« PreviousContinue »
cissitudes of war, fall into the enemy's hands; when, if recognized, he was sure to die on a gibbet.
CAMPAIGN OF 1781_DEFEAT OF GREENE, BY LORD CORN
Though the Spaniards and the Dutch had united with France in hostility against Britain, she, with dauntless spirit, every where made head against her foreign enemies; and his Majesty's ministers were now, still more than ever, determined, by an extension of combined measures, to reduce the North American provinces to submission. The plan of the campaign of 1781, accordingly, comprehended active operations in the States of New York, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia. The invasion of the last mentioned province was intrusted to Arnold, who, taking with him a force of about 1600 men, and a number of armed vessels, sailed up the Chesapeake, spreading terror and devastation wherever he came. An attempt to intercept him was made by the French fleet, which sailed from Rhode Island for that purpose; but after an indecisive engagement with the squadron of Admiral Arbuthnot, off the capes of Virginia, was obliged to return to Newport, leaving the invaded province open to the incursions of the
"Colonel Lee sent to Loudon county, where Champe settled after his discharge from the army; but learned that the gallant soldier had removed to Kentucky, and had soon after died."
Who had united with France?
British, who, making occasional advances into the country, destroyed an immense quantity of public stores, and enriched themselves with an extensive plunder of private property, at the same time burning all the shipping in the Chesapeake and its tributary streams, which they could not conveniently carry away as prizes. The Carolinas also suffered severely by the scourge of war. When Gates was superseded in the command of the American forces in that district, he was succeeded by General Greene, to whose charge he transferred the poor remains of his army,
which were collected at Charlotte, in North Carolina, and which amounted only to 2000 men. These troops were imperfectly armed and badly clothed; and such was the poverty of their military chest, that they were obliged to supply themselves with provisions by forced requisitions made upon the inhabitants of the adjacent country. In these circumstances, to encounter the superior numbers of the enemy in pitched battle would have been madness. Greene, therefore, resolved to carry on the war as a partisan officer, and to avail himself of every opportunity of harassing the British in detail.
The first enterprise which he undertook in prosecution of this system was eminently successful. Understanding that the inhabitants of the district of Ninety-six, who had submitted to the royal authority, were severely harassed by the licensed acts of plunder committed by the king's troops and the loyalists, he sent General Morgan into that quarter with a small detachment, which was, on its arrival, speedily increased by the oppressed countrymen, who were burning for revenge.
Lord Cornwallis, who was, at this
Who succeeded Gates in the Carolinas?
moment, on the point of invading North Carolina, no sooner heard of this movement, than he sent Lieutenant-Colonel Tarleton with 1100 men, to drive Morgan out of the district. Tarleton was an excellent partisan officer, and had gained great reputation by his superior activity, and by his success in various rencounters with detached parties of the republican troops. This success, however, and the superiority of his numbers to those of Morgan's forces, caused him too much to despise the
pursuance of Lord Cornwallis's orders, he marched in quest of his antagonist, and, on the evening of the 16th of January, 1781, he arrived at the ground which General Morgan had quitted but a few hours before. At two o'clock the next morning he recommenced his pursuit of the enemy, marching with extraordinary rapidity through a very difficult country, and at daylight he discovered the enemy in his front. From the intelligence obtained from prisoners who were taken by his scouting parties, he learned that Morgan awaited his attack at a place called the Cowpens, near Pacolet river. Here the American commander had drawn up his little army, two-thirds of which consisted of militia, in two lines, the first of which was advanced about two hundred yards before the second, with orders to form on the right of the second in case the onset of the enemy should oblige them to retire. The rear was closed by a small body of regular cavalry, and about forty-five mounted militia-men. On the sight of this array, Tarleton ordered his troops to form in line.
But before this arrangement was effected, that officer, obeying the dictates of valor rather than those of prudence, commenced the attack, heading his
Whom did Cornwallis send against Morgan?
squadron in person. The British advanced with a shout, and assailed the enemy with a well-directed discharge of musketry. The Americans reserved their fire till the British were within forty or fifty yards of their ranks, and then poured among them a volley which did considerable execution. The British, however, undauntedly pushed on and swept the militia off the field. They then assailed the second line, and compelled it to fall back on the cavalry. Here the Americans rallied, and renewed the fight with desperate valor; charging the enemy with fixed bayonets, they drove back the advance, and following up their success, overthrew the masses of their opponents as they presented themselves in succession, and finally won a complete and decisive victory. Tarleton fled from the bloody field, leaving his artillery and baggage in the possession of the enemy. His loss amounted to 300 killed and wounded, and 500 prisoners, whilst that of the Americans was only twelve killed and sixty wounded. Immediately after the action, General Greene sent off his prisoners, under a proper guard, in the direction of Virginia; and as soon as he had made the requisite arrangements, he followed them with his little army. On receiving intelligence of Tarleton's disaster, Lord Cornwallis hastened in pursuit of the retreating enemy, and forced his marches with such effect, that he reached the Catawba river on the evening of the day on which Morgan had crossed it; but here his progress was for a short while impeded, as a heavy fall of rain had rendered the stream impassable. When the waters subsided, he hurried on, hoping to overtake the fugitives before
Describe the battle?
they had passed the Yadkin; but when he had arrived at that river, he found to his mortification that they had crossed it, and had secured the craft and boats which they had used for that purpose on the eastern bank. He therefore marched higher up the stream, till he found the river fordable. Whilst he was employed in this circuitous movement, General Green had united his forces with those of Morgan, at Guildford Court House. Still, however, the forces of the American commander were so inferior to those of his pursuers, that, not daring to risk an engagement, he hastened straight onwards to the river Dan; whilst Lord Cornwallis, traversing the upper country, where the streams are fordable, proceeded, in the hope that he might gain upon the enemy, so as to overtake them, in consequence of their being obstructed in their progress by the deep water below. But so active was Greene, and so fortunate in finding the means of conveyance, that he crossed the Dan into Virginia, with his whole army,
artillery and baggage. So narrow, however, was his escape, that the van of Cornwallis's army arrived in time to witness the ferrying over of his rear.
Mortified as Lord Cornwallis was by being thus disappointed of the fruits of this toilsome march, he consoled himself by the reflection that, the American army being thus driven out of North Carolina, he was master of that province, and was in a condition to recruit his forces by the accession of the loyalists, with whom he had been led to believe that it abounded. He therefore summoned all true subjects of his majesty to repair to the royal standard, which