The Life of General Francis Marion
Mason Locke Weems
Part 3 out of 5
Supposing they had entirely scouted us, they gave over the chase,
and retreated for their respective stations; the British to Georgetown,
and the tories to Black Mingo. Learning this, from the swift mounted scouts
whom he always kept close hanging upon their march, Marion ordered us
to face about, and dog them to their encampment, which we attacked
with great fury. Our fire commenced on them at but a short distance,
and with great effect; but outnumbering us, at least two to one,
they stood their ground and fought desperately. But losing their commander,
and being hard pressed, they at length gave way, and fled
in the utmost precipitation, leaving upwards of two-thirds of their number,
killed and wounded, on the ground. -- The surprise and destruction
of the tories would have been complete, had it not been
for the alarm given by our horses' feet in passing Black Mingo bridge,
near which they were encamped. Marion never afterwards suffered us
to cross a bridge in the night, until we had first spread our blankets on it,
to prevent noise.
This third exploit of Marion rendered his name very dear to the poor whigs,
but utterly abominable to the enemy, particularly the tories,
who were so terrified at this last handling, that, on their retreat,
they would not halt a moment at Georgetown, though twenty miles
from the field of battle; but continued their flight,
not thinking themselves safe, until they had got Santee river
between him and them.
These three spirited charges, having cost us a great deal of rapid marching
and fatigue, Marion said he would give us "a little rest".
So he led us down into Waccamaw, where he knew we had some excellent friends;
among whom were the Hugers and Trapiers, and Alstons; fine fellows!
rich as Jews, and hearty as we could wish: indeed the wealthy captain,
now colonel William Alston, was one of Marion's aids.
These great people all received us as though we had been their brothers,
threw open the gates of their elegant yards for our cavalry,
hurried us up their princely steps; and, notwithstanding our dirt and rags,
ushered us into their grand saloons and dining rooms,
where the famous mahogany sideboards were quickly covered
with pitchers of old amber colored brandy, and sugar dishes of double refined,
with honey, for drams and juleps. Our horses were up to the eyes
in corn and sweet-scented fodder; while, as to ourselves,
nothing that air, land, or water could furnish, was good enough for us.
Fish, flesh, and fowl, all of the fattest and finest, and sweetly graced
with the smiles of the great ladies, were spread before us,
as though we had been kings: while Congress and Washington went round
in sparkling bumpers, from old demijohns that had not left the garret
for many a year.
This was feasting indeed! It was a feasting of the soul as well as
of the sense. To have drawn the sword for liberty and dear country's sake,
was, of itself, no mean reward to honest republicans; but, beside that,
to be so honored and caressed, by the great ones of the land,
was like throwing the zone of Venus over the waist of Minerva,
or like crowning profit with pleasure, and duty with delight.
In consequence of the three fortunate blows which he had lately struck,
Marion, as before observed, was getting the enviable honor
to be looked up to as the rallying point of the poor whigs; insomuch,
that although afraid as mice to stir themselves, yet, if they found out
that the tories and British were any where forming encampments
about the country, they would mount their boys and push them off to Marion
to let him know. Here I must give the reader an instance on the spot.
We had just got ourselves well braced up again, by rest and high feeding,
among the noble whigs of Waccamaw, when a likely young fellow
at half speed drove up one morning to the house, and asked for general Marion.
Marion went to the door.
"Well, my son, what do you want with me?"
"Why, sir general," replied the youth, "daddy sent me down to let you know,
as how there is to be a mighty gathering of the tories, in our parts,
"Aye indeed! and pray whereabouts, my son, may your parts be?"
"Heigh, sir general! don't you know where our parts is?
I thought everybody knowed where daddy lives."
"No, my son, I don't; but, I've a notion he lives somewhere on Pedee;
perhaps a good way up."
"Yes, by jing, does he live a good way up! a matter of seventy miles;
clean away up there, up on Little Pedee."
"Very well, my son, I thank your daddy, and you too, for letting me know it.
And, I believe, I must try to meet the tories there."
"O la, sir general, try to meet 'em indeed! yes, to be sure!
dear me, sirs, hearts alive, that you must, sir general! for daddy says,
as how, he is quite sartin, if you'll be there to-morrow night,
you may make a proper smash among the tories; for they'll be there
thick and threefold. They have heard, so they say, of your doings,
and are going to hold this great meeting, on purpose to come
all the way down here after YOU."
"Yes, indeed are they, sir general! and you had better keep a sharp look out,
I tell you now; for they have just been down to the British,
there at Georgetown, and brought up a matter of two wagon loads of guns;
great big English muskets! I can turn my thumb in them easy enough!
And, besides them plaguy guns, they have got a tarnal nation sight of pistols!
and bagonets! and swords! and saddles! and bridles! and the dear knows
what else besides! so they are in a mighty good fix, you may depend,
"Well, perhaps you and I may have some of them fine things to-morrow night.
What say you to it, my son?"
"By jing, I should like it proper well! But, to be sure, now, sir general,
you look like a mighty small man to fight them great big tories there,
on Pedee. But daddy says as how the heart is all: and he says, too,
that though you are but a little man, you have a monstrous great heart."
Marion smiled, and went out among his men, to whom he related
the boy's errand; and desired them to question him, so that there might be
no trick in the matter. But every scruple of that sort was quickly removed;
for several of our party were well acquainted with the lad's father,
and knew him to be an excellent whig.
Having put our firearms in prime order for an attack, we mounted; and giving
our friends three cheers, dashed off, just as the broad-faced moon arose;
and by daybreak next morning, had gained a very convenient swamp,
within ten miles of the grand tory rendezvous. To avoid giving alarm,
we struck into the swamp, and there, man and horse, lay snug all day.
About eleven o'clock, Marion sent out a couple of nimble-footed young men,
to conceal themselves near the main road, and take good heed
to what was going on. In the evening they returned, and brought word,
that the road had been constantly alive with horsemen, tories they supposed,
armed with new guns, and all moving on very gaily towards the place
the lad had told us of. Soon as it was dark, we mounted,
and took the track at a sweeping gallop, which, by early supper time,
brought us in sight of their fires. Then leaving our horses
under a small guard, we advanced quite near them, in the dark
without being discovered; for so little thought had they of Marion,
that they had not placed a single sentinel, but were, all hands,
gathered about the fire: some cooking, some fiddling and dancing,
and some playing cards, as we could hear them every now and then bawling out,
"Huzza, at him again, damme! aye, that's the dandy! My trick, begad!"
Poor wretches, little did they think how near the fates
were grinning around them.
Observing that they had three large fires, Marion divided
our little party of sixty men into three companies, each opposite to a fire,
then bidding us to take aim, with his pistol he gave the signal
for a general discharge. In a moment the woods were all in a blaze,
as by a flash of lightning, accompanied by a tremendous clap of thunder.
Down tumbled the dead; off bolted the living; loud screamed the wounded;
while far and wide, all over the woods, nothing was to be heard
but the running of tories, and the snorting of wild bounding horses,
snapping the saplings. Such a tragi-comedy was hardly ever seen.
On running up to their fires, we found we had killed twenty-three,
and badly wounded as many more; thirteen we made prisoners;
poor fellows who had not been grazed by a bullet, but were so frightened
that they could not budge a peg. We got eighty-four stand of arms,
chiefly English muskets and bayonets, one hundred horses,
with new saddles and bridles, all English too, with a good deal
of ammunition and baggage. The consternation of the tories
was so great that they never dreamt of carrying off anything.
Even their fiddles and fiddle bows, and playing cards, were all left
strewed around their fires. One of the gamblers, (it is a serious truth)
though shot dead, still held the cards hard gripped in his hands.
Led by curiosity to inspect this strange sight, a dead gambler,
we found that the cards which he held were ace, deuce, and jack.
Clubs were trumps. Holding high, low, jack, and the game, in his own hand,
he seemed to be in a fair way to do well; but Marion came down upon him
with a trump that spoiled his sport, and non-suited him for ever.
But the most comfortable sight of all, was the fine supper
which the tories had cooked! three fat roasted pigs and six turkeys,
with piles of nice journey cakes. 'Tis true, the dead bodies lay very thick
round the fires: but having rode seventy miles, and eating nothing
since the night before, we were too keen set to think of standing on trifles;
so fell upon the poor tories' provisions, and made the heartiest supper
in the world. And, to crown all, we found among the spoil,
upwards of half a barrel of fine old peach brandy.
"Ah, this brandy!" said Marion, "was the worst foe these poor rogues ever had.
But I'll take care it shall be no foe to us." So, after ordering
half a pint to each man, he had the balance put under guard.
And I must observe, by way of justice to my honored friend,
that success never seemed to elate him; nor did ever he lose sight of safety
in the blaze of victory. For instantly after the defeat,
our guns were all loaded and our sentinels set, as if an enemy
had been in force in the neighborhood.
The whigs in high spirits on account of our success --
an express from Governor Rutledge -- promotions -- British and tories
in great wrath -- sketch of their treatment of the patriots.
The news of this fourth overthrow of the enemy, was soon spread far and wide
among both our friends and foes; producing everywhere the liveliest emotions
of joy or sorrow, according as the hearers happened to be well or ill affected
towards us. The impression which it made on our honored executive,
was sweeter to our thoughts than honey or the honeycomb. For on the fifth day
after our last flaggellation of the tories, in came an express
from governor Rutledge, with a commission of brigadier general for Marion,
and a full colonel's commission for me. Having always looked up to my country
as to a beloved mother, whose liberty and prosperity were inseparably
connected with my own, it is no wonder that I should have been so delighted
at hearing her say, by her favorite son, governor Rutledge,
that, `reposing especial trust in my courage, conduct, and attention
to her interests, she had appointed me a colonel in her armies,' &c. &c.
Scarcely had I perused my commission, before Marion reached me HIS;
and with a smile, desired me to read it. Soon as I came to his new title,
"brigadier general", I snatched his hand and exclaimed,
"Huzza! God save my friend! my noble GENERAL MARION! general! general!
Aye that will do! that will do! that sounds somewhat in unison
with your deserts."
"Well, but what do you think of the style," replied he,
"and of the prerogative -- is it not prodigiously in the pompous?"
"Not at all," said I.
"No," continued he; "why now to MY notion, it is very much in the turgid,
in the Asiatic. It gives me dominions from river to river,
and from the mountains to the great sea, like Tamerlane or Ghengis Khan;
or like George III. `by the grace of God, king of Great Britain, FRANCE,'
&c. &c. whereas, poor George dares not set a foot there,
even to pick up a periwinkle!"
"Well, but general," said I, "as the English gave France to George
because they wish him to have it, so I suppose the good governor
gives you this vast district for the same reason."
"Perhaps so," replied Marion.
The truth is, governor Rutledge was a most ardent lover of his country;
and, therefore, almost adored such an unconquerable patriot as Marion.
Hence, when he found, that notwithstanding the many follies and failures
of northern generals and armies; notwithstanding the victories,
and proclamations, and threats of Cornwallis and Tarleton,
Marion still stood his ground, and fought and conquered for Carolina;
his whole soul was so filled with love of him, that I verily believe
he would have given him "all the kingdoms of the earth and the glory thereof,"
had they been in his gift. Indeed what he did give him was sketched out
with a prodigiously bold hand. He gave him all that territory,
comprehended within a line drawn from Charleston along the sea,
to Georgetown; thence westerly to Camden; and thence to Charleston again;
making a domain of extent, population, and wealth, immense;
but over which the excellent governor had no more power
to grant military jurisdiction, than to give kingdoms in the moon;
for the whole of it was in the hands of the British, and their friends
the tories; so that the governor had not a foot to give Marion;
nor did Marion hold a foot of it but by his own vigilance and valor;
which were so extraordinary, that his enemies, with all their men,
money, and malice, could never drive him out of it.
But while governor Rutledge, with all the good whigs of the state,
were thus heartily rejoicing with Marion for his victories,
the British and tories were as madly gnashing their teeth upon him
for the same. To be struck four such severe blows, in so short a time,
and all rising one over another in such cursed climax of bad to worse;
to be losing, in this manner, their dear allies, with all their subsidies
of arms, ammunition, and money; to have their best friends thus cooled;
their worst enemies thus heated; and rank rebellion again breaking up,
out of a soil where they had promised themselves nothing
but the richest fruits of passive obedience: and all this by a little,
ugly spawn of a Frenchman! It was too much! they could not stand it.
Revenge they must and would have; that was certain: and since,
with all their efforts, they could not get at Marion, the hated
trunk and root of all, they were determined to burn and sweat his branches,
the poor whigs, i.e. to carry the curses of fire and sword
through all their families and habitations.
Now, had this savage spirit appeared among a few poor British cadets,
or piney wood tories, it would not have been so lamentable.
Their ignorance of those divine truths, which exalt the soul
above such hellish passions, would have furnished some plea for them.
But, that a British general, and that general a nobleman! a lord!
with an archbishop for his brother, and hot-pressed bibles,
and morocco prayer books, and all such excellent helps, to teach him
that "God is love", and "mercy his delight"; that such a one, I say,
should have originated the infernal warfare, of plundering, burning,
and hanging the American patriots, is most HORRIBLE. And yet, if possible,
more true than horrible. Yes, sure as the day of doom, when that fearful day
shall come, and lord Cornwallis, stript of his "brief authority", shall stand,
a trembling ghost before that equal bar: then shall the evil spirit,
from the black budget of his crimes, snatch the following bloody order,
and grinning an insulting smile, flash it before his lordship's
August 18, 1780,
To lieutenant colonel Cruger, commandant at the British garrison
I have given orders that all the inhabitants of this province,
who had submitted, and who have taken a part in this revolt,
shall be punished with the greatest rigour; that they shall be imprisoned,
and their whole property taken from them or destroyed.
I have likewise directed, that compensation should be made
out of their effects, to persons who have been plundered and oppressed
by them. I have ordered, in the most positive manner, that every militia-man
who had borne arms with us, and had afterwards joined the enemy,
should be immediately hanged. I have now sir, only to desire
that you will take the most vigorous measures to extinguish the rebellion
in the district which you command, and that you will obey,
in the strictest manner, the directions I have given in this letter,
relative to the treatment of this country.
This order of lord Cornwallis proved to South Carolina
like the opening of Pandora's box. Instantly there broke forth
a torrent of cruelties and crimes never before heard of in our simple forests.
Lord Rawdon acted, as we shall see, a shameful part in these bloody tragedies,
and so did colonel Tarleton. But the officer who figured most
in executing the detestable orders of Cornwallis, was a major Weymies.
This man was, by birth, a Scotsman; but, in principle and practice, a Mohawk.
So totally destitute was he of that amiable sympathy which belongs
to his nation, that, in sailing up Winyaw bay, and Waccamaw and Pedee rivers,
he landed, and pillaged, and burnt every house he durst approach!
Such was the style of his entry upon our afflicted state,
and such the spirit of his doings throughout: for wherever he went,
an unsparing destruction awaited upon his footsteps.
Unhappily, our country had but too many pupils that fitted exactly
such a preceptor. The lazy, dram-drinking, plunder-loving tories, all gloried
in major Weymies: and were ever ready, at the winding of his horn,
to rush forth with him, like hungry bloodhounds, on his predatory excursions.
The dogs of hell were all now completely uncoupled,
and every devilish passion in man had its proper game to fly at.
Here was a fine time for MALICE to feed her ancient grudges;
for AVARICE to cram her maw with plunder; and REVENGE to pay off
her old scores, with bloody interest.
A thievish tory, who had been publicly whipped by a whig magistrate,
or had long coveted his silver tankard, or his handsome rifle,
or his elegant horse, had but to point out his house to major Weymies,
and say, "There lives a d----d rebel." The amiable major and his myrmidons,
would surround the noble building in a trice; and after gutting it
of all its rich furniture, would reduce it to ashes. It was in vain
that the poor delicate mother and her children, on bended knees,
with wringing hands and tear-swimming eyes implored him to pity,
and not to burn their house over their heads. Such eloquence,
which has often moved the breasts of savages, was all lost
on major Weymies and his banditti. They no more regarded
the sacred cries of angel-watched children than the Indians do
the cries of the young beavers, whose houses they are breaking up.
But, oh, joy eternal! "THE LORD IS KING." His law is love,
and they who sin against this law, soon or late, shall find
that they have sinned against their own souls.
A planter, in his fields, accidentally turning towards his house,
suddenly discovers a vast column of smoke bursting forth,
and ascending in black curling volumes to heaven. "Oh my God! my house!"
he exclaims, "my poor wife and children!" Then, half bereft of his senses,
he sets off and runs towards his house. -- Still, as he cuts the air,
he groans out, "Oh, my poor wife and children!" Presently he hears
their cries: he sees them at a distance with outstretched arms
flying towards him. Oh, pa! pa! pa! his children tremblingly exclaim;
while his wife, all pale and out of breath, falls on his bosom,
and, feebly crying out, "The BRITISH! oh the British," sinks into a swoon.
Who can tell the feelings of the father and the husband! His wife
convulsed in his arms! his little beggared children screaming around him!
and his property all sinking to ruin, by merciless enemies!
Presently his wife, after a strong fit, with a deep sigh, comes to herself;
he wipes her tears; he embraces and hushes his children. By and bye,
supposing the British to be gone, arm in arm the mournful group return.
But ah, shocking sight! their once stately mansion which shone
so beauteous on the plain, the pride and pleasure of their eyes,
is now the prey of devouring flames. Their slaves have all disappeared;
their stock, part is taken away, part lies bleeding in the yard,
stabbed by bayonets; their elegant furniture, tables, glasses, clocks, beds,
all is swallowed up. An army of passing demons could have done no worse.
But while with tearful eye they are looking round on the wide-spread ruin,
undermined by the fire, down comes the tall building with thundering crash
to the ground. The frightened mourners start aghast from the hideous squelch,
and weep afresh to see all the hopes and glories of their state
thus suddenly ended in smoke and ashes.
It was in this way exactly that the British treated my brother,
major Hugh Horry, as brave a soldier as ever fought in America.
They laid in ashes all his dwelling houses, his barns of clean rice,
and even his rice stacks! Destroyed his cattle; carried off eighty negroes,
which were all he had, not leaving him one to bake him a cake.
Thus, in one hour, as the wild Arabs served Job, did the British
serve my poor brother, breaking him up root and branch;
and, from a state of affluence, reduced him to a dunghill.
These savage examples, first set by the British, and followed by the tories,
soon produced the effect which Marion had all along predicted.
They filled the hearts of the sufferers with the deadliest hate
of the British; and brought them, in crowds, to join his standard,
with muskets in their hands, and vows of revenge eternal in their mouths.
Hence it was that nothing so pleased Marion as to hear of British cruelty
to his countrymen.
"'Tis a harsh medicine," he used to say, "but it is necessary;
for there is nothing else that will work them. And unless
they are well worked and scoured of their mother milk,
or beastling partiality to the English, they are lost.
Our country is like a man who has swallowed a mortal poison.
Give him an anodyne to keep him easy, and he's a dead man.
But if you can only knock him about, and so put the poison in motion
as to make him deadly sick at the stomach, and heave like a dog
with a bone in his throat, he is safe. Cornwallis has all this time
been lulling them by his proclamations, and protections, and lies.
But, thank God, that time is pretty well over now;
for these unfeeling monsters, these children of the devil,
have let out the cloven foot, and the thing is now beginning
to work as I expected. Our long deluded people are opening their eyes,
and beginning to see and smell the blood and burnings of that `Tophet',
that political hell of slavery and ruin, to which the British army
is now endeavoring, by murder and rapine, to reduce them."
This was truly the case: for, every day the whigs were coming
into Marion's camp. Those who were too old to fight themselves,
would call upon their sturdy boys to "turn out and join general Marion."
It was diverting to see how they would come staving upon their tackies;
belted round with their powderhorns and shotbags, with rifles in hand,
and their humble homespun streaming in the air. The finely curling smile
brightened in the face of Marion; and his eye beamed that laughing joy,
with which a father meets his thoughtless boy, returning dirty and beaten
by blackguards, from whose dangerous company he had sought in vain
a thousand times to wean him.
"Well, my son!" Marion would say, "and what good news do you bring us?"
"Why, why, why, sir general," replies the youth, half cocked with rage,
and stammering for words, "as I was overlooking my father's negroes
in the rice grounds, the British and tories came and took them
and carried them all away; and I only am left alone to tell you."
Presently another comes and says: "As I was driving the horses and cattle
down to the pasture, the British and tories fell upon them,
and carried them all away; and I alone am left to tell you."
While he was yet speaking, another comes and says: "The British and tories
came with fire and burnt our houses and goods, and have driven
my mother and the children into the woods; and I only am left alone
to tell you."
Next comes another, who says: "My father and myself were ploughing together
in the field, and the British and tories came upon us and shot my father!
and I only am left alone to tell you."
Another comes and tells, that "lord Rawdon is taking the whig prisoners
every week, out of the jail in Camden, and hanging them up by half dozens,
near the windows, like dead crows in a corn-field, to frighten the rest,
and make good tories of them."
Another states, that "colonel Charles Pinckney, prisoner in Charleston,
for striking a couple of insolent negroes, was cursed by the British officers
as a d----d rebel, and driven with kicks and blows into the house,
for daring to strike his `Britannic Majesty's subjects'!"
Here Marion snapped his fingers for joy, and shouted, "Huzza! that's right!
that's right! O my noble Britons, lay on! lay on the spaniels stoutly!
they want British protections, do they? O the rogues! show them no quarter,
but give it to them handsomely! break their backs like dogs!
cut them over the face and eyes like cats! bang them like asses!
thank ye! thank ye, Cornwallis and Rawdon! most noble lords, I thank ye!
you have at last brought the wry face upon my countrymen,
the cold sweat, the sardonic grin. Thank God! the potion begins to work!
huzza, my sons! heave! heave! aye, there comes the bile; the atrabiliary;
the black vomiting which portends death to the enemy. Now Britons,
look to your ships, for Carolina will soon be too hot to hold you."
Colonel Tynes, the famous tory partisan, attempts to surprise Marion --
is himself surprised and taken, with nearly all his party --
the author, with thirty choice cavaliers, sent by Marion to reconnoitre --
defeat of a British party of horse -- anecdote of Scotch Macdonald --
surprise and slaughter of the tories -- captain Lewis is killed --
anecdote of an extraordinary lad.
Soon after this last victory on Pedee, Marion moved down
into the neighborhood of Black river; where he instantly got notice,
that a large body of tories under the celebrated Col. Tynes, were making
great preparations to attack him. This Tynes was a man of valor and address
worthy of a better cause. In several contests with the whigs,
he had handled them very roughly; and was become such a terror
to the friends of liberty in that part of the world, that they were
greatly alarmed on finding that he was mustering all his forces
to attack Marion. We were scarcely encamped, before three expresses arrived
from the whig settlements on Black river, stating colonel Tynes' movements;
and advising to keep a good look out, for that he was
a very artful and dangerous fellow. According to their conjectures,
colonel Tynes must have had no less than one hundred and fifty men:
our number did not quite reach ninety, but they were all volunteers,
and exceedingly chafed and desperate in their minds, by the barbarous usage
of the British and tories. Having, by this day's march of fifty miles,
got within twenty miles of the enemy, who supposed that we
were still on Pedee, Marion instantly resolved to attack him that night.
No sooner was this made known to the troops, than the fatigues of the day
appeared to be entirely forgotten. All hands fell to work,
currying, rubbing and feeding their horses, like young men preparing
for a ball or barbecue. Then after a hearty supper and a few hours' sleep,
we all sprung upon our chargers again, and dashed off about one o'clock,
to try our fortune with colonel Tynes. Just before day,
we came upon the enemy, whom we found buried in sleep. The roar of our guns
first broke their slumbers; and by the time the frightened wretches
had got upon their legs, man and horse, we were among them hewing down.
Three and thirty fell under our swords; forty-six were taken;
the rest, about sixty, made their escape. Colonel Tynes himself,
with upwards of one hundred horses, and all the baggage, fell into our hands.
A day or two after this victory, the general ordered me
to take captain Baxter, lieutenant Postell, and sergeant Macdonald,
with thirty privates, and see if I could not gain some advantage
over the enemy near the lines of Georgetown. About midnight
we crossed Black river; and, pushing on in great silence
through the dark woods, arrived at dawn of day near the enemy's sentries,
where we lay in ambush close on the road. Just after the usual
hour of breakfast, a chair, with a couple of young ladies,
'squired by a brace of British officers elegantly mounted,
came along at a sweeping rate from Georgetown.
They had not passed us more than fifty steps, before they stopped short.
I was confoundedly afraid at first that they had, somehow or other,
smelt a rat; but it turned out, as we afterwards learned,
that this was only a little courting party, going into the country to dine.
On getting into the gloomy woods, the girls were taken with a quaking fit
for their sweethearts, lest that vile "swamp fox", as they called Marion,
should come across them. Whereupon the halt aforesaid was ordered,
and a consultation held; the result of which was, that the girls
should go on to their friend's house, and the officers back to town
for a party of dragoons. Accordingly the chair proceeded, and the officers
galloped back by us, undisturbed; for we did not think it worth while
to risk an alarm for the sake of a couple of officers.
Presently beginning to feel very hungry, for we had travelled all night
and eaten nothing, we agreed to retire to the house of a neighboring planter,
who was known to be a good whig. As we entered the yard, what should we see
but the identical chair that had passed us a little before! --
and on stepping into the house behold the very same young ladies!
They were richly dressed, and well formed, and would no doubt
have appeared handsome, but for the hostile passions which glared
from their eyes, and gave their whole physiognomy a fury-like expression.
They asked us, with great pertness, "what business we had there?
The gentleman of the house," continued they, "is not at home, and there are
no provisions here for you, and to be sure, you are too much of gentlemen
to think of frightening a family of poor helpless women!"
Happily I made no reply; for while these young viragoes were catechising us
at this rate, I discovered with much pleasure, that the lady of the house
did not utter a word, but walked the room backward and forward
with a smiling countenance. Presently she went out; and showing herself
at an opposite window, beckoned me to come to her; when she said,
in a low voice, "Go back into the house, I'll be there directly.
On my stepping in you must demand provisions; I will deny that I have any.
You must then get into a violent passion, and swear you will have them,
or set the house on fire. I will then throw down the keys,
and you can take just what you want; for thank God, there is enough,
both for you and your horses."
Such was the farce, which the whigs in those days, both ladies and gentlemen,
were obliged to play, when they had any of their tory acquaintance about them.
We now played it, and with the desired success; for the troughs in the yard
were all presently filled with corn and fodder for our cavalry;
while for ourselves the good-natured cook wenches soon served up
a most welcome repast of fried bacon and eggs, with nice hearth cakes
and butter and milk. "God be praised," said we; and down we sat, and made
a breakfast, of which even kings, without exercise and keen appetites,
can form no idea.
Just as we had got completely refreshed, and braced up again,
what should we hear but the firing of our sentinels. "To horse! to horse!
my brave fellows!" was the cry of one and all. Quick as thought,
we were all mounted and formed, when in came our sentinels,
with the British dragoons hard after them, smack up to the fence.
Charge boys, charge! was the word. In a moment the yard was bright
with the shining of our swords. The tory girls shrieked out
for their sweethearts -- "Oh the British! the British! murder! murder! Oh!"
Then off we went, all at once, in solid column. The enemy took
to their heels, and we pursued. Over the fence we bounded like stags.
Down the hill went the British. Down the hill went we;
helter-skelter, man and horse, we flew; roaring through the woods
like the sound of distant thunder.
We were all excellently mounted; but there was no horse
that could hold the way with Selim. He was the hindmost of all
when the chase began; and I wondered at first what had become of Selim;
but presently I saw him and Macdonald coming up on my right
like a thundergust. Indeed, with his wide-spread nostrils,
and long extended neck, and glaring eyeballs, he seemed as a flying dragon
in chase of his prey. He soon had his master up with the enemy. I saw
when Macdonald drew his claymore. The shining of his steel was terrible,
as, rising on his stirrups, with high-lifted arm, he waved it three times
in fiery circles over his head, as if to call up all his strength.
Then, with a voice of thunder, he poured his charging shout,
dreadful as the roar of the lion when, close up to his game,
with hideous paws unclenched, he makes his last spring
on the fat buffaloes of his chase.
Though their mortal enemy, I could not but pity the poor fugitives,
for I saw that their death was at hand. One of the British officers
fired a pistol at him, but without effect: before he could try another,
he was cut down by Macdonald. After this, at a blow a piece,
he sealed the eyes of three dragoons in lasting sleep.
Two fell beneath the steel of the strong-handed Snipes; nor did my sword
return bloodless to its scabbard. In short, of the whole party,
consisting of twenty-five, not a man escaped, except one officer, who,
in the heat of the chase and carnage, cunningly shot off, at right angles,
for a swamp, which he luckily gained, and so cleared himself.
The name of this officer was Meriot, and as finished a gentleman he was too,
as I ever saw. I got acquainted with him after the war, at New York.
Soon as the ceremony of introduction was over, he smiled,
and asked if I were not in the skirmish just related? On being answered
in the affirmative, he again inquired, if I did not recollect
how handsomely one of the British officers gave me the slip that day?
I told him I did. "Well," continued he, "I was that officer;
and of all the frights I ever had in my life, that was the most complete.
Will you believe me, sir, when I assure you, that I went out that morning,
with my locks of as bright an auburn as ever curled upon
the forehead of youth; and by the time I had crawled out of the swamp,
into Georgetown, that night, they were as gray as a badger!
I was well nigh taking an oath never to forgive you, during breath,
for frightening me so confoundedly. But, away with all malice!
let it go to the devil, where it belongs. So come, you must go dine with me,
and I'll show you a lovelier woman than either of those that rode
in the chair that day."
I went with him, and was introduced to his wife, a lovely woman indeed!
to whom, with great glee, he related the whole history of the chase,
and his own narrow escape, and then laughed very heartily. But not so
his gentle partner. For, as he told of the shrill whizzing of our swords
close behind him, and of the groans of his dragoons as they fell,
cut down from their horses, her face turned pale, and pensive;
then, looking at him with great tenderness, she heaved a deep sigh,
to think how near her husband had been to death.
Meriot looked with pleasure on the troubled countenance of his lovely wife,
because he well knew the fond source of her troubles. Then, snatching up
a goblet of sangree, richly mantled over with nutmeg, he presented it
to her ruby lips, saying, "Come, my dear, drink, and forget the past!" Then,
taking my hand with great cordiality, he exclaimed, "Well, colonel Horry,
we have been foes, but thank God, we are good friends again.
And now let me drink to you a sentiment of my heart,
`Here's friendship in marble, enmity in dust.'"
The behavior of this noble Englishman, has often served to deepen
my abhorrence of WAR, which too frequently sets those to cutting
each other's throats, who were born to be brothers.
But to return to our story. "Meriot," you'll say, "and his brother officer,
brought `their pigs to a bad market'." Yes, indeed: but not a jot worse
than some of their friends came to the very day afterwards.
On the morning of that day, Marion, now concealed in the swamps,
near Georgetown, was pleased to order me out on a second excursion.
"Take captain Snipes," said he, "with thirty men, and proceed
down the Sandpit road, in quest of the enemy. The moment you discover them,
whether British or tories, charge with spirit, and I'll warrant your success."
As we approached the bridge, still moving on very circumspectly, in the woods,
we discovered at a short distance, a body of horsemen, perhaps a hundred,
apparently in great confusion, and very anxious to form.
Instantly we took the road, and clapping spurs to our horses,
dashed upon them at full speed, at the same time shouting as we rushed on.
The enemy broke and fled in all directions. We pursued.
Then you might have seen the woods all covered with armed men;
some flying, others pursuing; and with muskets, and pistols, and swords,
shooting and cutting down as fast as they could.
From the unevenness of the ground, and rapidity of the charge,
my men were all soon out of sight, leaving with me but a lad of fourteen,
named Gwinn, who carried a musket. At that instant,
a party of nine or ten men were seen advancing, whom I took for whigs,
and challenged as such, asking if they were not friends?
"Friends! O yes!" replied their captain, (one Lewis) "friends to be sure;
friends to king George!"
Quick as thought, off went Gwinn's musket, close by my side,
and down tumbled captain Lewis from his horse, with a heavy squelch,
to the ground. But in the very instant of receiving his death,
his musket, which was raised to kill me, took fire and shot my horse
dead on the spot. Seeing my horse drop, Gwinn dismounted,
and led his horse up to me in a moment.
Happily for us both, captain Snipes heard the report of our pieces,
and thinking that we might be in danger, dashed on to our aid,
with several of my troops whooping and huzzaing as they came on.
The tory party then fired at us, but without effect, and fled
leaving four of Marion's men, whom they had just taken,
and beaten very barbarously with the butts of their muskets.
This was a fatal day to the tories, who must have lost
more than half their number. For I had with me not only Macdonald and Snipes,
but several other very strong and brave men, whose families had suffered
very severely, by British and tory cruelty; and, I am afraid,
they did not forget this, when their swords were hanging
over the heads of the fugitives. At any rate, they took but few prisoners.
In the course of this day's fighting, there happened an affair
which served to amuse us not a little on our return to our camp that night.
The tories, who, from time to time had fallen into our hands,
were often easing their vexation, by saying, that it was true,
"Marion had proved too cunning for colonel Tynes and captain Barfield,
and other British and loyal officers, whom he had attacked;
but that there was still one left behind, who, they were sure,
if he could come forward, would soon show us quite a different sort of play;
and that was colonel Gainey, from the head waters of Pedee."
We answered, that it was all very well; and that we should be glad
to see colonel Gainey. Now, as God was pleased to have it, who should it be,
that with one-third of his number, we had been chasing so to-day,
but colonel Gainey; a stout officer-looking fellow he was too,
and most nobly mounted. Macdonald made a dash at him,
in full confidence of getting a gallant charger. But the good book tells us,
that "the race is not always to the swift;" and owing partly
to the fleetness of his horse, and partly to a most extraordinary
sort of accident, colonel Gainey made his escape from our Scotsman.
The chase was towards Georgetown, distant little more than two miles.
Never on earth did two horses or horsemen make greater exertions.
Fear impelling the one, fury urging the other. Macdonald declared,
that in the chase he had passed several tories whom he could easily
have cut down, but like the lion in pursuit of a favorite buffalo,
he took no notice of them. His eye was fixed on colonel Gainey.
Just as they turned Richmond corner, Selim had brought his master
near enough to his prey to make a stroke at him with his bayonet.
By a sudden jerk, it is supposed, the weapon turned; so that when Macdonald
drew back the carbine, he left the bayonet up to the hilt in his back.
In this way colonel Gainey rode into town, prodigiously to his own
and the mortification of his friends the British and tories.
Spirit of the tories -- assassination of lieutenant Marion --
the murderer murdered -- Marion's reflections on the death of his nephew --
his manner of rewarding extraordinary courage among his men --
sketch of the brave boy Gwinn.
"If mortal hands thy peace destroy,
Or friendship's gifts bestow,
Wilt thou to man ascribe the joy --
To man impute the woe?
'Tis GOD, whose thoughts for wisest ends
The human lots dispose;
Around thee plants assisting friends,
Or heaps chastising foes.
Not from the BOW the deaths proceed,
But from the ARCHER'S skill,
He lends the winged shaft its speed
And gives it power to kill."
And here I must relate a tragical affair that befell us that day,
and which filled us all with grief, because of our beloved general.
I mean the barbarous murder of his nephew. Of all men who ever
drew the sword, Marion was one of the most humane. He not only prevented
all cruelty, in his own presence, but strictly forbade it in his absence.
I have known him to talk for a quarter of an hour together,
with one of his men, for striking over the head, a horse that had started,
and to punish another for taking away from a negro, his ragged chicken.
To reason then like men, one would suppose that he was the last person
on whom such a cruel blow as the murder of a favorite nephew
should have fallen. But thanks to God, for that most comfortable doctrine,
that not even a sparrow can die until his death-warrant has been signed
in heaven; and, since this young man DID die at that time,
there can be no doubt but that was the RIGHT time.
The manner of his death was this. We have told the reader,
that, in the course of this day's fighting, we retook from the tories
four of Marion's Men, whom they had very barbarously beaten
with the butts of their guns. On being asked how they came to fall
into such bad company, they said, that immediately after sending me off,
in the morning, Marion got information that a party of tories
were encamped not far distant, on a plantation of colonel Alston's,
called "The Penns". Captain M---- was despatched to surprise them;
but he played his cards so badly, that, instead of surprising THEM,
they surprised HIM, killed several of his men, and took the others.
Among the prisoners was the general's nephew, lieutenant Gabriel Marion,
of the continentals, who, happening at that time on a visit to his uncle,
turned out a volunteer, and was taken. The tories murdered
several of their unfortunate prisoners in cold blood,
by first beating them over the head with the butts of their muskets,
and then shooting them. They said that lieutenant Marion,
at sight of such horrid scenes, appeared much shocked: and seeing among them
a man who had often been entertained at his uncle's table,
he flew to him for protection, and threw himself into his arms.
The man seemed greatly distressed, and tried hard to save him; but the others
roared out, that "he was one of the breed of that d----d old rebel,"
and that they would have his heart's blood. They, moreover, swore,
with the most horrid oaths, that if the man did not instantly
push young Marion from him, they would blow him through also.
The unfortunate youth being then thrust from the side of his friend,
was immediately destroyed.
I hope the tender mercies of God are so great as not to let our unworthiness
prevent him from always doing what is exactly right and good for us.
We ought not, therefore, to breathe a wish different from
the will and order of Providence. But still, to us, it seems a great pity
we did not get notice of captain M----'s advancing. We could have made
a handsome joint attack of it, and thereby not only have prevented
the horrid murders above related, but have scourged those barbarians,
as they deserved. For we heard the firing, but thought it was
colonel Alston's people killing beeves.
Among the very few prisoners that we made in our last action,
was a mulatto fellow, who was suspected to be one of those who had murdered
the general's nephew. Whether the suspicion was well or ill founded,
I cannot say: but, certain it is, that the indignation excited against him,
on that account, soon proved his destruction. For, as we were crossing
the swamps of Black river that night, an officer rode up to him,
while marching in the line of prisoners under guard, and with a pistol,
shot him dead on the spot. The captain of the guard was instantly sent for,
and severely reprimanded by the general, for not having killed
the author of that savage deed.
It was said the officer had offered a bottle of rum to have the mulatto shot,
but, finding none that would do it, he did it himself. I do not give this
as a fact, but, I know it was the talk in camp, though carefully kept
from the general, as everybody knew it would have given him great pain.
He often said, "he truly lamented the untimely death of his nephew;
and that he had been told, that this poor man was his murderer.
But that, as a prisoner, his life ought to have been held most sacred;
especially as the charge against him was without evidence, and, perhaps,
no better than conjecture. As to my nephew," continued he,
"I believe he was cruelly murdered: but living virtuously, as he did,
and then dying fighting for the rights of man, he is, no doubt, happy:
and this is my comfort."
The next day Marion ordered the troops under arms, and formed them
into a large circle, all fronting the centre. While we were wondering
what could be the meaning of this strange manoeuvre, a sergeant was seen
leading into the circle an elegant horse, under saddle and bridle,
with portmanteau, sword, pistols, and musket. This was the horse,
furniture, and arms of captain Lewis, whom the lad Gwinn,
so fortunately for me, had killed in the action three days before.
Marion then called Gwinn from the ranks.
The boy approached him with his hat off.
The general, placing his hand upon his head, in the presence
of the whole squadron, pronounced him "a brave little man; and there,"
pointing to the horse and furniture, "there is the reward of your gallantry."
"Gwinn, sir," said I, "is not a good soldier, he fired without orders."
"That's very true," replied he, "but I am sure, colonel,
you are the last that ought to blame me, on that account;
for if I had not fired and killed captain Lewis, exactly as I did,
he would have killed you; and besides, his saying he was
the friend of GEORGE THE THIRD, was enough for ME; I did not think
I could fire too quick on such a man as that."
But when the sergeant, at the order of Marion, led up to him the horse,
richly furnitured, as aforesaid, the confusion and grimace of the lad
were truly diverting. He blushed, he chuckled, he looked around and around
upon his comrades, as if at a loss how to contain himself, or what to do.
At length he made shift to reach out his hand to the bridle,
though deeply blushing, and said, "Dear me now! well la!
what will mammy think, and the children, when they come to see me,
riding up here on this famous horse, and all these fine things!
I know well enough how mammy will have a hearty cry, that's what she will;
for she will think I STOLED him. But if any of the folks up our way
should go to jaw about me, at that rate, I trust as how, general,
you will take my part, and set 'em straight."
Marion smiled, and commended him for a good boy, and told him
to give his compliments to his mother, and also his thanks to her,
for being such a true mother to her children, in bringing them up so honestly.
But the general was told the next day, that Gwinn had said,
"he always hated the tories, because they would not fight for their country;
and, since the general had paid him so well for killing one of them,
he was determined to try if he could not kill more."
And he did kill more too, I'll warrant him, for he was with us
to the end of the war, in many a hard brush. And then he was such a dead shot
with a rifle! Standing, running, or flying, it was all one to Gwinn.
He would make nothing, at a hundred yards, to stop you a buck, at full tilt
through the woods, as hard as he could crack it; and at every clip,
to bring down the squirrels from the tops of the tallest trees of the forest.
Mutiny in our camp -- Marion suppresses it -- his address to the officers.
This war, though on our part a war of virtue, was not always so pleasant
as might have been expected. Instances of human weakness often occurred
to disturb our harmony, and fill good men's hearts with sorrow.
For how, without grief, could we behold a man fighting by our side to-day
like a hero, for the rights of bleeding humanity; to-morrow,
like a headstrong child, or a headlong beast, trampling them under foot!
And oh! how sad to see nature's goodliest gifts, of manly size, and strength,
and courage, set off, too, in the proudest ornaments of war,
the fierce cocked hat, the flaming regimentals, and golden shoulder-knots,
all defeated of their power to charm, nay, all turned into pity and contempt,
in consequence of our knowing the owners to be gamblers, swindlers,
Such was the truly pitiable case of some, in this our glorious war of liberty.
For want of a good education, I mean the early precepts of virtue,
from a parent's lips, with a few excellent books, to lift the noble kindlings
of the soul, the flame could not ascend to what was heavenly and just;
but with inverted point, struck downward to selfishness and vice.
Men of this character, though enlisted in the war of liberty,
were not her soldiers, felt not her enthusiasm, nor her consolations.
They did not walk the camp, glorying in themselves, as men called
to the honor of humbling the tyrant, and of establishing
the golden reign of equal laws, in their own dear country,
and thence, perhaps over all the earth. Alas! no! strangers to
these divine views and wishes, they look no higher than sordid gain!
and as there was but little of that reward to be had, they were often
gloomy and low spirited. "Their life," they were wont murmuringly to say,
"was wearing away; their country gave them nothing, and they must e'en
try to do something for themselves."
In truth, PLUNDER, PLUNDER, was what they were spelling for. They were
continually darting their greedy eyes upon every piece of merchandise
that came in their way. They had the heart not only to plunder the tories,
and to bring their unoffending children to want; but also to rob and ruin
their own friends the whigs, if they could but do it with impunity.
I am led to these reflections by a most shameful affair,
which happened in our camp about this time, and which threatened consequences
as serious as their source was shameful.
We were encamped near the house of a rich man by the name of Cross. His wife,
in sense and domestic virtues, was an Abigail; while as to her husband,
his riches, though great, were his least recommendation,
for he possessed all the generosity and honor of the noblest patriot.
His soul delighted in Marion, whom he called the `pillar of our cause'.
Oft as he took leave of us, for battle, his bosom would heave,
his visage swell, and the tear would start into his eye.
And when he saw us return again, loaded with the spoils of victory,
he would rush to meet us, with all a brother's transports on his face.
His flocks and herds, his meat-houses and corn-fields, were all our own;
while his generous looks would tell us that he still wished for more to give.
Indeed, often at the most imminent risk of his life,
he used to send us intelligence, and also furnish us with powder and ball.
But this most amiable of men, was not permitted to see our cause triumphant;
for in the midst of his sighs and tears for his struggling country,
God took him to his own rest. The messenger of death came to him,
in the character of a nervous fever. As the physicians
did not like to visit him on his plantation, he was carried into Georgetown
to be near them.
Marion went to see him the morning he set out; and immediately after
his departure, fixed a guard at his house, that nothing might be disturbed.
One would indeed have supposed it unnecessary to place a guard over such
a house as his. But alas! what will not a base heart-hardening avarice do!
And I blush while I relate, that, the very day after our generous friend
was carried off, pale and hollow-eyed, to Georgetown,
whence he never more returned, two of our officers, one of them a MAJOR,
went to his house to pillage it!
The guard, of course, opposed: but they damned him for
an "impertinent rascal", and swore that if he opened his mouth again,
they would spit him on the spot. Then bursting the door, they went in,
and after forcing the desks, drawers, and trunks, they rifled them
of whatever they wanted.
This most unsoldierly and detestable transaction was communicated to me
by Mrs. Cross herself; whose servant came to me next morning
with her compliments, and requested that I would go down to her,
where she was sitting in her carriage at the road. I waited on her at once;
and greatly to my grief, found her in tears. I entreated to know the cause.
"Oh, sir," replied she, "we are ruined! we are ruined! Poor Mr. Cross is,
I fear, on his deathbed. And then what will become of me
and my poor children, when he is gone, and every thing is taken from us!"
She then reminded me of her husband's love to general Marion and his people,
from whom he withheld nothing, but gladly imparted of all he had,
though often at the risk of his utter destruction from the British and tories.
"And yet, after all," said she, "soon as my poor sick husband's back
is turned, your people can go and break him up!"
"Madam," I replied, "I hope 'tis no offence to ask your pardon;
for I really cannot admit a suspicion so disgraceful to our troop:
and to my certain knowledge, general Marion placed a guard over your house
the moment Mr. Cross left it."
"Yes, sir," said she, "that's very true. And it was like general Marion.
But some of our officers have forced the guard and broken open the house,
and this instant I saw one of them with Mr. Cross's sword by his side."
I never felt more mortified in my life. Then, after entreating her
to be perfectly easy about her house and furniture in future,
I took leave of this excellent lady, and flew to the guard
to see if what I had heard were true.
He told me it was too true; mentioned the names of the officers;
and even went so far as to show me one of them strutting about
with the sword by his side!
It was well for the wretch, that I did not possess the eyes of a basilisk,
for I should certainly have blasted him on the spot. Pausing, however,
one salutary moment, to confirm myself in the love of virtue,
by noting how abominable a villain looks, I hasted to the general
with the hateful tale; which excited in his honest bosom the indignation
which I had expected. Then calling one of his aids, he said,
"Go to major ----, and desire him to send me Mr. Cross's sword immediately."
The aid was presently back, but without the sword. On being asked
by the general, why he had not brought it, he replied; "The major says, sir,
that the sword does not belong to Mr. Cross. He says, moreover,
that if you want the sword, you must go for it yourself."
"Well, go back," said the general, "and desire those two officers
to come to me."
It was not for such an affair as this to be kept secret.
It took wind in a moment; and by the time the two officers were arrived,
almost all the field officers had come together to the general's quarters,
to see how he would act on this extraordinary occasion.
Inferring from the looks of the two culprits, that they meant
to test his firmness; and, willing that the company should fully understand
the merits of the case, he thus addressed us:
"You well know, gentlemen," said he, "how like a brother
the proprietor of this plantation has always treated us.
We never gained a victory, but it caused him tears of joy;
and however starved by others, by him we have ever been feasted.
You also know, that he is now gone, sick, to Georgetown --
there, perhaps, to die. Soon as he left us, I placed a guard over his house;
but, at the same time, blushed for the reflection cast on my men;
all of whom, as I thought, would, instead of robbing, have defended it
with their lives. But, equally to my astonishment and grief,
I find I was mistaken. Yes, gentlemen, our friend has been robbed,
not by the poor untutored privates in the ranks, but by my OFFICERS!
by those who ought to have ABHORRED such an act! Yes, gentlemen,
two of our brethren in arms -- two of our officers -- forgetting what
they owed to you, what they owed to me, and, most of all,
to their country and to themselves, have done this odious deed!
And one of them (here he pointed to the major) now wears by his side
the sword of our sick and injured friend.
"Well knowing that all men, even the best, have too often `done those things
which they ought not to have done,' I felt it my duty to be as tender
with this gentleman as possible; and therefore, sent him a polite request
that he would return the sword: to which he was pleased to reply,
that `if I wanted it, I must come and take it myself.' Still wishing
to settle the affair in a way as much to his credit as possible,
I sent for him to come to me. And now, sir, (addressing the major)
I entreat of you, for the last time, to give me up that sword."
With great rudeness he swore he would not. Instantly every face was dark:
and, biting his lip with rage, each officer laid his hand upon his sword
and looked to the general. One word, nay, one assenting LOOK,
and the brute would have been hewed into mincemeat in a moment.
For my own part, whether I felt more, or governed myself less than the rest,
I cannot say: but looking to the general, I broke out with an oath,
that if I commanded as he did, I would have that fellow hung in five minutes.
"This is no business of yours, sir," replied he, rather sternly;
"they are now before me."
Then looking at the major, still with great benignity, he said --
"And do you really mean, sir, not to give me up that sword?"
"Sir, I will not!" replied the major.
"Sergeant of the guard!" said the general, "bring me instantly
a file of soldiers!"
Upon this, the major's colleague, who stood by, was seen to touch him.
Seeing the guard coming up with their naked weapons, and much anger
in their looks, the major lost his courage, turned pale,
and, in a sadly altered tone, whined out, "General, you needed not
to have called in the guard. I will deliver up the sword. Here it is."
"No, sir, I will not accept it at your hands. Give it to the sergeant."
To this humiliating order, with much shame and blushing,
the poor major was constrained to comply.
Thus, happily, were extinguished the first sparks of a mutiny,
which, it was once thought, would have broken out into a dangerous flame.
The cool, dispassionate address which effected this, did not fail
to produce a proper impression on us all. This the general
easily perceived in our looks; and thereupon, as was common with him,
when any such occasion served, he arose and addressed us,
in, as nearly as I can recollect, the following words:
"When, gentlemen, shall we catch the spirit of our profession;
the spirit of men fighting for a republic, a commonwealth of brothers!
that government most glorious, where God alone is king!
that government most pleasant, where men make and obey their own laws!
and that government most prosperous, where men, reaping as they sow,
feel the utmost stimulus to every virtue that can exalt
the human character and condition! This government, the glory of the earth,
has ever been the desire of the wise and good of all nations.
For this, the Platos of Greece, the Catos of Rome, the Tells of Switzerland,
the Sidneys of England, and the Washingtons of America,
have sighed and reasoned, have fought and died. In this grand army,
gentlemen, we are now enlisted; and are combatting under the same banners
with those excellent men of the earth. Then let self-gratulation
gladden our every heart, and swell each high-toned nerve.
With such worthies by our sides, with such a CAUSE before our eyes,
let us move on with joy to the battle and charge like the honored
champions of God and of human rights. But, in the moment of victory,
let the supplicating enemy find us as lovely in mercy, as we are terrible
in valor. Our enemies are blind. They neither understand nor desire
the happiness of mankind. Ignorant, therefore, as children,
they claim our pity for themselves. And as to their widows and little ones,
the very thought of them should fill our souls with tenderness.
The crib that contains their corn, the cow that gives them milk,
the cabin that shelters their feeble heads from the storm,
should be sacred in our eyes. Weak and helpless, as they are,
still they are the nurslings of heaven -- our best intercessors
with the Almighty. Let them but give us their blessings, and I care not
how much the British curse. Let their prayers ascend up before God
in our behalf, and Cornwallis and Tarleton shall yet flee before us,
like frightened wolves before the well armed shepherds!"
Such were the words of Marion, in the day when he saw in our looks,
that our hearts were prepared for instruction. And such was the epilogue
to the mutiny. The satisfaction which it gave to the officers
was so general and sincere, that I often heard them say afterwards,
that since the mutiny was suppressed, they were glad it happened;
for it had given them an opportunity to hear a lecture,
which they hoped would make them better men and braver soldiers too,
as long as they lived.
About this time we received a flag from the enemy in Georgetown;
the object of which was, to make some arrangements about
the exchange of prisoners. The flag, after the usual
ceremony of blindfolding, was conducted into Marion's encampment.
Having heard great talk about general Marion, his fancy had, naturally enough,
sketched out for him some stout figure of a warrior, such as O'Hara
or Cornwallis himself, of martial aspect and flaming regimentals.
But what was his surprise, when, led into Marion's presence,
and the bandage taken from his eyes, he beheld in our hero,
a swarthy, smoke-dried little man, with scarce enough of threadbare homespun
to cover his nakedness! and in place of tall ranks, of gaily dressed soldiers,
a handful of sunburnt yellow-legged militia-men; some roasting potatoes
and some asleep, with their black firelocks and powder-horns
lying by them on the logs! Having recovered a little from his surprise,
he presented his letter to general Marion; who perused it,
and soon settled everything to his satisfaction.
The officer took up his hat to retire.
"Oh no!" said Marion; "it is now about our time of dining; and I hope, sir,
you will give us the pleasure of your company to dinner."
At mention of the word `dinner', the British officer looked around him;
but to his great mortification, could see no sign of a pot, pan, Dutch-oven,
or any other cooking utensil that could raise the spirits of a hungry man.
"Well, Tom," said the general to one of his men, "come, give us our dinner."
The dinner to which he alluded, was no other than a heap of sweet potatoes,
that were very snugly roasting under the embers, and which Tom,
with his pine stick poker, soon liberated from their ashy confinement;
pinching them, every now and then, with his fingers, especially the big ones,
to see whether they were well done or not. Then having
cleansed them of the ashes, partly by blowing them with his breath,
and partly by brushing them with the sleeve of his old cotton shirt,
he piled some of the best on a large piece of bark, and placed them
between the British officer and Marion, on the trunk of the fallen pine
on which they sat.
"I fear, sir," said the general, "our dinner will not prove
so palatable to you as I could wish; but it is the best we have."
The officer, who was a well bred man, took up one of the potatoes
and affected to feed, as if he had found a great dainty;
but it was very plain, that he ate more from good manners than good appetite.
Presently he broke out into a hearty laugh. Marion looked surprised.
"I beg pardon, general," said he: "but one cannot, you know,
always command his conceits. I was thinking how drolly
some of my brother officers would look, if our government were to give them
such a bill of fare as this."
"I suppose," replied Marion, "it is not equal to their style of dining."
"No, indeed," quoth the officer; "and this, I imagine,
is one of your accidental lent dinners; a sort of a `ban yan'.
In general, no doubt, you live a great deal better."
"Rather worse," answered the general: "for often we don't get
enough of this."
"Heavens!" rejoined the officer. "But probably, what you lose in meal
you make up in malt; though stinted in provisions, you draw noble pay?"
"Not a cent, sir," said Marion, "not a cent."
"Heavens and earth! then you must be in a bad box. I don't see, general,
how you can stand it."
"Why, sir," replied Marion, with a smile of self-approbation,
"these things depend on feeling."
The Englishman said, he "did not believe that it would be an easy matter
to reconcile his feelings to a soldier's life on general Marion's terms;
all fighting and no pay! and no provisions but potatoes!"
"Why, sir," answered the general, "the heart is all; and, when that
is much interested, a man can do any thing. Many a youth would think it hard
to indent himself a slave for fourteen years. But let him be
over head and ears in love, and with such a beauteous sweetheart as Rachael,
and he will think no more of fourteen years' servitude than young Jacob did.
Well, now, this is exactly my case. I am in love; and my sweetheart
is LIBERTY. Be that heavenly nymph my companion, and these wilds and woods
shall have charms beyond London and Paris in slavery.
To have no proud monarch driving over me with his gilt coaches;
nor his host of excise-men and tax-gatherers insulting and robbing me;
but to be my own master, my own prince and sovereign, gloriously preserving
my national dignity, and pursuing my true happiness; planting my vineyards,
and eating their luscious fruits; and sowing my fields,
and reaping the golden grain: and seeing millions of brothers all around me,
equally free and happy as myself. This, sir, is what I long for."
The officer replied, that both as a man and a Briton, he must certainly
subscribe to this as a happy state of things.
"Happy!" quoth Marion; "yes, happy indeed! and I had rather fight
for such blessings for my country, and feed on roots, than keep aloof,
though wallowing in all the luxuries of Solomon. For now, sir,
I walk the soil that gave me birth, and exult in the thought
that I am not unworthy of it. I look upon these venerable trees around me,
and feel that I do not dishonor them. I think of my own sacred rights,
and rejoice that I have not basely deserted them. And when I look forward
to the long ages of posterity, I glory in the thought that I am fighting
their battles. The children of distant generations may never hear my name;
but still it gladdens my heart to think that I am now contending
for their freedom, and all its countless blessings."
I looked at Marion as he uttered these sentiments, and fancied I felt
as when I heard the last words of the brave De Kalb. The Englishman
hung his honest head, and looked, I thought, as if he had seen
the upbraiding ghosts of his illustrious countrymen, Sidney and Hampden.
On his return to Georgetown, he was asked by colonel Watson,
why he looked so serious?
"I have cause, sir," said he, "to look serious."
"What! has general Marion refused to treat?"
"Well, then, has old Washington defeated sir Henry Clinton,
and broke up our army?"
"No, sir, not that neither; but WORSE."
"Ah! what can be worse?"
"Why, sir, I have seen an American general and his officers, without pay,
and almost without clothes, living on roots and drinking water;
and all for LIBERTY! What chance have we against such men!"
It is said colonel Watson was not much obliged to him for this speech.
But the young officer was so struck with Marion's sentiments,
that he never rested until he threw up his commission,
and retired from the service.
"Ah brandy! brandy! bane of life,
Spring of tumult -- source of strife:
Could I but half thy curses tell,
The wise would wish thee safe at hell."
Curious and Instructive Anecdotes.
That great poet, John Milton, who seems to have known him well,
assures us that the devil was the inventor of gunpowder.
But, for my own part, were I in the humor to ascribe any particular invention
to the author of all evil, it should be that of distilling apple-brandy.
We have scripture for it, that he began his capers with the apple; then,
why not go on with the brandy, which is but the fiery juice of the apple?
At any rate, I am pretty sure I shall hardly ever be able to think of it again
with tolerable patience, as long as I live. For, it was that vile
filthy poison that cut me out of one of the finest plumes that I ever expected
to feather my cap with.
The case stands briefly thus. I have told the reader, that Marion
surprised and captured the celebrated tory partisan, colonel Tynes,
after killing the major part of his men. For safe keeping,
he was sent into North Carolina; whence he made his escape --
got back into the forests of Black river, and collected a stout force
to try his fortune a second time with Marion.
But, getting knowledge of the thing, Marion made one of his forced marches,
fell upon him, unawares, and broke him up worse than before;
killing and taking his whole party. Tynes was sent again to North Carolina;
whence he contrived again to make his escape; and, returning to
his old haunts, soon rallied a formidable force, for a third trial.
This news was soon brought to general Marion, who thereupon,
desired me to take forty of our best cavaliers, and see if we
could not scourge colonel Tynes once more.
About sunset we mounted, and travelled hard all that night
and until the middle of next day, when we halted, for refreshment,
at the house of one who was truly a "publican and sinner",
for he was a great TORY.
Not knowing what secret intelligence the man might convey to the enemy,
who were but fifteen miles off, I had him taken up and put under guard.
We then got dinner, for which we honorably paid the poor woman his wife.
And now comes my woeful story. While, after dinner, I was busily employed
in catechising my prisoner, how should the devil be employed,
but in tempting my men with the distilled juice of the apple? Having,
by some ill luck, found out that there was a barrel of it in the house,
they hastened to the poor landlady, who not only gave them
a full dose for the present, but filled their bottles and canteens.
As we pushed on, after dinner, in high spirits, for the enemy,
I could not but remark how constantly the men were turning up their canteens.
"What the plague have you got there, boys," said I, "that you are
so eternally drinking."
"Water! sir, water! nothing but water!" The rogues were drinking brandy
all the time; but, by way of whipping the devil round the stump,
they called it `water'! that is, `apple water'.
Presently, finding, from their gaiety and frolicksomeness,
what they had been after, I ordered a halt, and set myself to harangue them
for such unsoldierly conduct. But I might as well have talked
to a troop of drunken Yahoos. For, some of them grinned in my face
like monkeys; others looked as stupid as asses; while the greater part
chattered like magpies; each boasted what a clever fellow he was,
and what mighty things he could do, yet reeling all the time, and scarcely
able to sit his horse. Indeed our guide, a fat jolter-headed fellow,
fetching one of his heavy lee lurches, got so far beyond his perpendicular,
that he could not right again; but fell off, and came to the ground
as helpless as a miller's bag. In short, among my whole corps
there was but one sober man, and that was captain Neilson.
It is not for language to express one thousandth part of my
mortification and rage. To have made such an extraordinary march,
and at the head of such choice fellows too; to have come almost
within sight of the enemy; an enemy that I was eager to humble,
and which would have yielded me so complete and glorious a victory;
and yet to have lost all so shamefully: and thus like a fool
to be sent back to my general, with my finger in my mouth,
was, indeed, almost beyond endurance. But I was obliged to endure it.
For, to have led my men into action, in that condition,
would have been no better than murdering them. And to have kept them there
until they could have cooled off, was utterly out of the question.
For there was not a family in that whole district that would,
with their good will, have given us an hour's repose, or a morsel of bread.
I therefore instantly ordered a retreat, which was made
with all the noise and irregularity that might have been expected
from a troop of drunkards, each of whom mistaking himself
for commander in chief, gave orders according to his own mad humor;
and whooped and halloed at such a rate, that I verily believed,
no bull-drivers ever made half the racket.
That we should have obtained a most complete victory, is very certain.
For in a few days after this, we laid hands upon some of those
very same tories, who stated, that in consequence of the noise
which we made that night, colonel Tynes despatched some of his cavalry
up the road next morning, to see what was the matter.
On coming to the spot, where I had vainly endeavored to form my drunken dogs,
they found on the ground some of our plumes, which colonel Tynes no sooner saw
than he bawled out, "Marion! Marion!" then, leaping on their horses,
off they went, whip and spur.
"Well, where is colonel Tynes?" said the general, as I entered his presence.
This was the question which I had expected, and, indeed,
blushed for the answer. But after hearing my doleful story,
he replied with his usual philosophy: "Well, you did right to retreat;
but pray keep a careful eye on the apple water next time."
But to give the devil his due, I must confess there was one instance,
in which I thought some good was done by brandy. This was in
the case of captain Snipes and his command, which by way of farce
to my own tragedy, I beg leave to relate.
Hearing of a tory camp-meeting not far distant, Marion despatched
the brave captain Snipes with a party to chastise them. They had scarcely
got upon the tory cruising-ground, before, at a short turn in the road,
they came full butt upon a large body of horsemen. Supposing them
to be tories, Snipes instantly gave the word to charge;
himself leading the way with his usual impetuosity. The supposed tories,
wheeling about, took to the sands, and went off, as hard as their horses
could stave; and thus, crack and crack, they had it for about two miles.
Finding that Snipes was gaining upon them, the runagates began
to lighten themselves of every thing they could spare, and the road
was presently strewed with blankets and knapsacks. One of them, it seems,
carried a five gallon keg of brandy, which he could not think of parting with;
and being well mounted, he stood a good pull for the two first miles.
But, finding he was dropping astern very fast, he slyly cut
the straps of his mail pillion, and so let his keg, brandy and all
go by the run, over his horse's rump. Captain Snipes, who led the chase,
found no difficulty in passing the keg: but his men coming up instantly,
broached to, all standing; for they could no more pass by a keg of brandy,
than young monkeys could pass a basket of apples.
Snipes cursed and raved like a madman, but all in vain:
for they swore they must have a dram. While they were devising ways and means
how to get into the keg, the supposed tories, now a good distance ahead,
came to a halt, and their captain fortunately reflecting that
their pursuers might not be enemies, sent back a flag. The result was,
the very joyful discovery, that the owners of the keg were good whigs
coming to join general Marion. Thus, to a moral certainty,
this keg of brandy was made, of kind heaven, the happy means of preventing
much bloodshed that day.
Having given two cases of brandy, the one good, the other bad,
I will now give a third, which the reader, if he pleases,
may call indifferent, and which runs as follows.
General Marion, still encamped in the neighborhood of Georgetown,
ordered captain Withers to take sergeant Macdonald, with four volunteers,
and go on the enemy's lines to see what they were doing. On approaching
the town, they met an old tory; one of your half-witted fellows,
whom neither side regarded any more than a Jew does a pig,
and therefore suffered him to stroll when and where he pleased.
The old man knew captain Withers very well; and as soon as he had got
near enough to recollect him, he bawled out, "God's mercy, master Withers!
why, where are you going this course?"
"Going, old daddy! why to the devil, perhaps," replied Withers.
"Well faith! that's like enough, captain," said the old man,
"especially if you keep on this tack much longer. But before you go
any further, suppose you take a pull with me of this,"
holding up a stout tickler of brandy, "mayhap you may not get such good liquor
where you are going."
"With all my heart, daddy," answered Withers, and twigg'd the tickler
to the tune of a deep dram: and passed it on to Macdonald,
who also twigg'd it, "and Tom twigg'd it, and Dick twigg'd it,
and Harry twigg'd it, and so they all twigg'd it." In the mean time
the chat went round very briskly, and dram after dram, the brandy,
until the tickler was drained to the bottom. And then the subtle
spirit of the brandy, ascending into their noddles, worked such wonders,
that they all began to feel themselves as big as field officers.
Macdonald, for his part, with a face as red as a comet, reined up Selim,
and drawing his claymore, began to pitch and prance about,
cutting and slashing the empty air, as if he had a score of enemies
before him, and ever and anon, roaring out -- "Huzza, boys!
damme, let's charge!"
"Charge, boys! charge!" cried all the rest, reining up their horses,
and flourishing their swords.
"Where the plague are you going to charge?" asked the old tory.
"Why, into Georgetown, right off," replied they.
"Well, you had better have a care, boys, how you charge there,
for I'll be blamed if you do not get yourselves into business pretty quick:
for the town is chock full of red coats."
"Red coats!" one and all they roared out, "red coats! egad, that's just
what we want. Charge, boys! charge! huzza for the red coats, damme!"
Then, clapping spurs to their steeds, off went these six young mad-caps,
huzzaing and flourishing their swords, and charging at full tilt,
into a British garrison town of three hundred men!!
The enemy supposing that this was only our advance, and that general Marion,
with his whole force, would presently be upon them, flew with all speed
to their redoubt, and there lay, as snug as fleas in a sheep-skin.
But all of them were not quite so lucky, for several were overtaken
and cut down in the streets, among whom was a sergeant major,
a stout greasy fellow, who strove hard to waddle away with his bacon;
but Selim was too quick for him: and Macdonald, with a back-handed
stroke of his claymore, sent his frightened ghost to join the MAJORITY.
Having thus cleared the streets, our young troopers then called
at the houses of their friends; asked the news; and drank their grog
with great unconcern.
The British, after having for some time vainly looked for Marion,
began to smell the trick, and in great wrath sallied forth for vengeance.
Our adventurers then, in turn, were fain to scamper off
as fast as they had made the others before, but with better success;
for though hundreds of muskets were fired after them,
they got clear without receiving a scratch.
But nothing ever so mortified the British, as did this mad frolic.
"That half a dozen d--n-d young rebels," they said, "should thus dash in
among us in open daylight, and fall to cutting and slashing the king's troops
at this rate. And after all, to gallop away without the least harm
in hair or hide. 'Tis high time to turn our bayonets into pitch forks,
and go to foddering the cows."
History of captain Snipes -- wanton destruction of his property
by the tories -- his own miraculous escape -- admirable fidelity
of his negro driver Cudjo.
Captain Snipes, who made such a figure in the wars of Marion,
was a Carolinian, of uncommon strength and courage; both of which he exerted
with great good will, against the British and tories; from principle partly,
and partly from revenge. But though a choice soldier, he was no philosopher.
He did not consider that to fight for duty, people must love it;
that to love it, they must understand it; that to understand it,
they must possess letters and religion: that the British and tories,
poor fellows! possessing neither of these, were not to have been expected
to act any other than the savage and thievish part they did act;
and therefore, no more to be hated for it than the cats are
for teasing the canary birds.
But captain Snipes had no turn for investigations of this sort.
Knowledge, by intuition, was all that he cared for; and having it,
by instinct, that an "Englishman ought never to fight against liberty,"
nor an "American against his own country," he looked on them,
to use his own phrase, as a "pack of d--n-d rascals,
whom it was doing God service to kill wherever he could find them."
But Snipes was not the aggressor. He kept in, very decently,
till the enemy began to let out, as they did, in plundering, burning,
and hanging the poor whigs; and then, indeed, like a consuming fire,
his smothered hate broke forth:
"That hate which hurled to Pluto's gloomy reign
The souls of royal slaves untimely slain."
Afraid, in fair fight, to meet that sword which had so often
shivered their friends, they determined to take him as the Philistines
did Samson, by surprise; and having learned from their spies,
that he was at home, they came upon him in force about midnight.
His complete destruction, both of life and property, was their horrid aim.
Happily, his driver, or black overseer, overheard their approach;
and flying to his master with terror-struck looks, cries out
"Run! run! massa, run! de enemy 'pon you."
Snipes, stark naked, save his shirt, darted out as swift as his legs
could carry him.
"But where shall I run, Cudjo? into the barn?"
"Oh no, massa! dey burn de barn, dat sure ting!"
"Well, where shall I run then?"
"Take de bush massa! take de briar bush."
Within fifty yards of the house was a clump of briers, so thick set,
that one would have thought a frightened cat would scarcely
have squeezed herself into it from the hot pursuing dogs.
But what will not fear enable a man to do? Captain Snipes,
big as he was, slipped into it with the facility of a weasel through
the chinks of a chicken-coop; but lost every thread and thrumb of his shirt;
and moreover, got his hide so scratched and torn by the briers,
that the blood trickled from him fast as gravy from a fat green goose.
Scarcely had he gained his hiding-place, before the tories, with horrid oaths,
burst into his house, with their guns cocked, ready to shoot him.
But oh! death to their hopes! he was gone: the nest was there, and warm,
but the bird was flown!
Then seizing poor Cudjo by the throat, they bawled out: "You d----d rascal,
where's your master?"
He told them he did not know.
"You lie! you black son of a b-t-h! you lie."
But he still asserted he knew nothing of his master.
Suspecting that he must be in some one or other of his buildings,
they set fire to them all; to his dwelling house, his kitchen, his stables,
and even his negro cabins, watching all the while, with their muskets ready
to shoot him as he ran out. From their nearness to his lurking place,
the heat of his burning houses was so intense as to parch his skin
into blisters. But it was death to stir, for he would certainly
have been seen.
Not having made the discovery they so much wished, they again seized Cudjo;
and, with their cocked pieces at his breast, swore if he did not instantly
tell them where his master was, they would put him to death.
He still declared he did not know where he was.
Then they clapped a halter round his neck, and told him to "down on his knees,
and say his prayers at once, for he had but two minutes to live!"
He replied, that he "did not want to say his prayers NOW,
for that he was no thief, and had always been a true slave to his master."
This fine sentiment of the poor black was entirely lost
on our malignant whites; who, throwing the end of the halter
over the limb of an oak, tucked him up as though he had been a mad dog.
He hung till he was nearly dead; when one of them called out,
"D--n him, cut him down, I'll be bound he'll tell us now."
Cudjo was accordingly cut down; and, as soon as a little recovered,
questioned again about his master. But he still declared
he knew nothing of him. He was then hoisted a second time;
and a second time, when nearly dead, cut down and questioned as before:
but still asserted his ignorance. The same inhuman part was acted on him
a third time, but with no better success; for the brave fellow still continued
faithful to his master, who squatted and trembled in his place of torment,
his brier bush, and saw and heard all that was passing.
Persuaded now that Cudjo really knew nothing of his master, they gave up
the shameful contest, and went off, leaving him half dead on the ground,
but covered with glory.
It is not easy to conceive a situation more severely torturing
than this of captain Snipes. His house, with all his furniture,
his kitchen, his barn and rice-stacks, his stables, with several fine horses,
and his negro houses, all wrapped in flames; himself scorched and blistered
with the furious heat, yet not daring to stir; his retreat well known
to a poor slave; and that slave alone, in the hands of an enraged banditti,
with their muskets at his breast, imprecating the most horrid curses
on themselves, if they did not instantly murder him unless he disclosed
the secret! What had he to expect of this poor slave,
but that he would sink under the dreadful trial, and to save himself
would sacrifice his master. But Snipes was safe. To discover
his hiding-place, death stared his slave in the face, but, happily,
his slave possessed for him that "love which is stronger than death."
Captain Snipes and his man Cudjo had been brought up from childhood together;
and the father of our hero being a professor of Christianity,
a Baptist preacher, whose main excellence is "to teach little children
to love one another," had taken great pains to inspire his son
with love towards his little slave. Nor did that love pass unrequited.
For Cudjo used every day to follow his young master to school,
carrying his basket for him, prattling as he went; and smiling,
would remind him of the coming Saturday, and what fine fishing and hunting
they would have that day. Many a time had they wrestled,
and slept side by side on the green; and thence springing up again
with renovated strength, set out in full march for some favorite fruit tree,
or some cooling pond, there to swim and gambol in the refreshing flood.
And when the time of dinner came, Cudjo was not scornfully left
to sigh and to gnaw his nails alone, but would play and sing about the door
till his young master was done, and then he was sure to receive
a good plate full for himself. LOVE, thus early ingrafted on his heart,
grew up with daily increasing strength to manhood; when Snipes,
by the death of his father, became master of the estate,
made Cudjo his driver or overseer, and thus rivetted on his honest bosom
that sacred friendship which, as we have seen, enabled him to triumph
in one of the severest trials that human nature was ever put to.
The above is a solemn fact, and the wise will lay it to heart.
Marion pursues major Muckleworth -- fine anecdote of the major --
Marion's generosity to him.
Learning that a detachment of the British were marching up Black river
towards Statesburgh and Camden, general Marion gave orders to chase;
which was conducted, as usual, with such rapidity,
that about sunset of the second day we came up with them. Our advance,
composed of choice fellows, instantly began to skirmish with the enemy,
of whom they killed eight or nine. A few on both sides, rather badly wounded,
were made prisoners. Marion, coming up, gave orders to call off the troops,
meaning to give the enemy a serious brush in the morning. --
But of this gratification they entirely disappointed us,
by striking their tents and pushing off in silence before day.
Soon as light returned, and the retreat of the British was announced,
we renewed the pursuit; and by late breakfast-time, reached the house
at which the enemy had refreshed themselves. This house belonged
to a poor, but excellent old lady, well known to Marion.
The general was hardly alighted from his horse, before the old lady
had him by the hand, declaring how happy she had always been to see him,
"but now," continued she, "if I an't right down sorry to see you,
then I'll be hanged."
Marion, with a look of surprise, asked her why she was sorry to see him NOW.
"Oh! don't I know you too well, general? don't I know that old Scratch himself
can't keep you from fighting? And now you are hurrying along here,
with all your men, only to fight the British. An't it so now, general?"
Marion told her, that that was indeed his business.
"Well, dear me now! and did I not tell you so? But pray now,
my dear general Marion, let me beg of you, don't you do any harm
to that dear good man, that major Muckleworth,* who went from here
a little while ago: for O! he's the sweetest-spoken, mildest-looking,
noblest-spirited Englishman I ever saw in all my born days.
As to that Rawdon and Tarleton, God's curse upon the thieves and blackguards!
I would not care if you could kill a thousand of THEM.
But that good major Muckleworth! indeed, indeed now general,
you must not hurt a hair of his head, for it would be such a crying sin."
* Simms gives this name as "McIlraith", and James as "M`Ilraith",
but in this one case, Weems' corruption of the name,
which colloquially means "much worth", is more satisfying. -- A. L., 1997.
Marion asked her in what respects was he better than other British officers.
"Better than other British officers!" replied the old lady. --
"Lord bless your dear soul, general Marion! Well, come along,
come along with me, and I'll let you see."
We followed the old lady, who, tripping along nimble as a girl,
conducted us into a clean looking cabin, wherein sat a middle-aged man
very genteelly dressed, and several wounded persons lying before him,
on pallets on the floor. Marion saluted the stranger, who informed us
that he was "a surgeon in the service of his Britannic majesty,
and left by major Muckleworth to take care of the wounded;
of whom, sir, I believe that nearly one half are your own men."
Here the old lady's face brightened up towards Marion; and giving him
a very significant look, she said, "Ah ha, general! didn't I tell you so?"
Then diving her withered hand in her pocket, she scooped up
a shining parcel of English guineas, and exultingly cried out,
"See there, general! see there's a sight for you? and every penny of it
given me by that dear good gentleman, major Muckleworth;
every penny of it, sir. Yes, and if you will but believe me, general,
when I and my daughters were getting breakfast for him and his people,
if he didn't come here himself with his sergeants, and had this place
swept out all so sweet and clean for them poor sick people;
and, with his own dear hands too, helped that gentleman there
to dress and doctor the poor things, that he did.
"And then besides all that, general, he was such a sweet spoken gentleman!
for when I asked him how his men came to be hurt so, he did not,
like that beast Tarleton, turn black and blue in the face,
and fall to cursing the d----d rebels. Oh no! not he indeed.
But he said with a smile, We got them wounded last night, madam,
in a little brush with your brave countryman, general Marion.
"Now only think of that, general! And besides, when he was going away,
what do you think he did? Why, sir, he sent for me and said, -- Well,
my good madam, and what shall I pay you for all the trouble we have given you,
and also for taking care of the doctor I am going to leave with you,
and the sick people, who may be on your hands for a fortnight yet?
"I told him it was no business of mine to fix a price.
"He seemed surprised, and asked me what I meant by that.
"I answered that I was now all one as his prisoner, and prisoners had nothing
they could call their own.
"My king, madam, said he, does not make war against widows.
"I told him I wished to God all his countrymen had remembered that!
it would have saved the hunger and nakedness, and cries and tears
of many a poor widow and orphan. At this he seemed mightily hurt.
"I then told him that many of the British officers, after eating and drinking
all that they wanted, for themselves and people, and horses,
instead of turning round to pay, as he had done, had turned in to plunder,
and then set fire to the houses, not leaving the widows and children
a cover over their heads, nor a bit of bread for their mouths,
nor a stitch of clothes for their backs.
"My God! said he, and is this the way that my countrymen have come here
to carry on war! Well madam, (so he went on) my king does not know
any thing of this, nor does the English nation, I am sure.
If they did, they would certainly call those officers to account.
Such men will ruin our cause. For the word of God assures us,
that his ear is always open to the cry of the widow and orphan;
and believe me, madam, I dread their cry more than I do
the shouts of an enemy's army. However, madam, (continued he,)
I have not a moment to lose, for I am sure general Marion is pursuing me
as hard as he can, so let me know what I owe you.
"I told him again, I made no charge; but since he was so good as to insist
on giving me something, I begged to leave the matter entirely to himself.
Upon which, after a moment's study, he looked at me and said, Well, madam,
suppose we say sixpence sterling a-piece man and horse, all around,
will that do? I replied that was too much, a great deal too much,
for such a poor breakfast as I had given him and his men.
Not a penny too much, madam, said he, live and let live is the royal law,
madam, and here's your money. With that he put all these guineas here,
into my hand! and said moreover, that if the doctor and sick people
should be longer with me, and give me more trouble and cost
than we had counted on, then I must send a note to him,
at such a house in Charleston, and he would send me the money.
And now, general, would it not be a burning shame to go kill
such a dear good gentleman as that?"
Marion listened with delight to the old lady's history
of this amiable officer; but on her leaving him to hasten our breakfast,
he looked very pensive, and at a loss what to do. However,
as soon as the troops were refreshed, he ordered my brother, colonel H. Horry,
who led the advance, to remount, and push after the enemy with all speed.
We followed close in the rear. For an hour the general
did not open his mouth, but rode on like one absorbed in thought.
At length heaving a deep sigh, he said, "Well, I suppose I feel now
very much as I should feel, were I in pursuit of a brother to kill him."
About three o'clock our advance came up with the enemy,
near the wealthy and hospitable captain John Singleton's mills,
where the firing instantly commenced, and was as spiritedly returned
by the British, still retreating. Our marksmen presently stopped
one of Muckleworth's captains, and several of his men, who lay dead
on the ground at the very spot where we happened to join the advance.
The sight of these poor fellows lying in their blood,
gave the general's wavering mind the casting vote in favor of generosity;
for he immediately cried out, "Call off the troops! call off the troops!"
Then turning to his aid he said, "I cannot stand it any longer; we owe
yon Englishmen to our injured country; but there is an angel that guards them.
Ten righteous Lots would have saved Sodom. One generous Muckleworth
shall save this handful. Let us turn and fight other enemies."
The general's orders were quickly passed on to the troops to cease firing.
And to their credit be it spoken, they never, I believe, obeyed his orders
with more alacrity than on this occasion. Indeed I heard many of them say,
afterwards, that major Muckleworth's generosity to their wounded comrades
and to the poor widow, had so won their hearts to him, that they had none left
wherewith to fight against him; and they said also, that, for their parts,
they had rather kill a thousand such savages as Rawdon and Tarleton,
than hurt a hair of major Muckleworth's head.
From the effect produced on our troops, by this amiable officer's conduct,
I have often been led to think favorably of a saying common with Marion, viz.,
had the British officers but acted as became a wise and magnanimous enemy,
they might easily have recovered the revolted colonies.
Never did the pulse of love towards a parent state beat stronger
in human bosoms, than in those of the Carolinians towards Britain.
We looked on her as indeed our mother, and on her children as our brothers.
And ah! had their government but treated us with correspondent kindness,
Carolina would have been with them to a man. Had they said to the people,
as they might easily have done (for there was a time, and a long time too,
when the whole state was entirely at their feet,) had they then said to us,
"We are far richer, far stronger, than you; we can easily burn your houses,
take your provisions, carry off your cattle, and sweep your country
with the besom of destruction; but we abhor the idea. Your houses,
your women, your children, are all sacred in our eyes; and even of your goods
we will touch nothing without giving you a reasonable price."
Had they but said this, Carolina would, to a certainty,
have been divorced from Congress, and re-wedded to Britain.
We may lay what emphasis we please on the term COUNTRYMEN, COUNTRYMEN!
but after all, as Christ says, "he is our countryman who showeth mercy
A British officer, a major Muckleworth, for example, calls at my plantation,
and takes my fine horses and fat beeves, my pigs, my poultry and grain;
but at parting, launches out for me a fist full of yellow boys!
On the other hand, an American officer calls and sweeps me of everything,
and then lugs out a bundle of continental proc! such trash,
that hardly a cow would give a corn shock for a horse load of it.
The Englishman leaves me richer than he found me, and abler
to educate and provide for my children: the American leaves me and my family
half ruined. Now I wish to know where, in such a selfish world as this,
where is there a man in a million, but would take part
with the generous Englishman, and fight for him?
This was the theory of Marion; and it was the practice of Muckleworth,
whom it certainly saved to the British; and would, if universal,
have saved Carolina and Georgia to them too; and perhaps, all America.
But so little idea had they of this mode of conciliating to conquer,
that when the good major Muckleworth returned to Charleston,
he was hooted at by the British officers, who said he might do well enough
for a chaplain, or a methodist preacher, for what they knew,
but they'd be d--n-d if he were fit to be a British major.
The truth is, such divine philosophy was too refined for such coarse
and vulgar characters, as Cornwallis, Rawdon, Tarleton, Balfour, and Weymies;
monsters who disgraced the brave and generous nation they represented,
and completely damned the cause they were sent to save.
But what better was to have been expected of those, who,
from early life, if tradition say true, discovered a total dislike
to the ennobling pleasures of literature and devotion, but a boundless passion
for the brutalizing sports of the bear-garden and cock-pit?
Bull-baiters, cock-fighters, and dog worriers, turned officers,
had no idea of conquering the Americans, but by "cutting their throats
or knocking out their brains;" or as the tender-hearted Cornwallis commanded,
by "hanging them, and taking away, or destroying their goods."
Now Satan himself could have counselled my lord better than that;
as any man may see, who will but open his bible and turn to the book of Job,
chap. the 1st, verse 6th, and so on. There Moses informs, that when Satan,
whose effrontery is up to any thing, presented himself at the grand levee,
the Almighty very civilly asked him, (now mind that, `saints',
in your speech to poor sinners) -- the Almighty, I say,
very CIVILLY asked him "where he had been of late."
To this, his royal highness, the brimstone king, replied,
that he had been only taking a turn or two "up and down the earth."
The divine voice again interrogated: "Hast thou considered my servant Job?
an excellent man, is he not; one who feareth God and escheweth evil?"
"Job's well enough," replied Satan, rather pertly, but where's
the wonder of all that? You have done great things for the fellow;
you have planted a hedge around him, and around all that he hath
on every side. You have blessed the works of his hands,
and his substance is increased in the land; and if, after all this,
he cannot afford you a little gratitude, he must be a poor devil indeed.
But put forth thy hand now, and touch all that he hath,
and he'll curse thee to thy face."
This was the devil's logic as to Job: but the British general had not the wit
to reason in that style towards the Americans. For my Lord Cornwallis
said unto my lord Rawdon; and my lord Rawdon said unto my would-be lord,
colonel Tarleton; and colonel Tarleton said unto major Weymies;
and major Weymies said unto Will Cunningham, and unto the British soldiers
with their tory negro allies; "Put forth your hands, boys, and burn,
and plunder the d--n-d rebels; and instead of cursing you to your face,
they will fall down and kiss your feet."
"Experience," says Doctor Franklin, "is a dear school;
but fools will learn in no other, and hardly in that."
And what right had lord North to expect success in America,
when for officers he sent such fools as would take no lesson
either from God or devil.
Colonel Watson attempts to surprise Marion -- is out-generaled,
and after much loss driven back to Georgetown.
In consequence of his incessant attacks on the British and tories,
Marion was, I believe, heartily hated by them, as ever Samson was
by the Philistines, or George Whitefield by the devil.
Numerous were the attempts made by their best officers to surprise him;
but such was his own vigilance and the fidelity of his whig friends,
that he seldom failed to get the first blow at them, and to take
their unwary feet in the same evil net which they had spread for him.
His method to anticipate the meditated malice of his enemies,
is well worthy of notice. He always had in his service
a parcel of active young men, generally selected from the best whig families,
and of tried courage and fidelity. These, mounted on the swiftest horses,
he would station in the neighborhood of those places where
the British and tories were embodied in force, as Camden, Georgetown, &c.
with instructions to leave no stratagem untried to find out
the intended movements of the enemy. Instantly as this information
was obtained, (whether by climbing tall trees that overlooked the garrisons;
or from friends acting as market people) they were to mount and push off
at full speed to the nearest of a chain of posts established at
short and convenient distances, with fleet horses ready saddled and bridled,
to bear the intelligence with equal speed, the first to the second,
the second to the third, and so on. In this expeditious method,
as by a telegraph,* Marion was presently notified of the designs of the enemy.
Of the exceeding importance of such a plan, we had a very striking proof
at this time. Exasperated against Marion, for the infinite harm
he did the royal cause in Carolina, the British general, in Camden,
determined to surprise him at his old place of retreat, SNOW'S ISLAND;
and thus destroy or break him up completely. To this end
he despatched a couple of favorite officers, colonels Watson and Doyle,
with a heavy force, both cavalry and infantry, to seize the lower bridge
on Black river and thereby effectually prevent our escape.
But the vigilance and activity of his scouts frustrated
this well-concerted plan entirely. Getting early notice of this manoeuvre
by captain, now general Canty, Marion instantly started his troops,
composed chiefly of mounted riflemen and light dragoons and pushed hard
for the same point. By taking a nearer cut, we had the good fortune
to gain the bridge before the enemy, and having destroyed it
as soon as we crossed, we concealed ourselves in the dark swamp,
anxiously waiting their arrival. In a short time, they came in full view
on the opposite hill, and there encamped. -- Presently,
unapprehensive of danger, for they saw nothing of us, two of their men
came down for water to the river. Unable to resist such a temptation,
two of our noted marksmen instantly drew their sights and let fly.
The two Englishmen fell; one of them was killed dead; the other badly wounded,
and so frightened, that he bellowed like a bull-calf for help.
Several of his gallant countrymen ran to his assistance,
but they were shot down as fast as they got to him.
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