Abbildungen der Seite

der, covered the left. 'The Maryland division, followed by the North Carolina and Virginia militia, with the artillery, composed the main body and rear guard ; and the volunteer cavalry were equally distributed on the flanks of the baggage. The American army did not exceed 4,000 men, only about 900 of whom were regular troops, and 70 cavalry.

On the advance of General Gates into South Carolina, Lord Rawdon had called in his outposts, and concentrated his force at Camden. Informed of the appearance of the American army, and of the general defection of the country between the Pedee and the Black river, Cornwallis quitted Charleston and repaired to Camden, where he arrived on the same day that General Gates reached Clermont.

The British force was reduced by sickness, and Cornwallis could not assemble more than 2,000 men at Camden. That place, though advantageous in other respects, was not well adapted for resisting an attack; and as the whole country was rising against him, Lord Cornwallis felt the necessity of either retreating to Charleston, or of instantly striking a decisive blow. If he remained at Camden, his difficulties would daily increase, his communication with Charleston be endangered, and the American army acquire additional strength. A retreat to Charleston would be the signal for the whole of South Carolina and Georgia to rise in arms; his sick and magazines must be left behind; and the whole of the two provinces, except the towns of Charleston and Savannah, abandoned. The consequences of such a movement would be nearly as fatal as a defeat. Cornwallis, therefore, although he believed the American army considerably stronger than what it really was, determined to hazard a battle; and, at ten at night, on the 15th of August, the very hour when General Gates proceeded from Rugely's Mills, about thirteen miles distant, he marched toward the American camp.

About two in the morning of the 16th of August, the advanced guards of the hostile armies unexpectedly met in the woods, and the firing instantly began. Some of the cavalry of the American advanced guard being wounded by the first discharge, the party fell back in confusion, broke the Maryland regiment which was at the head of the column, and threw the whole line of the army into consternation. From that first impression, deepened by the gloom of night, the illdisciplined militia seem not to have recovered. In the rencounter several prisoners were taken on each side; and from them the opposing generals acquired a more exact knowledge of circumstances than they formerly possessed. Several skirmishes happened during the night, which merely formed a prelude to the approaching battle, and gave the commanders some notion of the position of the hostile armies.

Cornwallis, perceiving that the Americans were on ground of no great extent, with morasses on their right and left, so that they could not avail themselves of their superior numbers to outflank his little army, impatiently awaited for the returning light, which would give every advantage to his disciplined troops. Both armies prepared for the conflict. Cornwallis formed his men in two divisions ; that on the right was under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Webster, that on the left under Lord Rawdon. In front were four field-pieces. The 71st regiment, with two cannon, formed the reserve ; and the cavalry, about 300 in number, were in the rear, ready to act as circumstances might require.

In the American army, the second Maryland brigade, under General Gist, formed the right of the line; the militia of North Carolina, commanded by General Caswell, occupied the centre; and the militia of Virginia, with the light infantry and Colonel Armand's corps, composed the left; the artillery was placed between the divisions. The first Maryland brigade was stationed as a reserve 200 or 300 yards in the rear. Baron de Kalb commanded on the right; tho



militia generals were at the head of their respective troops ; and General Gates resolved to appear wherever his presence might be most useful.

At dawn of day Cornwallis ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Webster, with the British right wing to attack the American left. As Colonel Webster advanced, he was assailed by a desultory discharge of musketry from some volunteer militia who had advanced in front of their countrymen ; but the British soldiers, rushing through that loose fire, charged the American line with a shout. The militia instantly threw down their arms and fled, many of them without even discharging their muskets; and all the efforts of the officers were unable to rally them. A great part of the centre division, composed of the militia of North Carolina, imitated the example of their comrades of Virginia: few of either division fired a shot, and still fewer carried their arms off the field. Tarleton with his legion pursued, and eagerly cut down the unresisting fugitives. Gates, with some of the militia general officers, made several attempts to rally them, but in vain. The farther they fled the more they dispersed, and Gates, in despair, hastened, with a few friends, to Charlotte, 80 miles from the field of battle.

Baron de Kalb, at the head of the continental troops, being abandoned by the militia, which had constituted the centre and left wing of the army, and being forsaken by the general also, was exposed to the attack of the whole British army. De Kalb and his troops, however, instead of imitating the example of their brethren in arms, behaved with a steady intrepidity, and defended themselves like men. Lord Rawdon attacked them about the time when Colonel Webster broke the left wing ; but the charge was firmly received and steadily resisted, and the conflict was maintained for some time with equal obstinacy on both sides. The American reserve covered the left of De Kalb's division ; but its own left flank was entirely exposed by the flight of the militia ; and therefore Colonel Webster, after detaching some cavalry and light troops in pursuit of the fugitive militia, with the remainder of his division attacked them at once in front and flank. A severe contest ensued. The Americans, in a great measure intermingled with the British, maintained a desperate conflict. Cornwallis brought his whole force to bear upon them; they were at length broken, and began to retreat in confusion. The brave De Kalb while making a vigorous charge at the head of a body of his men, fell pierced with eleven wounds. His aid-decamp, Lieutenant-Colonel du Buysson, embraced the fallen general, announced his rank and nation to the surrounding enemy, and while thus generously expo sing his own life to save his bleeding friend, he received several wounds, and was taken prisoner with him. De Kalb met with all possible attention and assistance from the victorious enemy, but that gallant officer expired in a few hours. Congress afterward ordered a monument to be erected to his memory.

The defeat was total. Every regiment was broken and dispersed through the woods, marshes, and brushwood. The officers lost sight of their men, and every individual endeavored to save himself in the best way he was able. General Rutherford of the North Carolina militia was made prisoner; and about 200 wagons, a great part of the baggage, military stores, small arms, and all the artillery, fell into the hands of the conquerors.

While the army under General Gates was completely defeated and dispersed, Colonel Sumpter was successful in his enterprise. On the evening in which Cornwallis marched from Camden, he reduced the redoubt on the Wateree, took the stores on their way to Camden, and made about 100 prisoners. On hearing, however, of the disastrous fate of the army under General Gates, Sumpter, fully aware of his danger, retreated hastily with his stores and prisoners up the south side of the Wateree. On the morning of the seventeenth, Cornwallis sent Tarleton, with the legion and a detachment of infantry, in pursuit of him. Thai officer proceeded with his usual rapidity ; and, finding many of his infantry un.



able to keep pace with him, he advanced with about 100 cavalry and 60 of the most vigorous of the infantry; and on the 18th suddenly and unexpectedly came upon the Americans.

* Sumpter, having marched with great diligence, thought himself beyond the reach of danger; and his men being exhausted by unremitting service and want of sleep, he halted near the Catawba ford, to give them some repose during the heat of the day. In order to prevent a surprise, he had placed sentinels at proper stations to give warning of approaching danger; but, overcome by fatigue, and equally regardless of duty and safety, the sentinels fell asleep at their post, and gave no alarm. Tarleton suddenly burst into the encampment of the drowsy and unsuspecting Americans; and, though some slight resistance was at first made from behind the baggage, soon gained a complete victory. The Americans fled precipitately toward the river or the woods. Many were killed or wounded. Sumpter escaped; but all his baggage fell into the hands of the enemy, while the prisoners and stores which he had taken were recovered.

By the complete defeat and dispersion of the army under General Gates and of Sumpter's corps, South Carolina and Georgia were again laid prostrate at the feet of the royal army, and the hope of maintaining their independence seemed more desperate than ever.


The war which was pursued with so much eagerness on land, was carried on also by sea ; and there the Americans displayed that nautical skill and valor which have since enabled them to contend successfully with Great Britain upon that element where she had hitherto held undisputed supremacy, and where her victories over the Dutch, Spanish, and French, had given to her the proud title of " queen of the seas.”

One of the most remarkable actions which occurred in 1779 was that of the capture of the Serapis and Countess of Scarborough by the Bon Homme Richard and Pallas, under the command of the chevalier Paul Jones.

John Paul was born at Arbigland, in Scotland, on the 6th of July, 1747, and the scenery and associations of his birthplace, and its vicinity, doubtless encouraged a restless spirit of adventure, a love of change, and an ardent enthusiasm in the objects of his pursuits, which were so strikingly manifested in his life.

His first voyage was made before he was thirteen years old ; and maritime pursuits brought him to America. While here, his feelings became interested in the cause of the colonies, and fully prepared him for the active part he afterward took in their defence. In 1773, John Paul removed to Virginia, to attend to the affairs of his brother, who had died childless and intestate. He now assumed the additional surname of Jones. On the 22d of December, 1775, by a resolution of Congress, Paul Jones was appointed lieutenant in the American navy, which then consisted of the Alfred, Columbus, Andrew Doria, Sebastian Cabot, and Providence; the whole mounting 100 guns, and manned by 1,150 seamen. Jones was attached to the Alfred, and was the first to hoist the American flag, which was first displayed on board that vessel.

He was engaged in cruising among the British West India islands, where his frequent captures not only aided the cause of American independence by furnishing to the American army from the captured prizes many munitions of war

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small]

of which the states' troops were in much need, but also struck terror into the hearts of his enemies, and gained for himself the reputation of most invincible bravery and indomitable daring.

In the month of May, 1777, Congress sent him to France, where he was appointed by Franklin and his brother commissioners to the command of a Frenchbuilt ship under American colors. In the course of 1778, Paul Jones sailed upon a cruise to the coast of Britain, and picked up many prizes under the very eyes of the enemy. Here his knowledge of the British coast was of much service. He made a descent at the mouth of the Dee, near to Kirkendbright; and in a visit to the house of the earl of Selkirk, retaliated for some of the many outrages committed by the British upon the defenceless shores of America ; and he made another descent by night on the Cumberland coast, on the opposite side of the Frith, at the small town of Whitehaven, where he spiked the guns of the fort, and burnt one or two vessels. For some time he cruised up and down between the Solway and the Clyde, scaring the whole coast, where his name to this day is mentioned with horror ; and then, returning to Brest with 200 pris. oners, he boasted that with his single ship he had kept the northwestern coast of England and southern coast of Scotland in a state of alarm. In the summer of 1779, he returned to cruise along the eastern coast--no longer with a single ship, but with a squadron, manned by French and American sailors, and composed of the Bon Homme Richard of 40 guns, the Alliance of 36 guns (both American vessels), the Pallas, a French frigate of 32 guns, hired by the American Congress, and two smaller vessels. He fell in with a British merchantfleet returning from the Baltic, convoyed by the Serapis of 44 guns, and the Countess of Scarborough of 20. Paul Jones, in his description of this contest, remarks:

“On the 21st, we saw and chased two sail off Flamborough Head ; the Pallas chased in the northeast quarter, while the Bon Homme Richard, followed by the Vengeance, chased in the southwest ; the one I chased, a brigantine collier in ballast, belonging to Scarborough, was soon taken, aud sunk immediately afterward, as a fleet then appeared to the southward. This was so late in the day, that I could not come up with the fleet before night; at length, however, I got so near one of them as to force her to run ashore between Flamborough Head and the Spurn. Soon after, I took another, a brigantine from Holland, belonging to Sunderland ; and at daylight next morning, seeing a fleet steering toward me from the Spurn, I imagined them to be a convoy bound from London for Leith, which had been for some time expected. One of them had a pendant hoisted, and appeared to be a ship of force. They had not, however, courage to come on, but kept back, all except the one which seemed to be armed, and that one also kept to the windward, very near the land, and on the edge of dangerous shoals, where I could not with safety approach. This induced me to make a signal for a pilot, and soon afterward two pilot-boats came off. They informed me that a ship that wore a pendant was an armed merchantman, and that a king's frigate lay there in sight, at anchor, within the Humber, waiting to take under convoy a number of merchant-ships bound to the northward. The pilots imagined the Bon Homme Richard to be an English ship-of-war, and consequently communicated to me the private signal which they had been required to make. I endeavored by this means to decoy the ships out of the port; but the wind then changing, and, with the tide, becoming unfavorable for them, the deception had not the desired effect, and they wisely put back. The entrance of the Humber is exceedingly difficult and dangerous, and as the Pallas was not in sight, I thought it imprudent to remain off the entrance-therefore steered out again to join the Pallas off Flamborough Head. In the night we saw and chased two ships until three o'clock in the morning, when, being at a very small disa

« ZurückWeiter »