The Life of General Francis Marion
Mason Locke Weems
Part 4 out of 5
* The old meaning of "telegraph" is used here, as any system of communication
over distance, such as signal fires, semaphore, etc. -- A. L., 1997.
The next morning colonel Watson sent a flag over to Marion,
whom he charged with carrying on war in a manner entirely different
from all civilized nations. "Why sir," said he to Marion, "you must certainly
command a horde of savages, who delight in nothing but murder.
I can't cross a swamp or a bridge, but I am waylaid and shot at
as if I were a mad dog. Even my sentries are fired at and killed
on their posts. Why, my God, sir! this is not the way
that Christians ought to fight!"
To this Marion replied, that "he was sorry to be obliged to say,
that from what he had known of them, the British officers were
the last men on earth who had any right to preach about honor and humanity.
That for men to come three thousand miles to plunder and hang
an innocent people, and then to tell that people how they ought to fight,
betrayed an ignorance and impudence which he fain would hope had no parallel
in the history of man. That for his part, he always believed,
and still did believe that he should be doing God and his country good service
to surprise and kill such men, while they continued this diabolical warfare,
as he would the wolves and panthers of the forest."
Thus ended the correspondence for that time.
While things remained in this state between the hostile parties,
Macdonald, as usual, was employing himself in a close and bold reconnoitre
of the enemy's camp. Having found out the situation of their sentries,
and the times of relieving them, he climbed up into a bushy tree,
and thence, with a musket loaded with pistol bullets,
cracked away at their guard as they passed by; of whom he killed one man,
and badly wounded the lieutenant, whose name was Torquano;
then sliding down the tree, he mounted his swift-footed Selim,
and made his escape.
The next morning colonel Watson sent another flag to Marion,
requesting that he would grant a passport to his lieutenant Torquano,
who was badly wounded, and wished to be carried to Charleston.
On receiving the flag, which happened while I was by him, Marion turned to me,
and with a smile said, "Well, this note of colonel Watson looks a little
as if he were coming to his senses. But who is lieutenant Torquano?"
I replied that he was a young Englishman, who had been
quartered in Charleston, at the house of that good whig lady,
Mrs. Brainford and her daughters, whom he had treated very politely,
and often protected from insults.
"Well," said he, "if that be lieutenant Torquano, he must be
a very clever fellow; and shall certainly have a passport to Charleston,
or even to Paradise, if I had the keys of St. Peter."
On repassing Black river in haste, Macdonald had left his clothes behind him
at a poor woman's house, where the enemy seized them.
By the return of the flag just mentioned, he sent word to colonel Watson,
that if he did not immediately send back his clothes,
he would kill eight of his men to pay for them.
Several of Watson's officers who were present when the message was delivered,
advised him by all means to return his clothes, for that they knew him to be
a most desperate fellow, one who would stop at nothing he set his head upon;
witness his late daring act of climbing like a cougar, into a tree,
to kill his passing enemies. Watson sent him back his wallet of clothes.
Soon after this, the enemy decamped silently in the night, and took the road
towards Santee. On the return of day announcing their flight,
Marion ordered me to take the mounted riflemen, thirty in number,
with fifty horse, and pursue and harass the enemy as much as possible,
till he could come up with the infantry.
About night I approached their encampment, and halted in a neighboring swamp;
whence I continued to send out small parties, frequently relieved, with orders
to pop away at their sentinels, and keep them alarmed and under arms
all night. At daybreak they pushed hard for the sandpit bridge.
We followed close in the rear, constantly firing on them
from every thicket and swamp; and often, in spite of their field pieces,
making false charges. Never did I see a body of infantry
ply their legs so briskly. The rogues were constantly in a dog trot,
except when they occasionally halted to give us a blast,
which they did from their whole line. But though their bullets
made a confounded whizzing and clatter among the branches over our heads,
yet thank God they did no harm, save that of scratching
some three or four of us.
On coming within a few miles of it, we made a rapid push for the bridge,
which we quickly rendered impassable, by throwing off the plank and sleepers.
Then having posted my riflemen in the thick woods, within fifty yards
of the ford, under command of lieutenant Scott, I drew up my cavalry
close in the rear, and waited impatiently for the enemy,
hoping to give a handsome Bunker's Hill account of them.
The enemy were presently in sight, and formed in close column,
began to push through the fording place, though full waist deep.
My heart now throbbed with anxiety; looking every moment for a stream of fire
to burst upon the British, spreading destruction through their ranks.
But, to my infinite mortification, no lightnings bursted forth;
no thunders roared; no enemy fell. As, half choked with grief and rage,
I looked around for the cause, behold! my brave lieutenant Scott,
at the head of his riflemen, came stooping along with his gun in his hand,
and the black marks of shame and cowardice on his sheepish face.
"Infamous poltroon," said I, shaking my sword over his head,
"where is that hetacomb of robbers and murderers due
to the vengeance of your injured country?"
He began to stammer out some apology, which I quickly suppressed,
by ordering him out of my sight. It is worthy of remark, that his men,
instead of apologising for him, called him a coward to his face,
and declared that it was he who had restrained them by telling them
they were flanked by the enemy, who would assuredly cut them to pieces
if they fired a shot.
As the advance of the British were thus undisturbedly passing on,
a heavy firing was suddenly heard in the rear. It was Marion;
who, having come up with the enemy, had attacked him with great fury.
The British did not halt, but continued a running fight through the woods
till they gained the open fields; where, by means of their artillery,
they kept us at a distance. In this rencontre, Watson had his horse
killed under him, and left about twenty of his men dead on the ground.
His wounded filled several wagons.
He did not halt a moment, but pushed hard for Georgetown;
and late at night encamped on the plantation of Mr. Trapier,
to whom he told a dreadful story about Marion and his damned rebels,
who would not, as he said, sleep and fight like gentlemen,
but, like savages, were eternally firing and whooping around him by night;
and by day, waylaying and popping at him from behind every tree he went by.
As it was too late to pursue the enemy, Marion encamped for the night
near the field of battle, and next morning marched for his old post,
Snow's Island, where he allowed us a few days of welcome repose.
Patriotism of Mrs. Jenkins -- colonel Watson, colonel Doyle, and the tories,
make alarming advances upon general Marion -- his men begin to desert him --
Horry turns orator, and harangues the troops -- they repeat
their assurances of patriotism and attachment to Marion --
he dashes out again upon the enemy -- prospects brighten --
and the good old cause begins to look up again.
It was not for the British and Marion to lie long at rest
in the same neighborhood. After a short repose, Colonel Watson,
with a stout force of regulars and tories, made an inroad upon Pedee;
which was no sooner known in our camp, than Marion pushed after him.
We presently struck their trail; and after a handsome day's run,
pitched our tents near the house of the excellent widow Jenkins,
and on the very spot which the British had left in the morning.
Colonel Watson, it seems, had taken his quarters that night in her house;
and learning that she had three sons with Marion, all active young men,
he sent for her after supper, and desired her to sit down
and take a glass of wine with him. To this request,
a good old lady of taste and manners could have no objection:
so waiting upon the colonel, and taking a chair which he handed her,
she sat down and emptied her glass to his health. He then commenced
the following conversation with her:
"So, madam, they tell me you have several sons in general Marion's camp;
I hope it is not true."
She said it was very true, and was only sorry that it was not
a thousand times truer.
"A thousand times truer, madam!" replied he with great surprise,
"pray what can be your meaning in that?"
"Why, sir, I am only sorry that in place of three, I have not
three thousand sons with general Marion."
"Aye indeed! well then, madam, begging your pardon, you had better
send for them immediately to come in and join his majesty's troops
under my command: for as they are rebels now in arms against their king,
should they be taken they will be hung as sure as ever they were born."
"Why, sir," said the old lady, "you are very considerate of my sons;
for which at any rate I thank you. But, as you have begged my pardon
for giving me this advice, I must beg yours for not taking it.
My sons, sir, are of age, and must and will act for themselves.
And as to their being in a state of rebellion against their king,
I must take the liberty, sir, to deny that."
"What, madam!" replied he, "not in rebellion against their king?
shooting at and killing his majesty's subjects like wolves!
don't you call that rebellion against their king, madam?"
"No, sir," answered she: "they are only doing their duty,
as God and nature commanded them, sir."
"The d---l they are, madam!"
"Yes, sir," continued she, "and what you and every man in England
would glory to do against the king, were he to dare to tax you
contrary to your own consent and the constitution of the realm.
'Tis the king, sir, who is in rebellion against my sons,
and not they against him. And could right prevail against might,
he would as certainly lose his head, as ever king Charles the First did."
Colonel Watson could hardly keep his chair under the smart of this speech:
but thinking it would never do for a British colonel to be rude to a lady,
he filled her glass, and saying, "he'd be d--n-d if she were not
a very plain-spoken woman at any rate," insisted she would drink
a toast with him for all.
She replied she had no objection.
Then filling the glasses round, he looked at her with a constrained smile,
and said, "Well, madam, here's George the Third."
"With all my heart, sir!" and turned off her bumper with a good grace.
After a decent interval of sprightly conversation, he called
on the widow for a toast; who very smartly retorted, "Well, sir,
here's George Washington!" At which he darkened a little,
but drank it off with an officer-like politeness.
The next morning early, we left the good Mrs. Jenkins;
and burning with impatience to give Watson another race,
we drove on Jehu-like.
We encamped that night almost within sight of the enemy's fires:
but found them too much on the alert for surprise. We kept, however,
a good look out, and learning next morning, that a roosting party were out,
Marion detached my brother colonel Horry, with some choice cavaliers,
to attack them; which he did with such spirit, that at the first onset
he killed nine, and made the balance, sixteen, all prisoners.
The rogues were so overloaded with plunder, that for their lives
they could not regain their camp, though in full view of it
when they were charged. This brilliant stroke of my brother,
threw the enemy's camp into the utmost hurry and uproar;
and their dragoons were quickly mounted, dashing out to rescue their comrades;
but in vain, for my brother brought them all off in safety to our camp.
Our strength at this time was far inferior to that of the enemy.
But it soon became alarmingly reduced. For learning that,
besides this heavy force under Watson, there was another from Camden
under colonel Doyle, and also of mounted tories from Pedee,
all in full march against us, our men took a panic and began to desert,
and those who stayed behind looked very serious, and talked as if certain ruin
both to themselves and families would follow from their continuing to fight
in so hopeless a cause.
In answer to these desponding gentlemen, I replied, that I was ashamed
and grieved too, to hear them talk at that rate.
"Our prospects," said I, "gentlemen, are to be sure dark, very dark;
yet thank God, they are not desperate. We have often before now
seen as heavy clouds hanging over us; and yet with heaven's blessing
on our arms, those clouds have been dispersed, and golden days restored.
And who knows but we may shortly see it so again? I am sure
we have good reason to expect it; and also to hope that God will assist us,
who are only fighting to make ourselves free and happy, according to his own
most blessed will. And will it not be a most sweet cordial to your spirits
as long as you live, to think that, in such trying times as these,
you stood up for your country, and fought and won for yourselves and children
all the blessings of liberty.
"And, besides," said I, "do not the tories, who are more than half
the authors of your misfortunes, possess large estates?
And have you not arms in your hands, wherewith to pay yourselves
out of their ill-saved treasures?"
This speech seemed to raise their spirits a good deal.
I then went to see the general, who with his hands behind him,
was walking backwards and forwards in front of his tent, meditating, no doubt,
on the desertion of his men; whose numbers, from more than two hundred,
were now reduced to less than seventy.
"General Marion," said I, "I am sorry to tell you that our men are now so few;
especially since, according to report, we shall soon want so many."
"Why," replied he, "that is the very thing I have been grieving at;
but it will signify nothing for us to stand here sighing and croaking;
so pray go and order a muster of the men, that I may say a few words to them
before they all run off and leave me."
Soon as the troops were all paraded around the door of his tent,
he stepped upon the trunk of a fallen pine, and in his plain
but impressive manner, addressed us nearly as follows: --
"Gentlemen and fellow-soldiers.
"It is not for words to express what I feel when I look around
upon your diminished numbers. Yesterday I commanded 200 men;
men whom I gloried in, and who I fondly thought, would have followed me
through my dangers for their country. And, now, when their country
most needs their services, they are nearly all gone!
And even those of you who remain, are, if report be true, quite out of heart;
and talk, that you and your families must be ruined if you resist any longer!
But, my friends, if we shall be ruined for bravely resisting our tyrants,
what will be done to us if we tamely lie down and submit to them?
In that event, what can we expect but to see our own eternal disgrace,
and the wide-spread ruin of our country; when our bravest and best citizens
shall be hung up like dogs, and their property confiscated
to enrich those villains who deserted their country, and joined her enemies;
when Cornwallis, Rawdon and Tarleton, after so long plundering and murdering
your friends, shall, in reward of such services, be set over you
as your governors and lord lieutenants, with princely salaries
out of your labors; when foreign bishops and hireling clergy
shall be poured upon you like hosts of consecrated locusts,
consuming the tithes and fat of the land; when British princes,
and nobles, and judges, shall swarm over your devoted country,
thick as eagles over a new-fallen carcass; when an insatiate king,
looking on your country as his plantation, and on your children as his slaves,
shall take away your substance, every year, for his pomps and pleasures;
and to keep you under for ever, shall fill your land with armies;
and when those armies, viewing you with malignant eyes,
shall constantly be insulting you as conquered rebels;
and under pretence of discovering among you the seeds of another rebellion,
shall be perpetually harassing and giving up to military execution
the best and worthiest of your fellow-citizens?
"Now my brave brethren in arms, is there a man among you,
who can bear the thought of living to see his dear country and friends
in so degraded and wretched a state as this? If there be,
then let that man leave me and retire to his home. I ask not his aid.
But, thanks to God, I have now no fears about you: judging by your looks,
I feel that there is no such man among us. For my own part
I look upon such a state of things as a thousand times worse than death.
And God is my judge this day, that if I could die a thousand deaths,
most gladly would I die them all, rather than live to see my dear country
in such a state of degradation and wretchedness."
In reply to this speech of our honored general, we told him, in brief,
it was on account of his noble sentiments we had always so highly
esteemed him; that it was on account of these we had already suffered so much,
and were ready to suffer more; and that rather than see our country
in that wretched state which he had so feelingly described,
and which, with him, we firmly believed would be the case
if the British were to get the upper hand, we had made up our minds
to fight by his side to a glorious death.
I never saw such a change on the face of a human being,
as then took place on that of Marion. His eyes sparkled with pleasure,
while in transport he exclaimed -- "Well, now colonel Doyle, look sharp,
for you shall presently feel the edge of our swords."
Soon as night came on we mounted, and took the swamps of Lynch's creek,
though swimming deep, and after a long time spent in plunging and splashing
through the dark floods, we got over, at least about two-thirds of us.
The rest, driven down by the force of the current, were cast ashore
on hills and high banks, which by the freshet were converted into islands;
and there they continued whooping and hallooing to each other all night.
When the welcome light returned, they plunged again into the furious stream,
and though swept down a good way by the force of the current,
arrived safely on our side where we had prepared some large fires
to dry their clothes and muskets, and plenty of roasted roots and Indian cakes
As God was pleased to have it, none of us lost our lives, though many did
their great coats, blankets, and saddles, and some few their pieces.
As to myself, I must needs say, I was never so near the other world
in my life. For, as we were borne along down the stream in the dark,
my horse and I were carried under the limb of a tree hung thick
with wild vines, which soon caught me by the head like Absalom,
and there held me fast, dangling in the furious flood, while my horse
was swept from under me. I hallooed for some time like a lusty fellow,
without getting any answer, which made me begin to think my chance was bad.
And, God forgive me for it! I could not help thinking it a sad thing,
that after so many fierce frays and hard knocks with the British and tories,
I should come at last to be choked like a blind puppy, in this dirty swamp:
but God be praised for his good angel, who had brought me through six dangers,
and now took me out of the seventh. For, as I was near giving out,
a bold young fellow of the company overheard me bawling,
and having the advantage of a stout horse, dashed in and took me safely off.
I was afraid at first that my horse was drowned -- but sagaciously following
the rest of the horses, he made his way good, but lost my saddle, great coat,
and clothes. But what grieved me most of all was the loss of my holsters,
with a pair of elegant silver mounted pistols, a present from Macdonald,
and which he had taken from a British officer whom he killed near Georgetown.
Soon as our firearms were dried, and ourselves and horses were refreshed,
we mounted and rode hard all that day, to surprise colonel Doyle.
About midnight we had approached the house of a good whig, who told us
that Doyle had been there, but that warned by an express from Camden,
he had started in great haste, and was certainly by that time
far beyond our reach. We were much puzzled in our minds
for the meaning of this precipitate retreat of colonel Doyle;
however, after one day of welcome rest and high cheer, we faced about,
fully determined, notwithstanding our inferiority of force,
once more to try our fortune with colonel Watson. But in reaching the ground
where we had left him encamped, we got advice that he too,
with all his troops, were gone off, at a tangent, as hard as he could drive.
While we were wondering what could have possessed the British
to scamper thus in every direction, captain Conyers, of Lee's legion,
hove in sight, with the welcome news that the brave colonel Lee was at hand,
coming up full tilt to join us; and also that general Green,
with a choice detachment from the great Washington, was bending
towards Camden, to recover the laurels which the incautious Gates had lost.
These glorious tidings at once explained the cause of the enemy's flight,
and inspired us with a joy which the reader can better conceive
than I express.
Marion's method of managing the militia -- sends the author
on another expedition against the tories -- anecdote of Mr. F. Kinloch --
curious dream of black Jonathan, and fortunate escape of Mr. Kinloch --
the author's party surprised by the British, but come off
with flying colors.
The world, perhaps, never contained a partisan officer
who better understood the management of militia than did general Marion.
He was never for `dragooning' a man into the service.
"God loves a cheerful giver, and so do I," said he, "a willing soldier.
To have him such you must convince him that it is his interest,
for interest is every man's pole star. Every man wishes to be happy,
and thereto wishes a happy wife and children, a happy country and friends.
Convince him that all these invaluable blessings cannot be had
without sweet liberty, and you shall have a soldier as brave as Washington. --
For no man, worthy of the name, could ever yet bear to see
his wife, children and friends, enslaved and miserable."
Such was Marion's method of making soldiers. And what with this,
and the cruelty of the British and tories, he had with him, perhaps,
some of as brave and desperate men as ever fought.
"Never ride a free horse to death," he used to say to his officers;
"push, while he is fresh, but soon as he begins to lag,
then lie by and feed high is your play."
For this purpose he always kept a snug hiding-place in reserve for us;
which was Snow's Island, a most romantic spot, and admirably
fitted to our use. Nature had guarded it, nearly all around,
with deep waters and inaccessible marshes; and the neighboring gentlemen
were all rich, and hearty whigs, who acted by us the double part
of generous stewards and faithful spies, so that, while there,
we lived at once in safety and plenty.
We had reposed ourselves but two days in the pleasant wilds of Snow's Island,
before Marion, learning that a part of the enemy were in the neighborhood,
desired me to take captains Clarke and Irwin, with fifty men,
and try if I could not bring him a good account of them.
We encamped the first night on the plantation of Mr. John Withers,
where hearing that Mr. F. Kinloch, our member of Congress,
was at a neighboring house, I sent him the following note.
If in these dangerous times you can think yourself safe
among a handful of militia-men, I shall be very glad to see you at our camp.
As to supper, thank God we can give you a trencher of fat pork and potatoes,
but for bed and furniture, we can promise you nothing better
than earth and sky. I shall place a sentinel on the road to conduct you to,
Honorable Sir, your friend,
Mr. Kinloch, who was one of the cleverest men in the world,
instantly set out to come to us, but unluckily missed our sentinel,
and went several miles below us to Mr. Alexander Rose's plantation,
managed by a mulatto driver named Jonathan. The day being nearly spent,
Jonathan very politely urged Mr. Kinloch to alight and spend the night there,
promising him a warm supper and a good bed. Mr. Kinloch accepted
Jonathan's offer very cheerfully, and after taking part of a nice fowl
and a cup of coffee, went to bed. He had not slept long before
Jonathan waked him up, and, with great terror in his looks, told him,
"he was mighty 'fraid there was harm a-brewing."
"Aye, Jonathan! why so, my good lad."
"Oh, sir," replied Jonathan, "such a dream as I have had, sir!
a marvellous bad dream about the enemy's coming upon you to-night, sir!"
"Poh!" quoth Mr. Kinloch, turning himself over for another nap:
"I have dreamed nothing about it, Jonathan. And I'm sure such a dream
ought to have come to me, and not to you: so we'll even go to sleep again,
and trust to heaven."
Accordingly he fell asleep a second time; but had not long enjoyed
that sweetest of opiates, before Jonathan comes again, and awakes him
with the old story of his dream.
"Well, Jonathan," said Mr. Kinloch, very good-naturedly,
"if you are determined to turn me out of doors, I suppose I must go.
But where can I get to this time of night?"
"Why, sir," quoth Jonathan, "I'll get your horse and go with you
to the main road, sir, and from there, you can't miss your way
back to the house you came from this afternoon."
On Jonathan's return from the short distance he had conducted Mr. Kinloch,
he found the yard filled with the British light horse!
These dreams are droll things; but they sometimes come so well attested,
that there is no doubting them. He who made our frame,
can certainly speak to us as well asleep as awake; and the wise will feel
the importance of making a friend of Him, who can cause an airy dream
to defend us as effectually as a legion of angels.
The next night, just as we were about to encamp, we lighted on a negro fellow,
belonging to Mr. Joseph Alston, whom I quickly had by the heels,
lest he should give intelligence to the enemy. But, as the devil
would have it, just before day, the sergeant of the guard,
overcome by the negro's importunities, loosened him and let him go.
And, mark now, young officers, what comes from disobeying orders.
This villain of a blackamoor had not gone above three miles before
he fell in with the British, to whom, Judas-like, he betrayed us off hand!
and they as quickly took horse, and pushed on to surprise us.
By sunrise I had all my men mounted; captain Clarke leading the advance,
myself and captain Irvin bringing up the rest of the corps.
The British first discovered captain Clarke, which they did
in the way of a glimpse, through an opening in the woods;
then sounding their bugles, they rushed on to the charge.
Unfortunately, Clarke had not yet seen the enemy, and mistaking their bugles
for the huntsmen's horns, ordered a halt to see the deer go by.
But instead of a herd of flying deer, behold! a column of British cavalry
all at once bursting into the road, and shouting and rushing on
with drawn swords to the charge. In a moment, as if themselves
metamorphosed into deer, Clarke and his advance wheeled about,
and giving their horses "the timber",* flew back upon our main body,
roaring out as they came in sight -- "The British! the British!"
* This is a Carolina phrase for slashing. If a husband should
so far forget himself as to beat his wife! which, thank God,
is very rare, his neighbors, with great scorn, say of him
as he pokes his hated face along, Aye, that's the jockey
that gives his wife the timber.
Quick as thought my men caught the panic, and facing about,
took to their heels, and went off as if the d---l had been behind them.
I bawled after them as loud as I could roar, "Halt! Halt!"
but I might as well have bawled to the whirlwinds, for it appeared to me
the louder I bawled, the swifter the rascals flew. Whereupon I clapped spurs
to my young Janus, and went off after them at full stretch,
hoping to gain their front and so bring them to. Being mounted
on a young full-blooded charger, fresh and strong from the stable,
I bid fair to gain my point too, for I was coming up with them
hand over hand. -- But, in that very juncture of time,
as the Lord was pleased to order it, my girth gave way, my saddle turned,
and my charger fetching a ground start, threw me, saddle, holsters, and all,
full ten feet over his head, and then ran off. I received no harm,
God be praised for it, but recovering my legs in an instant,
bawled out again to my men to halt and form.
Happily for me, at the very moment of my disaster, the enemy,
suspecting our flight to be only a finesse, had halted,
while only sixteen dragoons under colonel Camp, continued the chase.
Scorning to fly from such a handful, some of my more resolute fellows,
thirteen in number, faced about, and very deliberately taking their aim
at the enemy as they came up, gave them a `spanker', which killed
upwards of half their number. The rest took to flight, leaving their colonel,
whose horse was slain, to shift for himself, which he quickly did
by running into the woods.
The British were so near us when they received the fire of my men,
that one of them, a stout fellow, as he wheeled to go off,
came so close to me, where I stood on the ground, that he was lifting
his broadsword for a back-handed stroke, which would probably have saved me
the trouble of writing this history, had I not, with one of my pistols,
which I took from the saddle when my horse left me, anticipated his kindness,
by driving a bullet through his shoulder, which brought him to the ground.
Then mounting his horse, while my men caught the horses of those
that were killed, we galloped off, very well satisfied that the affair
had turned out no worse.
On returning to Marion, I could not help complaining to him of my men,
whose behavior, I said, in this last affair, had been so very dastardly,
that I was much afraid, I should never again put confidence in them,
nor gain any credit by commanding them. "Pshaw!" said he, with a smile,
"it is because you do not understand the management of them:
you command militia; it will not do to expect too much from
that sort of soldiers. If on turning out against the enemy, you find your men
in high spirits, with burning eyes all kindling around you, that's your time,
then in close columns, with sounding bugles and shining swords, dash on,
and I'll warrant your men will follow you, eager as the lion's whelps
bounding with their sire to the chase of the buffaloes.
But on the other hand, if by any un-looked-for providence they get dismayed,
and begin to run, you are not to fly in a passion with them,
and show yourself as mad as they are cowardly. No! you must learn to run too:
and as fast as they; nay FASTER, that you may get into the front
and encourage them to rally.
"And as to the credit that you are to get by commanding them,
I find, my dear fellow, that you are entirely in the wrong there also.
Our country cannot expect us to cope with British regulars. War is an art,
the deepest of all arts, because the greatest of all earthly consequences
depend on it. And none can expect to be masters of that terrible art,
but such as serve a long apprenticeship to it. But as we have served
no apprenticeship, we can know but little about it in comparison
with our enemies, who in discipline and experience have greatly
the advantage of us. But, thank God, we have our advantages too. --
We are far better riders, better woodsmen, and better marksmen than they.
These are noble advantages. Let us but improve them by redoubled
activity and vigilance, and kindness to our men, and especially by often
conversing with them on the grounds of the war, the merits of our cause,
and the vast consequences depending. Let us, I say, in this way,
make them soldiers in principle, and fond of their officers,
and all will be well yet. By cutting off the enemy's foraging parties,
drawing them into ambuscades and falling upon them by surprise,
we shall, I hope, so harass and consume them, as to make them glad
to get out of our country. And then, the performance of such a noble act
will bring us credit, and credit enough too, in the eyes of good men;
while as to ourselves, the remembrance of having done so much
to vindicate the rights of man, and make posterity the happier for us,
will afford us a pleasure that may outlive this momentary being."
Colonel Harry Lee joins general Marion -- Georgetown surprised --
colonel Campbell made prisoner -- major Irwin killed --
adjutant Crookshanks miraculously saved by his sweetheart --
force of female affection -- American generosity contrasted with
British barbarism -- interesting anecdotes of Mr. Cusac,
young Gales and Dinkins, colonel Lee's little bugler, John Wiley,
Peter Yarnal, young M'Coy, major Brown, colonel Haynes, and lord Rawdon.
The next day, colonel Lee with his legion came up, to the inexpressible joy
of us all; partly on account of his cavalry, which to be sure,
was the handsomest we had ever seen; but much more on account of himself,
of whom we had heard that, in deep art and undaunted courage,
he was a second Marion. -- This, our high opinion of him, was greatly exalted
by his own gallant conduct, for he had been with us but a few days
before he proposed the surprise of Georgetown, which was very cordially
concurred with by general Marion.
The infantry and cavalry employed on the occasion, were to approach the town
at different points, after midnight, and at a signal from the latter,
to commence the attack. Unfortunately, the cavalry did not get up in time,
owing to some fault of their guide. The infantry arrived
at the appointed moment, and dreading the dangers of delay, charged at once
into the town, which they found utterly unprepared for an attack.
Colonel Campbell, the commander, was made prisoner in his bed;
adjutant Crookshanks, major Irwin, and other officers were sound asleep
at a tavern belonging to a genteel family, with whom
they had spent the evening with great hilarity. A detachment of our men
approached the house and surrounded it. Soon as the alarm was given,
the officers leaped out of bed, and not waiting to dress,
flew into the piazza, flourishing their pistols and shouting to the charge.
Major Irwin, with more courage than discretion, fired a pistol, and would have
tried another, but just as he had cocked it, he was stopped short
by the stroke of a bayonet, which ended him and his courage together.
Adjutant Crookshanks, acting in the same heroic style, would have shared
the same fate, had it not been for an angel of a young woman,
daughter of the gentleman of the house. This charming girl was engaged
to be married to Crookshanks. Waked by the firing and horrid din of battle
in the piazza, she was at first almost 'reft of her senses by the fright.
But the moment she heard her lover's voice, all her terrors vanished,
and instead of hiding herself under the bedclothes, she rushed into the piazza
amidst the mortal fray, with no armor but her love, no covering
but her flowing tresses. Happily for her lover, she got to him
just in time to throw her arms around his neck and scream out,
"Oh save! save major Crookshanks!" Thus, with her own sweet body
shielding him against the uplifted swords of her enraged countrymen!
Crookshanks yielded himself our prisoner; but we paroled him on the spot,
and left him to those delicious sentiments which he must have felt
in the arms of an elegant young woman, who had saved his life
by an effort of love sufficient to endear her to him to all eternity.
It was told us afterwards of this charming girl, that as soon as we were gone,
and, of course, the danger past and the tumult of her bosom subsided,
she fell into a swoon, from which it was with difficulty
that she was recovered. Her extreme fright, on being waked
by the firing and horrid uproar of battle in the house,
and her strong sympathy in her lover's danger, together with the alarm
occasioned by finding herself in his arms, were too much
for her delicate frame.
There is a beauty in generous actions which charms the souls of men!
and a sweetness, which like that immortal love whence it flows, can never die.
The eyes of all, even the poorest soldiers in our camp, sparkled with pleasure
whenever they talked, as they often did, of this charming woman,
and of our generosity to major Crookshanks; and to this day,
even after a lapse of thirty years, I never think of it but with pleasure;
a pleasure as exquisite, perhaps, as what I felt at the first moment
of that transaction.
And it is a matter of great satisfaction to me, to think how nobly different
in this respect was our conduct from that of the British.
I speak not of the British nation, which I hold most magnanimous;
but of their officers in Carolina, such as Cornwallis, Rawdon, Tarleton,
Weymies, Brown, and Balfour, who instead of treating their prisoners
as we did Crookshanks, have often been known to butcher them in cold blood;
though their fathers, mothers and children, on bended knees,
with wringing hands and streaming eyes, have been imploring pity for them.
There was Mr. Adam Cusac, of Williamsburg district; this brave man,
"This buckskin Hampden; that, with dauntless breast,
The base invaders of his rights withstood,"
was surprised in his own house by major Weymies, who tore him away
from his shrieking wife and children, marched him up to Cheraw court-house,
and after exposing him to the insults of a sham trial,
had him condemned and hung! The only charge ever exhibited against him was,
that he had shot across Black river at one of Weymies' tory captains.
There was that gallant lad of liberty, Kit Gales, with his brave companion,
Sam Dinkins: these two heroic youths were dogged to the house
of a whig friend, near the hills of Santee, where they were surprised
in their beds by a party of tories, who hurried them away to lord Rawdon,
then on his march from Charleston to Camden. Rawdon quickly had them,
according to his favorite phrase, "knocked into irons",
and marched on under guard with his troops. On halting for breakfast,
young Gales was tucked up to a tree, and choked with as little ceremony
as if he had been a mad dog. He and young Dinkins had, it seems,
the day before, with their horses and rifles, ventured alone,
so near the British army, as to fire several shots at them!
For such heroic daring in defence of their country, in place of receiving
applause from lord Rawdon, Gales, as we have seen, received his bloody death.
His gallant young friend, Dinkins, was very near drawing his rations
of a like doleful dish, for lord Rawdon had him mounted upon the same cart
with the halter round his neck, ready for a launch into eternity,
when the tories suggested to his lordship their serious apprehensions
that a terrible vengeance might follow: this saved his life.
Everybody has heard the mournful story of colonel Lee's little bugler,
and how he was murdered by colonel Tarleton. This "poor beardless boy",
as Lee, in his pathetic account of that horrid transaction, calls him,
had been mounted on a very fleet horse; but to gratify a countryman
who had brought some news of the British, and was afraid of falling
into their hands, Lee ordered the boy to exchange his horse, a moment,
for that of the countryman, which happened to be a miserable brute.
This Lee did in his simplicity, not even dreaming that any thing
in the shape of civilized man could think of harming such a child.
Scarcely had Lee left him, when he was overtaken by Tarleton's troopers,
who dashed up to him with looks of death, brandishing their swords
over his head. In vain his tender cheeks, reminding them of their own
youthful brothers, sought to touch their pity; in vain, with feeble voice,
and as long as he was able, he continued to cry for quarter.
They struck their cruel swords into his face and arms,
which they gashed with so many mortal wounds that he died the next day.
"Is your name Wiley?" said one of Tarleton's captains, whose name was TUCK,
to Mr. John Wiley, sheriff of Camden, who had lately whipped and cropped
a noted horse thief, named Smart. "Is your name Wiley?" said captain Tuck
to the young man, at whose door he rode up and asked the question. --
"Yes, sir," replied Mr. Wiley. "Well, then, sir, you are a d--n-d rascal,"
rejoined captain Tuck, giving him at the same time a cruel blow
over the forehead with his broadsword. Young Wiley, though doomed to die,
being not yet slain, raised his naked arm to screen the blow.
This, though no more than a common instinct in poor human nature
in the moment of terror, served but to redouble the fury of captain Tuck,
who continued his blows at the bleeding, staggering youth,
until death kindly placed him beyond the reach of human malice.
All this was done within a few hundred paces of lord Cornwallis,
who never punished captain Tuck.
But poor Peter Yarnall's case seems still more deplorable.
This hard fated man, a simple, inoffensive quaker, lived near Camden.
Having urgent business with a man, who, as he understood,
was with general Sumter, on the opposite side of the Catawba,
he went over to him. The man happened, at that moment, to be keeping guard
over some tory prisoners. A paper which Yarnall wanted to see was, it seems,
in a jacket pocket in the man's tent hard by. "Hold my piece a moment, sir,"
said he to Yarnall, "and I'll bring the paper." Yarnall, though averse,
as a quaker, from all killing of enemies with a gun, yet saw no objection
to holding one a moment. The next day, a day for ever black
in the American calendar, witnessed the surprisal of general Sumter
and the release of the tory prisoners, one of whom immediately went his way
and told colonel Tarleton that he had seen Peter Yarnall, the day before,
keeping guard over the king's friends, prisoners to the rebels.
The poor man's house was quickly surrounded by the British cavalry.
Vain were all his own explanations, his wife's entreaties,
or his children's cries. He was dragged to Camden, and thrust into prison.
Every morning, his wife and daughter, a girl of about fifteen,
rode into town in an old chair, to see him and to bring him milk and fruits,
which must have been highly acceptable to one crammed, in the dogdays,
into a small prison, with one hundred and sixty-three half-stifled wretches.
On the fourth day, an amiable young lady, Miss Charlton,
living near the prison, had heard of poor Yarnall's fate that morning.
Soon therefore as she saw Mrs. Yarnall and her daughter coming along as usual,
with their little present to their husband and father, she burst into tears.
Mrs. Yarnall alighted at the door of the jail, and begged to see her husband.
"Follow me," said one of the guard, "and I'll show you your husband."
As she turned the corner, "There he is, madam," said the soldier,
pointing to her husband as he hung dead on a beam from the window.
The daughter sunk to the ground; but her mother, as if petrified at the sight,
stood silent and motionless, gazing on her dead husband
with that wild keen eye of unutterable woe, which pierces all hearts.
Presently, as if braced up with despair, she seemed quite recovered,
and calmly begged one of the soldiers to assist her to take down the corpse
and lay it in the bottom of the chair. Then taking her seat,
with her daughter sobbing by her side, and her husband dead at her feet,
she drove home apparently quite unmoved; and during the whole time
she was preparing his coffin and performing the funeral duties,
she preserved the same firm unaltered looks. But soon as the grave
had shut its mouth on her husband, and divorced him for ever from her sight,
the remembrance of the past rushed upon her thoughts with a weight too heavy
for her feeble nature to bear. Then clasping her hands in agony,
she shrieked out, "Poor me! poor me! I have no husband, no friend now!"
and immediately ran raving mad, and died in that state.
There was young M'Coy: the eye of humanity must weep often,
as she turns the page that tells how this amiable youth was murdered.
His father was one of the most active of our militia captains.
As none better understood American rights, so none more deeply
resented British aggressions, than did captain M'Coy.
His just views and strong feelings, were carefully instilled into his boy,
who, though but fifteen, shouldered his musket, and, in spite of
his mother's tears, followed his father to war. Many a gallant Englishman
received his death at their hands. For, being well acquainted with the river,
and bravely supported by their friends, they often fired upon
the enemy's boats, killing their crews and intercepting their provisions.
This so enraged colonel Brown, the British commander at Augusta,
that he made several attempts to destroy captain M'Coy.
Once, in particular, he despatched a captain and fifty men to surprise him.
But M'Coy kept so good a look out, that he surprised and killed
the captain and twenty of his men. The rest, by giving good `leg bail',
made their escape. Young M'Coy fought by the side of his father
in this and many other rencontres, in one of which he had
the great good fortune to save his father's life.
At the head of some gallant friends, they fell in with
a strong party of tories, near Brier creek, commanded by a British officer.
As usual, an obstinate and bloody contest ensued. The combatants
quickly coming to close quarters, M'Coy grappled with the officer;
but not possessing strength equal to his courage, he was overpowered
and thrown on the ground. The youth, who had just fired his piece
into the bosom of a tory, seeing his father's danger, flew to his aid,
and with the butt of his gun knocked out the brains of the officer,
at the very instant he was lifting his dirk for the destruction of his father.
In a skirmish, in which his party were victorious, captain M'Coy
was mortally wounded, and died exhorting his son still to fight undauntedly
for the liberties of his country. After the death of his father,
young M'Coy joined the brave captain Clarke. In an expedition
against colonel Brown, Clarke was defeated, and young M'Coy made prisoner.
Hearing of his misfortune, his mother hastened to Augusta,
but arrived only in time to meet him with colonel Brown and a guard,
carrying him out to the gallows. With gushing tears, she fell upon his neck,
and bitterly mourned her lot, as wretched above all women,
in thus losing her husband and only son.
The behavior of young M'Coy, it is said, was heroic beyond his years.
Instead of melting with his disconsolate mother, he exhorted her
like one who had acted on principle, and now felt its divine consolations
stronger than death.
He entreated his mother not to weep for him, nor for his father.
"In the course of nature, mother," said he, "we were to part.
Our parting indeed, is early; but it is glorious. My father was like a lion
in battle for his country. As a young lion, I fought by his side.
And often, when the battle was over, did he embrace and call me his boy!
his own brave boy! and said I was worthy of you both. He has just
gone before, and I now follow him, leaving you the joy to remember,
that your son and husband have attained the highest honor on earth;
the honor of fighting and dying for the rights of man."
Anxious to save the life of so dear a son, poor Mrs. M'Coy fell on her knees
to colonel Brown, and with all the widowed mother agonizing in her looks,
plead for his life. But in vain. With the dark features of a soul
horribly triumphant over the cries of mercy, he repulsed her suit,
and ordered the executioner to do his office! He hung up the young man
before the eyes of his mother! and then, with savage joy,
suffered his Indians, in her presence, to strike their tomahawks
into his forehead; that forehead which she had so often pressed to her bosom,
and kissed with all the transports of a doting mother.
Who, without tears, can think of the hard fate of poor colonel Haynes
and his family?
Soon as the will of heaven had thrown Charleston into the hands
of the British, lord Cornwallis, famed for pompous proclamations,
began to publish. The tenor of his gasconade was, that Carolina was now,
to all intents and purposes, subjugated; that the enemies of his lord the king
were all at his mercy; and that though, by the war rubrick
for conquered rebels, he had a right to send fire and sword before him,
with blood and tears following in his course; though he had a right
to feed the birds of heaven with rebel carcasses, and to fatten his soldiers
with their confiscated goods, yet he meant not to use that dreadful right.
No, indeed! Far from him were all such odious thoughts. On the contrary
he wished to be merciful: and as proof of his sincerity, all that he asked
of the poor deluded people of his majesty's colony of South Carolina was,
that they should no longer take part nor lot in the contest,
but continue peaceably at their homes. And that, in reward thereof,
they should be most sacredly protected in property and person.
This proclamation was accompanied with an instrument of neutrality,
as an "outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace,"
in my lord Cornwallis towards the Carolinians; and which instrument
they were invited to sign, that they might have a covenant right to
the aforesaid promised blessings of protection, both in property and person.
The heart of colonel Haynes was with his countrymen, and fervently did he pray
that his hands could be with them too. But, these, alas! were bound up
by his wife and children, whom, it is said, he loved passing well.
Helpless and trembling as they were, how could they be deserted by him
in this fearful season, and given up to a brutal soldiery?
And why should he insure the destruction of a large estate,
when all opposition seemed hopeless? In short, with thousands of others,
he went and signed an instrument, which promised security
to his family and fortune. But alas! from that fatal moment
he never more enjoyed peace. To hate the ministerial measures as he did,
and yet thus tamely to have submitted to them; to love his country
as heartily as he did, and to know that she was now fighting,
with her all at stake, and yet thus to have deserted her!
These keen self-condemning reflections harrowed every root of quiet
from his soul. If he went to his couch, it was only to groan,
sleepless and tossing, all the restless night. If he got up,
it was but to sit, or walk to and fro in his family,
with dark and woeful looks, like one whom trouble had overcome.
In the midst of these anguishing reflections, which appeared to be
wearing him fast to the grave, a respite was afforded, and by a hand
from which it was least expected. Lord Cornwallis, having by
his first proclamation, obtained to the instrument of neutrality aforesaid,
the signatures of many thousands of the citizens of South Carolina,
then came out with a SECOND proclamation, in which he nominates
the paper above not an instrument of neutrality, but a bond of allegiance
to the king, and calls upon all who had signed it, to take up arms
against the rebels! -- threatening to treat as deserters those who refused!
This fraud of my lord Cornwallis, excited in all honest men
the deepest indignation. It completely revived colonel Haynes.
To his unspeakable joy, he now saw opened a door of honorable return
to duty and happiness. And since, contrary to the most solemn compact,
he was compelled to fight, he very naturally determined to fight the British,
rather than his own countrymen. He fled to his countrymen,
who received him with joy, and gave him a command of horse.
He was surprised and carried to Charleston, where lord Rawdon,
then commandant, ordered him, in his favorite phrase,
to be `knocked into irons'. A mock trial, dignified with
the name of `court martial', was held over him, and colonel Haynes
was sentenced to be hung. Everybody in Charleston,
Britons as well as Americans, all heard this sentence with horror,
except colonel Haynes himself. On his cheek alone, all agree,
it produced no change. It appeared that the deed which he had done,
signing that accursed paper, had run him desperate. Though the larger part,
even of his enemies, believing that it was done merely from sympathy
with his wife and children, felt the generous disposition to forgive him,
yet he could never forgive himself. It had inflicted on his mind
a wound too ghastly to be healed.
To their own, and to the great honor of human nature,
numbers of the British and loyalists, with governor Bull at their head,
preferred a petition to lord Rawdon in his behalf. But the petition
was not noticed. The ladies then came forward in his favor with a petition,
couched in the most delicate and moving terms, and signed
by all the principal females of Charleston, tories as well as whigs.
But all to no purpose. It was then suggested by the friends of humanity,
that if the colonel's little children, for they had no mother,
she, poor woman! crushed under the double weight of grief and the small-pox,
was just sunk at rest in the grave. It was suggested, I say,
that if the colonel's little children, dressed in mourning, were to fall
at the knees of lord Rawdon, he would pity their motherless condition,
and give to their prayers their only surviving parent.
They were accordingly dressed in black, and introduced into his presence:
they fell down at his knees, and, with clasped hands and tear-streaming eyes,
lisped their father's name, and begged his life: but in vain.
So many efforts to save him, both by friends and generous foes,
could not be made, unknown to colonel Haynes. But he appeared
perfectly indifferent about the result! and when told that they
had all failed, he replied with the utmost unconcern -- "Well, thank God,
lord Rawdon cannot hurt me. He cannot be more anxious to take my life
than I am to lay it down."
With his son, a youth of thirteen, who was permitted to stay with him
in the prison, colonel Haynes used often to converse, in order to fortify him
against the sad trial that was at hand. And indeed it was necessary,
for seldom has a heavier load been laid on a tender-hearted youth.
War, like a thick cloud, had darkened up the gay morning of his days:
the grave had just closed her mouth on a mother who doted on him;
and he now beheld his only parent, a beloved father,
in the power of his enemies, loaded with irons, and condemned to die.
With cheeks wet with tears, he sat continually by his father's side,
and looked at him with eyes so piercing and sad, as often wrung tears of blood
from his heart.
"Why," said he, "my son, will you thus break your father's heart with
unavailing sorrow? Have I not often told you, that we came into this world
but to prepare for a better? For that better life, my dear boy,
your father is prepared. Instead then of weeping, rejoice with me, my son,
that my troubles are so near an end. To-morrow, I set out for immortality.
You will accompany me to the place of my execution; and when I am dead,
take and bury me by the side of your mother."
The youth here fell on his father's neck, crying, "Oh my father! my father!
I will die with you! I will die with you!"
Colonel Haynes would have returned the strong embrace of his son;
but, alas! his hands were loaded with irons. "Live," said he, "my son,
live to honor God by a good life; live to serve your country;
and live to take care of your brother and little sisters!"
The next morning colonel Haynes was conducted to the place of execution.
His son accompanied him. Soon as they came in sight of the gallows,
the father strengthened himself and said -- "Now, my son, show yourself a man.
That tree is the boundary of my life, and of all my life's sorrows.
Beyond that, the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest.
Don't lay too much to heart our separation from you; it will be but short.
'Twas but lately your dear mother died. To-day I die. And you, my son,
though but young, must shortly follow us."
"Yes, my father," replied the broken-hearted youth, "I shall shortly
follow you: for indeed I feel that I cannot live long."
And so it happened unto him. For on seeing his father
in the hands of the executioner, and then struggling in the halter,
he stood like one transfixed and motionless with horror.
Till then he had wept incessantly; but soon as he saw that sight,
the fountain of his tears was staunched, and he never wept more.
It was thought that grief, like a fever, burnt inwardly,
and scorched his brain, for he became indifferent to every thing around him,
and often wandered as one disordered in his mind. At times,
he took lessons from a fencing master, and talked of going to England
to fight the murderer of his father. But he who made him had pity on him,
and sent death to his relief. He died insane, and in his last moments
often called on the name of his father, in terms that brought tears
from the hardest hearts.
I hope my reader will not suppose, from these odious truths
which I have been telling him about the British and tories,
that I look on them as worse than other men; or that I would have him bear
an eternal hatred against them. No, God forbid. On the contrary,
I have no doubt on my mind, that the British and tories
are men of the same passions with ourselves. And I also as firmly believe,
that, if placed in their circumstances, we should have acted just as they did.
Upon honor this is my conviction now; but it was not always so:
for I confess there was a time, when I had my prejudices against them,
and prejudices, too, as strong as those of any other man,
let him be who he would. But thank God those prejudices,
so dishonorable to the head, and so uneasy to the heart,
are done away from me now. And from this most happy deliverance,
I am, through the divine goodness, principally indebted to my honored friend,
general Marion, of whose noble sentiments, on these subjects,
I beg leave to give the reader some little specimen in the next chapter.
Short and sweet -- or, a curious dialogue between
general Marion and captain Snipes, on retaliation.
"No radiant pearls that crested fortune wears,
No gem that sparkling hangs in beauty's ears;
Not the bright stars that night's blue arch adorn,
Nor opening suns that gild the vernal morn,
Shine with such lustre as the tear that flows
Down virtue's manly cheeks, for others' woes."
What gigantic form is that which stalks thus awfully before
the eyes of my memory; his face, rough and dark as the cloud of winter,
and his eyeballs burning like coals of fire? 'Tis the impetuous
captain Snipes. He is just returned from the quarter house near Charleston,
where he and captain M'Cauley, with Macdonald and forty men,
have recently surprised and cut to pieces a large party of the enemy.
He looks as if the fury of the battle had not yet subsided
in his wrathful countenance. His steps are towards Marion,
and as he presents a packet, he exclaims in an angry tone, "There, sir,
is a Charleston paper. You'll see there how those villains are going on yet.
Not satisfied with all the murders they had committed before,
they have gone now and murdered colonel Haynes." Here he gave
the heads of that disgraceful act, seasoning his speech every now and then,
as he went along, with sundry very bitter imprecations on lord Rawdon.
"Ah shame! shame upon him!" replied the general with a sigh,
and shaking his head; "shame upon lord Rawdon!"
"Shame!" answered captain Snipes, his eyes flashing fire; "shame!
I hope something heavier than shame will light upon him for it soon.
The American officers have sworn never again to give quarter
to the British or tories."
Marion. God forbid that my countrymen should have taken such an oath as that!
Snipes. Why, general Marion, would you have the enemy go on at this rate,
and we take no revenge?
M. Revenge? O yes, to be sure, sir; revenge is sweet,
and by all means let us have it; but let it be of the right kind.
S. Of the right kind, sir! what do you call revenge of the right kind?
M. Why, sir, I am for taking that kind of revenge which will make our enemies
ashamed of their conduct, and abandon it for ever.
S. Ashamed of their conduct! Monsters! they are not capable of shame.
M. Pshaw! don't talk so, captain Snipes! our enemies, sir, are men,
and just such men as we are; and as capable of generous actions,
if we will but show them the way.
S. Well then, general Marion, how do you account for that great difference
between us and them in point of spirits? We have never yet killed
any of their men, except in fair fight, that I have heard of;
but they have often murdered ours. Yes, the cowardly rascals!
they have often done it, and that in cold blood too.
M. Granted. And I am very glad that when we have had them in our power,
we have always treated them so much more generously. But, I suppose
the reason of such barbarity on their part, is, they have had,
or which is the same thing, have THOUGHT they had greater provocations.
S. They be d--n-d, they and their provocations too! Are not WE the persons
who have been invaded, and plundered and murdered by THEM,
and not they by us? How then can they have greater provocations?
M. Why, sir, sprung originally from them, and always looked on by them
as their children, our turning now and fighting against them,
must appear, in their sight, a very great provocation;
as great perhaps as that of children fighting against their parents.
And again, our shaking off what they glory in, as the wisest, and freest,
and happiest government on earth, must make us seem to them
as no better than the vilest traitors and rebels; which cannot otherwise
than prove another very great provocation. And again, after having been
first settled in this country by them, as they will have it, and afterwards,
so long and liberally assisted with their best blood and treasure,
in hope that some day or other we should be of service to them; that now,
at the very time when, by our immense population, we were just arrived
to the so long desired point, to swell their wealth and spread
their commerce and arms over the world, we should separate from them,
blast all their fond hopes, and throw them back to the former level;
this, I say, you will certainly allow, must be a very severe provocation.
Now, sir, putting all these provocations together, and also taking
poor human nature into the account, is it to be wondered at,
that the British should be so much more angry, and consequently
more violent than we?
S. Why, certainly, general Marion, you have always a very fine knack
of setting off your arguments. But still, sir, I can't see things
in that light. For a man, sir, to go and trump up a pack of claims
against me, and all of them because I can't credit him
in the abominable extent he wishes, to fall upon me and kill and murder me,
as the British and tories have done with us, and we not stop them
by revenge! why, my God! sir, it will never do. For, at this rate,
whom shall we have living in all this country, in a little time,
but the British, and their friends the tories and negroes?
M. My brave captain let me tell you again, I am as anxious to stop them
as you can possibly wish me to be; but I am for doing it
in what I think the right way. I mean the way of policy and humanity.
S. Policy, sir! can there be policy in letting our best men be murdered
by these savages! I'm sure general Washington did not think so.
For, though I am no man of learning myself, yet I have been told
by those that are, that, on its being threatened by general Gage
to hang an American soldier, he instantly wrote him word, that if he dared
to do such a thing, the life of a British soldier should pay for it.
And, it is well known, that he kept the British army and nation too,
in a fright for three months together, with the halter constantly
around the neck of captain Asgil, expecting every day to be hung
for the murder of captain Huddy.
M. True; general Washington did act so. And it was policy
to act against a foreign enemy. But our standing with the tories
is quite a different case, and requires a very different course.
The tories are our countrymen, a part of our own population and strength,
so that every man of them that is killed, is a man forever lost
to ourselves. Now, since the British have put them up to murder us,
if we go, out of revenge, to murder them again, why,
in the course of a little time our population will be so cut up,
as to allow the British ministry, with ease, to take our country,
and make slaves of us all; which is just what lord North desires.
S. Yes, I dare say it is. But I hope he'll be disappointed yet.
M. No doubt of it, sir; if we shall be wise and magnanimous enough to follow
the true policy, which is no other than HUMANITY to these deluded people,
the tories; and to this we have every inducement that generous spirits
could desire. The tories and ourselves are brothers; many of us went
to the same school together; and a thousand times have ate and drank
in each other's houses. And as to the quarrel in which we are now
unfortunately engaged, though not the most, still we are much in fault.
We made no allowances for those follies of theirs which led to it.
They thought -- First, That we were too nearly allied to England to go
to war with her; this was a weakness, but there was something amiable in it.
-- Secondly, They thought the British were much too warlike and powerful
to be resisted by us: this was an error, but it was learned in the nursery.
-- Thirdly, They wished to keep in with the British, merely that
they might save their property; this was altogether from fear,
and therefore claimed some commiseration. But no!
we could not grant one grain of indulgence to any of their mistakes.
We would have it, they all proceeded from the vilest of motives.
We called them traitors, and cowards, and scoundrels; and loaded them
with a thousand indignities besides. Well, the consequences were,
as might have been expected from human weakness and passion.
Wrought to desperation, and caring not what they did,
they have gone and joined our enemies, and many valuable lives
have been lost on both sides. Surely 'tis high time now
that we should set about doing something to end it.
S. Well! let them set about ending it themselves. They were the first
to begin it.
M. But would you have the tories to lead to glory?
S. GLORY! I should think it meanness to be the first to make overtures
to such rascals!
M. Well, but, captain Snipes, when brethren, as we are, fall out,
is it policy to go on to exasperate and cut each other's throats,
until our enemy comes and takes away a fine country, of which,
by such madness, we had rendered ourselves unworthy? Would it not be
much better policy to trace back all our wrong steps of passion and revenge,
and making hearty friends again, and joining our forces against
the common enemy, drive him out of our country; and then by establishing
a free government, and encouraging agriculture and commerce,
and learning, and religion, make ourselves a great and happy people again;
would not this, I say, be the true policy?
S. Why yes, I confess, general Marion, it would be a noble thing,
and very desirable, if it could be done. But I cannot bear
to think of being the first to make terms with the tories,
after they have been burning, and plundering, and murdering
our best friends. It is too hard, sir, for mortal flesh and blood.
M. It is a great trial, I confess; but "the heavier the cross
the brighter the crown," you know, sir. And as to the difficulty
of the undertaking, that's the very thing that should make us jump at it;
the glory of showing ourselves wiser and better men than our enemy.
And besides, let us recollect that the glory of this exploit
all now lies with us: for if we do not pluck up courage and do it,
it will never be done. -- The tories are, generally, an ignorant people;
and therefore not much of wise or good is to be expected from that quarter.
They have also, in many instances, acted a very savage part by us:
their consciousness of this can have no tendency to make them court
reconciliation with us. Since, then, but little is to be expected
from THEM, it seems incumbent on US to do the more.
We have better information, and we have also a much better cause.
These are great advantages which God has given us; and now it becomes us
to improve them, to his glory and to our own honor, by showing
a conciliatory and magnanimous spirit towards our enemies. And though
it should cost us labor to win such a victory, yet, I am confident,
that when won, it will appear to us the most glorious that we ever achieved.
To conquer an enemy by the sword, is, no doubt, honorable;
but still it is nothing in comparison of conquering him by generosity.
As arguing both superior virtue and courage, it commands higher admiration
from the world, and is reflected on by ourselves with far more
self-esteem and applause. And then, sir, only consider how such conduct
will gild the future scenes of life. This unfortunate quarrel
betwixt us and our countrymen, the tories, is not to last forever.
It was only the act of a wicked ministry, attempting,
by an unconstitutional tax to enslave an affectionate part of the nation.
God can never suffer such an attempt to prosper. It must be
but a momentary quarrel; and we ought to accustom ourselves to think of it
as such, and to look beyond it to the happy days that are to succeed.
And since the storm of war is soon to subside into the calm of peace,
let us do nothing now, that may throw a cloud over the coming sunshine.
Let us not even talk of `exterminating war'! that unnatural crime which
would harrow up our souls with the pangs of remorse, and haunt our repose
with the dread of retaliation -- which would draw down upon our cause
the curse of heaven, and make our very name the odium of all generations.
But, far differently, let us act the generous part of those who,
though now at variance, are yet brothers, and soon to be good friends again.
And then, when peace returns, we shall be in proper frame to enjoy it.
No poor woman that we meet will seem to upbraid us for
the slaughter of her husband; no naked child, for robbing him of his father;
no field will cry against us for a brother's blood. On the contrary,
whenever the battles which we are now fighting, shall recur to our thoughts,
with the frightened enemy grounding their arms and crying for quarter,
we shall remember how we heard their cries and stopped the uplifted sword.
Joy will spring in our bosoms, and all around will smile with approbation.
-- The faces of the aged will shine upon us, because we spared their sons;
bright-eyed females will bless us for their surviving husbands:
and even the lips of the children will lisp our praises.
Thus with a heaven of delighted feeling in our hearts, and the smiles
both of God and man on our heads, we shall pass the evening of our days
in glorious peace. And when death shall call us to that better world,
we shall obey without reluctance. Conscious of neither dread nor hate
towards any of the blessed people that dwell there, we shall go
in strong hope of witnessing the bright realities of that state,
where all is immortality and love. Perhaps we shall there meet
many of those whom it has been our sad destiny to fight with here;
not in their present imperfect state, but in their state of exaltation,
clad in robes brighter than the stars, and their faces outshining
the sun in his noonday splendors. Perhaps at sight of us,
these glorious spirits may rush with new-flushed beauties, to embrace us,
and in the presence of crowding angels, recount our kindness to them
in the days of their mortality; while all the dazzling throngs,
listening delighted, shall fix on us their eyes of love,
inspiring those joys which none but strong immortals could sustain.
Are not these, O my friends, hopes worth contending for?
Is revenge to be cherished that would rob us of such honors?
Can generosity be dear that would ensure to us such so great rewards?
Then let us not think benevolence was enjoined in vain,
which is to conduct us to such immortal felicities."
As Marion spoke these words, his countenance, which in general was melancholy,
caught an animation beyond the reader's fancy to conceive.
The charms of goodness, and the bright rewards which await it,
were painted in such living colors on his face, that not even the stranger
could have beheld it unmoved. On me, who almost adored Marion
for his godlike virtues, its effects were past describing. My bosom heaved
with emotions unutterable, while the tear of delicious admiration
swelled in my eyes. As to captain Snipes, he appeared equally affected.
His eyes were riveted on the general, and towards the close of the speech
his breath seemed suspended; his color went and came; and his face
reddened and swelled; as under the powerful eloquence of the pulpit.
Marion and Lee attack and take fort Watson and fort Motte --
From Georgetown, Marion proceeded with colonel Lee to attack
the British post on Scott's lake, generally called fort Watson.
The situation of this fort was romantic and beautiful in the extreme. --
Overlooking the glassy level of the lake, it stood on a mighty barrow or tomb
like a mount, formed of the bones of Indian nations, there heaped up
from time immemorial, and covered with earth and herbage. --
Finding that the fort mounted no artillery, Marion resolved
to make his approaches in a way that should give his riflemen
a fair chance against their musqueteers. For this purpose,
large quantities of pine logs were cut, and as soon as dark came on,
were carried in perfect silence, within point blank shot of the fort,
and run up in the shape of large pens or chimney-stacks,
considerably higher than the enemy's parapets. Great, no doubt,
was the consternation of the garrison next morning, to see themselves
thus suddenly overlooked by this strange kind of steeple, pouring down
upon them from its blazing top incessant showers of rifle bullets.
Nor were they idle the while, but returned the blaze with equal fury,
presenting to us, who lay at a distance, a very interesting scene --
as of two volcanoes that had suddenly broke out into fiery strife,
singeing the neighboring pines.
Though their enemy, yet I could not but pity the British,
when I saw the great disadvantage under which they fought. For our riflemen,
lying above them and firing through loopholes, were seldom hurt;
while the British, obliged, every time they fired, to show their heads,
were frequently killed. -- Increasing still the awkwardness
of their situation, their well, which was on the outside of the fort,
was so entirely in the reach of our rifles, that they could not get
a pail of water for coffee or grog, without the utmost hazard.
After a gallant resistance, they surrendered themselves prisoners of war;
one hundred and twenty in number.
This fort had been very judiciously fixed in a country exceedingly fertile,
and on a lake abounding with fine fish, and from its contiguity
to the river Santee, forming an admirable deposite for their upland posts.
From their military storehouse, which was on the outside of the fort,
the British attempted, at the commencement of our attack,
to get out their goods, and to roll them up into the fort.
But in this exposed state, their men were picked off so fast
by our sharpshooters, that they were soon obliged to quit such hot work.
The sight of their casks and bales, rolled out and shining so richly
on the side of the hill, set the fingers of our ragged militia-men
on such an itch, that there was no resisting it. And presently
a squad of three of them were seen pushing out, without leave or license,
to attack a large hogshead, that lay very invitingly
on the outside of the rest. The enemy seeing the approach of our buccaneers,
reserved their fire until they had got pretty near up to the intended prize;
then all at once cut loose upon them with a thundering clap,
which killed one, crippled a second, and so frightened the third,
that he forgot the cask, and turning tail, thought of nothing
but to save his bacon! which he did by such extraordinary running and jumping,
as threw us all into a most immoderate laugh.
Presently up comes my black waiter, Billy, with a broad grin on his face,
and says, "Why, master, them militia men there, sir, are tarnal fools:
they do not know nothing at all about stealing. But if you will please, sir,
to let me try my hand, I can fetch off that hogshead there, mighty easy, sir."
"No, no, Billy!" said I, shaking my head, "that will never do, my lad.
I value you much too highly, Billy, to let you be knocked on the head,
so foolishly as all that comes to."
"Lord bless you, sir," replied he, smiling, "there is no more danger in it,
than in eating when a body is hungry. And if you will only please
let me try my hand, sir, if you see any danger, why then, master,
you may call me back, you know, sir."
Upon this he started. Fortunately for him, our riflemen,
seeing what he was after, made a noble diversion in his favor,
by throwing a galling fire into the fort. On getting within
thirty yards of the hogshead, he fell flat on his face,
and dragged himself along on his belly until he reached it.
Then seizing the hogshead with a hand on each chine he worked it
backwards and backwards, like an alligator pulling a dog into the river,
until he had fairly rolled his prize to the brink of the hill, where,
giving it a sudden jerk by way of a start, and at the same time jumping up,
he ran with all his might down the precipice, the hogshead hard after him,
and was soon out of all danger. Numbers of shots were fired at him,
but not one touched him, which gave great joy to our encampment,
who were all anxious spectators of the transaction, and seemed
to take a deep interest in Billy's success. And no wonder;
for he was a most noble-hearted fellow, and exceedingly useful in camp.
Officers or soldiers, cadets or colonels, no matter who they were,
that asked Billy a favor, they were sure to have it done for them;
and with such a cheerful air, as did them more good than the service itself.
So that I much question, whether there was a man in all our camp,
whose good luck would have given more general satisfaction than his.
On opening Billy's hogshead, which indeed was no hogshead,
but rather a puncheon, as big as two hogsheads, there was a prodigious stare
among our men at the sight of so much wealth.
100 strong white shirts for soldiers,
50 fine do. do. for officers,
50 camp blankets,
100 black stocks,
100 knapsacks, and
6 dragoon cloaks,
were the valuable contents of Billy's cask. The native genius
of the poor fellow instantly broke out in a stream of generous actions,
which never stopped, until the hogshead was completely emptied.
First of all, he began with me, to whom he presented
half a dozen of the fine shirts and black stocks, with a dragoon's cloak.
Then to the general he made a present, also to the officers of his family.
To his fellow-servants, who messed with him, he gave two shirts a-piece.
But what pleased me most in Billy's donations, was his generosity
to the two men who had miscarried in their attempt on the same cask.
Seeing that they were much mortified at their own failure,
and a little perhaps at his success, he desired them to come
and help themselves to what they liked. Hearing him then express a wish
that he knew what to do with the balance, I told him that many of our dragoons
were poor men, and much in want of shirts. "Aye, sure enough," said he,
and immediately handed them out a shirt a-piece, until all were gone.
For this generosity of Billy's, general Marion dubbed him "CAPTAIN Billy",
a name which he went by ever afterwards. Nothing was ever more seasonable
than this supply, purchased by Billy's valor; for before that,
we were all as ragged as young rooks. There was not an officer in camp,
except colonel Lee and his staff, who was so rich as to own two shirts.
I am very sure that Marion's aids had but one a-piece.
And yet so independent of wealth is cheerfulness, that I have often
seen our officers in their naked buffs, near a branch,
singing and dancing around their shirts, which they had just washed,
and hung on the bushes to dry.
From the reduction of fort Watson, we set out immediately in high spirits,
for the still nobler attack on fort Motte. For the sake of fine air,
and water, and handsome accommodations, the British had erected this fort
in the yard of Mrs. Motte's elegant new house, which was nearly enclosed
in their works. But alas! so little do poor mortals know what they are about!
the fine house, which they had rudely taken from poor Mrs. Motte,
proved to the British, what his gay shirt did to Hercules. It wrought
their downfall. For, after a fierce contest, in which many valuable lives
were lost on both sides, through the sharp shooting of the yaugers,
and the still closer cutting of our riflemen, it struck Marion that he could
quickly drive the enemy out of the fort, by setting the house on fire.
But poor Mrs. Motte! a lone widow, whose plantation had been so long ravaged
by the war, herself turned into a log cabin, her negroes dispersed,
and her stock, grain, &c. nearly all ruined! must she now lose
her elegant buildings too? Such scruples were honorable to the general;
but they showed his total unacquaintedness with the excellent widow.
For at the first glimpse of the proposition, she exclaimed, "O! burn it!
burn it, general Marion! God forbid I should bestow a single thought
on my little concerns, when the independence of my country is at stake. --
No sir, if it were a palace it should go." She then stepped to her closet
and brought out a curious bow with a quiver of arrows,
which a poor African boy purchased from on board a Guineaman,
had formerly presented her, and said, "Here, general, here is what
will serve your purpose to a hair." The arrows, pointed with iron,
and charged with lighted combustibles, were shot on top of the house,
to which they stuck, and quickly communicated the flames.
The British, two hundred in number, besides a good many tories,
instantly hung out a white flag in sign of submission.
The excellent Mrs. Motte was present when her fine new house,
supposed to be worth six thousand dollars, took fire; and without a sigh,
beheld the red spiry billows prevailing over all its grandeur.*
* Judge William Dobein James, who was present, assures us,
in his biography of Marion, that the fire was put out
"before much mischief was done". -- A. L., 1997.
The day after the destruction of her house, she invited general Marion
with all the officers, British as well as American, to dine with her.
Having now no better place of accommodation, she entertained us
under a large arbor built in front of her log cabin, where,
with great pleasure, I observed that the same lady could one day
act the Spartan, and the next the Parisian: thus uniting in herself,
the rare qualities of the heroine and the christian. For my life I could not
keep my eyes from her. To think what an irreparable injury these officers
had done her! and yet to see her, regardless of her own appetite,
selecting the choicest pieces of the dish, and helping them with
the endearing air of a sister, appeared to me one of the loveliest spectacles
I had ever beheld. It produced the happiest effect on us all.
Catching her amiable spirit, we seemed to have entirely forgotten
our past animosities; and Britons and Americans mingled together,
in smiles and cheerful chat, like brothers. I do not recollect
a transaction in the whole war, in which I can think that God looked down
with higher complacency than on this. And to the day of my death,
I shall believe, that God enabled us to beat the British in arms,
because we had so far beaten them in generosity. Men, who under
such cruel provocations, could display such moderation as we did,
must certainly have given our Maker good hope, that we were equal
to the glorious business of self-government; or in other words,
of living under a republic, which must certainly be his delight,
because both implying and producing more wisdom and virtue,
than any other government among men.
The name of the British commandant, our prisoner, was Ferguson;
and a very pleasant gentleman he was too, as I found on getting acquainted
with him, which I soon did. After talking over our various adventures
in the war, he asked me if I did not command the cavalry,
in the late skirmishing between Watson and Marion. I told him I did.
"Well," replied he, "you made a very lucky escape that day:
for do you know that we were twelve hundred strong, owing to colonel Small's
joining us in the march?"
"Then truly," said I, "if that were the case, I made a lucky escape,
"And where were you," he asked again, "when general Marion
so completely surprised our guard at Nelson's old fields: were you there?"
I told him I was not, but that my brother, Hugh Horry, was.
"Well," continued he, laughing heartily, "that was MY lucky day.
I had a command there that morning of about thirty men, as an advance.
We had not left the guard more than five minutes before the Americans charged
and swept all. The moment we heard the firing and the cries of our people,
we squatted in the high grass like so many rabbits, then running on the stoop,
till we gained the woods, we cleared ourselves." I laughed,
and asked how many men he supposed Marion had that morning."
He replied, he really did not know, but supposed he must have had
three or four hundred.
"Well, sir," said I, "he had exactly thirty."
The reader may perhaps conceive Ferguson's astonishment:
I cannot describe it.
Soon as the dishes were removed, we were presented with a spectacle
to which our eyes had long been strangers, a brave parade of excellent wine:
several hampers of which had been received at the fort the very day
before we commenced the attack. To poor soldiers like us,
who, for years, had hardly quenched our thirst on any thing better
than water or apple brandy grog, this was a sight immensely refreshing.
Whether it was owing to the virtues of this noble cordial,
with the recollection of our late glorious victories;
or whether it was the happy result of our generosity to the enemy,
and of their correspondent politeness to us, I do not know;
but certain it is, we were all very gay. But in the midst of our enjoyments,
which none seemed to relish with a higher glee than general Marion,
a British soldier came up and whispered to one of their officers,
who instantly coming round to the general, told him in a low voice,
that the Americans were hanging the tories who had been taken in the fort!
In a moment he sprang up, in a violent passion, and snatching his sword,
ran down towards our encampment. We all followed him, though without
knowing the cause. On turning the corner of the garden which had concealed
their cruel deeds, we discovered a sight most shocking to humanity,
a poor man hanging in the air to the beam of a gate, and struggling hard
in the agonies of death. "Cut him down! cut him down!" cried the general,
as soon as he had got near enough to be heard, which was instantly done.
Then running up, with cheeks as red as fire coals, and half choked with rage,
he bawled out, "In the name of God! what are you about,
what are you about here!"
"Only hanging a few tories, sir," replied captain Harrison of Lee's legion.
"Who gave you a right, sir, to touch the tories?"
To this, young M'Corde, of the same corps, replied, that it was
only three or four rascals of them that they meant to hang;
and that they had not supposed the general would mind that.
"What! not mind murdering the prisoners. Why, my God!
what do you take me to be? do you take me for a devil?"
Then, after placing a guard over the tories, and vowing to make an example
of the first man who should dare to offer them violence,
he returned with the company to Mrs. Motte's table.
Of the three unfortunate tories that were hung dead, one was named
Hugh Mizcally. The name of the person so timely cut down was Levi Smith,
a most furious tory. This title produced him such respect
among those degenerate Britons, that they appointed him
gatekeeper of Charleston, a circumstance that operated much against
the poor whigs in the country. For Smith soon broke up a pious kind of fraud,
which the wives and daughters of the tories had for some time carried on
at a bold rate.
To the immortal honor of the ladies of South Carolina, they were much more
whiggishly given than the men; insomuch that though married to tories,
they would be whigs still.
These fair ladies, in consequence of their relation to the tories,
could, at pleasure, pass into Charleston; which they never left
without bringing off quantities of broad cloth cut and jumped into petticoats,
and artfully hid under their gowns. The broad cloth, thus brought off,
was for regimentals for our officers. -- Things went on swimmingly
in this way for a long time, till Smith, getting one day
more groggy and impudent than usual, swore that some young women
who were going out at the gate, looked much bigger over the hips
than they had need, and insisted on a search. The truth is,
these fair patriots, preparing for a great wedding in the country,
had thus spoiled their shape, and brought themselves to all this disgrace
by their over greediness for finery. But Mr. tory Smith affected
to be so enraged by this trick, which the girls had attempted to play on him,
that he would never afterwards suffer a woman to pass
without first pulling up her clothes.
He carried his zeal to such length, as one day very grossly to insult
a genteel old lady, a Mrs. M'Corde.
Her son, who was a dragoon in Lee's legion, swore vengeance
against Smith, and would, as we have seen, have taken his life,
had not Gen. Marion interposed.
In the Charleston papers of that day, 1781, Smith gives
the history of his escape from Marion, wherein he relates an anecdote,
which, if it be true, and I see no reason to doubt it, shows clear enough
that his toryism cost him dear.
In his confinement at Motte's house, he was excessively uneasy.
Well knowing that the whigs owed him no good will, and fearing
that the next time they got a halter round his neck, he might find no Marion
to take his part, he determined if possible to run off.
The tories were all handcuffed two and two, and confined together
under a sentinel, in what was called a `bull-pen', made of pine trees,
cut down so judgmatically as to form, by their fall, a pen or enclosure.
It was Smith's fortune to have for his yoke-fellow a poor sickly creature
of a tory, who, though hardly able to go high-low, was prevailed on
to desert with him. They had not travelled far into the woods,
before his sick companion, quite overcome with fatigue,
declared he could go no farther, and presently fell down in a swoon.
Confined by the handcuffs, Smith was obliged to lie by him in the woods,
two days and nights, without meat or drink! and his comrade frequently
in convulsions! On the third day he died. Unable to bear it any longer,
Smith drew his knife and separated himself from the dead man,
by cutting off his arm at the elbow, which he bore with him to Charleston.
The British heartily congratulated his return, and restored him
to his ancient honor of sitting, Mordecai-like, at the king's gate,
where, it is said, he behaved very decently ever afterwards.
Smith's friends say of him, that in his own country (South Carolina)
he hardly possessed money enough to buy a pig, but when he got to England,
after the war, he made out as if the rebels had robbed him of
as many flocks and herds as the wild Arabs did Job. The British government,
remarkable for generosity to their friends in distress,
gave him money enough to return to South Carolina with a pretty
assortment of merchandise. And he is now, I am told, as wealthy as a Jew,
and, which is still more to his credit, as courteous as a christian.
The author congratulates his dear country on her late glorious victories --
recapitulates British cruelties, drawing after them, judicially,
a succession of terrible overthrows.
Happy Carolina! I exclaimed, as our late victories passed over
my delighted thoughts; happy Carolina! dear native country, hail!
long and dismal has been the night of thy affliction: but now rise and sing,
for thy "light is breaking forth, and the dawn of thy redemption
is brightening around."
For opposing the curses of slavery, thy noblest citizens have been branded
as `rebels', and treated with a barbarity unknown amongst civilized nations.
They have been taken from their beds and weeping families, and transported,
to pine and die in a land of strangers.
They have been crowded into midsummer jails and dungeons,*
there, unpitied, to perish amidst suffocation and stench;
while their wives and children, in mournful groups around the walls,
were asking with tears for their husbands and fathers!
* All Europe was filled with horror at the history of
the one hundred and twenty unfortunate Englishmen that were suffocated
in the black hole of Calcutta. Little was it thought that
an English nobleman (lord Rawdon) would so soon have repeated that crime,
by crowding one hundred and sixty-four unfortunate Americans
into a small prison in Camden, in the dogdays.
They have been wantonly murdered with swords and bayonets,*
or hung up like dogs to ignominious gibbets.
* A brother of that excellent man, major Linning, of Charleston, was taken
from his plantation on Ashley river, by one of the enemy's galleys,
and thrust down into the hold. At night the officers began
to drink and sing, and kept it up till twelve o'clock,
when, by way of frolic, they had him brought, though sick, into their cabin,
held a court martial over him, sentenced him to death,
very deliberately executed the sentence by stabbing him with bayonets,
and then threw his mangled body into the river for the sharks and crabs
They have been stirred up and exasperated against each other,
to the most unnatural and bloody strifes. "Fathers to kill their sons,
and brothers to put brothers to death!"
Such were the deeds of Cornwallis and his officers in Carolina!
And while the churches in England were, everywhere, resounding with
prayers to Almighty God, "to spare the effusion of human blood,"
those monsters were shedding it with the most savage wantonness!
While all the good people in Britain were praying, day and night,
for a speedy restoration of the former happy friendship
between England and America, those wretches were taking the surest steps
to drive all friendship from the American bosom, and to kindle the flames
of everlasting hatred!
But, blessed be God, the tears of the widows and orphans
have prevailed against them, and the righteous Judge of all the earth
is rising up to make inquisition for the innocent blood which they have shed.
And never was his hand more visibly displayed in the casting down
of the wicked, than in humbling Cornwallis and his bloody crew.
At this period, 1780, the western extremities were the only parts of the state
that remained free. To swallow these up, Cornwallis sent Col. Ferguson,
a favorite officer, with fourteen hundred men. Hearing of
the approach of the enemy, and of their horrible cruelties,
the hardy mountaineers rose up as one man from Dan to Beersheba.
They took their faithful rifles. They mounted their horses,
and with each his bag of oats, and a scrap of victuals,
they set forth to find the enemy. They had no plan, no general leader.
The youth of each district, gathering around their own brave colonel,
rushed to battle. But though seemingly blind and headlong
as their own mountain streams, yet there was a hand unseen
that guided their course. They all met, as by chance,
near the King's mountain, where the ill-fated Ferguson encamped.
Their numbers counted, made three thousand. That the work and victory
may be seen to be of God, they sent back all but one thousand chosen men.
A thousand men on mountains bred,
With rifles all so bright,
Who knew full well, in time of need,
To aim their guns aright.
At parting, the ruddy warriors shook hands with their returning friends,
and sent their love. "Tell our fathers," said they, "that we shall
think of them in the battle, and draw our sights the truer."
Then led on by the brave colonels Campbell, Cleveland, Shelby,
Sevier, and Williams, they ascended the hill and commenced the attack.
Like Sinai of old, the top of the mountain was soon wrapped
in smoke and flames; the leaden deaths came whizzing from all quarters;
and in forty minutes Ferguson was slain, and the whole of his party
killed, wounded or taken.
To avenge this mortifying blow, Cornwallis despatched colonel Tarleton
with thirteen hundred and fifty picked troops, against Morgan,
who had but nine hundred men, and these more than half militia.
At the first onset, the militia fled,* leaving Morgan with only four hundred
to contend against thirteen hundred and fifty, rushing on furiously
as to certain victory. What spectator of this scene must not have given up
all for lost, and with tears resigned this little forlorn,
to that unsparing slaughter which colonel Tarleton delighted in?
But, contrary to all human expectation, the devoted handful
stood their ground, and, in a short time, killed and captured
nearly the whole of their proud assailants!
* While Weems' exaggerations have been left largely unremarked in this text,
the disservice done to those militia who fought bravely at Cowpens
compels me to note that this description is inaccurate. -- A. L., 1997.
Raging like a wounded tiger, Cornwallis destroys all his heavy baggage,
and pushes hard after Morgan. The pursuit is urged with unimaginable fury:
and Cornwallis gains so fast upon the Americans, encumbered with
their prisoners, that on the evening of the ninth day he came up
to the banks of the Catawba, just as Morgan's rear had crossed at a deep ford.
Before the wished-for morning returned, the river was so swollen
by a heavy rain, that Cornwallis could not pass. Adoring the hand of Heaven,
the Americans continued their flight. On the morning of the third day,
Cornwallis renewed the pursuit with redoubled fury, and by the ninth evening,
came up to the banks of the Yadkin, just as Morgan's last rifle corps
was about to take the ford. Presently the rain came rushing down in torrents,
and by the morning light the furious river was impassable!
Who so blind as not to acknowledge the hand of God in all this?
Soon as he could get over, the wrathful Cornwallis renewed the pursuit;
but before he could overtake them at Guilford Courthouse, the Americans,
joined by their countrymen, gave him battle, and killed one third of his army.
Cornwallis then, in turn, fled before the Americans; and as he had
outmarched them before, he outran them now, and escaped safely to Wilmington.
With largely recruited force he returned to Virginia, where four hundred
deluded men, (tories) under colonel Pyles, came forward to join him.
On their way they fell in with Col. Lee and his legion.
Mistaking them for Tarleton and his cavalry, they wave their hats and cry out,
"God save the king! God save the king!" Lee encourages the mistake,
until they are all intermixed with his dragoons, who at a signal given,
draw their swords and hew the wretches to pieces. Only one hundred
make their escape. These fall in, the next day, with colonel Tarleton,
who, mistaking them for what he called "damned rebels", ordered his troops
to charge, which they did; and regardless of their repeated cries,
that "they were the king's best friends," put most of them to death.
Thus wonderfully did God baffle lord Cornwallis, and visit a sudden
and bloody destruction upon those unnatural wretches, who were going forth
to plunge their swords into the bowels of their own country.
After this, being joined by all the British troops in that quarter,
he rolled on like an angry flood to Williamsburg and York, where God sent
his servant Washington, who presently captured him and his fleet and army,
near ten thousand strong.
The British evacuate Charleston -- great joy of the citizens --
patriotism of the Charleston ladies.
As when a lion that has long kept at bay the fierce assaulting shepherds,
receives at last his mortal wound, suddenly the monster trembles
under the deadly stroke; and, sadly howling, looks around with wistful eye
towards his native woods. Such was the shock given to the British,
when the sword of heaven-aided justice struck down the bloody Cornwallis.
With him fell the hopes of the enemy throughout our state.
In Charleston, their officers were seen standing together in groups,
shaking their heads as they talked of the dreadful news.
While those who had marched up so boldly into the country,
now panic-struck, were every where busied in demolishing their works,
blowing up their magazines, and hurrying back to town in the utmost dismay.
Hard pressing upon the rear, we followed the steps of their flight,
joyfully chasing them from a country which they had stained with blood,
and pursuing them to the very gates of Charleston. As we approached the city,
our eyes were presented with scenes of desolation sufficient to damp
all hearts, and to inspire the deepest sense of the horrors of war.
Robbed of all animal and vegetable life, the neighboring plantations
seemed but as dreary deserts, compared with what they once were,
when, covered with sportive flocks and herds, and rice and corn,
they smiled with plenteousness and joy. In the fields, the eyes beheld
no sign of cheerful crops, nor in the woods any shape of living beast or bird,
except a few mournful buzzards, silently devouring the unburied flesh
of some poor wretched mortals, who had fallen in the late rencontres
between the English and Americans. Indeed, had those days continued,
no flesh could have been saved; but blessed be God, who shortened them,
by chastising the aggressors (the British) as we have seen.
On the memorable 14th of December, 1782, we entered and took possession
of our capital, after it had been two years seven months and two days in
the hands of the enemy. The style of our entry was quite novel and romantic.
On condition of not being molested while embarking, the British had offered
to leave the town unhurt. Accordingly, at the firing of a signal gun
in the morning, as agreed on, they quitted their advanced works,
near the town gate, while the Americans, moving on close in the rear,
followed them all along through the city down to the water's edge,
where they embarked on board their three hundred ships, which,
moored out in the bay in the shape of an immense half moon,
presented a most magnificent appearance.
The morning was as lovely as pure wintry air and cloudless sunbeams
could render it; but rendered far lovelier still by our procession,
if I may so call it, which was well calculated to awaken
the most pleasurable feelings. In front, were the humble remains
of that proud army, which, one and thirty months ago, captured our city,
and thence, in the drunkenness of victory had hurled menaces and cruelties
disgraceful to the British name: -- And close in the rear, was our
band of patriots, bending forward with martial music and flying colors,
to play the last joyful act in the drama of their country's deliverance;
to proclaim liberty to the captive; to recall the smile
on the cheek of sorrow; and to make the heart of the widow leap for joy.
Numbers, who, for years, had been confined to a single room
in their own elegant houses, could now throw open their long-locked doors,
and breathe and walk at large in these beloved apartments,
from which they had been so long excluded. Numbers, who, for years,
had mourned their separation from children, wives, and sires,
were now seen rushing, with trembling joy, to the long-coveted embrace.
Oh! it was a day of jubilee indeed! a day of rejoicing never to be forgotten.
Smiles and tears were on every face. For who could remain unmoved,
when they saw the little children running with outstretched arms
to embrace their long absent fathers; when they saw the aged trembling
with years and affection, clasping their warrior sons, glorious in arms,
and those sons, with pleasure-sparkling eyes, returning the pious embrace,
and congratulating the deliverance of their fathers;
while all along the streets, as we moved in clouds of joy-rolling dust,
nothing was to be heard but shouts of, LIBERTY and AMERICA FOREVER;
and nothing was to be seen but crowds of citizens shaking hands
and thanking God for bringing them to see that happy day.
And to crown all, on both sides of us, as we marched in shining rows,
stood our beauteous countrywomen, mingling their congratulations.
The day was precious to all, but none I believe enjoyed it so highly
as did the ladies of Charleston. Being, great numbers of them at least,
women of fortune and liberal education, they had early discovered
the deformity of lord North's enslaving principles, "unconditional taxation",
which they abhorred worse than the yaws; and hating the measure,
they could not but dislike the men who were come to execute it.
In common with their sex, they were sufficiently partial to soldiers of honor.
But alas! they were not permitted the pleasure to contemplate the British
in that prepossessing light. On the contrary, compelled to view them
as mere `fighting machines', venal wretches, who for pay and plunder,
had degraded the man into the brute, the Briton into the buccaneer,
how could they otherwise than detest them?
Nor were the manners of the British officers at all calculated
to remove those antipathies. Coming to America, under the impression
that the past generation were `convicts', and the present `rebels',
they looked on and treated their daughters only as `pretty Creoles',
whom it was doing great honor to smile on!
But this prejudice against the British officers, founded first
on their sordidness, then, secondly, fed by their insolence,
was, thirdly and lastly, matured by their cruelty. To see the heads
of their first families, without even a charge of crime, dragged from
their beds at midnight, and packed off like slaves to St. Augustine;
to see one of their most esteemed countrymen, the amiable colonel Haynes,
hung up like a dog before their eyes; and to hear continually,
from all parts, of the horrid house-burnings and murders committed
by Rawdon, Tarleton, Weymies, and their tory and negro allies,
filled up the measure of female detestation of the British officers.
They scorned to be seen in the same public walks with them;
would not touch a glove or snuff-box from their hands; and in short,
turned away from them as from the commonest felons or cut-throats.
And on the other hand, to be treated thus by `buckskin girls',
the rebel daughters of convict parents, was more than the British officers
could put up with. The whig ladies, of course, were often insulted,
and that very grossly too; and not only often threatened, but actually thrown
into the provost or bastile. No wonder then that they were highly delighted
to see such rude enemies, after repeated overthrows in the country,
chased back to town, and thence, covered with disgrace, embarking to leave
the country for ever. No wonder that, on hearing of our line of march
that morning, they had decked themselves in their richest habits,
and at the first sound of our drums, flew to their doors, windows,
and balconies, to welcome our return.
Never before had they appeared half so charming. Sweet are
the flowers of the field at every season of the year, but doubly sweet,
when, after long icy winter, they spread all their blossoms
to the spring-tide sun. Even so the daughters of Charleston,
though always fair, yet never seemed so passing fair as now,
when after sustaining the long wintry storms of British oppression,
they came forth in all their patriot charms to greet
the welcome beams of returning liberty. And never shall I forget
the accents of those lovely lips, which, from behind
their waving handkerchiefs, that but half concealed their angel blushes,
exclaiming, "God bless you, gentlemen! God bless you! welcome!
welcome to your homes again!"
Marion returns to his plantation -- is appointed a member of the legislature
-- some valuable anecdotes of him -- his marriage -- and retirement.
After the retreat of the British from Carolina, Marion sheathed his sword
for lack of argument, and went up to cultivate his little plantation
in St. John's parish, where he was born. But the gratitude of his countrymen
did not long allow him to enjoy the sweets of that rural life,
of which he was uncommonly fond. At the next election,
he was in some sort compelled to stand as a candidate for the legislature,
to which, by an unanimous voice, he was sent, to aid with his counsel,
the operations of that government, to whose freedom his sword
had so largely contributed. The friends of humanity were all highly pleased
with his call to the legislature. From his well known generosity
to his enemies, during the war, they fondly hoped he would do
every thing in his power to extinguish that horrid flame of revenge,
which still glowed in the bosoms of many against the tories.
Nor did Marion disappoint their hopes. His face was always, and undauntedly,
set against every proposition that savored of severity to the tories,
whom he used to call his "poor deluded countrymen". The reader may form
some idea of general Marion from the following anecdote,
which was related to me by the honorable Benjamin Huger, Esq.
During the furious contests in South Carolina, between the British
and Americans, it was very common for men of property to play
`jack of both sides', for the sake of saving their negroes and cattle. --
Among these, a pretty numerous crew, was a wealthy old blade,
who had the advantage of one of those very accommodating faces,
that could shine with equal lustre on his victorious visitants,
whether Britons or buckskins. Marion soon found him out;
and as soon gave him a broad hint how heartily he despised such `trimming';
for at a great public meeting where the old gentleman, with a smirking face,
came up and presented his hand, Marion turned from him without deigning
to receive it. Everybody was surprised at this conduct of the general,
and some spoke of it in terms of high displeasure. However,
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