Page images

the killed of these, lieut. col. Campbell of the Virginia 1781. line was the theme of universal lamentation. While with great firmnefs he was leading on his brigade to that charge which determined the fate of the day, he received a mortal wound. After his fall he inquired who gave way, and being informed the British were fleeing in all quarters, he added-" I die contented"-and immediately expired.

The fuccefs of the American army in the firft part of the engagement, spread fuch an alarm, that the British burned their stores at Dorchester, and evacuated their posts near Monk's Corner. The gates of Charlestown were shut, and a number of negroes employed in felling trees across the road on the neck. The number of Greene's force actually engaged was 1400 regulars and 500 militia, in all 1900: of thefe 547, including 72 fubalterns and fergeants were killed or wounded. Such was the heat of the action, that the officers on each fide fought hand to hand, and fword to fword. The British could not compel the continentals to give way, though the militia were obliged to retire. Greene however has a high opinion of the British and their valor, and fays


They fight a devilish hard battle, as every one who fights them will know." On October the 29th, congress resolved to honor him with a British standard and a gold medal; and voted their thanks to the different corps and their commanders.

After the action, the Americans retired to their former position on the High Hills of Santee, and the British took poft in the vicinity of Monk's Corner. While they lay there, a finall party of American cavalry took upward of 80 prisoners within fight of their main army.


1781. They no more acted with their usual vigor. On the slightest appearance of danger, they discovered a difpofition to flee, not much inferior to what was exhibited the year before by the American militia.

Such were the promising prospects prior to the battle at Eutaw, that John Rutledge efq; fet out from Philadelphia on the 28th of June, to refume the reins of government in South Carolina. As foon as circumstances: would admit after his arrival, in retaliation for Balfour's conduct in exiling fuch numbers from their homes, he ordered the brigadiers of militia to drive the families of all who adhered to the royal caufe, within the British lines. The wives and children of thofe inhabitants who had retreated with the retreating British to avoid the refentments of their countrymen, were now compelled to take shelter within their pofts. In exchange for their comfortable plantations in the country, many of them were reduced in a little time to the neceffity of living in clay huts in the vicinity of Charlestown. In this forlorn fituation, numbers fpeedily perifhed, being destitute of the comforts of life and overwhelmed with difeafes.

While gen. Greene's troops were on the High Hills of Santee, a dangerous fpirit made its appearance among the Maryland foldiers. They were uneafy that fome of the old officers had been fent away, and wifhed for an opportunity of seeing their friends at home. They fent feveral petitions to Greene, complained of want of clothing, and recapitulated their fervices. In one of them they mentioned, that out of seven regiments there were fcarce two hundred remaining, and that they had never received any pay. They became difcontented, left off



their usual sports, talked ferioufly in fquads, and of 1781. their pay. All this did not pafs unnoticed by the officers, who watched their conduct, and endeavoured to footh them, but ineffectually. On the evening of the 21st of October, numbers were feen to go privately out oa. of camp with their arms, &c. The officers alarmed at the circumftance, ordered their corps to parade, and called over their rolls. Old foldiers manage dexterously among themselves. They had put fpies upon their officers while they were making an experiment, and the moment they difcovered that they were likely to be detected and apprehended for mutiny, they ftole into camp as fecretly as they went out: fome of them were obferved, but fuffered to pass unnoticed. It is not alway best to punish intended faults before actually committed. A lucklefs incident which happened to a Timothy Griffin of the only South Carolina company then in the army, fet all this affair right. While the officers were calling their rolls, and admonishing fome of the men for apparent irregularities, Timothy came on the parade drunk; and having heard what the foldiers had previously whispered among one another, and fuppofing the officers were altercating with the men on that fubject, very imprudently cried out" Stand to it boys. D—n my blood, if I would give an inch"-and other words to the fame effect. Capt. M'Pherfon of the Maryland line knocked him down, knowing the evil tendency of fuch language. He was inftantly fent to the provoft; the next day tried by a general court-martial for encouraging mutiny and defertion; was found guilfentenced to fuffer death; and fhot about five o'clock in the afternoon in prefence of the whole army. Ex



1781. amples are never more neceffary in an army than upon

fuch dangerous occafions; and no example was ever
more effectual. The general orders of Greene in con-
fequence of this, reprefented the crime of the fufferer
in fuch striking colours, as fully to juftify the sentence
of the court. Greene at the fame time paffed over the
conduct of the Maryland troops (which was not pub-
lic) in fuch a manner as to exonerate them from any
participation of the crime. Speaking of unworthy cha-
racters he faid-"One or two of artful difpofitions are
fufficient to betray hundreds of well difpofed men into
errors. But the general is happy to find, that the Ma-
ryland line has nobly withstood the fecret machinations
of fuch as have attempted to mislead them; nor can
he believe that foldiers who have fought fo bravely, and
whofe character is univerfally admired, will ever tarnish
their glory by an improper conduct."

The gen. wrote on the 9th of November to gen.
Gould" I should betray my truft, and fail in my duty,
was I to be filent upon the barbarous custom which
vails in your army, of burning houses and defolating the
country. I am informed that a party under col. Brown
and major Maxwell lately burnt all the buildings upon
Hilton Head. The inftances of burning which have
taken place are no less favage than unneceffary, and can-
not be justified by the general principles of modern war,
nor by the particular circumstances that mark your mi-
litary operations.-You have endeavoured to perfuade
the world, that the body of the people are in your in-
tereft. The cartel was an appeal to them, and it is from
your disappointment, that the inhabitants feel the cruel
ftrokes of pointed refentments.-I have made it my study


[ocr errors]

to conduct the war upon the most humane principles, 1781. and it is my wish to continue it fo: but if your people continue in the practice of burning, I will change that plan, and let favage cruelty rage in all the horrors of war. It is painful to contemplate the miferies incident to giving no quarter; but shocking as it may be to humanity, we had better expose ourselves to this evil, where our enemies will feel it in common with us, than to fuffer them to inflict a punishment, little lefs fevere, from which they are fecure.-I wish you, Sir, to confider this matter seasonably, and put a stop to the evil we complain of, and not drive us to the disagreeable neceffity of adopting measures, no lefs repugnant to our feelings than our wishes."

The American army was too weak needlessly to risk another general action; but it was neceffary to move into the lower country, to cover the collection of provisions for fubfiftence through the winter; and to improve any accidental opportunities. Greene therefore Nov. quitted the High Hills on the 18th of November. 18. Three days after, he wrote to gen. Washington-" I wifh fomething decifive may be done refpecting col. Hayne. I wish your excellency's order and the order of congrefs thereon; the latter have fignified their approbation of the measures I took. But as retaliation did not take place immediately, (nor did I think myself at liberty on a matter of fuch magnitude, but from the most preffing neceffity) and as the enemy did not repeat the offence, I have been at a loss how to act, with respect to the original, not having any officer of equal rank with col. Hayne in my poffeffion. I am ready to execute whatever may be thought advifable." On the

« PreviousContinue »