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press upon the Legislature of Pennsylvania the policy of investing its executive with plenipotentiary powers. “I should then,” writes he, “expect everything from your ability and zeal. This is no time for formality or ceremony. The crisis in every point of view is extraordinary, and extraordinary expedients are necessary. I am decided in this opinion.”
His letter procured relief for the army from the legislature, and a resolve empowering the president and council, during its recess, to declare martial law, should cir. cumstances render it expedient. “This,” observes Reed, “gives us a power of doing what may be necessary without attending to the ordinary course of law, and we shall endeavor to exercise it with prudence and moderation.” *
In like manner Washington endeavored to rouse the dormant fire of Congress, and impart to it his own indomitable energy. “ Certain I am,” writes he to a member of that body, “unless Congress speak in a more decisive tone, unless they are vested with powers by the several States, competent to the purposes of war, or assume them as matters of right, and they and the States respectively act with more energy than they have hitherto done, that our cause is lost. We can no longer drudge on in the old way. By ill-timing the adoption of measures, by delays in the execution of them, or by unwarrantable jealousies, we incur enormous expenses and
* Sparks, Corr. of the Rev., vol. ii. p. 466.
derive no benefit from them. One State will comply with a requisition of Congress; another neglects to do it; a third executes it by halves; and all differ, either in the manner, the matter, or so much in point of time, that we are always working up-hill; and, while such a system as the present one, or rather want of one, prevails, we shall ever be unable to apply our strength or resources to any advantage — I see one head gradually changing into thirteen, I see one army branching into thirteen, which, instead of looking up to Congress as the supreme controlling power of the United States, are considering themselves dependent on their respective States. In a word, I see the powers of Congress declining too fast for the consideration and respect which are due to them as the great representative body of America, and I am fearful of the consequences.” *
At this juncture came official intelligence from the South, to connect which with the general course of events, requires a brief notice of the operations of Sir Henry Clinton in that quarter.
* Letter to Joseph Jones. Sparks, vil. 07.
SIBGB OF CHARLESTON CONTINUED.-BRITISH SHIPS ENTER THB SARDOR.
BRITISH TROOPS MARCI FROM SAVANNAH.–TARLETON AND HIS DRAGOONS. -HIS BRUSH WITH COLONEL WASHINGTON.-CHARLESTON REINFORCED BY WOODFORD.-TARLETON'S EXPLOITS AT MONK'S CORNER.— AT LANEAU'S FERRY.-SIR HENRY CLINTON REINFORCED.-CHARLESTON CAPITULATES.AFFAIR OF TARLETON AND BUFORD ON THE WAXHAW.-SIR HENRY CLINTON EMBARKS FOR NEW YORK.
N a preceding chapter we left the British fleet under Admiral Arbuthnot, preparing to force
its way into the harbor of Charleston. Several days elapsed before the ships were able, by taking out their guns, provisions, and water, and availing themselves of wind and tide, to pass the bar. They did so on the 20th of March, with but slight opposition from several galleys. Commodore Whipple, then, seeing the vast superiority of their force, made a second retrograde move, stationing some of his ships in Cooper River, and sinking the rest at its mouth so as to prevent the enemy from running up that river, and cutting off communication with the country on the east: the crews and heavy cannon were landed to aid in the defense of the town.
The reinforcements expected from the North were not
yet arrived; the militia of the State did not appear at Governor Rutledge's command, and other reliances were failing. “Many of the North Carolina militia whose terms have expired leave us to-day," writes Lincoln to Washington, on the 20th of March. “They cannot be persuaded to remain longer, though the enemy are in our neighborhood.” *
At this time the reinforcements which Sir Henry Clinton had ordered from Savannah were marching toward the Cambayee under Brigadier-general Patterson. On his flanks moved Major Ferguson with a corps of riflemen, and Major Cochrane with the infantry of the British legion, two brave and enterprising officers. It was a toilsome march, through swamps and difficult passes. Being arrived in the neighborhood of Port Royal, where Tarleton had succeeded, though indifferently, in remounting his dragoons, Patterson sent orders to that oficer to join him. Tarleton hastened to obey the order. His arrival was timely. The Carolina militia having heard that all the British horses had perished at sea, made an attack on the front of General Patterson's force, supposing it to be without cavalry. To their surprise, Tarleton charged them with his dragoons, routed them, took several prisoners, and, what was more acceptable, a number of horses, some of the militia, he says, “ being uc coutred as cavaliers.”
* Correspondence of the Rev., vol. ii. p. 410
Tarleton had soon afterwards to encounter a worthy antagonist in Colonel William Washington, the same cavalry officer who had distinguished himself at Trenton, and was destined to distinguish himself still more in this Southern campaign. He is described as being six feet in height, broad, stout, and corpulent. Bold in the field, careless in the camp, kind to his soldiers, harassing to his enemies, gay and good-humored, with an upright heart and a generous hand, a universal favorite. He was now at the head of a body of continental cavalry, consisting of his own and Bland's light horse, and Pulaski's hussars. A brush took place in the neighborhood of Rantoul's Bridge. Colonel Washington had the advantage, took several prisoners, and drove back the dragoons of the British legion, but durst not pursue them for want of infantry.*
On the 7th of April, Brigadier-general Woodford with seven hundred Virginia troops, after a forced march of five hundred miles in thirty days, crossed from the east side of Cooper River, by the only passage now open, and threw himself into Charleston. It was a timely reinforcement, and joyfully welcomed; for the garrison, when in greatest force, amounted to a little more than two thousand regulars and one thousand North Carolina militia.
About the same time Admiral Arbuthnot, in the Roe
Gordon, vol. iii. p. 352 ; see also Tarleton, Hist. Campaign, p. 8.