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the mountaineers, who were assembled under the command of several of the militia colonels, totally destroyed the corps of colonel Ferguson,' which was a most valuable part of the enemy's force. This disaster caused the return of Cornwallis to the neighbourhood of his former position at Cambden.
Gates being recalled by congress that his conduct might be scrutinized, general Greene was appointed to succeed to his command. This distinguished officer had displayed his cour
Colonel Ferguson lost his life in this action. He was the brother of the celebrated 'Adam Ferguson, and was the inventer of a new species of rifle gun. On the morning of the battle at Brandywine Creek, he had the life of general Washington in his power, as appears from the following extract from a letter of his to his brother, Dr. A. Ferguson. The circumstances related occurred while Ferguson lay with part of his rifle-men on a skirt of a wood, in front of general Knyphausen’s division.--"We had not laid long, when a rebel officer, remarkable by a hussar dress, passed towards our army, within a hundred yards of my right flank, not perceiving us. He was followed by another dressed in dark
green and blue, mounted on a good bay horse, with a remarkable large high cocked hat. I ordered three good shots to steal near to them and fire at them; but the idea disgusted me; I recalled the order. The hussar in returning made a circuit, but the other passed within a hundred yards of us ; upon which I advanced from the wood towards him. Upon my calling, he stopped; bat after looking at me, proceeded. I again drew his attention, and made sign to him to stop, levelling my piece at him; but he slowly continued his way. As I was within that distance at which, in the quickest firing, I could have lodged half a dozen balls in or about him, before he was out of my reach, I had only to determine; but it was not pleasant to fire at the back of an unoffending individual, who was acquitting himself very coolly of his duty; so I let him alone. The day after, I had been telling this story to some wounded officers who lay in the same room with me, when one of our surgeons, who had been dressing the wounded rebel officers, came in and told us, that they had been informing him, that general Washington was all the morning with the light troops, and only attended by a French officer in a hussar dress, he himself dressed and mounted in every point as above described. I am not sorry that I did not know at the time who it was." See Bisset's History of George III. vol. ii. p. 122, note,
age and ability in a long and honorable service. He was in the battles of Springfield, Brandywine, Germantown, and Monmouth, had been opposed to Cornwallis in New Jersey, and was under Sullivan at Rhode Island. He had also seryed as a quarter master general. i In all his duties he had acquitted himself honorably, and obtained an untarnished reputation. “ Indeed,” says general Lee, so manifold and important were his services, that he became a very highly trusted counsellor of the commander in chief; respected for his sincerity, prized for his disinterestedness, and valued for his wisdom.”* Being now raised to an independent and important command, and placed in a station the duties of which were arduous, his characater underwent a severe test, which rendered it still more illustrious.
“ A wide sphere of intellectual resource enabled him to inspire confidence, to rekindle courage, to decide hesitation, " and infuse a spirit of exalted patriotism in the citizens of the "state. By his own example, he showed the incalculable “ value of obedience, of patience, of vigilance, and temperance. & Dispensing justice, with an even hand, to the citizen and « soldier; benign in heart, and happy in manners; he acquired « the durable attachment and esteem of all. He collected “ around his person, able and respectable officers; and se
lected, for the several departments, those who were best “ qualified to fill them. His operations were then commen"ced with a boldness of design, well calculated to raise the “drooping hopes of his country, and to excite the respect of
At the same time that general Greene assumed the command of the southern army, general Lee, then lieutenant colonel of a partizan legion, composed of horse and foot, was detached from the army of general Washington to join him ;
Vol. i. p. 227.
† Vol. i. pp. 244, 245.
and from this period his history becomes more valuable, and more entertaining. Greene, having placed a division of his force under the celebrated Morgan, advanced in two distinct bodies toward the position of his enemy. Cornwallis sent Tarleton against Morgan, who defeated him at the battle of the Cowpens;* but at the moment of success, the increase of the British forces, by a large reinforcement, from New York, rendered a union of the Americans, and a retreat, necessary to their safety. The difficulties attending a junction of the
The battle of the Cowpens was one of the most brilliant that was gained by the Americans during the whole war. The force of Morgan, according to a letter which he wrote to general Greene after the victory, was eight hundred: that of Tarleton was by all aecounts at least one thousand, probably eleven hundred. In general Greene's official ac. count of the battle, the loss of the Americans is stated at twelve killed and sixty wounded: that of the British at ten commissioned officers, and one hundred and sixty six rank and file killed, two hundred wounded, and twenty nine officers and five hundred privates, prisoners. This account, so far as it relates to the American loss, is followed by all the American historians, and given by Stedman. The British loss is by some placed at six hundred in the whole, but generally at eight hundred. Tarleton with much disingenuousness thus states the result of the battle, in his Campaigns, page 218.
" The number of killed and wounded in the action at the Cowpens amounted to near three hundred on both sides, officers and men inclusive. This loss was almost equally shared, but the Americans took two pieces of cannon, the colours of the seventh regiment, and near four hundred prisoners". For some very just strictures on colonel Tarleton's conduct on this occasion, and on his general character, we refer our readers to Stedman's account of this battle
While speaking of Tarleton, it may be well to mention a fact expressive of his own ideas of the opinion which was entertained of him among the American soldiers, When the post of Glocester, of which he. e, was the commander, was a
s about to surrender, at the fall of Yorktown, he
waited upon Choisé, the besieging general, and expressed his apprehensions for his personal safety, if put at the disposal of the American
These fears, as general Lee observes, “indubitably did not grow out of the American character or habit.”
forces may be estimated, when it is considered, that the Brit. ish were between the two bodies; but it was effected with the greatest address at Guilford court-house. The whole retreat, which was continued until Greene had entered Virginia, making a distance of two hundred and thirty miles, was perform ed with a degree of military skill, which was equalled only by the activity and spirit with which lord Cornwallis pressed the pursuit. Such was the zeal of the Marquis, that he committed to the flames the whole baggage of his army, reserving only a small supply of clothing and waggons, sufficient for the conveyance of hospital stores, salt, and ammunition, and for the accommodation of the sick and wounded. The sufferings of the Americans during this retreat appear from the following:
“ The shoes were generally worn out, the body clothes “ much tattered, and not more than a blanket for four men. 5 The light corps was rather better off; but among its offi
cers there was not a blanket for every three : so that among « those whose hour admitted rest, it was an established ruley " that at every fire, one should, in routine, keep upon his legsi “ to preserve the fire in vigor. The tents were never used ů by the corps under Williams during the retreat. The heat “ of the fires was the only protection from rain, and some"times snow: it kept the circumjacent ground and air dry, while imparting warmth to the body.
« Provisions were not to be found in abundance, :so swift « was our progress.
The single meal allowed us was always scanty, though good in quality and very nutritious, being ba: and corn meal.
ist SV The post of colonel Lee at this time was in the rear guard; and such was the activity of his corps in its important duties of watching the enemy by night and by day, that he says no one of them could obtain during the retreat more than six
* Vol. i. p. 295, note.
hours' sleep in forty eight. His account of the movements of this detachment is very amusing; and the narrative of the whole retreat is uncommonly interesting.
General Greene having received a few reinforcements soon after he entered Virginia, determined immediately to return to the rescue of the lost provinces.
In pursuance of this design, he sent forward a body of light troops, under colonel Lee and brigadier Pickens;* and soon after, himself recrossed the river Dan, and advanced towards Cornwallis. He was not yet strong enough to venture a battle ; but he was desirous to prevent the execution of his enemy's design of obtaining re'cruits for his army,
the inhabitants of the country * This advanced party, hearing that Tarleton with a body of troops was at a considerable distance from the main army,went in pursuit of him. On their way, they fell in with four hundred royalists under colonel Pyle, who were in search of Tarleton. Lee, by an ingenious stratagem, passed himself upon them for the British officer, and had well nigh completely secured the whole party, when they discovered the decep. tion, and some of them fired. This rendered an immediate attack upon them necessary, in which, according to general Lee, ninety were killed, and the rest dispersed. Judge Marshall has erroneously stated, that between two and three hundred of them were destroyed. Tarleton charges Lee with inhuman barbarity on this occasion, and the British accounts in general represent it in the same manner. General Lee has given a very particular account of the affair, in order, as he says, “to repel the unfounded stigma attached to the officer and corps en, gaged with colonel Pyle;” and refers particularly to the account of Mr. Stedman. According to general Lee, the termination of the affair was wholly undesigned : an attack was rendered necessary by the cir. cumstances in which he was ; and there was no attempt to cut off those who fled. It has been very unjustly therefore represented as massacre," or an “inhuman barbarity.” Though not so designed, it was however in the event of great benefit, by its operation as a check upon the recruiting service ; for before this, Cornwallis hoped to re. plenish his army by means of the royalists ; but he was at last compel, led to relinquish his conquests, in consequence of the failure of this source of supply, upon which he very much depended,