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which would enable them as much as possible CHAP. III. to cover the country, and to defend particular 1779. positions were the objects taken into considera. tion, and were all to be consulted. At the same time, it was desirable so to station the main army as to prevent its being insulted in its quarters.
With a view to these various circumstances the army was thrown into two grand divisions.
The northern division was to be commanded by general Heath, and its principal object was the security of West Point, and of the posts on the North river as low as King's ferry. Subordinate to this was the protection of the country on the Sound, and down the Hudson, to the neighbourhood of Kingsbridge.
The other and principal division of the army was to remain under the immediate command of general Washington. The station originally designed for it was the heights in rear of the Scotch Plains in Jersey: but on viewing the country, and its resources in wood and water, a position in the neighbourhood of Morris- The Ameritown was chosen, to which the army was con- into winter ducted, and where it was put under cover late in December. Detachments from this post were made towards the North river, and Staten island, for the purpose of covering the country, and of securing it against the depredations of the enemy.
can army go
Sir Henry Clinton invests Charleston....Colonel Wasb
ington defeats Tarlton....Opinion of general Washington on the subject of defending Charleston.... Tarlton surprises and defeats an American corps at Monk's corner.... The garrison of fort Moultrie surrender themselves prisoners of war.... Colonel White defeated by Tarlton....General Lincoln capitulates....Buford defeated.... Sir Henry Clinton takes measures for setting the government of South Carolina and Georgia.... General Gates appointed to the command of the southern army.... Is defeated by lord Cornwallis near Camden ...Baron de Kalb killed.... Success of general Sumpter ....His defeat.
THE departure of the French fleet from the continent immediately following the unsuccessful assault on Savannah, produced a sudden and a gloomy change in the prospects of the southern states. The sanguine hopes which had been entertained of the recovery of Georgia, and of the total destruction of the British power in that quarter, gave place to the most melan. choly apprehensions for South Carolina. Nor were these apprehensions ill founded.
The continental troops under the command of general Lincoln did not amount to more than one thousand men fit for duty; and the prospect of considerable re-enforcements was by no means flattering.
The facility with which general Prevost had chap. IV. passed through the state, and the assurances 1780. he had received of the indisposition of a large proportion of the people to defend themselves against an army capable of effective operations, disclosed too certainly the true situation of the country, not to convince all discerning nien, that a real attempt at conquest would be made the ensuing year.
General Lincoln was not blind to the danger which was approaching; but he perceived without being able to provide against it. His power as a military commander was too limited, and his influence with the civil authority of the state too weak, to draw forth in time for its protection, even the means it possessed.
From the situation of the country, the preservation of its metropolis was of infinite im. portance to the state. Yet no preparations were making to put it in a condition to stand a siege. Fort Moultrie which had been so gallantly defended in 1776, and which was considered as the key to the harbour, was entirely out of repair; and fort Johnson on James' island had fallen into ruins. The works across the Neck, which were commenced when Charleston was threatened by general Prevost, were left unfi. nished; and towards the water, no other de. fences had been constructed than those immediately on the bay. Should an attempt be made to transport a body of troops in flat boats, from
CHAP. IV. James' island into the town, nothing could be 1780. easier than to elude the batteries. These cir.
cumstances had been strongly represented to the governor by general Lincoln; but from some defect in the existing law, the executive found it impracticable to collect a sufficient number of blacks, the only labourers to be counted on in that sultry climate, for these essential purposes.
On retiring from the siege of Savannah, the Virginia dragoons and infantry were detached to Augusta. The troops of South Carolina were stationed partly at Sheldon, opposite Port Royal ferry, between thirty and forty miles north of Savannah, and partly in fort Moultrie; and those of North Carolina remained with general Lincoln in Charleston,
In this situation he awaited events, in the hope of re enforcements from the north, and of the adoption of more vigorous defensive measures by the legislature of the state, than had theretofore been taken.
Admiral Arbuthnot, who has been already stated to have sailed from Sandy. Hook on the 26th of December, (1779) arrived at Savannah on the 31st of the following month. One of the transports which had been separated from his
fleet in a storm, was brought into Charleston January 23. harbour, and from the prisoners the first
certain intelligence was received, that the ex. pedition from New York was destined against
the capital of South Carolina. On receiving CHAP, IV. this intelligence general Lincoln reassembled 1780. his regular troops in the neighbourhood of Charleston,
Sir Henry Clinton remained at Savannah until his ships which had been scattered in the storm could be collected, and repaired, so as again to put to sea. Before the middle of February he entered the harbour or inlet of North Edisto, about thirty miles south of Charleston; and without any opposition, effected a landing on St. John's island. A part sir Henry of the fleet was sent round to blockade the invests. harbour while the army proceeded slowly and cautiously from Stono creek to Wappoocut, and through the islands of St. John and St. James.
General Lincoln received a re-enforcement of between three and four hundred Virginia regulars, who had marched from Petersburg under the command of colonel Heth, and of some new levies and militia from North Caro. lina. His force, however, was still so incompetent to the defence of the place, and the works around it were so incomplete, that had Sir Henry Clinton been in a condition to march against it immediately after effecting his land. ing, the town must necessarily have fallen into his hands. But the injuries and losses sus. tained during the voyage from New York to Savannah, had unfitted him for immediate