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pointed to act under him, consisted of the 71st regiment '778. of foot, two battalions of Hessians, four of provincials, and a detachment of the royal artillery. The transports with the troops, amounting to full 2500, sailed srom^r. Sandy Hook, being escorted by a small squadron under *7* commodore Hyde Parker. The fleet arrived at the isle of Tybee near the mouth of the Savannah; and six days Dec. after, the troops effected a landing. From the landing*- ?^* place a narrow causeway of six hundred yards in length, with a ditch on each side, led through a rice swamp. This causeway, had it been in a proper state of defence, might have effectually resisted a vast superiority of force; but the small party under capt. Smith, which was posted at it to impede the passage of the British, was too inconsiderable to check their progress. They pushed on with such vigor, that the Americans were almost instantly dispersed. The continental army, on which the defence of Georgia chiefly rested, had lately returned from a fruitless summer's expedition against East Florida, in which they had suffered so great a dimunition, that joined with those present of the state militia, the whole made but about 820 men. Gen. Robert Howe, who . commanded the Americans, had taken his station on the main road between the landing-place and Savannah, with the river on his left, and a swamp in front, extending beyond his right flank. The British advanced till within a few hundred yards of the American army, when Campbell manœuvred so as to cherish an opinion, that he meant to attack their left. For that purpose he ordered the first battalion of the 71st to form on the right of the road, thereby to impress a full idea of his designing to extend his front in that quarter. At the
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tif%. lime- time a considerable part of the royal army was detached to cross the swamp so high up as to get in the rear of the Americans. Chance had thrown into the hands of Campbell a negro, who knew a private path through the swamp, by which he promised to lead the troops without observation or difficulty. At length the British commander, presuming that the detachment had got effectually round upon the rear of the Americans, suddenly advanced, and Howe ordered an immediate retreat. A few minutes delay would have made it impossible, and it was then only practicable in the face, and under the fire of that part of the British army which had effected its passage through the swamp. A small body of about a hundred Georgia militia had been previously posted in the rear of the barracks near Savannah, which made some opposition to the British as they were issuing from the swamp, but was soon compelled to retreat, and its commander col. Walton was wounded and taken prisoner. The Americans retreated with precipitation and in disorder. The British pursued with spirit and rapidity. No victory was ever more complete. Thirty-eight officers, and 415 non-commissioned and privates, 48 pieces of oannon, 23 mortars, the fort with its ammunition and stores, the shipping in the river, a large quantity, of provisions, with the capital of Georgia, were all in the space of a sew hours in the possession of the conquerors. The British pursued the Americans through the town of Savannah. In the impetuosity of the pursuit, some of the inhabitants who had not been in the action, were bayonetted in the streets, several were killed or wounded in their flight; and a large number, finding their escape
impracticable without swimming a deep watery swamp, 1771. were obliged to sue for quarters. The Americans saved three field pieces out of four; but many lost their arms. That part of the army which escaped retreated up the jiver Savannah to Zubly's ferry, and crossed over into South Carolina *.
No place in similar circumstances suffered less by depredation, than Savannah did upon this occasion. A strong circumstantial testimony, that those enormities so frequently attributed to the licentiousness of the soldiers, should with much more justice be charged to the indefensible conduct of their superiors; whether by a previous relaxation of discipline, an immediate participation in the guilt, or a no less culpable sufferance of the enormity. About the time that the embarkation took place | at New York, gen. Prevost inarched from East Florida into the southern parts of Georgia. The royal troops, in I traversing the desert that separates the one from the other, were obliged to live for several days on oysters. After encountering many difficulties, they heard of col. Campbell's arrival and success. They at length appeared before and surrounded the town and fort of Sunbury. The garrison confiding of about 200 men, made a show of defence, and gave the general the trouble of opening trenches; but all hope of relief being cut off by the sall of the capital, they surrendered at discretion. The general marched to Savannah* and took the command of the combined forces from New York and St. Augustine, and consequently of Georgia. Previous to his arrival, a proclamation had been issued to encourage the
* Dr. Ramsay's History of the Revolution in South Carolina, vol. i. p. 1—6.
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1778. inhabitants to come in, and submit to the conquerors, with promises of protection on condition, that "with their arms they would support royal government." Numbers submitted, but the determined republicans fled up into the western parts of the country, or into South Carolina.
The attention of congress and the public has been much engaged aboutMr. Silas Deane since his return from France. You will recollect what has been written relative to his recall—p. 38. Congress in August desired him, to give from his memory, a general account of his whole transactions in France, from the time of his first arrival, as well as a particular state of the funds of congress, and the commercial transactions in Europe, especially with Mr. Beaumarchais. They appear not to have been thoroughly satisfied; and to have had apprehensions lest there had been a misapplication of the public money. Mr. Deane seems not to have relished his situation -, but to have been desirous of changing it by returning to France, or exciting a general resentment against congress. . He. had not yet accounted for his expenditure of public money; and had carefully left his papers and vouchers behind him, though he had the opportunity of d'Estaing's fleet to procure them a safe transportation to America. On the 30th of November he addressed a Jetter to congress, signifying his intentions of returning to France, and pressing to have his affairs brought to some conclusion. December the 1st congress resolved, f* that after to-morrow they will meet two hours at least each evening, Saturdays excepted, beginning at six o'clock, until the present state of their foreign affairs be fully considered." On the fourth Mr. Deane wrote again to them
acquainting them of his having received their notifica- 177*» tion of the resolve, and expressed his thanks; and yet on the day following he published in the news papers, r. An address to the free and virtuous citizens of America, dated November, but without any day of the month. The address threw the public into a convulsion, and made them jealously uneasy: for it expressed a necessity of appealing to them, and communicating that information against which their representatives had shut their ears;—declared or insinuated that their public servants, Messrs. Arthur and William Lee, were deficient in abi-' lities, application and fidelity, and were universally disgustful to the French nation ;~intimated a design to lead them into a breach of their national faith and honor, solemnly pledged to their ally;—reflected upon the integrity of some leading members in congress;—and strongly hinted at further important information to be brought forward if there should be occasion. Mr. Deane by publishing his address on the Saturday, secured the advantage of the Sunday for its being more universally read in the city and neighbourhood, while fresh from the press, than it would otherwise have been. In the morning of the day when it appeared, and before congress (as must be supposed) were.acquainted with its contents, they assigned Monday evening for hearing him, and ordered his being notified to attend. The intervening space gave the members an opportunity of perusing it, lo that when they met on Monday evening at six o'clock, they resolved, " That Silas Deane esq; report to congress in writing, as soon as may be, his agency of their affairs in Europe, together with any intelligence respecting their foreign affairs which he may judge proper :-—