Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

col. Washington to move slow, and give time for the rest of the troops to gain the pass, if possible, without risking their commands, which was effected.: A covering party was formed of about 150 Virginia militia. The main body of the militia passed first after the horses and waggons, and formed on the opposite side of the water; then the regular infantry under lieut. col. Howard; after that Lee's legion, infantry and cavalry. Campbell and Washington filed off about half a mile from the mill crossed and rejoined the rest on the other side of the creek, Cok: Webster, with about 1000 British infantry, attacked the covera ing party, which gave him a brisk fire, and then retired over the fork. The British infantry followed with great precipitation, and met a severe salute from the fire of Campbell's rifles and Lee's legion infantry, which were judiciously disposed for that purpose. Webster being supported by the chasseurs and Hessians, and. Cornwallis planting his field-pieces on commanding grounds, dismayed the militia so nianifestly, that Williams gave them orders to retire, and then followed with Howard's battalion, flanked by a company of Delaware infantry and the infantry of the let) gion, the whole covered by Washington's cavalry. The.cavale, ry of the legion covered the baggage and ammunition waggons, which accidentally took a different route, Thus ended the designs of lord Cornwallis for that day, which was too far spent to: admit of the execution of any important mancuvre. The loss? of the Americans was about 50 killed and wounded, that of the British probably much greater, as they twice sustained the unexo? pected fire of the former. Col. Williams retired three miles, and formed to await the enemy; but as they did not advance he proceeded further, and encamped that evening about seven miles from the place of action. It may be thought worthy of being re-i corded, that Mr. Perry, sergeant-major, and Mr. Lunsford, quarter-master sergeant of the 3d regiment of American dragoons, two spirited young fellows, being separately detached with each four dragoons, as parties of observation on the reu. treat, saw 16 or -18 horsemen of the British army in new levy. uniforms ride into a farm-house yard in an irregular mannes, and some of them dismounted. They instantly joined their small force, seized the occasion, charged the horsemen, and in sight.ofi the British legion, which was on the contrary side of the fence, cut every man down, and then retired without a scar. ..

While Greene was really unequal to even defensive operations, and waited to have his army strengthened, he lay for seven days within ten miles of Cornwallis's camp; but he took a new position every night, and kept it as a profound secret with hime:

self

self where the next was to be; so that his lordship could not gain intelligence of his situation in time to avail himself of it. During these manduvres Greene.was often obliged to ask bread of the common soldiers, having none of his own. Cornwallis made a stroke at him twice but missed his aim. At length Greene was reinforced with another brigade of militia from Virginia under gen. Lawson, and two from North-Carolina under generals Butler and Eaton, and 400 regulars raised for 18 months this enabled him to dissolve the constitution of the light army on the 10th of March. The same day he wrote to gov: Jefferson - Hitherto I have been obliged to practise by finesse, which I dared not to attempt by force. I know the people have been in anxious suspense, waiting the event of a general action ; but be the consequence of censure what it may, nothing shall lurry me into a measure, that is not suggested by prudence, or connects not with it the interest of the southern department."...i ni

Lörd Cornwallis not immediately urging his plan of bringing on a general action, but moving toward New-Garden, alias the Quaker meeting-house, gave Greene the opportunity of arranging his army a new, and of making every preparation for an en gagement. This he now determined to venture upon, as he thought himself sufficiently strong and foresaw that by delaying any time, he should probably be weakened through the withdraw. ment of many militia men; beside, there would be a great difficulty of subsisting long in the field in so exhausted a country. On the 14th he marched his army to Guildford court-house, and took a position within eight mites of Cornwalls's encampment. His force consisted of Huger's brigade of Virginia continentals, 778 present and fit for duty; of Williams's Maryland brigade and Delawares 630; and of the infantry of Lee's partizan legion 82 ·

total of continental regulars 1490 ; besides these there were 1060 militia from North Carolina, and 1693 from Virginia; in. all 2753. The whole army consisted of 4243 foot, and of 161 cavalry, including Washington's light dragoons 86, and of Lee's legion 75. Before the engagement began, the marquis of Bretagney joined the army with about 40 horse, very few accoutred as horsemen, but mounted as infantry. On the morning of the 15th the Americans were supplied with provisions, and a gill of rum per man; and orders were issued for the whole to be in perfect readiness for action.in . Pri ***

Lord Cornwallis, being convinced from gen. Greene's movements that he intended to venture an engagement, sent off his baggage under a proper eseort on the 14th of March ; and the next morning at day-break, marched with the remainder of his

army,

army, aniounting to about 2400 men, chiefly troops grown veter ran in victories, either to meet Greene on the way, or to attack him in his encampment. By this, Greene's design of attacking his lordship was anticipated. About three miles from the Ameri can army, the British advance guard under Tarleton fell in with Lee's legion, Cambell and Lynch's riflemen. Lee's dragoons killed about 50 of Tarleton's, and the riflemen are thought to have killed and wounded more than 100 infantry. This skirmish gave Greene time to form his armiy within about a mile and a quarter of Guilford court-house. The British advanced through a field, beyond which was a fence and a thick wood. In the skirts of this wood next to the field, the first American line was drawą up, consisting of the North-Carolina militia. The second line behind that was formed of the Virginia militia. The third and last line consisted of the Maryland and Virginia continentals under Huger and Williams. Washington with his cavalry, and a corps of Delaware light-infantry and some riflemen under col. Lyinchi covered the right Hank; and Lee with his legion and some rifle. men under col. Campbell, the left. The whole were so strongly posted, that Greene was fearful lest Cornwallis should not attack then in front, but change his position and fall upon their flanks. The front line was only in sight, the two others being covered by the wood in which they were posted. The Americans had two pieces of cannon in the field before them. After a brisk cannonade between them and the British, which lasted from about half an hour after one till two, the latter advanced in three cos lumns, the Hessians on the right, the guards in the centre, and Webster's brigade on the left. The whole moved on toward the North-Carolinians, who waited the attack, until the enemy got within 140 yards, when part of them fired once, while a great number ran away without firing or being fired upon. All the exertions of their officers to rally them were ineffectual. They deserted the most advantageous post Greene ever saw, and let in the enemy upon the second line composed of the Virginia militia under Stevens. He had the address to prevent his brigade from receiving any bad impressions from the retreating North-Caroli nians, by giving out that they had orders to retire after discharge ing their pieces. To cherish this idea he ordered his men to open their files to favor their passage The Virginians behaved much better than the Carolinians, did great execution, and kept up their fire till they were ordered to retreat. Stevens had posted forty riflemen at equal distances, twenty paces in the rear of his brigade, with orders to shoot every man who should leave his post. That brave officer, though wounded through the thigh, did not quit

the

the field. The continental troops were last engaged, and fought 1 with great spirit. The contest was long and severe; but the

British carried their point by superior discipline. They broke the | second Maryland regiment, turned the American left flank, and I got into the rear of the Virginia brigade, * and appeared to be Į gaining Greene's right; which would have encircled the whole

of the continental troops, so that he thought it adviseable to order a retreat. About this time Washington made a charge with the horse on a part of the brigade of British guards; and the first regiment of Marylanders following the horse with their bayonets, near the whole of the party fell a sacrifice. Huger with the Virginia brigade was the last that engaged, and gave the enemy a check. After a hard battle of near two hours the Americans retreated in good order to the Reedy-Fork, and crossed the river about three miles from the field of action. They halted, drew up till they had collected most of the stagglers, and then retired to Speedwell's Iron Works, ten miles distant from Guilford. Greene lost his artillery (the two six pounders that Morgan had lately recovered, with two others) and two anmunition waggons, the greatest part of the horses being kiħed before the retreat began.. :

This victory cost the British dear. Their killed and wound. ed exceeded 600 men, beside officers. The guards lost colonel Stuart, with the captains Schutz, Maynard and Goodriche, bez side subalterns. Col. Webster, a brave, experienced, and distinguished officer died of his wounds to the regret of the royal army. Brigadier generals O'Hara and Howard, and col. TarleIon with several other officers, were wounded... .ii

About 300 of the continentals, and 100 of the Virginia mie litia were killed and wounded ; among the former was maj. Anderson of the Maryland line, a niost valuable officer. Among the latter was Huger, beside Stevens already mentioned. Of the North-Carolinia militia six were killed and three wounded, and 552 missing. Of the Virginia militia 294 were missing. Few of the missing were made prisoners. They returned home, and never rejoined the camp, so that gen. Greene's arniy sus. tained a greater dimunition than the British. It was, however, soon apparent, that the advantages of the engagement were on his side. Ć Though lord Cornwallis issued out a proclamation (March 18. three days after the battle setting forth his complete victory, and calling on all loyal subjects to stand forth and take an active part in restoring good government, and offering pardon and protection to all rebels, murderers excepted; yet on the Joth he decamped, abandoning all his boasted advantages, and bis

hospital

hospital at the Quaker meeting-house, containing between 70 and 80 wounded British officers and soldiers. He also left behind him all the wounded Americans taken on the 15th, and retreated toward Cross Creek. Greene expected that he would have advanced, and therefore had prepared for another action; but upon hearing that his lordship was attempting to avoid it, he pursued him the next day with all possible expedition. Greene having no means of providing for the wounded of his own and the British forces, wrote a letter to the neighborin inhabitants of the Quaker persuasion, in which he mentioned his being brought up a Quaker, and observed, that an opportunity offered for the exercise of their humanity, without cons fining themselves to either party, by taking care of the wounds ed, both British and Americans, who must otherwise perish. His recommendations and arguments prevailed, and the Quakers supplied the hospitals with all that was wanting till the sick and wounded recovered.

So great was the avidity of the Americans to renew the cons flict with Cornwallis, that notwithstanding the weather was very wet and the roads deep, they marched almost constantly without any regular supply of provisions. On the morning of the 28th they arrived at Ramsay's mills on Deep-River, a strong position which his lordship evacuated a few hours before, by crossing the river on a bridge erected for that purpose. Evident signs of precipitation were found in and about his lordship's encampment. Several of the dead were left on the ground unburied. Beef in quarters was found in the slaughter-pen, on which the hungry continentals fed greedily; but that not being sufficient to allay their keen appetites, they eat without a murmur the garbage which was meant for the buzzards. * Cornwallis had now fairly the start of Greene, and was in a situation to maintain his advantage. He was on the south side of Deep-River, with Cape-Fear on his left, and supplies for his army in front? whereas Greene was too far advanced to expect any immediate succour from the country behind him; he was therefore under the necessity of giving up the pursuit. Nothing but blood and slaughter has prevailed among the whigs and tories, in that part of the country which has been the scene of the late transactions, and their inveteracy against each other must depopulate it if continued.

: * Col. O.H. Williams's MS

+ The advantages of col. O. H, Williams's official papers, of private leto ters and of subsequent conversation with gen. Greene, for the purpose of in formaation, has occafioned a variation in divers parts of the above narrative from Dr. Ramsay and others.

1. Here

« ZurückWeiter »