COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE
DURING THE WAR WHICH ESTABLISHED THE INDEPENDENCE OF HIS COUNTRY, AND
COMPILED UNDER THE INSPECTION OF
THE HONOURABLE BUSHROD WASHINGTON,
BEQUEATHED TO HIM BY HIS DECEASED RELATIVE, AND NOW IN POSSESSION OF THE AUTHOR.
TO WHICH IS PREFIXED,
CONTAINING A COMPENDIOUS VIEW OF THE COLONIES PLANTED BY THE ENGLISH ON THE
CONTINENT OF NORTH AMERICA,
FROM THEIR SETTLEMENT TO THE COMMENCEMENT OF THAT WAR WHICH TERMINATED IN THEIR
BY JOHN MARSHALL.
THE CITIZENS' GUILD OF WASHINGTON'S BOYHOOD HOME FREDERICKSBURG, VA.
Printed in the U.S.A.
[Illustration: George Washington
From the painting by James Sharples
Sharples is distinguished for having painted what the Washington family regarded as the most faithful likenesses of the Father of His Country. This portrait in particular is the best resemblance we have of Washington during the period between his resignation as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army and his inauguration as First President of the United States. The Sharples portraits of Washington were commissioned by Robert Cary, a London merchant and admirer of our First President, who sent the artist on a special trip to America to do the work. This and other portraits by Sharples of Washington and his compeers long remained in England, but are now in the Collection of Herbert L. Pratt, New York.]
Greene invests Camden.... Battle of Hobkirk's Hill.... Progress of Marion and Lee.... Lord Rawdon retires into the lower country.... Greene invests Ninety Six.... Is repulsed.... Retires from that place.... Active movements of the two armies.... After a short repose they resume active operations.... Battle of Eutaw.... The British army retires towards Charleston.
Preparations for another campaign.... Proceedings in the Parliament of Great Britain. Conciliatory conduct of General Carleton.... Transactions in the south.... Negotiations for peace.... Preliminary and eventual articles agreed upon between the United States and Great Britain.... Discontents of the American army.... Peace.... Mutiny of a part of the Pennsylvania line.... Evacuation of New York.... General Washington resigns his commission and retires to Mount Vernon.
General Washington devotes his time to rural pursuits.... to the duties of friendship.... and to institutions of public utility.... Resolves of Congress and of the Legislature of Virginia for erecting statues to his honour.... Recommends improvement in inland navigation.... Declines accepting a donation made to him by his native state.... The society of the Cincinnati.... He is elected President.... The causes which led to a change of the government of the United States.... Circular letter of General Washington to the governors of the several states.
Differences between Great Britain and the United States.... Mr. Adams appointed minister to Great Britain.... Discontents excited by the commercial regulations of Britain.... Parties in the United States.... The convention at Annapolis.... Virginia appoints deputies to a convention at Philadelphia.... General Washington chosen one of them.... Insurrection at Massachusetts.... Convention at Philadelphia.... A form of government submitted to the respective states, as ratified by eleven of them.... Correspondence of General Washington respecting the chief magistracy.... He is elected president.... Meeting of the first congress.
The election of General Washington officially announced to him.... His departure for the seat of government.... Marks of affection shown him on his journey.... His inauguration and speech to Congress.... His system of intercourse with the world.... Letters on this and other subjects.... Answers of both houses of Congress to the speech.... Domestic and foreign relations of the United States.... Debates on the impost and tonnage bills.... On the power of removal from office.... On the policy of the secretary of the treasury reporting plans of revenue.... On the style of the President.... Amendments to the constitution.... Appointment of executive officers, and of the judges.... Adjournment of the first session of congress.... The President visits New England.... His reception.... North Carolina accedes to the union.
Meeting of congress.... President's speech.... Report of the secretary of the treasury on public credit.... Debate thereon.... Bill for fixing the permanent seat of government.... Adjournment of congress.... Treaty with the Creek Indians.... Relations of the United States with Great Britain and Spain.... The President visits Mount Vernon.... Session of congress.... The President's speech.... Debates on the excise.... On a national bank.... The opinions of the cabinet on the law.... Progress of parties.... War with the Indians.... Defeat of Harmar.... Adjournment of congress.
General St. Clair appointed Commander-in-chief.... The President makes a tour through the southern states.... Meeting of congress.... President's speech.... Debate on the bill for apportioning representatives.... Military law.... Defeat of St. Clair.... Opposition to the increase of the army.... Report of the Secretary of the Treasury for raising additional supplies.... Congress adjourns.... Strictures on the conduct of administration, with a view of parties.... Disagreement between the Secretaries of State and Treasury.... Letters from General Washington.... Opposition to the excise law.... President's proclamation.... Insurrection and massacre in the island of St. Domingo.... General Wayne appointed to the command of the army.... Meeting of congress.... President's speech.... Resolutions implicating the Secretary of the Treasury, rejected.... Congress adjourns.... Progress of the French revolution, and its effects on parties in the United States.
Greene invests Camden.... Battle of Hobkirk's Hill.... Progress of Marion and Lee.... Lord Rawdon retires into the lower country.... Greene invests Ninety Six.... Is repulsed.... Retires from that place.... Active movements of the two armies.... After a short repose they resume active operations.... Battle of Eutaw.... The British army retires towards Charleston.
In South Carolina and Georgia, the campaign of 1781 was uncommonly active. The importance of the object, the perseverance with which it was pursued, the talents of the generals, the courage, activity, and sufferings of the armies, and the accumulated miseries of the inhabitants, gave to the contest for these states, a degree of interest seldom bestowed on military transactions, in which greater numbers have not been employed.
When Lord Cornwallis entered North Carolina, the military operations in the more southern states were committed to Lord Rawdon. For the preservation of his power, a line of posts slightly fortified had been continued from Charleston, by the way of Camden and Ninety Six, to Augusta, in Georgia. The spirit of resistance was still kept up in the north-western and north-eastern parts of the state, by Generals Sumpter and Marion, who respectively commanded a corps of militia. Their exertions, though great, seem not to have been successful; and they excited no alarm, because no addition to their strength was apprehended.
Such was the situation of the country when General Greene formed the bold resolution of endeavouring to reannex it to the American union. His army consisted of about eighteen hundred men. The prospect of procuring subsistence was unpromising, and the chance of reinforcements precarious. He was apprized of the dangers to be encountered, but believed it to be for the public interest to meet them. "I shall take every measure," said this gallant officer, in a letter communicating his plan of operations to General Washington, "to avoid a misfortune. But necessity obliges me to commit myself to chance, and if any accident should attend me, I trust my friends will do justice to my reputation."
The extensive line of posts maintained by Lord Rawdon, presented to Greene many objects, at which, it was probable he might strike with advantage. The day preceding his march from the camp on Deep river, he detached Lee to join General Marion, and communicated his intention of entering South Carolina to General Pickens with a request that he would assemble the western militia, and lay siege to Ninety Six, and Augusta.
[Sidenote: Green invests Camden.]
Having made these arrangements, he moved from Deep river on the seventh of April, and encamped before Camden on the nineteenth of the same month, within half a mile of the British works. Lord Rawdon had received early notice of his approach, and was prepared for his reception.
Camden stands on a gentle elevation, and is covered on the south and south-west by the Wateree, and on the east by Pine-tree creek. A strong chain of redoubts, extending from the river to the creek, protected the north and west sides of the town. Being unable to storm the works or to invest them on all sides, Greene contented himself with lying before the place in the hope of being reinforced by militia, or of some event which might bring on an action in the open field. With this view he retired a small distance, and encamped on Hobkirk's hill, about a mile and a half from the town. While in this situation, he received information that Colonel Watson was marching up the Santee with about four hundred men. A junction between these two divisions of the British army, could be prevented only by intercepting Watson while at a distance from Camden. For this purpose, he crossed Sand-hill creek and encamped east of Camden, on the road leading to Charleston. It being impracticable to transport the artillery and baggage over the deep marshes adjoining the creek, Colonel Carrington with the North Carolina militia was directed to convey them to a place of safety, and to guard them till farther orders. The army continued a few days in its new encampment, during which the troops subsisted on the scanty supplies furnished by the neighbourhood. Greene was compelled at length, by the want of provisions, to relinquish this position. About the same time he received intelligence which induced him to doubt the approach of Watson. On which he ordered Lieutenant Colonel Carrington to rejoin him; and on the 24th, returned to the north side of the town, and again encamped on Hobkirk's hill, a ridge covered with uninterrupted wood through which the great Waxhaw road passes. The army was encamped in order of battle, its left covered by the swamp of Pine-tree creek.
[Footnote 1: Higher up, this river is called the Catawba.]
A drummer, who deserted on the morning after Greene's return, and before he was rejoined by Lieutenant Colonel Carrington, gave information to Lord Rawdon that the artillery and militia had been detached. His lordship determined to seize this favourable occasion for fighting his enemy to advantage, and, at the head of nine hundred men, marched out of town on the morning of the twenty-fifth to attack the American army.
Lieutenant Colonel Carrington had arrived in camp that morning, and brought with him a supply of provisions which had been issued to the troops, some of whom were employed in cooking and others in washing their clothes. Notwithstanding those occupations, they were in reach of their arms, and were in readiness to take their ground and engage at a moment's warning.
[Sidenote: Battle of Hobkirk's Hill.]
By keeping close to the swamp, and making a circuit of some distance, Lord Rawdon gained the American left without being perceived; and about eleven, his approach was announced by the fire of the advanced piquets, who were half a mile in front of Greene's encampment. Orders were instantly given to form the American line of battle.
The Virginia brigade commanded by General Huger, consisting of two regiments under Campbell and Hawes, was drawn up on the right of the great road. The Maryland brigade commanded by Colonel Williams, consisting also of two regiments, under Gunby and Ford, was on the left, and the artillery was placed in the centre. The North Carolina militia under Colonel Read formed a second line; and Captain Kirkwood with the light infantry was placed in front for the purpose of supporting the piquets, and retarding the advance of the enemy. General Greene remained on the right, with Campbell's regiment.
Captain Morgan of Virginia, and Captain Benson of Maryland, who commanded the piquets, gave the enemy a warm reception; but were soon compelled to retire. Captain Kirkwood also was driven in, and the British troops appeared in view. Rawdon continued his march through the wood along the low ground in front of the Maryland brigade which was in the act of forming, until he reached the road, where he displayed his column.
Perceiving that the British advanced with a narrow front, Greene ordered Colonel Ford, whose regiment was on the extreme left, and Lieutenant Colonel Campbell, whose regiment was on the extreme right, severally to attack their flanks, while Gunby and Hawes should advance upon their front with charged bayonets. To complete their destruction by cutting off their retreat to the town, Lieutenant Colonel Washington was ordered to pass their left flank and charge them in the rear.
The regiments commanded by Ford and Campbell, being composed chiefly of new levies, did not change their ground, and perform the evolutions necessary for the duty assigned to them, with the requisite rapidity and precision; in consequence of which Rawdon, who instantly perceived the danger that threatened his flanks, had time to extend his front by bringing the volunteers of Ireland into his line.
This judicious movement disconcerted the design on his flanks, and brought the two armies into action fronting each other. But the regiments of Ford and Campbell were thrown into some confusion by the abortive attempt to gain the flanks of the British.
Colonel Washington too was compelled by the thick underwood and felled trees which obstructed his direct course, to make so extensive a circuit, that he came into the rear of the British at a greater distance from the scene of action than was intended, in consequence of which he fell in with their medical and other staff, and with a number of the followers of the army and idle spectators, who took no part in the action. Too humane to cut his way through this crowd, he employed so much time in taking their verbal parole, that he could not reach the rear of the British line until the battle was ended. These casualties disappointed this very interesting part of Greene's intended operations.
[Footnote 2: This account of the battle of Hobkirk's Hill varies in several particulars from that contained in the first edition. In making the alteration the author has followed the letter of General Davie, published in Mr. Johnson's biography of General Greene. General Davie was known to the author to be a gentleman in whose representations great confidence is to be placed on every account, and his situation in the army enabled him to obtain the best information.]
The artillery, however, played on the enemy with considerable effect; and the regiments of Gunby and Hawes advanced on the British front with resolution. Some companies on the right of the Maryland regiment returned the fire of the enemy, and their example was followed by the others. Notwithstanding this departure from orders, they continued to advance with intrepidity, and Greene entertained sanguine hopes of victory. His prospects were blasted by one of those incidents against which military prudence can make no provision.
Captain Beaty, who commanded on the right of Gunby's regiment, was killed, upon which his company with that adjoining it got into confusion and dropped out of the line. Gunby ordered the other companies, which were still advancing, to fall back, and form, with the two companies, behind the hill which the British were ascending. This retrograde movement was mistaken for a retreat, and the regiment gave way. Encouraged by this circumstance, the British pressed forward with increased ardour, and all the efforts of Colonel Williams, and of Gunby and Howard, to rally the regiment were, for a time, ineffectual. This veteran regiment, distinguished alike for its discipline and courage, which with the cavalry of Washington, had won the battle of the Cowpens, and nearly won that at Guilford court house, was seized with an unaccountable panic which, for a time, resisted all the efforts of their officers.
The flight of the first Maryland regiment increased the confusion which the change of ground had produced in the second; and, in attempting to restore order, Colonel Ford was mortally wounded. Lord Rawdon improved these advantages to the utmost. His right gained the summit of the hill, forced the artillery to retire, and turned the flank of the second Virginia regiment, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Hawes, which had advanced some distance down the hill. By this time the first Virginia regiment, which Greene had endeavoured to lead in person against the left flank of the British, being also in some disorder, began to give ground. Perceiving this reverse in his affairs, and knowing that he could not rely on his second line, Greene thought it most adviseable to secure himself from the hazard of a total defeat by withdrawing the second Virginia regiment from the action.
The Maryland brigade was in part rallied; but Lord Rawdon had gained the hill, and it was thought too late to retrieve the fortune of the day. Greene determined to reserve his troops for a more auspicious moment, and ordered a retreat.
Finding that the infantry had retreated, Colonel Washington also retired with the loss of only three men, bringing with him about fifty prisoners, among whom were all the surgeons belonging to the British army.
The Americans retreated in good order about four miles from the field of battle, and proceeded, next day, to Rugeley's mills. The pursuit was continued about three miles. In the course of it, some sharp skirmishing took place, which was terminated by a vigorous charge made by Colonel Washington on a corps of British horse who led their van. This corps being broken and closely pursued, the infantry in its rear retreated precipitately into Camden.
The number of continental troops engaged in this action amounted to about twelve hundred men, and the loss in killed, wounded, and missing, to two hundred and sixty-six. Among the killed was Captain Beaty, of Maryland, who was mentioned by General Greene as an ornament to his profession; and among the wounded was Colonel Ford, of Maryland, a gallant officer, whose wounds proved mortal. The militia attached to the army amounted to two hundred and sixty-six, of whom two were missing. The total loss sustained by the British army has been stated at two hundred and fifty-eight, of whom thirty-eight were killed in the field.
[Footnote 3: There is some variance between this statement and that which has been made by Mr. Ramsay and Mr. Gordon, although their estimates are supposed to have been formed on the same document—the field return made by the adjutant general of the southern army, dated the 26th of April. This return contains a column of the present fit for duty, and also exhibits the killed, wounded, and missing, but contains no column of total numbers. Mr. Ramsay and Mr. Gordon are supposed to have taken the column of present fit for duty as exhibiting the strength of the army on the day of the battle; but as this return was made the day after the action, the author has supposed that the killed, wounded, and missing, must be added to the numbers fit for duty on the day of the return, to give the actual strength of the army at the time of the engagement.]
The plan which the strength of Camden and his own weakness had induced General Greene originally to adopt, was still substantially pursued. He remained in the vicinity of that place, and by the activity of his cavalry, straightened the communication of the garrison with the neighbouring country. Their distress for provisions had been considerably increased by the progress of Marion and Lee.
[Sidenote: Several British posts taken.]
Lieutenant Colonel Lee joined Marion a few days after he was detached from the camp on Deep river; and these two officers commenced their operations against the line of communication between Camden and Charleston, by laying siege to fort Watson, which capitulated in a few days. The acquisition of this fort afforded the means of interrupting the intercourse between Camden and Charleston, and opposed an obstacle to the retreat of Lord Rawdon which he would have found it difficult to surmount.
From the increasing perils of his situation, his lordship was relieved by the arrival of Colonel Watson.
In attempting to obey the orders, which were given by Lord Rawdon on the approach of Greene, to join him at Camden, that officer found himself opposed by Marion and Lee, who had seized the passes over the creeks in his route; and had thus completely arrested his march. To elude these vigilant adversaries, Watson returned down the Santee, and crossing that river near its mouth, marched up its southern side, and recrossing it above the American detachment, and, eluding all the measures taken to intercept him, accomplished his object with much toil and hazard.
This reinforcement gave the British general a decided superiority; and Greene entertained no doubt of its being immediately employed. On the day of its arrival, therefore, he withdrew from the neighbourhood of Camden, and took a strong position behind Sawney's creek.
On the night of the seventh, as had been conjectured, Rawdon passed the Wateree at Camden ferry, intending to turn the flank of his enemy, and to attack his rear, where the ground was less difficult than in front. On being informed that the American army had changed its position, he followed it to its new encampment. This was so judiciously chosen that he despaired of being able to force it; and, after some ineffectual manoeuvres to draw Greene from it, returned to Camden.
Lord Rawdon had been induced to relinquish, thus hastily, his designs upon Greene, by the insecurity of his situation. The state of the British power in South Carolina was such as to require a temporary surrender of the upper country. Marion and Lee, after completely destroying his line of communication on the north side of the Santee, had crossed that river, and permitted no convoy from Charleston to escape their vigilance. On the eighth of May, after Watson had passed them, they laid siege to a post at Motte's house, on the south side of the Congaree, near its junction with the Wateree, which had been made the depot of all the supplies designed for Camden.
From the energy of this party as well as from the defection of the inhabitants, Lord Rawdon had reason to apprehend the loss of all his lower posts, unless he should take a position which would support them. He had therefore determined to evacuate Camden, unless the issue of a battle with Greene should be such as to remove all fears of future danger from that officer.
[Sidenote: Lord Rawdon retires into the lower country.]
Having failed in his hope of bringing on a general engagement, he evacuated Camden, and marched down the river on its north side to Neilson's ferry. Among the objects to be obtained by this movement was the security of the garrison at Motte's house. But the siege of that place had been so vigorously prosecuted that, on crossing the river, his lordship received the unwelcome intelligence that it had surrendered on the twelfth, and that its garrison, consisting of one hundred and sixty-five men, had become prisoners. On the preceding day, the post at Orangeburg had surrendered to Sumpter.
On the evening of the fourteenth, Lord Rawdon moved from Neilson's ferry, and marched to Monk's Corner, a position which enabled him to cover those districts from which Charleston drew its supplies.
While the British army was thus under the necessity of retiring, the American force was exerted with a degree of activity which could not be surpassed. After the post at Motte's house had fallen, Marion proceeded against Georgetown, on the Black river, which place he reduced; and Lee marched against fort Granby, a post on the south of the Congaree, which was garrisoned by three hundred and fifty-two men, principally militia. The place was invested on the evening of the fourteenth, and the garrison capitulated the next morning.
The late movement of the British army had left the garrison of Ninety Six and of Augusta exposed to the whole force of Greene, and he determined to direct his operations against them. Lee was ordered to proceed against the latter, while the general should march in person to the former.
The post at Ninety Six was fortified. The principal work, which, from its form, was called the Star, and which was on the right of the village, consisted of sixteen salient and reentering angles, and was surrounded by a dry ditch, fraize, and abattis. On the left was a valley, through which ran a rivulet that supplied the place with water. This valley was commanded on one side by the town prison, which had been converted into a block-house, and on the other by a stockade fort, in which a block-house had been erected. The garrison, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Cruger, was ample for the extent of the place, but was furnished with only three pieces of artillery.
On evacuating Camden, Lord Rawdon had given directions that the garrison of Ninety Six should retire to Augusta; but his messengers were intercepted; and Cruger, remaining without orders, determined to put his post in the best possible state of defence.
[Sidenote: Greene invests Ninety Six.]
On the 22nd of May the American army, consisting of about one thousand continental troops, appeared before the town, and encamped in a wood, within cannon shot of the place. On the following night they broke ground, within seventy yards of the British works; but the besieged having mounted several guns in the star, made a vigorous sally under their protection, and drove the advanced party of the besiegers from their trenches, put several of them to the bayonet, and brought off their intrenching tools.
This sortie was made with such rapidity, that, though General Greene put his whole army in motion, the party making it had accomplished the object and retired into the fort, before he could support his troops in the trenches. After this check, the siege was conducted with more caution, but with indefatigable industry.
On the 8th of June, Lee rejoined the army with the troops under his command.
The day after the fall of fort Granby, that active officer proceeded with great celerity to join General Pickens, and lay siege to Augusta. On the march, he took possession of fort Golphin, on the northern bank of the Savannah, which surrendered on the 21st of May; immediately after which the operations against Augusta were commenced.
The place was bravely defended by Lieutenant Colonel Brown; but the approaches of the besiegers were so well conducted, that on the 5th of June he was reduced to the necessity of capitulating; and the prisoners, amounting to about three hundred, were conducted by Lee to the main army.
This reinforcement enabled General Greene, who had till then made his approaches solely against the star, to commence operations against the works on the left also. The direction of the advances to be made in that quarter was entrusted to Lieutenant Colonel Lee. While the besiegers urged their approaches in the confidence that the place must soon capitulate, Lord Rawdon received a reinforcement which enabled him once more to overrun the state of South Carolina.
On the third of June three regiments arrived from Ireland; and, on the seventh of that month, Lord Rawdon marched at the head of two thousand men to the relief of Ninety Six. Greene received intelligence of his approach on the eleventh, and ordered Sumpter, to whose aid the cavalry was detached, to continue in his front, and to impede his march by turning to the best account every advantage afforded by the face of the country. But Lord Rawdon passed Sumpter below the junction of the Saluda and Broad rivers, after which that officer was probably unable to regain his front.
Greene had also intended to meet the British and fight them at some distance from Ninety Six, but found it impossible to draw together such aids of militia as would enable him to execute that intention with any prospect of success. The only remaining hope was to press the siege so vigorously as to compel a surrender before Lord Rawdon could arrive.
In the execution of this plan, the garrison was reduced to extremities, when the near approach of his lordship was communicated to Cruger, by a loyalist who passed through the American lines, and extinguished every hope of carrying the place otherwise than by storm. Unwilling to relinquish a prize he was on the point of obtaining, Greene resolved to essay every thing which could promise success; but the works were so strong that it would be madness to assault them, unless a partial attempt to make a lodgement on one of the curtains of the star redoubt, and at the same time to carry the fort on the left, should the first succeed.
[Sidenote: Is repulsed and retires from before that place.]
The proper dispositions for this partial assault being made, Lieutenant Colonel Lee, at the head of the legion infantry and Kirkwood's company, was ordered to assault the works on the left of the town; while Lieutenant Colonel Campbell was to lead the first regiment of Maryland, and the first of Virginia, against the star redoubt. The lines of the third parallel were manned, and all the artillery opened on the besieged. About noon the detachments on this service marched cheerfully to the assault. Lee's attack on the left was successful. He forced the works in that quarter and took possession of them. But the resistance on the right was more determined, and Campbell, though equally brave, was less fortunate. Lieutenants Duval of Maryland, and Selden of Virginia, led the forlorn hope, and entered the ditch with great intrepidity; but its depth, and the height of the parapet opposed obstructions which could not be surmounted. After a severe conflict of more than half an hour, during which Lieutenants Duval and Selden were both badly wounded, and nearly all the forlorn hope were either killed or wounded, the assault was relinquished, and the few who remained alive were recalled from the ditch. The next day, Greene raised the siege, and, crossing the Saluda, encamped on Little River. The loss of the besieging army, in killed and wounded, amounted to one hundred and fifty-five men, among the former of whom was Captain Armstrong of Maryland. That of the garrison has been stated at eighty-five.
On the morning of the 21st of June, Lord Rawdon arrived at Ninety Six; and, on the evening of the same day, marched in quest of the American army. In the preceding operations of the campaign, he had felt the want of cavalry so severely that, while at Monk's Corner, and in Charleston, he had formed a corps of one hundred and fifty horse.
[Sidenote: Active movements of the two armies.]
Greene, foreseeing that his active adversary would avail himself to the utmost of his superiority, had sent his sick and wounded northward; and, as soon as Rawdon had crossed the Saluda, he retreated towards Virginia. Lord Rawdon pursued him to the Eunora, whence he returned to Ninety Six.
The retreat ceased with the pursuit. General Greene halted near the cross roads, on the north of Broad River.
As Rawdon retired, he was followed close by the legion as far as Ninety Six, at which place he remained but two days. Still retaining the opinion that circumstances required him to contract his posts, he left the principal part of his army, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Cruger, to protect the loyalists while removing within those limits which were to be maintained by the British forces; and, at the head of less than one thousand men, marched in person towards the Congaree.
Supposing that his adversary intended to preserve the post at Ninety Six, where the royalists were numerous, and to establish one or two on the Congaree, where provisions were more plentiful than in any other part of the state, Greene determined to interrupt the execution of the plan which he believed to have been formed. Leaving his sick and baggage at Wynnsborough, to be conducted to Camden, he marched with the utmost expedition for Friday's ferry on the Congaree, at which place Lord Rawdon had arrived two days before him. As Greene drew near to his enemy, a detachment from the legion under the command of Captain Eggleston, announced his approach by attacking a foraging party within a mile of the British camp, and bringing off a troop consisting of forty-five men, with their officers and horses. Rawdon retreated the next day to Orangeburg, where he formed a junction with a detachment from Charleston, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Stuart.
On the Congaree, Greene was reinforced by Sumpter and Marion with about one thousand men; and, on the 11th of July, marched towards Orangeburg with the intention of attacking the British army at that place. He arrived there the next day, but found it so strongly posted as to be unassailable. He offered battle, but prudence restrained him from attacking the enemy in his camp.
At this place, intelligence was received of the evacuation of Ninety Six, and that Lieutenant Colonel Cruger was marching down to Orangeburg. The north branch of the Edisto, which, for thirty miles, was passable only at the place occupied by Rawdon, interposed an insuperable obstacle to any attempt on Cruger; and Greene thought it most adviseable to force the British out of the upper country by threatening their lower posts at Monk's corner and at Dorchester. Sumpter, Marion, and Lee, were detached on this service; and, on the same day, Greene moved towards the high hills of Santee, a healthy situation, where he purposed to give some refreshment and repose to his harassed army, and where he hoped to be joined by a few continental troops and militia from North Carolina.
The detachments ordered against the posts in the north-eastern parts of the state, under the command of Sumpter, were not so completely successful as their numbers, courage, and enterprise deserved. The several corps took distinct routes, intending to fall on the different posts between Ashley and Cooper rivers, at the same time. That at Dorchester was broken up, on the approach of Lee, who captured horses, military stores, and baggage to a considerable amount, and obtained some trivial successes over the flying enemy. Lieutenant Colonel Wade Hampton, of the state cavalry, fell in with a body of mounted refugees, dispersed the whole, and made forty or fifty prisoners.
Sumpter advanced against Monk's corner. This post was defended by Lieutenant Colonel Coates with the 19th British regiment, and a troop of horse. He had taken possession of a brick church at a bridge over Biggin creek, the most northern of the water courses which form the west branch of Cooper river. After passing Biggin, the road to Charleston crosses first Wattoo, and then Quinby creek; neither of which is passable except at the bridges over which the road leads, and at a ferry over Quinby.
On the sixteenth, Sumpter approached Monk's corner, but, not supposing himself strong enough to hazard an attack until all his detachments should be collected, sent a party to seize the bridge over Wattoo, and either to hold or to destroy it. This party being attacked by a superior force, retired from the bridge without completing its destruction, and without informing Sumpter that his orders had not been fully executed.
Marion had joined Sumpter. Lee arrived late in the evening, and the resolution was taken to attack Coates early next morning.
In the course of the night he set fire to the church, in order to destroy the stores which were collected in it, and commenced his march to Charleston, by the road east of Cooper. Having repaired the bridge over Wattoo, he met with no obstruction; and proceeded with his infantry on the road leading to Quinby bridge, directed his cavalry to take a road turning to the right, and crossing the creek at the ferry.
About three next morning, the flames bursting through the roof of the church announced the retreat of the British; and the pursuit was immediately commenced. Sumpter was preceded by the legion, supported by the state cavalry. A detachment from this regiment followed the British horse, in the vain hope of overtaking the troop at the ferry, while Lee pursued the infantry. Within a short distance of the bridge, which is eighteen miles from Monk's corner, he perceived the rear guard of the British, consisting of about one hundred men, commanded by Captain Campbell, which the cavalry charged, sword in hand. They threw down their arms, and begged for quarter; upon which they were placed under the care of a few militia horsemen, and the American cavalry resumed the pursuit.
They had not proceeded far, when Lee was called to the rear, by information that the prisoners had been ordered to resume their arms. At this critical moment, Armstrong, at the head of the leading section, came in sight of Coates, who having passed the bridge, and loosened the planks, lay, unapprehensive of danger, intending to destroy it as soon as his rear guard should cross the creek. Armstrong, in obedience to orders, given in the expectation that he would overtake Coates before passing the creek, dashed over the bridge on the guard stationed at the opposite end with a howitzer, which he seized. In this operation, his horses threw off some of the loosened planks, and made a chasm, over which the following section, led by Lieutenant Carrington, leaped with difficulty. In doing this some other planks were thrown off, and the horses of the third section refused to take the leap. At this time Lee came up, and every effort was made to replace the planks, but without success. The creek was too deep and miry to afford foot hold to those who attempted to raise them from the water.
This halt revived the courage of the British soldiers, who returned to the support of their commander, then engaged in an equal conflict with the cavalry who had passed the bridge. These gallant men finding themselves overpowered by numbers, and that their comrades could not support them, pressed over the causeway, and wheeling into the woods, made their escape.
[Footnote 4: Mr. Johnson states that Captain M'Cauley, of South Carolina, had joined Armstrong and Carrington. Some of the troopers were killed on the bridge.]
After finding the impracticability of replacing the planks on the bridge, in attempting which, Doctor Irvin, surgeon of the legion cavalry, and several of the troopers were wounded, Lee withdrew from the contest, and moved some distance up the creek, to a ford where he was soon joined by the infantry of the legion.
Coates then completed the demolition of the bridge, and retired to an adjoining plantation, where he took possession of the dwelling house and out buildings that surrounded it.
As the Americans were obliged to make a considerable circuit, Sumpter, who unfortunately left his artillery behind, did not arrive on the ground till three in the afternoon, and at four the house was attacked. The fire was kept up chiefly by Marion's division, from a fence near the house, till evening, when the ammunition was exhausted, and the troops were called off. In the course of the night, it was perceived that the loss had fallen almost entirely on Marion. Great discontent prevailed, and many of the men left him. The infection was communicated to Sumpter's troops, and there being reason to fear the approach of Lord Rawdon, the enterprise was abandoned. Sumpter crossed the Santee; and the legion rejoined the army, then encamped at the high hills of that river.
The intense heat of this sultry season demanded some relaxation from the unremitting toils which the southern army had encountered. From the month of January, it had been engaged in one course of incessant fatigue, and of hardy enterprise. All its powers had been strained, nor had any interval been allowed to refresh and recruit the almost exhausted strength and spirits of the troops.
The continued labours and exertions of all were highly meritorious; but the successful activity of one corps will attract particular attention. The legion, from its structure, was peculiarly adapted to the partisan war of the southern states; and, by being detached against the weaker posts of the enemy, had opportunities for displaying with advantage all the energies it possessed. In that extensive sweep which it made from the Santee to Augusta, which employed from the 15th of April to the 5th of June, this corps, acting in conjunction, first with Marion, afterwards with Pickens, and sometimes alone, had constituted an essential part of the force which carried five British posts, and made upwards of eleven hundred prisoners. Its leader, in the performance of these services, displayed a mind of so much fertility of invention and military resource, as to add greatly to his previous reputation as a partisan.
The whole army had exhibited a degree of activity, courage, and patient suffering, surpassing any expectation that could have been formed of troops composed chiefly of new levies; and its general had manifested great firmness, enterprise, prudence, and skill.
The suffering sustained in this ardent struggle for the southern states was not confined to the armies. The inhabitants of the country felt all the miseries which are inflicted by war in its most savage form. Being almost equally divided between the two contending parties, reciprocal injuries had gradually sharpened their resentments against each other, and had armed neighbour against neighbour, until it became a war of extermination. As the parties alternately triumphed, opportunities were alternately given for the exercise of their vindictive passions. They derived additional virulence from the examples occasionally afforded by the commanders of the British forces. After overrunning Georgia and South Carolina, they seem to have considered those states as completely reannexed to the British empire; and they manifested a disposition to treat those as rebels, who had once submitted and again taken up arms, although the temporary ascendency of the continental troops should have induced the measure. One of these executions, that of Colonel Hayne, took place on the third of August, while Lord Rawdon was in Charleston, preparing to sail for Europe. The American army being at this time in possession of great part of the country, the punishment inflicted on this gentleman was taken up very seriously by General Greene, and was near producing a system of retaliation. The British officers, pursuing this policy, are stated to have executed several of the zealous partisans of the revolution who fell into their hands. These examples had unquestionably some influence in unbridling the revengeful passions of the royalists, and letting loose the spirit of slaughter which was brooding in their bosoms. The disposition to retaliate to the full extent of their power, if not to commit original injury, was equally strong in the opposite party. When fort Granby surrendered, the militia attached to the legion manifested so strong a disposition to break the capitulation, and to murder the most obnoxious among the prisoners who were inhabitants of the country, as to produce a solemn declaration from General Greene, that any man guilty of so atrocious an act should be executed. When fort Cornwallis surrendered, no exertions could have saved Colonel Brown, had he not been sent to Savannah protected by a guard of continental troops. Lieutenant Colonel Grierson, of the royal militia, was shot by unknown marksmen; and, although a reward of one hundred guineas was offered to any person who would inform against the perpetrator of the crime, he could never be discovered. "The whole country," said General Greene in one of his letters, "is one continued scene of blood and slaughter."
[Footnote 5: The execution of Colonel Hayne has been generally ascribed to Lord Rawdon, and that gallant nobleman has been censured throughout America for an act which has been universally execrated. A letter addressed by him to the late General Lee, on receiving the memoirs of the southern war, written by that gentleman, which has been published in the "View of the Campaign of 1781, in the Carolinas, by H. Lee," gives the British view of that transaction, and exonerates Lord Rawdon from all blame. Lieutenant Colonel Balfour commanded, and Lord Rawdon sought to save Colonel Hayne.]
Greene was too humane, as well as too judicious, not to discourage this exterminating spirit. Perceiving in it the total destruction of the country, he sought to appease it by restraining the excesses of those who were attached to the American cause.
At the high hills of Santee the reinforcements expected from North Carolina were received. The American army, counting every person belonging to it, was augmented to two thousand six hundred men; but its effective force did not exceed sixteen hundred.
[Sidenote: Active movements of the two armies.]
After the retreat of General Greene from Orangeburg, Lord Rawdon was induced by ill health to avail himself of a permit to return to Great Britain, and the command of the British forces in South Carolina devolved on Lieutenant Colonel Stuart. He again advanced to the Congaree; and encamping near its junction with the Wateree, manifested a determination to establish a permanent post at that place. Though the two armies were within sixteen miles of each other on a right line, two rivers ran between them which could not be crossed without making a circuit of seventy miles; in consequence of which Lieutenant Colonel Stuart felt himself so secure, that his foraging parties were spread over the country. To restrain them, and to protect the inhabitants, General Greene detached Marion towards Combahee ferry, and Washington over the Wateree. Frequent skirmishes ensued, which, from the superior courage and activity of the American cavalry, uniformly terminated in their favour.
Finding that Lieutenant Colonel Stuart designed to maintain his important position on the Congaree, Greene prepared to recommence active operations. Breaking up his camp at the high hills of Santee, he crossed the Wateree near Camden, and marched towards Friday's ferry.
[Sidenote: After a short repose, they resume active operations.]
On being informed of his approach, the British army retired to Eutaw, where it was reinforced by a detachment from Charleston. Greene followed by slow and easy marches, for the double purpose of preserving his soldiers from the effects of fatigue under a hot sun, and of giving Marion, who was returning from a critical expedition to the Edisto, time to rejoin him. In the afternoon of the seventh that officer arrived; and it was determined to attack the British camp next day.
[Sidenote: Battle of Eutaw.]
At four in the morning of the eighth, the American army moved from its ground, which was seven miles from Eutaw, in the following order: The legion of Lee and the state troops of South Carolina formed the advance. The militia moved next, and were followed by the regulars. The cavalry of Washington and the infantry of Kirkwood brought up the rear. The artillery moved between the columns.
At eight in the morning, about four miles from the British camp, the van fell in with a body of horse and foot, who were escorting an unarmed foraging party, and a brisk action ensued. The British were instantly routed. The cavalry made their escape at the sight of the legion dragoons, and the infantry were killed or taken. About forty, including their captain, were made prisoners. The foraging party which followed in the rear saved themselves by flight, on hearing the first musket. Supposing this party to be the van of the English, Greene arranged his army in order of battle.
The militia, commanded by Generals Marion and Pickens, composed the first line. The second was formed of the continental infantry. The North Carolina brigade, commanded by General Sumner, was placed on the right; the Virginians, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Campbell, formed the centre; and the Marylanders, commanded by Colonel Williams, the left. The legion of Lee was to cover the right flank; the state troops of South Carolina, commanded by Colonel Henderson, the left; and the cavalry of Washington, with the infantry of Kirkwood, formed the reserve. Captain Lieutenant Gaines, with two three-pounders, was attached to the first line; and Captain Brown, with two sixes, to the second.
The British line also was immediately formed. It was drawn up across the road, in an oblique direction, in a wood, on the heights near the Eutaw springs, having its right flank on Eutaw creek. This flank was also covered by a battalion commanded by Major Majoribanks, which was posted in a thicket, in a line forming an obtuse angle with the main body. The left flank was protected by the cavalry commanded by Major Coffin, and by a body of infantry held in reserve. A detachment of infantry was pushed forward about a mile, with a field piece to employ the Americans until his arrangements should be completed.
The American van continuing to move forward, encountered the British advanced party; upon which Captain Lieutenant Gaines came up with his field pieces, which opened on the enemy with considerable effect. General Greene also ordered up his first line with directions to move on briskly, and to advance as they fired. As this line came into action, the legion formed on its right flank, and the state troops of South Carolina on its left.
The British advanced party was soon driven in; and the Americans, continuing to press forward, were engaged with the main body. Lieutenant Colonel Stuart, perceiving the materials of which this line was composed, and probably anticipating its speedy discomfiture, to avoid exposing his flanks to the American cavalry, had directed his troops not to change their position. His design was to meet the American regulars without any alteration of the arrangement originally made. But the militia, many of whom had frequently faced an enemy, being commanded by generals of experience and courage, exhibited a degree of firmness not common to that species of force, and maintained their ground with unexpected obstinacy. In the ardour of action, the order not to advance was disregarded, and the British pressed forward as the militia retired. The artillery which was placed in the road was well served on both sides, and did great execution till both the three-pounders commanded by Captain Lieutenant Gaines were dismounted. About the same time, one of the British shared the same fate.
When the militia gave way, Lee and Henderson still maintained the engagement on the flanks, General Sumner was ordered up to fill the place from which Marion and Pickens were receding; and his brigade, ranging itself with the legion infantry, and the state regiment of South Carolina, came into action with great intrepidity. The British, who had advanced upon the militia, fell back to their first ground, upon which Stuart ordered the corps of infantry posted in the rear of his left wing into the line, and directed Major Coffin with his cavalry to guard that flank. About this time Henderson received a wound which disabled him from keeping the field, and the command of his corps devolved on Lieutenant Colonel Hampton.
After sustaining the fire of the enemy with considerable resolution, Sumner's brigade began to give way, and the British rushed forward in some disorder. Greene then directed Williams and Campbell to charge with the bayonet, and at the same time ordered Washington to bring up the reserve, and to act on his left. Williams charged without firing a musket; but the soldiers of Campbell's regiment, being chiefly new levies, returned the fire of the enemy as they advanced. In this critical moment, Lee, perceiving that the American right extended beyond the British left, ordered Captain Rudolph, of the legion infantry, to turn their flank and give them a raking fire. This order was instantly executed with precision and effect. Charged thus both in front and flank, 'the British broke successively on the left, till the example was followed by all that part of the line. The Marylanders under Williams, had already used the bayonet, and before the troops opposed to them gave way, several had fallen on both sides, transfixed with that weapon.
The British left, when driven off the field, retreated through their encampment towards Eutaw creek, near which stood a three story brick house, surrounded with offices, and connected with a strongly enclosed garden, into which Major Sheridan, in pursuance of orders previously given by Lieutenant Colonel Stuart, threw himself with the New York volunteers. The Americans pursued them closely, and took three hundred prisoners and two pieces of cannon. Unfortunately for their hopes of victory, the refreshments found in camp furnished a temptation too strong to be resisted; and many of the soldiers left their ranks, and, under cover of the tents, seized the spirits and food within their view. The legion infantry, however, pressed the rear so closely as to make a serious struggle to enter the house with the British. The door was forcibly shut in their faces, and several British officers and men were excluded. These were made prisoners, and mixed with the Americans, so as to save them from the fire of the house while retiring from it.
As the British left gave way, Washington was directed to charge their right. He advanced with his accustomed impetuosity, but found it impossible, with cavalry, to penetrate the thicket occupied by Majoribanks. Perceiving an interval between the British right and the creek, he determined to pass through it round their flank and to charge them in the rear. In making the attempt, he received a fire which did immense execution. The British occupied a thicket almost impervious to horse. In attempting to force it, Lieutenant Stuart who commanded the leading section was badly wounded, his horse killed under him, and every man in his section killed or wounded. Captain Watts, the second in command, fell pierced with two balls. Colonel Washington was wounded, and his horse was killed. They fell together; and, before he could extricate himself, he was made a prisoner.
After nearly all the officers, and a large portion of the men were killed or wounded, the residue of the corps was drawn off by Captain Parsons, assisted by Lieutenant Gordon. Soon after the repulse of Washington, Lieutenant Colonel Hampton and Captain Kirkwood with his infantry, came up and renewed the attack on Majoribanks. Great efforts were made to dislodge him, but they were ineffectual. Finding it impracticable to employ horse to advantage on that ground, Hampton drew off his troops and retired to the road.
The corps commanded by Sheridan kept up a continual and destructive fire from the house in which they had taken shelter; and Greene ordered up the artillery to batter it. The guns were too light to make a breach in the walls, and, having been brought within the range of the fire from the house, almost every artillerist was killed, and the pieces were abandoned.
The firm stand made by Majoribanks, and the disorder which had taken place among a part of the Americans, gave Stuart an opportunity of rallying his broken regiments, and bringing them again into action. They were formed between the thicket occupied by Majoribanks, and the house in possession of Sheridan.
Major Coffin, who had repulsed the legion cavalry about the time the British infantry was driven off the field, still maintained a formidable position on their left; and no exertions could dislodge Majoribanks or Sheridan from the cover under which they fought. Perceiving that the contest was maintained on ground, and under circumstances extremely disadvantageous to the Americans, Greene withdrew them a small distance, and formed them again in the wood in which the battle had been fought. Thinking it unadviseable to renew the desperate attempt which had just failed, he collected his wounded, and retired with his prisoners to the ground from which he had marched in the morning, determined again to fight the British army when it should retreat from the Eutaws.
Every corps engaged in this hard fought battle received the applause of the general. Almost every officer whose situation enabled him to attract notice was named with distinction. "Never," he said, "was artillery better served;" but, "he thought himself principally indebted for the victory he had gained, to the free use made of the bayonet by the Virginians and Marylanders, and by the infantry of the legion and of Kirkwood." To Colonel Williams he acknowledged himself to be particularly indebted. He gave that praise too to the valour of his enemy which it merited. "They really fought," he said, "with courage worthy a better cause."
The loss on both sides bore a great proportion to the numbers engaged. That of the Americans was five hundred and fifty-five, including sixty officers. One hundred and thirty were killed on the spot. Seventeen commissioned officers were killed, and four mortally wounded. "This loss of officers," said their general, "is still more heavy on account of their value than their numbers."
Among the slain was Lieutenant Colonel Campbell, who received a mortal wound while leading the Virginia brigade to that bold and decisive charge which broke the adverse line.
The loss of the British army was stated by themselves at six hundred and ninety-three men, of whom only eighty-five were killed in the field. If this statement be correct, the American dead greatly exceeded that of the adversary, which was probably the fact, as the carnage of the former, during their unavailing efforts to dislodge the latter from the house and strong adjoining ground, was immense.
[Footnote 6: The British accounts acknowledge only two hundred and fifty-seven missing; but General Greene, in his letter of the ninth of September, says, that including seventy wounded who were left at Eutaw, he made five hundred prisoners.]
Each party had pretensions to the victory, and each claimed the merit of having gained it with inferior numbers. The truth probably is that their numbers were nearly equal.
Nor can the claim of either to the victory be pronounced unequivocal. Unconnected with its consequences, the fortune of the day was nearly balanced. But if the consequences be taken into the account, the victory unquestionably belonged to Greene. The result of this, as of the two preceding battles fought by him in the Carolinas, was the expulsion of the hostile army from the territory which was the immediate object of contest.
Four six-pounders, two of which had been taken in the early part of the day, were brought to play upon the house, and, being pushed so near as to be within the command of its fire, were unavoidably abandoned; but a three-pounder which had been also taken, was brought off by Captain Lieutenant Gaines, whose conduct was mentioned with distinction by General Greene. Thus the trophies of victory were divided.
The thanks of congress were voted to every corps in the army; and a resolution was passed for "presenting to Major General Greene, as an honourable testimony of his merit, a British standard, and a golden medal, emblematic of the battle and of his victory."
On the day succeeding the action, Lieutenant Colonel Stuart marched from Eutaw to meet Major M'Arthur, who was conducting a body of troops from Charleston. The junction was effected about fourteen miles from Eutaw; and this movement saved M'Arthur from Marion and Lee, who had been detached on the morning of the same day to intercept any reinforcement which might be coming from below. Stuart continued his retreat to Monk's corner, to which place he was followed by Greene, who, on finding that the numbers and position of the British army were such as to render an attack unadviseable, returned to the high hills of Santee.
The ravages of disease were added to the loss sustained in battle, and the army remained for some time in too feeble a condition for active enterprise.
The capitulation at Yorktown was soon followed by the evacuation of Wilmington, in North Carolina, and the British seemed to limit their views in the south to the country adjacent to the sea coast. As the cool season approached, the diseases of the American army abated; and Greene, desirous of partaking in the abundance of the lower country, marched from the high hills of Santee towards the Four Holes, a branch of the Edisto. Leaving the army to be conducted by Colonel Williams, he proceeded in person at the head of his cavalry, supported by about two hundred infantry, towards the British posts at Dorchester, where six hundred and fifty regular troops and two hundred royal militia were understood to be stationed.
[Sidenote: The British army retires towards Charleston.]
Though his march was conducted with the utmost secrecy, the country through which he passed contained so many disaffected, that it was impossible to conceal this movement; and intelligence of his approach was communicated to the officer commanding in Dorchester, the night before he reached that place. The advance, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Hampton, met a small party, which he instantly charged, and, after killing and taking several, drove the residue over the bridge under cover of their works. In the course of the following night, the stores at Dorchester were burnt, and the garrison retired to the Quarter House, where their principal force was encamped. Greene returned to the army at the Round O, at which place he purposed to await the arrival of the reinforcements marching from the north under the command of General St. Clair. In the mean time, General Marion and Lieutenant Colonel Lee were stationed on each side of Ashley, so as to cover the country between the Cooper and the Edisto; thus confining the influence of the British arms to Charleston neck, and the adjacent islands.
[Footnote 7: During this campaign a very effective expedition against the Cherokees was conducted by General Pickens. When the struggle for South Carolina recommenced, those savages were stimulated to renew their incursions into the settlements of the whites. At the head of about four hundred mounted militia, Pickens penetrated into their country, burned thirteen of their villages, killed upwards of forty Indians, and took a number of prisoners, without the loss of a single man. On this occasion a new and formidable mode of attack was introduced. The militia horse rushed upon the Indians, and charged them sword in hand. Terrified at the rapidity of the pursuit, the Cherokees humbly sued for peace, which was granted on terms calculated to restrain depredations in future.]
While in his camp at the Round O, General Greene was informed that large reinforcements from Ireland and from New York were expected by the army in Charleston. This intelligence excited the more alarm, because the term of service for which the levies from Virginia were engaged was about expiring, and no adequate measures had been taken for supplying their places. It proved untrue; but such was its impression, that the general addressed a letter to the governors of South Carolina, in which, after taking a serious view of the state of his army, he recommended that it should be recruited from the slaves. The governor thought the proposition of sufficient importance to be laid before the legislature, which was soon afterwards convened; but the measure was not adopted.
On the fourth of January, General St. Clair, who conducted the reinforcement from the north, arrived in camp, and, five days afterward, General Wayne, with his brigade, and the remnant of the third regiment of dragoons, commanded by Colonel White, was detached over the Savannah for the recovery of Georgia.
[Footnote 8: In the judicious orders given to Wayne, Greene endeavoured to impress on that officer the importance of a course of conduct, always observed by himself, which might tend to conciliate parties. "Try," says he, "by every means in your power, to soften the malignity and dreadful resentments subsisting between the Whig and Tory; and put a stop as much as possible to that cruel custom of putting men to death after they surrender themselves prisoners. The practice of plundering you will endeavour to check as much as possible; and point out to the militia the ruinous consequences of the policy. Let your discipline be as regular and as rigid as the nature and constitution of your troops will admit."—2 Johnson, 277.]
General Greene crossed the Edisto and took post six miles in advance of Jacksonborough, on the road leading to Charleston, for the purpose of covering the state legislature, which assembled at that place on the eighteenth. Thus was civil government re-established in South Carolina, and that state restored to the union.
It is impossible to review this active and interesting campaign without feeling that much is due to General Greene; and that he amply justified the favourable opinion of the Commander-in-chief. He found the country completely conquered, and defended by a regular army estimated at four thousand men. The inhabitants were so divided, as to leave it doubtful to which side the majority was attached. At no time did the effective continental force which he could bring into the field, amount to two thousand men; and of these a considerable part were raw troops. Yet he could keep the field without being forced into action; and by a course of judicious movement, and of hardy enterprise, in which invincible constancy was displayed, and in which courage was happily tempered with prudence, he recovered the southern states. It is a singular fact, well worthy of notice, which marks impressively the soundness of his judgment, that although he never gained a decisive victory, he obtained, to a considerable extent, even when defeated, the object for which he fought.
A just portion of the praise deserved by these achievements, is unquestionably due to the troops he commanded. These real patriots bore every hardship and privation with a degree of patience and constancy which can not be sufficiently admired. And never was a general better supported by his inferior officers. Not shackled by men who, without merit, held stations of high rank obtained by political influence, he commanded young men of equal spirit and intelligence, formed under the eye of Washington, and trained in the school furnished in the severe service of the north, to all the hardships and dangers of war.
[Footnote 9: The distresses of the southern army were such that, if plainly described, truth would wear the appearance of fiction. They were almost naked and barefooted, frequently without food, and always without pay. That he might relieve them when in the last extremity, without diminishing the exertions of their general to derive support from other sources, by creating an opinion that supplies could be drawn from him, Mr. Morris, as was stated by himself in conversation with the author, employed an agent to attend the southern army as a volunteer, whose powers were unknown to General Greene. This agent was instructed to watch its situation; and, whenever it appeared impossible for the general to extricate himself from his embarrassments, to furnish him, on his pledging the public faith for repayment, with a draught on the financier for such a sum as would relieve the urgency of the moment. Thus was Greene occasionally rescued from impending ruin by aids which appeared providential, and for which he could not account.]
A peculiar importance was given to these successes in the south by the opinion that a pacific temper was finding its way into the cabinets of the belligerent powers of Europe. The communications from the court of Versailles rendered it probable that negotiations for peace would take place in the course of the ensuing winter; and dark hints had been given on the part of Great Britain to the minister of his most Christian Majesty, that all the American states could not reasonably expect to become independent, as several of them were subdued. Referring to the precedent of the low countries, it was observed that of the seventeen provinces originally united against the Spanish crown, only seven obtained their independence.
Additional motives for exertion were furnished by other communications from the French monarch. These were that, after the present campaign, no farther pecuniary or military aids were to be expected from France. The situation of affairs in Europe would, it was said, demand all the exertions which that nation was capable of making; and the forces of his most Christian Majesty might render as much real service to the common cause elsewhere as in America.
[Footnote 10: Secret Journals of Congress, vol. 2, pp. 305, 399, 400, 452.]
Preparations for another campaign.... Proceedings in the Parliament of Great Britain.... Conciliatory conduct of General Carleton.... Transactions in the south.... Negotiations for peace.... Preliminary and eventual articles agreed upon between the United States and Great Britain.... Discontents of the American army.... Peace.... Mutiny of a part of the Pennsylvania line.... Evacuation of New York.... General Washington resigns his commission and retires to Mount Vernon.
[Sidenote: Preparations for another campaign.]
The splendid success of the allied arms in Virginia, and the great advantages obtained still farther south, produced no disposition in General Washington to relax those exertions which might be necessary to secure the great object of the contest. "I shall attempt to stimulate congress," said he, in a letter to General Greene written at Mount Vernon, "to the best improvement of our late success, by taking the most vigorous and effectual measures to be ready for an early and decisive campaign the next year. My greatest fear is, that viewing this stroke in a point of light which may too much magnify its importance, they may think our work too nearly closed, and fall into a state of languor and relaxation. To prevent this error, I shall employ every means in my power, and, if unhappily we sink into this fatal mistake, no part of the blame shall be mine."
On the 27th of November he reached Philadelphia, and congress passed a resolution granting him an audience on the succeeding day. On his appearance the President addressed him in a short speech, informing him that a committee was appointed to state the requisitions to be made for the proper establishment of the army, and expressing the expectation that he would remain in Philadelphia, in order to aid the consultations on that important subject.
The secretary of war, the financier, and the secretary of foreign affairs, assisted at these deliberations; and the business was concluded with unusual celerity.
A revenue was scarcely less necessary than an army; and it was obvious that the means for carrying on the war must be obtained, either by impressment, or by a vigorous course of taxation. But both these alternatives depended on the states; and the government of the union resorted to the influence of the Commander-in-chief in aid of its requisitions.
But no exertions on the part of America alone could expel the invading army. A superiority at sea was indispensable to the success of offensive operations against the posts which the British still held within the United States. To obtain this superiority, General Washington pressed its importance on the minister of France and commanding officers of the French troops, as well as on the Marquis de Lafayette, who was about to return to his native country.
[Sidenote: Proceedings in the British parliament.]
The first intelligence from Europe was far from being calculated to diminish the anxieties still felt in America by the enlightened friends of the revolution. The parliament of Great Britain reassembled in November. The speech from the throne breathed a settled purpose to continue the war; and the addresses from both houses, which were carried by large majorities, echoed the sentiment.
In the course of the animated debates which these addresses occasioned, an intention was indeed avowed by some members of the administration to change their system. The plan indicated for the future was to direct the whole force of the nation against France and Spain; and to suspend offensive operations in the interior of the United States, until the strength of those powers should be broken. In the mean time, the posts then occupied by their troops were to be maintained.
This development of the views of administration furnished additional motives to the American government for exerting all the faculties of the nation, to expel the British garrisons from New York and Charleston. The efforts of the Commander-in-chief to produce these exertions were earnest and unremitting, but not successful. The state legislatures declared the inability of their constituents to pay taxes. Instead of filling the continental treasury, some were devising means to draw money from it; and some of those who passed bills imposing heavy taxes, directed that the demands of the state should be first satisfied, and that the residue only should be paid to the continental receiver. By the unwearied attention and judicious arrangements of the minister of finance, the expenses of the nation had been greatly reduced. The bank established in Philadelphia, and his own high character, had enabled him to support in some degree a system of credit, the advantages of which were incalculably great.
He had through the Chevalier de la Luzerne obtained permission from his most Christian Majesty to draw for half a million of livres monthly, until six millions should be received. To prevent the diversion of any part of this sum from the most essential objects, he had concealed the negotiation even from congress, and had communicated it only to the Commander-in-chief; yet, after receiving the first instalment, it was discovered that Doctor Franklin had anticipated the residue of the loan, and had appropriated it to the purposes of the United States. At the commencement of the year 1782, not a dollar remained in the treasury; and, although congress had required the payment of two millions on the 1st of April, not a cent had been received on the twenty-third of that month; and, so late as the 1st of June, not more than twenty thousand dollars had reached the treasury. Yet to the financier every eye was turned; to him the empty hand of every public creditor was stretched forth; and against him, instead of the state governments, the complaints and imprecations of every unsatisfied claimant were directed. In July, when the second quarter annual payment of taxes ought to have been received, the minister of finance was informed by some of his agents, that the collection of the revenue had been postponed in some of the states, in consequence of which the month of December would arrive before any money could come into the hands of the continental receivers. In a letter communicating this unpleasant intelligence to the Commander-in-chief, he added, "with such gloomy prospects as this letter affords, I am tied here to be baited by continual clamorous demands; and for the forfeiture of all that is valuable in life, and which I hoped at this moment to enjoy, I am to be paid by invective. Scarce a day passes in which I am not tempted to give back into the hands of congress the power they have delegated, and to lay down a burden which presses me to the earth. Nothing prevents me but a knowledge of the difficulties I am obliged to struggle under. What may be the success of my efforts God only knows; but to leave my post at present, would, I know, be ruinous. This candid state of my situation and feelings I give to your bosom, because you who have already felt and suffered so much, will be able to sympathize with me."
[Illustration: Livingston Manor, Dobbs Ferry, New York
A monument erected by the Sons of the Revolution on the lawn of this historic mansion, overlooking the Hudson River, states that here, on July 6, 1781, the French allies under Rochambeau joined the American Army. Here also, on August 14, 1781, Washington planned the Yorktown campaign which brought to a triumphant end the War for American Independence; and here, on May 6, 1783, Washington and Sir Guy Carleton arranged for the evacuation of American soil by the British. A concluding paragraph reads: "And opposite this point, May 8, 1783, a British sloop of war fired 17 guns in honor of the American Commander-in-Chief, the first salute by Great Britain to the United States of America."]
Fortunately for the United States, the temper of the British nation on the subject of continuing the war did not accord with that of its sovereign. That war, into which the people had entered with at least as much eagerness as the minister, had become almost universally unpopular.
Motions against the measures of administration respecting America were repeated by the opposition; and, on every experiment, the strength of the minority increased. At length, on the 27th of February, General Conway moved in the house of commons, "that it is the opinion of this house that a farther prosecution of offensive war against America would, under present circumstances, be the means of weakening the efforts of this country against her European enemies, and tend to increase the mutual enmity so fatal to the interests both of Great Britain and America." The whole force of administration was exerted to get rid of this resolution, but was exerted in vain; and it was carried. An address to the king, in the words of the resolution, was immediately voted, and was presented by the whole house. The answer of the crown being deemed inexplicit, it was on the 4th of March resolved, "that the house will consider as enemies to his majesty and the country, all those who should advise, or attempt a farther prosecution of offensive war on the continent of North America."
These votes were soon followed by a change of ministers, and by instructions to the officers commanding the forces in America, which conformed to them.
While General Washington was employed in addressing circular letters to the state governments, suggesting all those motives which might stimulate them to exertions better proportioned to the exigency, English papers containing the debates in parliament on the various propositions respecting America, reached the United States. Alarmed at the impression these debates might make, he introduced the opinions it was deemed prudent to inculcate respecting them, into the letters he was then about to transmit to the governors of the several states. "I have perused these debates," he said, "with great attention and care, with a view, if possible, to penetrate their real design; and upon the most mature deliberation I can bestow, I am obliged to declare it as my candid opinion, that the measure, in all its views, so far as it respects America, is merely delusory, having no serious intention to admit our independence upon its true principles, but is calculated to produce a change of ministers to quiet the minds of their own people, and reconcile them to a continuance of the war, while it is meant to amuse this country with a false idea of peace, to draw us from our connexion with France, and to lull us into a state of security and inactivity, which taking place, the ministry will be left to prosecute the war in other parts of the world with greater vigour and effect. Your excellency will permit me on this occasion to observe, that, even if the nation and parliament are really in earnest to obtain peace with America, it will undoubtedly be wisdom in us to meet them with great caution and circumspection, and by all means to keep our arms firm in our hands, and instead of relaxing one iota in our exertions, rather to spring forward with redoubled vigour, that we may take the advantage of every favourable opportunity, until our wishes are fully obtained. No nation yet suffered in treaty by preparing (even in the moment of negotiation) most vigorously for the field.
"The industry which the enemy is using to propagate their pacific reports, appears to me a circumstance very suspicious; and the eagerness with which the people, as I am informed, are catching at them, is, in my opinion, equally dangerous."
[Sidenote: Conciliatory conduct of General Carleton.]
Early in May, Sir Guy Carleton, who had succeeded Sir Henry Clinton in the command of all the British forces in the United States, arrived at New York. Having been also appointed in conjunction with Admiral Digby, a commissioner to negotiate a peace, he lost no time in conveying to General Washington copies of the votes of the British Parliament, and of a bill which had been introduced on the part of administration, authorizing his Majesty to conclude a peace or truce with those who were still denominated "the revolted colonies of North America." These papers, he said, would manifest the dispositions prevailing with the government and people of England towards those of America; and, if the like pacific temper should prevail in this country, both inclination and duty would lead him to meet it with the most zealous concurrence. He had addressed to congress, he said, a letter containing the same communications, and he solicited a passport for the person who should convey it.
At this time, the bill enabling the British monarch to conclude a peace or truce with America had not become a law; nor was any assurance given that the present commissioners were empowered to offer other terms than those which had been formerly rejected. General Carleton therefore could not hope that negotiations would commence on such a basis; nor be disappointed at the refusal of the passports he requested by congress, to whom the application was, of course, referred. The letter may have been written for the general purpose of conciliation, and of producing a disposition in the United States on the subject of hostilities, corresponding with that which had been expressed in the House of Commons. But the situation of the United States justified a suspicion of different motives; and prudence required that their conduct should be influenced by that suspicion. The repugnance of the king to a dismemberment of the empire was understood; and it was thought probable that the sentiments expressed in the House of Commons might be attributable rather to a desire of changing ministers, than to any fixed determination to relinquish the design of reannexing America to the crown.
Under these impressions, the overtures now made were considered as opiates, administered to lull the spirit of vigilance which the guardians of the public safety laboured to keep up, into a state of fatal repose; and to prevent those measures of security which it might yet be necessary to adopt.
This jealousy was nourished by all the intelligence received from Europe. The utmost address of the British cabinet had been employed to detach the belligerents from each other. The mediation of Russia had been accepted to procure a separate peace with Holland; propositions had been submitted both to France and Spain, tending to an accommodation of differences with each of those powers singly; and inquiries had been made of Mr. Adams, the American minister at the Hague, which seemed to contemplate the same object with regard to the United States. These political manoeuvres furnished additional motives for doubting the sincerity of the English cabinet. Whatever views might actuate the court of St. James on this subject, the resolution of the American government to make no separate treaty was unalterable.
[Footnote 11: Secret Journals of Congress, v. 2, pp. 412, 418, 454.]
But the public votes which have been stated, and probably his private instructions, restrained Sir Guy Carleton from offensive war; and the state of the American army disabled General Washington from making any attempt on the posts in possession of the British. The campaign of 1782 consequently passed away without furnishing any military operations of moment between the armies under the immediate direction of the respective commanders-in-chief.
[Sidenote: Negotiations for peace.]
Early in August a letter was received by General Washington from Sir Guy Carleton and Admiral Digby, which, among other communications manifesting a pacific disposition on the part of England, contained the information that Mr. Grenville was at Paris, invested with full powers to treat with all the parties at war, that negotiations for a general peace were already commenced, and that his Majesty had commanded his minister to direct Mr. Grenville, that the independence of the thirteen provinces should be proposed by him in the first instance, instead of being made a condition of a general treaty. But that this proposition would be made in the confidence that the loyalists would be restored to their possessions, or a full compensation made them for whatever confiscations might have taken place.