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the North-Carolina division under gen. Caswell. in the centre
and the Virginia brigade, under gen. Stevens, on the left, fanked by the North-Caiulina militia light-infantry and a norass - thus both flanks were well covered. The artillery was posted on the most advantageous ground, near the main road, which was about the centre of the line. Col. Armand's corps was ora dered to the left, to support the left Hank and oppose the enemy's cavalry. Baron de Kalb commanded on the right of the line, and gen. Smallwood the first Maryland brigade, which was posted as a corps-de-reserve two or t?srce hundred yards in the rear. Gates then called his general officers together, and desired col. Willianis to communicate the information which he had cole lected from the captives, which being done, the general said, Gentlemen, you know our situation, what are your opinions??? Gen. Stevens answered, “ It is now too late to retreat.”? Silence ensuing, and no reply being made, the general after a pause, pronounced, “Then we must fight; gentlemen please to take your posts.” No more was said in council; but it was after ward declared to be the private opinion of some then present, that it was injudicious to risk a general battle, and that a retreat was by no means impracticable. It was not to the credit of any officer to make such declaration. Whoever is called to a council of war, and declines giving his own opinion, if he has any, acts below the courage of a soldier, and should thenceforward screen either his cowardice or treachery, by keeping the matter a profound secret.
The British arnıy was thus disposed the division on the right consisted of a small corps of light-infantry, the 23d and 33d l'ex giments, under lieut. col. Webster-the division on the left was tormed of the volunteers of lreland, the infantry of the legion, and part of lieut. col. Hamilton's North-Carolina regiment, uader lord Rawdon, with two six and two three pounders, commanded by lieut. M'Cleod--the 71st regiment, with a six pounder, composed the reserve-one battalion in the rear of the right division, the other of the left and the cavalry of the legion was stationed in the rear, close to the 71st regiment. This disposition was made at break of day; but before it took place, the British appeared in column about 200 yards in front of the American artillery,, while gen. Gates was with his corps-de-reserve. Coke Williams ordered the artillery to be tired upon them, which was instantly obeyed; and then went to inform Gates of the occasion of the firing, and of the enemy's having the appearance of spreading and forming a line by their right, “which (said the colonel) gives us a favorable opportunity of commencing the attack of infantry with Stevens's brigade." ; The general answered, “ Very proper, let it be done.” Orders were immediately given to Stevens, who advanced with his brigade in excellent order, and with great alacrity. The enemy had, however, formed their line before he got near enough for action. Both kines were advancing, and had come within firing distance of each other, when Stevens encouraging his men, put them in mind of their bayonets which they had received only the day before, calling out to them, “ My brave fellows you have bay. onets as well as they, we'll charge then." · Col. Willians had advanced in front of the brigade, from which he had taken a few volunteers, intending, by a partiai fire, to extort that of the enemy at some distance, in expectation that the militia would 'stand the first discharge, and be brought to closer action with their loaded muskets. But the advantage was lost. Lord Cornwallis observing the movement of the Virginians under Stevens, gare orders to lieut col. Webster to begin an attack. The British infantry upon that rushed through the thin fire of the militia with great intrepidity, and furiously charged the brigade with a cheer. The intimidated militia threw down most of their arms, bajonets and all, and with the utmost precipitation and trepidation fled froni the field, and were followed by the North-Carolina militia light-infantry. The whole North-Carolina division being panic-struck, imitated the shameful exanıple, except one regiment commanded by col. Dixon, next in the line of battle to the continental regulars, which fired several rounds'; indeed, gen. Gregory's brigade, to which that regiment belonged, paused longer than the others; but at last all fed, and the majority without their arms, or firing a single shot. It cannot appear excessively strange, that such raw militia could not stand before bayonets, when it is considered, that for some time they had subsisted on fruit scarccly ripe, without any regular rations of flesh, fiour, or spirituous liquors,
that their strength and spirits were depressed by such preceding low regimen ;-and that, after an unexpected meeting of the e.. nemy, they had to lie for hours on their arnis, attended with the apprehension of immediate danger, and the horrors of the night. - All the militia who composed the left wing and centre being routed, the second continental brigade, consisting of Maryland and Delaware troops, making the right wing, and the corps-dereserve, were left to fight or retreat; but as they had no orders for the latter, they njaintained their position with great resolution and gave the British an unexpected check. The second brigade even gained ground, and took no less than 50 prisoners: Bus
the corps-de-reserve being considerably out-flanked, were thrown into disorder; they were soon rallied by their officers, and renew ed the action with much spirit. Overpowered by numbers they were again broken; but the brave examples and exertions of the officers induced them to form afresh. The gallantry of this corps covered, in a great measure, the left of the second brigade, which was in a manner blended with the enemy's line on thcir left, where the conflict was desperate. The Americans thinking thens selves masters of the field, disputed with the British who should conquer and retain the others as prisoners of war. At length the.. enemy directing their whole force against these two devoted corps, the fire of the musketry became yet more tremendous, and was continued with equal perseverance and obstinacy, till lord Cornwallis observing that there was nocavalry opposed to him, pushed forward his dragoons, and charging with his bayonets at the same moment, put an end to the contest. Never did men behave bets ter than the continentals in the whole of the action ; but all-attempts to rally the militia were ineffectual. Lieut. col. Tarie ton's legion charged them as they broke, and pursued them as they were fleeing. Without having it in their power to defend themselves, they fell in great numbers under the legionary sabres,
Gen. Gates was bore off the field by a torrent of dismayed militia. They constituted so great a part of his army, that when he saw them break and flee with such precipitation, he lost ev. ery hope of victory; and his only care was, if possible, to rally a sufficient number to cover the retreat of the regular troops; he retired with gen. Caswell to Clermont, in hope of halting théni at their late encampment. But the further they fled, the more they dispersed ; and the generals giving up all as lost, retired withi a very few attendants to Charlotte. On their retreat, an officer from col. Sumpter overtook them, and reported to Gates, that the colonel had succeeded fully in his enterprise the evening before against the enemy's post on the Warteree ; had reduced the redoubt and captured the guard ; and had intercepted the escort with the stores, which were all taken, with about 40 waggons, and upward of 100 prisoners. Gates however could take no advantage of this success.; the enemy were at his heels, and his victorious friends on the opposite side of a river too distant to form a junction in time to prevent his fate. · Most of the Virginia militia returned to Hillsborough by the route they came to camp'; and gen. Stevens found means to stop a considerable number at that place ; but the term for which they had taken the field being nearly expired, all who had not descrted were soon afterward discharged. The North Carolinians
Hed different ways, as their hopes led or their fears drove them, and many were intercepted by their disaffected countrymen, who but a few days before had generally submitted to Gates, by whom they were gençrously sent to their homes, upon a promise of reinaining neuter or of following his colours. . Several con, siderable parties had actually taken arms with a professed design of joining the Americans, but so soon as they heard of their defeat, they became active in the pursuit of the fugitives, and killed or captured all ihat caine in their way.. .
Baron de Kalb, while exerting himself with great bravery to prevent the defeat of the day, received eleven wounds. His aidde-camp, lieut. col. du Buysson, embraced him, announced his rank and nation to the surrounding foe, and begged that they would spare his life. While he generously exposed himself to save his friend, he received sundry dangerous, wounds, and was taken prisoner. The baron expired in a short time, though he received the most particular assistance from the British. He spent his last breath in diçtating a letter, expressive of the warmest afi fection for the officers and men of his division of the greatest satisfaction in the testimony given by the British army of the bravery of his troops_of his being charmed with the firin opposition they made to superior force, when abandoned by the rest of the army of the infinite pleasure he received from the gallant behaviour of the Delaware regimeat and the companies of artil. lery attached to the brigades and of the endearing sense he ena tertained of the merit of the whole division he commanded. The congress resolved on the 14th of October that a monument should be erected to his memory in Annapolis, the metropolis of Maryland, with a very honorable inscription. Gen. Rutherford surrendered to a party of the British legion. All the other gencral officers escaped, but were separated from their respective commands, and obliged to flee with precipitation. Every corps was broken and dispersed through the woods. The bogs and brush which in a degree screened them from the fury of their foes, laid them under the necessity of separating from each other. Maj. Anderson, of the 3d Maryland regiment, was the only infantry officer whose efforts to rally the men after the total rout, were in any degree effectuál. A few individuals of several companies joined him aç şomé distance from the field, and othersadded to that small number by falling into his ranks on the march, The removal of the heavy baggage to Waxhaws was delayed till the morning of the action, contrary to Gates's express orders the day preceding : so that the greatest part, together with all that followed the army, fell into the hands of the enemy, or was plun. VOL. III.
dered in the route by those who went off early, and could take time for such baseness. A general transfer of property too place; even that which escaped the foe, fell not again into the hands of the right owners, except some small part of the officers baggage, which was recovered at Charlotte. The baggage waggons indeed of gen. Gates and baron de Kalb, being furnished with stout horses and clever drivers, who understood their business and knew the roads, were fully preserved. All the baron's baggage and papers were saved, as were Gates's, and every par per and private letter of all the gentlemen belonging to his family. The pursuit was rapid for more than twenty miles; and so great was the dismay of the retreating troops (the cries of the murdered in the rear being echoed by the women and wounded men with increasing terror) that at the distance of forty miles, whole teams of horses were cut out of the waggons to accelerate the flight. Many wounded officers and soldiers were got off by like expedients; some of whom gave astonishing proofs of wbat pain, fatigue and want the human constitution can bear. The road by which the troops fled, was covered with arms, baggage, the sick, the wounded and the dead. Gates was persuaded by all that he saw. and heard, that the regular troops were entirely cut off, and the whole either killed or captured, and that there · was no prospect of collecting a force at Charlotte (where he are
rived late in the night) adequate to the defence of the country ; he therefore left gen. Caswell at Charlotte to assemble the mili. tia of Mecklenburgh county, and proceeded with all possible dispatch to Hillsborough, to devise some plan of defence in conjunction with the legislative body of North-Carolina. He considered not, that by shortening his journey, and remaining at Charlotte or Salisbury, appearances would be less unfavorable to his personal reputation, though less beneficial to the public cause.
Lord Cornwallis's victory was complete. The Americans lost eight field-pieces, the whole of their artillery, with all their ammunition waggons, beside 150 others, a considerable quantity of military stores, and the greatest part of their baggage. The num. bers slain. cannot be precisely ascertained, no returns of the milie tia ever being made after the action. Three hundred of the North Carolina militia, beside 63 wounded, were made prisoners. Only three of the Virginia militia were left wounded on the field of battle, owing to their making no stand, and being first in flight, but few of them were captured. From the abstract of muster and inspection taken at Hillsborough, October, the ist, it apo pears that, exclusive of baron de Kalb and gen. Rutherford the numbers of killed, captured and missing, in the actions of the