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ARMY IN WINTER-QUARTERS.
England troops at West Point, and the other posts of the Highlands ; and the New York line was stationed at Albany, to guard against any invasion from Canada.
The French army remained stationed at Newport, excepting the Duke of Lauzun's legion, which was cantoned at Lebanon in Connecticut. Washington's head-quarters were established at New Windsor on the Hudson.
We will now turn to the South to note the course of affairs in that quarter during the last few months.
RIGOROUS MEASURES OF CORNWALLIS IN SOUTH CAROLINA. -FERGUSON SENT
TO SCOUR THE MOUNTAIN COUNTRY BETWEEN THE CATAWBA AND THE YADKIN. -CORNWALLIS IN A HORNET'S NEST.-MOVEMENTS OF FERGUSON. -MOUNTAIN MEN AND FIERCE MEN FROM KENTUCKY.-BATTLE OF KING'S
MOUNTAIN.-RETROGRADE MARCH OF CORNWALLIS.
JORNWALLIS having, as he supposed, entirely
crushed the “rebel cause” in South Carolina,
by the defeats of Gates and Sumter, remained for some time at Camden, detained by the excessive heat of the weather and the sickness of part of his troops, broken down by the hardships of campaigning under a southern sun. He awaited also supplies and reinforcements.
Immediately after the victory at Camden, he had ordered the friends to royalty in North Carolina “ to arm and intercept the beaten army of General Gates,” promising that he would march directly to the borders of that province in their support; he now detached Major Patrick Ferguson to its western confines, to keep the war alive in that quarter. This resolute partisan had with him his own corps of light infantry, and a body of royalist militia of his own training. His whole force was bo
RIGOR OF CORNWALLIS.
tween eleven and twelve hundred men, noted for activity and alertness, and unincumbered with baggage or artil.
His orders were to skirr the mountain country between the Catawba and the Yadkin, harass the whigs, inspirit the tories, and embody the militia under the royal banner. This done, he was to repair to Charlotte, the capital of Mecklenburg County, where he would find Lord Cornwallis, who intended to make it his rendezvous. Should he, however, in the course of his tour, be threatened by a superior force, he was immediately to return to the main army. No great opposition, however, was apprehended, the Americans being considered totally broken up and dispirited.
During the suspense of his active operations in the field, Cornwallis instituted rigorous measures against Americans who continued under arms, or, by any other acts, manifested what he termed “a desperate perseverance in opposing His Majesty's Government.” Among these were included many who had taken refuge in North Carolina. A commissioner was appointed to take possession of their estates and property; of the annual product of which a part was to be allowed for the support of their families, the residue to be applied to the maintenance of the war. Letters from several of the principal inhabitants of Charleston having been found in the baggage of the captured American generals, the former were accused of breaking their parole, and holding a treasonable
correspondence with the armed enemies of England; they were in consequence confined on board of prison ships, and afterwards transported to St. Augustine in Florida.
Among the prisoners taken in the late combats, many, it was discovered, had British protections in their pockets; these were deemed arrant runagates, amenable to the penalties of the proclamation issued by Sir Henry Clinton on the 3d of June; they were therefore led forth from the provost and hanged, almost without the form of an inquiry.
These measures certainly were not in keeping with the character for moderation and benevolence usually given to Lord Cornwallis; but they accorded with the rancorous spirit manifested toward each other both by whigs and tories in Southern warfare. If they were intended by his lordship as measures of policy, their effect was far different from what he anticipated; opposition was exasperated into deadly hate, and a cry of vengeance was raised throughout the land. Cornwallis decamped from Camden, and set out for North Carolina. In the subjugation of that province, he counted on the coöperation of the troops which Sir Henry Clinton was to send to the lower part of Virginia, which, after reducing the Virginians to obedience, were to join his lordship’s standard on the confines of North Carolina.
Advancing into the latter province, Cornwallis took post at Charlotte, where he had given rendezvous to Ferguson. Mecklenburg, of which this was the capital, was,
MOVEMENTS OF FERGUSON.
as the reader may recollect, the “heady, high-minded” county where the first declaration of independence had been made, and his lordship from uncomfortable experience soon pronounced Charlotte “the Hornet's Nest of North Carolina."
The surrounding country was wild and rugged, covered with close and thick woods, and crossed in every direction by narrow roads. All attempts at foraging were worse than useless. The plantations were small and afforded scanty supplies.
The inhabitants were stanch whigs, with the pugnacious spirit of the old Covenanters. Instead of remaining at home and receiving the king's money in exchange for their produce, they turned out with their rifles, stationed themselves in covert places, and fired upon the foraging parties; convoys of provisions from Camden had to fight their way, and expresses were shot down and their despatches seized.
The capture of his expresses was a sore annoyance to Cornwallis, depriving him of all intelligence concerning the movements of Colonel Ferguson, whose arrival he was anxiously awaiting. The expedition of that doughty partisaz officer here calls for especial notice. He had been chosen for this military tour as being calculated to gain friends by his conciliating disposition and manners, and his address to the people of the country was in that spirit: “We come not to make war upon women and children, but to give them money and relieve their dis