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Retreat of the Americans from Charlotte.
March of Cornwallis Southward.
Young Ladies of Mecklenburg and Rowan.
troops. Davie, perceiving the contest now to be very unequal, retreated toward Salisbury, leaving Cornwallis master of Charlotte. Colonel Francis Locke (who commanded at Ram. sour's) and five privates were killed ; and Major Graham and twelve others were wounded in this action. The British lost twelve non-commissioned officers and privates, killed ; Major Hanger, two captains, and many privates, were wounded. Cornwallis remained in Charlotte until the fourteenth of October, when he retreated southward. It had been his intention to advance northward ; but the loss of Ferguson and his corps, and the general lukewarmness, if not absolute hostility of the people, and the constant annoyance by the American troops, caused him to retrograde, and on the twenty-ninth he established his head-quarters at Winnsborough, in Fairfield District, South Carolina, midway between the Catawba and Broad Rivers. There we shall leave the earl for the present.
The British army, while at Charlotte, lay encamped upon a plain, south of the town, on the right side of the road. Cornwallis's head-quarters were next to the southeast corner of the street from the court-house; and most of the other houses were occupied, in part, by his officers. I found no person in Charlotte yet living who remembered the British occupation and the noble deeds of the patriots; but history, general and local, fully attests the patriotism of its inhabitants during the whole war. It was never visited by the British army after Cornwallis returned to Winnsborough, and only for a short time was the head-quarters of the American army, while Gates was preparing for another campaign. It was at
? this place General Greene took the command of the Southern army from Gates, a Dec.3,
1780. fifty days after Cornwallis decamped. a
Provisions soon became scarce in the British camp, for the people in the neighborhood refused a supply. In Colonel Polk's mill, two miles from the town, they found twenty-eight thousand weight of flour, and a quantity of wheat. Foraging parties went out daily for cattle and other necessaries, but so hostile were the people that Webster's and Rawdon's brigades were obliged to move, on alternate days, as a covering party. There were few sheep, and the cattle were so lean that they killed one hundred head a day. On one day, according to Stedman (who was commissary), they killed thirty-seven cows with calf. Frequent skirmishes occurred. On one occasion, the plantation of Mr. M'Intyre, seven miles north of Charlotte, on the road to Beattie's Ford, was plundered, the family having barely time to escape. While loading their wagons with plunder, a bee-hive was overturned, and the insects made a furious attack upon the soldiers. While their commander stood in the door laughing at the scene, a party of twelve patriots approached ;* in a moment, the captain, nine men, and two horses lay dead upon the ground. The British hastily retreated to their camp, believing that a large American force was concealed near.
2 On one occasion, the young ladies of Mecklenburg and Rowan entered into a pledge not to receive the attentions of young men who would not volunteer in defense of the country, they “ being of opinion that such persons as stay loitering at home, when the important calls of the country demand their military sery. ices abroad, must certainly be destitute of that nobleness of sentiment, that brave and manly spirit which would qualify them to be the defenders and guardians of the fair sex."--South Carolina and American General Gazette, February, 1780.
* One of the twelve was George Graham, brother of General Joseph Graham. He was born in Pennsylvania, in 1758, and went to North Carolina, with his widowed mother, when six years of age. He was educated at Queen's Museum, and was strongly imbued with the republican principles of the Scotch-Irish of that region. He was one of the party who rode from Charlotte to Salisbury and arrested those who proposed to detain Captain Jack, as mentioned on page 621. He was active in partisan duties while the British were at Charlotte. After the war, he rose to the rank of major general of militia, and often served his country in the State Legislature. He died at Charlotte, on the twenty-ninth of March, 1826, in the sixty-eighth year of his age.
" We marched to the Cowpens, Campbell was there,
Shelby, Cleveland, and Colonel Sevier;
King's Mountain and the Cowpens. I passed the United States Branch S
.Mint, upon the road leading from the village to the Tuckesege or Great
en Catawba Ford, and at the forks, about a mile from the town, halted a moment to observe the operation of raising gold ore from a mine, by a horse and windlass.
This mine had not been worked for fifteen years, owing to litigation, and now yielded sparingly. The vein lies about seventy feet below the surface. This is in the midst of the gold region of North Carolina, which is comprehended within the limits of eleven counties.?
From Charlotte to the Catawba, a distance of eleven miles, the country is very hilly, and the roads were bad the greater portion of the way. I crossed the Catawba at the Tuckesege Ford, the place where General Rutherford and his little army passed, on the evening of the nineteenth of June, 1780, when on their way to attack the Tories at Ramsour's Mills. 3 I was piloted across by a lad on horseback. The distance from shore to shore, in the direction of the ford, is more than half a mile, the water varying in depth from ten inches to three feet, and running in quite a rapid current. In the passage, which is diagonal, two islands, covered with shrubbery and trees, are traversed. This was Charley's first experience in fording a very considerable stream, and he seemed to participate with me in the satisfaction experienced in setting foot upon the
VIEW AT TUCKESEGE FORD.+ solid ground of the western shore. I allowed him to rest while I made the above sketch,
i The song called " The Battle of King's Mountain,” from which these lines are taken, was very popular in the Carolinas until some years after the close of the war. It was sung with applause at political meetings, wedding parties, and other gatherings, where the ballad formed a part of the proceedings. Mr. M'Elwees, an old man of eighty-seven, who fought under Sumter, and with whom I passed an evening, within two miles of King's Mountain, remembered it well, and repeated the portion here given.
. 2 These are Randolph, Montgomery, Richmond, Davidson, Stanley, Anson, Cabarras, Rowan, Iredell, Mecklenburg, and Lincoln, all east of the Catawba.
3 See page 597. 4 This view is from the western bank of the Catawba, looking down the stream.
Passage of the South Fork of the Catawba.
Loss of Way in a Forest.
Road to King's Mountain.
and then we pushed on toward the South Fork of the Catawba, almost seven miles farther. I was told that the ford there was marked by a row of rocks, occurring at short intervals across the stream ; but when I reached the bank, few of them could be seen above the surface of the swist and swollen current. The distance across is about two hundred and fifty yards, and the whole stream flows in a single channel. The passage appeared (as it really was) very dangerous, and I had no guide. As the day was fust waning away, a storm seemed to be gathering, and there was not an inhabitant within a mile, I resolved to venture alone, relying upon the few rocks visible for indications of the safest place for a passage. Taking my port-folio of drawings from my trunk, and placing it beside me on the seat, and then folding my wagon-top, I was prepared to swim, is necessary, and save my sketches, il possible. Charley seemed loth to enter the flood, but once in, he breasted the stream like a philosopher. Twice the wheels ran upon rocks, and the wagon was almost overturned, the water being, in the mean while, far over the hubs; and when within a few yards of the southern shore, we crossed a narrow channel, so deep that my horse kept his feet with difficulty, and the wagon, having a tight body, floated for a moment. The next instant we struck firm ground. I breathed freer as we ascended the bank, and with a thankful heart rode on toward Falls's house of entertainment, away among the hills near the South Carolina line, twenty-six miles from Charlotte.
On account of numerous diverging ways, it was very difficult to keep in the right road from the South Fork to Falls's. I tried to reach there before dark, but the clouds thickened, and night fell suddenly. In the uncertain twilight, I missed a diverging road which I was directed to pursue, and got into the midst of a vast pine forest. Just before entering the woods, I had a glimpse of Crowder's Knob, the highest peak of King's Mountain, estimated to be three thousand feet above the level of the sea. It was about twelve miles distant, and loomed up from the wilderness of pines which intervened, like some ancient castle in the dim light. For more than an hour I pursued the forest road, without perceiving the diverging one which I was directed to follow. I stopped to listen for sounds of habitation. All was silent but the moaning of the wind among the pine boughs, the solemn voice of an owl, and the pattering of the rain upon my wagon-top. For almost another hour I rode on in the gloom, without perceiving an opening in the forest, and I began to think I should be obliged to scamp out” for the night. Again I listened, and was cheered by the distant barking of a dog. I gave Charley a loose rein, and in twenty minutes an open field appeared, and the glimmer of a candle. A shout brought the master of the cottage to the door, and, in reply to my solicitation for food and shelter until morning, he informed me that a contagious disease, which had destroyed two of his family, yet prevailed in his house. He could not offer me the hospitalities of his roof and table, but he would mount his horse and guide me to Falls's, which was four miles distant. I was glad to avoid the contagion, and to reward him liberally for his kind pilotage. I ascertained that I had been within a quarter of a mile of Falls's, but, missing the « turn out,” had traversed another road several miles back in the direction of Charlotte ! Mr. Falls was the postmaster, and an intelligent man, apparently about sixty years of
age. It was the anniversary of the battle of New Orleans, in 1815,a and as the valnico old man had a brother killed in that engagement, it was a day always memorable to him. I was entertained with the frank hospitality so common in the Carolinas, and at my request breakfast was ready at early dawn. A more gloomy morning can not well be conceived. Snow had fallen to the depth of two inches during the night, and when I departed, a chilling east wind, freighted with sleet, was sweeping over the barren country. King's Mountain battle-ground was fourteen miles distant, and I desired to reach there in time to make my notes and sketches before sunset. The roads, except near the water courses, were sandy and quite level, but the snow made the traveling heavy. Six miles from Falls's, I forded Crowder's Creek, a stream about ten yards wide, deep and sluggish, which rises from
á Jan. 8.
? The sides of this peak are very precipitous, and its top is accessible to man only upon one side.
Visit to the King's Mountain Battle-ground.
Character of the Locality.
View of the Battle.ground
Crowder's Knob, and, after a course of eighteen miles, falls into the Catawba. A little beyond it, I passed a venerable post oak, which was shivered, but not destroyed, by lightning the previous summer. It there marks the dividing-line between North and South Carolina. At noon the storm ceased; the clouds broke, and at three o'clock, when I reached the plantation of Mr. Leslie, whose residence is the nearest one to the battle-ground, the sun was shining warm and bright, and the snow had disappeared in the open fields.
When my errand was made known, Mr. Leslie brought two horses from his stable, and within twenty minutes after my arrival we were in the saddle and traversing a winding way toward Clarke's Fork of King's Creek. From that stream, to the group of hills among which the battle was fought, the ascent is almost imperceptible. The whole range, in that vicinity, is composed of a series of great undulations, from whose sides burst innumerable springs, making every ravine sparkle with running water. The hills are gravelly, containing a few small bowlders. They are covered with oaks, chestnuts, pines, beaches, gums, and tulip poplars, and an undergrowth of post oaks, laurel, and sour-wood. The large trees stand far apart, and the smaller ones are not very thick, so that the march of an army over those gentle elevations was comparatively easy. Yet it was a strange place for an encampment or a battle; and to one acquainted with that region, it is difficult to understand why Ferguson and his band were there at all.
We tied our horses near the grave of Ferguson and his fellow-sleepers, and ascended to the summit of the hill whereon the British troops were encamped and fought. The battleground is about a mile and a half south of the North Carolina line. It is a stony ridge,
extending north and south, and averaging about one hundred feet in height above the ravines which surround it. It is nearly a mile in length, very narrow upon its summit, with steep sides. From its top we could observe Crowder's Knob in the distance, and the hills of less altitude which compose the range. The sun was declining, and its slant rays,
i This view is from the foot of the hill, whereon the hottest of the fight occurred. The north slope of that eminence is seen on the left. In the center, within a sort of basin, into which several ravines converge, is seen the simple monument erected to the memory of Ferguson and others; and in the foreground, on the right, is seen the great tulip-iree, upon which, tradition says, ten Tories were hung.
2 The range known as King's Mountain extends about sixteen miles from north to south, with several spurs spreading laterally in each direction. One of these extends to the Broad River, near the Cherokee Ford, where I crossed that stream on my return from the Cowpens. Many of its spurs abound in marble and iron, and from its bosom a great number of streams, the beginning of rivers, gush out. The battleground is about twelve miles northwest of Yorkville, and one hundred and ninety from Charleston.
Past and Present.
Major Ferguson detached to the Upper Country.
Gathering of Tories.
Surprise at Greene's Spring.
gleaming through the boughs dripping with melting snows, garnished the forest for a few moments with all the seeming splendors of the mines ; gold and silver, diamonds and rubies, emeralds and sapphires, glittered upon every branch, and the glowing pictures of the Arabian Nights, which charmed boyhood with the records of wondrous visions, crowded upon the memory like realities. Alas! on this very spot, where the sun-light is braiding its gorgeous tapestry, and suggesting nothing but love, and beauty, and adoration, the clangor of steel, the rattle of musketry, the shout of victory, and the groans of dying men, whose blood incarnadined the forest sward, and empurpled the mountain streams, were once heard—it was an aceldama; and there, almost at our feet, lie the ashes of men slain by their brother man! History thus speaketh of the event:
On the sixteenth of August, 1780, the Americans, under General Gates, were defeated by Cornwallis, near Camden, and dispersed. Two days afterward, Tarleton defeated Sumter at Rocky Mount, and elsewhere the American partisan corps were unsuccessful. The whole South now appeared to be completely subdued under the royal power; and the conqueror, tarrying at Camden, busied himself in sending his prisoners to Charleston, in ascertaining the condition of his distant posts at Ninety-Six and Augusta, and in establishing civil government in South Carolina. Yet his success did not impair his vigilance. West of the Wateree' were bands of active Whigs, and parties of those who were defeated near. Camden were harassing the upper country. Cornwallis detached Major Ferguson, a most excellent officer and true marksman, of the 71st regiment,’ with one hundred and ten regulars under the command of Captain Depuyster, and about the same number of Tories, with an ample supply of arms and other military stores. He ordered him to embody the Loyalists beyond the Wateree and the Broad Rivers ; intercept the Mountain Men,' who were retreating from Camden, and also the Americans, under Colonel Elijah Clarke, of Georgia, who were retiring from an attack upon Augusta ; endeavor to crush the spirit of rebellion, which was still rife ; and, after scouring the upper part of South Carolina, toward the mountains,
join him at Charlotte. Ferguson at first made rapid marches to overtake the Mountain Men, and cut off Clarke's forces. Failing in this, he proceeded leisurely, collecting all the
Tories in his path, until about the last of September, when he encamped with more than a thousand men, at a place called Gilbert Town, west of the Broad River, near the site of the present village of Rutherfordton, the county seat of Rutherford, in North Carolina. These were all well armed, and Ferguson began to feel strong. True to their instincts, his Tory recruits committed horrible outrages upon persons and property wherever they went, and this aroused a spirit of the fiercest vengeance among the patriots. At different points, large
1 The Wateree River is that portion of the Catawba which flows through South Carolina. It is the Catawba to the dividing-line of the states, and, after its junction with the Congaree, is called the Santee. The Congaree is formed by a union of the Broad and Saluda Rivers at Columbia, the head of steam-boat navigation upon the Santee and Congaree, from the ocean.
2 This was the regiment that behaved so gallantly at the battle of Guilford.
3 The pioneers who had settled in the wilderness beyond the mountains, now Kentucky and Tennessee, were called Mountain Men.
4 While Ferguson was in Spartanburg District, on his way toward Gilbert Town, a detachment of his little army had a severe skirmish with Colonel Clarke and his men at Greene's Spring. Clarke and his company, some two hundred in number, had stopped at the plantation of Captain Dillard, who was one of them, and, after partaking of refreshments, proceeded to Greene's Spring. The same evening Ferguson arrived at Dillard's, whose wife soon learned, from the conversation of some of his men, that they knew where Clarke was encamped, and intended to surprise him that night. She hastily prepared supper for Ferguson and his men, and while they were eating she stole from the room, bridled a young horse, and, without a saddle, rode to the encampment of Clarke, and warned him of impending danger. In an instant every man was at his post, prepared for the enemy. Very soon Colonel Dunlap, with two hundred picked mounted men, sent by Ferguson, fell upon the camp of Clarke. Day had not yet dawned, and the enemy were greatly surprised and disconcerted when they found the Americans fully prepared to meet them. For fifteen minutes the conflict raged desperately in the gloom, when the Tories were repulsed with great slaughter, and the survivors hastened back to Ferguson's camp.
5 Those of his recruits who were without arms Ferguson furnished with rifles. Some of them so fixed the large knives which they usually carried about them, in the muzzle of their rifles, as to be used as bayo. nets, if occasion should require.