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(Dec., 1778). The main body was cantoned in Connecticut, on both sides the North river, about West Point, and at Middlebrook. Light troops were stationed nearer the lines, and the cavalry were drawn into the interior to recruit the horses for the next campaign. In this distribution the protection of the country, the security of important points, and a cheap and convenient supply of provisions were consulted.
The troops again wintered in huts, but they were used to this mode of passing that inclement season. Though far from being well clothed their condition in that respect was so much improved by supplies from France that they disregarded the inconveniences to which they were exposed.
Colonel Campbell, who sailed from the Hook about the last of November, 1778, escorted by a small squadron commanded by Com. Hyde Parker reached the Isle of Tybee, near the Savannah, on the 23d of December, and in a few days the fleet and the transports passed the bar and anchored in the river.
The command of the Southern army, composed of the troops of South Carolina and Georgia, had been committed to Major-General Robert Howe, who in the course of the preceding summer had invaded East Florida. The diseases incident to the climate made such ravages among his raw soldiers that though he had scarcely seen an enemy he found himself compelled to hasten out of the country with considerable loss. After this disastrous enterprise his army, consisting of between six and seven hundred Continental troops aided by a few hundred militia had encamped in the neighborhood of the town of Savannah, situated on the southern bank of the river bearing that name. The country about the mouth of the river is one track of deep marsh intersected by creeks and cuts of
water impassable for troops at any time of the tide, except over causeways extending through the sunken ground.
Without much opposition Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell effected a landing on the 29th (December, 1778), about three miles below the town, upon which Howe formed his line of battle. His left was secured by the river, and along the whole extent of his front was a morass which stretched to his right and was believed by him to be impassable for such a distance as effectually to secure that wing.
After reconnoitering the country Colonel Campbell advanced on the great road leading to Savannah, and about 3 in the afternoon appeared in sight of the American army. While making dispositions to dislodge it he accidentally fell in with a negro who informed him of a private path leading through the swamp round the right of the American lines to their rear. Determining to avail himself of this path he detached a column under Sir James Baird which entered the morass unperceived by Howe.
As soon as Sir James emerged from the swamp he attacked and dispersed a body of Georgia militia which gave the first notice to the American general of the danger which threatened his rear. At the same instant the British troops in his front were put in motion and their artillery began to play upon him. A retreat was immediately ordered and the Continental troops were under the necessity of running across a plain in front of the corps which had been led to the rear by Sir James Baird who attacked their flanks with great impetuosity and considerable effect. The few who escaped retreated up the Savannah, and crossing that river at Zubly's Ferry took refuge in South Carolina.
The victory was complete and decisive in its consequences. About 100 Americans were either killed in the field or drowned in attempting to escape through a deep swamp. Thirty-eight officers and 415 privates were taken. Forty-eight pieces of cannon, twenty-three mortars, the fort, with all its military stores, a large quantity of provisions collected for the use of the army, and the capital of Georgia fell into the hands of the conqueror. These advantages were obtained at the expense of only seven killed and nineteen wounded.
No military force now remained in Georgia except the garrison of Sunbury whose retreat to South Carolina was cut off. All the lower part of that State was occupied by the British who adopted measures to secure the conquest they had made. The inhabitants were treated with a lenity as wise as it was humane. Their property was spared and their persons protected. To make the best use of victory and of the impression produced by the moderation of the victors a proclamation was issued inviting the inhabitants to repair to the British standard and offering protection to those who would return to their allegiance.
The effect of these measures was soon felt. The inhabitants flocked in great numbers to the royal standard; military corps for the protection of the country were formed, and posts were established for a considerable distance up the river.
The northern frontier of Georgia being supposed to be settled into a state of quiet Colonel Campbell turned his attention toward Sunbury and was about to proceed against that place when he received intelligence that it had surrendered to General Prevost.
Sir Henry Clinton had ordered that officer from East Florida to co-operate with Colonel Campbell. On hearing that the troops from the north were off the coast he en
tered the southern frontier of Georgia (Jan. 9, 1779) and invested Sunbury, which, after a slight resistance surrendered at discretion. Having placed a garrison in the fort he proceeded to Savannah, took command of the army, and detached Colonel Campbell with 800 regulars and a few Provincials to Augusta which fell without resistance, and thus the whole State of Georgia was reduced.
WASHINGTON PREPARES TO CHASTISE THE INDIANS.
HILE the events were passing which are recorded
in the preceding chapter a terrible war with the
Indians was raging on the western frontier of the United States. While the British were abundantly able to supply the Indians with all those articles of use and luxury which they had been accustomed to receive from the whites, Congress was not in a condition to do anything of this sort to conciliate them or to secure their neutrality in the existing war. Stimulated by the presents as well as by the artful representations of British agents the Indians had consequently become hostile. Early in 1778 there were many indications of a general disposition among the savages to make war on the United States, and the frontiers, from the Mohawk to the Ohio, were threatened with the tomahawk and the scalping-knife. Every representation from that country supported Washington's opinion that a war with the Indians should never be defensive and that to obtain peace it must be carried into their own country. Detroit was understood to be in a defenseless condition, and Congress resolved on an expedition against that place. This enterprise was intrusted to General M’Intosh, who commanded at Pittsburg, and was to be carried on with 3,000 men, chiefly militia, to be drawn from Virginia. To facilitate its success another force was