« ZurückWeiter »
ly opposed by General Screven, who fell in defence of his country, and by Colonel Elbert, they were constrained to abandon the enterprise, and return, after laying waste the country by fire and sword, destroying, and carrying the negroes, cattle, &c. and committing the most shocki barbarities.
Colonel Campbell embarked at Sandy-Hook, (November 27th,) with the 71st regiment of foot, two battalions, four of tories, and a detachment of royal artillery; total about 2500, under convoy of Sir Hyde Parker's squadron, and arrived off the mouth of the Savannah, December 29th, where in six days he landed his troops. General Robert Howe, who was posted here with about 800 regulars and militia, who had been worn down with a fruitless expedition into Florida, during the summer, and were now in no condition to meet in the field the force under the command of Colonel Campbell, made a fruitless resistance.
Although the American commander had chosen a judicious position to cover the town of Savannah; yet he found himself out-generaled, and was surprised in his camp, and routed, with the loss of more than one half of his army; 48 pieces of cannon, 23 mortars, the fort with all its contents; the shipping in the river, and a large quantity of provisions, together with the capital of Georgia. Flushed with the successes of the day, the British pursued the Americans through the town of Savannah, where the defenceless inhabitants were bayonetted in the streets by the murderous foe; and the army, broken, routed, and destroyed, divided and surrendered at discretion, or fled into South-Carolina.
General Prescot entered the south of Georgia at the time Colonel Campbell sailed from Ne w York, and after experiencing incredible hardships and privations, arrived before Sunbury, which fell into his hands about the time
I «f the fall of Savannah. General Prescot next marched to Savannah, and took the command of the royal army in Georgia, and a proclamation was issued inviting the ^inhabitants "to lay down their arms and submit to the *royal authority, or with their arms support the royal cause."
Congress, at the requestof the South-Carolina delegation appointed Gen. Lincoln to the command of the southern department, on the 25th of September; but he did not arrive at Charleston before the 4th of December, where he was joined by Generals Ashe and Rutherford, at the head of about 2000 North-Carolina militia, to act with the troops of South Carolina, and the regulars, in repelling the expected attack from the enemy, who were hovering upon the coast.
On finding that Georgia was the object of the enemy'e destination, General Lincoln assembled about 950 men, and marched for Georgia, where he joined the army under Colonel Elbert, as they were passing the Savannah, and on 3d of January he established his head quarters at Purvsburg, about 30 miles up the Savannah.
(Jen. Lincoln found himself at the head of only 1400 men, and these mostly militia, who were destitute of even the name of discipline; instead of a force of 7000 regular troops, besides the militia of South-Carolina and Georgia, which he had been led to expect, and even this small force was destitute of cannon, arms, tents, camp utensils, and even powder and lead, except in very small quantities. The militia of South-Carolina were in the habit of going and coming, when, and where they pleased, with impunity, being subject, by the laws of the state, to no other punishment than simply a fine. When ordered on duty it was common for them to demand, where are we a going, and how long are we to stay? &c. On the 24th of January they had mostly returned to their homes, and their place was supplied by the North Carolina militia, under Gen. Ashe, consisting of 1100, which augmented the army of Gen Lincoln to 2400 men.
At this time Gen. Prevost moved his whole force i South-Carolina, and took possession of Port Royal Islan Gen. Moultrie put himself at the head of a body of Charles ton militia 5 commenced an attack upon the island, and dislodged the enemy with great loss, and drove them back into Georgia, February 3d, where they continued to establish themselves, and overrun the country.
Col. Campbell took his position at Augusta, at the head > of about 2000 regulars and tories, where he fomented divisions, and insurrections, amongst the tories in SouthCarolina, whose depredations greatly distressed that state.
To suppress those ravages, Col. Pickins assembled a p arty of militia from the district of Ninety-Six; pursued these banditti, overtook, engaged, killed, routed and destroyed, or dispersed their whole party, with the loss of their leader, Col. Boyd, who was slain, and the remnant threw themselves upon the mercy of the state.
South Carolina entered with spirit into these measures, tried and convicted 70 of the rebels, and sentenced them to death; but mercy interposed, and only 5 of the principals were executed ; the remainder were pardoned.
Gen. Lincoln ordered Gen. Williamson to take a strong position upon the Savannah, opposite to Augusta, to watch the enemy and check their ravages, and Gen. Ashe was detached into the upper country to support Gen. Williamson, with 1500 or 2000 men, where he arrived on the evening of the 13th of February.
Col. Campbell, upon intelligence of this junction, made a hasty movement the same night, and retired down the river 14 miles. This movement led Gen. Lincoln to order Gen. Ashe to pursue with his detachment, and when he had gained a certain position, to leave his detachment.
, ./ *
and meet him at a given time and place, to concert measures for their future operations. Gen. Ashe obeyed, and the commanders met accordingly. At this time Gens. Brian and Elbert took a strong position on Brian Creek, And on the next day Gen. Ashe returned to his post; on the same day the British reconnoitered his camp very closely, and on the next day Lt. Col. Prevost gained the rear of the American camp, by a circuitous march of about 50 miles, and commenced a furious attack; Gen. Elbert with his handful of regulars advanced to the charge, to check the enemy, until the militia could recover their surprise, and come into action, but their surprise was roused into fear, and fear into flight, and the detachment of Gen. Elbert was overpowered and cut to pieces, whilst Gen. Ashe and his militia fled to their homes, and never more returned. The Americans lost 150 killed, 162 captured, and the wounded are not numbered; about 450 of this whole force joined Gen. Lincoln, and the fugitives were never collected.
This decisive victory opened the whole state of Georgia to the victors, and a free communication with the tones of South-Carolina.
Alarmed for the safety of the state, they chose John Rutledge, Esq. their governor, and delegated to him and his council, full powers "to do every thing that appeared to him, and them, necessary for the public good." They at once assembled a large body of militia at Orangeburg, near the centre of the state, to act as occasion might require : the governor next ordered Gen. Williamson to send parties into Georgia, and distress the enemy, by laying waste the country, by driving off and destroying all the horses, cattle, provisions, carriages, &c. they could find. Gen. Lincoln took the liberty to remark to the governor, with some severity upon this order, as affecting alike the
Vol. in. 34
innocent and the guilty, the aged and infirm, women and children, and filling the country with distress.
Gen. Lincoln, now being reinforced at Lis camp at Blackswamp, determined by the advice of a council of war, taa. advance into Georgia, with all his force, excepting a strong guard to be left in his camp at Purysburg, under Gen. Moultrie, and take some strong position that he might circumscribe the limits of the enemy, and prevent his communication with the savages of the back country.
Gen. Prevost suffered the American Gen. to advance 150 miles into the country, and then availed himself of the favourable moment, and made a movement to surprise Gen. Moultrie in his camp at Black-swamp; the Gen. eluded this attack by having changed his ground three hours before, and being joined at the same time by Col. Mackintosh, with his party from Purysburg; he n.ext took his post at Tullifinny-bridge, to intercept the march of the British to Charleston. On the first of May Gen. Lincoln, learning the movement of Gen. Prevost, detached 300 continentals, with orders to make a rapid march to reinforce Gen. Moultrie, and moved with the remainder of his army into the heart of Georgia.
Admidst these movements, and the execution of the orders of Gov. Rutledge, the inhabitants were so distressed as to throw themselves into the arms of the British for succouf, and support; this, and the exposed situation of Gen. Moultrie, led Gen. Lincoln to change his operations, and move, by forced marches, to support Gen. Moultrie, lest Gen. Prevost should take advantage of his weak state, and force his way to Charleston.
Gov. Rutledge took the alarm at'the movements of Gen, Prevost; burnt all the houses in the suburbs, and put the city into the best possible state of defence. He next called in the neighbouring militia to give support to his measures, and on the 10th of May Gen. Moultrie joined his troops in the defence of Charleston.