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to give way, they also fell back, not without some disorder, upon the continental troops. Meanwhile, as well by the effect of the combat, as from the inequality of the ground, and thickness of the wood, the line of the British was likewise broken, and open in several places. Their commanders, to fill up these vacant spaces, pushed forward the two reserves. Then, all this division having passed the forest, formed in the plain that was behind it and fell upon the continental troops; but all the impetuosity of this attack was of no avail against the intrepidity of that division. Their resistance was so obstinate, that victory for a while appeared uncertain. General Leslie, finding he could make no impression upon the left of the Americans, and having susfered excessively in the attempt, was constrained to retire behind a ravine, in order to await the news of what might have passed in other parts. The action was supported in the centre with inexpressible fierceness. Colonel Stewart, with the second battalion of guards, and a company of grenadiers, had fallen so vigorously upon the troops of Delaware, that he had broken them, and taken from them two pieces of cannon; but the Marylanders came promptly to their assistance, and not only restored the battle, but even forced the English to recoil in disorder. At this mo:nent colonel Washington came up with his cavalry, charging the royalists with impetuosity; he put them to flight, cut most of them down, and recovered the two pieces of cannon. Colonel Stewart himself perished in the carnage. At this instant the fate of the day hung by a single thread. If the Americans had done all that was in their power, the whole British army was crushed. After the defeat of the British guards, and the death of Stewart, if the republicans had occupied the hill which rises on the side of the great road upon the hinder border of the wood, and furnished it with artillery, it cannot be doubted that victory would have declared for them. For then the English would not have had power to advance fresh troops into that part; their left wing would have been separated from the centre and right; and the battalions of guards would not have been able to recover from the confusion into which they had been thrown. But the Americans, content with the advantage they had already obtained, instead of taking possession of the height, repaired to the posts they occupied before the engagement. At sight of this error, lieutenant-colonel Macleod hastened to take advantage of it; he advanced the artillery, placed it upon the aforesaid eminence, and opened a destructive fire against the front of the continental troops. The grenadiers and another English regiment reappeared at the same instant upon the right of the plain, and made a vigorous charge upon their flank. Another English regiment fell at the same time upon their left, and Tarleton came up at full speed with his legion. General O’Hara, though dangerously wounded, had succeeded in rallying the British guards. All these succours
arrived so opportunely that the disorder of the centre and first line was promptly repaired. The American regulars, who had to sustain unsupported the whole weight of the action, finding themselves assailed on so many parts, began to think of their retreat. They made it step by step, without breaking their ranks; and invariably preserving a menacing attitude. They were constrained, however, to abandon upon the field of battle not only the two field pieces which they had retaken, but two others besides. Colonel Webster, then rejoining the centre with his lest wing, made a brisk charge upon the extremity of the right of Greene, and forced it to give way. Cornwallis abstained from sending the cavalry of Tarleton's legion in pursuit of the Americans; he had need of them in another part. His right was still engaged with the left of Greene. The Hessian regiment of Bose, commanded by colonel de Buy, who in this day displayed an undaunted valor, and the other British troops exerted the most desperate efforts to break the enemy, who defended himself with equal gallantry. The ground was rough, and incumbered with trees and bushes; the Americans availed themselves of it to combat as marksmen with their accustomed dexterity. If broken, they reformed, is forced to retire, they returned, if dispersed, they rallied, and charged anew. In the height of this engagement, or rather of this multitude of partial rencountres, Tarleton, who had defiled behind the right wing of the royalists, and who was covered by the smoke of their arms, as they had purposely fired altogether to this end, sell briskly upon the enemy, and in a moment swept them from the ground they occupied. The militia threw themselves into the wood, and the Hessians at last found themselves entirely disengaged from this long and obstinate conflict. Thus terminated the stubborn and much varied battle of Guildford, which was fought on the fifteenth of March. The American loss in killed, wounded, prisoners, and Inissing, amounted to upwards of thirteen hundred men. The prisoners were sew. Almost all the wounded belonged to the continental troops, and the fugitives dispersed, or returned to their homes, to the militia. The generals Huger and Stevens, were among the wounded. The loss of the British was, in proportion to their number, much more considerable. Their dead and wounded exceeded six hundred. Besides colonel Stewart, they had to lament colonel Webster. The generals Howard and O'Hara, the first in the army after lord Cornwallis, and colonel Tarleton, received very severe wounds. After the action, Greene withdrew behind the Reedy Fork, where he remained some time to collect the fugitives and stragglers. Afterwards continuing his retreat, he went to encamp at Iron Works upon Troublesome Creek. Cornwallis remained master of the field of battle. But he was not merely unable to reap any of the ordinary fruits of victory, he was even constrained to embrace those counsels, which are the usual resource of the vanquished. The fatigue of his soldiers, the multitude of his wounded, the strength of the new position which the American general had taken, and the superiority of the enemy in light troops, and particularly in cavalry, prevented him from pursuing his success. Moreover, the number and spirit of the partisans of Congress seemed to increase with the coldness of the loyalists. Far from rearing the crest after the battle of Guildford, they showed themselves quite deaf to the invocations of Cornwallis, who urged them to take arms and assemble under his banners. To crown his embarrassments, the scarcity of provision became continually more and more sensible. These motives united, determined the British general to fall back as far as Bells Mills, upon the Deep river; leaving at New Garden, those of his wounded that were least in condition to move. They fell into the power of the republicans. After having given his troops a few days repose at Bells Mills, and collected some provision, he marched towards Cross Creek upon the road to Wilmington. Greene followed him briskly, and with a cloud of light infantry and horse continually infested his rear. He did not cease the pursuit till Cornwallis had arrived at Ramsays Mills. The British had destroyed the bridge at that place over the Deep river, and the country being excessively steril, afforded no means of sustenance. Swayed, however, by his daring and enterprising character, the American general resolved to profit of the present condition of the royalists. He took the determination to march boldly upon South Carolina, which was then almost entirely stripped of troops. He accordingly defiled by forced marches towards Cambden. Though worsted at Guildford, Greene thus showed himself in the field, with forces more formidable than ever. It was the victors who fled before the vanquished ; the latter seemed to have gained new alacrity and new ardor by their reverses. After a painful march, lord Cornwallis reached Wilmington, on the seventh of April. Here he held a council upon two operations, both of extreme importance. One was to repair forthwith to the relief of South Carolina ; the other to march into Virginia, in order to make his junction with the troops of Arnold, and with those which had lately been sent thither under the conduct of general Philips. The British generals were much divided in opinion respecting the course to be adopted in a conjuncture which might decide the sate of the whole war. Some were inclined that the army should march immediately into Virginia. They alleged, ‘that all the country between the Cape Fear river and Cambden was poor, exhausted, and interrupted by frequent rivers and creeks; that the passage of the Pedee in the presence of so formidable an enemy, was a rash enterprise ; that the road by Georgetown presented the same difficulties; that the transportation of the troops to Charleston by sea, was an undertaking that would require too much time and toil; that there was nothing to fear for the latter city; that by attacking Virginia with an imposing force, Greene would be forced to abandon the Carolinas; that it would be impossible to arrive in time to the relief of lord Rawdon, who was then at Cambden ; and, that if he was beaten before the arrival of reenforcements, these succours themselves would be exposed to the almost inevitable peril of being cut in pieces by an enemy incomparably superior in force.” The partisans of the contrary opinion maintained, “that the roads of Virginia were not less, and perhaps more difficult, than those of the Carolinas ; that the tediousness of embarkations proceeded always from cavalry, and that this might easily make its way good by land; the cavalry officers had asserted it, and especially Tarleton, who had offered to execute it; that consequently, with fair wind, nothing was easier than to arrive in season to the succour of the Carolinas; that since it had not been possible to conquer Virginia, it was essential at least to retain those provinces; that the invasion of Virginia involved the certain sacrifice of two provinces, already in possession, if not of three, from the dubious prospect of
gaining one only ; that the people of the Carolinas, emboldened by
the approach of Greene, and by the distance of the royal army, were already openly tending to a new order of things; that the colonels Sumpter and Marion showed themselves audaciously in the open field ; that if there was nothing to fear for Charleston, there was assuredly equal reason for security with respect to Cambden, defended by a numerous garrison, and a general as skilful as valiant; that so long as the places of Charleston and Cambden should remain in the power of his majesty, the Carolinas could not be wrested from his authority, without being immediately and easily replaced under the yoke; that it was deeply to be regretted that the march upon Cambden had not been undertaken at the very moment when, the army being still upon Cross Creek, it was ascertained that thence to Wilmington the Cape Fear river no longer afforded an open and safe navigation; that whatever uncertainty might have been thrown upon the success of this operation by the delays which had already taken place, it was nevertheless still possible, and that, consequently, it ought to be undertaken.” The first opinion obtained. After having made some stay at Wilmington, for the refreshment of his troops and the collection of provision, Cornwallis directed his march upon Virginia. This resolution of the commander of the British forces had the most remarkable consequences; it led to an event which may be considered as the principal cause of the prompt termination of this war, and the consequent acknowledgment of American independence.
F.ND OF BOOK TWELFTH.
1781. After having pursued each other alternately, for a considerable length of time, Greene and Cornwallis diverged, as we have seen, the first upon South Carolina, the second upon Virginia. But while they were thus contending for American provinces, England and Holland were preparing for war, and had even already commenced reciprocal hostilities. The former, who appeared to have anticipated this war for some time back, and who, being already completely armed, could seize the occasion for making it with advantage, hoped, by a sudden and impetuous attack, to level a decisive blow at the power and wealth of her enemy. Such was the motive which had induced her to hasten her declaration of war. It was not doubted in England but that the success which would be gained over Holland, would afford ample compensation for the losses which had been sustained on the part of the French and Americans. The British cabinet expected thus to bring into the negotiations for peace, ‘whenever they should take place, such an aggregate of advantages, as would be sufficient to procure it the most favorable conditions. The Hollanders, on the other hand, persuaded themselves that they saw in the simultaneous display of those formidable forces to which they were about to join their own, the sure means of resuscitating their ancient maritime glory. They were especially elated with the prospect of recovering the rich possessions which had been wrested from them in preceding wars, and of rescuing their commerce from the outrageous vexations of England. The ardor which animated all minds, manifested itself in the preparations that were made in the ports of the republic. The States-General ordered the equipment of ninety-four ships of war, of which, eleven of the line, fifteen of fisty guns, two of forty, and the rest of less force. Eighteen thousand seamen formed the crews of this fleet. Fast sailing vessels were despatched to the different Dutch possessions, to apprise the governors of the commencement of hostilities, and to recommend them the greatest vigilance. The king of France ordained that in all the ports of his dominions, any Dutch vessels found therein should receive prompt notice of the new danger they had to fear at sea, on the part of an alert and enterprising enemy. In taking this care of the interests of her new ally, France wished to manifest her gratitude for the warmth with which Holland had espoused her cause. But unfortunately all these precautions could not operate the beneficial effects which were expected from them. The English, who long before the rupture, had meditated the design of attacking Holland, profited with success of all the means which they had prepared for her annoyance, before she had time to put herself in a state of