Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Gen. Greene lost more than one third of his whole force engaged in this desperate action, which was so obstinately fought, and became so sharp and bloody, that not only the men, but the officers, fought hand to hand in the true Grecian, and Roman stileGen. Greene retired to his position on the high hills of Santee, to rest and refresh his army , and the British retired and took post at Monk's Corner, and commenced a system of defensive operations. In this position they suffered a party of American horse to cut off a foraging party, and carry off more than eighty prisoners, within sight of their camp.

Congress voted their thanks to Gen. Greene, and the different corps under his command, with their commandeers, on the 29th, and directed that he be presented with a British standard and a gold medal.

At this critical moment a mutiny broke out in the army of Gen. Greene, in which the soldiers complained of long, and hard service, and want of pay ; and it became the more serious because the facts were serious ;* but the officers met this mutiny promptly, by making one serious example, and the whole was quelled.

Gen. Greene, knowing that action was one of the most effectual meaus of caring the discontents of 'an army, left his strong position on the high hills of Santee, on the 18th of November, and advanced into the lower country, to provide for his winter's subsistence, and commence offensive operations. He gave the command of the main body to Col. O. Williams on the 27th, and put himself at the head of a detachment of 200 horse, and 200 infantry, that by a sudden movement, through by-roads, he might surprise the enemy at Dorchester. On the 29th, he be

i

• In their petition! to Gen. Greene they stated, that out of sevm re giments, there were srarce two hundred remaining ; that they were destitute of clothes; and that they hart never received any pay.

[graphic]

gan to reconnoiler the position of the enemy, which exposed him to a sally from a parly of the British cavalry; a conflict ensued in which the enemy were put to fligU, with the loss of 8 or 10 killed and wounded, and 5 or 6 were taken prisoners. So sharp was this rencounter, and such the dispositions of Gen. Greene after the action, that the enemy abandoned their post, and drew off their force in the night consisting of about 150 horse, and 700 infantry, regulars and militia royalists, and retired to the

• quarter-house on Charleston Neck. This movement opened to Gen. Greene the whole field of South-Carolina for the support of his army. •;

- Col. Williams in his letter to Gen. Greene thus expressed himself.—" Your success at Dorchester would make your enemies hate themselves, if all circumstances were generally known; and the same knowledge would make your friends admire the adventure, even more than they do."

Col. Williams advanced to the support of Gen. Greene, and they formed a junction at Round O, on the 9th of December; on the 14th the general wrote to the American board of war—" We cannot advance upon the enemy ftr the want of ammunition, though we have been in readiness for more than ten days. I have not a quire of paper in the world, nor are there two in the army. We broil most of our meat for the want of kettles to cook it." • • On the 4th of January, Maj. Gen. St. Clair joined Gen. Greene, with a handsome reinforcement, and Gen. Greene moved forward with his whole force, by the way of Jacksonsborough, and Stono, to the Edisto, about five miles from Jacksonsborough. Gen. Greene cross ed the Edisto in person, at the head of a small detachment, and proceeded to join the light troops under Cols. Lee and Laurens, and took his position near to Charleston. .

In this position Gen. Greene thus expressed himself to the secretary at war.—" Since we have been in the lower country, through the difficulty of transportation, we were four weeks without ammunition, though there was a plenty at Charlotte. We lay within a few miles of the enemy when we had not six rounds to a man ; had they got knowledge of our situation, they might have ruined us. Let it suffice to say that this part of the United States has had a very narrow escape. I have been seven months in the field without taking off my clothes one night. Our difficulties are so numerous, and our wants .so pressing, that I have not a moment's relief from the most painful anxieties."

"February 18th. Lt. Col. Lee retires for a time for the recovery of his health. I am more indebted to this officer than any other for the advantages gained over the enemy in the operations of the last campaign, and should be wanting in gratitude not to acknowledge the importance of his services, a detail of which is his best panegyric."

"March 11th. A great part of our troops are in a deplorable situation for want of clothing; we have 300 men without arms, and more than 1000 are so naked that they can only be put on duty in cases of a desperate nature. We have been all the winter in want of arms and clothing; and yet both upon the road, though neither could reach us, from the want of means to transport them by land, through an extensive and exhausted country."

"April 13th. The want of pay, clothing and better subsistence, and being altogether without spirits, has given a murmuring discontented tone to the army, and the face of mutiny discovers itself; I feel much for this department. No part of Saxony during the!last war, I believe, ever felt the ravaging hand of war with greater severity than it has been felt here.* Our number is greatly inferior to that of

* Fourteen hundred widows were made by the m aging: hand of war, in the single district of Ninety-Six.

Vol. IU. 42

the enemy; soon, most of the Northleaves us."

"April 22d. Discontent is daily increasing, and the spirit of mutiny very prevalent. I have been able to prove the fact upon but one man, and he a sergeant in the Pennsylvania line, whom I ordered to be shot this day. J hope this example will deter them from executing the conspiracy, (of betraying the army into the power of the enemy,) which we have dreaded every night."

Tranquillity was so far restored to South-Carolina at this time, that Gov. Rutledge issued writs of election, and called an assembly on the 18th of January, at Jacksonsborough. The governor opened the assembly with an address, and received their thanks in their answer; but the laws of the state required a rotine in office, and the Hon. John Mathews was chosen governor; the civil government was now restored, in all its branches. The legislature next proceeded to confiscate by law all the estates of the refugees, which excited some warmth of feeling, and some remonstrances from Gen. Leslie, commander of the British forces at Charleston; but to no effect; Gen. Greene answered these remonstrances by a reference to Gov. Mathews, who replied to the remonstrance with firmness, and proposed an adjustment by a mutual reference to commissioners, and here the affair ended.

Gen. Greene, on being reinforced by a part of the Pennsylvania line, after the fall of Lord Cornwallis, detached Lt. Col. Posey with 300 men into Georgia, to join Gen. Wayne. This junction caused the British commander at Savannah to lay waste the country, by setting fire to all the provisions within their reach, and thus the extensive borders of the river were soon seen smoking with the ruins of the last year's crops, and presented to the eye the awful destruction of the necessary supplies of both man and beast.

[graphic]

At this time the state of the army under Gen. Washingington may be seen by the following letter, dated Fishkill, May 28th, 1782—" Yesterday was the third day our army have been without provisions. Every department is without money and without credit. The army could not make a march of one day, as they are without every necessary, as well as provisions. Officers and soldiers are exceedingly discontented. You doubtless have heard of the premeditated ravnlf of the Connecticut line, happily discovered the day previous to that on which it was to have been put in execution. The ring-leader was punished with death. Wherever I go I hear complaints which make me dread the most fatal consequences. The distresses of our army have arrived to the greatest possible degree. ^

"STEUBEN."

"May 28th. 1 am under anxiety from the want of necessary deposits of provisions in the garrison at West-Point; this is an alarming circumstance. Were the enemy to know our situation, and make a sudden attempt, what is there to save these important posts.

"G. WASHINGTON."

A sketch of Gen. Greene's troubles may serve to complete the picture.—" August 13th. For upwards of three months, more than one third of our men (of the southern army) were entirely naked, with nothing but a breechcloth about them, and never came out of their tents; and the rest were as ragged as wolves. Our condition was little better in the article of provisions. Our beef was perfect carrion ; and even bad as it was, we were frequently without any. An army thus clothed and thus fed, may be considered in a desperate situation ; however we have , struggled through it. Our supplies of provision are better,

« ZurückWeiter »