« PreviousContinue »
BRITISH SECURE POSSESSION OF GEORGIA.
Ashe said to Elbert, the commander James Wright was then reëstablished of the continentals, “Sir, you had in his former office as royal govbetter advance and engage them.” ernor. * The Continentals, though not more The people of South Carolina were than 100 rank and file, advanced thirty determined not to abandon the strugyards in front of the enemy and began gle without a supreme effort in behalf a sharp fire upon them; this continu- of their liberty. John Rutledge was ing for about fifteen minutes. Ashe elected governort and endeavored to and the North Carolina militia, how- send reinforcements to the army and ever, remained about one hundred to place the State in a condition to yards in the rear entirely inactive, defend itself against British invasion. and instead of supporting the ad- A reinforcement of 1,000 men was vance party were so panic stricken sent to join Lincoln, who on April 23 that they fled in confusion without marched up the Savannah with the even discharging their muskets. The main body of his army. This moveGeorgia regulars, therefore, finding ment was made chiefly for the purthemselves deserted and being almost pose of protecting the Georgia Legissurrounded by the enemy, abandoned lature, which was to assemble at Authe conflict and used their utmost en- gusta on May 1. At this time the deavors to escape. Elbert exerted all river was in full flood, the marshes his influence to rally them, but it was
and swamps along its banks were in vain. He and the survivors of his completely inundated; and it was bebrave corps were made prisoners. lieved that a small body of troops The American loss was 150 killed and
would be able to defend the country 227 captured. None had any chance against an invading army. General of escaping except by crossing the Lincoln, therefore, left only 200 Conriver, in attempting which many were
tinentals and 800 militia under Colodrowned; of those who reached safety, nel McIntosh, the whole commanded a large number returned home and by General Moultrie, who, it will be never afterward rejoined the Ameri- remembered, had distinguished himcan army, the number that did so
self at Sullivan's Island in 1776. It being not more than 450.* Thus the
was supposed that if the British British secured possession of Georgia, should invade the territory, the miestablishing communication with
litia would probably take the field in the Indians and the Tories of defending their homes. General PreNorth and South Carolina.t Sir
vost, however, pursued a different
McCrady, South Carolina in the Revolution, pp. 343–345; Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. ii., pp. 507–508.
† Bancroft, vol. v., pp. 368–369.
See B. F. Stevens, Faceimiles of MSS. in European Archives relating to America, 1773– 1783, nos. 1270, 1274.
† McCrady, South Carolina in the Revolution, chap. xiii.
164 MOVEMENTS OF LINCOLN, PREVOST AND MOULTRIE. course than that which the Americans parts of the river.* He therefore deexpected. Instead of marching up the termined to continue in his project, river and attacking Lincoln in the in- and, instead of being recalled himself, terior, Prevost endeavored to compel compelled the British general to rethe return of Lincoln from his expe- turn to the defense of Augusta. Disdition by making an irruption into patching a body of 300 light troops South Carolina.* On April 29, after to Moultrie's assistance and crossing Lincoln had gone a long distance on the river at Augusta, he continued his way toward Augusta, General upon his way on the south side toward Prevost, with 2,500 troops and a con- Savannah. Meanwhile, the British siderable force of Indians, suddenly had suffered little opposition, as passed the river near Purrysburg, Moultrie's force was insufficient to compelling McIntosh, who was there make a successful resistance. More stationed with a small force, to re- over, the troops were in a state of treat to General Moultrie at Black panic because of the plundering tacSwamp.t Prevost made a rapid tics of the British, who seemed determarch into the interior and compelled mined to desolate the country in a Moultrie to retire hastily before him, most uncivilized manner.f The citidestroying the bridges on his way.
zens of Charleston made every prepaThe militia showed little courage in ration to defend the city: the houses the field and could not be prevailed in the suburbs were destroyed; canupon to defend the passes in the face non were mounted at intervals along of large numbers. Moreover, many the peninsula between Ashley and of those under Moultrie's command Cooper rivers; and 3,000 troops were deserted, and the State government assembled to repel the threatened was not as successful in recruiting the attack. militia as had been expected; conse- On May 11 a detachment of Prequently, Moultrie's force was rapidly vost’s army crossed the ferry at Ashdiminished.
ley River and appeared before Immediately after the British had Charleston.l.
Lincoln in the meanpassed the river, Lincoln was in- time had sent word that he was reformed of the movement; but as he was then nearly opposite Augusta, he * Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. ii., considered Prevost's movement as a feint to recall him from the upper
† See McCrady, South Carolina in the Revolution, pp. 392–395; Ramsay, Revolution in South
Carolina, vol. ii., pp. 30–34. * This evidently was Prevost's original inten- I Moultrie in his Memoirs, vol. i., p. 429, estition, but as the way to Charleston was open he mates the force at 3,180 but McCrady says that determined to pursue it. See Stedman's Ameri- Rutledge's estimate of 2,500 is nearer the truth.can War, vol. ii., p. 110.
South Carolina in the Revolution, pp. 363–364. † McCrady, South Carolina in the Revolution, || Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. ii.,
PREVOST RETREATS FROM BEFORE CHARLESTON
turning toward Charleston, and Gov- to the coast, which, because of its ernor Rutledge, knowing this, desired numerous islands, afforded him ine to gain time. He therefore entered easiest and safest means by which he into negotiations with the British and could transport his baggage to Saused every obstructive tactic with vannah. As the British possessed which he was acquainted. The com- great naval superiority over the missioners from the American garri- Americans, pursuit of Prevost was son were instructed to
propose practically out of the question, for neutrality during the war between the British naval forces in the vicinity Great Britain and America, and that were able to give Prevost all the prothe question whether the state belong tection necessary. Having reached to Great Britain or remain one of the the coast, Prevost first went to St. United States, be determined by the James Island and then to St. John, treaty of
between these where he awaited the arrival of propowers."*
Prevost refused to con- visions sometime previously sent sider such a proposal and insisted from New York. In spite of all diffithat, as they were in arms, the people culties, General Lincoln arrived at of the city must surrender as pris Dorchester from Charleston before oners of war.t Rutledge refused to Prevost had passed the Ashley Ferry, surrender on such terms, and it was and upon learning the direction taken expected that an assault would be by the latter, immediately set off in made immediately. But as Prevost pursuit. He soon came within reachhad learned that Lincoln was rapidly ing distance of the British and placed approaching, he deemed it expedient his army in encampment, the two to retreat, as he had no hope of cap- armies then being about thirty miles turing the city by assault.
from Charleston.* The opposing In his retreat, however, Prevost did forces remained in their respective not take the direct route by which he positions until June 20, when a dehad advanced, for Lincoln was near tachment of about 1,200 Americans at hand with his army and in Charles- attacked 700 British and Hessians at ton there was a considerable garrison. Stono Ferry. For over an hour the Instead, after passing Ashley Ferry, contest raged and probably would he turned to the left and proceeded have resulted in victory for the
Americans, if the force under Moultrie * McCrady, South Carolina in the Revolution,
had succeeded in passing over to pp. 366–370; Moultrie's Memoirs, vol. i., p. 433 ; Ramsay, Revolution in South Carolina, vol. ii.,
James Island in time so as to attack p. 27; Gordon, American Revolution, vol. iii., p. the British from a different point. 257; Moore, Diary of the American Revolution, vol. ii., p. 162.
But Lincoln decided that it was best † McCrady, pp. 373-375. Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. ii., McCrady, South Carolina in the Revolution,
BATTLE OF STONO FERRY; RESULTS OF THE CAMPAIGN.
to retire and draw off his forces in regiment and the troops under Lieugood order.* The British loss was 23 tenant-colonel William Washington' killed and 103 wounded;t the Ameri- with some new levies, to Lincoln's can loss was 146, including 24 officers aid. killed and wounded, beside 155 miss- The principal result of the irruping. I Three days after the battle, the tion of Prevost into South Carolina British evacuated Stono Ferry and was the pecuniary loss of the inhabitSt. John Island, continuing their ants of the province, for it did no march until they reached Beaufort credit to the British army nor in any on the island of Port Royal, where a way served the British cause. Plungarrison was left by General Prevost der and devastation marked every under the command of Lieutenant stage of the march of the British colonel Maitland.||
entered and The heat had now become so in- robbed of plate, money, jewels, etc., tense that active operations were im- and oftentimes what the soldiers possible, for the summer climate of could not carry away was destroyed. * the South acted in a similar manner Large numbers of slaves, allured by as the winter cold of the North. The promises of freedom, deserted their chief duties of the commanders dur- homes and repaired to the British ing this hot season were to prevent army. In the hope of gaining the the spread of fevers in the army and favor of the British, some disclosed to keep their soldiers in condition for the places where the valuables of the next campaign, which would prob- 'their masters had been concealed. ably open in October. The American For these services the negroes did not militia dispersed, leaving Lincoln
obtain the expected reward; many with only about 800 men which he were shipped to and sold in the West placed in
encampment at Sheldon, Indies, while hundreds died of camp near Beaufort. The operations car- fever. Others, overtaken by sickness ried on by the British at the coast and disease, were ordered from the alarmed Washington, and, weak as
British camp and went to the woods, his own army was, he sent a detach- where they perished miserably, being ment, consisting of Bland's cavalry afraid to return to their masters for
proper treatment. In this way it is * Ibid, pp. 385-389; Lee, Memoirs of the War,
calculated that South Carolina lost pp. 130–131; Stedman, American War, vol. ii., pp. about 4,000 slaves. In order to save 116–118; Moultrie's Memoirs, vol. i., pp. 495–498; Lowell, Hessians in the Revolution, p. 241.
as much as possible of their property, † Stedman, American War, vol. ii., p. 118. many of the inhabitants professed | Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. ii.,
their attachment to the royal cause.f || Ibid.
& McCrady, South Carolina in the Revolution, Bancroft, vol. v., p. 371. pp. 395-396.
† Gordon, American Revolution, vol. iii., pp.
OPERATIONS IN CHESAPEAKE BAY.
During 1779–1780 there were few small parties to Norfolk, Suffolk, operations of any note by either the Kemp's Landing, and Gosport, where British or American armies; the lat- it is claimed that they destroyed or ter remained chiefly on the defensive, carried off large quantities of miliwhile the British devoted themselves tary stores and sank or abandoned principally to punitive expeditions more than 130 ships, some of which and enterprises, with the hope of dis- were heavily laden.* The losses sustressing the people and ruining them tained by the public and individuals so that they would abandon the were enormous, without being of any American cause. The territory sur- real advantage to the British. Jefferrounding Chesapeake Bay suffered son says they were “ unjustifiable by greatly from these depredations. In the usage of civilized nations." + 1779 General George Collyer (or Col- After having accomplished the object lier), who had superseded Admiral of this expedition, General Matthews Gambier as commander of the British returned north to New York. I naval forces in America, concerted a Meanwhile, in November, 1778, plan with Sir Henry Clinton for in- d'Estaing had sailed for the West terrupting the commerce
of the Indies for the purpose of attacking Chesapeake and destroying the maga- and capturing the British Islands. zines along the coast. In accordance Dominica had already fallen into the with this plan, 1,800 men under Gen- hands of the French, but to offset this eral Matthews were sent out under the British had captured St. Vinconvoy; the whole fleet started from cent's and Grenada and spread great Sandy Hook May 5, 1779, and three alarm throughout the West Indies. days later reached the Chesapeake. The fleets of the two nations soon enThe fleet
fleet anchored in Hampton gaged in a warm but indecisive comRoads, and on the 10th entered the bat after which d'Estaing prepared Elizabeth River. The American to return home;|| but at the urgent reforces in that vicinity were unable to quest of Governor Rutledge, General offer effective resistance to this over- Lincoln and the French Consul, he whelming force, and fled, allowing
* See Henry's letter of May 21, quoted in Tyler, the British troops to land
Life of Patrick Henry, p. 238; Henry, vol. iii., unopposed.* General Matthews es- p. 241; also May 19, vol. ii., p. 30; and the
British account, in Virginia Historical Magazine, tablished his headquarters at Ports
vol. iv., p. 181. mouth, from which point he sent out † Ford's ed. of Jefferson's Writings, vol. ii., p.
242. 253–260 (ed. 1788); Stedman, American War, vol. # Gordon, American Revolution, vol. iii., p. 260 ii., pp. 103–120.
(ed. 1788); Stedman, American War, vol. ii., pp. See Henry's letters of May 11 and 12 to the 136–139. President of Congress quoted in Tyler, Life of || Gordon, American Revolution, vol. iii., PP. Patrick Henry, pp. 236-237; Henry, Life of Pat- 286–293 (ed. 1788); Stedman, American War, vol. rick Henry, vol. iii., pp. 239-240.
ii., pp. 91–101.