A SKETCH OF THE LIFE OF BRIG. GEN. FRANCIS MARION
And A History of his Brigade,
From its Rise in June, 1780, until Disbanded in December, 1782;
With Descriptions of Characters and Scenes, not heretofore published.
Containing also, An Appendix, with Copies of Letters which passed between several of the Leading Characters of that Day; Principally From Gen. Greene to Gen. Marion.
By William Dobein James, A.M.
During that Period one of Marion's Militia.
At Present one of the Associate Judges in Equity, South Carolina.
Quae contentio, divina et humana cuncta perniscuit, eoque vecordiae processit uti civilibus studiis bellum finem faceret.—Sall.
Transcriber's Note on text: Some obvious errors have been corrected. Some spellings are modernized. See notes at end of etext for additional explanations.
District of South-Carolina.
L. S. BE IT REMEMBERED, that on the fifth day of April, - Anno Domini, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-one, and in the forty-fifth year of the Independence of the United States of America, the Honourable WILLIAM DOBEIN JAMES, deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof he claims as author and proprietor, in the words following, TO WIT:
"A Sketch of the life of Brigadier General FRANCIS MARION, and a history of his Brigade from its rise in June, 1780, until disbanded in December, 1782; with descriptions of characters and scenes not heretofore published.—Containing also an appendix, with copies of letters which passed between several of the leading characters of that day, principally from Gen. Greene to Gen. Marion. By William Dobein James, A.M. during that period one of Marion's militia—at present one of the Associate Judges in Equity, South-Carolina."
In conformity to the act of Congress of the United States, entitled, "An Act for the encouragement of learning by securing the copies of maps, charts and books to the authors and proprietors of such copies during the times therein mentioned," and also an act entitled, "An Act supplementary to an act, entitled, 'An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned,' and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving and etching historical and other prints."
JAMES JERVEY, Clerk of the District of South-Carolina.
During the siege of Charleston, in May, 1780, the grammar school at Salem, on Black river, where I had been placed by my father, Major JOHN JAMES, broke up; and I was compelled to abandon my school boy studies, and become a militia man, at the age of fifteen. At that time of life it was a great loss; but still I was so fortunate as to have General MARION as my commander, and my much honoured father, who was a sincere christian, as my adviser and protector. I do not intend to write a history of my own life; but it was thus, that I became in a great measure an eye witness of the scenes hereafter described; and what I did not see, I often heard from others in whom confidence could be placed.
I felt an early inclination to record these events; but Major WEMYSS burnt all my stock of paper, and my little classical library, in my father's house; and, for two years and a half afterwards, I had not the common implements of writing or of reading. This may appear strange at present; but it is a fact, that even our general, when sending out a patrole, would request the officer to try to get him a quire of paper. After the war, other active pursuits prevented me from indulging my inclination; and the public attention, being long fixed upon the bloody wars and great battles in Europe, had lost all relish for our revolutionary history, and its comparatively little conflicts. However, when Dr. RAMSAY announced that he was about to publish his history of South Carolina, I hastily sketched out from memory a short history of MARION'S brigade, for him; which he inserted in fifteen pages of his first volume. This brings it down no lower than the arrival of General GREENE in South Carolina. Fortunately the events of the late war revived the national spirit, and with that a taste for our own history; by it too, my inclination was renewed to communicate that of MARION'S brigade. However, I still wanted materials to confide in more certain than memory.
The last year I happened to mention my wish to Mr. RICHARD SINGELLTON, of Colleton, son-in-law of Major JOHN POSTELL, and he obligingly placed in my hands a bundle of original letters from General MARION to that distinguished officer. Not long after I heard that the late General PETER HORRY had preserved copies of General MARION'S correspondence with General GREENE and other officers; and I applied to his executor, Mr. JAMES GUIGNARD, who very politely placed five duodecimo volumes in my hands, closely written by the general. The originals were left by General HORRY with the Rev. M. L. WEEMS, but it appears he made no use of them in his life of MARION. The dates and facts stated in these copies agree pretty well with the account in the history of South Carolina by Dr. RAMSAY, and General MOULTRIE'S memoirs of the American revolution.
I have also taken the pains to consult several of MARION'S officers and men, who still survive. The Hon. THOMAS WATIES gave me considerable information respecting the first part of the general's operations, which I did not witness; as, after MARION'S retreat to the White marsh, I was left sick in North Carolina. During MARION'S struggle with WATSON I had returned, but was confined to my bed with the small pox; and the greater part of that account was received from Captain GAVIN WITHERSPOON, ROBERT WITHERSPOON, Esq. and others. Respecting the affairs about Camden, General CANTEY and Dr. BROWNFIELD gave me much information; and the present sheriff of Charleston district, FRANCIS G. DELIESSELINE, Esq. and myself have compared notes generally on the subject.
Of all these sources of information I have availed myself; besides having recourse to every account of the events of that period which I had it in my power to consult. This, I hope, will account satisfactorily for any departures made from the statement I furnished Dr. RAMSAY.
There are no doubt many errors in my narrative, as nothing human is exempt from them; but it is believed there are not more than usually occur in what is considered accurate history. It may also need correction in other matters, and it may not be pregnant with great events; but still it is a kind of domestic history, which teaches lessons of patience and patriotism, not surpassed in modern, and seldom in ancient times.
WM. DOBEIN JAMES.
A view of the first settlement of the French Protestants on the Santee. Lawson's account of them. The ancestors of General Marion emigrate among them.
The revocation of the edict of Nantz, by Lewis XIV., though highly detrimental to France, proved beneficial to Holland, England and other European countries; which received the protestant refugees, and encouraged their arts and industry. The effects of this unjust and bigoted decree, extended themselves likewise to North America, but more particularly to South Carolina: About seventeen years after its first settlement, in the year 1690, and a short time subsequently, between seventy and eighty French families, fleeing from the bloody persecution excited against them in their mother country, settled on the banks of the Santee. Among these were the ancestors of General FRANCIS MARION. These families extended themselves at first only from the lower ferry at South Santee, in St. James' parish, up to within a few miles of Lenud's ferry, and back from the river into the parish of St. Dennis, called the Orange quarter. From their first settlement, they appear to have conciliated their neighbours, the Sewee and Santee Indians; and to have submitted to their rigorous fate with that resignation and cheerfulness which is characteristic of their nation.—Many must have been the hardships endured by them in settling upon a soil covered with woods, abounding in serpents and beasts of prey, naturally sterile, and infested by a climate the most insalubrious. For a picture of their sufferings read the language of one of them, Judith Manigault, bred a lady in ease and affluence:—"Since leaving France we have experienced every kind of affliction, disease, pestilence, famine, poverty, hard labour; I have been for six months together without tasting bread, working the ground like a slave." They cultivated the barren high lands, and at first naturally attempted to raise wheat, barley and other European grains upon them, until better taught by the Indians. Tradition informs us, that men and their wives worked together in felling trees, building houses, making fences, and grubbing up their grounds, until their settlements were formed; and afterwards continued their labours at the whip-saw,* and in burning tar for market. Such was their industry, that in fourteen years after their first settlement, and according to the first certain account of them, they were in prosperous circumstances. In the year 1701, John Lawson, then Surveyor General of the province, visited these enterprising people, and as there are but two copies of his "Journal of a thousand miles travelled through several nations of Indians", known at present to be in existence, no apology appears to be necessary for presenting extracts of the most interesting parts of it to the reader:—
* Gen. Horry states, that his grandfather and grandmother commenced the handsome fortune they left, by working together at the whip-saw.
"On December 28th, 1700, I began my voyage for North Carolina, from Charleston, in a large canoe. At four in the afternoon, at half flood, we passed over the breach through the marsh, leaving Sullivan's Island on our starboard; the first place we designed for was Santee river, on which there is a colony of French protestants, allowed and encouraged by the lords proprietors."—After passing through Sewee bay and up Santee, the mouth of which was fresh, he visited the Sewees; "formerly," he says, "a large nation, though now very much decreased, since the English have seated their lands, and all other nations of Indians are observed to partake of the same fate. With hard rowing we got that night (11th January, 1701,) to Mons. Eugee's *1* house, which stands about fifteen miles up the river, being the first christian dwelling we met withal in that settlement, and were very courteously received by him and his wife. Many of the French follow a trade with the Indians, living very conveniently for that interest. Here are about seventy families seated on this river, who live as decently and happily as any planters in these southward parts of America. The French being a temperate, industrious people, some of them bringing very little effects, yet by their endeavours and mutual assistance among themselves (which is highly commendable) have outstript our English, who brought with them larger fortunes. We lay all that night at Mons. Eugee's,*1* and the next morning set out further to go the remainder of our voyage by land. At noon we came up with several French plantations, meeting with several creeks by the way: the French were very officious in assisting with their small dories, to pass over these waters, (whom we met coming from their church) being all of them very clean and decent in their apparel—their houses and plantations suitable in neatness and contrivance. They are all of the same opinion with the church of Geneva. Towards the afternoon we came to Mons. L'Jandro's,*2* where we got our dinner. We got that night to Mons. Galliar's,*3* who lives in a very curious contrived house, built of brick and stone, which is gotten near that place. Near here, comes in the road from Charleston and the rest of the English settlement, it being a very good way by land and not above thirty-six miles."*4* After this, our author gives a long description of his difficulty and danger in crossing the Santee in a small canoe, in time of a freshet. He then goes on as follows:—"We intended for Mons. Galliar's jun. but were lost *************. When we got to the house we found several of the French inhabitants, who treated us very courteously; wondering about our undertaking such a voyage through a country inhabited by none but savages, and them of so different nations and tongues. After we had refreshed ourselves, we parted from a very kind, loving, affable people, who wished us a safe and prosperous voyage." Our traveller had now arrived at the extreme boundary of the white population of South Carolina, and consequently of the United States, and this was but forty miles from Charleston. In the course of one hundred and twenty years what a change, and what a subject for reflection! But, to return to the French refugees. The same persevering industry and courteous manners which distinguished the ancestors, were handed down to their children, and are still conspicuous among their descendants of the third and fourth generations. Most of them may be classed among our useful and honourable citizens, and many have highly distinguished themselves in the state, both in civil and military affairs: but in the latter character, the subject of these memoirs, General FRANCIS MARION, stands forth the most prominent and illustrious example.*5*
*1* Huger, who lived in the fork between South Santee and Wambaw Creek.
*4* Near this place the French laid out a town, and called it Jamestown; whence the name St. James', Santee.
*5* After leaving the house of Bartholomew Gaillard, jun. on the east side of Santee, Mr. Lawson saw no more settlements of the whites. He visited the Santee Indians, who, from his description of the country, must have lived about Nelson's ferry and Scott's lake. In passing up the river, the Indian path led over a hill, where he saw, as he says, "the most amazing prospect I had seen since I had been in Carolina. We travelled by a swamp side, which swamp, I believe to be no less than twenty miles over; the other side being, as far as I could well discern; there appearing great ridges of mountains bearing from us W.N.W. One Alp, with a top like a sugar loaf, advanced its head above the rest very considerably; the day was very serene, which gave us the advantage of seeing a long way; these mountains were clothed all over with trees, which seemed to us to be very large timbers. At the sight of this fair prospect we stayed all night; our Indian going before half an hour, provided three fat turkeys e'er we got up to him." The prospect he describes is evidently the one seen from the Santee Hills; the old Indian path passed over a point of one of these at Captain Baker's plantation, from which the prospect extends more than twenty miles; and the Alp, which was so conspicuous, must have been Cook's Mount, opposite Stateburgh.—Our traveller afterwards visited the Congaree, the Wateree, and Waxhaw Indians, in South Carolina, and divers tribes in North Carolina, as far as Roanoke; and it is melancholy to think, that all of these appear to be now extinct. They treated him with their best; such as bear meat and oil, venison, turkeys, maize, cow peas, chinquepins, hickory nuts and acorns. The Kings and Queens of the different tribes always took charge of him as their guest.
LIFE OF MARION.
Chapter I. (EARLY HISTORY)
Birth of Gen. Marion. His Ancestry. First Destination of Going to Sea. Voyage to the West Indies and Shipwreck. His settlement in St. John's, Berkley. Expedition under Governor Lyttleton. A Sketch of the Attack on Fort Moultrie, 1776. And the Campaign of 1779.
FRANCIS MARION was born at Winyaw,* near Georgetown, South Carolina, in the year 1732;—memorable for giving birth to many distinguished American patriots. Marion was of French extraction; his grandfather, Gabriel, left France soon after the revocation of the edict of Nantz, in 1685, on account of his being a protestant, and retired from persecution to this new world, then a wilderness; no doubt under many distresses and dangers, and with few of the facilities with which emigrants settle new, but rich countries, at the present day. His son, also called Gabriel, was the father of five sons, Isaac, Gabriel, Benjamin, Francis, and Job, and of two daughters, grandmothers of the families of the Mitchells, of Georgetown, and of the Dwights, formerly of the same place, but now of St. Stephen's parish.
* This is in error—The Marion family moved to Winyaw when Francis was six or seven years old. Francis was probably born either at St. John's Parish, Berkeley, or St. James's Parish, Goose Creek; the respective homes of his father's and mother's families. 1732 is probably correct as the year of Francis's birth, but is not absolutely certain. Despite beginning with this error, the author's remoteness from this event is not continued with the events mentioned later in the book, to which he was a witness. Those remarks should be given their proper weight.—A. L., 1997.
Of the education of FRANCIS MARION, we have no account; but from the internal evidence afforded by his original letters, it appears to have been no more than a plain English one; for the Huguenots seem to have already so far assimilated themselves to the country as to have forgotten their French. It was indeed a rare thing, in this early state of our country, to receive any more than the rudiments of an English education; since men were too much employed in the clearing and tilth of barren lands, to attend much to science.
Such an education seemed to dispose Marion to be modest and reserved in conversation; to think, if not to read much; and, above all, not to be communicative. An early friend of his, the late Captain John Palmer, has stated, that his first inclination was for a seafaring life, and that at the age of sixteen he made a voyage to the West Indies. The vessel in which he embarked foundered at sea, and the crew, consisting of six persons, took to an open boat, without water or provisions: but, providentially, a dog swam to them from the ship, whose blood served them for drink, and his raw flesh for food, for six days; on the seventh, Francis Marion, and three of the crew, reached land, but the other two perished at sea. Things which appear accidental at the time, often sway the destinies of human life. Thus it was, that from the effect of this narrow escape, and the entreaties of a tender mother, Francis Marion was induced to abandon the sea, for an element, on which he was to become singularly useful. His mother's maiden name was Cordes, and she also was of French extraction. Engaged in cultivating the soil, we hear no more of Marion for ten years. Mr. Henry Ravenel, of Pineville, now more than 70 years of age, knew him in the year 1758; he had then lost his father; and, removing with his mother and brother Gabriel from Georgetown, they settled for one year near Frierson's lock, on the present Santee canal. The next year Gabriel removed to Belle Isle, in St. Stephen's parish, late the residence of his son, the Hon. Robert Marion. Francis settled himself in St. John's, at a place called Pond Bluff, from the circumstance of there being a pond at the bottom of a bluff, fronting the river low grounds. This place is situated about four miles below Eutaw, on the Santee; and he continued to hold it during life.* Others fix his settling in St. John's, at a later period: this is of little consequence, but what is of some, was that in this most useful of all stations, a tiller of the ground, he was industrious and successful. In the same year, 1759, the Cherokee war broke out, and he turned out as a volunteer, in his brother's troop of provincial cavalry. In 1761, he served in the expedition under Col. Grant, as a lieutenant in Captain Wm. Moultrie's company, forming part of a provincial regiment, commanded by Col. Middleton. It is believed that he distinguished himself in this expedition, in a severe conflict between Col. Grant and the Indians, near Etchoee, an Indian town; but, if he did so, the particulars have not been handed down to us, by any official account. General Moultrie says of him, "he was an active, brave, and hardy soldier; and an excellent partisan officer." We come now to that part of Marion's life, where, acting in a more conspicuous situation, things are known of him, with more certainty. In the beginning of the year 1775, he was elected one, of what was then called the provincial congress of South Carolina, from St. John's. This was the public body which agreed to the famous continental association, recommended by congress, to prevent the importation of goods, wares, and merchandizes, from Great Britain: they likewise put a stop to all suits at law, except where debtors refused to renew their obligations, and to give reasonable security, or when justly suspected of intentions to leave the province, or to defraud their creditors; and they appointed committees in the several districts and parishes in the state, which were called committees of public safety, to carry these acts into effect. These exercised high municipal authority, and supported generally by a population sometimes intemperate, inflicted singular punishments** upon such as were not only guilty, but even suspected, of infringing the association. The provincial congress also, after receiving the news of the battle of Lexington, determined upon a defensive war, and resolved to raise two regiments of infantry, and one of cavalry. Marion was elected a captain in the second regiment of these two, of which William Moultrie was colonel. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, and Thomas Pinckney, since so much distinguished, were likewise elected captains in this regiment at the same time. The first of Captain Marion's appearing in arms against the British, was in the latter part of this year, when he acted as one of three captains under Colonel Motte, in taking possession of Fort Johnson, on James Island. On this occasion much resistance was expected, but the garrison abandoned the fort, and escaped to two British vessels, the Tamar and Cherokee, then lying in Charleston harbour. In the autumn of the same year a post was established at Dorchester, where it was thought prudent to send part of the military stores, and the public records out of Charleston; and here Captain Marion had the command. This is only worthy of remark in the circumstance, that as the climate of this place is remarkably bad in autumn, it shows that our patriots had already so much enthusiasm in the cause in which they had embarked, that they refused no station, however perilous. As the provincial congress and committees of public safety exercised all the legislative and judicial powers in the state, as might have been expected, they soon became too complicated for them, and were thrown into great confusion. The criminal code was still left in force; but there were no judges to exercise that jurisdiction. The provincial congress, therefore, without waiting for a convention of the people, framed a constitution: by this they took the name of the general assembly of South Carolina, and limited their own continuance until the 21st October, 1776; and, in every two years after that period, a general election was to take place for members of the assembly. The legislative powers were vested in a president, the assembly, and a legislative council, to be chosen out of their own body. All resolutions of the continental and provincial congress, and all laws then of force, were continued. They passed a law, that only two thirds of the rice made in the state should be permitted to be exported, the other third was to remain in the country for its consumption, and for exchange for the necessary articles of life: and upon these prices were to be fixed; it was recommended to the people to cultivate cotton; the breed of sheep was directed to be improved; and, after a certain day, none were to be killed for market or home consumption; but the continental congress soon after, passed a law that no rice should be exported; and it was submitted to, without a murmur. A vice-president and privy council of six members were elected, and among other duties, were to exercise chancery jurisdiction; and other judges were directed to be chosen by the general assembly.
* Pond Bluff is presently at the bottom of Lake Marion, S.C. —A. L., 1997.
** Such as tarring and feathering.
In a few years, such confusion followed, that we shall see the president, soon after denominated governor, and two of the privy council, exercising all the civil and military powers of the state.
John Rutledge was chosen president, Henry Laurens vice-president, and ex-officio president of the privy council. In this year, (1776,) Francis Marion had risen to the rank of major in the second regiment, and was stationed with his colonel in the fort at Sullivan's Island. He was in the action of the 28th of June, between that fort and nine of the British ships, under Sir Peter Parker. Of the particulars of this battle, every one has heard, and they need not be narrated here. Two of the ships carried fifty guns, the ship Bristol, commodore Sir Peter Parker, and the Experiment; and as powder was very scarce in the fort, the orders were, "mind the commodore!" "Fire at the two fifty gun ships." Col. Moultrie received the thanks of the commander in chief, of congress, Gen. Lee, and of president Rutledge, for his gallant conduct in that victory; and, what was more, the heart-felt gratitude of his countrymen. The fort was called by his name, and he was raised to the rank of brigadier general. His major then rose to the rank of lieut. colonel. This action excited the highest resentment in the breasts of the British rulers; and in the end they inflicted severe vengeance on the state of South Carolina. Three years, however, elapsed before they made another attempt. In December, 1778, a British fleet of thirty seven sail, arrived off Savannah in Georgia, and landed about 4000 men. One half of these, under Col. Campbell, immediately made an attack upon the town. Gen. Howe, with six or seven hundred Americans, attempted to oppose them; but was defeated at the first onset. The enemy took possession of the town; and, as the Georgia militia were backward in turning out, the whole country soon fell under their dominion. Shortly after the taking of Savannah, Gen. Lincoln took command of the American army, and Gen. Prevost of the British. On the 3d of Feb. 1779, Gen. Moultrie, with a party of about 300 militia, mostly citizens of Charleston and Beaufort, with the company of ancient artillery of Charleston, was posted at Beaufort, where he heard the enemy was advancing. He immediately dispatched his aid, Capt. Francis Kinloch, to reconnoitre; while he moved forward on the road to Beaufort ferry. Kinloch returning soon, stated the supposed force of the British, and that they were near upon the road; Moultrie now pushed on to gain a defile, but found it occupied by the enemy. There being no alternative, he then drew up his men in open ground, with two field pieces in the centre, and one on the right. The British force was two companies of picked light infantry, posted under cover of a swamp. The militia engaged them, and fought under this disadvantage till their ammunition was all expended, and Moultrie ordered a retreat; but the British made a simultaneous movement, and it became a drawn battle. Lieut. Wilkins of the ancient artillery, was mortally wounded, and seven men were killed. Capt. Heyward, Lieuts. Sawyer and Brown, and fifteen men, were wounded. In the general's account of the action, the loss of the British is not stated; he speaks highly of the conduct of his officers and men; particularly of Capt. John Barnwell; and indeed it was no little matter, thus to bring militia, in the open field, to fight regulars under cover.
Lincoln's force was fluctuating, as it consisted principally of militia, who could not be brought under control; and in the midst of arms, when the enemy were at the distance of only three miles, their officers refused to subject them to the articles of war; and insisted upon their being tried by the militia laws of the state, which only subjected them to a small pecuniary fine. The case too was a flagrant one; a private of Col. Kershaw's regiment had absented himself from guard, and upon being reproved by his captain, gave him abusive language; the captain ordered him under guard, and the man attempted to shoot his officer; but was prevented. This case was referred to the general assembly then sitting, who also refused to bring the militia under the articles of war. Had Gen. Jackson lately submitted to such an interference with his authority, we should never have heard of the glorious victory of New Orleans. Gen. Lincoln would have nothing more to do with the militia, and gave up the command of them to Gen. Moultrie, to act with them as a separate corps. Pursuant to this resolution, and after calling a council of war, he marched off (20th April) about 2000 light troops and cavalry, for Augusta, leaving his baggage to follow. Near Augusta, he expected a reinforcement of 3000 men, and his intentions were to take possession of some strong post in Georgia, to circumscribe the limits of the enemy, and to prevent their receiving recruits from the Cherokee Indians, and tories. He left Gen. Moultrie, with about 1200 militia, at Black Swamp. As soon as Gen. Prevost heard of this movement, he availed himself of it, and immediately crossed over the Savannah, from Abercorn to Purysburgh, twenty-five miles below Black Swamp, with the intention of surprising Moultrie, but he, receiving intelligence of his crossing, retired to Coosawhatchie. At this place he left a rear guard, and pitched his head quarters on the hill to the eastward of Tulifinny, two miles in advance towards Charleston. (1st May.) After reconnoitring the fords of Coosawhatchie, and Tulifinny above the bridges, the general found so little water in the swamps, from the excessive drought which then prevailed,* that he determined not to risk an action at this post. He was about to send one of his aids to bring off his rear guard, when Col. John Laurens offered himself as a volunteer for that service; he was readily accepted, and captain, afterwards Major John James, with 150 picked riflemen, was sent to cover his flanks: these, with the rear guard, made near a fourth of the retreating army. Instead of bringing off the rear guard, Col. Laurens drew them over to the east side of the river, posted the riflemen at the bridge, threw off the planks, and engaged the enemy. The British occupied the houses on the west bank, from which they kept up a galling fire; a number of Laurens' men were killed and wounded, and, as he was very conspicuous on horse back in regimentals, with a large white plume, he was soon wounded himself, and his horse killed. Laurens then retired, and captain, afterwards Col. Shubrick, ordered a retreat. In the mean time Moultrie had decamped, and the riflemen were obliged, as the planks were thrown off, to pass Tulifinny and Pocotaligo bridges on the string pieces; and did not overtake the main body till they had passed Saltketcher bridge. Here let us pause for a moment, and take a view of the ground; twelve miles of country had been passed over in one morning, which was a continued defile of causeway, lined on both sides with either thick woods, or ditches and fences, and four rivers had been crossed; over which were high bridges, and only a slight skirmish had taken place. True, the swamps above the bridges were dry, but then they were so wide and thick, that the British would never have ventured into them. It is likewise true that Col. Laurens said the militia would not fight, yet the riflemen stood till they were ordered to retreat, and their retreat had like to have been cut off. Laurens was not wrong in fighting, for it is always best to keep militia employed: but in engaging without orders, and in not burning down the houses near the river, he is blamed by Gen. Moultrie.** However Moultrie himself was more to blame in suffering the enemy to pass over Coosawhatchie. At least they ought not to have been permitted to cross the Saltketcher. There is no doubt but Moultrie was a firm patriot and a brave soldier, but he acted now under the impulse of an opinion, which then generally prevailed among the officers of the South Carolina troops, that Charleston was all important, and if taken, the state must be lost. We shall see the effect of this system in the end. In the same manner the Edisto and Ashley were now passed, without striking a blow. The Americans suffered greatly both for provisions and for the want of water, drinking out of every puddle in the road, however filthy. The enemy, on the contrary, passed through the richest part of the state, and were suffered to scatter themselves abroad, and to satiate themselves with choice fare, and valuable plunder. General Moultrie continued his march to Charleston, and Prevost took post before the lines.
* The fine spring at Tulifinny had then entirely failed.
** 1st Volume Moultrie's memoirs, p. 403-4.
We have for some time lost sight of Lieut. Col. Marion, and the reader may naturally inquire, was he at Tulifinny? He was not. With the second regiment under his command, he was in garrison at fort Moultrie. Before Gen. Moultrie broke up his camp at Black Swamp, he wrote to Gen. Lincoln to give him advice of the movement of the enemy to Purysburgh, and from time to time of their progress to Charleston; but Lincoln marched up to Augusta, crossed over into Georgia, and moved down on the other side of the river for some time, very deliberately.* However, from Jannett's ferry, he writes a letter, of which the following is an extract: "If the enemy should give public evidence of their designs against Charleston, I think, with your force, as you are in possession of strong passes, you will be able to stop their progress and give us time to come up." On the 10th of May, he again writes to Gen. Moultrie, "We are making, and shall continue to make, every exertion for the relief of Charleston. The baggage will be left. The inability of the men only, will put a period to our daily marches. Our men are full of spirits. Do not give up, or suffer the people to despair." But the governor and council did despair already, for a majority of them had finally offered to capitulate, and proposed a neutrality, during the war between Great Britain and South Carolina; and the question, whether the state should belong to Great Britain, or remain one of the United States, to be determined by the treaty of peace; from this offer, Gen. Gadsden and Mr. Thomas Ferguson dissented. To carry terms so disgraceful, to Prevost, Col. Laurens was pitched upon; but he indignantly refused to be the bearer. Cols. M'Intosh and Roger Smith were then persuaded to go with a flag. The British commander appointed Col. Prevost, as commissioner to receive them; and he delivered a message from the general, "that he had nothing to do with the governor, that his business was with Gen. Moultrie; and as the garrison was in arms, they must surrender prisoners of war." At this answer, the governor and council looked blank; and some were for submitting even to this degrading proposal: but Moultrie cut the conference short, by declaring, "that as it was left to him, he would fight to the last extremity." Laurens, who was present, and sitting, bounded to his feet at the expression, raised his hands, and thanked his God! Thus it was only by a mistake of Prevost, as to the high powers of the civil authority, that the town, and the state of South Carolina, were then saved. What renders this offer the more astonishing, was, that the garrison, 3180 strong, were in good spirits, and an army under Lincoln, was marching to their assistance, on the rear of the enemy; who were not much stronger than the besieged, being computed at 3680 men.** Early the next morning, Prevost decamped, and retreated to John's and James Islands. (May 13th.) There was great rejoicing in the town; but the consequence to which it had arrived, by repelling two attempts of the enemy, only brought against it a greater armament, and in the end, sunk it into deeper distress. An attack upon the British at Stono ferry, was now planned by Gen. Lincoln. Gen. Moultrie, was to throw over on James Island, all the troops which could be spared from the town, and make a feint on that side, or attack, if a favourable opportunity offered; while the principal effort was to be made by Lincoln, at Stono. He made the attack before Moultrie could cooperate, (June 20) and the enemy remaining in their lines, and being reinforced, obliged him to retreat. In this affair a few men were killed, and Col. Roberts, of the artillery, mortally wounded. His loss was greatly and justly lamented. William Richardson Davie, lately deceased, and afterwards so much celebrated as Gen. Davie, was among the wounded. Prevost, soon after this, retreated along the chain of islands on the coast, until he reached Port Royal and Savannah. During the time Prevost lay before the lines of Charleston, Maj. Benjamin Huger, an active officer, a wise statesman, and a virtuous citizen, was unfortunately killed. What rendered his fate the more melancholy, was, that the act was done by the mistake of his own countrymen. It was at this time also, that Gen. Count Pulaski, a Polander, began to distinguish himself as a partisan. His address in single combat, was greatly celebrated. Col. Kowatch, under his command, was killed before the lines, and shamefully mutilated by the British. Of the campaign of 1779, it was not the intention of the author to give a minute detail; but only to sketch out those feelings, and that line of conduct, in the cabinet and field, which, followed up in the succeeding year, brought ruin and disgrace upon the country.
* Lincoln's letter, 20th April.
** 1st vol. Moultrie's memoirs, from p. 425 to 435.
Chapter II. CAMPAIGN OF 1780.
Sir Henry Clinton arrives with an army of 12,000 men in South Carolina. The General Assembly sitting in Charleston, break up. Gen. Lincoln shuts himself up in the town, and Clinton lays siege to it. Before the town is entirely hemmed in, Marion dislocates his ankle, and retires into the country. The town capitulates. Tarleton's career of slaughter. Defeat of Gen. Huger at Monk's Corner and of Buford at the Waxhaws. Rising of the people in Williamsburgh, and at Pedee. Gen. Marion sent to them as a commander. Gates, defeat. Marion retakes 150 American prisoners at Nelson's Ferry. Maj. Wemyss sent against him; he retreats to the White Marsh, in North Carolina. Returns and defeats the tories at Black Mingo and the fork of Black river. Attempt on Georgetown frustrated. Marion takes post at Snow Island. Sumter's career. Ferguson's defeat. Spirit of the whigs begins to revive.
The year 1780, was the most eventful one, in the annals of South Carolina. The late failure of the attack on Savannah; the little opposition which Gen. Prevost met with, in a march of more than one hundred miles through the state; the conduct of the planters, in submitting, to save their property; and the well known weakness of the southern army; all conspired to induce the enemy to believe, that Charleston, and South Carolina, would become an easy prey. Sir Henry Clinton, their commander in chief, meditating a formidable expedition against them; with this view sailed from New York on the 26th December, 1779, with an army, which, with subsequent reinforcements amounted to about 12,000 men. To oppose this great force, Gen. Lincoln had not more than two thousand, a great part of which was militia. His head quarters were in Charleston, where the general assembly were setting in calm deliberation, for they had not yet heard of the rising storm. Lieut. Col. Marion, had command of the out-post of this little army, at Sheldon, near Pocotaligo, where he had orders to watch the motions of Prevost, and prevent him from obtaining supplies of provisions, from the Carolina side of Savannah river. It was expected he was to remain here for some time, and great confidence was reposed in him, by Gen. Lincoln, as appears by his letters, at this period. The British had a tedious passage, in which they lost part of their ordnance, most of their artillery, and all the horses, destined to mount their cavalry. On the 11th Feb. 1780, they landed about thirty miles from Charleston. The assembly sitting there, immediately broke up, after delegating, "till ten days after their next session, to John Rutledge, and such of his council as he could conveniently consult, a power to do every thing necessary for the public good; except the taking away the life of a citizen, without a legal trial." This was nearly the same power, with which the senate of Rome, invested their dictators. But a resolution, fatal in its consequences, was unanimously adopted by this assembly: namely, to defend the town to the utmost extremity. The power, thus delegated to the governor and council, was carried into effect afterwards, with vigour, and with what would now be thought an infraction of private rights. But in the spirit of the times, and the public situation, such vigour was necessary. The governor's council, was composed of upright and virtuous men, and John Rutledge was one of the most distinguished sons, to whom South Carolina has given birth. His eloquence was proverbial, both in congress, and at home. It was that of Demosthenes, concise, energetic, and commanding. There was something in his very manner, and the tone of his voice, that riveted the attention of his audience. They stood subdued before him. He swayed the councils of the state, he swayed the councils of the general who commanded the southern army: and if he erred, he erred with a good conscience, and from the purest motives.
The first order issued by Governor Rutledge, was, to call out the drafted militia, for the defence of the town, under pain of confiscation of property. This order was but partially obeyed;—the militia, who were friendly to the cause, had been much harassed in the last campaign, and it was generally known that the small-pox was in the town. At the same time, the governor sent out many influential officers, to secure the execution of his first order; and though intended only to operate for the present, this last order was in time productive of a fortunate result; as these officers afterwards headed the people. In the mean time, Gen. Lincoln had ordered Lieut. Col. Marion to select two hundred men, out of the three regiments with him, at Sheldon, and to march immediately to town. (31st Jan.) No troops were to be left in the field but two hundred light infantry, and the horse under Col. Washington. Marion repaired to town, according to orders; but before the garrison was hemmed in by the enemy, he, by accident, in attempting to escape from a drinking party, dislocated his ankle. Gen. Lincoln had issued an order, "that all supernumerary officers, and all officers who were unfit for duty, must quit the garrison, and retire into the country." In consequence of this order, Marion retired to St. John's. He was afterwards obliged to move about, from house to house, as favoured by friends, and often to hide in the woods, until he got better; but, as soon as he was able, he collected a few friends, and joined Gen. De Kalb, who was then advancing, with about fourteen hundred men, of the Maryland and Delaware troops, towards South Carolina. The correspondence of Gen. Horry here breaks off suddenly; and we hear no more of Marion for five months. But an accident, which must have appeared to him a great misfortune, at the time, was afterwards productive of the most happy effects. Another has been noted only a few pages back.
In the mean time, the enemy proceeded cautiously in the siege of Charleston. They formed a depot on James Island, and erected a fortification on it, and the main, near Wappoo cut. On the 28th of March they crossed Ashley river, near the ferry, and made a lodgement in Charleston neck. Col. Laurens, with the light infantry, skirmished with them; but, as they greatly exceeded him in numbers, he was obliged to retire within the lines. On the night of the 1st of April, Sir Henry Clinton commenced his first parallel, at the distance of eleven hundred yards from the American works. On the 7th, twelve sail of the enemy's ships passed Fort Moultrie, under a heavy fire. The garrison had been assiduous in preparing for defence; the old works were strengthened, and lines and redoubts were extended from Ashley to Cooper river. A strong abbatis was made in front, and a deep, wet ditch was opened from the marsh on one side, to that on the other, and the lines were so constructed as to rake it. On the 10th, the enemy had completed their first parallel, and Gen. Lincoln was summoned to surrender; but refused. All attempts at removing the force besieged, out of the town, had, while it was practicable, been opposed by the governor and council, and the officers of the South Carolina troops; and Gen. Lincoln, had not the resolution to counteract them. At length it was thought advisable, that the governor and three of his council should leave the town; and that Lieut. Gov. Gadsden and five others should remain. The ships of war, in the harbour of Charleston, being quite inadequate to oppose the force which had passed Fort Moultrie, were divested of their guns, to reinforce the batteries, and were sunk nearly opposite the exchange, to impede the passage of the enemy up Cooper river. Soon after this, Sir Henry Clinton, being reinforced by two thousand five hundred men, under Lord Cornwallis, pushed them over Cooper river, and enclosed the besieged on the side of St. Thomas' parish and Christ church; and the town was now completely invested by land and water. About this time, the American forces in the field having been defeated, as hereafter to be narrated, and the British having completed their second parallel, an offer to capitulate was made by Lincoln, to Sir Henry Clinton, and rejected. The batteries of the besiegers, having now obtained a decided superiority over those of the besieged, when the third parallel had opened its cannonade, and the British having crossed the wet ditch by sap, they opened a fire of rifles within twenty-five yards of the Americans. The caution of Sir Henry Clinton, in advancing so slowly, had been extreme, and the unsuspecting security of the Americans was still great; but Gen. Duportail, a French officer of engineers, having arrived in town before the communication was closed with the country, declared, that the works of the besieged were not tenable, and might have been stormed ten days before. This disclosed his true situation, and induced Gen. Lincoln to listen to a capitulation, which was proposed to him on the 8th of May. From that until the 10th, the negociation was continued. On the 11th, the capitulation was agreed to, and, on the next day, the Americans marched out and grounded their arms. After a siege of a month and fourteen days, 2500 men submitted to an army of 12,000; and it was only surprising they held out so long. The continental troops and sailors were to remain prisoners of war until exchanged; the militia were permitted to return home as prisoners on parole, which, as long as they observed it, should secure them from being molested in their property.
On the morning, when the Americans had paraded to surrender, tears were seen coursing down the cheeks of Gen. Moultrie.
The loss of the Americans, in the siege, was not great; only five officers of distinction: Col. Parker, and Capts. Bowman, Moultrie, Templeton and Neyle, were killed. During the siege, Gen. Lincoln called two councils of war, to devise the means of retreating from the town, but all attempts of that kind were opposed, first by the civil authority, next by the South Carolina officers, and finally by the inhabitants. He ought not to have entered the town; he had the example of the illustrious Washington before him, who had declined to act in that manner, and had thus preserved the independence of his country. The American army acting in the country, would have kept up the spirits of the militia, and kept the British from mounting their cavalry, and gaining supplies of provisions, with such ease as they did. Although Lincoln's force was small, it was at least equal to that of Gen. Washington, when he retreated over the Delaware, in 1776. The country was not so open, and more fit for a partisan warfare, than New Jersey, and in a few months the climate would have fought his battles. It was not intended by the author to narrate the particulars of the siege of Charleston; these have been detailed by the enlightened historian of South Carolina, Dr. Ramsay. But the effects of it upon the minds of the people in the country, come more particularly within his province; since they would hereafter be disposed to act according as they were affected, by passing incidents. There being now no force in the field, but the two hundred light infantry, under Gen. Huger, and the horse under Col. Washington; which were those mentioned in Lincoln's order to Gen. Marion; the British were suffered to detach small parties through the country, and to take all the horses which were fit, either to transport their cannon and baggage, or to mount their cavalry. In one month after their landing, Col. Tarleton had his legion mounted, and began his career of slaughter. On the 18th March, he surprised a party of 80 militia, at Saltketcher bridge, killed and wounded several, and dispersed the rest. On the 23d, he put to flight another party at Ponpon, killed three, wounded one, and took four prisoners. On the 27th, near Rantowle's bridge, he had a rencounter with Col. Washington, at the head of his legion of 300 men; Tarleton was worsted in this affair, and lost seven men, prisoners. On the 13th April, the American infantry and cavalry under Gen. Huger, lay, the infantry at Biggen church, and the cavalry under Col. Washington, at Monk's corner. Col. Tarleton with Ferguson's corps of marksmen, advanced on from the quarter-house to Goose Creek, where he was joined by Col. Webster, with the 33d and 64th regiments of infantry. There an attack upon the American post was concerted, and it was judged advisable to make it in the night, as that would render the superiority of Washington's cavalry useless. A servant of one of Huger's officers was taken on the road, and he agreed for a few dollars, to conduct the enemy through a by-road, to Monk's corner. At three o'clock in the morning, they charged Washington's guard on the main road, and pursued them into the camp. The Americans were completely surprised. Major Vernier, of Pulaski's legion, and twenty-five men, were killed. One hundred officers, and dragoons, fifty waggons loaded with ammunition, clothing and arms, and four hundred horses, with their accoutrements, were taken. A most valuable acquisition to the British. Major Cochrane with the British legion of infantry, forced the passage at Biggen bridge, and drove Gen. Huger and the infantry before him.—In this affair, Major James Conyers, of the Americans, distinguished himself by a skilful retreat, and by calling off the attention of the enemy from his sleeping friends, to himself. The British had only one officer and two men wounded. The account of the loss of the Americans in this affair, is taken from Tarleton, who blames "the injudicious conduct of the American commander, who besides making a false disposition of his corps, by placing his cavalry in front of the bridge, during the night, and his infantry in the rear, neglected sending patroles in front of his videttes." In this surprise, the British made free use of the bayonet, the houses in Monk's corner, then a village, were afterwards deserted, and long bore the marks of deadly thrust, and much bloodshed. Col. White soon after took the command of the American cavalry, but with no better fortune. On the 5th May, he took a British officer and seventeen men of the legion, at Ball's plantation, near Strawberry, in the morning, and pushed back twenty-five miles, to Lenud's ferry, on Santee. While crossing there, Tarleton surprised him, at three in the afternoon; who states, that five officers and 36 men of the Americans were killed and wounded, and seven officers and sixty dragoons were taken; while he lost only two men, and retook his dragoons. Cols. White and Washington, Major Jamieson, and several officers and men, escaped by swimming the river, but many perished in the like attempt.* Thus the American corps of cavalry and infantry, in the open field, was completely annihilated, and from the Saltketcher to the Santee, a distance of one hundred and twenty miles, either terror or a general depression of spirits, had spread through the country. What served to increase this, was the cannonade at the town. This was a novel thing in South Carolina, and along water courses, it was heard more than one hundred miles. In that distance, there were but few families, who had not a husband, father, brother or son in the garrison; and these listened to the sound, with the deepest anxiety, and, as was natural, with no little despondency.
* Two boys, Francis G. Deliesseline and Samuel Dupre, had the boldness to undertake, and did recover fourteen of White's cavalry horses from the British, and delivered them to Major Jamieson in Georgetown, refusing a reward he offered.
As soon as the town had surrendered, Lord Cornwallis, with 2500 men, and five field pieces, marched from St. Thomas' to Nelson's ferry. Thence he detached Tarleton, with 700 infantry and cavalry, in quest of Gen. Caswell and Col. Buford, who had been approaching to the relief of Charleston, with about 700 militia, and between 3 and 400 continentals. At Camden, Caswell, with the militia, quitted Buford, who then commanded the continentals, and retreated by the way of Pedee. Buford's regiment was soon after placed under the command of Gen. Huger, as an escort to Gov. Rutledge, then at Camden; and was detained, with a fatal security, by the general, for two days in that place. And so much off their guard, were our rulers themselves, that Gov. Rutledge, and his council, were soon after hospitably entertained, at Clermont, by Col. Rugely, an Englishman, professedly opposed to the American cause. At midnight, he woke them up, advised them of Tarleton's approach, and with some difficulty, persuaded them to escape; at daylight, Tarleton arrived at Clermont. That morning, Huger gave up the command again to Buford, and took the Charlotte road, with the governor and his two remaining council, Daniel Huger and John L. Gervais. Buford proceeded on rapidly, upon the Salisbury road, and from circumstances, his baggage waggons must have been sent on before he took the command again, that morning; otherwise, in making the very quick march he did, they must have been left far in his rear. But Tarleton blames him, for sending them ahead, because they might have served him as a rampart, and other historians have adopted his account. After a pursuit of one hundred miles, in fifty-four hours, Tarleton approached Buford, about forty miles from Camden, and twenty-six from Clermont; and dispatched Capt. David Kinloch with a flag, summoning him to surrender upon the terms granted to the garrison of Charleston. Buford called a council of his officers, who deeming it a deception, he continued his march. In the afternoon, Tarleton overtook him, unfortunately, in an open wood, and cut to pieces his rear guard. At the sound of his bugle, Buford drew up his men, all infantry; but Capt. Carter, (not Benjamin,) who commanded his artillery, and led the van, continued his march. Tarleton advanced, with his infantry in the centre, and his cavalry on the wings. He was checked by Buford's fire; but the cavalry wheeling, gained his rear. Seeing no hope of any longer making a defence, Buford sent Ensign Cruitt with a flag of truce, and grounded his arms. Disregarding the flag, and the rules of civilized warfare, Tarleton cut Cruitt down, and charged upon Buford, with his cavalry in the rear; while Maj. Cochrane, an infuriated Scotchman, rushed with fixed bayonets, in front. A few of Buford's men, resumed their arms, and fired, when the British were within ten steps, but with little effect;* as might have been expected, from what has been stated.
* See Dr. Brownfield's account of this affair, which throws more light upon it, than any thing heretofore written. Appendix, p. 1. To paliate his conduct, Tarleton has written a most partial account of it, which has been followed by Moultrie, and substantially by Ramsay. The faults committed by Buford, he says, were his sending his baggage ahead, and not firing till the cavalry were within ten steps.—But Buford, notwithstanding all the odium excited against him by his ill fortune, was tried by a court martial, and acquitted. Tarleton excuses his cruelty, by stating, that his horse was knocked down, at the first fire: and his men, thinking him killed, to avenge his death, were more sanguinary than usual, and he was unable, from that circumstance, for a while to restrain them. But Lord Cornwallis approved the whole, and praised and caressed Tarleton, while he was fortunate.
Buford's regiment was entirely broken by the charge, no quarters were given by the British; 113 men were killed of the Americans, and 151 so badly wounded as to be left on the ground. This was nearly two thirds of the whole American force, according to Tarleton's own account; and the manner in which those left on the ground were mangled, is told, by others, as horrible. No habitation was near, but the lone cabin of a poor widow woman; and the situation of the dead, was fortunate, when compared with that of the living. Tarleton says, he lost but two officers, and three privates killed, and one officer and thirteen privates wounded. The massacre took place at the spot where the road from Lancaster to Chesterfield now crosses the Salisbury road. The news of these two events, the surrender of the town, and the defeat of Buford, were spread through the country about the same time, and the spirit of the whigs, sunk into despondency. The American cause appeared to be lost; but, on this expedition, Tarleton burnt the house of Gen. Sumter, near Stateburgh,* and roused the spirit of the lion; at Camden, a party of his men cut to pieces Samuel Wiley, whom they mistook for his brother, John Wiley, then sheriff of the district, at his own house.** Governor Rutledge and his council again escaped Tarleton, by a few minutes, and by taking the road to Charlotte, in North Carolina. On the 1st of June, Sir Henry Clinton and Admiral Arbuthnot offered to the inhabitants, with some exceptions, "pardon for their past treasonable offences, and a reinstatement in their rights and immunities heretofore enjoyed, exempt from taxation, except by their own legislature." To many, this specious offer appeared to be all that they had been contending for; and they flocked in from all quarters to gain such high privileges. These, having signed declarations of allegiance, received protections as subjects, or were parolled to their plantations as prisoners of war. But, in the short space of twenty days, a second proclamation was issued, stating, that it was necessary for all persons to take an active part in securing his majesty's government, that all the inhabitants then prisoners on parole, except those taken at Charleston, and others in confinement, should be freed from their paroles, and restored to the rights of citizens; and all who neglected to return to their allegiance should be considered as rebels.
* The proper name is Stateburgh. But so great is the propensity of Americans for introducing the S into the already hissing English language, that it is now written commonly Statesburgh.
** Tarleton despatched his favourite sergeant Hutt, who always charged by his side, with a sergeant's guard, to perform this deed. The visit was quite unexpected by Wiley. In going up to his house, two men were left concealed, behind two large gate posts, at the entrance of the yard; while Hutt, with the rest, broke into the house abruptly; he demanded Wiley's shoe buckles, and while he stooped down to unbuckle them, the wretch Hutt aimed a stroke with his sword at his head. Wiley, seeing the gleam of the descending weapon, parried the blow from his head, by his hand, with the loss of some fingers; then, springing out of the door, he ran for the gate, where the two concealed men despatched him with many blows. The cause of offence was, that John Wiley, as sheriff, had superintended the execution of some men under the existing state laws, at that time against treason. After the battle of Cowpens Hutt disappeared.
Nothing could have astonished the people more, than this last proclamation, those who had taken the paroles expected to remain on their plantations in security and ease; but now, they were called upon to return to their allegiance, and assist in securing his majesty's government. The purport of which was well understood; they were in fact to take up arms against their countrymen: at the very thought of which they were abhorrent. This crooked policy was no sooner adopted, than the British cause began to decline in South Carolina. The thread of the events above recorded, will now naturally lead us to the history of Marion's brigade. About the end of June, in this year, Capt. Ardesoif, of the British navy, arrived at Georgetown, to carry the last proclamation of Sir Henry Clinton into effect, and invited the people to come in and swear allegiance to King George. Many of the inhabitants of that district submitted to this new act of degradation. But there remained a portion of it, stretching from the Santee to the Pedee, and including the whole of the present Williamsburgh, and part of Marion district, into which the British arms had not penetrated. The inhabitants of it were generally of Irish extraction; a people, who at all times during the war, abhorred either submission or vassalage. Among them, tradition has handed down the following story:—A public meeting was called, to deliberate upon their critical situation, and Major John James, who had heretofore commanded them in the field, and represented them in legislature, was selected as the person who should go down to Capt. Ardesoif, and know from him, whether, by his proclamation, he meant that they should take up arms against their countrymen. He proceeded to Georgetown, in the plain garb of a country planter, and was introduced to the captain, at his lodgings, a considerable distance from his ship. An altercation of the following nature took place. After the major had narrated the nature of his mission, the captain, surprised that such an embassy should be sent to him, answered, "the submission must be unconditional." To an inquiry, whether the inhabitants would not be allowed to stay at home, upon their plantations, in peace and quiet? he replied, "although you have rebelled against his majesty, he offers you a free pardon, of which you are undeserving, for you ought all to be hanged; but as he offers you a free pardon, you must take up arms in support of his cause." To Major James' suggesting that the people he came to represent would not submit on such terms, the captain, irritated at his republican language, particularly, it is supposed, at the word represent, replied, "you damned rebel, if you speak in such language I will immediately order you to be hanged up to the yard-arm."—The captain wore a sword, and Major James none, but perceiving what turn matters were likely to take, and not brooking such harsh language, he suddenly seized the chair on which he was seated, brandished it in the face of the captain, and making his retreat good through the back door of the house, mounted his horse, and made his escape into the country. This circumstance, apparently trivial, certainly hastened the rise of Marion's brigade. The story narrated, as now told, or embellished, always concluded in the same way: "you must take up arms in support of his majesty's cause." Many of the people of Williamsburgh had submitted and taken paroles, but to be obliged to imbrue their hands in the blood of their countrymen, was in their minds a breach of one of the commands of God, and they shuddered at the very thought.—They had besides, had two officers put over them, by the British commander, Amos Gaskens and John Hamilton; the first they despised on account of his petty larceny tricks, and the last they hated because of his profanity. About this time, news of the approach of Gates having arrived, a public meeting of this people was called, and it was unanimously resolved to take up arms in defence of their country. Major James was desired to command them as heretofore, and they again arrayed themselves under their captains William M'Cottry, Henry Mouzon, John James,* of the lake, and John M'Cauley. The four companies, resolved on this great enterprise, consisted of about two hundred men. Shortly after, Col. Hugh Giles, of Pedee, proposed to join them, with two companies, Whitherspoon's and Thornly's; and his offer was gladly accepted. Gen. Gates had now arrived on the confines of the state, and in a consultation, held among these officers, it was agreed to send to him, to appoint them a commander. This was a wise resolution, and attended with the most salutary consequences. In the mean time, they made prisoners of Col. Cassels, Capt. Gaskens, and most of the officers appointed over them by the British, and took post at the pass of Lynch's creek, at Witherspoon's ferry. At this period, the tories on Lynch's creek, in the neighbourhood of M'Callum's ferry, had already begun their murders and depredations. Messrs. Matthew Bradley, Thomas Bradley, and John Roberts, respectable citizens, who had then joined neither party, and also, some others, were killed by them, in their own houses. These were headed by the two Harrisons, one afterwards a colonel, the other a major in the British service; whom Tarleton calls men of fortune. They were in fact two of the greatest banditti that ever infested the country. Before the fall of Charleston they lived in a wretched log hut, by the road, near M'Callum's, in which there was no bed-covering but the skins of wild beasts; during the contest the major was killed; but after it was over, the colonel retired to Jamaica, with much wealth, acquired by depredation. Capt. M'Cottry was now posted in advance of Witherspoon's ferry, at Indian town, and Col. Tarleton, having crossed at Lenud's ferry, and hearing of the Williamsburgh meeting, advanced, at the head of seventy mounted militia and cavalry, to surprise Major James. M'Cottry, first receiving notice of his movement, sent back for a reinforcement, and immediately marched his company, of about fifty mounted militia, to give him battle. Tarleton had been posted at dark, at the Kingstree, and M'Cottry approached him at midnight, but Tarleton marched away a few hours before he arrived. By means of the wife of Hamilton, the only tory in that part of the country, he had gained intelligence of M'Cottry's approach, as reported to him, with five hundred men.—The latter pursued, but, perhaps fortunately, without overtaking him. In this route Tarleton burnt the house of Capt. Mouzon; and after posting thirty miles, from Kingstree up to Salem, took Mr. James Bradley prisoner, the next day. Soon after this Lieut. Col. Hugh Horry arrived from Georgetown; and by right he would have had the command of Major James' party, but he declined it for some time. Of him more will be said hereafter. On the 10th or 12th of August, General Marion arrived at the post, at Lynch's creek, commissioned by Governor Rutledge to take the command of the party there, and a large extent of country on the east side of Santee. He was a stranger to the officers and men, and they flocked about him, to obtain a sight of their future commander.** He was rather below the middle stature of men, lean and swarthy. His body was well set, but his knees and ankles were badly formed; and he still limped upon one leg. He had a countenance remarkably steady; his nose was aquiline; his chin projecting; his forehead was large and high, and his eyes black and piercing. He was now forty-eight years of age; but still even at this age, his frame was capable of enduring fatigue and every privation, necessary for a partisan. His wisdom and patriotism will become henceforth conspicuous. Of a character, so much venerated, even trifles become important. He was dressed in a close round bodied crimson jacket, of a coarse texture, and wore a leather cap, part of the uniform of the second regiment, with a silver crescent in front, inscribed with the words, "Liberty or death." He was accompanied by his friend Col. Peter Horry, and some other officers. On the second or third day after his arrival, General Marion ordered his men to mount white cockades, to distinguish themselves from the tories, and crossed the Pedee, at Port's ferry, to disperse a large body of tories, under Major Ganey, stationed on Britton's neck, between great and little Pedee. He surprised them at dawn in the morning, killed one of their captains and several privates, and had two men wounded. Major James was detached at the head of a volunteer troop of horse, to attack their horse; he came up with them, charged, and drove them before him. In this affair, Major James singled out Major Ganey, (as he supposed) as the object of his single attack. At his approach Ganey fled, and he pursued him closely, and nearly within the reach of his sword, for half a mile; when behind a thicket, he came upon a party of tories, who had rallied. Not at all intimidated, but with great presence of mind, Major James called out, "Come on my boys!—Here they are!—Here they are!" And the whole body of tories broke again, and rushed into little Pedee swamp. Another party of tories lay higher up the river, under the command of Capt. Barefield; who had been a soldier in one of the South Carolina regiments. These stood to their ranks, so well, and appeared to be so resolute, that Gen. Marion did not wish to expose his men, by an attack on equal terms; he therefore feigned a retreat, and led them into an ambuscade, near the Blue Savannah, where they were defeated. This was the first manoeuvre of the kind, for which he afterwards became so conspicuous.
* He was second cousin to the major. Of this family, there were five brothers, than whom no men under Marion were more brave; these were John, William, Gavin, Robert and James. Gavin died a few weeks since, with whom the family became extinct. More of Gavin and Robert hereafter. 20th July, 1821.
** He was not appointed a general till some time after this, but as we have not the date of his commission, henceforth he will be styled general; and his other officers, to avoid repetitions, are designated generally by the rank they held at the disbandment of the brigade.
Thus Gen. Marion, at once, fell upon employment, as the true way to encourage and to command militia; and their spirits began to revive. He returned to Port's ferry, and threw up a redoubt on the east bank of the Pedee, on which he mounted two old iron field pieces, to awe the tories. On the 17th of August, he detached Col. Peter Horry, with orders to take command of four companies, Bonneau's, Mitchell's, Benson's, and Lenud's, near Georgetown, and on the Santee; to destroy all the boats and canoes on the river, from the lower ferry to Lenud's; to post guards, so as to prevent all communication with Charleston, and to procure him twenty-five weight of gunpowder, ball or buck shot, and flints in proportion. This order was made in pursuance of a plan he afterwards carried into effect; to leave no approach for the enemy into the district of which he had taken the command. The latter part of the order, shows how scanty were the means of his defence. There were few men, even in those days of enthusiasm, who would not have shrunk from such an undertaking. Gen. Marion himself marched to the upper part of Santee, it is believed, with the same object in view with which he had entrusted Horry. On his way he received intelligence of the defeat of Gates at Camden, and, without communicating it, he proceeded immediately towards Nelson's ferry. (16th August.) Near Nelson's, he was informed, by his scouts, that a guard, with a party of prisoners, were on their way to Charleston; and had stopped at the house, at the great Savannah, on the main road, east of the river. (20th of August.) It was night, and the general, a little before daylight next morning, gave the command of sixteen men to Col. Hugh Horry. He was ordered to gain possession of the road, at the pass of Horse creek, in the swamp, while the main body, under himself, was to attack in the rear. In taking his position, in the dark, Col. Horry advanced too near to a sentinel, who fired upon him. In a moment he rushed up to the house, found the British arms piled before the door, and seized upon them. Twenty-two British regulars, of the 63d regiment, two tories, one captain, and a subaltern were taken, and one hundred and fifty of the Maryland line, liberated. In his account of this affair Gen. Marion says he had one man killed, and Maj. Benson wounded. But the man, Josiah Cockfield, who was shot through the breast; lived to fight bravely again, and to be again wounded. In the account given of this action by Col. Tarleton, he says, contemptuously, the guard was taken by "a Mr. Horry"; but Gen. Marion, as commanding officer, is entitled to the credit of it. The news of the defeat of Gen. Gates now became public, and repressed all joy upon this occasion; no event which had yet happened, was considered so calamitous. An account of it will be given in his own words. Extract of a letter, from Gen. Gates, to the president of congress, dated Hillsborough, 20th August, 1780:—
"Sir, In the deepest distress and anxiety of mind, I am obliged to acquaint your excellency with the defeat of the troops under my command. I arrived with the Maryland line, the artillery, and the North Carolina militia, on the 13th inst. at Rugely's, thirteen miles from Camden; took post there, and was the next day joined by Gen. Stevens, with 700 militia from Virginia. The 15th, at daylight, I reinforced Colonel Sumter, with 300 North Carolina militia, 100 of the Maryland line, and two three-pounders from the artillery: having previously ordered him down from the Waxhaws, opposite to Camden, to intercept any stores coming to the enemy, and particularly troops coming from Ninety-Six. This was well executed by Col. Sumter. Having communicated my plan to the general officers in the afternoon of the 15th, it was resolved to march at ten at night, to take post in a very advantageous situation, with a deep creek in front, (Gum Swamp*) seven miles from Camden. At ten the army began to march, and having moved about five miles, the legion was charged by the enemy's cavalry, and well supported by Col. Porterfield, who beat back the enemy's horse, and was himself unfortunately wounded, (mortally) but the enemy's infantry advancing with a heavy fire, the troops in front gave way to the first Maryland brigade, and a confusion ensued which took some time to regulate. At length the army was ranged in line of battle. Gen. Gists' brigade on the right, close to a swamp; the North Carolina militia in the centre; the Virginia militia, the light infantry, and Porterfield's corps, on the left; the artillery divided to the brigades. The first Maryland brigade as a corps de reserve on the road. Col. Armand's corps was ordered to support the left flank. At daylight, they attacked and drove in our light party in front, when I ordered the left to advance and attack the enemy; but, to my astonishment, the left wing and North Carolina militia gave way. Gen. Caswell and myself, assisted by a number of officers, did all in our power to rally them; but the enemy's cavalry harassing their rear, they ran like a torrent, and bore all before them." This is all the general seemed to know of the action. Part of the brigade of North Carolina militia, commanded by Gen. Gregory, behaved well. They formed on the left of the continentals, and kept the field while their cartridges lasted. In bringing off his men, Gen. Gregory was thrice wounded by a bayonet, and several of his brigade, made prisoners, had no wounds but from the bayonet. The continental troops, under De Kalb and Gist, with inferior numbers, stood their ground and maintained the unequal conflict with great firmness. At one time they had taken a considerable body of prisoners; but at length, overpowered by numbers, they were compelled to leave the field. Tarleton's legion pursued the fugitives to the Hanging rock, fifteen miles, and glutted themselves with blood. Baron De Kalb, the second in command, an officer of great spirit, and long experience, was taken prisoner, after receiving eleven wounds, and died. Congress resolved that a monument should be erected to him at Annapolis. The gratitude of the people of Camden, has erected another in that town, and named a street De Kalb, after him.** Capts. Williams and Duval, of the Maryland troops, were killed; and Gen. Rutherford, of North Carolina, and Maj. Thomas Pinckney, of South Carolina, were wounded, and taken prisoners. Du Buysson, aid to Baron De Kalb, generously exposing himself to save his general, received several wounds and was taken. Lord Cornwallis states the force of Gates to have been six thousand men, and his own at near two thousand: a great disparity indeed. The loss of the Americans he calculates at between eight and nine hundred killed, and one thousand prisoners, many of whom were wounded; a number of colours, seven pieces of brass cannon, all the military stores and baggage, and one hundred and fifty waggons. His Lordship no doubt obtained a splendid victory; but tarnished it by his orders, issued soon after. Extract from the orders of Lord Cornwallis:—
* Had Gen. Gates reached the important pass of Gum Swamp, and occupied it properly, the fortune of war might have been changed. It is a miry creek, impassible for many miles, except at the road. He missed it only by a few minutes. And his popularity, though gained by much merit, was lost by no greater crime than that of trusting too much to militia.
** The Marquis De La Fayette and Baron De Kalb arrived in the United States in the same small vessel, which made the land at North inlet, near Georgetown, about the middle of June, in the year 1777. They lay in the offing, and seeing a canoe, with two negroes in it, come out of the inlet a fishing, they sent off a boat, which intercepted them. Fortunately they belonged to Capt. Benjamin Huger, who had just arrived at North Island with his family, to spend the summer. The negroes conducted the marquis and baron to their master's house, where he received them with joy, and, it need not be added, with hospitality. Never was a meeting of three more congenial souls. The major afterwards conducted his two illustrious guests to Charleston. Major Huger was the father of Col. Huger, who afterwards engaged in the well known enterprize of delivering the marquis from the dungeon of Olmutz; and perhaps the seeds of that honourable undertaking were sown under his father's roof.
"I have given orders, that the inhabitants of the province, who have taken part in this revolt, should be punished with the greatest rigour; and also those who will not turn out, that they may be imprisoned, and their property taken from them, or destroyed. I have likewise ordered, that compensation be made out of their estates, to the persons who have been injured or oppressed by them. I have ordered, in the most positive manner, that every militia man who has borne arms with us, and afterwards joined the army, shall be immediately hanged. I desire you will take the most rigourous measures to punish the rebels in the district in which you command; and that you obey in the strictest manner the directions I have given in this letter, relative to the inhabitants of this country." And wherever the British had garrisons or power these orders were carried into effect. Under them, at, or near Camden, Samuel Andrews, Richard Tucker, John Miles, Josiah Gayle, Eleazar Smith,——Sones, and many others, were hanged. Under them also, Cols. John Chesnut and Joseph Kershaw, Mr. James Brown, Mr. Strother, Mr. James Bradley, and a multitude of others, languished in irons, while their property was destroyed, and their families were starving. Yet Tarleton says of Lord Cornwallis, "He endeavoured so to conduct himself as to give offence to no party, and the consequence was that he was able entirely to please none." Of what kind of stuff must this man's heart have been made? But let us inquire a little further into the nature of these orders; which, in their extent, would have condemned to death, imprisonment and confiscation three fourths of the militia, who at that time, or afterwards, acted under the American standard in South Carolina. The proclamation of the British commanders of the 1st of June, 1780, before noticed, was either a snare to entrap the people into allegiance, and, as a necessary consequence, into recruits for their army; or it was terms of capitulation, fairly offered by the British commanders, to all such people as would submit to them. In other words, it was a solemn covenant.*1* If the proclamation was a snare, to bring the people to fight against their countrymen, as it has been generally thought, it was a breach of faith in those commanders, and not binding upon the people;*2* and the sooner they could avoid the treachery the better. Then, upon this view of the case, the more wicked were the orders of Lord Cornwallis, issued on the unsound principle of a faithless proclamation. Again, if it was intended as a covenant; as the paroles issued under it made them prisoners; the people, from the terms and the nature of it, ought to have been suffered to remain at home, in peace and quiet; for being prisoners, they could not, consistent with reason or principle, serve under those who held them in imprisonment. Further, the second proclamation declaring all paroles, after the 20th June, to be null and void, was an arbitrary change of what had been agreed upon by one party, the strongest, without the consent of the other; which, in the language of civilians, is odious.*3* Then the British commanders, having broken their covenant and declared it void, upon what principle could the people be punished by a breach of it? Upon none; for it did not exist. But further, the taking up arms in favour of the British, in nine cases out of ten, was compulsory; and could have no binding effect, either legally or morally speaking.
*1* Puff. L.N. viii.6.24. Vatt. B.2.C.14. S.214-15.
*2* Ibid, B.2.C.13. S.200.
*3* Vattel B.2.C.17. S.304. B.3.C.13. S.201.
In addition to the enormity of the principle, upon which such men were to suffer, was the uncertainty of the law; for Lord Cornwallis' orders are so confusedly drawn, they will admit, as against the accused, of any latitude of construction: yet they denounce confiscation, imprisonment and death. Under the circumstances stated, the confiscations of Lord Cornwallis were robberies, his imprisonments were unjust and cruel, and his executions, always upon the gibbet, were military murders. And if, to gain his point, he did not, like the Duke of Alva, (employed in a similar vocation) make use of the rack, the stake, and the faggot, yet Lord Cornwallis resorted to every other mode of punishment, a more improved civilization had left him, to suppress civil liberty. Such was the character of the commander in chief of the British forces in South Carolina.
Now, we hold a generous foe entitled to favour and respect, and we shall hereafter bestow it, wherever due; but the interest of humanity requires, and it is a sacred trust, in the historian, that cruel domineering spirits should be fully exposed.
Soon after the affair at Nelson's, Gen. Marion marched back to Port's ferry. On the way, many of the militia, and all the liberated continentals, except three, deserted him. Two of these were Sergeants M'Donald and Davis, who were afterwards noted, the first for his daring spirit and address in single combat; the second, for his patient services, after being crippled by a wound. It is a real pleasure to record the virtues of men, who, serving in a subordinate capacity, never expected such virtues should be known. By the exertions of Gen. Marion and his officers, the spirits of the drooping militia began to revive. But about the 27th day of August, when, having the command of only one hundred and fifty men, he heard of the approach of Major Wemyss, above Kingstree, at the head of the 63d regiment, and a body of tories, under Maj. Harrison.
Maj. James was instantly despatched, at the head of a company of volunteers, with orders to reconnoitre, and count them. Col. Peter Horry was called in, and the general crossed Lynch's creek, and advanced to give battle. The night after Maj. James received his orders, the moon shone brightly, and by hiding himself in a thicket, close to their line of march, he formed a good estimate of the force of the enemy. As their rear guard passed, he burst from his hiding place, and took some prisoners. On the same night, about an hour before day, Marion met the major half a mile from his plantation. The officers immediately dismounted, and retired to consult, and the men sat on their horses in a state of anxious suspense. The conference was long and animated. At the end of it, an order was given to direct the march back to Lynch's creek, and no sooner was it given than a hollow groan might have been heard along the whole line. A bitter cup had now been mingled for the people of Williamsburgh and Pedee; and they were doomed to drain it to the dregs: but in the end it proved a salutary medicine. Maj. James reported the British force to be double that of Marion's; and Ganey's party of tories in the rear, had always been estimated at five hundred men. In such a crisis, a retreat was deemed prudent. Gen. Marion recrossed the Pedee, at Port's; and the next evening, at the setting sun, commenced his retreat to North Carolina. (28th August, 1780.) He was accompanied by many officers, the names of all are not now recollected, and it may appear invidious to mention a few; the number of privates had dwindled down to sixty men. Capt. John James, with about ten chosen men, was left behind to succour the distressed, and to convey intelligence. The general's march, was, for some time, much impeded by the two field pieces, which he attempted to take along; but, after crossing the little Pedee, he wheeled them off to the right, and deposited them in a swamp; where they may since have amused the wondering deer hunter. This was the last instance of military parade evinced by the general. By marching day and night, he arrived at Amy's mill, on Drowning creek; whence he detached Maj. James, with a small party of volunteers, back to South Carolina, to gain intelligence, and to rouse the militia. Considering the distance back, and the British and tories in the rear, this was a perilous undertaking. The general continued his march, and pitched his camp for some time, on the east side of the White marsh, near the head of the Waccamaw.
At this place, the author had, (in the absence of his father,) the honour to be invited to dine with the general. The dinner was set before the company by the general's servant, Oscar, partly on a pine log, and partly on the ground; it was lean beef, without salt, and sweet potatoes. The author had left a small pot of boiled homminy in his camp, and requested leave of his host to send for it; and the proposal was acquiesced in, gladly. The homminy had salt in it, and proved, although eaten out of the pot, a most acceptable repast. The general said but little, and that was chiefly what a son would be most likely to be gratified by, in the praise of his father. They had nothing to drink but bad water; and all the company appeared to be rather grave.