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CHAP. iv. militia, only three were wounded on the field; 1780. and, as they were the first to fly, not many
For the numbers engaged, the loss sustained by the regulars was considerable. It amounted to between three and four hundred men, of whom a large portion were officers. With the field, lord Cornwallis gained also such of the wounded as were unable to retreat. This cir. cumstance threw between two and three hun. dred continental troops into his hands.
In the British accounts given of this action, the whole loss of the American army is stated at eight or nine hundred killed, and about one thousand prisoners; while their own killed and wounded are only admitted to be three hundred and twenty-five, of whom two hundred and forty-five were wounded. Although many of the militia were killed during the flight, this account must be exaggerated. While the con. tinental troops kept the field, the loss on both sides, in that part of the action, must have been nearly equal..
On his retreat, the day on which the battle was fought, general Gates received information of the complete success of Sumpter in the enterprise committed to his charge. On the evening that lord Cornwallis marched from Camden, Sumpter had reduced the redoubt on the Wateree, captured the guard, and intercepted the escort with the stores, the whole of
which, with about forty waggons, and upwards chap. IV. of one hundred prisoners, had fallen into his 1780. hands.
This gleam of light cheered but for a mo. ment the dark gloom which enveloped his affairs. The hope that a respectable force might be reassembled which, united with Sumpter's detachment, might arrest for a time the progress of the enemy, was not permitted long to solace him under the misfortune he had experienced. He was soon informed that this corps also was defeated, and totally dispersed.
On hearing of the disaster which had befallen Gates, Sumpter began to retreat up the south side of the Wateree, with his captured stores, and with his prisoners, who, including militia taken at different times, amounted to near three hundred men. Lord Cornwallis dispatched August 17. Tarlton with the legion, and a detachment of infantry, to pursue him. Sumpter had moved with so much celerity, that he believed himself out of danger, and his men were so excessively fatigued and harassed by loss of sleep, and the hard service they had performed, that he had Eighteenth. halted on the 18th, during the heat of the day, near the Catawba ford, to give them some repose. At that place, he was overtaken by Tarlton, who, having crossed the river at Rocky Mount ford, entered his camp so sud. denly as in a great measure to cut off his troops from their arms. Sumpter had placed out vi.
CHAP. IV. dettes; but, overpowered with fatigue, and un. 1780. apprehensive of danger, they had fallen asleep,
and gave no alarm.
Some slight resistance was made from behind the waggons, but this was soon overcome, and the consternation occasioned by the surprise was so great, that the Americans fled precipi. tately to the river and woods. Between three and four hundred of them were killed, and wounded. Their baggage, artillery, arms, and ammunition, were lost; and the prisoners, and stores they had taken, were recovered. This advantage was obtained with the loss of only nine men killed and six wounded. It is stated by Mr. Stedman that only one hundred dra. goons, and sixty light infantry were brought up to the charge; the remaining part of Tarl. ton's detachment, being unable further to sup. port the fatigue of his rapid march, had stopped at Fishing creek.
The succeeding day, the intelligence of this disaster reached Charlotte. Generals Smallwood and Gist had then arrived at that place, and about one hundred and fifty straggling, dispirited, half famished officers and soldiers had also dropped in. There was no obstruction between them and the enemy, and Charlotte was no more defensible than a plain. No place of rendezvous had been appointed; the militia of North Carolina had generally returned to their homes; and those of Virginia had dispersed themselves towards Hillsborough, along the
road by which they had marched to effect their chap. iv. junction with Gates. There was consequently . 1780. no probability of reassembling them; and it was not expected that those of the neighbouring counties could be raised by general Caswell in less than three days. All these considerations combined to render it advisable to retreat immediately to Salisbury.
Colonel Williams, and one of the brigade majors, took the route towards Camden, in order to obtain further intelligence respecting the movements of the enemy, and to direct those coming on that road to file off to Salisbury. An express was dispatched with the necessary information to major Anderson of the third Maryland regiment, who had rallied a small body of troops not far from the field of action, which was increased by those who fell in with him on the retreat. He had learned that Tarlton, after surprising and defeating Sumpter, had retired down the Wateree; and he therefore proceeded slowly on his march to Charlotte, that he might give the fugitives an opportunity of joining him. From Charlotte, he was ordered to Salisbury by general Smallwood; and soon after his arrival at that place, the troops which had been collected there were directed by general Gates to march to Hillsborough. He was endeavouring to assemble at that place another army, which might enable him yet to contend for the possession of the southern states.
Distress in the American camp....Expedition against
Staten island.... Financial regulations....Committee of congress deputed to camp....General Knyphausen enters Jersey....Sir Henry Clinton returns to New York.... Skirmish at Springfield....La Fayette brings intelligence of aid from France....Exertions of congress and of the commander in chief to strengthen the army.... Tardy proceedings of the states.... Arrival of a French armament in Rhode Island.... Plans of eventual operations.... Sir Henry Clinton embarks for Newport.... Washington marches against New York.... Return of Clinton.... Enterprise against New York relinquished....Naval superiority of the British....Plans for the campaign abandoned.
WHILE disasters thus crowded on each other in the southern states, the commander in chief found himself surrounded with diffi. culties which not only checked every enterprise he might meditate, but required exertions by no means inconsiderable, to obviate calamities not less distressing than those which befel the union in the south. Not only were his press. ing requisitions for men to supply the places of those who were leaving the service, uncomplied with, but those who remained were with diffi. culty preserved from either perishing with cold and hunger, or being driven to the necessity of relieving their urgent wants by dispersing, and living on plunder.