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CHAP. VI. This bold measure, which added one of the 1780. first maritime powers in Europe, to the formi.
dable list of enemies with which the British nation was already encompassed, was perhaps more justifiable in point of prudence than might at first view be imagined.
There may be situations, to which only high minded nations are equal, where a daring policy will conduct those who adopt it safely through the very dangers it appears to invite; dangers which a system suggested by a timid caution might multiply instead of avoiding.
The present was probably one of those situations. Holland was about to engage as a mem. ber of the armed neutrallity, the consequence of which must have been, either that her im. mense navigation would be employed, without molestation in the transportation of the property of the enemies of Britain, and in supplying them with all the materials for ship building and of renewing their feets; or that, by an attempt to prevent it, the whole con. federacy would be encountered.
However this may be, America received with delight the intelligence that Holland also was engaged in the war, and founded on that event additional hopes of its speedy termina. tion.
Transactions in South Carolina and Georgia....Defeat of
Ferguson....Lord Cornwallis enters North Carolina.... Retreats out of that state.... Major Wemys attacks and is defeated by Sumpter....Greene appointed to the command of the southern army....Arrives in camp.... Detaches Morgan over the Catawba.... Battle of the Cowpens....Pursuit of the American army through North Carolina into Virginia....lord Cornwallis retires to Hills. borough.... Greene recrosses the Dan....Party of loyalists commanded by colonel Pyle cut to pieces....Battle of Guilford....Lord Cornwallis retires to Ramsay's mills, and afterwards, to Wilmington....Greene advances to Ramsay's mills with a determination to enter South Carolina.... Lord Cornwallis resolves to march to Virginia.
In the south, where interests of the utmost 1780. magnitude were to be decided by armies con. Transactions sisting of a few diminished regiments; and Carolina and where the fate of an immense extent of valu. able country depended on battles which, in European wars, would be deemed skirmishes almost too inconsiderable for the notice of his. tory; lord Cornwallis, after having nearly demolished the American army at Camden, found himself under the necessity of suspending for a few weeks, the new career of conquest on which he had intended to enter. His army was much enfeebled by sickness, as well as by ac. tion; and the intense heat of the weather was scarcely supportable. He had not brought from
CHAP. VII. Charleston those stores which were deemed 1780. necessary for the meditated expedition; and a
temper so hostile to the British interests had lately discovered itself in South Carolina, that it appeared unsafe to withdraw any consider. able part of his present force from that state, until he should have subdued the spirit of insurrection against his authority, which had been extensively displayed.
The exertions of Sumpter in the northwest, have already been noticed. In other parts of the state, similar efforts were made. Colonel Marion, a valuable officer, had been compelled by the wounds which he received in Charleston during the siege of that place, to retire into the country. With Sumpter, he had been pro. moted by governor Rutledge to the rank of a brigadier general; and as the army of Gates approached South Carolina, he had entered the northeastern parts of that state with only sixteen men; had penetrated into the country as far as the Santee; and was successfully rousing the well affected inhabitants to arms, when the defeat of the 16th of August chilled the grow. ing spirit of resistance which he had contri. buted to increase.
With the small force he had collected he rescued about one hundred and fifty continental troops who had been captured at Camden, and were on their way to Charleston. Though compelled for a short time to leave the state, he
soon returned to it, and at the head of a few CHAP. VII. spirited men, he made repeated excursions 1780. from the swamps and marshes in which he concealed himself, and skirmished successfully against the militia who had joined the British standard, and the small parties of British regulars by whom they were occasionally supported.
His talents as a partisan were so great, that he eluded every attempt to seize him; and such was his humanity, as well as respect for the laws, that no violence or outrage of any sort, was ever attributed to the party under his command.
The interval between the victory of the 16th August. of August, and the expedition into North Ca. rolina, was employed in quelling what was termed the spirit of revolt in South Carolina, which lord Cornwallis seems to have consi. dered as a conquered province, reduced completely under allegiance to its ancient sovereign. Their efforts to re.establish their independence seem to have been considered as new acts of rebellion, and a degree of severity was used towards them, which policy was supposed to dictate, but which certainly gave a new and keener edge to the resentments which civil discord never fails to engender. Several of the most active militia men who had taken protections as British subjects, and engaged in the British militia, having been afterwards
CHAP. VII. found in arms, and made prisoners at Camden, 1780. were executed as traitors. Orders to proceed
in the same manner against persons of a similar description, were given to the officers commanding at Augusta in Georgia, and at different posts in South Carolina, and were in many instances carried into execution. A procla. mation was issued conforming to directions previously given, for sequestering the estates both real and personal of all those inhabitants of the province who were actually in arms with the Americans, or who had abandoned their plantations to join or support them; of all those, not included in the capitulation of Charleston, who were in the service, or acting under the authority of congress; and of all those who by an open avowal of what were termed rebellious principles, or by other notorious acts, should manifest a wicked and desperate perseverance in opposing the re-establishment of royal authority. • While taking these measures to break the spirit of independence, lord Cornwallis was indefatigable in urging his preparations for the expedition into North Carolina.
The day after the battle of Camden, emis. saries had been dispatched into that state, where it was supposed the royalists might now as. semble without danger, for the purpose of in.