Page images
PDF
EPUB

Partial Organization of an Army.

Hobkirk's Hill.

View at the Spring

Gates's Order.

Parole.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

1922

IS

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

ESTE

. ...

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]
[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

toiminta

1111

an

7.

AM

[ocr errors]

TAS

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

aid the discomfited general. The Legislature provided for procuring arms, ammunition, and stores; ordered rnilitia drafts, and took other vigorous measures for the defense of the state. Salisbury, toward which it was believed Cornwallis would march, was made the place of rendezvous. The fragments of the army broken at Sander's Creek were collected together at Hillsborough early in September, and on the sixteenth of that month, Colonel Buford, having recruited his corps so cruelly handled by Tarleton, reached head-quarters, from Virginia. There he was joined by sixty Virginia militia, and about fifty of Porterfield's light infantry. All of these, with the Maryland and Delaware regiments, were formed a Deen into a brigade, under Smallwood. The intervening events, from this time until

1780. Greene succeeded Gates in the command of the Southern army, a have already been considered. An hour's ride from Sander's Creek, over a very sandy and gently rolling country,

brought me to the summit of Hobkirk's Hill, a high ridge overlooking the plains of Camden. Upon the table-land of its summit is a beautiful village, composed of many fine houses, the residences of wealthy inhabitants of that region, who have chosen this spot for its salubrity in summer. It was just at sunset when I first looked from this eminence upon the town below and the broad plain around it. Although it was midwinter, the profusion of evergreens gave the landscape the appearance of early autumn. Here was fought one of the memorable battles of our War for Independence; and yonder, stretching away toward the high hills of Santee, is the plain once red with British legions, and glittering with

British bayonets. Before descending to VIEW AT THE SPRING; HOBKIRK'S HILL.2

Camden, a mile distant, let us open the old ? The irritation which Gates exhibited when he was succeeded by General Schuyler in the command of the Northern army, in 1777, was not visible when Greene reached Charlotte, and gave him the first notification of his having been superseded. On the contrary, he received Greene with the utmost courtesy, and expressed his warmest thanks for the tender manner in which that officer announced the action of Congress and the commander-in-chief. On the morning after Greene's arrival, Gates issued the following order :

“Head-quarters, Charlotte, 30 December, 1780. Parole, Springfield ; countersign, Grecne. The Honorable Major-general Greene, who arrived yesterday afternoon in Charlotte, being appointed by his excellency, General Washington, with the approbation of the Honorable Congress, to the command of the Southern army, all orders will, for the future, issue from him, and all reports are to be made to him. General Gates returns his sincere thanks to the Southern army for their perseverance, fortitude, and patient endurance of all the hardships and sufferings they have undergone while under his command. He

P anxiously hopes their misfortunes will cease therewith, and that victory and the glori

2 дел ous advantages attending it may be the fu

FORM OF PAROLE AND CUUNTERSIGN.* ture purtion of the Southern army."

2 The site of this spring, the source of one of the tributaries of Pine Tree Creek, is denoted in the map, on nearly a broadside of that paper. "Speaking for Buncombe” (not Bunkum) is a term often applied since to men who waste the time of legislative bodies in making speeches for the sole purpose of receiving popular applause.

* This parole (Alexandria) and countersign (Bedford, Colchester), upon a small slip of paper, is in the handwriting of Washington. The original is in the possession of J. Wingate Thornton, Esq., of Boston. It is the practice in camps for the command

[graphic]

TOK

29

NAS

Il

1

.

..

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

a Jan. 17

[ocr errors]

chronicle, and peruse an interesting page. It is a balmy evening ;a birds are chirp- as ing their vespers among the dark-green foliage of the wild olives in the gardens, and 1849. buds are almost bursting into blossoms upon every tree. Here, upon a bench by the bubbling spring, where General Greene was at breakfast when surprised by Lord Rawdon, we will read and ponder in the evening twilight.

We left General Greene and his broken army on their march from Cornwallis's camp, on the Deep River,b toward Camden. (See page 613.) Greene had determined to be April strike a blow for the recovery of South Carolina. To secure the provisions which 1781." grow upon the borders of the Santee and Congaree Rivers, and to keep a communication with the Indians on the frontier, the British had established military posts at several points, the most important of which was Fort Watson, upon Wright's Bluff, in the present Sumter District. These, with the more remote post of Ninety-Six, Greene resolved to attack almost simultaneously with his movement against Lord Rawdon, then at Camden. He dispatched Lieutenant-colonel Lee with his legion, to join Marion, then encamped in the swamps on Black River, in Williamsburg District.' These brave partisans met on the

fourteenth,c and immediately prepared to march - April, 1781.

wote against Fort Watson. Brigadiers Sumter and Pickens were informed of the intended movement, and refused to co-operate. Greene desired Sumter to join him at Camden, while Pickens was directed to assemble the western militia and invest Ninety-Six, or, at least, to prevent a re-enforcement marching from that post to the relief of Rawdon.. With only about fifteen hundred men (after detaching Lee's force), Greene descended the Southern slope of Hobkirk's

Hill,d and encamped at Log Town, within half a 18. mile of the enemy's works, at Camden.

LORD RAWDON.2 Lord Rawdon, who had been left in command of the

[graphic]
[ocr errors]

i

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

à April

From an English Print.

page 676. It is at the head of a ravine, scooped out of the northeastern slope of Hobkirk's Hill. The noble trees which shadow it are tulips, poplars, and pines. The house seen on the top of the hill, toward the left, is the residence of William E. Johnson, Esq., president of the Camden Bank. A few yards below the spring a dike has been cast up, across the ravine, by which a fine duck pond is formed, and adds beauty to the scene, in summer.

Lee, in his Memoirs (page 215), relates an amusing circumstance which occurred while he was on his way to join Marion among the swamps on Black River, in Williamsburg District. Lee's detachment had reached Drowning Creek, a branch of the Pedee, and were encamped for the night. Toward morning, the officer of the day was informed that noises, like the stealthy movements of a body of men, were heard in front of the pickets, toward the creek. Presently a sentinel fired, the bugles sounded for the horse patroles

sentinel fired in a different direction, and intelligence came that an invisible enemy were in the swamp. The troops were formed in accordance with the latest information of the whereabouts of the secret foe. With great anxiety they awaited the approach of dawn, not doubting that its first gleam would be the signal for a general assault by the enemy. Suddenly the line of sentinels in their rear, upon the great road they had traversed, fired in quick succession, and the fact that the enemy had gained their rear in force could not be doubted. Lee went cautiously along his line; informed his troops that there was no alternative but to fight; reminded them of their high reputation, and enjoined them to be firm throughout the approaching contest. He conjured the cavalry to be cautious, and not allow any partial success to tempt them to pursue, for no doubt the enemy would ambuscade. At break of day, the whole column advanced cautiously to the great road, infantry in front, baggage in the center, and cavalry in the rear. No enemy appeared, and the van officer cautiously examined the road to find the trail of the foe. He soon discovered the tracks of a large pack of wolves! These animals had attempted to pass along their accustomed path, but finding it obstructed, had turned from point to point when met by the fire of the sentinels. The circumstance occasioned great merriment among the troops. Each considered himself a dupe. The poor pickets, patroles, and officer of the day were made the butt of severest ridicule.

2 Francis Rawdon, son of the Earl of Moira, was born in 1754, and entered the army in 1771. He was

er-in-chief to issue a parole and countersign every morning. It is given in writing to his subordinates, and by them communicated to those who wish to leave the camp and return during the day and evening, &c. The object is to guard against the admission of spies into the camp.

Lord Rawdon at Camden.

Greene's Camp on Hobkirk's Hill.

Rawdon's Preparations to Attack Greene.

Southern division of the royal army when Cornwallis marched into North Carolina, was now at Camden. He was apprised of Greene's approach, and notwithstanding his force was inferior (about nine hundred men), he was too strongly intrenched to fear an attack. Greene perceived that his little army was unequal to the task of carrying the place by storm, or even of completely investing it. Hoping to be joined by a re-enforcement of militia, he withdrew to Hobkirk's Hill, and encamped. On the twenty-first, he received the startling information that Colonel Watson, with between four and five hundred men, was marching up the Santee to join Rawdon. To prevent this junction, it was necessary to in

tercept Watson some distance from Camden. To this task Greene immediately applied w a April 22.

h imself. He crossed Sand Hill Creek, and encamped on the east of Camden, a

*** upon the Charleston road. It being impossible to transport the artillery across the marshes on the borders of that creek, Lieutenant-colonel Carrington was directed to return with it toward Lynch's Creek, where it would be safe from the patrolling parties of the enemy. Finally, convinced that the intelligence of the approach of Watson was false," Greene hastened back to Hobkirk's Hill, and ordered Carrington to join him, with the ar

tillery, immediately.h The hill was then completely covered with a forest, and the 0 April 24.

***Americans were so strongly posted, with the swamp on Pine Tree Creek in their rear, that they felt no fear of an attack from the enemy. Yet the ever-cautious Greene had the army encamped in battle order, ready to repel a sortie of Rawdon, should he have the temerity to attempt one. During the day, he had received information of the capture of Fort Watson by Marion and Lee, and just at evening the prisoners were brought into camp, among whom were several American soldiers, previously captured, and who, as they said, had enlisted in the British service as the best means of escaping to their friends.

During the night of the twenty-fourth, a drummer, named Jones, one of the Americans taken at Fort Watson, deserted, and made his way to the British camp. He informed Rawdon of the detachment of the artillery from the main army, the lack of provisions in the American camp, and the fact that Sumter had not arrived. Rawdon resolved to strike a blow at this favorable moment, for his own provisions were almost exhausted; and before daylight his garrison was in marching order. The country between Hobkirk's Hill and Camden was so thickly wooded that the movements of the enemy were not discerned until his van-guard approached the American pickets. The patriots were unsuspicious of danger. Greene and his officers were leisurely taking breakfast under the shade of the trees at the spring, pictured on page 676 (for it was a clear, warm morning); some of the soldiers were washing their clothes, and the horses of Washington's cavalry were unsaddled. Rawdon did not march directly for the American camp, on the Waxhaw road, but took a circuitous route, toward the Pine Tree Creek. At about ten o'clock, the American advanced guard discerned the approach of the enemy. Their pickets were commanded by Captain Benson, of Maryland, and Captain Morgan, of Virginia, supported by Captain Kirkwood,' with the re

distinguished for his bravery during his first campaign in America, and in 1778 was appointed adjutant general of the British forces. He was at the storming of Forts Clinton and Montgomery in 1777, and was with Sir Henry Clinton at the battle of Monmouth. He was promoted to brigadier, and was succeeded in his office of adjutant general by Major Andrè. Rawdon afterward received the commission of a major general. In 1812, he was appointed Governor General of British India, which office he held until 1822. During his administration, the Nepaulese, Pindarees, and other native powers, were subjugated, and the British authority made supreme in India. During his absence in the East, he was created Marquis of Hastings. He died in 1825.

1 Camden, the capital of Kershaw District, stands upon a gentle elevation, covered on the southwest by the Wateree at a mile distant, and on the east by Pine Tree Creek, a considerable stream. The country around it was heavily wooded at the time in question, and the town itself (formerly called Pine Tree, but then named in honor of Lord Camden) was but a small village of a few houses.

2 Colonel Watson had really commenced his march up the Santee, but was obliged to turn back because Marion and Lee, after capturing Fort Watson, had got in front of him, and effectually guarded all the passes and ferries.

3 That portion of Hobkirk's Hill, on its southeastern slope, where the first of the battle commenced, is now called Kirkwood. It is covered with fine residences and beautiful gardens, and is valued as a healthful summer resort by the people of Camden.

Disposition of the Two Armies.

Battle on Hobkirk's Hill.

Yielding of Maryland Troops.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

mains of the Delaware regiment. These, at a distance of about a quarter of a mile from the camp, gallantly received and returned the fire of the British van, and kept them at bay while Greene formed his army in more complete battle order.

Fortunately for Greene, Carrington, with the artillery, had joined him early in the morning, and brought to camp a competent supply of the provisions. The line was soon formed, and so confident was Greene of success, that he unhesitatingly ordered Lieutenant-colonel Washington, with his cavalry, to turn the right flank of the British, and to charge in their rear. The American line was composed of the Virginia brigade on the right, under Brigadier Huger, with Lieu- i tenant-colonels Campbell and Hawes; the Mary. land brigade, led by Colonel Williams, seconded by Colonel Gunby, and Lieutenant-colonels Ford and Howard, occupied the left ; and in the center was Colonel Harrison, with the artillery. The reserve consisted of Washington's cavalry, and a corps of two hundred and fifty North Carolina militia, under Colonel Reade. (See the map.)

The skirmish of the van-guards was severe for some time, when Rawdon, with his whole force, pressed forward, and drove Kirkwood and his Delawares back upon the main line. The King's

HOBKIRI('S HILL American regiment was on his right; the New York Volunteers in the centre; and the 63d regim ment composed the left. His right was supported by Robertson's corps, and his left by the Irish Volunteers. (See map.) The British presented a narrow front, which was an advantage to Greene. As they moved slowly up the slope, Campbell and Ford were ordered to turn the flanks of the British, while the first Maryland regiment, under Gunby, was ordered to make an attack in front. Rawdon perceived this movement, and, ordering the Irish corps into line, strengthened his position by extending his front. The battle opened from right to left with great vigor. The two Virginia regiments, led by Greene in person, aided by Huger, Campbell, and Hawes, maintained their ground firmly, and even gained upon the enerny. At the same time, Washington, with his cavalry, was sweeping every thing before him upon the right flank of the British. The artillery was playing upon the center with great execution, and Gunby's veteran regiment rushed forward in a deadly charge with bayonets. Notwithstanding their inferiority of numbers and disadvantage of position, the British maintained their ground most gallantly until Gunby's charge, when they faltered. Hawes was then descending the hill to charge the New York Volunteers, and the falchion that should strike the decisive blow of victory for the Americans was uplifted. At that moment, some of Gunby's veterans gave way, without any apparent cause. Colonel Williams, who was near the center, endeavored to rally them, and Gunby and other officers used every exertion to close their line. In this attempt, Colonel Ford was mortally wounded and carried to the rear. Gunby, finding it impossible to bring them into order, directed them to rally by retiring partially in the rear. This order was fatal. Perceiving this retrograde movement, the British advanced with a shout, when a general retreat of the Amer

[graphic]

Note.-Explanation of the Plan.-- This plan of the battle on Hobkirk's Hill is copied from Stedman. a a, are the American militia, on the Waxhaw road, leading from Camden to Salisbury; b b, the Virginia line; c c, the Maryland line; d, the reserve, with General Greene; e, British light infantry, approaching the American camp from Pine Tree Creek; f, volunteers from Ireland; g, South Carolina Loyalists; h, 630 regiment; i, New York Loyalists; j, King's American regiment; k, convalescents; l, with swords crossed, the place where the first attack was made ; mm, British dragoons. The spring was known as Martin's.

Greene's Retreat.

Washington's Charge upon the Pursuers.

Mu

Marion and Lee against Watson.

icans took place. Greene, with his usual skill and energy, conducted the retreat in such order that few men were lost after this first action. Washington had been eminently successful; and at the moment when the retreat began, he had two hundred prisoners. He hastily paroled the officers, and then, wheeling, made a secure retreat, with the loss of three men, and took with him fifty of his prisoners. The action continued at intervals until about four o'clock in the afternoon, when the Americans had retreated four or five miles, closely pursued by parties of the enemy. Washington, with cavalry and infantry, then turned upon the pursuers, and charging the mounted New York Volunteers with great intrepidity, killed nine and dispersed the rest. This terminated the battle. The British returned to their works at Camden, and Greene, with his little army, encamped for the night on the north side of Sander's Creek. The dead, alone, occupied the battle-field. So well was the retreat conducted, that most of the American wounded (including six commissioned officers), and all of their artillery and baggage, with Washington's fifty prisoners, were carried off. The loss of the Americans in killed, wounded, and missing, according to Greene's return to the Board of War, was two hundred and sixty-six; that of the enemy, according to Rawdon's statement, two hundred and fifty-eight. The killed were not very numerous. Greene estimates his number at eighteen; among whom was Ford and Beatty, of the Maryland line. Rawdon's loss in killed was thirty-eight, including one officer.2

This defeat was very unexpected to General Greene, and for a moment disconcerted him, for, with the exception of the success of Marion and Lee, in capturing Fort Watson, he did not know how the Southern partisans were proceeding. The Maryland troops, so gallant and firm on all former occasions, had now failed ; his provisions were short; Sumter, the speedy partisan, had not joined him; and supplies came in tardily and meager. Yet Greene was not the man to be crushed by adversity. On the contrary, he seemed to rise with re

26. newed strength, after every fall. Accordingly, on the morning succeeding the bata April 26,

1781. tle, a he retired as far as Rugeley's, and after detaching a small force with a six pounder under Captain Finley, to Nelson's Ferry, to join Marion and Lee, and prevent Watson from re-enforcing Rawdon, he crossed the Wateree, and took a strong position, where he could not only cut off supplies for the garrison at Camden from that quarter, but prevent the approach of Watson in that direction. In the mean while, Marion and Lee were closely watching Colonel Watson. That officer had now approached near to the confluence of the Congaree and Wateree, in Orangeburg District; where he would cross it was difficult to tell ; and the vigilant partisans, fearing he might elude them if they took post on the north side of the Congaree, crossed over, and endeavored to overtake him. But Watson, who was b May 6. equally vigilant and active, crossed the Congaree, b near its junction with the Wa

1781. teree, and on the seventh of May passed the latter stream and joined Rawdon at Camden.

Greene was early apprised of this junction, and, persuaded that Rawdon would resume offensive operations at once, withdrew from the vicinity of Camden Ferry to the high ground

? Marshall (ii., 6) says that the fall of Captain Beatty, of Gunby's regiment, was the cause of its defection. His company and the one adjoining it were thrown into confusion, and dropped out of the line, and then the fatal disorder ensued.

2 Marshall, ii., 1-8. Ramsay, ii., 230-31. Gordon, iii., 189-91. Lee, 220–24. Stedman, iž., 356-58.

3 The momentary despondency of Greene is expressed in the following extract from a letter which he wrote to the Chevalier Luzerne, three days after the battle: “ This distressed country, I am sure, can not struggle much longer without more effectual support. They may struggle a little while longer, but they must fall; and I fear their fall will lay a train to sap the independence of the rest of America. ..... We fight, get beaten, rise and fight again. The whole country is one continued scene of blood and slaughter.” To La Fayette he wrote, on the first of May: “You may depend upon it, that nothing can equal the sufferings of our little army but their merit.” To others he wrote in a similar strain, imploring prompt and decisive action for supplying his handful of troops with sustenance for the summer campaign, and with re-enforcements. It must be remembered, that at this time the French army, under Rochambeau, was lying idle in New England; and through Luzerne (the French minister) and La Fayette, Greene hoped to hasten their advent in the field of active operations. To Governor Read, of Pennsylvania, he wrote, on the fourth of May: “If our good friends, the French, can not lend a helping hand to save these sinking states, they must and will fall."

« PreviousContinue »