« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »
guard, his arm locked in theirs. Upon seeing the preparations at the fatal spot, he asked with some concern, "Must I die in this manner?" he was told it was unavoidable. He replied, "I am reconciled to my fate, but not to the mode :" but soon added, "it will be but a momentary pang." He ascended the cart with a pleasing countenance, and with a composure which excited the admiration, and melted the hearts, of the spectators. Their sensibility was strongly impressed, by beholding a welldressed youth, in the bloom of life, of a peculiarly engaging person, mien, and aspect, devoted to immediate execution. He was asked when the fatal moment was at hand, if he had any thing to say: he answered, "Nothing but to request that you will witness to the world, that I die like a brave man." In a few succeeding moments the affecting scene was closed. To offer any further remarks upon the fate of this valuable and accomplished officer, would be unnecessary, as the world has been sufficiently acquainted with every transaction respecting it.
After the defeat of general Gates by Earl Cornwallis, that nobleman exerted himself to the utmost, in extending the progress of the British arms, and with considerable effect. But one enterprize, which was conducted by major Ferguson, was unsuccessful, That officer had been very active in his exertions in the royal cause, and had taken great pains to improve the discipline of the loyal militia; with about one thousand four hundred of these, he made several incursions into the country. He was, howevery, attacked on the 7th of October, 1780, by a superior body of Americans, at King's mountain, and totally defeated. One hundred and fifty were killed in the action, and eight hundred and ten made prisoners, and one thousand five hundred stands of arms were taken.
But the month following, lieutenant-colonel Tarleton, with a party of one hundred and seventy cavalry, attacked general Sumpter, who is said to have had one thousand men, at a place called Black Stocks, and obliged him to retire. Sumpter was wounded, and about one hundred and twenty of his party killed, wounded, and taken prisoners: about fifty of the British were killed and wounded.
On the third of September, the Mercury, a Congress packet, was taken by the Vestal, commanded by captain
Kepple, near Newfoundland. On board this packet was Henry Laurens, late president of Congress, who was bound on an embassy to Holland. He had thrown his papers overboard, but the greatest part of them were recovered, without receiving much damage. He was brought to London, and examined before the privy council; in consequence of which, he was committed a close pri soner to the tower, on a charge of high treason. The contents of those papers, hastened the rupture which soon after took place, between Great Britain and Holland; for among them was found, the plan of a treaty, between the United States of North America, and the republic of Holland.
On the first of January, 1781, the troops that were hutted at Morristown, called the Pennsylvania line, turned out, in number about one thousand three hundred, and declared they would serve no longer, unless their griev ances were redressed. A riot ensued, in which an officer was killed, and some wounded. They then collected the artillery and stores, and marched out of the camp. As they passed by the quarters of general Wayne, he sent a message to them, requesting them to desist, or the conse quences might prove fatal. They nevertheless proceeded on their march, till the evening, when they posted themselves advantageously, and elected officers to command them; they next day they marched to 'Middlebrook, and on the third, they reached Princeton, where they fixed their quarters. On that day, a flag of truce was sent to them from the officers of the American camp, with a message, desiring to be informed what were their intentions. Some alledged they had served out the time of their enlistment, and would serve no longer, and others declared they would not return, unless their grievances were redressed. But they all at the same time protested, that they were not actuated by motives of disaffection to the American cause. This they soon had it in their power to make manifest, when general Clinton (who was soon informed of the revolt, and hoped to draw them over for the British Interest) sent two messengers with tempting offers to that purpose: these they disdainfully refused, and delivered up the messengers to Congress. Joseph Reid Esq. president of the state of Pennsylvania, afterwards eflicted on
accommodation; those who had served out their full time, were permitted to return home, and the others upon satisfactory assurances that their grievances should be redressed, rejoined their countrymen in arms.
To return to North Carolina, where lord Cornwallis had begun to make vigorous exertions in order to reduce that province, but was delayed by general Morgan and the troops under him, who attempted to make themselves masters of the valuable district of Ninety-Six. To prevent this, his lordship dispatched lieutenant-colenel Tarleton, with three hundred cavalry, three hundred light infantry, the seventh regiment, the first battalion of the seventy-first regiment, and two three pounders, to oppose the progress of Morgan. The British commander had not the least idea of the success of the expedition. On the seventeenth of January, the royal detachment came up with the Ame ficans under general Morgan, two thirds of whom were militia: these were drawn up in a wood, at a place called the Cowpens, near Pacolet river. The British, besides the advantage of field-pieces, had five to four in infantry, and more than three to one in cavalry. The attack was begun by the first line of infantry, consisting of the seventh regiment, and a corps of light infantry, with a troop of cavalry placed in each flank. The first battalion of the seventy-first, and the remainder of the cavalry, formed the reserve. The American line soon gave way, aad the militia quitted the field; upon which the king's troops sup posing victory certain, engaged with ardour in the pursuit and were thereby thrown into disorder: general Morgan's corps, who were supposed to have been routed, immediately faced about, and discharged so heavy a fire upon the royal troops, as threw them into such confusion, that they were at length totally defeated by the Americans. Four hundred of the British light infantry were killed, wounded, or taken prisoners: the two field-pieces fell into the hands of the Americans, together with the colours of the seventh regiment; and almost all the detachment of royal artillery were cut to pieces in defence of their colours. Colonel Tarleton then retreated to Hamilton's ford, near the mouth of Bullock's creek, with part of his baggage, having destroyed the rest. This stroke was sensibly felt by lord Cornwallis.
The care of collecting the remains of Tarleton's corps, now principally employed his thoughts, as well as to endeavour to form a junction with general Leslie, who had been ordered to march towards him with a body of British troops, from Wynesborough. Considerable exertions were then made by part of the army, to retake the prisoners, and intercept general Morgan's corps on its retreat to the Catawba. But that officer, by forced marches had crossed it the evening before a great rain, which swelled the river to such a height as prevented the British from crossing for several days; in which time the prisoners with their captors, had crossed the Yadkin river, whence they proceeded to the river Dan, which they also passed; and on the fourteenth of February reached Guilford court-house in Virginia.
Lord Cornwallis halted two days to collect flour, and rid himself of all unnecessary incumbrances. Being thus prepared, he marched through North Carolina with great rapidity, and penetrated to the extremities of that province, to the banks of the river Dan: some skirmishes ensued, but he met with no very considerable opposition. On the first of February, 1781, the king's troops crossed the Catawba, at M'Cowan's ford, where general Davidson, with a party of American militia was posted, in order to oppose their passage, but he was killed by the first discharge; the royal troops made good their landing, and the militia retreated. When lord Cornwallis arrived at Hillsborough, he erected the royal standard, and invited by proclamation, all loyal subjects to repair to it, and assist in the restoration of order and good government. He had been informed that the king's friends were numerous in that part of the country; but the event did not confirm the truth of such information. The royalists were but few in number, or too timid to join the king's standard. About two hundred were proceeding to Hillsborough, to avow their attachment to the royal cause, under colonel Pyle, but they were met accidentally by a detachment of the American army, who killed several of them, as they were begging for quarter, without making the least resistance. General Greene in the mean while was marching with great expedition with the troops under his command, to form a junction with other American corps, that he might impede the progress of lord Cornwallis.
General Greene having effected a junction on the tenth of March 1781, with a regiment of continental troops, and two large bodies of militia from Virginia and North Carolina, was resolved to attack the British troops under lord Cornwallis. They accordingly marched on the twelfth, and on the fourteenth arrived at Guilford. Lord Cornwallis was apprized of the designs of the American general; as they approached nearer to each other, a few skirmishes between the advanced parties took place. On the fifteenth, lord Cornwallis proceeded with his whole force, to attack the Americans on their march, or in their encampment. About four miles from Guilford, the advanced guard of the British army, commanded by colonel Tarleton, were met by lieutenant-colonel Lee's division, with whom he had a severe skirmish, and was obliged to make a precipitate retreat. The country in. which the action happened is a perfect wilderness, excepting some few fields interspersed.
The American army was posted on a rising ground, about a mile and a half from Guilford court-house; it was drawn up in three lines, the front composed of the North Carolina militia, under the command of the generals Butler, and Eaton; the second line of Virginia militia commanded by the generals Stephens, and Lawson, forming two brigades; the third line consisting of two brigades, one of Maryland, and the other of Virginia continental troops; and a regiment of rifle men, under the command of Colonel Lynch, formed a corps of observation, for the security of the right flank, lieutenant colonel Lee, with his legion, a detachment of light infantry, and a corps of riflemen, under colonel Campbell, formed a corps of observation for the security of their left flank. The attack on the American army, was made in the following order, by the directions of lord Cornwallis. On the right the regiment of Bose, and the seventy-first regiment, led by major general Leslie, and supported by the first battalion of guards; on the left, the twenty-third, and thirty-third regiments, led by lieutenant-colonel Webster, and supported by the grenadiers, and second battalion of guards, commanded by brigadier-general O'Hara. The yagers and light infantry, remained in a wood on the left of the ordnance, ready to act as circumstances might require.