* Generally given as Buford in other documents. Simms also states "the Warsaw settlements" in the original text, but Waxhaw is correct. According to local tradition, the mother of Andrew Jackson, the future president, was one of those who aided the survivors. Jackson himself later served, at the age of 13, in Davie's cavalry, as a messenger, and was the only member of his family to survive the war. —A. L., 1996.—
The defeat of Beaufort, with the only regular force remaining in the State, following so close upon the fall of Charleston, paralyzed the hopes of the patriots. The country seemed everywhere subdued. An unnatural and painful apathy dispirited opposition. The presence of a British force, sufficient to overawe the neighborhood, at conspicuous points, and the awakened activity of the Tories in all quarters, no longer restrained by the presence in arms of their more patriotic countrymen, seemed to settle the question of supremacy. There was not only no head against the enemy, but the State, on a sudden, appeared to have been deprived of all her distinguished men. Moultrie and others who might have led, were prisoners of war. Governor Rutledge, a noble spirit and famous orator—the Patrick Henry of Carolina,—had withdrawn to the North State, to stimulate the energies of the people in that quarter and gain recruits. His example was followed by Sumter, Horry and others,—by all, in fact, who, escaping captivity, were in condition to fly. The progress of Cornwallis and Tarleton left mere distinction, unsupported by men, with few places of security. Marion, meanwhile, incapable of present flight, was compelled to take refuge in the swamp and forest. He was too conspicuous a person, had made too great a figure in previous campaigns, and his military talents were too well known and too highly esteemed, not to render him an object of some anxiety as well to friends as foes. Still suffering from the hurts received in Charleston, with bloody and malignant enemies all around him, his safety depended on his secrecy and obscurity alone. Fortunately he had "won golden opinions from all sorts of people." He had friends among all classes, who did not permit themselves to sleep while he was in danger. Their activity supplied the loss of his own. They watched while he slept. They assisted his feebleness. In the moment of alarm, he was sped from house to house, from tree to thicket, from the thicket to the swamp. His "hair-breadth 'scapes" under these frequent exigencies, were, no doubt, among the most interesting adventures of his life, furnishing rare material, could they be procured, for the poet and romancer. Unhappily, while the chronicles show the frequent emergency which attended his painful condition, they furnish nothing more. We are without details. The melancholy baldness and coldness with which they narrate events upon which one would like to linger is absolutely humbling to the imagination; which, kindled by the simple historical outline, looks in vain for the satisfaction of those doubts and inquiries, those hopes and fears, which the provoking narrative inspires only to defraud. How would some old inquisitive Froissart have dragged by frequent inquiry from contemporaneous lips, the particular fact, the whole adventure, step by step, item by item,—the close pursuit, the narrow escape,—and all the long train of little, but efficient circumstances, by which the story would have been made unique, with all its rich and numerous details! These, the reader must supply from his own resources of imagination. He must conjecture for himself the casual warning brought to the silent thicket, by the devoted friend, the constant woman, or the humble slave; the midnight bay of the watch dog or the whistle of the scout; or the sudden shot, from friend or foe, by which the fugitive is counselled to hurry to his den. A thousand events arise to the imagination as likely to have occurred to our partisan, in his hours of feebleness and danger, from the rapid cavalry of Tarleton, or the close and keen pursuit of the revengeful Tories. To what slight circumstances has he been indebted for his frequent escape! What humble agents have been commissioned by Providence to save a life, that was destined to be so precious to his country's liberties!
How long he remained in this situation is not exactly known,—probably several months. As soon as he was able to mount his horse, he collected a few friends, and set out for North Carolina. A Continental force was on its way from Virginia under Baron De Kalb. His purpose was to join it. It was while on this route, and with this object, that he encountered his old friend and long tried associate in arms, Col. P. Horry.*
* There were two Horrys, brothers, both of whom were very brave and distinguished adherents of our partisan. Peter Horry held a captain's commission in the same regiment with Marion, at the battle of Fort Moultrie. Hugh Horry was the particular favorite of his General. A life of Marion, purporting to be in part by the former, but really composed entirely by the Rev. M. L. Weems, from facts furnished by Horry, is already well known to the public. A MS. life of Peter Horry is now before me, and has furnished me with several illustrations of the war, during this narrative. Both of these brothers served under Marion, to the close of the war, with equal courage and fidelity.—
Horry describes his ankle, at this meeting, as still "very crazy"—so much so that it required his help and that of Marion's servant to lift him from his horse. But his spirits were good. He was still cheerful, and possessed that rare elasticity of character which never loses its tone under privations and disappointments. Weems, who, we are compelled to admit, very frequently exercised the privilege of the ancient historian, of putting fine speeches into the mouth of his hero, tells us that he jeered at the doleful expressions of his companion, Horry, who, discussing the condition of the country, lamented that their "happy days were all gone." "Our happy days all gone, indeed!" answered Marion—"on the contrary, they are yet to come. The victory is still sure. The enemy, it is true, have all the trumps, and if they had but the spirit to play a generous game, they would certainly ruin us. But they have no idea of that game. They will treat the people cruelly, and that one thing will ruin them and save the country." Weems, speaking for Horry, describes in ludicrous terms, their journey through North Carolina,—through a region swarming with Tories, but, fortunately for our travellers, who were venomous without being active. Our fugitives were without money and without credit, and "but for carrying a knife, or a horse fleam, or a gun-flint, had no more use for a pocket than a Highlander has for a knee-buckle. As to hard money we had not seen a dollar for years." In this resourceless condition—a condition, which, it may be well to say in this place, continued throughout the war, they made their way with difficulty until they joined the Continental army. Gates had superseded De Kalb in its command, and was pressing forward, with the ambition, seemingly, of writing a dispatch like Caesar's, announcing, in the same breath, the sight and conquest of his enemy. Marion and his little troop of twenty men, made but a sorry figure in the presence of the Continental General. Gates was a man of moderate abilities, a vain man, of a swelling and ostentatious habit, whose judgment was very apt to be affected by parade, and the external show of things. Some of his leading opinions were calculated to show that he was unfit for a commander in the South. For example, he thought little of cavalry, which, in a plain country, sparsely settled, was among the first essentials of success, as well in securing intelligence, as in procuring supplies. It was not calculated therefore to raise the troop of our partisan in his esteem, to discover that they were all good riders and well mounted. Marion, himself, was a man equally modest in approach and unimposing in person. His followers may have provoked the sneer of the General, as it certainly moved the scorn and laughter of his well-equipped Continentals. We have a description of them from the pen of an excellent officer, the Adjutant General of Gates' army. He says, "Col. Marion, a gentleman of South Carolina, had been with the army a few days, attended by a very few followers, distinguished by small leather caps, and the wretchedness of their attire; their number did not exceed twenty men and boys, some white, some black, and all mounted, but most of them miserably equipped; their appearance was in fact so burlesque, that it was with much difficulty the diversion of the regular soldiery was restrained by the officers; and the General himself was glad of an opportunity of detaching Col. Marion, at his own instance, towards the interior of South Carolina, with orders to watch the motions of the enemy and furnish intelligence."*
* Narrative of the Campaign of 1780, by Col. Otho Williams.—
From such small and insignificant beginnings flow greatness and great performances. We, who are in possession of all the subsequent events—who see this proud, vain Commander, hurrying on with the rapidity of madness to his own ruin—can but smile in the perusal of such a narrative, not at the rags of Marion's men, but at the undiscerning character of those who could see, in the mean equipment, the imperfect clothing, the mixture of man and boy, and white and black, anything but a noble patriotism, which, in such condition, was still content to carry on a war against a powerful enemy. The very rags and poverty of this little band, which was afterwards to become so famous, were so many proofs of their integrity and virtue, and should have inspired respect rather than ridicule. They were so many guarantees of good service which they were able and prepared to render. It was in defiance of the temptations and the power of the foe, that these men had taken the field against him, and had Gates been a wise commander, he would have seen even through their rags and destitution, the small but steady light of patriotism; which, enkindled throughout the State by the example of Marion, Sumter, and a few others, was to blaze out finally into that perfect brightness before which the invader was to shrink confounded.
Gates was wise enough to take counsel of Marion, if nothing more; and even this might not have been done, but for the suggestions of Governor Rutledge, who, at that time in the camp of the Continentals, might very well have informed him of the value of the man whose followers inspired only ridicule. It was with Marion that the plan was concerted, and not improbably at his suggestion, for moving into the very heart of the State. This, subsequently, was the policy of Greene, and had Gates adopted the deliberate caution of that commander, his successes would unquestionably have been the same. The object of such a movement was to give an opportunity to the native patriots to rally—to compel the British to concentrate their scattered forces, call in their detached parties, and thus circumscribe their influence, within the State, to the places where they still remained in force. To effect these objects, the Fabian maxims of warfare should have been those of the American General. Few of his militia had ever seen an enemy. He had but recently joined his troops, knew nothing of them, and they as little of him. Their march had been a fatiguing one. Time and training were necessary pre-requisites for their improvement and his success. Unhappily, these were the very agents with which the vanity of the unfortunate commander made him most willing to dispense. The victory at Saratoga had spoiled him for ever, and thinking too much of himself, he committed the next great error of a military man, of thinking too lightly of his foe. It would be idle and perhaps impertinent, to suggest that if Marion had been suffered to remain with him, the issue of this march might have been more fortunate. Gates was quite too vain-glorious to listen and Marion quite too moderate to obtrude his opinions; and yet Marion was a man of equal prudence and adroitness. He could insinuate advice, so that it would appear to self-conceit the very creature of its own conceptions. Had Marion remained, could Gates have listened, we are very sure there would have been no such final, fatal disaster as suddenly stopped the misdirected progress of the Continental army. There would have been some redeeming circumstances to qualify the catastrophe. All would not have been lost. At all events, with Marion at their head, the militia would have fought awhile,—would have discharged their pieces, once, twice, thrice, before they fled. They would have done for the born-leader of militia, what they refused to do for a commander who neither knew how to esteem, nor how to conduct them.
It was while Marion was in the camp of Gates, that a messenger from the Whigs of Williamsburg, then newly risen in arms, summoned him to be their leader. It was in consequence of this invitation, and not because of the awkwardness of his position there, that he determined to penetrate into South Carolina, in advance of the American army. Such an invitation was not to be neglected. Marion well knew its importance, and at once accepted the commission conferred upon him by Governor Rutledge. He took leave of Gates accordingly, having received, as is reported, certain instructions from that unhappy commander, to employ his men in the destruction of all the scows, boats, ferry-flats and barges on the route, by which the enemy might make his escape. The fancy of the American General already beheld the army of Lord Cornwallis in full flight. His great solicitude seems to have been how to secure his captives. He had, strangely enough for a military man, never taken counsel of the farm-yard proverb, which we need not here repeat for the benefit of the reader.* With the departure of Marion, his better genius left him,—the only man, who, in command of the militia, might have saved him from destruction. Leaving our partisan, with his little squad, to make his way cautiously through a country infested with Tories, we follow for the present the progress of the Continental army. On the night of the fifteenth of August, 1780, the Americans moved from Rugely's Mills. At midnight, without dreaming of an enemy, they encountered him. The first intelligence communicated to either army of the presence of the other, was from the fire of the British advance upon the Americans. The two armies recoiled and lay upon their arms the rest of the night. So far the affair was indecisive. The Americans had sustained themselves in the face of some disadvantages, chiefly the result of their leader's imprudence. A night march of raw militia in the face of a foe, and in column of battle, was itself an error which a sagacious commander would never have made. It is not to be denied, that the Americans were not satisfied with their situation. Some of their officers openly declared their discontent. But it was too late for a retrograde movement, nor is it likely, feeling as he did and sanguine as he was, that Gates would have believed any such movement necessary. The ground was equally unknown to both commanders; but Cornwallis had one advantage: he was in the command of veterans, who are generally cool enough in such situations to look about them, and make the most of their exigencies. The American line was soon formed and in waiting for the dawn and the enemy. The first Maryland division, including the Delawares under De Kalb, was posted on the right; the Virginia militia under Stevens on the left; the North Carolinians, led by Caswell in the centre; and the artillery, in battery, upon the road. Both wings rested on morasses, and the second Maryland brigade was posted as a reserve, a few hundred yards in the rear of the first. The British formed a single line, with each wing covered and supported by a body in reserve. They were much less numerous than the Americans, but they were picked men, the choice of the regiments in Charleston and Camden. The American militia, of which the greater part of Gates' army consisted, had never felt an enemy's fire. The Maryland and Delaware troops were good soldiers, well trained and in confidence of their leaders. With the break of day, and the advance of the American left, the action began. This division of the army consisted of Virginia militia under Stevens. Handled with unexpected severity by the British fire, they yielded before it and fled in panic, many of them without even discharging their pieces. The wretched example was followed by the North Carolina militia, with the exception of a single corps, commanded by Major Dixon. The cavalry under Armand, a foreign adventurer, broke at nearly the same moment; and a charge of the British cavalry, happily timed, put an end to all hope of rallying the terror-stricken fugitives. The devoted Continentals alone kept their ground and bore the brunt of the action. They were led by the veteran De Kalb—the Commander-in-Chief having hurried from the field in a vain attempt to bring the militia back. The artillery was lost, the cavalry dispersed;—the regulars, numbering but nine hundred men, were required to bear the undivided pressure of two thousand of the best troops in the British service. With the example before them, the desertion of their General, and their own perfect isolation, they would have been justified by the necessity of the case, in instant flight. But, as if the cowardice of their countrymen had stung them into a determination to show, at all hazards, that they, at least, were made of very different stuff, they not only resisted the attack of the enemy, but carried the bayonet into his ranks. The combatants rushed and reeled together with locked weapons. But this struggle could not last. The conflict was prolonged only until the British cavalry could return from pursuing the fugitives. Their sabres gave the finishing stroke to the affair. De Kalb had fallen under eleven wounds, and nothing remained, but flight, to save this gallant body from the mortification of surrender on the field of battle. It was no consolation to Gates, while fleeing to North Carolina, to be overtaken by messengers from Sumter, announcing a gallant achievement of that brave partisan, by which forty wagons of booty and nearly three hundred prisoners had fallen into his hands. Such tidings only mocked his own disaster. He could only, in reply, relate his own irretrievable defeat, point to his fugitives, and counsel Sumter to immediate retreat from his triumphant and now returning enemy. Unhappily, ignorant of Gates' disaster, and of a bold, incautious temper, Sumter was approaching, rather than hastening from, danger. His flight, when he did retire, was not sufficiently rapid, nor sufficiently prudent. He was one of those men who too quickly feel themselves secure. He was surprised by Tarleton, but two days after, his troops utterly dispersed, he, too, a fugitive like Gates, with all the fruits of his late victory taken from his grasp. In almost every instance where the Americans suffered defeat, the misfortune was due to a want of proper caution—an unobservance of some of the simplest rules of military prudence. In a brilliant sortie, a manful charge, a sudden onslaught, no troops could have surpassed them—nay, we find as many examples of the sternest powers of human endurance, under the severest trials of firmness, in their military history, as in that of any other people. But to secure what they had won—to be consistently firm—always on their guard and beyond surprise,—were lessons which they were slow to acquire—which they learned at last only under the heaviest penalties of blood. Marion was one of the few Captains of American militia, that never suffered himself to be taken napping.
* As farm-yards are becoming rare, it may benefit future readers to know that this proverb is almost certainly, "Don't count your chickens before they hatch."—A. L., 1996.—
Organization of "Marion's Brigade"—Surprise of Tories under Gainey—Defeat of Barfield—Capture of British Guard with Prisoners at Nelson's Ferry.
The people of Williamsburg, by whom Marion was summoned from the camp of Gates, were sprung generally from Irish parentage. They inherited, in common with all the descendants of the Irish in America, a hearty detestation of the English name and authority. This feeling rendered them excellent patriots and daring soldiers, wherever the British Lion was the object of hostility. Those of whom we are now to speak, the people of Williamsburg, were men generally of fearless courage, powerful frame, well-strung nerves, and an audacious gallantry that led them to delight in dangers, even where the immediate objects by no means justified the risk. They felt that "rapture of the strife", in which the Goth exulted. In addition to these natural endowments for a brave soldiery, they were good riders and famous marksmen—hunters, that knew the woods almost as well by night as by day—could wind about and through the camp of an enemy, as free from suspicion as the velvet-footed squirrel, who, from the lateral branches of the pine, looks over their encampment. They possessed resources of knowledge and ingenuity, while in swamp and thicket, not merely to avoid the danger, but, in not unfrequent instances, to convert it to their own advantage. Nothing but the training and direction of such a mind as Marion's was needed to make, of these men, the most efficient of all partisan soldiery. The formation of the brigade of which he now prepared to take command, has a history of its own which is worth telling. The fame which it subsequently acquired in connection with its leader's name, and which the local traditions will not willingly let die, will justify us in the narration. Some few preliminary facts are necessary.
The fall of Charleston, and the dispersion or butchery of those parties which had kept the field after that event, necessarily depressed the spirits and discouraged the attempt of the scattered patriots who still yearned to oppose the invaders. The captivity of many of the leaders to whom they were accustomed to look for counsel and direction, and the flight of others, served still further to dissipate any hopes or purposes which they might have had of concentration. Thousands fled to the North, and embodied themselves under Washington and other American Generals, despairing of the cause at home. Everything appeared to be lost, and a timely proclamation of Sir Henry Clinton, a few days after the surrender of Charleston, tended yet more to subdue the spirit of resistance. The proclamation proffered "pardon to the inhabitants" with some few exceptions, "for their past treasonable offences, and a reinstatement in their rights and immunities heretofore enjoyed, exempt from taxation, except by their own legislature." This specious offer, made at a moment when his power was at its height, everywhere unquestioned and unopposed, indicated a degree of magnanimity, which in the case of those thousands in every such contest, who love repose better than virtue, was everywhere calculated to disarm the inhabitants. To many indeed it seemed to promise all for which they had been contending. It offered security from further injury, protection against the Tories who were using the authority of the British for their own purposes of plunder and revenge, a respite from their calamities, and a restoration of all their rights. With the immunities thus proffered, with the further conviction that further struggle against British power was hopeless, with the assurance, indeed, which was industriously conveyed to them from all quarters, that Congress, not able to assist, had resolved upon yielding the provinces of South Carolina and Georgia to the enemy, as considerations for the independence of the other colonies—they accepted the terms thus offered them by the British commander, and, in great numbers, signed declarations of allegiance, received protection as subjects of the crown, or, as prisoners of war, were paroled to their plantations. Could the British have persevered in this policy, had they kept faith with the inhabitants, they might much longer have held possession of the country. But, either they were not sincere in their first professions, or their subsequent necessities compelled them to adopt a less rational policy. Twenty days had not elapsed from the publication of the first proclamation when it was followed by another, which so entirely qualified and impaired the character of the former, as to revolt the people whom it had invited, and to impress them with the conviction that they had been imposed upon—that the first measure was a mere decoy,—a trap involving their pledges, yet withholding the very securities for which they had been given. This second proclamation, premising that it was necessary for all good citizens to uphold his Majesty's Government, proceeded to discharge from protection and parole all persons to whom such papers had been accorded. All persons not absolutely prisoners of war, taken in arms, were to be reinstated in their former positions as citizens—but, as citizens of the British Empire. In this relation the farther inferences were inevitable. They were now actually to support his Majesty's Government. The proclamation ended with the usual penalties—all who neglected to return to their allegiance were to be treated as rebels.
The policy thus adopted by the British commander soon made them so. The object of the Carolinians, in taking protections and paroles, was to avoid further warfare. The second proclamation of the British General required them to take up arms for his Majesty, and against their countrymen. This was a hopeful plan by which to fill the British regiments, to save farther importations of Hessians, farther cost of mercenaries, and, as in the case of the Aborigines, to employ the Anglo-American race against one another. The loyalists of the South were to be used against the patriots of the North, as the loyalists of the latter region had been employed to put down the liberties of the former. It was a short and ingenious process for finishing the rebellion; and, could it have entirely succeeded, as in part it did, it would have entitled Sir Henry Clinton to very far superior laurels, as a civilian, than he ever won as a soldier. The value of the Americans, as soldiers, was very well known to the British General. Some of the most sanguinary battles of the Revolution were those in which the combatants on both sides were chiefly natives of the soil, upon which a portion of them but too freely shed their blood in a sincere desire to bolster up that foreign tyranny that mocked the generous valor which it employed.
The effect of this second proclamation of the British commander was such as he scarcely anticipated. The readiness with which numbers of the people had accepted paroles and protections, declared, at most, nothing but their indifference to the contest—declared no preference for British domination. In this lay the error of the conqueror. The natural feeling of the people, thus entrapped, was that of indignation. Their determination might have been conjectured by any reasoning mind. Compelled to take up arms—not permitted to enjoy that repose with their families, for which they sought the offered immunities of the British—it was more easy to espouse the cause of their countrymen, to which their affections were really given, than that of the invader. They had committed a great and humbling error in the endeavor to escape the conflict—in taking the proffered protection of a power which had seized with violence upon their native land. It was with some eagerness, therefore, that they threw aside its obligations, and, as opportunity presented itself, girded on their armor, and sallied forth to join their countrymen. Among the first to do so were the men by whom Marion was summoned from the camp of Gates. These brave fellows, occupying a portion of the country stretching from the Santee to the Pedee, including the whole of the present district of Williamsburg, and a part of Marion, were not altogether prepared to understand these British proclamations. They were no great politicians, had no love of blind vassalage, and naturally suspected all liberality of British origin. They wished for certain explanations before they sent in their adhesion. Not that they calculated upon resistance. This, no doubt, seemed to them as hopeless as it appeared in all other parts of the State. But their insulated position, which left them uninformed as to the true condition of things, was, at the same time, a source of their courage and indifference. As yet, the arms of the British had not penetrated into their settlements. They were naturally anxious to prevent their doing so. Under these circumstances, they held a gathering of their best men for the purpose of consulting upon their affairs. The twin proclamations—how unlike!—of the British commander, were before them: and, in their primitive assembly, they sat down to discuss their separate merits. These confused rather than enlightened them, and it was resolved to send one of their number, in whom they had most confidence, to the nearest British authority, in order that their difficulties should be explained and their doubts satisfied. There was one sterling family among them of the name of James. Of this family there were five brothers, John, William, Gavin, Robert and James. No men under Marion were braver or truer than these. Fearless, strong and active, they were always ready for the foe; the first in attack, the last in retreat. There were other branches of this family who partook largely of the qualities of the five brothers. Of these, the eldest, Major John James, was chosen the representative of the men of Williamsburg. This gentleman had been their representative in the provincial assembly—he was in command of them as State militia. They gave him their fullest confidence, and he deserved it.
Under this appointment, Major James repaired to Georgetown, the nearest British post, which was then under the command of one Captain Ardesoif. Attired as a plain backwoodsman, James obtained an interview with Ardesoif, and, in prompt and plain terms, entered at once upon the business for which he came. But when he demanded the meaning of the British protection, and asked upon what terms the submission of the citizens was to be made, he was peremptorily informed that "the submission must be unconditional." To an inquiry, whether the inhabitants were to be allowed to remain upon their plantations, he was answered in the negative. "His Majesty," said Ardesoif, "offers you a free pardon, of which you are undeserving, for you all ought to be hanged; but it is only on condition that you take up arms in his cause." James, whom we may suppose to have been very far from relishing the tone and language in which he was addressed, very coolly replied, that "the people whom he came to REPRESENT, would scarcely submit on such conditions." The republican language of the worthy Major provoked the representative of Royalty. The word 'represent', in particular, smote hardly on his ears; something, too, in the cool, contemptuous manner of the Major, may have contributed to his vexation. "REPRESENT!" he exclaimed in a fury—"You d——d rebel, if you dare speak in such language, I will have you hung up at the yard-arm!" Ardesoif, it must be known, was a sea captain. The ship which he commanded lay in the neighboring river. He used only a habitual form of speech when he threatened the "yard-arm", instead of the tree. Major James gave him no time to make the correction. He was entirely weaponless, and Ardesoif wore a sword; but the inequality, in the moment of his anger, was unfelt by the high-spirited citizen. Suddenly rising, he seized upon the chair on which he had been sitting, and floored the insolent subordinate at a blow; then hurrying forth without giving his enemy time to recover, he mounted his horse, and made his escape to the woods before pursuit could be attempted.
His people were soon assembled to hear his story. The exactions of the British, and the spirit which James had displayed, in resenting the insolence of Ardesoif, at once aroused their own. Required to take the field, it did not need a moment to decide "under which king". The result of their deliberations was the formation of "Marion's Brigade". Four captains were chosen for as many companies. These were, Captains William M'Cottry, Henry Mouzon, John James (of the Lake, a cousin of Major James), and John M'Cauley. These were all under the one command of our representative to Ardesoif. He instantly put them into motion, and, after some petty successes against small parties of British and Tories, he advanced one of the four companies, M'Cottry's, to the pass of Lynch's Creek, at Witherspoon's Ferry. Here M'Cottry heard of Col. Tarleton, and proceeded to encounter him. Tarleton had been apprised of the gatherings at Williamsburg, and, at the head of some seventy men, was pressing forward with the hope of surprising James. M'Cottry, more brave perhaps than prudent, after sending back to James for a reinforcement, set forward to give Tarleton battle. The British Colonel had taken post at Kingstree. M'Cottry approached him at midnight. It happened, perhaps fortunately for the former, that Tarleton had received some very exaggerated accounts of M'Cottry's force, which the boldness of his approach seemed to confirm. Taking the alarm accordingly, he disappeared in season, leaving to M'Cottry the 'eclat' which necessarily attended his attempt. The excesses of Tarleton, while on this progress, and the crimes committed in the same neighborhood by other British captains about the same time, completed the movement which the native spirit of patriotism in the men of Williamsburg had so happily begun. The whole country was soon awakened—individuals and groups everywhere beginning to show themselves in arms, and nothing was needed but an embodied force of the Americans, upon which they could concentrate themselves and rally with effect.
It was on the 10th or 12th of August, some four days before the defeat of Gates, that Marion reached the post at Lynch's Creek, where M'Cottry had taken his position. He was commissioned by Governor Rutledge to take command of the country in this quarter, and we will henceforth distinguish him as General Marion, although it is not so certain at what period he actually received this promotion;—we find him in possession of it in the following December.
Of his personal appearance at this time we have a brief but striking account from the hands of the venerable Judge James—a son of the Major—who had the honor to serve under Marion at the age of fifteen.
"He was a stranger," says the Judge, "to the officers and men, and they flocked about him to obtain a sight of their future commander. He was rather below the middle stature, lean and swarthy. His body was well set, but his knees and ankles were badly formed, and he still limped upon one leg. He had a countenance remarkably steady; his nose was aquiline, his chin projecting; his forehead large and high, and his eyes black and piercing. He was then forty-eight years of age, with a frame capable of enduring fatigue and every privation." Of his dress, by which we may form some idea of that costume which had provoked the laughter of Gates' veterans, we have a description also, furnished us by the same excellent authority. We know not but that this description will provoke the smile of the reader. But, of such persons, in the language of the Judge, "even trifles become important." "He (Marion) was dressed in a close round-bodied crimson jacket, of a coarse texture, and wore a leather cap, part of the uniform of the second regiment, with a silver crescent in front, inscribed with the words, 'Liberty or Death!'"
Such regimentals show rather the exigencies than the tastes of our partisan. This scarlet cloth, of which his vest was made, was almost the only kind of color which the Carolinians could procure after the conquest of Charleston. The British seemed to distribute it with the protections and pardons, perhaps as a popular mode of disseminating their principles. Moultrie somewhere tells a ludicrous anecdote of some Americans (prisoners on parole) who were nearly cut to pieces by a party of their countrymen, in consequence of their scarlet jackets. They had taken the precaution to dye them with some native roots, but the dye had disappeared, leaving the original color nearly as vivid as before.
According to Weems, Marion made rather a theatrical display on taking command of his brigade. He swore them in a circle upon their swords, never to yield the contest until they had secured their own and the liberties of their country. There is no authority for this statement, either in the work of James, in the MS. of Horry, or in any of the authorities. There is no doubt that such were his own sentiments, and such the sentiments which he strove to impart to all his followers; but the scene as described by the reverend historian was quite too artificial and theatrical for the tastes of Marion. It does not accord with what we know of his modesty, his unaffected nature, and the general simplicity of his manners. He instilled his lessons by examples rather than by speeches. His words were usually very few. He secured the fidelity of his men by carrying them bravely into action, and bringing them honorably out of it.
Marion's career of activity commenced with his command. Though always prudent, he yet learned that prudence in military life must always imply activity. The insecurity of the encampment, with a militia force, is always greater than that of battle. The Roman captains of celebrity were particularly aware of this truth. But the activity of Marion was necessarily straitened by the condition in which he found his men. They were wretchedly deficient in all the materials of service. His first effort to supply some of their wants, was in sacking the saw-mills. The saws were wrought and hammered by rude blacksmiths into some resemblance to sabres, and thus provided, Marion set his men in motion, two days after taking the command. Crossing the Pedee at Port's Ferry, he advanced upon a large body of Tories commanded by Major Gainey, who held a position upon Britton's Neck. Gainey was considered by the British an excellent partisan officer, but he was caught napping. Marion moved with equal secrecy and celerity. After riding all night, he came upon the enemy at dawn in the morning. The discovery and the attack were one. The surprise was complete. A captain and several privates were slain, and the party dispersed. Marion did not lose a man, and had but two wounded. In this engagement, our representative, Major James, distinguished himself, by singling out Major Gainey for personal combat. But Gainey shrank from his more powerful assailant, and sought safety in flight. James pursued for a distance of half a mile. In the eagerness of the chase he did not perceive that he was alone and unsupported. It was enough that he was gaining upon his enemy, who was almost within reach of his sword, when the chase brought them suddenly upon a body of Tories who had rallied upon the road. There was not a moment to be lost. Hesitation would have been fatal. But our gallant Major was not to be easily intimidated. With great coolness and presence of mind, waving his sword aloft, he cried out, "come on, boys! here they are!" and rushed headlong upon the group of enemies, as if perfectly assured of support. The ruse was successful. The Tories broke once more, and sought safety from their individual enemy in the recesses of Pedee swamp.
Marion did not suffer the courage of his men to cool. In twenty-four hours after this event, he was again in motion. Hearing of the proximity of another body of Tories, under Captain Barfield, he advanced against him with as much celerity and caution as before. But he found Barfield strongly posted, in greater force than he expected; warned of his approach and waiting for him. It was no part of Marion's practice to expose his men unnecessarily. He had too few, to risk the loss of any precious lives, where this was to be avoided. He determined upon a different mode of managing his enemy, and resorted to a stratagem, which, subsequently, he frequently made use of. Putting a select party of his men in ambush near the Blue Savannah, he feigned retreat with another, and thus beguiled his enemy from his strong position. The result accorded with his wishes. Barfield followed and fell into the snare. The defeat was equally complete with that of Gainey.
The conduct and skill, in managing his raw militia-men, which these two achievements displayed, naturally inspired his followers with confidence in themselves and their leader. They produced a corresponding effect upon the people of the country, and were productive of no small annoyance to the Tories, who were thus suddenly reminded that there might be retribution for crime even when sheltered under the dragon folds of England. Another benefit from these occurrences was in better providing the brigade with some of the proper weapons and munitions of war.
Among the recent captures of Marion were two old field-pieces. Returning to Port's Ferry, he threw up a redoubt on the east bank of the Pedee, upon which he mounted them. He seldom troubled himself with such heavy baggage, and probably disposed of them in this way, quite as much to disencumber himself of them, as with any such motive, as was alleged, when placing them in battery, of overawing the Tories by their presence. Movements of so rapid a kind, and so frequently made as his, requiring equal dispatch and secrecy, forbade the use of artillery; and he very well knew, that, to employ men for the maintenance of isolated posts—such posts as he could establish,—would have no other effect than to expose his brigade to the chances of being cut up in detail.
On the 17th August, the day following the defeat of Gates,—of which event he was as yet wholly ignorant—he dispatched Col. Peter Horry, with orders to take command of four companies, Bonneau's, Mitchell's, Benson's and Lenud's, near Georgetown, on the Santee; to destroy all the boats and canoes on the river from the lower ferry to Lenud's—to break up and stop all communications with Charleston, and to procure, if possible, supplies of gunpowder, flints and bullets. "Twenty-five weight of gunpowder, ball or buckshot," is the language of his orders. This will show how scanty were the supplies which were to be procured of the material upon which everything depended. Marion frequently went into action with less than three rounds to a man—half of his men were sometimes lookers on because of the lack of arms and ammunition—waiting to see the fall of friends or enemies, in order to obtain the necessary means of taking part in the affair. Buck-shot easily satisfied soldiers, who not unfrequently advanced to the combat with nothing but swan-shot in their fowling-pieces.
While Horry proceeded towards Georgetown, Marion marched to the upper Santee. On this march he was advised of the defeat of Gates; but, fearing its effect upon his men, without communicating it, he proceeded immediately toward Nelson's Ferry. This was a well known pass on the great route, the "war-path", from Charleston to Camden. Here his scouts advised him of the approach of a strong British guard, with a large body of prisoners taken from Gates. The guards had stopped at a house on the east side of the river. Informed of all necessary particulars, Marion, a little before daylight, detached Col. Hugh Horry, with sixteen men, to gain possession of the road, at the pass of Horse Creek, in the swamp, while the main body under himself was to attack the enemy's rear. The attempt was made at dawn, and was perfectly successful. A letter from Marion himself, to Col. P. Horry, thus details the event:—"On the 20th inst. I attacked a guard of the 63d and Prince of Wales' Regiment, with a number of Tories, at the Great Savannah, near Nelson's Ferry; killed and took twenty-two regulars, and two Tories prisoners, and retook one hundred and fifty Continentals of the Maryland line, one wagon and a drum; one captain and a subaltern were also captured. Our loss is one killed, and Captain Benson is slightly wounded on the head."
It will scarcely be believed that, of this hundred and fifty Continentals, but three men consented to join the ranks of their liberator. It may be that they were somewhat loth to be led, even though it were to victory, by the man whose ludicrous equipments and followers, but a few weeks before, had only provoked their merriment. The reason given for their refusal, however, was not deficient in force. "They considered the cause of the country to be hopeless. They were risking life without an adequate object." The defeat of Gates, and his bad generalship, which they had so recently witnessed, were, perhaps, quite sufficient reasons to justify their misgivings.
This disastrous event did not produce like despondency in our partisan or his followers, though it furnished reasons for the greatest circumspection. At this moment Marion's was the only body of American troops in the State, openly opposed to the triumphant progress of the British. The Continentals were dispersed or captured; the Virginia and North Carolina militia scattered to the four winds; Sumter's legion cut up by Tarleton, and he himself a fugitive, fearless and active still, but as yet seeking, rather than commanding, a force. Though small and seemingly insignificant, the force of Marion had shown what might be done, with the spirit and the personnel of the country, under competent leaders. The cruelties of the British, who subjected the vanquished to the worst treatment of war, helped his endeavors. Shortly after the victory over Gates, Lord Cornwallis addressed an order to the British commandants at the several posts throughout the country, of which the following are extracts:
"I have given orders that all of the inhabitants of this province who have subscribed, and have taken part in this revolt, should be punished with the greatest rigor; and also those who will not turn out, that they may be imprisoned and their whole property taken from them or destroyed.... I have ordered in the most positive manner that every militia man, who has borne arms with us, and afterwards joined the enemy, shall be immediately hanged!"
This gentleman has been called, by some of the American writers, the "amiable Cornwallis". It is rather difficult to say for which of his qualities this dulcet epithet was bestowed. The preceding may well justify us in the doubt we venture to express, whether it was not given as much in mockery as compliment. But, lest his commands should not be understood, as not sufficiently explicit, his Lordship proceeded to furnish examples of his meaning, which left his desires beyond reasonable question. Immediately after his return to Camden, he stained the laurels of his recent victory, and celebrated his triumph over Gates, by hanging some twelve or fifteen wretched prisoners, old men and boys, who were only suspected of treachery to the royal cause. Similar barbarities were practised by subordinate officers, emulative of this example of their superior, or in obedience to his orders. But, fortunately for the country, even this brutality, which was intended to alarm the fears of the people, and do that which the arts of their conqueror had failed to effect, was not productive of the desired results. It drove the indignant into the field—it shamed the unwilling into decision—it spurred on the inert and inactive to exertion, and armed the doubtful and the timid with resolution. It sent hundreds, whom nothing had moved before, into the ranks of Marion and Sumter. The moment of defeat and greatest despondency—the dark before the dawn—was that when the people of the country were preparing to display the most animating signs of life. The very fact that the force of Marion was so insignificant, was something in favor of that courage and patriotism, that confidence in his own resources and his men, which, defying all the inequalities of force, could move him to traverse the very paths of the conqueror, and pluck his prisoners from his very grasp. The audacity and skill of Marion, exhibited in numerous small achievements of which history furnishes no particulars, extorted a reluctant confession from the enemy, whose unwilling language will suffice for our own. Tarleton writes: "MR. Marion,* by his zeal and abilities, showed himself capable of the trust committed to his charge. He collected his adherents at the shortest notice, and, after making excursions into the friendly districts, or threatening the communications, to avoid pursuit he disbanded his followers. The alarms occasioned by these insurrections, frequently retarded supplies on their way to the army; and a late report of Marion's strength delayed the junction of the recruits who had arrived from New York for the corps in the country." The 64th Regiment of Infantry was ordered to Nelson's Ferry from Charleston, and directions were given to Lieut. Col. Tarleton to pass the Wateree to awe the insurgents.** Cornwallis writes to Tarleton: "I most sincerely hope that you will get at MR. Marion." In short, to use the further language of the British Colonel, Marion completely overran the lower districts. He cut off supplies from the army, broke up the Tories, destroyed recruiting parties, intercepted and interrupted communications, and, darting to and fro between the British posts, which he had not the power to overcome, showed that nothing but that power was necessary to enable him to challenge with them the possession of the soil. That he should disband his men at one moment, and be able by a word to bring them together when they were again wanted, proves a singular alliance between the chieftain and his followers, which is characteristic only of the most romantic history. It shows a power, on the part of the former, such as we ascribe to the winding of the magic horn of Astolfo, which few commanders of militia have ever had the skill to produce. Evidently, the personal and patriotic influences were very equally strong, to occasion such prompt fidelity, in his case, on the part of his followers.
* The British officers betrayed a singular reluctance to accord to the Americans their military titles. The reader will recollect the letter of General Gage to MR. Washington, which the latter very properly refused to receive. The very attempt here made to sneer away the official, adds to the personal importance of the individual; and we yield to plain Mr. Marion, with his ragged followers, who, untitled, could give such annoyance to His Majesty's officers, a degree of respect which his title might not otherwise have commanded.
** Tarleton's Campaigns, 4to ed. p. 171.—
Marion retreats before a superior Force—Defeats the Tories at Black Mingo—Surprises and disperses the Force of Colonel Tynes at Tarcote—Is pursued by Tarleton.
The solicitude manifested by the British commander in the South to get Marion from his path, soon set the legion of Tarleton, and a strong force under Major Wemyss, in motion for his retreats. The progress of Tarleton was somewhat delayed, and his cooperation with Wemyss prevented. The latter pushed his advance with equal spirit and address. Marion had with him but one hundred and fifty men, when he heard of the approach of his enemies. His force, it must be remembered, was of a peculiar kind, and was constantly fluctuating. His men had cares other than those of their country's liberties. Young and tender families were to be provided for and guarded in the thickets where they found shelter. These were often threatened in the absence of their protectors by marauding bands of Tories, who watched the moment of the departure of the Whigs, to rise upon the weak, and rob and harass the unprotected. The citizen soldiery were thus doubly employed, and had cares to endure, and duties to perform, from which regular troops are usually exempt, and for which regular officers seldom make allowance. The good judgment of Marion, taking these necessities into consideration, exercised that patience with the militia which secured their fidelity. When he found this or that body of men anxious about their families, he yielded most generally without reluctance to their wishes. This indulgence had its effects. Their return was certain. They seldom lingered beyond the time at which they had pledged themselves to reappear.
It was in consequence of this indulgence that his force was thus reduced when the British approach was known. Wemyss was in command of the 63d regiment. He was accompanied by a large body of Tories under Major Harrison. They moved with caution and speed, but the American General was on the alert. He dispatched Major James with a select body of volunteers to reconnoitre. His various outposts were called in, and with his whole present strength, thus united, Marion followed on the footsteps of James, prepared, if the chances promised him success, for doing battle with his enemy.
Major James, meanwhile, who was equally bold and skilful, pressed forward fearlessly till he became aware of the proximity of the British. He was resolved to make sure of his intelligence. He placed himself in a thicket on their line of march, and by a bright moon, was readily enabled to form a very correct notion of their character and numbers. But as the rear-guard passed by, his courageous spirit prompted further performances. He was not content to carry to his general no other proofs of his vigilance but the tidings which he had obtained. His perfect knowledge of the ground, his confidence in the excellent character of his men, and the speed of their horses, moved him to greater daring; and, bursting from his hiding-place, with a terrible shout, he swooped down with his small party upon the startled stragglers in the rear of the Tory march, carrying off his prisoners in the twinkling of an eye, without stopping to slay, and without suffering the loss of a man. Before the enemy could rally, and turn upon his path, the tread of the partisan's horse no longer sounded in his ears.
The intelligence which James bore to his commander was scarcely so encouraging. He reported the British regulars to be double their own force in number, while the Tories in the rear were alone estimated at five hundred men. Retreat, perhaps dispersion, was now inevitable. This was the sort of game, which, in his feebleness, and under the pressure of a very superior foe, our partisan was compelled to play. It was sometimes a humiliating one, and always attended with some discouragements. The evil effects, however, were only temporary. His men never retired beyond his reach. They came again at a call, refreshed by the respite, and assured by the conviction that their commander was quite as careful of their lives as themselves. Such a game was not without its interest, and its peculiarities were such as to give animation to the valor which it exercised. In these peculiarities of his warfare, lies that secret charm which has made tradition, in the southern country, linger so long and so fondly upon the name of Marion.
Judge James gives us, in few words, a lively idea of the consultation which followed the return and the report of Major James. "About an hour before day, Marion met the Major half a mile from his plantation. The officers immediately dismounted and retired to consult; the men sat on their horses in a state of anxious suspense. The conference was long and animated. At the end of it, an order was given to direct the march back to Lynch's Creek (the route to North Carolina), and no sooner was it given than a bitter groan might have been heard along the whole line. A bitter cup had now been mingled for the people of Williamsburg and Pedee, and they were doomed to drain it to the dregs, but in the end it proved a salutary medicine."
The evil here deplored was the temporary abandonment, for the first time, of this particular section of country. Hitherto, the enemy had never appeared in their neighborhood with such a force as enabled them to overrun it without fear of opposition. Now, they were destined to suffer from those tender mercies of British and Tories, which had written their chronicles in blood and flame, wherever their footsteps had gone before. Bitter, indeed, was the medicine, to whom its taste was new. But, as writes the venerable biographer, it was salutary in the end. It strengthened their souls for the future trial. It made them more resolute in the play. With their own houses in smoking ruins, and their own wives and children homeless and wandering, they could better feel what was due to the sufferings of their common country.
It was at sunset the next evening that Marion commenced his flight to North Carolina. He kept with him only sixty men. The rest dropped off by degrees as they approached their several hiding-places, lying snug, until they again heard the signal of their commander,—frequently nothing but a whisper,—which once more brought them forth, to turn the pursuit upon their enemies and avenge themselves by sudden onslaught for the ruin of their homesteads. On this retreat, Marion took with him the two field-pieces which we found him placing in battery on the Pedee a short time before. His desire to save these pieces was due rather to the supposed effect which their possession had upon the minds of the Tories, than because of any real intrinsic use which they possessed in his hands. They encumbered his flight, however, and he disposed of them, finally, without compunction. Wheeling them into a swamp he left them, where, possibly, they remain to this day, the object of occasional start and wonderment to the stalking deer-hunter. This, says Judge James, "was the last instance of military parade evinced by the General." Marching day and night he arrived at Amy's Mill, on Drowning Creek. From this place, he sent forth his parties, back to South Carolina, to gain intelligence and rouse the militia. He himself continued his march. He pitched his camp finally, on the east side of the White Marsh, near the head of the Waccamaw. There may have been a motive, other than the desire for safety, which led Marion to choose and retain this position. The borders of North Carolina swarmed with Tories, chiefly descendants of the Scotch, who constituted, on frequent subsequent occasions, the perplexing enemies with whom our partisan had to contend. It is not improbable, though history does not declare the fact, that he chose the present occasion for overawing the scattered parties, who were always stretching with lawless footsteps from Cape Fear to the Great Pedee. It was while he lay at this place, that the venerable Judge James, then a boy of sixteen, had the honor, for the first time, to dine with Marion. It was in the absence of Major James, the father of the boy, who was one of the volunteers sent back to South Carolina. The artless description which the Judge has given us of this event, so characteristic of Marion, and of the necessities to which he was habitually compelled to submit, will better please than a much more elaborate narrative.
"The dinner was set before the company by the General's servant, Oscar, partly on a pine log and partly on the ground. It consisted of lean beef, without salt, and sweet potatoes. The author had left a small pot of boiled hominy in his camp, and requested leave of his host to send for it, and the proposal was gladly acquiesced in. The hominy had salt in it, and proved, though eaten out of the pot, a most acceptable repast. The General said but little, and that was chiefly what a son would be most likely to be gratified by, in the praise of his father. We had nothing to drink but bad water; and all the company appeared to be rather grave."
That the party should be rather grave, flying from their homes and a superior foe, eating unsalted pottage, and drinking bad water, was, perhaps, natural enough. That this gravity should appear doubly impressive to a lad of sixteen, in a presence which he was taught to venerate, was still more likely to be the case. But Marion, though a cheerful man, wore ordinarily a grave, sedate expression of countenance. Never darkened by gloom, it was seldom usurped by mere merriment. He had no uproarious humor. His tastes were delicate, his habits gentle, his sensibilities warm and watchful. At most a quiet smile lighted up his features, and he could deal in little gushes of humor, of which there was a precious fountain at the bottom of his heart. That he was capable of a sharp sarcasm, was also generally understood among his friends. Horry remarks, that few men ever excelled him at retort. But he was singularly considerate of the sensibilities of others, and had his temper under rare command. His powers of forbearance were remarkable. His demeanor, whether in triumph or despondency, was equally quiet and subdued. He yielded to few excitements, was seldom elevated by successes to imprudence—as seldom depressed by disappointments to despondency. The equable tone of his mind reminds us again of Washington.
It was while Marion remained at White Marsh, that one of his captains, Gavin Witherspoon, whom he had sent out with four men, achieved one of those clever performances, that so frequently distinguished the men of Marion. He had taken refuge in Pedee Swamp from the pursuit of the enemy, and, while hiding, discovered one of the camps of the Tories who had been in pursuit of him. Witherspoon proposed to his four comrades to watch the enemy's camp, until the Tories were asleep. But his men timidly shrunk from the performance, expressing their dread of superior numbers. Witherspoon undertook the adventure himself. Creeping up to the encampment, he found that they slept at the butt of a pine tree, which had been torn up by the roots. Their guns were piled against one of its branches at a little distance from them. These he first determined to secure, and, still creeping, with the skill and caution of an experienced scout, he succeeded in his object. The guns once in his possession, he aroused the Tories by commanding their surrender. They were seven in number, unarmed, and knew nothing of the force of the assailant. His own more timid followers drew near in sufficient time to assist in securing the prisoners. There was another Witherspoon with Marion, John, a brother of Gavin, and like him distinguished for great coolness, strength, and courage. Both of the brothers delighted in such adventures, and were always ready to engage in them,—the rashness of the attempt giving a sort of relish to the danger, which always sweetened it to the taste of our partisans.
The return of the various scouting parties which Marion sent out, soon set his little brigade in motion. The intelligence which they brought was well calculated to sting his soldiers, as well as himself, into immediate activity. The medicine which the British had administered to the country they abandoned, had not been suffered to lose any of its bitterness. As had been feared, the Tories had laid waste the farms and plantations. The region through which Major Wemyss had passed, for seventy miles in length and fifteen in breadth, displayed one broad face of desolation. It had been swept by sword and fire. Havoc had exercised its most ingenious powers of destruction. On most of the plantations the houses were given to the flames, the inhabitants plundered of all their possessions, and the stock, especially the sheep, wantonly shot or bayoneted. Wemyss seems to have been particularly hostile to looms and sheep, simply because they supplied the inhabitants with clothing. He seldom suffered the furniture to be withdrawn from a dwelling which he had doomed to be destroyed: Presbyterian churches he burnt religiously, as so many "sedition-shops". It was fortunate for the wretched country, thus ravaged, that the corn was not generally housed; it was only in part destroyed. Had the Tories played the same game in the cornfields of the patriots, that Grant's men had done in those of the Cherokees, as recorded in an early page of this volume,* the devastation would have been complete. They had not limited their proceedings to these minor crimes. They had added human butchery and hanging to those other offences for which vengeance was in store. The wife and children of one Adam Cusack, threw themselves across the path of Wemyss to obtain the pardon of the husband and the father. The crime of Cusack was in having taken arms against the enemy. Their prayers were in vain. But for the interference of his own officers, the ruthless Briton would have ridden over the kneeling innocents. This was not the only savage murder of the same description which this wretched people had to endure. But such atrocities were sharp medicines, benefits in disguise, good against cowardice, selfishness, double-dealing, and deficient patriotism. They worked famously upon the natives, while they proved the invader to be as little capable of good policy, as of ordinary humanity. They roused the spirit of the militia, whet their anger and their swords together, and, by the time that Marion reappeared, they were ready for their General. He asked for nothing more. He re-entered South Carolina by a forced march. Travelling night and day, he hurried through the Tory settlements on Little Pedee, a space of sixty miles, on the second day of his journey. At Lynch's Creek he was joined by Captains James and Mouzon, with a considerable body of men. He was prepared to give them instant employment. Major Wemyss had retired to Georgetown, but Marion was advised of a large body of Tories at Black Mingo, fifteen miles below, under the command of Capt. John Coming Ball. Marion was in expectation, every moment, of additional troops, but he determined not to wait for them. He found his men in the proper mood for fight, and at such times small inequalities of force are not to be regarded. He resolved to give the humor vent, and at once commenced his march for the enemy's encampment. He found the Tories strongly posted at Shepherd's Ferry, on the south side of the Black Mingo, on a deep navigable stream, the passage of which they commanded. There was but one other approach to them, about a mile above their position, through a boggy causeway, and over a bridge of planks. It was nearly midnight when Marion's troops reached this pass. While the horses were crossing the bridge, an alarm-gun was heard from the Tory camp. Celerity now became as necessary to success as caution, and Marion ordered his men to follow him at full gallop. When they reached the main road, about three hundred yards from the enemy, the whole force, with the exception of a small body acting as cavalry, dismounted. A body of picked men, under Captain Waties, was ordered down the road to attack Dollard's house, where the Tories had been posted. Two companies, under Col. Hugh Horry, were sent to the right, and the cavalry to the left, to support the attack, Marion himself bringing up the reserve. It so happened, however, that the Tories had taken the alarm, and having withdrawn from the house, had chosen a strong position in an old field near it. Here they encountered Horry's command, on the advance, with a fire equally severe and unexpected. The effect was that of a surprise upon the assailants. Horry's troops fell back in confusion, but were promptly rallied and brought to the charge. The battle was obstinate and bloody, but the appearance of the corps under Waties, suddenly, in the rear of the Tories, soon brought it to a close. Finding themselves between two fires, the enemy gave way in all directions, and fled for refuge to the neighboring swamp of Black Mingo. So warmly contested was this affair, that, though soon over, fully one third of the men brought into the field were put 'hors de combat'. The loss of Marion was proportionably very considerable. Captain Logan was among his slain; and Captain Mouzon and Lieut. Scott so severely wounded as to be unfit for future service. The force of the Tories was almost twice as great as that of the Whigs. They lost their commander, and left nearly half their number, killed and wounded, on the ground. But for the alarm given by the tread of Marion's horses, while crossing the neighboring bridge, the Tories would most probably have been surprised. At any rate, the affair would have been settled without subjecting the brigade to the severe loss which it sustained. After this event Marion adopted the precaution, whenever about to cross a bridge by night, with an enemy near, to cover the planks with the blankets of his men. But he generally preferred fords, where they could possibly be had, to bridges.
* See ante, pp. 50-52 [End of Chapter 4].—
This victory was very complete. Many of the Tories came in, and joined the ranks of the conqueror. Those who did not, were quite too much confounded to show much impatience in taking up arms against him. His uniform successes, whenever he struck, had already strongly impressed the imaginations of the people. His name was already the rallying word throughout the country. To join Marion, to be one of Marion's men, was the duty which the grandsire imposed upon the lad, and to the performance of which, throwing aside his crutch, he led the way.
We have already shown why the force of Marion was so liable to fluctuation. The necessity of providing for, and protecting destitute families, starving wives and naked children, was more imperative than that of a remote and fancied liberty. These cases attended to, the militia came forth, struck a few blows, and once more returned to their destitute dependents. The victory over the Tories of Black Mingo, was, from this cause, followed by a more than usually prolonged inactivity of our partisan. His men demanded a respite to go and see their families. He consented, with some reluctance, for the business of the campaign was only beginning to open itself before him. They promised him, as usual, to return in season; but remained so long absent, that, for the first time, he now began to doubt and despair of them. This feeling was not natural with him. It was probably only due now to some derangement of his own health, some anxiety to achieve objects which presented themselves prominently to his mind. He had probably heard of the advance of General Greene, who, having succeeded to Gates, was pressing forward with fresh recruits, and the remnant of the fugitives who survived, in freedom, the fatal battle of Camden. A laudable anxiety to be active at such a time, to show to the approaching Continentals that there was a spirit in the State which they came to succor, of which the most happy auguries might be entertained, prompted his morbid impatience at the long delay of his absentees. There were other causes which led him to feel this delay more seriously now than at other times. The Tories were again gathering in force around him. Under these circumstances, and with these feelings, he consulted with his officers whether they should not leave the State and join the approaching army of Greene. Hugh Horry counselled him strenuously against it. His counsel was seconded by the rest. They prevailed with him. It was fortunate that they did so; for the great efficiency of Marion was in the independence of his command. While the matter was yet in debate, the militia began to reappear. He had not sufficiently allowed for their exigencies, for the scattered homes and hiding-places of famishing hundreds, living on precarious supplies, in swamp and thicket. How could he reproach them—fighting as they were for love of country only, and under such privations—that country yielding them nothing, no money, no clothes, no provisions,—for they were nothing but militia. They were not enrolled on the Continental pay list. That they should seek the field at all, thus circumstanced, will be ever a wonder to that class of philosophers who found their systems upon the simple doctrine of human selfishness.
True to their chief, he rejoiced once more in their fidelity; and, marching into Williamsburg, he continued to increase his numbers with his advance. His present object was the chastisement of Col. Harrison, who was in force upon Lynch's Creek; but his progress in this direction was suddenly arrested by his scouts, who brought him tidings of large gatherings of Tories in and about Salem and the fork of Black River. In this quarter, one Colonel Tynes had made his appearance, and had summoned the people generally, as good subjects of his majesty, to take the field against their countrymen. It was necessary to check this rising, and to scatter it before it gained too much head; to lessen the influence of Tynes and his party, over those who were doubtful, and afford the friends of the patriots an opportunity to come out on the proper side. There were other inducements to the movement. Col. Tynes had brought with him from Charleston, large supplies of the materials of war and comfort—commodities of which the poor patriots stood grievously in need. They hungered at the tidings brought by the scouts, of new English muskets and bayonets, broad-swords and pistols, saddles and bridles, powder and ball, which the provident Colonel had procured from Charleston for fitting out the new levies. To strike at this gathering, prevent these new levies, and procure the supplies which were designed for them, were controlling objects to which all others were made to yield. The half naked troops of the brigade found new motives to valor in the good things which the adventure promised. Tynes lay at Tarcote, in the forks of Black River, and, as Marion was advised, without exercising much military watchfulness. The head of his column was instantly turned in this direction. Crossing the lower ford of the northern branch of Black River, at Nelson's plantation, he came upon the camp of Tynes at midnight. A hurried, but satisfactory survey, revealed the position of the enemy. No preparation had been made for safety, no precautions taken against attack. Some of the Tories slept, others feasted, and others were at cards—none watched. Marion made his arrangements for the attack without obstacle or interruption. The surprise was complete,—the panic universal. A few were slain, some with the cards in their hands. Tynes, with two of his officers, and many of his men, were made prisoners, but the greater number fled. Few were slain, as scarcely any resistance was offered, and Tarcote Swamp was fortunately nigh to receive and shelter the fugitives, many of whom shortly after made their appearance and took their places in the ranks of the conqueror. Marion lost not a man. The anticipations of his people were gratified with the acquisition of no small store of those supplies, arms and ammunition, of which they had previously stood in so much need.
These spirited achievements, however small, were so cleverly executed, so unexpectedly, and with such uniform success, as to occasion a lively sensation through the country. Hope everywhere began to warm the patriots of the State, bringing courage along with it. The effect upon the enemy, of an opposite temper and tendency, was quite as lively. Cornwallis, whom we have already seen urging Tarleton to the pursuit of our partisan, frankly acknowledged his great merits, and was heard to say that "he would give a good deal to have him taken."* His language to Sir Henry Clinton, in a letter dated from his camp at Winnsborough, December 3d, 1780, of a different tone, indeed, was of like tenor. It spoke for the wonderful progress and influence of our hero—a progress and influence not to be understood by the reader, from the meagre account which we are enabled to give of the battles, skirmishes and happy stratagems, in which his men were constantly engaged. Cornwallis writes,—"Col. Marion had so wrought on the minds of the people, partly by the terror of his threats and cruelty of his punishments, and partly by the promise of plunder, that THERE WAS SCARCELY AN INHABITANT BETWEEN THE SANTEE AND PEDEE, THAT WAS NOT IN ARMS AGAINST US. SOME PARTIES HAD EVEN CROSSED THE SANTEE, AND CARRIED TERROR TO THE GATES OF CHARLESTON."
* Moultrie's Memoirs.—
Where his lordship speaks of the successes of Marion, his great influence over the people, and the audacity with which they urged their progress through all parts of that section of country, which had been yielded to his control by Governor Rutledge, his statement is true to the very letter. It sums up very happily the results of his activity and conduct. But, when his lordship alleges cruelty and threats, and the hopes of plunder, as the means by which these results were produced, we meet his assertion with very flat denial. All the testimonies of the time, but his own, show that, in this respect, he wandered very widely from the truth. No single specification of cruelty was ever alleged against the fair fame of Francis Marion. His reputation, as a humane soldier, is beyond reproach, and when questioned, always challenged and invited investigation. The charge made by Cornwallis was urged by Lt.-Col. Balfour, commandant of Charleston, in a correspondence with General Moultrie. The latter answered it in a frank and confident manner, which showed what he thought of it. "I am sorry," he writes to Balfour, "to hear that General Marion should use his prisoners ill. IT IS CONTRARY TO HIS NATURAL DISPOSITION: I KNOW HIM TO BE GENEROUS AND HUMANE."*1* He adds elsewhere: "General Marion always gave orders to his men that there should be no waste of the inhabitants' property, and no plundering."*2* Marion had lived in the family of Moultrie,*3* had repeatedly served under him, and if any man knew thoroughly his true disposition, the hero of Fort Sullivan was certainly that man. But the testimony of all who knew him was to the same effect. Indeed, the gentleness of his nature made him a favorite wherever known. Touching the lessons and hopes of plunder, which his men are said to have received, this scarcely requires any answer. We have seen, and shall see hereafter, the state of poverty and privation in which the brigade of Marion subsisted. A few little facts will better serve to show what their condition was. During the whole period in which we have seen him engaged, and for some months later, Marion himself, winter and summer, had slept without the luxury of a blanket. He had but one, on taking command of the "Brigade", and this he lost by accident. Sleeping soundly, after one of his forced marches, upon a bed of pine straw, it took fire, his blanket was destroyed, and he himself had an escape so narrow, that one half of the cap he wore was shrivelled up by the flames. His food was hominy or potatoes; his drink vinegar and water, of which he was fond. He had neither tea nor coffee, and seldom tasted wine or spirits. And this moderation was shown at a time when he held in his possession a power from Governor Rutledge, to impress and appropriate whatever he thought necessary to his purposes.*4* The charge against him of cruelty and plunder is perfectly absurd, and rests on the vague assertions of an enemy, who specifies no offence and offers no sort of evidence. It was but natural that such charges should be made by an astonished and disappointed foe—natural that the conqueror should ascribe to any but the right cause the reluctance of a people to submit to a monstrous usurpation, and their anxiety to avail themselves, by the presence of a favorite leader, of a principle and prospects to which their affections were really surrendered. Could the British commanders in America have really been brought to admit that the affections of the people were not with their sovereign, the war must have found a finish much sooner than it did. Their hopes were built upon this doubt; and hence their anxiety to show the coercive measures of the chieftains by whom this control, adverse to their wishes, was maintained over the minds of the people. The great influence of Marion was due to other acts. It was by the power of love, and not of terror, that he managed his followers. They loved him for himself, and loved his cause for their country. His rare command of temper, his bland, affectionate manner, his calm superiority, and that confidence in his courage and conduct, as a leader, without which militia-men are never led to victory,—these were the sources of his influence over them, and of their successes against the enemy. It was through these that he "carried terror to the very gates of Charleston." We shall see indeed, that, under Marion, the militia were never conducted to defeat.
*1* Memoirs, vol. 2, p. 174.
*2* Moultrie, vol. 2, p. 236.
*3* MS. Memoirs of General Horry.
*4* James' Memoir, p. 122.—
Whatever may have been the causes of his victories, first over the minds of his people, and next over their foes, the British found it necessary that his influence should be restrained, and his farther progress arrested. Cornwallis, as we have seen, was willing to "give a good deal to have him taken." Tarleton is affectionately invoked to this pleasant duty, by the sincere hope that he would "get at Mr. Marion." This, however desirable, was no easy matter. Marion was a very "will o' the wisp" in military affairs, almost as difficult to find, at times, by his own followers, as by the enemy. He was the true model of a partisan in a country, like ours, of swamp and thicket; leading the pursuing foe, like Puck, "through bog and through briar," till he wearied out his patience, exhausted his resources, and finally laid him open for defeat. He seldom lingered long in any one spot, changing his ground frequently, with Indian policy; his scouts, well chosen, were always on the alert; and, by constant activity and enterprise, he not only baffled pursuit, but deprived retreat of its usual mortifications. The employment which he thus gave his men, not only hardened them against every turn of fortune, but kept them always in good spirits.
Tarleton rose from a sick bed to undertake his capture. He had been confined for some time in Charleston with fever. The first moment of convalescence was seized upon for carrying into effect the wishes of Cornwallis. He concerted his plans before he left the city. His legion, which was at Camden, were instructed to meet him, while with a troop of horse he set forward for some point upon the Wateree. From this point he was to descend the Wateree in quest of our partisan. His plan of pursuit, as furnished by his own pen, will be seen hereafter. Marion was not unadvised of his progress, but, either from the rapidity of Tarleton's movements, or some error in the report of his scouts, he failed of success in the object which he aimed at. This was the capture of Tarleton, while, with his troop of horse, he was on his way to join the legion. With this object he pressed his march for Nelson's Ferry on the Santee, and placed his men in ambush in the river swamp. He arrived too late. Tarleton had already crossed fully two days before. Marion passed the river in pursuit, advancing with some earnestness on the footsteps of his foe, still under the impression that Tarleton was only in command of the small troop with which he had marched from Charleston. But the British commander had already effected the junction with his legion, and was at hand in greater force than our partisan dreamed of. At night, having reached a strong position in the woods, Marion was taking his usual precautions for making his camp. He was suddenly struck with a great light, seemingly at the plantation of General Richardson. This awakened his anxieties, and led him at once to suspect the presence of his enemy in that quarter. The progress of the British was thus usually distinguished when they reached a settlement of the patriots. The suspicions of Marion were soon confirmed by the arrival of Colonel Richardson, from whom he learned that Tarleton was really at the plantation, the fires of which he saw, in force with his whole legion, and two field-pieces. The strength of the British was double his own, and, to increase his anxieties, it was discovered that one of his men,—probably one of the late converts, who had joined the ranks after the defeat of Tynes,—had deserted to the enemy. In command of a force so superior, and in possession of a guide well acquainted with the country, Tarleton was too strong to be withstood. The position of Marion was no longer safe. He at once fell back, and crossing in silence and darkness a dense and gloomy swamp of vast extent, called the "wood-yard", halted on Jack's creek, a distance of six miles from his late encampment. This post was temporarily a secure one. Tarleton, meanwhile, was conducted faithfully by the deserter into the "wood-yard",—but the bird had flown. He pressed the pursuit the next day, with that hot haste by which he was quite as much distinguished as by his cruelties. But Marion knew his foe, and had already changed his ground. Pushing his way through a wild extent of country, full of bogs and swamps, he reached Benbow's Ferry, about ten miles above Kingstree, where, taking a strong position, he resolved to defend himself. The place was one with which himself and men were familiar. It was not only eligible in itself, commanding the passage of the river, but it was one in which defeat was not necessarily final. It had resources, and means of rally, which are always important considerations to a militia command. There were three difficult passes, through the swamp, in Marion's rear, at each of which, if driven by the enemy, his men could make a stubborn fight. His position taken, he proceeded promptly to strengthen its natural defences by art. Trees were felled across the track, and the post so improved as to reconcile the inequalities of his own with the pursuing force of Tarleton. Had the latter made his appearance, as Marion fully hoped and expected, the fatal rifles of the "Brigade" thus planted, would have very quickly emptied his best saddles. But the commander of the legion grew weary of the chase, at the very moment when it halted to await him. Of the pursuit he has given us a somewhat vainglorious description. He represents himself as having been nearly successful, by means of his great adroitness and the excellence of his strategy. He says—"According to the reports of the country, General Marion's numbers were hourly increasing, which induced Lt.-Col. Tarleton to move his corps, for a short time, in a very compact body, lest the Americans should gain any advantage over patrols or detachments. But as soon as he found that the account of numbers was exaggerated, and that the enemy declined an engagement, he divided his corps into several small parties, publishing intelligence that each was on patrol, and that the main body of the King's troops had countermarched to Camden. Notwithstanding the divisions scattered throughout the country, to impose upon the enemy, Lt.-Col. Tarleton took care that no detachment should be out of the reach of assistance; and that the whole formed after dark every evening a solid and vigilant corps during the night. This stratagem had not been employed more than three days, before General Marion was on the point of falling a sacrifice to it. He advanced on the 10th before day, with five hundred militia, to attack Lt.-Col. Tarleton (who had notice of his approach), and arrived within two miles of his post, when a person of the name of Richardson discovered to him his misconception of the British force."
But, as we have seen, Marion's advance upon Tarleton was only the continuation of the pursuit which he began under the impression that the latter was still forcing his way to Camden with the small force with which he had crossed the Santee. Of the descent of the legion from above, he knew nothing, and the three days' strategy of Tarleton were wasted upon him. The caution of the British Colonel in all this time might have been spared. It influenced the course of Marion in no respect. We have seen that, when the latter discovered his enemy, it was before day had closed, and not just before day. We have also seen that Tarleton's own bonfires had already revealed the secret of his presence, in strength, to his wary antagonist. If Col. Richardson had never entered the camp of Marion, the blazing dwellings of the Richardson family would have led to such precautions, on the side of the partisan, as must have effectually baffled the objects of the British Colonel. This indulgence in the usual British passion for burning the homesteads of women and children, which Tarleton could not resist, even though his immediate aim required the utmost watchfulness and secrecy, at once revealed to Marion not only that his enemy was there, but that he was there, with a force, in the strength of which he had the utmost confidence. It is not to be supposed that a small detachment, a scouting party of horse, a troop sent out for intelligence,—such as the British Colonel represents his several parties to have been, when his force was broken up in detail, to beguile the partisan,—would be likely to commit such excesses as to draw the eye of the country suddenly upon them, at a time, too, when a wary adversary was within two miles with a force of five hundred men.
Tarleton proceeds: "A pursuit was immediately commenced, and continued for seven hours, through swamps and defiles. Some prisoners fell into the possession of the legion dragoons, who gained ground very fast, and must soon have brought the enemy to action, when an express from Earl Cornwallis, who had followed the tracks of the march, recalled Lt.-Col. Tarleton."
Such is the British narrative. We have reason to think it faulty in several respects. We doubt that it was the express of Earl Cornwallis that arrested the pursuit of our Legionary Colonel. We are disposed to ascribe it to his own weariness of the game. The dispatch of Cornwallis to which he refers, was dated at Winnsboro' on the 9th of the month. It was on the night of the 10th, as we see by Tarleton's own statement, that he commenced the close and earnest pursuit of Marion. The distance from Winnsboro' to the 'wood-yard', even allowing that the instincts and information of the express should bring him directly upon the trail of the Legion, would have employed him fully two days to overcome. These two days would have brought him to the close of the twelfth, up to which period, had Tarleton continued the chase, he might have enjoyed the satisfaction of shaking hands with his antagonist in his defences at Benbow's Ferry. There, at the first proper position in which he might, with any hopes of success, oppose his adversary, had Marion taken his stand. There, having entrenched himself, he was busy in bringing together his forces. "Had Tarleton," says Judge James, "proceeded with his jaded horses to Benbow's, he would have exposed his force to such sharp shooting as he had not yet experienced, and that in a place where he could not have acted with either his artillery or cavalry."
But Tarleton had tired of the adventure. After a pursuit of twenty-five miles, he found his progress arrested by a swamp, wide and deep, through which his eye could discern no beaten road. But this should have discouraged no resolute commander, having his enemy before him. Marion had already preceded him in the passage, and was then within ten miles, awaiting his approach. He could have reached him in three hours, and four might have sufficed for the march and conflict. The express of Cornwallis might have yielded that time, since it was not on the necessity of the Earl that he had written. Tarleton insinuates that the sole desire of Marion was to save himself. Now, one fact will suffice to show the incorrectness of this notion. For a distance of twelve miles on his retreat, the course of the partisan skirted the south branch of Black River. He could, at any time and in a few minutes, have plunged into it, and no regular body of cavalry could have followed him. Besides, so close, we are told, was the pursuit, that the dragoons were taking prisoners. The enemy must have been overtaken, but for the express. Under such circumstances it seems strange that Tarleton should show such singular deference to the express as to forbear the blow, when his sabre was already uplifted, and one of his most troublesome enemies was actually beneath it. It is scarcely possible that, with his dragoons so close on the heels of the fugitives and informed by prisoners of the proximity of his foe, he should not have heard that he was finally posted and in waiting for him. We will suppose, however, that he did not. He turned the head of his column at the very moment when his object was attainable. Popular tradition represents him as expressing himself discouraged at the sight of Ox swamp, and exclaiming, "Come, my boys! let us go back. We will soon find the 'Game Cock' (meaning Sumter), but as for this d——d 'Swamp Fox', the devil himself could not catch him." From this speech of Tarleton, we are given to understand that the two popular names were derived, by which Sumter and Marion were ever after known by their followers.
Tarleton gained nothing by the pursuit of his wily antagonist. Marion remained in perfect mastery over the whole territory which he had been wont to overrun, with a strength somewhat increased by the fact that he had succeeded in baffling and eluding the attempts of one who had hitherto been successful in all his enterprises. From this moment the career of Tarleton ceased to be fortunate. His failure to capture Marion was the first in a long train of disappointments and disasters, some of which were also attended by the most disgraceful and humbling defeats.
Marion attempts Georgetown—Horry defeats Merritt— Melton defeated by Barfield—Gabriel Marion taken by the Tories and murdered—Marion retires to Snow's Island.
Failing to overtake Marion in his retreat, and unwilling to press upon him in his stronghold, Tarleton turned the heads of his columns in the search after the other famous partisan of Carolina, General Sumter. This gentleman, after the surprise and dispersion of his force, which had followed so closely the defeat of Gates, had fallen back, with the wreck of his command, to the neighborhood of the mountains. But, no sooner was it understood that a second Continental army was on its march for Carolina, than he emerged from his retreat, and renewed his enterprises with as much activity as ever. It was to direct his arms against this enemy, and to restrain his incursions, that Tarleton was recalled from the pursuit of Marion by Earl Cornwallis.
The force under Sumter had increased to about five hundred men when he approached, and took post within twenty-eight miles of the encampment of Cornwallis at Winnsboro'. This approach, particularly as Sumter, unlike Marion, was apt to linger some time in a favorite position, induced the British commander to attempt his surprise. Col. Wemyss was accordingly sent against him with a strong body of British infantry. But Wemyss was defeated, severely wounded himself, and fell into the hands of the Americans. The failure of Wemyss, and the audacity of Sumter, provoked the anxiety and indignation of Cornwallis. Tarleton promptly seconded the wishes of his superior, and rapidly advanced upon his adversary. Sumter, hearing of his approach, and with a force very far superior to his own, commenced his retreat, and threw the Tyger River between himself and his pursuer. Apprehensive only of losing his prey, and not at all doubtful of his victory, Tarleton continued the pursuit with about four hundred mounted men, leaving the main body of his infantry and artillery to follow. As soon as Sumter discovered that the whole of the British army was not at his heels, he discontinued his flight, and waited for his enemy at the house and farm of one Blackstock, on the banks of the Tyger. Here an action followed, in which the British were defeated. Tarleton lost ninety-two slain and one hundred wounded. The Americans lost three men slain and as many wounded. But among the latter was their commander. The wound of Sumter was in the breast, and a very severe one. He was wrapped up in the raw hide of a bullock, suspended between two horses, and, guarded by a hundred faithful followers,* was conveyed in safety to North Carolina, where, unhappily, he lay for some time totally incapacitated from active performance.
* Judge James says "a guard of five men".—A. L., 1996.—
This event was preceded and followed by others quite as encouraging to the American cause. The battle of King's Mountain took place on the 7th October, 1780, in which the British, under Major Ferguson, experienced a total defeat; Ferguson being slain, and the killed, wounded and captured of his army, amounting to eleven hundred men. Meanwhile, the example of Marion and Sumter had aroused the partisan spirit in numerous other places; and every distinct section of the country soon produced its particular leader, under whom the Whigs embodied themselves, striking wherever an opportunity offered of cutting off the British and Tories in detail, and retiring to places of safety, or dispersing in groups, on the approach of a superior force. This species of warfare was, of all kinds, that which was most likely to try the patience, and baffle the progress, of the British commander. He could overrun the country, but he made no conquests. His great armies passed over the land unquestioned, but had no sooner withdrawn, than his posts were assailed, his detachments cut off, his supplies arrested, and the Tories once more overawed by their fierce and fearless neighbors. Marion's brigade, in particular, constantly in motion,—moving by night as frequently as by day, singularly well informed by its scouts, and appearing at the least expected moment,—was always ready to prevent the gathering, into force and strength, of the loyalists. And this activity was shown, and this warfare waged, at a time, when, not only was the State without an army, without any distinct embodiment of its own, or of its confederates,—but when it was covered everywhere with strong and well appointed posts of the enemy. The position of Earl Cornwallis at Winnsboro', completed his chain of posts from Georgetown to Augusta, in a circle, the centre of which would have been about Beaufort, in South Carolina, equidistant from Charleston and Savannah. These posts consisted of Georgetown, Camden, Winnsboro', Ninety-Six and Augusta. Within this circle was an interior chain, at the distance of half the radius, consisting of Fort Watson on the road to Camden, Motte's house, and Granby on the Congaree. Dorchester and Orangeburgh, on the road both to Ninety-Six and Granby, were fortified as posts of rest and deposit, on the line of communication; as was Monk's Corner, or Biggin Church, and some other small posts on that to Camden. These posts were all judiciously chosen, both for arming the country and obtaining subsistence.*