Page images
PDF
EPUB

aspect of affairs in North-Carolina. For besides the sup|)reflion ot' the luyaJicts, who were- treated with Kttlc mercy. Major -General' the Baron dc Kalhe, a Gc-ftnan officer io the American service* arrived in that province with 2000 continental troops-, and was followed by some bodies ot' militia from Virginia The government of the colony Were- likewise indefatigable in their exertions and preparation*, at least for defence, it not for conqneft. Troops were railed j the militia every where drawn ont; ami Rutherford, Caswell, Sompter, and other leaders, advanced to the frontiers at the head of different bodies of tliem. Skirmishes took, place on all sides, and were attended with various fortune; and the enemy became so dangerous, tint Lord llawdon soond it Decenary to contract hit potts.

It soon appeared, that the submission of many of the South Ca-. utraian* was merely compulsory, and that no conditions or confe•juences could bind er deter them from pursuing the bent of their inclinations, whenever the opportunity offered. As the enemy increased in strength, and approached nearer, numbers of those who had lubraitted to the British) government, and others who were on paJole, abandoned, or hazarded all Things, io order to join them. A Colonel Lisle, who had exchanged ata parole for a certificate of being a good subject, carried off a whole battalion of militia, which had been raised by another gentleman for Lord Cornwallis, to join Sampler. Another battalion, who were appointed to conduct about foo sick ot" the 71st regiment in

boats down the Pedee to GeorgeTown, seized their own officers, and carried them with the sick men, all prisoners to the enemy.

General Gates was now arrived in North-Carolina, to take the command of the new southern army; and the time was fall approaching, when his high military reputation was to be staked in am arduous contest with the fortune of Earl Cornwallis. In the second week of August, that noble, man having received intelligence at Charles Town, that Gates waa advancing with his army toward* Lynches Creek, that Sumptee was endavouring to cut off the communications between that cits and the army, that the whole country between the Pedee and the Black River had revolted, and that Lord Uawdon was collecting his whole force at Camden, lie immediately set off for that place.

He sound oil his arrival no small difficulties to encounter. Gate* was advancing, and at hand, with a very decided superiority of force. His army was not estimated at lesi than live or six thousand meu; it was likewise supposed to be very well appointed; whilst the name and character of the commander, increased the idea of its force. On the other hand, Lord Corn* wallis's regular force, was so much reduced by sickness and casualties, a9 not much to exceed 1400 fight. ing men, or rank and file, with four or five hundred militia, and North Carolina refugees. The position of Camden, however advantageous or convenient in other respects, was a bad one to receive an attack. He could indeed have made good his retreat to CharlesTown with those troops that were

able able to march; but in that case, he must have left about 800 sick, with a vast quantity of valuable stores, to fall into the hands of the enemy. He likewise foresaw, that excepting Charles-Town and the Savannah, a retreat would be attended with the loss of the two whole provinces of South Carolina and Georgia.

In these circumstances, the noble commander determined, nei. ther to retreat, nor wait to be attacked in' a bad position. He knew that Charles-Town was so well garrisoned and provided, that it could not be exposed to any danger, from whatever might befal him. That his troops were excellent, admirably officered, and well found and provided in all respects. And that the loss of his lick, of his magazines, the abandonment of the country, and the desertion of his friends, all of which would be the inevitable consequences of a retreat, were almost the heaviest evils which conld befal him in any fortune. in his own words there was " little to lose by a defeat, and much to gain by a victory."

The intelligence which he received, that General Gates had encamped in a bad situation, at Rugley's about 13 miles from Caniden, undoubtedly served to confirm Lord Cornwallis in his . , determination. He

°" ' • accordingly marched from Camden about 1 o o'clock at night, with a full intuition of surprizmg Gates at Rugley's; and making bis dispositions in such a manner, as that his best troops and greatest force' should be directed against the continental regiments; laying little stress on the militia,

if these were sufficiently provided against.

It was almost singular, that at the Very hour and moment, at which Lord Cornwallis set out from Camden to surprize Gates, that general should set out from Rugley's in order to surprize him. For although he does not acknow. ledge the fact in point of design, and even pretends, that his night movement was made with a view of seizing an advantageous position some miles short of Camden; his order of march, the disposition of his army, with the hour of setting out, and other circumstances, will leave but little room to entertain a doubt of his real object. These leading features will remind some of our readers of a celebrated action in the late war; in which the Prussian 1 monarch, environed with danger, and furrounded on all sides by armies of enemies, some of which ■were singly superior to his own, surprized and defeated Laudhon on a night march, when that able general intended to conclude the war by completing the circle, and by surprizing him in a manner which must have been final in its effects.

In the present instance, the light troops and advanced corps on both fides, necessarily fell in "with and encountered each other in tho dark, so that the surprize was mutual. In this blind encounter, however, the American light troops being driven back precipitately on their van, occasioned some considerable disorder in that part, is not in their centre, which probably was never entirely recovered. Lord Cornwallis repressed the firing early, and immediately formed; he found that the enemy were

ia

in bad ground, and be would not hazard in the dark, the advantages which their situation would astbrd him in the light; at the fame time that he took such measures as effectually prevented their taking any other. For the ground occupied by both armies, being narrowed and pressed in upon on either hand by deep swamps, afforded great advantages to the weaker in making the attack, and by preventing the stronger from extending their lines, deprived them in a great measure, of those which they should have derived from their superiority in number.

A movement made by the Americans on the left by day light, indicating some change of disposition or order, does not seem to have been a very judicious measure,, in the face of, and so near to, such a commander, and such an army. Lord Cornwallis saw the advantage, and instantly seized it; Col. Weblter, who commanded the right wing, directly charging the enemy's left, with the light infantry, supported by the 23d and 33d regiments. The action soon became general, and was supported near an hour, with wonderful resolution, and the most determined obstinacy. The firing was quick and heavy on both sides; and intermixed with (harp and well • supported contests at the point of the bayonet. The morning being still and hazy, the smoke mg over and involved both ares in such a cloud, that it was difficult to fee or to estimate the state of destruction on either side. The British troops, however, evidently pressed forward; and at the period we have mentioned, the Americans were thrown into con

fusion, began to give way on all sides, and .1 total and general rout soon ensued.

We learned from the American accounts, that the whole body of their militia, (which constituted much the greater part of their force) excepting only one NorthCarolina regiment, gave way and run, at the very first fire; and that all the efforts of the general himself, and of the other commanders, were incapable of bringing them afterwards ever to rally, or to make a single stand; so that gaining the woods as fast as possible, they totally dispersed. But the continental regular troops, and the single North Carolina regiment of nailitia, vindicated their own and the national character. They even stood that last and fore test of the good* ness of troops, the push of the bayonet, with great constancy and firmness.

The British commander (hewed his usual valour and military (kill. And the officers and troops, in their respective stations, answered his warmest expectations. But though all arc entitled to our applause, yet Lord Rawdon, with the two Lieutenant-Colonels Webster and Tarleton, could not avoid being particularly distinguished.

The victory was complete. The broken and scattered enemy were pursued as far as Hanging-Rock, above twenty miles from the field of battle. All their artillery, amounting to seven or eight brass field pieces, with 2000 stand of aims, their military waggons, and several trophies, were taken. Lord Cornwallis estimates the (lain at eight or nine hundred, and fays about a thousand prisoners were'

taken.

[graphic]

taken. The General, Baron de Kalb?, who was second in command, was mortally wounded, and taken. That officer spent his last breath in dictating a letter, expressive of the warmest astection for the Americans, containing the -highest encomiums on the valour of the continental troops, of which lie had been so recent n witness, and declaring the satisfaction which he then felt, in having been a partaker of their fortune, and having fallen in their cause.

The American Brigadier-Gefleral Gregory, was among the slain, and Rutherford was wounded and taken. Although some brave officers fell, and several t/ere wounded, on the Britisti side, yet the lose which the army sustained, was upon the whole comparatively small. It amounted, including eleven misting, only to 334, in which number the slain bore a very moderate proportion.

Upon the whole, Gates seems to have been much outgeneralled. He was, however, consoled in his misfortune, (which has since occasioned his retreat from the service) by the approbation of his conduct and services, which was pvtblicly bestowed by some of the assemblies.

General Sumpter had for some time been very successful in cutting off or intercepting the British parties and convoys, and lay now with about a thousand men, and a number of prisoners and waggons which he had lately taken, at the Catawba fords; apparently secured by distance, as well as the diffi

culties of the country. Lord Cornwallis considered it a matter of great importance lo his future operations, to give a decisive blow to this body, 'before he pursued his success by advancing into North Carolina. He accordingly detached Colonel Tarleton, with the light infanty and cavalry ot" the legion, amounting to about 3?o, «pon this service. The advantages to be derived from woody, strong, and difficult countries, are much counterbalanced by the opportunities which they afford of liirprige. The brave and active officer employed upon this occasion, by forced marches, judicious measures, and excellent intelligence, surprized Sumpter so con>plctely at noon-day, that his men, lying totally careless and at ease, were mostly cut off from their arms. The victory was accordingly nothing more than a daughter and rout. About I co were lulled on the spot, about joe, with two pieces of cannon, taken, and a number of prisoners and waggons retaken.

These splendid successes hid the southern colonies open, to all the effects of that •spirit of ettterprize which distinguishes Earl Cornwaiiis, and which he communicates to all who act under his command. In any other war than the American, they would have been decisive of the fate of thole colonies. But it has been the singular fortune of that war, that victory, on the Brhifli fide, has been unproductive of its proper and «oftomary effects.

[ocr errors]

CHRONICLE.

« PreviousContinue »