Imagens das páginas

the morass, and were fortunate enough to escape by favor of the darkness. Four hundred horses, a prize of high value, fell into the hands of the victors, with many carriages loaded with arms, clothing and stores. The royalisis took possession of the bridge, and, soon after, secured another passage lower down, and overrun the country on the left side of the river, particularly the district of St. Thomas. In this manner the besieged were deprived also of the Cooper river, and Charleston found itself completely enclosed. The garrison was not judged sufficiently strong to warrant any opposition to this enterprise. The Americans attempted only to fortily a point on the left bank, called Point Lamprey ; but Webster's corps being considerably reenforced, and lord Cornwallis having taken the command on that side of the river, they found themselves constrained to abandon this last post. The British foraged without obstacle, prevented the assembling of the militia, and cut off every species of succour. A few days after, Tarleton having advanced with incredible celerity upon the banks of the Santee river, attacked and routed another body of republican cavalry, commanded by colonel Buford ; arios, horses, munitions, every thing fell into the power of the vicior. Adverse fortune continued to pursue the republicans. Admiral Arbuthnot landed on Sullivan's Island a body of seamen and marines, men of approved bardihood. He began to enclose Fort Moultrie ; having procured a full knowledge of the state of the garrison and defences of the place, he prepared to storm it on the part of the west and northwest, where the works were the weakest. The garrison, sensible of the impossibility of relies, the English being masters of the sea, and seeing the means of attack incomparably superior to those of resistance, surrendered, the seventh of May. Thus Fort Moultrie, which four years before had repulsed all the forces of adıniral Hyde Parker, fell without firing a shot into the power of the royalists.

In the meantime, the besiegers had completed their third parallel, which they carried close to the canal we have already described ; and by a sap pushed to the dain which supplied it with water on the right, they had drained it in several parts to the bottom. They hastened to arm this parallel with its batteries, and to complete the traverses and other mines of communication. The place being thus environed, and the bombardment about to commence, Clinton summoned Lincoln anew. A negotiation was opened, but the American commander required not only that the citizens and militia should be free with respect to their persons, but that they should also be permitted to sell their property, and retire with the proceeds wherever they might see fit; the English general refused to grant these conditions. He insisted that the whole garrison should surrender at discretion ; and, as to property, he would agree to nothing further than that it should not be given up to pillage. The conferences were

broken off, and hostilities recommenced. The fortifications were battered with violence by the heavy artillery ; bombs and carcasses overwhelmed the town, and lighted frequent conflagrations; the Hessian marksmen felled all that showed themselves at the embrasures, or on the ramparts. Neither shelter nor retreat remained to the besieged ; every thing indicated that the monent of surrender must soon arrive. The fire of the place was already become languid ; its artillery was in part dismounted, and its best cannoniers either killed or out of service; and the English had pushed on their works till they issued in the ditch of the place. The city was menaced with an assault; discord began to break out within ; the timid and those attached to the royal party murmured aloud ; they conjured Lincoln not to expose to inevitable destruction, so rich, so important a city. They represented that the stock of provision was nearly exhausted ; that the engineers considered it impossible to sustain a storm ; in a word, that there was not the least way of saiety

left open.

In so terrible an extremity, Lincoln divested himself of his natural inflexibility ; and, on the twellih of May, the capitulation was signed. The garrison were allowed some of the honors of war; but they were not to cuncase their colors, nor their drums to beat a Britisha march. The continental troops and seamen were to keep their baggage, and to remain prisoners of war until they were exchanged. The militia were to be permitted to return to their respective homes, as prisoners on parole ; and while they adhered to their parole, were not to be molested by the British troops in person or property. The citizens of all sorts to be considered as prisoners on parole, and to hold their property on the same terms with the inilitia. The officers of the army and navy, to retain their servants, swords, pistols, and their baggage unsearched. As to general Lincoln, he was to have liberty to send a ship to Philadelphia with his despatches.

Thus, after a siege of forty days, the capital of South Carolina fell into the hands of the royalists. Seven general officers, ten continental regiments, much thinned, it is true, and three battalions of artillery, prisoners of the English, gave signal importance to their victory; the whole number of men in armis who were taken, was estimated at six thousand. Four hundred pieces of artillery, of every sort, were the prey of the victors, with no small quantity of powder, balls and bombs ; three stout American frigates, one French, and a polacre of the same nation, augmented the value of the conquest. The loss of men was noi great on either side, and was not very unequally shared.

The Carolinians complained greatly of their not being properly assisted by their neighbors, particularly the Virginians, in this long and arduous struggle. The conduct of general Lincoin was unanimously blamed, though very differently judged. Some reproached

him for having allowed himself to be cooped up in so extensive and indefensible a town, instead of continuing the war in the open field. They said that if he had taken this course, he might have preserved to the union a considerable army, and the most fertile part of the province; that it would have been much better to harass and fatigue the enemy by marches, retreats, ambuscades, and well concerted attacks; that Washington had acted very differently, and with greater utility to his country, when to the loss of his arıny, he preferred that of the island of New York, and even of the city of Philadelphia itself. It was not Lincoln alone, however, who should have been made responsible for events, but the Congress and the neighboring provincial states; since they promised at the approach of danger, reenforcements which they did not furnish.

Other censors of the general's conduct condemned him for not having evacuated the town, when all the roads were still open on the left side of the Cooper river. But if he followed an opposite counsel, it should be attributed, at first, to this same hope of promised succour; and then, after the rout of Monk's Corner, and the English had occupied the country between the Cooper and the Santee, to the fear he justly entertained of encountering an infinite superiority of force, particularly in cavalry, and to the repugnance he felt 1o leave Charleston at discretion in the hands of the enemy.

As soon as general Clinton had taken possession of that capital, he hastened to take all those measures, civil as well as military, which were judged proper for the reestablishment of order; he then made his dispositions for recovering the rest of the province, where every thing promised to anticipate the will of the victor. Determined to follow up his success, before bis own people should bave time to cool, or the enemy to take breath, he planned three expeditions; one towards the river Savannah, in Georgia, another upon Ninety-Six, beyond the Saluda, both with a view to raise the loyalists, very numerous in those parts; the third was destined to scour the country between the Cooper and Santee, in order to disperse a body of republicans, who, under the conduct of colonel Buford were retiring by forced marches towards North Carolina. All three were completely successful; the inhabitants flocked from all parts to meet the royal troops, declaring their desire to resume their ancient allegiance, and offering to defend the royal cause with arms in hand. Many even of the inhabitants of Charleston, excited by the proclainations of the British general, manifested a like zeal to coinbat under his banners. Lord Cornwallis, after having swept the two banks of the Cooper and passed the Santee, made himself master of Georgetown. Such was the devotion, either real or feigned, of the inhabitants towards the king; such was their terror, or their desire to ingratiate themselves with the victor, that not content with coming in from every quarter to offer their services, in support of

the royal government, they dragged in their train as prisoners, tlose friends of liberty, whom they had lately obeyed with such parade of zeal, and whom they now denominated their oppressors. Meanwhile, colonel Buford continued bis retreat with celerity, and it appeared next to impossible that he should be overtaken. Tarleton, nevertheless, offered to attempt the enterprise, promising to reach him. Cornwallis put under bis command for this object, a strong corps of cavalry, with about a hundred light infantry mounted on borseback. His march was so rapid, that on the twenty-eighth of May he had gained Cambden, where he learned that Buford had departed the preceding day from Rugeleys Mills, and that he was pushing on with extreme speed, in order to join another body of republicans that was on the march from Salisbury 10 Charlotte, in North Carolina. Tarleton saw the importance of preventing the junction of these two corps ; accordingly, notwithstanding the fatigue of men and horses, many of whese having already dropped dead with exhaustion, notwithstanding the beat of the season, he redoubled liis pace, and at length presented himself, after a march of one hundred and five miles in fifty-four hours, at a place called Wacsaw, before the object of his pursuit. The English summoned the Americans to throw down their arms; the latter answered with spirit, that they were prepared to defend themselves. The colonel drew up his troops in order of baule; they consisted of four hundred Virginia regulars, with a detachment of horse. He formed but one line, and ordered bis artillery and baggage to continue their march in his rear, without baliing; his soldiers were directed to reserve their fire till the British cavalry were approached within twenty yards. Tarleton lost no time in preparation, but charged immediately. The Americans gave way after a faint resistance ; the English pursued them with vigor, and the carnage was dreadful. Their victory was complete; all, in a manner, that were not killed on the spot, were wounded and taken. Such was the rage of the victors, that they massacred many of those who offered to surrender. The Americans remembered it with horror. From that time it became with them a proverbial mode of expressing the cruelties of a barbarous enemy; to call them Tarleton's quarter. Artillery, baggage, munitions, colors, every thing, fell into the power of the English. It appears that colonel Buford committed two faults, the most serious of which was , the having awaited, on open ground, an enemy much superior in cavalry. If instead of sending his carriages behind him, as soon as he perceived the royal troops, he had formed them into a cincture for his corps, the English would not bave attempted to force it, or would have exposed themselves to a sanguinary repulse.

The second, was that of forbidding his men to fire at the enemy, till he was within twenty, paces; it ensued that Tarleton's cavalry was enabled to charge with more order and efficacy. That officer in

mediately returned, followed by the trophies of his victory, to Canbden, where he rejoined lord Cornwallis. The American division which had advanced to Charlotte, changed its plan, on bearing of the discomfiture of Wacsaw, and fell back with precipitation on Salisbury:

This reverse destroyed the last hopes of the Carolinians, and was soon followed by their submission. General Clinton wrote to London, that South Carolina was become English again, and that there were few men in the province who were not prisoners to, or in arms with the British forces. But he was perfectly aware that the conquest he owed to his arms could not be preserved but by the entire reestablishment of the civil administration. To this end, he deemed it essential to put minds at rest by the assurance of amnesty, and to oblige the inhabitants to contribute to the desence of the country, and to the restoration of the royal authority. Accordingly, in concert with admiral Arbuthnot, he published a full and absolute pardon in favor of those who should immediately return to their duty, promising that no offences and transgressions heretofore committed in consequence of political troubles, should be subject to any investigation whatever. He excepted only those who, under a mockery of the forms of justice, had imbrued their hands in the blood of their fellowcitizens, who had shown themselves adverse to revolt and usurpation. He had then to reflect that a great number of the Carolinians were prisoners of war on parole, and that while they were considered as such, they could not equitably be constrained to take arms in favor of the king. But, in the pride of victory, Clinton thought he might sport with the public faith, and got over this difficulty by declaring, in a proclamation issued on the third of June, that the prisoners of war were free, and released from their parole, with the exception of the regular troops taken in Charleston and Fort Moultrie; he added, that they were reestablished in all the rights and all the duties of British subjects. But that no doubt might remain with regard to his intentions, and to prevent all conjecture, he gave notice that every man must take an active part in support of the royal government, and in the suppression of that anarchy which had prevailed already but too long. For the attainment of this object, he required all persons to be in readiness with their arms at a moment's warning; those who had families, to form a militia for home defence; but those who had none, to serve with the royal forces for any six inonths of the ensuing twelve, in which they might be called upon to assist, as he said, “in driving their rebel oppressors, and all the miseries of war, far from the province. They were not to be employed, however, out of the two Carolinas and Georgia. Thus citizens were armed against citizens, brothers against brothers; thus the same individuals who had been acknowledged as soldiers of the Congress, since they had been comprehended in the capitulation as

« AnteriorContinuar »