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Chap. vi. way with fixed bayonets, against the breastwork. 1775. The alarm was immediately given; and, as is
December 9. the practice with raw troops, the bravest of the
Action at the Americans rushed to the works, where, unrmBruigc. mm(]fuj Qr order, they kept up a tremendous fire on the front of the British column. Captain Fordycc, though received so warmly in front, and taken in flank by*i small body of men who were collected bv colonel Stevens of the minute battalion, and posted on an eminence .something more than one hundred yards to the left, marched up under this terrible fire with great intrepidity, until he fell dead within a few steps of the breastwork. The column immediately broke, but the British troops being covered in their retreat by the artillery of the fort, were not pursued.
In this ill judged attack, every grenadier is said to have been killed or wounded; while the Americans did not lose a single man.
Norr,,ik The next night, the fort. was evacuated.
The provincial troops proceeded to Norfolk, and lord Dunmore found it necessary to take refuge on board his vessels. He was followed by the most offensive of the disaffected with their families.
After taking possession of the town, the American soldiers frequently amused themselves by firing into the vessels in the harbour from the buildings near the water. Irritated by this, or some other cause, it was deterI
mined to destroy the houses immediately on CHap-V1the shore; and on the night of the first of ^776. January, a heavy cannonade was commenced, J3'""ryunder cover of which a body of the enemy landed, and set fire to a number of houses near Andburntthe river.
A strong prejudice had been entertained among the provincial troops against this station. It was believed to be a very dangerous one, from which, if the enemy should be re-enforced, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to escape; and they saw with great composure, the flames spread from house to house, without making any attempt to extinguish them. It is not certain that they did not themselves contribute to extend them. After the fire had continued for several weeks, in which time it progressed slowly as the wind set against it, and had consumed about four fifths of the town, colonel Howe, who commanded a regiment of North Carolina regulars, which had come to the assistance of Virginia, and who had waited on the convention to press on them the necessity of destroying the place,
returned with orders to burn the remaining
houses. These orders were carried into im- Febmarymediate execution, after which, the troops marched from Norfolk to the different stations which were assigned them."
Chap, vi. Thus was destroyed by far the most popu1776. lous and flourishing town in Virginia. That part of the destruction, effected by order of the convention, was produced by the fear that it would be held by the enemy as a permanent post, and the hope that, after it was burnt down, the seat of war would be entirely removed from the province.
It was one of those ill judged measures, founded on a course of false reasoning, to which the inexperienced are often exposed.
After Norfolk was laid in ashes, lord Dunmore frequently changed his position, and continued a predatory war on the rivers, burning houses and robbing plantations, which served only to distress a few individuals, and to increase the detestation in which he and his cause were held through the country. At length his wretched followers, wearied with their miserable condition, and no longer willing to continue it, were sent in about fifty vessels to Florida.''
As the war became more serious, the convention deemed it necessary to increase the number of regular regiments from two to nine; six of which, in the first instance, and afterwards the remaining three, were taken into the continental service.
J jlnnuat Register.
In North Carolina, governor Martin, though Chap, Vl obliged to take refuge on board a ship of war 1776. in cape Fear river, still indulged the hope of ££'£&ion* being able to reduce that colony. carouia.
A body of ignorant and disorderly men on the frontiers, styling themselves regulators, who were enemies to all government, had attempted by arms, some time before the existing war, to control and stop the administration of justice. Having failed in this attempt, they had now become as hostile to the colonial, as they had before been to the royal government.
There were also in. the^ province, a large number of families who had lately emigrated from the highlands of Scotland, and who, retaining their attachment to the place of their nativity, transferred it to the government under which they had been bred. From the union of these parties, who were bold, active, and numerous; governor Martin entertained sanguine hopes of making a successful struggle for the province. His confidence was muchincreased by the certainty, that sir Henry Clinton was coming on with a small party; and that sir Peter Parker and lord Cornwallis were to sail with a squadron and seven regiments, early in the year from Ireland, on an expedition to the southern provinces", and that North Caro- , lina would be their first object.
To prepare to co-operate with this force should it arrive, or, in any event, to make a
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Chap. vi. great, and he hoped a successful effort to give 1776. the ascendency in North Carolina to the royal cause, he sent several commissions to the leaders of the highlanders, for raising and commanding regiments; and granted one to a mr. M'Donald their chief, to act as their general. He also sent them a proclamation to be used on a proper occasion, commanding all persons on their allegiance, to repair to the royal standard. Impatient to begin his operations, this was erected by general M'Donald, at Cross creek, about the middle of February, and rrtnary. about fifteen hundred men arranged themselves under it. .
Upon the first advice that the loyalists were assembling, brigadier general Moore immediately marched at the head of a provincial regiment, with such militia as he could suddenly collect and some pieces of cannon, to an imFiitrenth. portant post within a few miles of them, called Rock Fish bridge, of which he took possession; •and, being inferior in numbers, he immediately intrenched himself, and took the necessary pre- cautions to render his camp defensible. GeneTwentieth. ral MDonald soon approached at the head of his army, and sent a letter to Moore, inclosing the governor's proclamation, and recommending to him and his party to join the king's standard by a given hour the next day. This invitation was accompanied with the threat, chat he should be under the necessity of consi