Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

accept, he would then give his answer. The count, in a 'second letter, observed to him, that it was the part of the besieged to propose such terms as they might desire. Prevost upon that pro. posed a suspension of hostilities for 24 hours, as a just time absolutely necessary for deliberation and the discussion of various interests. The count's third letter, granting the said truce, was written towards evening. Thus time was gained for the arrival of the whole detachment from Beaufort. An enterprise was updertaken to prevent its joining the royal army in Savannah, which proved unsuccessfulz from the pilots not undertaking to conduct, to a proper station, the frigates destined to intercept the communication. Maitland availed himself of this circumstance, and by his exertions joined Prevost with about 400 men before the count's second letter was received: at night, and by noon the next day, all the remainder fit for duty arrived. The safe arriv. al of the detachment determined the garrison to risk an assault. The French and Americans were hereby reduced to the necessity of storming or besieging the garrison. The resolution of proceeding by siege being adopted, the attention of the combined armies was immediately called to the landing of cannon and the erecting of batteries. The distance of the feet from the lands ing-place, together with the want of proper carriages to trans. port the various warlike articles full five miles, consumed much time. The works of the town were, in the mean while, perfer: ting every day by the labour of several hundred negroes, directed by major Moncrieff the engineer. The French and Americans [Sept. 23.) broke ground in the evening : a small party of the hesieged sallied out the next day, but was soon repulsed. The pursuit was continued so near to the British intrenchments, that the French were exposed to a heavy fire, by which many ofthem fell. On the night of the 27th, major M’Arthur, with a party of the British picquets, advanced and fired among the besiegers so artfully, as to occasion a firing between the French and American camps. The besiegers opened (Oct. 4.] with 9 mortars, *37 cannon from the land side, and 16 from the water; which continued to play for four or five days with short intervals, but without any considerable effect. Major l’Enfant (8. J in the morning, with five men, marched through a brisk fire from the British lines, and kindled the obbatis ; but the dampness of the air, and the moisture of the green wood, prevented the success of this bold undertaking.

Soon after the commencement of the cannonade, gen. Prevost solicited for leave to send the women and children out of town. This humane request was refused from motives of policy. The

combined

combined army was so confident of success, that it was suspected a desire of secreting the plunder lately taken from the South Ca. rolinians, was a considerable object, covered under the specious veil of humanity. That the commanders were suspicious, considering the stratagem Prevost had practised after being summoned, is not strange. It was also presumed, that a refusal would expedite a surrender. The period being long since elapsed which the count had assigned for his expedition, and the engineers in forming him, that more time must be spent if he expected to re. duce the garrison by regular approaches, it was determined to make an assault. This measure was forced on d'Estaing by his nayal officers, who liad remonstrated against his continuing to risk so valuable a fleet in its present unrepaired condition on such a dangerous coast in the hurricane season; and at so great a dis. tance from the shore, that it might be surprised by a British flect. These remonstrances were enforced by the probability of their being attacked by a British fleet completely repaired, with their fuil compliment of men, soldiers and artillery on board, when the ships of his most Christian majesty were weakened by the absence of a considerable part of their crews, artillery and offi-. cers. In a few days, the lines of the besiegers might have been carried into the works of the besieged : but under these critical circumstances no further delay could be admitted. To assault, or to raise the siege, was the only alternative. Prudence dictated the latter : a sense of honor adopted the former. The morning of the 9th was fixed for the attack. The preceding night, one James Curry, forinerly a clerk at Charlestown, but now sergeant major in their volunteer company, went into Savannah with a plan of the attack. Two feints were made with the country militia ; and a real attack a little before day-light on the Spring-hill battery with 3500 French troops, 600 continentals and 350 of the Charlestown militia, headed by count d'Estaing and general Lincoln. They marched up to the lines with great boldness : but a heavy and well-directed fire from the batteries, and a cross fire from the gallies threw the front of the column into confusion. Two standards, however, (one an American) were planted on the British redoubts. Count Pulaski, at the head of 200 horsemen, was in a full gallop, riding into town between the redoubts, with an intention of charging in the rear, when he received a mortal wound. A general retreat of the assailants took place after they had stood the enemy's fire for fifty-five minutes. D'Estaing received two slight wounds ; 637 of his troops, and 234* centinentals were killed or wounded : of the 350 Charles

* The reiurns made to general Lincoln, VOL III,

town

town militia, who were in the hottest of the fire, 6 were wounds ed, and a captain killed. General Prevost and major Moncrieff have deservedly acquired great reputation by this successful de. fence. There were not ten guns mounted on the lines on the day of the summons, and in a few days the number exceeded 80. The garrison was between 2 and 3000, including 150 militia. The damage it sustained was 'trifling, as the men fired under coyer, and few of the assailants fired at all. It lost no other officer than captain Taws, who defended the redoubt where the standards were planted with the greatest bravery. Instead of mutual reproaches, which too often follow the failure of enterprises, depending upon the co-operation of different nations, the French and Americans had their confidence in and esteem for each other increased. It was thought, that the delicacy and propriety of ge. neral Lincoln's conduct on every occasion, contributed much to this agreeable circumstance. The militia almost universally returned home immediately after the unsuccessful assault. In about ten days, Count d'Estaing reimbarked his troops, artillery and baggage, and left the continent; while general Lincoln return. ed to South-Carolina. But the French were scarcely on board, when a violent gale dispersed the whole fleet; and though the count had ordered seven ships to repair to Hampton road in the Chesapeak, the Marquis de Vandreuil was the only officer who was able to execute a part of the order. · While the siege of Savannah was pending, a remarkable en. terprise was effected by colonel John White of the Georgia line: Previous to the arrival of d'Estaing on the coast of Georgia, a captain of Delancy's 1st battalion had taken post with about 100 American royal regulars near the river Ogeechee, about 23 miles from Savannah. There were also at the same place five British vessels, four of which were armed, the largest with 14 guns, the smallest with 4, and the whole manned with about 40 sailors. Colonel White, with six volunteers, including his own servant, made them all prisoners. On September the 30th, at eleven o'clock at night, he kindled a number of fires in different places, adopted the parade of a large encampment, practised a variety of other stratagems, and summoned the captain to surrender; who was so fully impressed with an opinion, that nothing but an instant compliance could save his men from being cut in pieces by a superior force, that he made no defence. The deception was carried on with such address, that all the prisoners, amounting to 141, were secured ;* and afterward safely conducted, by · Gancral Lincoln's letter of October the 2d, to gov. Rutledge.

three

Shree of the captors, for 25 miles through the country, to an A. nerican post. f.

Count Pulaski died before the end of October. Congress have resolved that a monument should be erected to his memory. He was a Polander of high birth, and had been concerned in a bold enterprise in his native country. With a few men he had carried off king Stanislaus from the middle of his capital, though surrounded by a numerous body of guards and a Russian army. The king, after being a prisoner for some time, escaped by the favor of one of the band, and soon afterward declared Pulaski ar out-law. Nothing could be more congenial to his sentiments than to employ his arms in support of the American States. He offered his service to Congress and was honored with the rank of a brigadier general. But the Count was far from being satisfied with his employ, as appears from his letter, dated Charlestown, August 19, in which he wrotemas Such has been my lot, that no. thing less than my honor, which I never will forfeit, retains nie in a seryice, which ill-treatment makes me begin to abhor. Every proceeding respecting myself has been so thoroughly morti. sfying that nothing but the integrity of my heart, and the ferven cy of my zealy supports me under it."

Let uz turn to New-York.

It was not till August the 25th, that adm. Arbuthnot arrived with the fleet, which conveyed the reinforcements, cainp equipage, stores and other necessaries, that were to enable Sir Henry Clinton to act with suitable vigor. The 21st of September Sir Andrew Hammond arrived with an additional force of 1500 men . from Cork. These several arrivals however, did not make the · British at New-York easy, when they had the news of count

d'Estaing's being on the American coast. The intelligence oc: casioned an apprehension of a formidable attack by sea and land, supposed to have been concerted between the Count and Gen. Washington, and defensive measures were thought of. Besides adopting every other mean of a vigorous defence, transports were

dispatched (Sept. 29.) to Rhode-Island to bring off the garrison. - All things being in readiness, the royal troops evacuated Newport ; on the 25th of October ; embarked in the evening, sailed at night,

and reached New-York on the 27th. They were in sufficient force while at Newport, to have made predatory excursions, and to have done, much mischief ; notwithstanding the troops that Gen. Gates, who was stationed at Providence, had under his command. But Gen. Sir Robert Pigot's humanity might revolt at

t DrRamsay's History, vol. ij. Po 35.-: 432

such

such barbarous expeditions ; which is the most probable, from the strict and positive orders he gave for the observance of the most exact regularity and discipline during the evacuation. As it was universally known that he meant to be obeyed, so obedi: ence was as universally practised. The men were no wise charge áble at their quitting the island, with any wanton cruelties, or needless destruction, or with an unjust seizure of property. * How ever, as Gen. Gates could not know but that military commands might require Sir Robert Pigot to ravage the country to the extent of his power, he secured to himself the mean of gaining the earliest intelligence of every capital movement upon the island, by the aid of lieut. Seth Chapin. The lieutenant employed a . trusty woman living at Newport to write down all the information she could procure. A certain place in a rock near the water side was agreed upon, where the written intelligence was put.. The woman had her particular signals ; and by putting up poles or sticks as though only drying linen, and making a show of such business in a certain way, notified to the lieutenant on the other side of the water, that there was some special matter to be com.. municated. At night the lieutenant passed over in his boat from Little Compton, landed and brought it away. Through this sets. tled correspondence, Gates learnt the next day what were the movements and talk of the enemy. After the evacuation, the ges. neral desired the lieutenant to mention what consideration would satisfy him for the dangerous service in which he had been engaged. The answer was, “ I shall be fully satisfied with 1200 dollars for myself, and 2 or 300 for some others that were cons. cerned.” Such was the depreciation then, that the whole 1500 were not worth 75 hard dollars, now they are worth about 30.

Sir H. Clinton having received certain intelligence of the res. pulse given the combined troops in their attack on Savannah, red. sumed the plan of an expedition against South Carolina, which the appearance of Count d'Estaing obliged him to suspend. Every thing was prepared, and about 7000 troops were embarkedy but detained till he had full assurance of the French fleet's having wholly quitted the American coast, when they sailed under the convoy of Adm. Arbuthnot, on the 26th of December. Their operations will be related in a future letter. Congress having obtained satisfactory evidence of what was in contemplation, had. ordered on the 10th of November, three of the continental fri. gates to Charlestown for its defence. .

[ocr errors]

* This is the substance of what was related to me by difinterefted persons at Newport and the neighbourhood, fome fort time after the evacuation .

On

« ZurückWeiter »