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buthnot, sailed from Spithead: the admiral, with a squa- 1779, dron of men of war and a number of transports, is bound to New York.

LETTER VIII.

'Roxbury, Aug. 5, 1779.

TH E disasters which followed the American arms, after the landing of the British in Georgia, roused the South Carolinians vigorously to oppose the extensioa of their conquests. By an almost unanimous voice, they chose John Rutledge esq; their governor; and to him and his council was delegated, by the legislature, power "to do every thing that appeared to him and them necessary for the public good." In execution of this trust, a body of militia were assembled, stationed at Orangeburgh near the centre of the state, and kept in constant readiness to march whithersoever the public service required. The governor sent orders to gen. Williamson, and directed him to push parties into Georgia, and destroy all the cattle, horses, provisions and carriages they should meet with in that state. Gen. Lincoln A ;1 in a letter remarked upon the order, as affecting alike 16. the innocent and guilty, the aged and infirm, &c. and concluded with saying—" As nothing but a conviction that it is an indispensable duty, would have led me to the disagreeable- task of making the above remarks, so

I shall

1779.1 shall avoid at present any other, however my own feelings may have been hurt." The order, if at all needful, should have gone from the continental general, whom congress had empowered to command in that department. He in a letter of the preceding day, wrote to the president of congress, "We have lately exchanged some prisoners, those who have come out are in a most miserable condition, few of them sit for service. Their treatment on board the prison ships, and the measures adopted to oblige them to renounce their allegiance to the United States, and engage them in the British service, have been cruel and unjustifiable, many inlisted with them—many are dead—and others in a weak dying state."

April A council of war was held at the general's head quar

*9* ters at Black-swamp, when it was agreed—" That as the number of militia in camp, with those at gen. Williamson's camp, and 500 promised from Orangeburgh, and 700 from North Carolina now in the state, amounted to 5000 men; they would collect the remainder near to Augusta (after leaving 1000 here and at Purysburgh) and cross the Savannah, take some strong ground in Georgia, prevent the enemy's receiving supplies from the back parts of the country, circumscribe them within their narrow limits, and prevent their junction with the unfriendly and the savages, in Georgia and in the back

33. parts of this state." The general began his march, leaving at Black-swamp and Purysburgh, the 5th and part of the 2d regiment of South Carolina, and about 800 militm under gen. Moukrie. When the American army was 150 miles up the Savannah, gen. Prevost availed

29* himself of that moment, and crossed over to Purysburgh with 2400 men: he had beside a considerable body of 1779* Indians. The first night after entering Carolina, he made a forced march in hope of attacking Moultrie at Black-swamp, but was three hours too late. The latter had changed his quarters, and being joined by col. McIntosh's party, which had made a timely retreat from Purysburgh, took post at Tulifinny bridge, to prevent the further incursion of the British, and to keep between them and Charlestown. Gen. Lincoln, on information of these movements, immediately detached 300 chosen May continental troops to reinforce Moultrie, lest he should be mistaken in his idea, that Prevost only intended a feint to divert him from his general plan; in pursuit of which he crossed the Savannah near Augusta, and marched for three days down the country toward the capital of Georgia. But being informed by Moultrie's letters 'of the 4th and 5th, that his number of men was greatly diminished by the desertion of the militia, and that he was obliged to retire before the enemy, Lincoln recrossed the river and country, as fast as possible, to come up with Prevost. Moultrie had no cavalry to check the advancing foe; who met with scarce any other interruption in their march, than the destruction of all the bridges by the retreating Americans. The absence of the main army under Lincoln, the retreat of Moultrie, the plundering and devastations of the invaders, and above all the dread of the royal auxiliaries, the Indians, diffused a general panic among the inhabitants, and induced many to apply to the British for protection. The faci- lity with which their army proceeded through the country, added to the repeated suggestions of the friends to royal government, who positively assured Prevost, that

Charles

J779* Charlestown would certainly surrender at his approach, . induced him to change his original plan, and push for the place. Had he designed it at first, and continued his march with the fame rapidity he began it, he would probably have carried the town by a coup-de-main; but he halted two or three days, when advanced more than half the distance. In this interval the lieut. governor and the council made the greatest exertions to fortify it on the land side. All the houses in the suburbs were burnt. Lines and abbatis were in a few days carried from Ashley to Cooper rivers. Cannon were mounted at proper intervals across the whole extent of Charlestown neck. The militia of the vicinity were summoned to the defence of the place; and they generally obeyed. Gen. Moultrie's retreating army, gov. Rutledge's militia from Orangeburgh, and the detachment of chosen continental troops under col. Harris, which marched

Ma near forty miles a day for four days successively, all

10. reached Charlestown on the 9th and 10th of May.

u. Nine hundred of the British army, their main body and baggage being left on the south side of Ashley river, crossed the ferry, and soon appeared before the town. The same day count Pulaski's legionary corps of infantry crossed Cooper river to Charlestown. They had scarcely arrived two hours, when he led 80 of them out of the lines, and stationed them in a valley behind a small breast work, with the view of drawing the British into an ambuscade. He advanced a mile beyond his infantry, and joined a party of regular horse, and mounted militia volunteers, and with that force engaged the British cavalry for a while, and then retreated to his infantry; who from an eagerness to engage had quitted their breast work, and so rendered abortive the advantage1779» of the intended ambuscade, and were by superior numbers compelled to retreat. Pulaski however by discovering the greatest intrepidity, and by successful personal rencounters with individual's of the British cavalry, had a considerable influence in dispelling the general panic, and in introducing military sentiments into the minds of the citizens. Major Huger, a distinguished officer, while commanding a party without the lines, was killed' at night through mistake by his-countrymen.. That the town might not be carried by surprise or a sudden assault, tar-barrels were lighted up in front of the works. Its defence rested on the exertions of 3300 men, the greater part of whom were militia, wholly unacquainted with military operations. Gen. Lincoln was marching, with all expedition for its relief, but his timely arrival was dubious, and the crisis extremely hazardous; a proposition was therefore made by the civil authority to gen. Prevost—" That South Carolina would remain in a state of neutrality, till the close of the war, 'and then follow the fate of its neighbours, on condition the royal army would withdraw." The British: commander rejected this advantageous offer, alleging that he did not come in a legislative capacity; and insisted, "That as the garrison was in arms, they should surrender prisoners of war:" upon this they prepared for sustaining an immediate assault, but PrcvOst fearing the consequences, declined making it. Some days after, he took an express coming from Lincoln: upon reading it and discovering the movements and intentions of the latter, he cried out aloud, that he expected to be between two fires, and precipitately quitted his ground, recrossed Vol. III. S Ashlev

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