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1779'storming or besieging the garrison. The resolution of proceeding by siege being adopted, the attention of the combined armies was immediately called to the landing of cannon, and the erecting of batteries. The distance of the fleet from the landing-place, together with the want of proper carriages to transport the various warlike articles full five miles, consumed much time. The works of the town were, in the mean while, perfecting every day by the labor of several hundred negroes, dis u rested by major Moncrieff the engineer. The French *3* and Americans broke ground in the evening: a small party of the besieged sallied out the next day, but was soon repulsed. The pursuit was continued so near to the British intrenchments, that the French were exposed to a heavy fire, by which many of them fell. On the night of the 27th, major McArthur, with a party of the British picquets, advanced and fired among the besiegers so artfully, as to occasion a firing between the Oct. French and American camps. The besiegers opened +' with 9 mortars, 37 cannon from the land side, and 16 from the water; which continued to play for four or five days with short intervals, but without any consider8. able effect. Major l'Ensant in the morning, with five men, marched through a brisk fire from the British lines, and kindled the abbatis; but the dampness of the air, and the moisture of the green wood, prevented the success of this bold undertaking.
Soon :after the commencement of the cannonade, gen. Prevost solicited for leave to send the women and children out of town. This humane request was refused from motives of policy. The combined, army was so confident of success, that it was suspected a desire of
secreting the plunder lately taken from the South-Caro- ij-9. iinians, was a considerable object covered under the specious veil of humanity. That the commanders were suspicious, considering the stratagem Prevost had practised after being summoned, is not strange. It was also presumed, that a" refusal would expedite a surrender. The period being long since elapsed which the count had assigned for his expedition, and the engineers informing him, that more time must be spent if he expected to reduce the garrison by regular approaches, it •was determined to make an assault. This measure was forced on d'Estaing by his naval officers, who had remonstrated against his continuing to risk so valuable a fleet in its present unrepaired condition, on such a dangerous coast in the hurricane season; and at so great a distance from the snore, that it might be surprised by a British fleet. These remonstrances were enforced by the probability of their being attacked by a British fleet completely repaired, with their full compliment of men, soldiers and artillery on board, when the ships of his most christian majesty were weakened by the absence of a considerable part of their crews, artillery and officers. In a few days, the lines of the besiegers might have been carried into the works of the besieged: but under these critical circumstances no further delay could be admitted. To assault, or to raise the siege, was the only alternative. Prudence dictated the latter: a fense of honor adopted the former. The morning of the 9th was fixed for the attack. The preceding night, one James Curry, formerly a clerk at Charlestown, but now sergeant major in their volunteer company, went into Savannah with a plan of the attack. Two feints were
1779. made with, the country militia; and a real attack a little before day light on the Spring-hill battery with 3500 French troops, 600 continentals, and 350 of the Charlestown militia, headed by count d'Estaing and gen. Lincoln. They marched up to the lines with great boldness: but a heavy and well-directed fire from the batteries, and a cross fire from the gallies threw the front of the column into confusion. Two standards however . (one an American) were planted on the British redoubts. Coupt Pulaski, at the head of 200 horsemen, was in full gallop, riding into town between the redoubts, with an intention of charging in the rear, when he received a mortal wound. A general retreat of the assailants took place after they had stood the enemy's fire for fifty-five minutes. D'Estaing received two slight wounds; 637 of his troops, and 234 * continentals were killed or wounded: of the 350 Charlestown militia, who were iB the hottest of the fire, 6 were wounded, and a captain killed. Gen. Prevost and major Moncrieff have deservedly acquired great reputation by this successful defence. There were not ten guns mounted on the lines on the day of the summons, and in a few days the number exceeded 80. The garrison was between 2 and 3000, including 150 militia. The damage it sustained was trifling, as the men fired under cover, and few of the assailants fired at all. It lost no other officer than capt. Taws, who defended the redoubt where the standards were planted, with the greatest bravery. Instead of mutual reproaches, which too often follow the sailure of enterprises, depending upon the co-operation of different nations, the French and Americans had their con
* The returns made to general Lincoln. . '. fidence
fidence in and esteem for each other increased. It was j1779* thought, that the delicacy and propriety of gen. Lincoln's conduct on every occasion, contributed much to this agreeable circumstance." The militia almost universally returned home, immediately after the unsuccessful assault. In about ten days, count d'Estaing reimbarked his troops, artillery and baggage, and left the continent; while gen. Lincoln returned to South Garo-' Una. But the French were scarcely on board, when a violent gale dispersed the whole fleet; and though the count had ordered seven ships to repair to Hampton road in the Chesapeak, the marquis de Vaudreuil was the only officer who was able to execute a part of the order.
While the siege of Savannah was pending, a remarkable enterprise was effected by col. John White of the Georgia line. Previous to the arrival of d'Estaing on the coast of Georgia, a captain of Delancey's ist battalion had taken post with about ioo American royal regulars near the river Ogeechee, about 25 miles from Sa-* vannah. There were also at the same place five British vessels, four of which were armed, the largest with 14 guns, the smallest with 4, and the whole manned with about 40 sailors. Col. White, with six volunteers, including his own servant, made them all prisoners. On September the 30th, at eleven o'clock at night, he kindled a number of fires in different places, adopted the parade of a large encampment, practised a variety of other stratagems, and summoned the" captain to surrender; who was so fully impressed with an opinion, that nothing but an instant compliance could save his men from being cut in pieces by a superior force, that he made no defence, The deception was carried on with
177$'such address, that all the prisoners, amounting to^i^ were secured *; and afterward safely conducted by three of the captors for 25 miles through the country to an American post f.
Count Pulaski died before the end of October. Congress have resolved, that a monument should be erected to his memory. He was a Polander of high birth, and had been concerned in a bold enterprise in his native country. With a few men he had carried off king Stanislaus from the middle of his capital, though surrounded by a numerous body of guards and a Ruffian army. The king, after being a prisoner for some time, escaped by the favor of one os the band, and soon afterward declared Pulaski an out-law. Nothing could be more congenial to his sentiments than to employ his arms in support of the American states. He offered his service to congress, and was honored with the rank of a brigadier general. But the count was far from being satisfied with his employ, as appears from his letter, dated Charlestown, Aug. 19, in which he wrote—" Such has been my lot, that nothing less than my honor, which I will never forfeit, retains me in a service, which ill-treats ment makes me begin to abhor. Every proceeding respecting myself has been so thoroughly mortifying, that nothing but the integrity of my heart, and the fervency of my zeal, supports me under it.M
Let us turn to New York.
It was not till August the 25th, that adm. Arbuthnot arrived with the fleet, whicli conveyed the reinforcements, camp equipage, stores- and other necessaries, that
* General Lincoln's Letter of October the zd, to gov. Rutledge. + Dr. Ramsay's History, vol, ii. p. 35—43.