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their militia colonels, to the number of six hundred strong. daring, wellmounted, and excellent horsemen."
Ferguson took alarm and began a retreat. The frontiersmen collected by twos, threes and half-dozens at Gilberttown, and soon nine hundred of their best mounted men set out in pursuit, leaving their comrades to follow. The first evening they halted at the Cow pens. Early in the morning they again took the march, moving toward King's mountain, twelve miles distant, and, when they had proceeded nine miles, learned that Ferguson had taken a strong position upon that eminence. His men were extended along the level ridge which forms its summit, and their commander had boasted that "if all the rebels out of hell should attack him they would not drive him from it.” The Americans dismounted, tied their horses, divided into three nearly equal divisions, and prepared to scale the heights from three sides. Their fighting directions were very simple: the men were to fire at will, and with good aim, as rapidly as possible. If unable to hold their ground, they were to retire to cover, re-form, and again advance, but never to entirely desert the field. The movements were delayed some time that they might be simultaneous. Then the left, commanded by Cleveland, drew the first fire from the enemy, at about 4 o'clock. Almost immediately after, the centre, commanded by Colonel Campbell, came into action, deployed behind trees and fences, and answered the heavy volleys of the enemy with most deadly effect.
Ferguson made a sally and began driving Campbell's force down the mountain; almost immediately, one of the other bodies opened a flanking fire; he turned his attention to that, and had forced it to give way, when the third appeared, and he found Campbell re-formed and advancing. So he fought first one division, then another, always meeting a fresh and confident enemy at every turn; the Americans, being below him, could fire without injuring each other, and it seemed that every bullet told. Still he held his ground bravely, until the field was strewn with dead; his men, no longer able to endure the terrible fire, broke; he endeavored to rally them and was shot from his horse. Then his second in command beat a parley and begged for quarter, and the fight was over. The Americans lost twenty men killed and many wounded, and the enemy lost one hundred and fifty killed, an equal number wounded, and eight hundred and ten captured.
On the following day a court-martial was held, a few of the most bitter tories captured, were hanged, in retaliation for similar action on the part of Cornwallis, then the men dispersed to their homes, as quietly and mysteriously as they had assembled, not feeling that they had performed any very remarkable exploit, yet they had, in fact, turned the whole tide of war in the South. Cornwallis, who had intended reducing North Carolina, then forcing a junction with the detachment sent by Howe to Virginia, became alarmed for his own safety and for the security of Georgia and South Caro
lína, and gave up his plans of aggression. On the 14th of October following the battle, he began his weary and perilous retrograde march. Hungry, footworn, fired upon from every copse and cover, it required two weeks for his army to reach and cross the Catawba, and take position at Winnsborough, South Carolina.
The remainder of the autumn and the early winter were occupied by the British in most vexatious and costly warfare. General Francis Marion, with his handful of hardy partisans; Sumter at the head of his irrepressible followers,-one or the other of these was always in the field, or at least threatening to take the offensive. Tarleton was sent against Marion; the latter, finding himself outnumbered, kept his stronghold. Tarleton adopted the ruse of dividing his men into small bodies, and so disposing them that they might be speedily reunited. This proved successful; Marion, whom his enemies called the “Swamp Rat," came out of his hole, Tarleton concentrated his forces, drove the Americans from one swamp to another, inflicting some damage, and considered their destruction certain, when came word from Cornwallis to return to his assistance, as Sumter was in the field. So, giving up his smaller quarry for more important game, Tarleton returned, attacked Sumter, attempted to carry a log barn in which some of the Americans had taken refuge, and was repulsed, with heavy loss of his best men, in killed and wounded. Night came on, and he retired to a place of safety, while Sumter's men disbanded, and were far enough away when it was sought to avenge the defeat of Tarleton. The Americans lost but seven killed. This is but an example of the daily vexation of Cornwallis, by bodies of men too large to be ignored; too small and nimble to be met according to ordinary rules of war. If he sent out foragers, they found the farmers posted behind trees and fences, and bought with blood the food for which the patriots disdained to accept gold ; his dispatches were intercepted; his stragglers cut off, and his command was one of constant worry and irritation.
Gates had, in the meantime, collected the sad remnant of his army at Charlotte. He was crushed by a defeat which he could not but acknowledge was the result of his own folly and negligence. There was little about him of the old self-confidence and vanity. Soon after entering winter quarters, he received news of the death of his only son, and, while this wound was still fresh, came notification that he had been superseded in command by General Greene. In this unhappy complication of troubles, he received a letter from General Washington, condoling with him upon the loss of his child, and referring to his military reverses in terms so considerate and delicate as to quite unman him. It is related, by Irving, that, after reading this letter, "Gates was found walking about his room in the greatest agitation, pressing the letter to his lips, breaking forth into ejaculations of gratitude and admiration, and when he could find utterance to his thoughts, declared
that its tender sympathy and considerate delicacy had conveyed more consolation and delight to his heart, than he had believed it possible ever to have felt again." It is more than likely that he was moved as much by remorse at his former injustice to Washington, as by gratitude at the noble and characteristic utterances of the man he had wronged. On the 2d of December, 1780, Greene arrived at Charlotte and took command of the army. Upon his way southward he had made provision for the strengthening and sustenance of the force in the Carolinas, and for the protection of Virginia from hostile attack. He came charged by Congress not only with the command of the army, but with the delicate duty of providing for a court of inquiry into the conduct of General Gates. Greene, himself a man of seasibility, had probably received from Washington some hints as to his conduct. Certain it is, he behaved with the greatest delicacy and thoughtfulness toward the double misfortunes of his predecessor. Calling a council, it was determined that there were not enough general officers in camp to constitute a proper court of inquiry ; that, considering the recent family affliction of General Gates, it would be highly indecorous and indelicate to force him into an investigation, which he could not honorably postpone; that prima facie evidence indicated that he had been more unfortunate than criminal, hence, considering all the circumstances, nothing should for the time be done in the matter, and that Congress be urged to reverse its decision. Such kindness and magnanimity are almost unparalleled in military history, as the army is too often marked, instead, by the virulence of its personal enmities and jealousy. Gates was completely overcome. He had regarded Greene with coldness, if not with stronger feeling. From this time he was one of the warmest, most affectionate friends of Greene, as he was, ever after, of the commander in chief. The Virginia General Assembly appointed a committee to wait upon Gates and express to him the sympathy and respect of that body, and with heart touched and comforted by these indications of good will, he left the army and retired to his farm in Berkeley county.
The force which Greene found awaiting him, was little more than an apology for an organization. It numbered but two thousand three hundred men; these were undisciplined, disorganized, depressed, and showed, in every particular, the inevitable result of such a defeat as they had suffered. The country about Charlotte was so exhausted by repeated foragings, that he determined to divide his force, and seek fresh and more hopeful ground for their encampment. To this end he sent one portion, under General Morgan, to the district of Ninety Six, in South Carolina, and with the other himself made a toilsome march to Hick's creek, in the Chesterfield district, ard there took position.
ARRIVAL OF ROCHAMBEAU-TREASON OF ARNOLD.
HE winter at Valley Forge has been described; that at Morristown,
then, needs no description. There was the same want, nakedness, and death; the winter was the coldest ever known in New Jersey. So cold was it, that the remainder of the British fleet at New York was imprisoned by ice, and an army with heavy cannon might have marched across either river to attack the city. The pay of the American soldiers was greatly in arrear, in some cases the men having received no money for five months; when paid it was only in Continental scrip, which was so far depreciated, that three months pay of a soldier would not buy a bushel of wheat, and an officer did not receive as much, in purchasing power, as would a teamster, paid in English money. Provisions were so scanty that meat was often entirely lacking, and, when it came, some officers lived for weeks upon bread and cheese, that they might not lessen the rations of the private soldiers. In the midst of these embarrassments Congress reorganized the commissary department, upon such a basis as to leave it still less efficient, and, soon afterwards, the commissary general gave notice to the commander in chief, that he could no longer supply the army with meat, as he had no money, and his credit was exhausted. In this emergency Washington was again compelled to call upon each of the counties of the State to supply for the army a certain fixed quantity of provisions. If these were forthcoming by a given day, their value was to be appraised by a committee, consisting of two magistrates from the county interested, and the commissary-general, and warrants given for the payment of the same. If not so received, or furnished in sufficient quantities, then, it was announced, that enough to make up the proportion of each county would be impressed, and paid for according to value, estimated in the same manner. To the credit of New Jersey, which had been greatly impoverished by supporting the armies of king and colonies alike, it should be said that the requisitions of the general were
almost uniformly met, several counties exceeding the amount demanded. Forages were made by the British during the winter in various directions from New York, for their own condition was far from comfortable. The ice had cut off the means of supplying the army by water, and fuel was so difficult to be obtained, that old vessels and empty houses were destroyed for fire. The Americans could have captured the city, had their army been in a condition for service. As it was, Lord Stirling made a demonstration against twelve hundred British who were encamped upon Staten island, at the head of twice that number of men, but the enemy learned of his coming, and, retiring to their works, sent to New York for reinforcement, so that nothing was accomplished.
Spring, while it alleviated the sufferings of the army, did not remove the embarrassment of its commander, who, with but a handful of men under him, was compelled to provide for the protection of the North against Knyphausen; to consider the defence of the South, and, at the same time, to provide as best he might, against the ever present possibility of a rapid movement by water, and the formation of a junction of both hostile armies against whichever branch of his own might be weaker. In the face of all, there seemed little promise of success in recruiting; the depreciation of the currency stood as a bar in the way of every movement for the betterment of the condition of affairs. Recognizing the root of the trouble, Washington wrote the president of Congress : “It were devoutly to be wished that a plan could be devised by which everything relating to the army could be conducted on a general principle, under the direction of Congress. This alone can give harmony and consistency to our military establishment, and I am persuaded it will be infinitely conducive to public economy.” This letter provoked a very warm debate, which reached a climax when it was proposed to appoint a committee of three persons who should visit the camp, and, in connection with the commander in chief, devise means for the improvement of the military system of the country. Of the reception given this proposal, Irving says: “ It was objected that this would put too much power into a few hands, especially into those of the commander in chief; that his influence was already too great, that even his virtues afforded motives for alarm; that the enthusiasm of the army, joined to the kind of dictatorship already confided to him, put Congress and the United States at his mercy; that it was not expedient to expose a man of the highest virtue to such temptations." This jealousy of one man power was very characteristic of the day, and that the distrust extended even to Washington, shows how vigorous was American republicanism, even in its swaddling clothes. The committee was, however, appointed, and consisted of General Schuyler, John Mathews, and Nathaniel Peabody. As a result of the investigation, Congress pledged itself to make up to the soldiers the difference between the nominal and the actual value of their pay, and to consider