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Heidelphia to Charlestown, by which the supplies from the north might have followed the ariny without danger. Not only so, but the army would have been followed by numerous bands of faithful friends, able and willing both to furnish supplies and to assist with arms, instead of being encompassed with a host of fugitive tories, whose poverty afforded no subsistence, and whose perfidy prevented secrecy. A council was called upon the occasion ; but the opinion did not prevail: The first inotives preponderated, and the army pursued the direct route for Camden. It was joined by lieut: col. Porterfield, an officer of distinguished merit, with about 700 Virginia soldiers. He had by his singular address and good conduct, found means, not only to avoid the hapless fate of the ether corps which had retreated after the surrender of Charleston ; but to subsist his men, and keep up the semblance of a possession of that part of South Carolina.
The army soon felt the scarcity of provisions; and their fatigue, fasting and repeated disappointments as to supplies, so exasperated them, that their murmurs became very audible. The aspect of mutiny was almost in every countenance; but as there was no object to be seized upon or sacrificed, the conciliating arguments of the officers, who shared the calamity without discrimination, induced the soldiers to forbear and rely upon legal expedients and a good providence for succour. The principle means of subsistence found on the march were lean cattle accidentally picked up in the woods. Meal and flower were so very scarce, that the whole army was obliged to inake use of green corn and peaches, as the best substitutes for bread the country afforded. Dysenteries afiiicted the troops in consequence of such diet. It was however the least of two evils. They had no other relief from famine, which, added to the interse heat of the season, and unhealthiness of the climate, threatened destruction to the army. Starvation became a cant term upon the occasion. Perhaps the burlesque introduced by the ignorance of some and the policy of others, to show a contempt for their sufferings, contributed not a little to the resolute stout, ness that now discovered itself..
In the afternoon of the 5th of August, the American general was informed from general Caswell, that he meant to surprise or att tack a post of the enemy, on little Lynch'screek. This inade Gates the more anxious for a junction, as he apprehended some injudicious adventure might deprive him of the assistance which the militia were capable of affording. The next morning intelli, gence arrived from the samcauthority, which increased his anxiety to a painful degree ; it was, that the enemy just mentioned meditated an attack upon the militia in their encampment. Sucha VOL. III;
show of enterprise, and such marks of intimidation--such a contrariety of intentions and apprehensions perplexed de commans ding officer, and made the junction stili more desirab.e: Gates therefore gave orders for the troopy to clean their arms and to Have every thing ready for action; and then proceeded with bis deputy adjutant general and aids to ide encanıpment of the mil itia, whom he found to be a fine body of men, deticient only in discipline and military arrangements. Whether Cusweli found his vanity gratified in a separate command, or wisied to precipitate the army into an action with the e:cmv, was not discovera. ble: the fact is, he postponed a junction until he saw the perplexity and danger in which his ambition or indisciction had in volved the army. When it was too late for measures to be changed, he complied more through necessity than inclination..
At Deep-creck (Aug. 6.] the troops received a supply of good beef, and half a pound of Indian corn meal per man. They eat their mess; drauk of the strcani contentedly ; and the next day with great cheerfulness marched to the Cross-roads, where they were joined by the militia, and the whole were encamped together. A good understanding appeared to subsist anong the officers of all ranks, and the common soldiers vied with each other in supporting their spirits and despising their fatigues, which they appeared to forget. The expectation of this junction had induced the commanding officer of the post on Lyrich's creek to retire the day before, under the mask of offensive operations, which caused the alarm above related.
being now in a country of Pine-barrens, extensive sand-hills, and impenetrable swamps, unable to collect provisions and forage from the lower and more fertile parts of the country, which were covered by the eneiny's advanced posts, the army could not reinain more than a day in this situation, though a large reinforceInent of militia froin Virginia was expected every hour. Gates therefore pressed forward, and finding the enemy disposed, to dispute his passage of Lynch'screek, while he kept up an appearance of taking that route, he marched the army by the right toward Cler. mont (better known by the name of Rugeley's mills) where the enemy had a small garrison. His intentions being discovered, both posts were abandoned with sojne pecipitation on the Hth, the of ficers fearing either that their march to Camden wouid be intercepted, or that they should be attacked on their retreat. Lord Rawdon, who commanded the advanced posts of the British army, assembled all his forces at Camden, and suffered general Gates, without any material interruption, to conduct his army to Clermont, about 13. miles from Camden, where his troops encamped
on the 13th. The next day brigadier-general Stevens arrived with a respectable reinforcement of 700 Virginia militia. Anexo press also arrived the same day from col. Sumpter, who reported to Gates, that a number of the South Carolina militia had joined him on the west side of the Wateree, and that an escort of clothing, ammunition, and other stores for the garrison at Camden, were on the way from Charleston, and must pass the Wateree at aferry about a mile from Camden, under cover of a small redoubt occupied by the enemy on the opposite bank of the river.
A detachment of the Maryland line, consisting of 100 regular infantry and a company of artillery, with two brass field-pieces, and 300 North-Carolina militia, were immediately forwarded under the command of licut. col. Woolford to join col. Sumpter, who had orders to reduce the redoubt and intercept the convoy. General Gates was preparing at the same time to advance still nearer to Camden, and if necessary to take a position on some good grounds in its vicinity : but he was not without hope that Jord Rawdon would evacuate that post as he had the others; and af he should not, the prospect was, that the multitudes of militia expected from the upper countries would cut off his supplies froni all quarters, and leave the garrison an easy pray to the army. After making some convenient arrangements, having the arms cleaned, and distributing some provisions which had been collected, Gates convened his general officers, of which grade there was not less than thirteen in that little army, the militia brigades of North-Carolina having far more than sufficient; and after a conference with them, he direeted the deputy adjutant general, col. Williams, to issue the following orders, with the intention as well to take the advantage of the time when col. Sumpter was to execute his enterprise, as to be prepared for action himself in case it should be offered" Camp, Clermont, 15th of August, 2780. After general orders. The sick, the extra-artiilery stores, the heavy baggage, and such quarter-master's stores as are not saimmediately wanted, to march this evening, under a guard to Waxhaws. To this order the general requests the brigadiers general, to see that those under their command pay the most exact and scrupulous attention.”
“ Lieut. col. Edmonds, with the remaining guns of the park will take post and inarch with the Virginia brigade under gencsal Stevens ; he will direct, as any deficiency happens in the artillery affixed to the other brigades, to supply it immediately ; his military staff and a proportion of his officers, with forty of his men, are to wait him and attend his orders. The troops will be seady to march precisely at ten o'clock in the following order, viz. Col. Armand's advance--Cavalry commanded by col. Aga mand-Col. Porterfield's light infantry upon the right flank of colonel Armand, in Indian file, 200 yards from the road-Major Armstrong's infantry in the same order as col. Porterfield's, up. on the left flank of the legion ;-Advance guard of foot, com. posed of the advanced picquets. First brigade of Maryland-Se coad brigade of Maryland--Division of North-Carolina --Virgi nia division :-Rear-guard-Volunteer cavalry, upon flanks of the baggage equally divided. In this order the troops will proceed on their march this night. In case of an attack by the en: emy's cavalry in front, the light infantry upon each flank will in stantly march up, and give and continue the most galling fire upon the enemy's horse. This will enable col Armand not on ly to support the shock of the enemy's charge, but finally to rout them. The colonel will therefore consider the order to stand the attack of the enemy's cavalry, be their number what they may, as positive. .
" General Stevens will immediately order one captain, two Jieutenants, one ensign, three sergeants, one drum, and 60 rank and file, to join.col. Porterfield's infantry ; these are to be taken from the most experienced woodsmen, and men every way fitted for the service. Gen. Caswell will likewise complete major-Armstrong's light-infantry to their original number ; these must be iminediately marched to the advanced posts of the army.” The troops will observe the profoundest silence upon their march, and every soldier who offers to fire without the command of his officer must be instantly put to death. When the ground will admit of it, and the near approach to the enemy renders it necessary, the army will (when ordered) march in columns. The artillery at the head of their respective brigades, and the baggage in the rear. The guard of the heavy baggage will be composed of the remaining officers and soldiers of the artillery, one captain, two subalterns, four sergeants, one drum and sixty rank and file ; and no person whatever is to presume to send any other soldier upon that service. All bat-men, waiters, &c. who are soldiers taken from the line, are forthwith to join their regiments, and act with their masters while they are upon duty--The tents of the whole army to be struck at tattoo.”. . ...
When the deputy adjutant-general received these orders, be showed Gates an abstract of the field-returns of the different corps which he had just been digesting into a general return. From thence it appeared, that the whole American army, officers in. cluded, amounted only to 3663 (exclusive of the troops detached to col. Sumpter) beside col. Porterfield's and maj. Arnastrong's light-infantry, ámounting to 250, and col. Armand's legion to 120;. altogether to 370, and a few volunteer cavalry. There were about 900 continental infantry, rank and file, and seventy cavalry. This force was inferior to what the general imagined'; his plan, however, was adopted, and he thought it too late to retreat: The afiny-marched about ten at night, and had proceeded to within half a mile of Sander's-creek, about half way to Camden, when-a firing commenced in front. . • Lord Cornwallis, unknown to gên, Gates, arrived the day before at Camden. · His inferior foree, consisting of about 1700 infantry and 300 cavalry, would have justified a retreat; but considering that no probable events of an action could be more injurious to the royal interest than that measure, he resolved upon taking the first good opportunity of attacking the Americans ; and learning that the situation of their encainpment at Clermont was disadvantageous, he marched about the same time the Americans did, with a full deterinination to attack them in their camp at day-break: About half an hour past two in the morning (Aug. 16.) the advanced parties of both armies met in the woods, and a firing commenced. Some of the cavalry of Armand's legion, being wounded by the first fire, threw the others into disorder, and the whole recoiled so suddenly that the first Maryland regiment, in front of the column, was broken, and the whole line of the army thrown into a general consternation.
This first impression struck deep. The light infantry however, -executed their orders; and particularly those under Porterfield
behaved with such spirit that the enemy was no less surprised at -this unexpected meeting. A few prisoners were taken on botlı sides, by whose information the respective commanders derived a knowledge of circumstances of which both till then were ignorant. Porterfield, in whose abilities and activity Gates had justly placed great dependence, received a musket-bail, which -shattered the bones of his leg, and was under the necessity of -submitting to be carried into the rear. : A part of the light-infan* -try still kept their ground, and being supported by the van-guard
and the legion infantry, which discovered much bravery, the American army soon recovered its order. Lord Cornwallis also kept his ground, and frequent skirmishes ensued during the night, with scarce any other effect than to discover the situation of the
armies, to evince the intentions of the generals, and to serve as sa prelude to what was to occur in the morning. - * two immediately after the alarm, the American army was formed tin the following manner--the second Maryland brigade, under *' general Gist, on the right of the line, flanked by a morass.