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MARION.-HIS CHARACTER.- BYE NAMES.-HAUNTS.–TARLETON IN QUEST 03
M.-SUMTER ON THE WEST SIDE OF THE SANTEE.—HIS AFFAIR WITH TARLETON AT BLACK STOCK HILL.-GATES AT HILLSBOROUGH.-HIS DOMESTIC MISFORTUNES.-ARRIVAL OF GREENE.—HIS CONSIDERATE CONDUCT. — GATES RETIRES TO HIS ESTATE.-CONDITION OF THE ARMY.-STRATAGEM OF COLONEL WASHINGTON AT CLERMONT.—MORGAN DETACHED TO THE DISTRICT OF NINETY-SIX.-GREENE POSTS HIMSELF ON THE PEDEE.
THE victory at King's Mountain had set the par
tisan spirit throughout the country in a blaze. Me Francis Marion was soon in the field. He had been made a brigadier-general by Governor Rutledge, but his brigade, as it was called, was formed of neighbors and friends, and was continually fluctuating in numbers. He was nearly fifty years of age, and small of stature, but hardy, healthy, and vigorous. Brave but not braggart, never avoiding danger, but never rashly seeking it. Taciturn and abstemious ; a strict disciplinarian ; careful of the lives of his men, but little mindful of his own life. Just in his dealings, free from everything selfish or mercenary, and incapable of a meanness. He had his haunts and strongholds in the morasses of the Pedee and Black Rivers. His men were hardy and abstemious as himself;
they ate their meat without salt, often subsisted on potatoes, were scantily clad, and almost destitute of blankets. Marion was full of stratagems and expedients. Sallying forth from his morasses, he would overrun the lower districts, pass the Santee, beat up the small posts in the vicinity of Charleston, cut up the communication between that city and Camden; and having struck some signal blow, so as to rouse the vengeance of the enemy, would retreat again into his fenny fastnesses. Hence the British gave him the bye name of the Swamp Fox, but those of his countrymen who knew his courage, his loftiness of spirit and spotless integrity, considered him the Bayard of the South.
Tarleton, who was on duty in that part of the country, undertook, as he said, to draw the swamp fox from his cover. He accordingly marched cautiously down the east bank of the Wateree with a body of dragoons and infantry, in compact order. The fox, however, kept close ; he saw that the enemy was too strong for him. Tarleton now changed his plan. By day he broke up his force into small detachments or patrols, giving them orders to keep near enough to each other to render mutual support if attacked, and to gather together at night.
The artifice had its effect. Marion sallied forth from his covert just before daybreak to make an attack upon one of these detachments, when, to his surprise, he found himself close upon the British camp. Perceiving the snare that had been spread for him, he made a rapid retreat. A
close pursuit took place. For seven hours Marion was hunted from one swamp and fastness to another; several stragglers of his band were captured, and Tarleton was in strong hope of bringing him into action, when an express came spurring from Cornwallis, calling for the immediate services of himself and his dragoons in another quarter.
Sumter was again in the field! That indefatigable partisan having recruited a strong party in the mountainous country, to which he retreated after his defeat on the Wateree, had reappeared on the west side of the Santee, repulsed a British party sent against him, killing its leader; then, crossing Broad River, had effected a junction with Colonels Clark and Brannan, and now menaced the British posts in the district of Ninety-Six.
It was to disperse this head of partisan war that Tarleton was called off from beleaguering Marion. Advancing with his accustomed celerity, he thought to surprise Sumter on the Enoree River. A deserter apprised the latter of his danger. He pushed across the river, but was hotly pursued, and his rear-guard roughly handled. He now made for the Tyger River, noted for turbulence and rapidity; once beyond this, he might disband his followers in the woods. Tarleton, to prevent his passing it unmolested, spurred forward in advance of his main body with one hundred and seventy dragoons and eighty mounted men of the infantry. Before five o'clock (November 20) his advance guard overtook and charged the rear of the Americans, who retreated to the main body. Sumter
finding it impossible to cross Tyger River in safety, and being informed that the enemy, thus pressing upon him, were without infantry or cannon, took post on Black Stock Hill, with a rivulet and rail fence in front, the Tyger River in the rear and on the right flank, and a large log barn on the left. The barn was turned into a fortress, and a part of the force stationed in it to fire through the apertures between the logs.
Tarleton halted on an opposite height to await the arrival of his infantry, and part of his men dismounted to ease their horses. Sumter seized this moment for an attack. He was driven back after some sharp fighting. The enemy pursued, but were severely galled by the fire from the log barn. Enraged at seeing his men shot down, Tarleton charged with his cavalry, but found it impossible to dislodge the Americans from their rustio , fortress. At the approach of night he fell back to join his infantry, leaving the ground strewed with his killed and wounded. The latter were treated with great humanity by Sumter. The loss of the Americans was only three killed and four wounded.
Sumter, who had received a severe wound in the breast, remained several hours on the field of action; but, understanding the enemy would be powerfully reinforced in the morning, he crossed the Tyger River in the night. He was then placed on a litter between two horses, and thus conducted across the country by a few faithful adherents. The rest of his little army dispersed
themselves through the woods. Tarleton, finding his en emy had disappeared, claimed the credit of a victory; but those who considered the affair rightly, declared that he had received a severe check.
While the attention of the enemy was thus engaged by the enterprises of Sumter and Marion and their swamp warriors, General Gates was gathering together the scattered fragments of his army at Hillsborough. When all were collected, his wbole force, exclusive of militia, did not exceed fourteen hundred men. It was, as he said, “rather a shadow than a substance.” His troops, disheartened by defeat, were in a forlorn state, without clothing, without pay, and sometimes without provisions. Destitute of tents, they constructed hovels of fence-rails, poles, brush-wood, and the stalks of Indian corn, the officers faring no better than the men.
The vanity of Gates was completely cut down by his late reverses. He had lost, too, the confidence of his officers, and was unable to maintain discipline among his men; who, through their irregularities, became a terror to the country people.
On the retreat of Cornwallis from Charlotte, Gates advanced to that place to make it his winter-quarters. Huts were ordered to be built, and a regular encampment was commenced. Smallwood, with a body of militia, was stationed below on the Catawba to guard the road leading through Camden; and further down was posted Brigadier-general Morgan, with a corps of light troops