at Town creek, or Swift creek below, all surprise might have been prevented. At this time, Gen. Greene sent Cantey to Gen. Sumter, distant more than one hundred miles, to request him to join him; but Sumter, who was meditating an attack on fort Granby, declined any further cooperation except in that way. When this answer was communicated to Gen. Greene, by Cantey, he was exceedingly angry, and said he had a great mind to leave them to defend the country as well as they could, without his assistance. Could he have concentrated his force, and had not regarded Ninety-Six, he might have driven the British into Charleston, before the sickly season commenced. But the system of leaving fortresses behind an invading army, so strongly recommended by Machiavelli, and so much followed by Bonaparte, had not yet been adopted in tactics. But we are anticipating our narrative.

Although so weak after the affair at Hobkirk, Gen. Greene, had sent a reinforcement to Marion under Major Eaton with a six-pounder, and on the 8th of May, Marion and Lee commenced firing upon Fort Motte. As soon as Gen. Greene heard of the retreat of Lord Rawdon from Camden, he decamped from Cornal’s creek, and moving down on the west bank of the Wateree, took a position near M`Cord’s ferry, so as to cover the besiegers. Fort Motte stood on a high hill called Buckhead, a little on the right of the Charleston road, where it leaves the Congaree below M`Cord’s. Within its walls was included the house of Mrs. Motte, who had retired to that of her overseer. — When told it was necessary to burn the house, in order to take the fort expeditiously, she at once requested it should be done, and, as the means of effecting it, furnished an Indian bow and arrows. On the night of the 10th, the fires of Lord Rawdon’s camp were seen on the Santee hills, in his retreat from Camden, and encouraged the garrison for a while; but on the 12th the house was set on fire, and the commander Lieut. M`Pherson, and one hundred and sixty-five men, surrendered. This deed of Mrs. Motte has been deservedly celebrated. Her intention to sacrifice her valuable property was patriotic; but the house was not burnt, as is stated by historians, nor was it fired by an arrow from an African bow, as sung by the poet. — Nathan Savage, a private in Marion’s brigade, made up a ball of rosin and brimstone, to which he set fire, slung it on the roof of the house. The British surrendered before much mischief was done to it, and Marion had the fire put out. At the commencement of this siege, Serjt. M`Donald, now advanced to a lieutenancy, was killed. He was a native of Cross creek, in North Carolina, and his father and other relations had espoused the opposite side of the cause. Lieut. Cryer, who had often emulated M`Donald, shared a similar fate. On the 25th Nov. last, we have seen Gen. Sumter severely wounded at Black Stocks; but on the 20th Feb. just three months after, he sat down before Fort Granby, to besiege it, and wrote to Marion, who was his junior officer, to move in such a direction as to attract the attention of Lord Rawdon; but at that time the fort was relieved.

On the same day that Fort Motte surrendered, Gen. Sumter took the British fort at Orangeburgh, with a garrison consisting of seventy tories and twelve British; and in three days after, on the 15th May, he took Fort Granby; long the object of his wishes. This fort was surrendered to him by Major Maxwell, of the British, with nineteen officers, three hundred and twenty-nine men, mostly royalists, and five pieces of ordnance.14

Gen. Marion soon after taking Fort Motte, re-crossed the Santee, and encamped at Cantey’s plantation, a little more than midway from Nelson’s to Murray’s ferry, and here he reposed his men for some time and collected reinforcements. In consequence of the evacuation of Camden, and recent successes, the militia turned out well and in high spirits. About the 3d of June, he marched for Georgetown, and appearing before it on the 6th, began his approach by breaking ground; but on the night after the garrison evacuated the town, and took shipping. Remaining here for some time, the general threw off his old habiliments, furnished his wardrobe anew, and fitted himself out with a suit of regimentals. He also procured a couple of mules to transport his baggage. His privations, during the period passed over, were so great that he even wanted a blanket, for on a certain night his bed of pine straw catching fire under him, while he was soundly reposing after one of his forced marches, half of the only one he had was burnt,15 and his leather cap was wrinkled upon one side, from the contact of the same element. Hereafter he indulged himself with the luxury of coffee for breakfast, but often without bread to it, and he seldom tasted wine or spirits; but was fond of vinegar and water, the drink of a Roman soldier. However, Georgetown was no Capua to him. He soon returned again to Cantey’s plantation, and kept out scouts constantly towards Biggen church, where the enemy had a garrison of considerable force.

About this period, Gen. Marion sent Col. Peter Horry with a force to negociate a treaty with Major Ganey and his party. As he could not well turn his arms against him, and the whig settlements on Pedee were left exposed to his depredations, it was good policy to awe him, and to endeavour to keep him quiet. After a little time Horry negociated a treaty, humiliating enough to Ganey; by which, among other matters, he and his officers agreed to lay down their arms and remain neutral, to deliver up all those who refused to comply with the treaty and all deserters from the Americans, and also to restore all negroes and other plundered property. This treaty was ratified on the 17th of June, but was not strictly complied with until Marion afterwards found leisure to enforce it; as shall be narrated in its place.

General Nathanael Greene by Charles Wilson Peale

Soon after the siege of Fort Motte, Gen. Greene proceeding on with his main army, laid siege to Ninety-Six; in which Lieut. Col. Cruger commanded a garrison of five hundred men, and defended himself with energy and ability. On the right of the besiegers was a strong stockade fort, and on the left a work called the Star redoubt. On the night of the 26th of May, the celebrated Kosciusko, who acted at that time as an engineer for Greene, raised two block batteries within three hundred and fifty yards of the besieged. Soon after a third and a fourth were erected, and lastly a rifle battery within thirty yards of the ditch of the fort. The abbatis was turned, and two trenches and a mine were extended within six feet of the ditch. The fort must soon have been taken; but Lord Rawdon was approaching fast to the relief of the garrison, with two thousand men, which he had lately received from Ireland; (18th June) and Gen. Greene was obliged to raise the siege and retreat over the Saluda. His loss before the fort was about one hundred and fifty men. Lord Rawdon followed the Americans, as far as the Ennoree; but finding the pursuit fruitless, he drew off a part of the garrison from Ninety-Six, and fixed a detachment of his army at the Congaree. Gen. Greene, finding the British force divided, faced about and offered Lord Rawdon battle; but he, in his turn, retreated to Orangeburgh.

About the beginning of July, in this year, Lord Rawdon still lay in Orangeburgh, strongly posted, and Gen. Greene was near, watching his motions. While thus situated, Col. Cruger evacuated his post at Ninety-Six, and marching down through the fork of Edisto, joined Rawdon. As there was no other place at which the Edisto could then be passed but at Orangeburgh, it was out of Greene’s power to prevent the junction; and Rawdon’s army being thus reinforced, Gen. Greene thought it prudent to retire to Bloom hill, Richardson’s plantation, at the High Hills of Santee. Before retiring, however, he detached Gen. Sumter as commander, and ordered Marion to join him, to strike at the posts below. On his way down, Sumter made several successful attacks on British outposts, which were conducted more immediately by Col. Lee and Col. Wade Hampton. Generals Sumter and Marion formed a junction near Biggen, and marched to attack the fort there, garrisoned by five hundred infantry and one hundred cavalry, and commanded by Col. Coates, a spirited officer. His cavalry at first repulsed Sumter’s advance, but were driven in by the state troops under Col. Hampton. In the evening after, Col. Coates set fire to the church, which contained all his heavy baggage and stores, and retreating by the Strawberry road over Watboo bridge, destroyed it, and thus gained a considerable advance upon Sumter, who had to march round by a ford in pursuit. Coates, in like manner, threw the plank off Huger’s bridge, and proceeded rapidly for Quimby. Here he had loosened the planks of the bridge, and was waiting for his rear guard; but, in the mean time, Lee had come up with and taken it. Dr. Irvine, by advancing too far among the combatants, was wounded in this affair,16 together with several of Lee’s men. While Coates was waiting, Capt. Armstrong, at the head of five of his own men, and Capt. James M`Caulay’s troop of militia horse crossed the bridge and charged in among the enemy, who at first threw down their arms, but seeing the force so small, soon resumed them, and began to fire; but Armstrong made good his way through them down the road. In the mean while, the passage of the cavalry over the bridge had opened such a chasm17 in the plank, that Lee could not cross to follow up the advantage thus gained, and the critical moment was lost. The enemy had time to recover from their panic, and to post themselves in Col. Shubrick’s house and out houses, which were near. After some delay, Sumter arrived and ordered an attack, which was led on by Marion, whose men, and a regiment of Sumter’s, under Col. Thomas Taylor, marched up in open ground, with a view of gaining a fence near the houses; and were exposed to a most galling fire, from riflemen aiming at them from behind cover. More than fifty were killed and wounded, generally of Marion’s men, who were most exposed. Capt. Perry and Lieut. June, of his brigade, were killed; and Lieut. Col. John Baxter, who was very conspicuous, from his gigantic size and full uniform, received five wounds; Major Swinton was also severely wounded. A retreat was ordered. The attack was made against Marion’s opinion, who blamed Sumter afterwards for wasting the lives of his men. But, with such a force, Sumter had not the disposition to be idle, and wanted only a field piece to have ensured success. Col. Coates had now the command of boats, and a wide river before him, and could easily have effected his retreat in that way to Charleston; but Sumter did not attack him again; because, it was said, a reinforcement was coming to his assistance. After this, Gen. Marion retired to the Santee, and took post at Cordes’, and afterwards at Peyre’s plantation, near the mouth of the present Santee canal, where he reposed his men and horses, until about the 25th of August.

The British lay near M`Cord’s ferry, with a strong party at Monk’s corner and Dorchester, and Gen. Greene was still encamped at Richardson’s plantation on the High Hills of Santee, directly opposite the enemy, where they might easily see each other; but with a wide swamp between them. About this time Gen. Greene ordered Marion to go to the assistance of Col. Harden, who was then much pressed by the enemy, to the south of the Edisto. Immediately he detached a party of mounted militia under Capt. George Cooper, to the neighbourhood of Dorchester and Monk’s corner, to create a diversion there, whilst he with about two hundred picked men, by a circuitous route and forced march of at least one hundred miles, crossed the Edisto, joined Harden and approached the British. When sufficiently near he drew up his men in a swamp upon the road near Parker’s ferry, and sent out some of his swiftest horse to lead the British into the ambuscade. While lying there a small party of tories crossed at the ferry, and in passing on one of them called out that he saw a white feather, and fired his gun. This occasioned an exchange of a few shots on both sides; but (as is supposed) it was thought by Major Fraser, who commanded the British, to be only Harden’s party that was in the swamp; he pursued the horsemen sent out as a decoy, and led his corps in full charge within forty or fifty yards parallel to the ambuscade. A deadly fire from the swamp, was the first notice he had that a greater force than Harden’s was there. He attempted to wheel and charge into the swamp, but only exposed his men the more, as they were thus delayed before the fire, and were wedged up on a causeway so closely that every shot had its utmost effect. Finding all his efforts ineffectual, Fraser at length retreated along the road to the ferry, and thus passed the whole ambuscade. A large body of infantry with a field piece, were now seen advancing, and Marion retreated without counting the dead, but men and horses were seen lying promiscuously in heaps on the road. Although a large body of infantry was advancing, yet Marion in his situation had not much to fear from them, and indeed had often encountered such; therefore the true cause of his retreating could not have been because they were advancing; but the probability is, because he wanted ammunition. How often he was thus impeded in his enterprizes was known only to himself. A party under Capt. Melton, went out the next day to the battle ground, and counted twenty-seven dead horses; the men had been buried. As Marion’s men fired with either a ball and buck shot, or heavy buck shot alone, and as none would aim at horses, the loss of the British must have been great. — But though their loss could not be ascertained, the effect of this well conducted affair soon became evident, for at the battle of Eutaw, nine days after, the enemy had but few cavalry in the field. It is not a little surprising that there is no record or date of this action to be found, but in the thanks of congress to Gen. Marion, which fix it on the 31st of August.

In the mean time, Capt. Cooper passed on to the Cypress, and there routed a party of tories, and then proceeding down the road, he drove off the cattle from before the enemy’s fort at Dorchester. He next moved on down the Charleston road; a body of tories lay in a brick church, which stood then twelve miles from town; he charged and drove them before him. Next, passing into Goose creek road, he proceeded to the ten mile house, returned and passed over Goose creek bridge, took a circuitous route around the British at Monk’s corner and arrived in camp at Peyre’s plantation near the canal, where Gen. Marion now lay, with many prisoners, and without the loss of a man. In his letter of the 10th of August, 1781, noted above, Gen. Greene writes to Marion, “you will see by Col. Harden’s letter, the enemy have hung Col. Hayne; do not take any measure in the matter towards retaliation, for I do not intend to retaliate on the tory officers, but the British. It is my intention to demand the reasons of the colonel’s being put to death, and if they are unsatisfactory, as I am sure they will be, and if they refuse to make satisfaction, as I suppose they will, to publish my intentions of giving no quarters to British officers of any rank that fall into our hands. This will be delayed for some few days, to give our friends in St. Augustine18 time to get off.” The measure thus proposed was quite too extensive in its nature to have been carried into effect. The true reason why there was no retaliation was the last, respecting the friends in St. Augustine, and it is suspected that it originated with the governor and council. The British army was now no longer commanded by Lord Rawdon; he had retired to Europe, and was succeeded by Brigadier Gen. Stewart. Lord Rawdon had defended Camden as long as he could with vigour and ability; but lately stained his reputation by the execution of Col. Hayne. In extenuation of this act, it is said by his friends, he only obeyed the orders of his superior; but if he really disapproved that act of cruelty, he could easily have avoided taking a part in it, for as he was shortly to sail for Europe, he might have left the execution of it to Col. Balfour; as being congenial to his natural disposition. This proceeding was sudden and unexpected, and produced a great sensation in the American army. When Gen. Greene demanded the reason of it, Lord Rawdon had either departed or returned no answer; but Balfour stated, that “it took place by the joint order of Lord Rawdon and myself, in consequence of the most express directions of Lord Cornwallis to us, in regard to all those who should be found in arms, after being, at their own request, received as British subjects.” Now, although Lord Cornwallis, when flushed with victory, issued cruel orders; yet it is not to be presumed he acted the tyrant so far as to communicate private orders to Rawdon and Balfour; but the only case in which his public orders directed a capital punishment, is the following: “I have ordered in the most positive manner, that every militia man, who has borne arms with us, and afterwards joined the enemy, shall be immediately hanged.” But it was never pretended that Col. Hayne had borne arms with the British; when he submitted, he expressly stipulated with Gen. Patterson, that he was not to do so; and when, notwithstanding such stipulation, he was called upon for that service, he positively refused, although threatened with confinement. Besides, both Moultrie and Ramsey assert he did not serve with the British; and as far as negative proof can go, this should be conclusive. But the fact that he bore arms with the British is not charged against him; his accusation was, “being at his own request received as a British subject.” Then Col. Hayne neither came within the letter, nor the penalty of the order issued by Lord Cornwallis; and his blood rests upon the heads of Rawdon and Balfour. A fair state of the case is, that Col. Hayne had been considered by the British a character of great influence, and after the fall of Charleston, having applied to Gen. Patterson, then commandant, for a parole, he was refused one, and was threatened with confinement if he would not subscribe a declaration of allegiance. Under the influence of this threat, by the advice of friends, and the stipulation above stated, he was induced to sign the declaration; and he was now tried for a breach of his allegiance. Lord Cornwallis punished for breaches of parole, but this was a new charge, made by Rawdon and Balfour themselves. But Hayne’s signature to that instrument, had been obtained by duresse, and the part of the country in which he lived had been for several months in the possession of the Americans, and the British were unable to protect him in his allegiance. These, and no doubt other grounds, might have been alleged in his defence, but he was at first promised, and afterwards refused to be heard by counsel. The law of nations, as we have seen, was often on the lips of Balfour, and here was a case which came clearly within that code. Then the forms of justice should have been carefully observed; the accused should have been heard in his defence; the spirit of the law should have been the guide of the judges, with a leaning in favour of lenity and mercy; the passions ought not to have been suffered to interfere, where the minds of the court should have been regulated by justice and wisdom; and finally, the judges should have proceeded deliberately, avoiding every thing like haste in their decision. Such is the law of nations.19 But neither the forms of justice, nor the spirit of the law were observed; the accused was tried by a court martial, in which, after the production of the declaration of allegiance, the only inquiry made was, “whether he had been taken in arms?” And that being proved, the defendant received a summary sentence of death. A most feeling intercession was made in his behalf, but in vain; all that could be obtained was a few days delay of the execution, which otherwise would have been hurried on in the most indecent manner. Col. Hayne died, not indeed the death, but with the spirit of a soldier, and a martyr in the cause of civil liberty; he met his fate calmly on the gibbet. The character of Balfour was already so black there was scarcely room for an additional blot; but the execution of Col. Hayne must ever continue a stain upon the reputation of Lord Rawdon. He had not even the excuse that it was the law of the conqueror; for Lord Cornwallis and himself were conquerors no more.

The two hostile armies still lay encamped and watching each other in the positions before mentioned, at Bloomhill and M`Cord’s ferry; but about the beginning of September, Gen. Greene, for the want of boats, marched up the Wateree and crossed it not far below Camden,20 and marching down through the fork between the two rivers, passed the Congaree at Howell’s ferry and encamped at Motte’s plantation, on a direct route to meet the enemy, who had been encamped but a short distance below him.

Here he received intelligence that the British army commanded by Brigadier Gen. Stewart21 had retreated and halted at the Eutaw Spring, about forty miles below, that they had been reinforced there, and were about to establish a permanent post. To prevent this, he determined to risk a battle, though his force was thought to be inferior. Accordingly he sent back his baggage to Howell’s ferry, and proceeded by easy marches to Burdell’s plantation seven miles from Eutaw, where he was joined by Gen. Marion. Gen. Stewart had posted himself to great advantage at Eutaw; his head quarters were in a strong brick house, which stood at that time a little to the west of the spring or rather fountain. In his rear, to the south, there was an open field; in his front a thick wood covered with pines and scrubby oaks. Below the fountain on his right there was a deep valley, through which the Eutaw creek, five or six feet deep, takes its course towards the north-east. Between the fountain and the brick house the Congaree road passes to the north.

It was down this road Gen. Greene marched to attack the British army, on the memorable 8th of September, 1781. The effective force of each army was nearly equal, except the cavalry, in which Greene would have had the advantage, if the nature of the ground had permitted the use of it, for none of the ground was then open, and particularly on his left it was covered by scrubby oaks. While moving down the road in the morning with much circumspection, Col. Lee in advance met a party which covered another that was foraging. Several of these were killed, and their captain and forty men taken. Pressing forward, Lee soon met another party, with whom another action commenced, and he requested the support of artillery to counteract that of the enemy, which had now opened. Two field pieces were quickly brought up by Capt. Gaines, and began to fire.

During this firing both armies formed. The South Carolina militia under Marion, and the North Carolina under Col. Malmedy occupied the first line; the South Carolinians on the right. The continentals formed the second line. The Virginians under Col. Campbell, occupied the right. Gen. Sumner with the North Carolina new levied troops, the centre; and the Marylanders, under Cols. Williams and Howard, the left, on the Charleston road. Lee had charge of the right, and Henderson of the left flank, with their cavalry. Two field pieces were disposed in the front and two in the rear line. Washington’s horse and Kirkwood’s infantry formed the reserve.

The enemy was drawn up in one line, the Buffs on the right, Cruger’s corps in the centre, and the 63d and 64th on the left. Major Marjoribanks with one battalion of light infantry was posted on the Eutaw creek, flanking the Buffs, and the cavalry under Major Coffin were drawn up in the open field in the rear; these were not numerous. The artillery were posted on the Charleston road and the one leading to Roach’s plantation. — The action commenced about a mile from the fountain. Marion and Pickens continued to advance and fire, but the North Carolina militia broke at the third round. — Sumner with the new raised troops, then occupied their place, and behaved gallantly. Marion’s marksmen firing with great precision, and galling the enemy greatly, had now advanced more than half a mile, when the British charged upon them with fixed bayonets, and Marion ordered a retreat. The Virginia and Maryland troops now advanced with trailed arms, and scarcely had Marion cleared the right of the Virginians, when the crash of bayonets was heard. But by degrees it receded, and becoming less and less audible, a loud shout of huzza for America! told the issue of the contest. — Gen. Marion now rallied his men. Col. Henderson of the South Carolina state troops was wounded early in the action, and the command devolved on Col. Wade Hampton, who made a spirited charge; but being warmly received, Col. Washington brought up the reserve to his aid, and at first charged so briskly that the enemy gave way; but advancing into the thickest part of the woods, Marjoribanks came to the assistance of the Buffs; Washington’s horse was killed under him, and he was wounded and taken. After this, and the loss of many officers and men, the corps was drawn off by Capt. Parsons. Marjoribanks though victorious on the right, now fell back to assist Stewart; and Major Sheridan with the New York volunteers, threw himself into the brick house. Stewart was busily engaged in rallying his men under cover of the fire from Sheridan; and Greene now ordered Lee to charge upon Coffin. Lee at the beginning of the action had advanced with the legionary infantry upon the left of the enemy, and ordered his cavalry under Eggleston to follow in the rear; but sending for Eggleston, at present, he found that by some mistaken order he had gone to assist Washington. Thus a most favourable opportunity of completing the rout already commenced, was irretrievably lost. Greene had now brought up his artillery against the brick house, and sent for Marion who came to his assistance; but the weight of his metal was too light to effect a breach. Here, after losing many men and making unavailing efforts, he was obliged to desist, bringing off one field piece, which he had taken from the enemy, and losing two of his own. Thus Sheridan and Marjoribanks saved the British army.

Gen. Greene, in this manner disappointed in the most sanguine expectation of a complete victory, collected all his wounded, except those under the fire of the enemy, and placing a strong picket on the field of battle, retired sullenly from the ground in search of water. The battle had taken place on a dry thirsty soil, and in a hot day, and the want of water was severely felt. Four or five miles up the Congaree road, there is a remarkably boggy pond, still the dread of travellers; the cavalry had passed through it, twice or thrice in the course of the day; and it was now become a filthy puddle; but into this did the men as soon as they arrived, throw themselves headlong, over the shoulders of each other, and drink with an avidity which seemed insatiable. This was the first water in Greene’s rear, which is mentioned by historians, as being resorted to by his army.22 The battle had lasted more than three hours.

Please visit…

Jay’s Thoughts on Torah, Religion, Politics, and Marriage

Next morning, Marion and Lee were ordered by a circuitous route to gain the enemy’s rear, in order, as it was expected they would retreat, to retard their march and prevent their being reinforced. On the evening of the 9th of September, Stewart piled up the arms of his dead and wounded, and set them on fire, destroyed his stores, left seventy of his own wounded, and some of Greene’s, at the Eutaw; and retreated precipitately towards Monk’s corner. So hurried was his retreat for fifteen miles, that he brought his first division within a few miles of M`Arthur, coming to his aid, before Marion and Lee reached Ferguson’s swamp, their point of destination. To fight between two fires, became hazardous, and the junction of the enemy was effected. Capt. O`Neal of Lee’s horse, fell upon the cavalry of their rear guard, and took most of them prisoners; but Stewart continued his retreat to Wantoot, (Ravenel’s plantation,) about twenty miles below Eutaw, and Greene pursued to Martin’s tavern, fifteen miles. In this battle, the British lost by Greene’s account six hundred men, killed and wounded, and five hundred made prisoners. According to Stewart’s return, he lost eighty-five killed,23 three hundred fifty-one wounded, and two hundred fifty-seven missing. The loss of the Americans was five hundred killed and wounded; among whom were sixty officers. The disparity in these returns of the different commanders is great, but Greene’s prisoners could be counted at leisure. Lieut. Col. Campbell fell as he was leading the Virginia line to the charge. Gen. Greene says of him, “though he fell with distinguished marks of honour, yet his loss is much to be regretted; he was the great soldier, and the firm patriot.” Gen. Marion had many of his men and Col. Hugh Horry wounded; but fewer killed than at Quimby; among the latter was the brave Capt. John Simons, of Pedee.

The British shot generally about five feet too high; but the wind blew that day favourably for Marion’s marksmen, and they did great execution. They fired from fifteen to twenty rounds each man. Both sides claimed the victory; but the fruits of one were with the Americans.

It being now autumn, and his men sickly, Gen. Greene retired to the High Hills of Santee, his favourite encampment; Col. Lee calls them, “The benign hills of Santee.” At this time Gen. Greene encamped on the range of hills immediately below Stateburgh. His head quarters were at Mr. James’, on the right going downwards, a beautiful spot, but now deserted. Many of Greene’s wounded officers and men died, and lie buried on a hill near where the author is now writing. An officer, who died of his wound, (Capt. De Wolfe,) lies interred near De Wolfe’s spring, on his plantation. He was a most gallant soldier. No mound or grave stone points out the spot where such brave men repose. Even the mounds, where the dead at Eutaw were buried, have been lately violated by the cutting of a ditch through them. Alas! my country, why have such things been suffered?

Marion retired to his favourite encampment, at Peyre’s plantation, in Santee river swamp. On the banks of the river at that time there were extensive cornfields on all the plantations, and the most of the low places were cultivated in rice.24 The crops of three or four years past had been housed, and kept out of the enemy’s reach by the difficulty of approach and their retired situation. Here the general fixed himself, much to his liking, in a cane brake, about a quarter of a mile from the river, which however was soon cleared to thatch the huts of himself and his men. Some lakes which skirted the high land, rendered the post difficult of approach, and here was forage for horses, and beef, pork, rice, and green corn25 for the men, in the greatest abundance. Such a place suited Marion’s views exactly, and here, or in the neighbourhood, he encamped often; but did not stay long at present. It appears now there was very little sickness at that day.

Soon after the battle of Eutaw, Gen. Alexander Leslie took command of the British army. On the 17th of September Gen. Greene wrote to Marion: “I have the pleasure to congratulate you on the arrival of Count De Grasse, in Chesapeake bay, with twenty-eight sail of the line, a number of frigates and six thousand land forces; Gen. Washington is also arrived in Virginia to take command of the army. From these circumstances, and from some further intelligence of Lord Cornwallis’ movements, it is highly probable that his lordship will endeavour to retreat through North Carolina to Charleston. I must therefore entreat that you will use every exertion to collect a large force of militia together, and as speedy as possible, that we may be able to intercept his lordship.” As Gen. Marion’s scouts at this time frequently passed round the enemy, and harrassed them much between their camp and Charleston, it has often been a matter of surprise why he should recross the Santee; but this letter explains it, for he crossed it to collect his men, and he encamped at Cantey’s plantation a considerable time for that purpose. On the 1st of Sept. Gov. Rutledge had ordered out only the half of the militia; now all were again directed to take the field as formerly.

Another good reason for Gen. Greene and Marion’s lying so long inactive at this season, is to be found in a letter in the correspondence mentioned; and though the date is later than the present period, yet the fact comes in properly here. Gen. Marion, as it appears from what follows after, had written to Greene and the governor for ammunition on the 9th of October. On the 10th, Gov. Rutledge answers his letter: “I received yours yesterday, by Mr. Boone, and wrote in the most pressing terms to Col. Williams, (Gen. Greene not being yet returned from Charlotte, for which place he set out on Friday) for a supply of ammunition; I wish to God it was in my power to send you ammunition instantly, but it is not.” Col. Otho Williams, who was second in command of the army, writes to Gen. Marion, and, although his letter is not dated, the connection of the correspondence is evident: “As Gen. Greene is not in camp, I took the liberty of opening your letter of the 9th instant. Our stock of ammunition is quite exhausted — we have not an ounce of powder, or a cartridge, in store. The arrival of some military stores which we expect every hour, will put it in the general’s power to supply you amply. His excellency Gov. Rutledge has intimated that you meditated an expedition over the Santee; in making your determination, if it is not settled, permit me to recommend to your consideration, that the general depends upon you entirely for intelligence of the enemy’s motion.” These extracts of letters must be read with astonishment. — With what uncommon fortitude must such men have been endowed, to bear up under such continued discouragements. As Gen. Marion lay a long time here, it will give occasion to relate some other matters, which as fortunate events have for some time past thickened, would have perplexed the narrative to have introduced before.

About the 10th August, Georgetown was burnt. — One Manson, commanding a small armed vessel, arrived within gunshot of the town, and sent a party in a boat under cover of his guns, and set fire to some houses on a wharf at the lower end of the Bay, and the wind favouring, the whole town, except a few houses on the outskirts, was burnt. No doubt Manson had his orders from Balfour.

As the continental troops were without pay and clothing, a plan was adopted by the governor and council to impress all the indigo for public service which could be found, and it was expected that it would now serve instead of money as a medium of exchange. The principle had been authorised by an old militia law, but it was a rigourous measure and a poor expedient, although the best that could be devised at the time. Many thrifty planters had hoarded up their indigo, ever since the commencement of the war, hoping some day to turn it into money. Capt. Wm. Richardson, of Bloomhill, was appointed commissary general by the governor, and assistants were appointed by him in the several districts of the state; who went about with press warrants in their pockets, and parties to assist them, and set a price upon each man’s indigo, for which they gave him a receipt, promising payment from the state. The general depot was fixed at Bloomhill.

It was in contemplation at the time likewise to raise two regiments of state troops to be attached to Marion’s brigade, and for this purpose all the horses fit for cavalry were impressed, except those of men actually in service. These were indeed high handed measures, but appeared necessary at the time. Winter was approaching, and Gen. Greene states in a letter to Col. Peter Horry, of the 11th of November, “Blankets are so scarce with us, that more than three-fourths of our men are without.” A few goods fit for service were afterwards purchased for indigo, but at an enormous advance.26

On the 27th of September Gov. Rutledge had ordered by proclamation, that the disaffected should come in within thirty days and do duty for six months. — This measure brought down disgrace, and soon after nearly ruin upon Marion’s brigade. This proclamation is long but to the following effect: —

“That whereas, the British had been compelled to evacuate all their strong posts, and could no more give protection to their adherents, and as many of them still remained with the British or lurked in secret places. And whereas, the commandant of Charleston, having sent beyond sea the wives and families of all the avowed friends of America in town and country; and the brigadiers of militia had been ordered to retaliate by sending the wives and families of such adherents within the British lines; and it is understood that they are in great distress and poverty. Therefore, a free pardon is offered for the offence of having borne arms, provided they surrender themselves up to a brigadier of the state within thirty days, and do constant duty in the militia service for six months; and upon performance of these conditions their wives and children were allowed to return; except such as having joined the enemy, were called upon by two proclamations to return in forty days, in pursuance of an ordinance of the legislature. All such as were sent out of the state for refusing to take the oath required of them by law and had returned. All such as subscribed addresses to Sir H. Clinton and Lord Cornwallis, congratulating them on their victories. All such as hold or have held military commissions. And all those whose conduct has been so infamous that they cannot consistent with policy and justice partake of the rights of citizens. But if they surrender to the commander in chief for the time, and were judged inadmissible, they should not be detained.”

This abstract has been given to show the singular manner of legislating in those times.27 Not, but that it was necessary thus to legislate, as it was certainly better to have some kind of civil government than none. The raising of two regiments of cavalry was suggested by Gen. Greene, and highly approved both by the governor and Marion, and it certainly promised well at first. Col. Hezekiah Maham, who had been elected by the provincial congress a captain in the first rifle regiment, when they passed an act to raise two such regiments, in March, 1776, was now appointed commander of one corps, and Col. Peter Horry commander of the other; he had been captain in the 2d regiment from the beginning of 1775, and was the older officer of the two; the reader will hereafter see the effect of this observation.

As they had no bounty money to give, recruiting went on slowly, and they fell upon the following expedient, which was warmly opposed by Gov. Rutledge at first, but it is supposed was favoured by Marion. All men that could hire a substitute in the regiments now raising were exempted from militia duty. — This soon drew from the ranks the best of Marion’s men, men who had served from the first, and had left their families at home in huts, and still in distress; but they could yet spare one or two negroes, which they did not much value, to hire a substitute to do duty for them. The war was now moved comparatively far from them, and they sighed for home. In the mean time, the six months men came tumbling in by scores, to supply their places. Their new white feathers, fine coats, new saddles and bridles, and famished horses, showed they had lately been in the British garrison. These were not the men to endure privations and fight their country’s battles. Those of Marion’s tried men who remained, could never confide in them; and now, as is always usual in armies, the most unprincipled men enlisted in the new regiments, but were not kept in the discipline necessary for taming such characters, or making them good soldiers. When Maham had got about seventy men and Horry not yet a troop, both their commissions being of the same date, they quarreled about precedence in rank; and although Gov. Rutledge reasoned, Gen. Greene persuaded, and Marion threatened, they could never be reconciled. Maham appears to have been very refractory on this occasion, and would listen to no accommodation. While in the end, Horry acted much in the wrong.

There are in the correspondence of that day many letters of Gov. Rutledge, several of which, without the suppression of names, it would be highly injurious to the feelings of many to publish at the present time; the rest are not interesting, except a few which show the spirit of the times; and are mostly long and able constructions of militia laws, now obsolete. About this time he issued a proclamation suspending the acts of assembly, and making paper money28 a tender in law, which, although strong, was certainly a just proceeding.

Col. Maham having now raised and equipped part of his cavalry, passed the Santee, burnt some British stores in the house of Sir John Colleton, at Fairlawn, and took some prisoners. On the 16th of October, Gen. Greene writes to Marion, “Col. Maham’s success is highly honourable to himself and corps, and I hope will be followed by future strokes of good fortune.” This hope was not realized. A letter from Col. Doyle, of the British, shows strongly what different views, men engaged on opposite sides, will take of the same transaction. It is to Gen. Marion: “Sir, I am directed by Brigadier Gen. Stewart, to represent to you an outrage that has been committed by a party of your corps, under the command of Col. Maham, upon a parcel of sick, helpless soldiers in an hospital at Colleton house, on the morning of the 17th inst. The burning an hospital, and dragging away a number of dying people to expire in swamps, is a species of barbarity hitherto unknown in civilized warfare. The general expects that those unhappy sufferers will be sent immediately as prisoners upon parole. Attacks on hospitals are, among your own continental army, unprecedented. The hospital at Camden was by Gen. Greene’s order protected, although it had an armed guard for its internal police.” Gen. Greene, who ere this, the reader must have perceived, was polite to his friends, and humane to his enemies, for even they are obliged to confess it, immediately instituted an inquiry into this complaint;29 but how it was accommodated cannot now be ascertained.

On the 9th October, 1781,30 Gen. Marion received the most agreeable news of the surrender of Lord Cornwallis, and the next evening gave a fete to the ladies of Santee, at the house of Mr. John Cantey. The general’s heart was not very susceptible of the gentler emotions; he had his friend, and was kind to his inferiors, but his mind was principally absorbed by the love of country; and as the capture of Lord Cornwallis was intimately connected with this passion there is no doubt he felt joy on the occasion. But if he did feel joy upon a few occasions, certain it is that watchful anxiety was the daily inmate of his breast.

On the same day he received the thanks of congress “for his wise, decided and gallant conduct, in defending the liberties of his country, and particularly for his prudent and intrepid attack on a body of British troops on the 31st day of August last; and for the distinguished part he took in the battle of the 8th Sept.” Immediately on receiving the intelligence of the capture of Lord Cornwallis, Gen. Greene prepared for moving his army into the lower country. On the 5th November, he writes to Gen. Marion, “Gen. Sumter has orders to take post at Orangeburgh, to prevent the tories in that quarter from conveying supplies to town, and his advanced parties will penetrate as low as Dorchester; therefore you may act in conjunction with him, or employ your troops on the enemy’s left, as you may find from information, they can best be employed. Please to give me your opinion on which side they can be most useful.” Gen. Marion four days after passed the Santee, and in a short time took post near Huger’s bridge, as it was still termed, though all the bridges in the lower country were taken down, except the one at Goose creek, which seemed to be left by mutual consent of both armies, for the purpose of reaching one another, by at least one way. He arrived at Huger’s bridge in the night, and in less than an hour after detached a strong party by the heads of Huger’s and Quimby creeks, to Cainhoy, in St. Thomas’. On the 23d November Gen. Sumter was posted at Orangeburgh; on the 17th of the same month Gen. Greene marched for the Fourholes. December 7th, he lay at Jacksonborough, and on the 13th of the same month, he encamped at the Round O.

His movements were at this time cautious, in keeping both the Edisto and Ashley between himself and the enemy; because he had heard they were reinforced, and he was as yet without ammunition. He wrote now frequently to Gen. Marion, and almost every letter has a clause similar to the one of the 15th of November: “You are at liberty to act as you think advisable. I have no particular instructions to give you, and only wish you to avoid surprise.”

At the close of this year, Gov. Rutledge and his council issued writs of election for members of the senate and house of representatives, which, by proclamation issued afterwards, were appointed to meet at Jacksonborough. Gen. Greene still lay at the Round O, where he secured the rice and other provisions from the enemy, by sending out patroles of cavalry as far as Dorchester: but he had not yet received a supply of ammunition for his infantry, and Marion was also without that indispensible muniment of war. As to other necessaries he says, “Our horsemen have neither cloaks or blankets, nor have our troops received a shilling of pay since they came into this country. Nor is there a prospect of any. Yet they do not complain.”31 At length on the 14th of December he received a supply of ammunition and sent it all to Marion, then at Watboo, saying, “he was in expectation of soon receiving more.”

The British extended their patroles of cavalry nearly up to Dorchester, but their main body was now confined to Charleston neck.

Thus, in the course of the campaign of 1781, the American army under Gen. Greene, without pay, without clothing, and as we have seen frequently without ammunition, had driven the enemy from all their strong holds but one; had defeated them in battle, and retaken all South Carolina but a neck of land.

 

Detached Narratives for 1781.

There was with Marion’s brigade throughout, a young man, Robert, commonly called Bob James, but oftener, the general’s right hand man. It was known to very few that Marion employed him often to gain intelligence from the enemy in Georgetown and other places. The general never suffered him to mount guard or do common duties; being an excellent woodsman, he was his favourite guide; being an expert swimmer, he was generally by his side when swimming rivers, or paddled him over in a canoe if they had one; being a good fisherman, he often caught him fish; the general would laugh and joke with him, but with no other private. He did not however employ Bob in these small matters when he had any thing serious for him to do. Surprised at his exact intelligence from Georgetown and other places, the author asked him once “how he got it?” He related several interesting particulars, among others this one: “Just in the outskirts of Georgetown there is a pond full of bushes, and in the middle of it a large gum-tree with a thick top and branches that reach the thicket below. This tree overlooked the garrison and both roads leading out of town. I used to climb into it and watch for days together, and if I saw any thing important, immediately came down, mounted my horse, hid in a neighbouring swamp, and told it to the general myself, or sent the only other person we trusted.” The gum tree stood there lately, but Robert James sleeps with his fathers. “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him Horatio.” It was generally thought that although he swam so often on horseback, or crossed rivers in unsteady canoes, the general could not swim himself. His body was sufficient for endurance; and his mind, to sagacity and foresight, united the higher virtues of patience and fortitude. In one thing he appeared singular; long swords were now in fashion as best for attack or defence, but Gen. Marion always wore the little cut and thrust, which was in use in the second regiment, and he was seldom, perhaps never, seen to draw it. His messmates told a story, whether true or not is of little consequence, as it shows the public opinion. The sum of this story was, that on one occasion he attempted to draw it, but it was so rusty he could not extricate it from the scabbard. He had a reason for this apparent singularity; a long sword might have tempted him, a small man, to act the common soldier, and he appeared to place no reliance on his personal prowess. Gen. Greene depended entirely upon him for intelligence. — Now, intelligence is the life of an army. Sumter and Greene were then at variance, and if Sumter gained any, he would not condescend to let Greene know it, but take advantage of it himself. Lee, whose particular business it was to furnish Greene with intelligence, was always too fond of seeing his men and horses in good plight, to expose them to hardships. Marion’s were for every day’s use.

An anecdote worthy to be recorded happened at the brick house at the Eutaw. Capt. Laurence Manning, since adjutant general in this state, marched at the head of the legion infantry to batter down the door of the house. Intent on this single object, and relying confidently on his men, he advanced boldly up to the door; when, looking behind him for the first time, behold his men had deserted him. He stood for a moment at the side of the door, revolving what was to be done. — Fortunately a British officer, Capt. Barry, opened the door gently to peep out, and Manning seizing him fast by the collar, jerked him out. He then used him as an ancient warrior would have done his shield, and the enemy, fearing to shoot least they should kill Barry, Manning escaped without a shot being fired at him from the house.

During the struggle of the present year, (1781) Capt. Wm. Allston, of True Blue, on Little river, All Saints parish, served under Gen. Marion. He was a firm patriot and good soldier; indeed he may well be enumerated among the martyrs to the cause of his country; for having been seized with a fever in camp, he had scarcely time to reach his home, where he expired at a middle age. He left behind him, by his last wife, two sons and a daughter; his eldest son he named after the illustrious Washington; and he has since proved himself to be highly worthy of that distinction. In this son will be readily recognised the distinguished artist, Washington Allston; whose pencil has bestowed celebrity upon the place of his birth, and whom every American should be proud to claim as his countryman.

Towards the conclusion of this year, Maj. Edward Hyrne, one of Gen. Greene’s aids, was commissioned by him to negociate a cartel of exchange of prisoners in Charleston. He had to conduct this with Col. Balfour, who was haughty and unreasonable as well as cruel; his demands were so exorbitant, that Maj. Hyrne, after waiting upon him several times with much patience, at length declared they were utterly inadmissible, and took his leave. Returning to his lodgings, he wrote a note to each British officer on parole in town, informing him he must prepare to follow him into the country the next day. His firmness or good policy had the desired effect; Balfour’s quarters were soon besieged by at least forty officers, many of whom were of higher rank than himself, and Major Hyrne succeeded to the extent of his wishes.

The party under Major John Postell, which was ordered out on the 29th January in this year, and succeeded in taking eleven British waggons with soldiers’ clothing at Keithfield, consisted with the officers, commanding of thirty-eight men.32 They carried off what clothing they could, and what they could not they burnt. What was carried away was sold for a division, and bought in, as it appears, in continental dollars, on the 2d February, 1781.

The prices of a few are inserted; sixteen blankets were sold.

1 Bought by Major Postell for $1590
1 do. Capt. Wm. Capers 2200
1 do. (the lowest priced) by Capt. Thomas Potts, 900
1 Loaf of sugar, Francis Greene, 2000
1 Coat by Capt. Capers, 6210
1 Knife and fork, A. Simons, 700
1 Pair of Stockings, Capt. Capers, 800
&c. &c. &c.

Most of this party were supernumerary officers, who placed themselves under the command of Major (then Captain) Postell, who was justly considered as one of the most enterprising officers in Marion’s brigade. Of these thirty-eight men, the only survivor is Richard Greene, who has been long a respectable and opulent planter on Black river. The account of sales is in the hand writing of Capt. Thomas Potts. There is a list of the names of the thirty-eight, many of whom fought then and afterwards with great bravery. — John Futhey, then a lieutenant, after being promoted to a captaincy was killed in a skirmish at Avant’s ferry on Black river. Thomas Potts, jun. a lieutenant, was twice wounded. John M`Bride, father of the late friend of the author, Dr. James M`Bride, was always at his post. What a loss to science was the early death of the son? Capt. Wm. Capers was imprisoned by Balfour in the upper story of his provost, and made his escape by slipping past the keeper at night when he brought their scanty supper to the prisoners. He had then to descend a steep flight of stairs and pass the guard at the bottom. Luckily he stumbled at the head of the stairs and fell to the bottom, and the guard mistaking him for the keeper, raised him up and gave him much consolation. He had only to refrain from speaking and to utter a few groans, which being an indistinct tone of the voice, made no discovery, and the guard suffered him to pass. A friend furnished him with a small boat to pass Cooper river; but now the difficulty was to get through the British guard ships which lined the river. Being a pretty good mimic, he bethought himself of assuming the character of a drunken sailor going on board his own ship, and acted his part so admirably well, that he was suffered, though often threatened, to pass through the whole fleet. Capt. Capers lost no time in joining Gen. Marion, with whom he fought bravely in the ranks until the general advanced down into St. Thomas’ parish, where he commanded a company, and where he had left property at the mercy of the enemy.33 Capt. Wm. Capers, and his brother G. Sinkler Capers, were often afterwards the terror of the enemy, who had early oppressed and imprisoned them, for G. S. Capers had also made his escape from the provost.

Francis G. Deliesseline, the present sheriff of Charleston district, joined Marion when a boy, and made if possible a still more surprising and narrow escape out of the same provost; but as the narrative would expose certain names which he wishes concealed, he has declined giving it publicity. At so early an age, none behaved better than Deliesseline, and no one has refreshed the author’s memory more in the detail of facts of that period.

Many of the privates of Marion’s brigade were men of character and honour; most of them lost their fortunes by the war, and many made them, or at least handsome competencies, after it; but it is believed that more, cast out of the ways of industry and economy, and losing their all, sunk under the pressure brought upon them. Where they are known, what an injustice would it be to pass over the merits of such men? — On the monument erected by the Greeks at Thermopylae, the names of Leonidas and his three hundred men were not inscribed, because it was thought impossible to imagine they could ever be forgotten.

Pardon me, ye sons of my fellow soldiers! should my memory be found not so tenacious; and should I have passed over the merits of many of your fathers without even a shade of remembrance.

1 This was the same Rugely who behaved so generously to Governor Rutledge. It seems Lord Cornwallis intended to have promoted him, but after this affair he wrote to Tarleton, “Rugely will not be made a brigadier.”

2 Marion’s letter, 22d February.

3 Letter of Marion, 7th March.

4 About ten days, as it appears from the dates of his letters.

5 This young lady was Mary, the second daughter of John Witherspoon, who after the war, was married to Conyers. One day when her lover made his appearance as usual, a British officer made use of language disrespectful to him, which she bore for some time with patience; at last he said something indelicate to herself. She immediately drew off a walking shoe from her foot, and flung it in his face, saying, “coward! go meet him.” In those days kid slippers were not fashionable.

6 Horry’s Narrative.

7 Greene’s letters, 4th and 17th April.

8 Gen. Greene’s elegant letter to Marion, 9th May.

9 Marion’s letter, 23d April.

10 By a copy of Major Postell’s parole, preserved in Horry’s correspondence, it appears he was paroled in Charleston; but, soon after, the British or tories stripped him of all his property, which was a breach of it on their part. In a letter to Gen. Marion, 14th Jan. he says, “My honour is all I have left — my family has been reduced to beg their bread.”

11 This is partly extracted from Lee’s Memoirs.

12 Capt. Smith, afterwards well known in this state as Col. John Smith, of Darlington, surrendered himself prisoner to a lieutenant of the British; and after he had delivered his sword, was struck by the lieutenant with the broad side of it. At the battle of Guilford, Smith had killed Col. Stewart, of the British guards, in a single rencounter; and his bravery was otherwise so well known that the British officers invited him to a dinner in Camden. Before dinner, he mentioned how he had been treated by the lieutenant, and it was agreed among them, that, as that officer was to be present at the dinner, Smith should be at liberty to treat him as he thought fit. Accordingly Smith kicked him down stairs; and as he did not resent it, he was soon after cashiered.

13 As all the accounts of the movements of Greene and Col. Lee, into South Carolina, are confused, from a want of information of the local situation of the country, and the clashing of the names of places; the present note has been subjoined to rectify misconceptions. From Ensign Johnson Baker’s account we have seen Lee at the Long bluff, since called Greenville, now Society-hill. At that time, the marshes of Black creek, and the bogs of Black river, were impassable (except to Marion,) on any direct route to Camden, or Scott’s lake, or Santee; but there was an Indian path, by the way of the present Darlington court house and Day’s ferry, on Lynch’s creek, to Kingstree; and from the latter place there was a road to Murray’s ferry on Santee. From the necessity of the case, therefore, this must have been Lee’s route, for he cannot explain it himself. Lee had been the principal adviser of Greene to return to South Carolina, for which the country can never be too grateful to him; and being now about to invest fort Watson, he sent Dr. Matthew Irvine, for whom both leaders had a great friendship, and who, from his persuasive powers was highly fitted for the mission, to inspire Greene with hope and confidence. Irvine obtained a guide and an escort from Col. Richardson, and proceeded by the route of the Piny lands, back of the Santee hills, then a pathless wilderness, now a thickly settled country, and on the first broad road he fell in with in this tract, he unexpectedly met with Greene, about fifteen miles from Camden. Irvine continued with him, until descending a range of Sand hills between little and great Pinetree creeks, about a mile from Camden, he crossed great Pinetree creek at the place now called M`Crae’s mill. From the latter place, Greene proceeded about three miles to an old mill on Town creek, called English’s; and here Irvine left him, and Cantey met with him as a general and his army emerging from the wilderness. This first broad road must again from the necessity of the case, for there was no other at that time, have been the road from Cheraw hill to Camden. Thus have the accounts of two respectable witnesses, Dr. Irvine and Gen. Cantey, been reconciled, which appeared at first sight impossible.

14 Major Burnet’s letter, 28th April. He was aid to Gen. Greene.

15 Nothing shows the moderation of Gen. Marion more than this simple matter of fact. Although the country at that time was plundered and miserably poor, yet he had only to express a wish and he would have had a dozen homespun blankets. He had then in his pocket a power from the governor to impress them.

16 Dr. Irvine was riding between Cols. Lee and Maham, and was wounded by a discharge of small arms from the enemy, as they wheeled at a short turn of the road. Lee had two surgeons in his corps, Irvine and Skinner; Irvine was apt to expose himself to danger, but Skinner, although he had on one occasion killed his adversary in a duel, was a coward; and the method he now took to punish Irvine for what he called his temerity, was not to dress his wounds until the last.

17 Lee states that he found such a chasm in the bridge his men could not cross it.

18 These St. Augustine friends, were sixty-two influential characters, citizens of Charleston, whom Lord Cornwallis, soon after the town surrendered, had ordered to be sent and imprisoned at St. Augustine, contrary to the terms of the capitulation.

19 Vatt. B.1.C.13. S.170-2. Montesq. B.6.C.3.

20 It is believed, at English’s ferry, nine miles below Camden.

21 Col. Doyle gives him that title in a letter hereafter noticed.

22 Plenty of water might have been procured, in Eutaw creek, some hundred yards from the battle ground; and why the retreat was not directed there, or to Santee river, distant a mile, the author is at a loss to discover: unless it was that Greene’s force was scattered up the road, and he wished to concentrate it. It was not from dread of the enemy.

23 Maj. Marjoribanks, by whom in conjunction with Sheridan, the British army was saved, lies buried on the Santee canal road, about half a mile below the chapel; he was a brave and generous enemy; and on an old head board, the following inscription is still to be seen: “JOHN MARJORIBANKS, Esqr. late major to the 19th regt. inf’y and commanding a flank bat’n. of his majesty’s army. Obiit. 22d October, 1781.”

24 Very soon after the revolutionary war, this scene was entirely changed. Planters, in clearing their land, had rolled logs and other rubbish from their fields, into the lakes and creeks leading from the river, and many threw trees into it to get them quickly out of the way. The upper country also soon became more opened, and gave freer vent from above to the waters. There came on a succession of six or seven years, which were wet; and the consequence was, that the usual passages for the waters below being obstructed, they flooded the low grounds, and ruined the planters. Where fine corn grew at that time, trees may now be seen a foot and a half in diameter, in the midst of briars and cane brakes.

25 Commonly called mutton corn, a corruption of matin, that is early corn.

26 Instance — New England rum at $3 75. Soldier’s saddles $25. Blankets none as yet. Best indigo in exchange three shillings sterling. Letter 9th October.

27 Governor Rutledge had but two of his council with him at this time, Daniel Huger and John L. Gervais.

28 For an example of its present depreciation, see p. 152. [Detached Narratives for 1781, Paragraph 6 — list of prices. — A. L.]

29 Greene’s letter, 24th Nov.

30 This date is given both here and in Simms’ Life of Marion, but it must be an error, as Cornwallis did not surrender until the 19th. The 29th October or 9th November are more likely dates. — A. L., 1997.

31 Greene’s letters, 13th and 14th December.

32 This statement is confusing. To paraphrase, Postell’s party (which made this attack) consisted of thirty-eight supernumerary officers. — A. L., 1997.

33 The following is a curious fact in natural history. When Capt. G. S. Capers returned to his plantation in 1782, it had been completely stripped of all live stock and poultry, except one cock. When the British chased him he had always taken refuge under a kitchen low to the ground. This bird was carefully preserved. After the war, it was the fashion for ladies to wear scarlet cloaks, and so strong was his recollection (must it be so called) of the colour of the British uniform, that whenever he saw ladies in scarlet cloaks, he would squall out, as such birds usually do at sight of danger, and run directly under the kitchen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *