Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]


of the Americans, and part of the baggage of the retreating army was abandoned. Again Cornwallis encamped with i only a river between his army and Greene, expecting to overtake and engage him in the morning. Another fortunate rise in the waters retarded him. The Yadkin was made impassable by the swell, and Cornwallis was compelled to march up the stream to cross at the shallow fords nearer the source. He traversed this circuitous route with great rapidity. Greene, not delaying his course, pushed on to Guilford Court House, where he formed a junction with the remainder of his army, that had retired from the Pedee, under the command of General Huger. The combined forces were still inferior to the army of Cornwallis, and the pursuit was continued. The Americans retreated as rapidly as possible towards Virginia, and so vigorously did Cornwallis force his marches, that a third time he reached the banks of a river just as the rear guard of Greene had crossed safely to the other side. The Americans marched forty miles

Feb. 14th.


on the last day of this extraordinary race, and on

the 14th of February were securely ferried over the river Dan, into Virginia. Here they were within reach of reinforcements of Virginia militia, and continentals, under Steuben and La Fayette. Cornwallis would venture no further, but, abandoning the chase, turned slowly south, and established himself at Hillsborough. He there occupied himself with encouraging the tories to take up arms, and enrol themselves under the yal standard; but his invitations and proclamations were not so successful as he expected. A considerable number joined him, and many more were well disposed, but confidence in the ascendency of the royal forces was by no

means re-established. The successful retreat of Greene, and the bold front he continued to assume with so inferior a force, had a beneficial effect in

preventing any large rising of the royalists. The American general, strengthened by a body of Virginians, resolved to take more decided measures for reassuring the republicans and

intimidating the tories, and on the 22d of February,

boldly recrossed the Dan with his whole army to assume the offensive. Tarleton, with a corps of four hundred and fifty men, had been despatched into the district of country between the Haw and Deep rivers, to give countenance to the royalists there. Lee, with his legion, and Pickens, with a party of militia, were sent to oppose him


Three hundred and fifty of the tories met this detachment, . ind, mistaking them for the British, welcomed them with protestations of loyalty, and cries of “God save the king.” They were soon undeceived by a furious attack; between wo and three hundred of them were killed, and the rest lispersed. Tarleton was within a mile of the field of action; ind instantly began his retreat to Hillsborough. On his narch he fell in with another party of tories, going to join he British army, and taking them for republican militia, ut down a number of them before they could explain their rue destination. These events discouraged the loyalists, and out an end to the recruiting service of the British army. Many who were ready to enlist, turned back, and irresolution and fear took the place of the ardor which they had at first exhibited, and on the faith of which Cornwallis had calculated upon the speedy conquest of North Carolina.

The indefatigable Greene maneuvred for several weeks within a few miles of Cornwallis, waiting for reinforcements, and harassing the British detachments, without venturing to give battle. For seven days he lay within ten miles of the British camp, and all Cornwallis's skill and enterprise could not obtain intelligence of his movements and position time enough to profit by it. He changed his camp with such celerity and secresy, that every day presented a new front, of which his adversary was unapprised and could not take advantage. At length, being strengthened by two brigades of North Carolina and one of Virginia militia, and about four hundred continental regulars, his numbers were increased to about 4,400, and he no longer avoided an engagement. Cornwallis, although he had less than three thousand troops, confiding in their courage and discipline, readily embraced the opportunity, and the armies met at Guilford, on the morning of the 15th of March.

The Americans waited the attack of the British, , drawn up in three lines, about a mile from Guilford Court House. The North Carolina militia were in front, the Virginia militia formed the second line, and the last was composed of the continental regulars, commanded by General Huger and Colonel Williams. The flanks were covered by the cavalry and riflemen. The battle commenced at half past one. At the first fire, the greater part of the North Carolina militia threw down their arms and took to flight. The Virginia militia stood their ground firmly, until out

March 15.

maneuvred by the enemy and charged with bayonets, when they gave way. The whole of the British force, infantry and cavalry, then pressed upon the continental line, and forced them from the field, after an obstinate fight, in which they were nearly surrounded. A general retreat was sounded, and made without disorder. Greene halted at Reedy Fork, about three miles from the field, and, having collected most of the stragglers, retired to the iron works, on Troublesome Creek, about ten miles further. The loss in killed and wounded was about four hundred, of whom three hundred were continentals. The numbers were further diminished by the dispersion of the militia, many of whom returned to their homes. Generals Huger and Stevens were wounded. Four pieces of artillery and ten ammunition wagons were lost.

The British loss was larger, compared with their numbers. Their killed and wounded exceeded five hundred, among whom were several valuable officers.

The fruits of the battle of Guilford to the victors on the field, were all the effects of complete defeat. The vanquished were ready to resume the offensive, and the conquerors, after issuing a proclamation, announcing their triumph, and offering pardon to all who should submit to their clemency left part of their wounded in the power of their adversaries, and retired towards Wilmington.

Greene, with unwearied perseverance, followed Cornwallis cautiously, hanging on his rear and harassing his march. Wilmington had been occupied by a British corps, commanded by Major Craig, sent from Charleston, in North Carolina, for the purpose of furnishing supplies to the army. The militia of the State were too active to permit this communication, and the hilly character of the country along the Cape Fear river, assisted them materially. Cornwallis was therefore obliged to retreat to Wilmington, to avail himself of the supplies collected there, and to refresh

his army. He reached that place on the seventh April 7th.

of April. Greene followed him only to Deep river, one of the upper branches of the Cape Fear river. After halting there awhile, at Ramony's mills, to give his exhausted troops time for repose, instead of pursuing Cornwallis towards the coast, he took the daring measure of defiling by forced marches, to the right, re-entered South Carolina, and encamped within a short distance of Camden,

[ocr errors]


where Lord Rawdon was posted, with about nine hundred men. The British troops in South Carolina were scattered in posts and cantonments; the bulk of the army was absent, under Cornwallis ; and this movement by Greene, gave the Americans the appearance of being the invaders, while the British march to Wilmington had the air of a retreat. The patriots were reassured, and the spirits of the people rose. During the marchings of both armies in North Carolina, the South Carolinian whigs had not been inactive. Sumpter and Marion, at the head of their gallant followers, kept the field, and made rapid excursions against the British posts, interrupting their convoys, assaulting and harassing their detachments, and keeping their outposts in constant alarm. After Greene's arrival, Lee, with his active legion, cooperated essentially in their partizan expeditions. The force which Greene brought with him, when he adopted the measure of penetrating into South Carolina, was small, and the British were complete masters of the State, occupying a chain of fortified posts, from the eastern to the western extremity of the State. Sumpter had been commissioned to raise a brigade for the regular service, and the aid of the militia was relied upon for the campaign. It was

April 20. on the 20th of April that Greene arrived in the neighborhood of Camden, and pitched his camp at Log town, within a mile of Lord Rawdon. Before following him in his remarkable career of gallantry, perseverance, and final victory, we must trace the progress of Cornwallis northward. He had kept up a correspondence with General Phillips in Virginia. The general plan of the British campaign in America looked to a junction of the royal forces in the South,—those of Cornwallis from the conquest of the Carolinas, with the army from New York, under Arnold and Phillips, after overrunning and subduing Virginia. From the day of the defeat of the Cowpens, difficulties seemed to grow constantly in the way of the advance of Cornwallis. The Carolina courage revived, and, though no important battle had been won by the republicans, the fortune of war had essentially diminished the confidence of their enemies. On retiring to Wilmington, the proper plan of operations became a serious subject of debate. The return to South

Carolina would take him through a barren country, and e confine his exertions to a defeat of Greene, and the preserE vation of South Carolina. Besides, the strong garrisons

[ocr errors]

posted there might be considered able to resist the Ameri cans, until the united British army could be brought to sustain them. It was not, however, by any means certain, when Cornwallis made these calculations, that Greene had resolved to confine his attention to the recovery of South Carolina. It was not unreasonable to expect that he would follow the royal forces into Virginia, and endeavor to co-operate with La Fayette and Steuben. At all events, whatever ground might be lost in the Carolinas could not be great, and the recovery would be easy by a large and victorious army, flushed with the conquest of one of the most powerful States of the Union. The effect of a vigorous blow in such a quarter, on such an extensive field, was looked to as highly important in impressing

upon the Americans a sense of the irresistible power of the British arms, rousing the loyalists to united action, and extinguishing the hopes of the republicans by a complete conquest of the South. These considerations prevailed with the council of war and the commander, and it was resolved to march into Virginia, and join General Phillips at Petersburgh. Carolina was left to the fortune of war. The command was entrusted to Lord Rawdon, a young officer of great bravery and merit, the same who afterwards distinguished himself as Earl of Moira, and became celebrated in India as Marquis of Hastings.

After delaying about three weeks at Wilmington, making preparations for the march, Cornwallis led his army near the coast, northward, with very little obstruction from the dispersed inhabitants, and a few light skirmishes with the misitia. At Halifax, where he arrived by the shortest route, he captured some American stores, with little loss, and crossing successively the large and rapid rivers that flow into the Roanoke and Albemarle Sound, unopposed, he reached Pe.

tersburgh in less than a month. On the 20th he May 20th.


a junction with the troops of Phillips, who had died a few days before. This army was subsequently strengthened by a considerable detachment from New York, and at the same time intelligence was received of the sailing of several Irish regiments from Cork, for Charleston, The news from Lord Rawdon, at that date, was encouraging, and the prospects of Cornwallis were, in every respect, brilliant. No force in Virginia was competent to resist him. His conquests in Carolina were, to all appearances, secure,

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »