"Well, Tom," said the general to one of his men, "come, give us our dinner."
The dinner to which he alluded, was no other than a heap of sweet potatoes, that were very snugly roasting under the embers, and which Tom, with his pine stick poker, soon liberated from their ashy confinement; pinching them, every now and then, with his fingers, especially the big ones, to see whether they were well done or not. Then having cleansed them of the ashes, partly by blowing them with his breath, and partly by brushing them with the sleeve of his old cotton shirt, he piled some of the best on a large piece of bark, and placed them between the British officer and Marion, on the trunk of the fallen pine on which they sat.
"I fear, sir," said the general, "our dinner will not prove so palatable to you as I could wish; but it is the best we have."
The officer, who was a well bred man, took up one of the potatoes and affected to feed, as if he had found a great dainty; but it was very plain, that he ate more from good manners than good appetite.
Presently he broke out into a hearty laugh. Marion looked surprised. "I beg pardon, general," said he: "but one cannot, you know, always command his conceits. I was thinking how drolly some of my brother officers would look, if our government were to give them such a bill of fare as this."
"I suppose," replied Marion, "it is not equal to their style of dining."
"No, indeed," quoth the officer; "and this, I imagine, is one of your accidental lent dinners; a sort of a 'ban yan'. In general, no doubt, you live a great deal better."
"Rather worse," answered the general: "for often we don't get enough of this."
"Heavens!" rejoined the officer. "But probably, what you lose in meal you make up in malt; though stinted in provisions, you draw noble pay?"
"Not a cent, sir," said Marion, "not a cent."
"Heavens and earth! then you must be in a bad box. I don't see, general, how you can stand it."
"Why, sir," replied Marion, with a smile of self-approbation, "these things depend on feeling."
The Englishman said, he "did not believe that it would be an easy matter to reconcile his feelings to a soldier's life on general Marion's terms; all fighting and no pay! and no provisions but potatoes!"
"Why, sir," answered the general, "the heart is all; and, when that is much interested, a man can do any thing. Many a youth would think it hard to indent himself a slave for fourteen years. But let him be over head and ears in love, and with such a beauteous sweetheart as Rachael, and he will think no more of fourteen years' servitude than young Jacob did. Well, now, this is exactly my case. I am in love; and my sweetheart is LIBERTY. Be that heavenly nymph my companion, and these wilds and woods shall have charms beyond London and Paris in slavery. To have no proud monarch driving over me with his gilt coaches; nor his host of excise-men and tax-gatherers insulting and robbing me; but to be my own master, my own prince and sovereign, gloriously preserving my national dignity, and pursuing my true happiness; planting my vineyards, and eating their luscious fruits; and sowing my fields, and reaping the golden grain: and seeing millions of brothers all around me, equally free and happy as myself. This, sir, is what I long for."
The officer replied, that both as a man and a Briton, he must certainly subscribe to this as a happy state of things.
"Happy!" quoth Marion; "yes, happy indeed! and I had rather fight for such blessings for my country, and feed on roots, than keep aloof, though wallowing in all the luxuries of Solomon. For now, sir, I walk the soil that gave me birth, and exult in the thought that I am not unworthy of it. I look upon these venerable trees around me, and feel that I do not dishonor them. I think of my own sacred rights, and rejoice that I have not basely deserted them. And when I look forward to the long ages of posterity, I glory in the thought that I am fighting their battles. The children of distant generations may never hear my name; but still it gladdens my heart to think that I am now contending for their freedom, and all its countless blessings."
I looked at Marion as he uttered these sentiments, and fancied I felt as when I heard the last words of the brave De Kalb. The Englishman hung his honest head, and looked, I thought, as if he had seen the upbraiding ghosts of his illustrious countrymen, Sidney and Hampden.
On his return to Georgetown, he was asked by colonel Watson, why he looked so serious?
"I have cause, sir," said he, "to look serious."
"What! has general Marion refused to treat?"
"Well, then, has old Washington defeated sir Henry Clinton, and broke up our army?"
"No, sir, not that neither; but WORSE."
"Ah! what can be worse?"
"Why, sir, I have seen an American general and his officers, without pay, and almost without clothes, living on roots and drinking water; and all for LIBERTY! What chance have we against such men!"
It is said colonel Watson was not much obliged to him for this speech. But the young officer was so struck with Marion's sentiments, that he never rested until he threw up his commission, and retired from the service.
"Ah brandy! brandy! bane of life, Spring of tumult — source of strife: Could I but half thy curses tell, The wise would wish thee safe at hell."
Curious and Instructive Anecdotes.
That great poet, John Milton, who seems to have known him well, assures us that the devil was the inventor of gunpowder. But, for my own part, were I in the humor to ascribe any particular invention to the author of all evil, it should be that of distilling apple-brandy. We have scripture for it, that he began his capers with the apple; then, why not go on with the brandy, which is but the fiery juice of the apple?
At any rate, I am pretty sure I shall hardly ever be able to think of it again with tolerable patience, as long as I live. For, it was that vile filthy poison that cut me out of one of the finest plumes that I ever expected to feather my cap with.
The case stands briefly thus. I have told the reader, that Marion surprised and captured the celebrated tory partisan, colonel Tynes, after killing the major part of his men. For safe keeping, he was sent into North Carolina; whence he made his escape — got back into the forests of Black river, and collected a stout force to try his fortune a second time with Marion.
But, getting knowledge of the thing, Marion made one of his forced marches, fell upon him, unawares, and broke him up worse than before; killing and taking his whole party. Tynes was sent again to North Carolina; whence he contrived again to make his escape; and, returning to his old haunts, soon rallied a formidable force, for a third trial. This news was soon brought to general Marion, who thereupon, desired me to take forty of our best cavaliers, and see if we could not scourge colonel Tynes once more.
About sunset we mounted, and travelled hard all that night and until the middle of next day, when we halted, for refreshment, at the house of one who was truly a "publican and sinner", for he was a great TORY.
Not knowing what secret intelligence the man might convey to the enemy, who were but fifteen miles off, I had him taken up and put under guard. We then got dinner, for which we honorably paid the poor woman his wife. And now comes my woeful story. While, after dinner, I was busily employed in catechising my prisoner, how should the devil be employed, but in tempting my men with the distilled juice of the apple? Having, by some ill luck, found out that there was a barrel of it in the house, they hastened to the poor landlady, who not only gave them a full dose for the present, but filled their bottles and canteens.
As we pushed on, after dinner, in high spirits, for the enemy, I could not but remark how constantly the men were turning up their canteens.
"What the plague have you got there, boys," said I, "that you are so eternally drinking."
"Water! sir, water! nothing but water!" The rogues were drinking brandy all the time; but, by way of whipping the devil round the stump, they called it 'water'! that is, 'apple water'.
Presently, finding, from their gaiety and frolicksomeness, what they had been after, I ordered a halt, and set myself to harangue them for such unsoldierly conduct. But I might as well have talked to a troop of drunken Yahoos. For, some of them grinned in my face like monkeys; others looked as stupid as asses; while the greater part chattered like magpies; each boasted what a clever fellow he was, and what mighty things he could do, yet reeling all the time, and scarcely able to sit his horse. Indeed our guide, a fat jolter-headed fellow, fetching one of his heavy lee lurches, got so far beyond his perpendicular, that he could not right again; but fell off, and came to the ground as helpless as a miller's bag. In short, among my whole corps there was but one sober man, and that was captain Neilson.
It is not for language to express one thousandth part of my mortification and rage. To have made such an extraordinary march, and at the head of such choice fellows too; to have come almost within sight of the enemy; an enemy that I was eager to humble, and which would have yielded me so complete and glorious a victory; and yet to have lost all so shamefully: and thus like a fool to be sent back to my general, with my finger in my mouth, was, indeed, almost beyond endurance. But I was obliged to endure it. For, to have led my men into action, in that condition, would have been no better than murdering them. And to have kept them there until they could have cooled off, was utterly out of the question. For there was not a family in that whole district that would, with their good will, have given us an hour's repose, or a morsel of bread. I therefore instantly ordered a retreat, which was made with all the noise and irregularity that might have been expected from a troop of drunkards, each of whom mistaking himself for commander in chief, gave orders according to his own mad humor; and whooped and halloed at such a rate, that I verily believed, no bull-drivers ever made half the racket.
That we should have obtained a most complete victory, is very certain. For in a few days after this, we laid hands upon some of those very same tories, who stated, that in consequence of the noise which we made that night, colonel Tynes despatched some of his cavalry up the road next morning, to see what was the matter. On coming to the spot, where I had vainly endeavored to form my drunken dogs, they found on the ground some of our plumes, which colonel Tynes no sooner saw than he bawled out, "Marion! Marion!" then, leaping on their horses, off they went, whip and spur.
"Well, where is colonel Tynes?" said the general, as I entered his presence. This was the question which I had expected, and, indeed, blushed for the answer. But after hearing my doleful story, he replied with his usual philosophy: "Well, you did right to retreat; but pray keep a careful eye on the apple water next time."
But to give the devil his due, I must confess there was one instance, in which I thought some good was done by brandy. This was in the case of captain Snipes and his command, which by way of farce to my own tragedy, I beg leave to relate.
Hearing of a tory camp-meeting not far distant, Marion despatched the brave captain Snipes with a party to chastise them. They had scarcely got upon the tory cruising-ground, before, at a short turn in the road, they came full butt upon a large body of horsemen. Supposing them to be tories, Snipes instantly gave the word to charge; himself leading the way with his usual impetuosity. The supposed tories, wheeling about, took to the sands, and went off, as hard as their horses could stave; and thus, crack and crack, they had it for about two miles.
Finding that Snipes was gaining upon them, the runagates began to lighten themselves of every thing they could spare, and the road was presently strewed with blankets and knapsacks. One of them, it seems, carried a five gallon keg of brandy, which he could not think of parting with; and being well mounted, he stood a good pull for the two first miles. But, finding he was dropping astern very fast, he slyly cut the straps of his mail pillion, and so let his keg, brandy and all go by the run, over his horse's rump. Captain Snipes, who led the chase, found no difficulty in passing the keg: but his men coming up instantly, broached to, all standing; for they could no more pass by a keg of brandy, than young monkeys could pass a basket of apples.
Snipes cursed and raved like a madman, but all in vain: for they swore they must have a dram. While they were devising ways and means how to get into the keg, the supposed tories, now a good distance ahead, came to a halt, and their captain fortunately reflecting that their pursuers might not be enemies, sent back a flag. The result was, the very joyful discovery, that the owners of the keg were good whigs coming to join general Marion. Thus, to a moral certainty, this keg of brandy was made, of kind heaven, the happy means of preventing much bloodshed that day.
Having given two cases of brandy, the one good, the other bad, I will now give a third, which the reader, if he pleases, may call indifferent, and which runs as follows.
General Marion, still encamped in the neighborhood of Georgetown, ordered captain Withers to take sergeant Macdonald, with four volunteers, and go on the enemy's lines to see what they were doing. On approaching the town, they met an old tory; one of your half-witted fellows, whom neither side regarded any more than a Jew does a pig, and therefore suffered him to stroll when and where he pleased. The old man knew captain Withers very well; and as soon as he had got near enough to recollect him, he bawled out, "God's mercy, master Withers! why, where are you going this course?"
"Going, old daddy! why to the devil, perhaps," replied Withers.
"Well faith! that's like enough, captain," said the old man, "especially if you keep on this tack much longer. But before you go any further, suppose you take a pull with me of this," holding up a stout tickler of brandy, "mayhap you may not get such good liquor where you are going."
"With all my heart, daddy," answered Withers, and twigg'd the tickler to the tune of a deep dram: and passed it on to Macdonald, who also twigg'd it, "and Tom twigg'd it, and Dick twigg'd it, and Harry twigg'd it, and so they all twigg'd it." In the mean time the chat went round very briskly, and dram after dram, the brandy, until the tickler was drained to the bottom. And then the subtle spirit of the brandy, ascending into their noddles, worked such wonders, that they all began to feel themselves as big as field officers. Macdonald, for his part, with a face as red as a comet, reined up Selim, and drawing his claymore, began to pitch and prance about, cutting and slashing the empty air, as if he had a score of enemies before him, and ever and anon, roaring out — "Huzza, boys! damme, let's charge!"
"Charge, boys! charge!" cried all the rest, reining up their horses, and flourishing their swords.
"Where the plague are you going to charge?" asked the old tory.
"Why, into Georgetown, right off," replied they.
"Well, you had better have a care, boys, how you charge there, for I'll be blamed if you do not get yourselves into business pretty quick: for the town is chock full of red coats."
"Red coats!" one and all they roared out, "red coats! egad, that's just what we want. Charge, boys! charge! huzza for the red coats, damme!"
Then, clapping spurs to their steeds, off went these six young mad-caps, huzzaing and flourishing their swords, and charging at full tilt, into a British garrison town of three hundred men!!
The enemy supposing that this was only our advance, and that general Marion, with his whole force, would presently be upon them, flew with all speed to their redoubt, and there lay, as snug as fleas in a sheep-skin. But all of them were not quite so lucky, for several were overtaken and cut down in the streets, among whom was a sergeant major, a stout greasy fellow, who strove hard to waddle away with his bacon; but Selim was too quick for him: and Macdonald, with a back-handed stroke of his claymore, sent his frightened ghost to join the MAJORITY.
Having thus cleared the streets, our young troopers then called at the houses of their friends; asked the news; and drank their grog with great unconcern.
The British, after having for some time vainly looked for Marion, began to smell the trick, and in great wrath sallied forth for vengeance. Our adventurers then, in turn, were fain to scamper off as fast as they had made the others before, but with better success; for though hundreds of muskets were fired after them, they got clear without receiving a scratch.
But nothing ever so mortified the British, as did this mad frolic. "That half a dozen d—n-d young rebels," they said, "should thus dash in among us in open daylight, and fall to cutting and slashing the king's troops at this rate. And after all, to gallop away without the least harm in hair or hide. 'Tis high time to turn our bayonets into pitch forks, and go to foddering the cows."
History of captain Snipes — wanton destruction of his property by the tories — his own miraculous escape — admirable fidelity of his negro driver Cudjo.
Captain Snipes, who made such a figure in the wars of Marion, was a Carolinian, of uncommon strength and courage; both of which he exerted with great good will, against the British and tories; from principle partly, and partly from revenge. But though a choice soldier, he was no philosopher. He did not consider that to fight for duty, people must love it; that to love it, they must understand it; that to understand it, they must possess letters and religion: that the British and tories, poor fellows! possessing neither of these, were not to have been expected to act any other than the savage and thievish part they did act; and therefore, no more to be hated for it than the cats are for teasing the canary birds.
But captain Snipes had no turn for investigations of this sort. Knowledge, by intuition, was all that he cared for; and having it, by instinct, that an "Englishman ought never to fight against liberty," nor an "American against his own country," he looked on them, to use his own phrase, as a "pack of d—n-d rascals, whom it was doing God service to kill wherever he could find them."
But Snipes was not the aggressor. He kept in, very decently, till the enemy began to let out, as they did, in plundering, burning, and hanging the poor whigs; and then, indeed, like a consuming fire, his smothered hate broke forth: "That hate which hurled to Pluto's gloomy reign The souls of royal slaves untimely slain."
Afraid, in fair fight, to meet that sword which had so often shivered their friends, they determined to take him as the Philistines did Samson, by surprise; and having learned from their spies, that he was at home, they came upon him in force about midnight. His complete destruction, both of life and property, was their horrid aim. Happily, his driver, or black overseer, overheard their approach; and flying to his master with terror-struck looks, cries out "Run! run! massa, run! de enemy 'pon you."
Snipes, stark naked, save his shirt, darted out as swift as his legs could carry him.
"But where shall I run, Cudjo? into the barn?"
"Oh no, massa! dey burn de barn, dat sure ting!"
"Well, where shall I run then?"
"Take de bush massa! take de briar bush."
Within fifty yards of the house was a clump of briers, so thick set, that one would have thought a frightened cat would scarcely have squeezed herself into it from the hot pursuing dogs. But what will not fear enable a man to do? Captain Snipes, big as he was, slipped into it with the facility of a weasel through the chinks of a chicken-coop; but lost every thread and thrumb of his shirt; and moreover, got his hide so scratched and torn by the briers, that the blood trickled from him fast as gravy from a fat green goose.
Scarcely had he gained his hiding-place, before the tories, with horrid oaths, burst into his house, with their guns cocked, ready to shoot him. But oh! death to their hopes! he was gone: the nest was there, and warm, but the bird was flown!
Then seizing poor Cudjo by the throat, they bawled out: "You d——d rascal, where's your master?"
He told them he did not know.
"You lie! you black son of a b-t-h! you lie."
But he still asserted he knew nothing of his master.
Suspecting that he must be in some one or other of his buildings, they set fire to them all; to his dwelling house, his kitchen, his stables, and even his negro cabins, watching all the while, with their muskets ready to shoot him as he ran out. From their nearness to his lurking place, the heat of his burning houses was so intense as to parch his skin into blisters. But it was death to stir, for he would certainly have been seen.
Not having made the discovery they so much wished, they again seized Cudjo; and, with their cocked pieces at his breast, swore if he did not instantly tell them where his master was, they would put him to death.
He still declared he did not know where he was.
Then they clapped a halter round his neck, and told him to "down on his knees, and say his prayers at once, for he had but two minutes to live!"
He replied, that he "did not want to say his prayers NOW, for that he was no thief, and had always been a true slave to his master."
This fine sentiment of the poor black was entirely lost on our malignant whites; who, throwing the end of the halter over the limb of an oak, tucked him up as though he had been a mad dog. He hung till he was nearly dead; when one of them called out, "D—n him, cut him down, I'll be bound he'll tell us now." Cudjo was accordingly cut down; and, as soon as a little recovered, questioned again about his master. But he still declared he knew nothing of him. He was then hoisted a second time; and a second time, when nearly dead, cut down and questioned as before: but still asserted his ignorance. The same inhuman part was acted on him a third time, but with no better success; for the brave fellow still continued faithful to his master, who squatted and trembled in his place of torment, his brier bush, and saw and heard all that was passing.
Persuaded now that Cudjo really knew nothing of his master, they gave up the shameful contest, and went off, leaving him half dead on the ground, but covered with glory.
It is not easy to conceive a situation more severely torturing than this of captain Snipes. His house, with all his furniture, his kitchen, his barn and rice-stacks, his stables, with several fine horses, and his negro houses, all wrapped in flames; himself scorched and blistered with the furious heat, yet not daring to stir; his retreat well known to a poor slave; and that slave alone, in the hands of an enraged banditti, with their muskets at his breast, imprecating the most horrid curses on themselves, if they did not instantly murder him unless he disclosed the secret! What had he to expect of this poor slave, but that he would sink under the dreadful trial, and to save himself would sacrifice his master. But Snipes was safe. To discover his hiding-place, death stared his slave in the face, but, happily, his slave possessed for him that "love which is stronger than death."
Captain Snipes and his man Cudjo had been brought up from childhood together; and the father of our hero being a professor of Christianity, a Baptist preacher, whose main excellence is "to teach little children to love one another," had taken great pains to inspire his son with love towards his little slave. Nor did that love pass unrequited. For Cudjo used every day to follow his young master to school, carrying his basket for him, prattling as he went; and smiling, would remind him of the coming Saturday, and what fine fishing and hunting they would have that day. Many a time had they wrestled, and slept side by side on the green; and thence springing up again with renovated strength, set out in full march for some favorite fruit tree, or some cooling pond, there to swim and gambol in the refreshing flood. And when the time of dinner came, Cudjo was not scornfully left to sigh and to gnaw his nails alone, but would play and sing about the door till his young master was done, and then he was sure to receive a good plate full for himself. LOVE, thus early ingrafted on his heart, grew up with daily increasing strength to manhood; when Snipes, by the death of his father, became master of the estate, made Cudjo his driver or overseer, and thus rivetted on his honest bosom that sacred friendship which, as we have seen, enabled him to triumph in one of the severest trials that human nature was ever put to.
The above is a solemn fact, and the wise will lay it to heart.
Marion pursues major Muckleworth — fine anecdote of the major — Marion's generosity to him.
Learning that a detachment of the British were marching up Black river towards Statesburgh and Camden, general Marion gave orders to chase; which was conducted, as usual, with such rapidity, that about sunset of the second day we came up with them. Our advance, composed of choice fellows, instantly began to skirmish with the enemy, of whom they killed eight or nine. A few on both sides, rather badly wounded, were made prisoners. Marion, coming up, gave orders to call off the troops, meaning to give the enemy a serious brush in the morning. — But of this gratification they entirely disappointed us, by striking their tents and pushing off in silence before day.
Soon as light returned, and the retreat of the British was announced, we renewed the pursuit; and by late breakfast-time, reached the house at which the enemy had refreshed themselves. This house belonged to a poor, but excellent old lady, well known to Marion.
The general was hardly alighted from his horse, before the old lady had him by the hand, declaring how happy she had always been to see him, "but now," continued she, "if I an't right down sorry to see you, then I'll be hanged."
Marion, with a look of surprise, asked her why she was sorry to see him NOW.
"Oh! don't I know you too well, general? don't I know that old Scratch himself can't keep you from fighting? And now you are hurrying along here, with all your men, only to fight the British. An't it so now, general?"
Marion told her, that that was indeed his business.
"Well, dear me now! and did I not tell you so? But pray now, my dear general Marion, let me beg of you, don't you do any harm to that dear good man, that major Muckleworth,* who went from here a little while ago: for O! he's the sweetest-spoken, mildest-looking, noblest-spirited Englishman I ever saw in all my born days. As to that Rawdon and Tarleton, God's curse upon the thieves and blackguards! I would not care if you could kill a thousand of THEM. But that good major Muckleworth! indeed, indeed now general, you must not hurt a hair of his head, for it would be such a crying sin."
— * Simms gives this name as "McIlraith", and James as "M'Ilraith", but in this one case, Weems' corruption of the name, which colloquially means "much worth", is more satisfying. — A. L., 1997. —
Marion asked her in what respects was he better than other British officers.
"Better than other British officers!" replied the old lady. — "Lord bless your dear soul, general Marion! Well, come along, come along with me, and I'll let you see."
We followed the old lady, who, tripping along nimble as a girl, conducted us into a clean looking cabin, wherein sat a middle-aged man very genteelly dressed, and several wounded persons lying before him, on pallets on the floor. Marion saluted the stranger, who informed us that he was "a surgeon in the service of his Britannic majesty, and left by major Muckleworth to take care of the wounded; of whom, sir, I believe that nearly one half are your own men."
Here the old lady's face brightened up towards Marion; and giving him a very significant look, she said, "Ah ha, general! didn't I tell you so?"
Then diving her withered hand in her pocket, she scooped up a shining parcel of English guineas, and exultingly cried out, "See there, general! see there's a sight for you? and every penny of it given me by that dear good gentleman, major Muckleworth; every penny of it, sir. Yes, and if you will but believe me, general, when I and my daughters were getting breakfast for him and his people, if he didn't come here himself with his sergeants, and had this place swept out all so sweet and clean for them poor sick people; and, with his own dear hands too, helped that gentleman there to dress and doctor the poor things, that he did.
"And then besides all that, general, he was such a sweet spoken gentleman! for when I asked him how his men came to be hurt so, he did not, like that beast Tarleton, turn black and blue in the face, and fall to cursing the d——d rebels. Oh no! not he indeed. But he said with a smile, We got them wounded last night, madam, in a little brush with your brave countryman, general Marion.
"Now only think of that, general! And besides, when he was going away, what do you think he did? Why, sir, he sent for me and said, — Well, my good madam, and what shall I pay you for all the trouble we have given you, and also for taking care of the doctor I am going to leave with you, and the sick people, who may be on your hands for a fortnight yet?
"I told him it was no business of mine to fix a price.
"He seemed surprised, and asked me what I meant by that.
"I answered that I was now all one as his prisoner, and prisoners had nothing they could call their own.
"My king, madam, said he, does not make war against widows.
"I told him I wished to God all his countrymen had remembered that! it would have saved the hunger and nakedness, and cries and tears of many a poor widow and orphan. At this he seemed mightily hurt.
"I then told him that many of the British officers, after eating and drinking all that they wanted, for themselves and people, and horses, instead of turning round to pay, as he had done, had turned in to plunder, and then set fire to the houses, not leaving the widows and children a cover over their heads, nor a bit of bread for their mouths, nor a stitch of clothes for their backs.
"My God! said he, and is this the way that my countrymen have come here to carry on war! Well madam, (so he went on) my king does not know any thing of this, nor does the English nation, I am sure. If they did, they would certainly call those officers to account. Such men will ruin our cause. For the word of God assures us, that his ear is always open to the cry of the widow and orphan; and believe me, madam, I dread their cry more than I do the shouts of an enemy's army. However, madam, (continued he,) I have not a moment to lose, for I am sure general Marion is pursuing me as hard as he can, so let me know what I owe you.
"I told him again, I made no charge; but since he was so good as to insist on giving me something, I begged to leave the matter entirely to himself. Upon which, after a moment's study, he looked at me and said, Well, madam, suppose we say sixpence sterling a-piece man and horse, all around, will that do? I replied that was too much, a great deal too much, for such a poor breakfast as I had given him and his men. Not a penny too much, madam, said he, live and let live is the royal law, madam, and here's your money. With that he put all these guineas here, into my hand! and said moreover, that if the doctor and sick people should be longer with me, and give me more trouble and cost than we had counted on, then I must send a note to him, at such a house in Charleston, and he would send me the money. And now, general, would it not be a burning shame to go kill such a dear good gentleman as that?"
Marion listened with delight to the old lady's history of this amiable officer; but on her leaving him to hasten our breakfast, he looked very pensive, and at a loss what to do. However, as soon as the troops were refreshed, he ordered my brother, colonel H. Horry, who led the advance, to remount, and push after the enemy with all speed. We followed close in the rear. For an hour the general did not open his mouth, but rode on like one absorbed in thought. At length heaving a deep sigh, he said, "Well, I suppose I feel now very much as I should feel, were I in pursuit of a brother to kill him."
About three o'clock our advance came up with the enemy, near the wealthy and hospitable captain John Singleton's mills, where the firing instantly commenced, and was as spiritedly returned by the British, still retreating. Our marksmen presently stopped one of Muckleworth's captains, and several of his men, who lay dead on the ground at the very spot where we happened to join the advance. The sight of these poor fellows lying in their blood, gave the general's wavering mind the casting vote in favor of generosity; for he immediately cried out, "Call off the troops! call off the troops!" Then turning to his aid he said, "I cannot stand it any longer; we owe yon Englishmen to our injured country; but there is an angel that guards them. Ten righteous Lots would have saved Sodom. One generous Muckleworth shall save this handful. Let us turn and fight other enemies."
The general's orders were quickly passed on to the troops to cease firing. And to their credit be it spoken, they never, I believe, obeyed his orders with more alacrity than on this occasion. Indeed I heard many of them say, afterwards, that major Muckleworth's generosity to their wounded comrades and to the poor widow, had so won their hearts to him, that they had none left wherewith to fight against him; and they said also, that, for their parts, they had rather kill a thousand such savages as Rawdon and Tarleton, than hurt a hair of major Muckleworth's head.
From the effect produced on our troops, by this amiable officer's conduct, I have often been led to think favorably of a saying common with Marion, viz., had the British officers but acted as became a wise and magnanimous enemy, they might easily have recovered the revolted colonies.
Never did the pulse of love towards a parent state beat stronger in human bosoms, than in those of the Carolinians towards Britain. We looked on her as indeed our mother, and on her children as our brothers. And ah! had their government but treated us with correspondent kindness, Carolina would have been with them to a man. Had they said to the people, as they might easily have done (for there was a time, and a long time too, when the whole state was entirely at their feet,) had they then said to us, "We are far richer, far stronger, than you; we can easily burn your houses, take your provisions, carry off your cattle, and sweep your country with the besom of destruction; but we abhor the idea. Your houses, your women, your children, are all sacred in our eyes; and even of your goods we will touch nothing without giving you a reasonable price." Had they but said this, Carolina would, to a certainty, have been divorced from Congress, and re-wedded to Britain.
We may lay what emphasis we please on the term COUNTRYMEN, COUNTRYMEN! but after all, as Christ says, "he is our countryman who showeth mercy unto us."
A British officer, a major Muckleworth, for example, calls at my plantation, and takes my fine horses and fat beeves, my pigs, my poultry and grain; but at parting, launches out for me a fist full of yellow boys! On the other hand, an American officer calls and sweeps me of everything, and then lugs out a bundle of continental proc! such trash, that hardly a cow would give a corn shock for a horse load of it.
The Englishman leaves me richer than he found me, and abler to educate and provide for my children: the American leaves me and my family half ruined. Now I wish to know where, in such a selfish world as this, where is there a man in a million, but would take part with the generous Englishman, and fight for him?
This was the theory of Marion; and it was the practice of Muckleworth, whom it certainly saved to the British; and would, if universal, have saved Carolina and Georgia to them too; and perhaps, all America. But so little idea had they of this mode of conciliating to conquer, that when the good major Muckleworth returned to Charleston, he was hooted at by the British officers, who said he might do well enough for a chaplain, or a methodist preacher, for what they knew, but they'd be d—n-d if he were fit to be a British major.
The truth is, such divine philosophy was too refined for such coarse and vulgar characters, as Cornwallis, Rawdon, Tarleton, Balfour, and Weymies; monsters who disgraced the brave and generous nation they represented, and completely damned the cause they were sent to save. But what better was to have been expected of those, who, from early life, if tradition say true, discovered a total dislike to the ennobling pleasures of literature and devotion, but a boundless passion for the brutalizing sports of the bear-garden and cock-pit? Bull-baiters, cock-fighters, and dog worriers, turned officers, had no idea of conquering the Americans, but by "cutting their throats or knocking out their brains;" or as the tender-hearted Cornwallis commanded, by "hanging them, and taking away, or destroying their goods."
Now Satan himself could have counselled my lord better than that; as any man may see, who will but open his bible and turn to the book of Job, chap. the 1st, verse 6th, and so on. There Moses informs, that when Satan, whose effrontery is up to any thing, presented himself at the grand levee, the Almighty very civilly asked him, (now mind that, 'saints', in your speech to poor sinners) — the Almighty, I say, very CIVILLY asked him "where he had been of late."
To this, his royal highness, the brimstone king, replied, that he had been only taking a turn or two "up and down the earth."
The divine voice again interrogated: "Hast thou considered my servant Job? an excellent man, is he not; one who feareth God and escheweth evil?"
"Job's well enough," replied Satan, rather pertly, but where's the wonder of all that? You have done great things for the fellow; you have planted a hedge around him, and around all that he hath on every side. You have blessed the works of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land; and if, after all this, he cannot afford you a little gratitude, he must be a poor devil indeed. But put forth thy hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he'll curse thee to thy face."
This was the devil's logic as to Job: but the British general had not the wit to reason in that style towards the Americans. For my Lord Cornwallis said unto my lord Rawdon; and my lord Rawdon said unto my would-be lord, colonel Tarleton; and colonel Tarleton said unto major Weymies; and major Weymies said unto Will Cunningham, and unto the British soldiers with their tory negro allies; "Put forth your hands, boys, and burn, and plunder the d—n-d rebels; and instead of cursing you to your face, they will fall down and kiss your feet."
"Experience," says Doctor Franklin, "is a dear school; but fools will learn in no other, and hardly in that." And what right had lord North to expect success in America, when for officers he sent such fools as would take no lesson either from God or devil.
Colonel Watson attempts to surprise Marion — is out-generaled, and after much loss driven back to Georgetown.
In consequence of his incessant attacks on the British and tories, Marion was, I believe, heartily hated by them, as ever Samson was by the Philistines, or George Whitefield by the devil. Numerous were the attempts made by their best officers to surprise him; but such was his own vigilance and the fidelity of his whig friends, that he seldom failed to get the first blow at them, and to take their unwary feet in the same evil net which they had spread for him.
His method to anticipate the meditated malice of his enemies, is well worthy of notice. He always had in his service a parcel of active young men, generally selected from the best whig families, and of tried courage and fidelity. These, mounted on the swiftest horses, he would station in the neighborhood of those places where the British and tories were embodied in force, as Camden, Georgetown, &c. with instructions to leave no stratagem untried to find out the intended movements of the enemy. Instantly as this information was obtained, (whether by climbing tall trees that overlooked the garrisons; or from friends acting as market people) they were to mount and push off at full speed to the nearest of a chain of posts established at short and convenient distances, with fleet horses ready saddled and bridled, to bear the intelligence with equal speed, the first to the second, the second to the third, and so on. In this expeditious method, as by a telegraph,* Marion was presently notified of the designs of the enemy. Of the exceeding importance of such a plan, we had a very striking proof at this time. Exasperated against Marion, for the infinite harm he did the royal cause in Carolina, the British general, in Camden, determined to surprise him at his old place of retreat, SNOW'S ISLAND; and thus destroy or break him up completely. To this end he despatched a couple of favorite officers, colonels Watson and Doyle, with a heavy force, both cavalry and infantry, to seize the lower bridge on Black river and thereby effectually prevent our escape. But the vigilance and activity of his scouts frustrated this well-concerted plan entirely. Getting early notice of this manoeuvre by captain, now general Canty, Marion instantly started his troops, composed chiefly of mounted riflemen and light dragoons and pushed hard for the same point. By taking a nearer cut, we had the good fortune to gain the bridge before the enemy, and having destroyed it as soon as we crossed, we concealed ourselves in the dark swamp, anxiously waiting their arrival. In a short time, they came in full view on the opposite hill, and there encamped. — Presently, unapprehensive of danger, for they saw nothing of us, two of their men came down for water to the river. Unable to resist such a temptation, two of our noted marksmen instantly drew their sights and let fly. The two Englishmen fell; one of them was killed dead; the other badly wounded, and so frightened, that he bellowed like a bull-calf for help. Several of his gallant countrymen ran to his assistance, but they were shot down as fast as they got to him.
— * The old meaning of "telegraph" is used here, as any system of communication over distance, such as signal fires, semaphore, etc. — A. L., 1997. —
The next morning colonel Watson sent a flag over to Marion, whom he charged with carrying on war in a manner entirely different from all civilized nations. "Why sir," said he to Marion, "you must certainly command a horde of savages, who delight in nothing but murder. I can't cross a swamp or a bridge, but I am waylaid and shot at as if I were a mad dog. Even my sentries are fired at and killed on their posts. Why, my God, sir! this is not the way that Christians ought to fight!"
To this Marion replied, that "he was sorry to be obliged to say, that from what he had known of them, the British officers were the last men on earth who had any right to preach about honor and humanity. That for men to come three thousand miles to plunder and hang an innocent people, and then to tell that people how they ought to fight, betrayed an ignorance and impudence which he fain would hope had no parallel in the history of man. That for his part, he always believed, and still did believe that he should be doing God and his country good service to surprise and kill such men, while they continued this diabolical warfare, as he would the wolves and panthers of the forest."
Thus ended the correspondence for that time.
While things remained in this state between the hostile parties, Macdonald, as usual, was employing himself in a close and bold reconnoitre of the enemy's camp. Having found out the situation of their sentries, and the times of relieving them, he climbed up into a bushy tree, and thence, with a musket loaded with pistol bullets, cracked away at their guard as they passed by; of whom he killed one man, and badly wounded the lieutenant, whose name was Torquano; then sliding down the tree, he mounted his swift-footed Selim, and made his escape.
The next morning colonel Watson sent another flag to Marion, requesting that he would grant a passport to his lieutenant Torquano, who was badly wounded, and wished to be carried to Charleston. On receiving the flag, which happened while I was by him, Marion turned to me, and with a smile said, "Well, this note of colonel Watson looks a little as if he were coming to his senses. But who is lieutenant Torquano?"
I replied that he was a young Englishman, who had been quartered in Charleston, at the house of that good whig lady, Mrs. Brainford and her daughters, whom he had treated very politely, and often protected from insults.
"Well," said he, "if that be lieutenant Torquano, he must be a very clever fellow; and shall certainly have a passport to Charleston, or even to Paradise, if I had the keys of St. Peter."
On repassing Black river in haste, Macdonald had left his clothes behind him at a poor woman's house, where the enemy seized them. By the return of the flag just mentioned, he sent word to colonel Watson, that if he did not immediately send back his clothes, he would kill eight of his men to pay for them.
Several of Watson's officers who were present when the message was delivered, advised him by all means to return his clothes, for that they knew him to be a most desperate fellow, one who would stop at nothing he set his head upon; witness his late daring act of climbing like a cougar, into a tree, to kill his passing enemies. Watson sent him back his wallet of clothes.
Soon after this, the enemy decamped silently in the night, and took the road towards Santee. On the return of day announcing their flight, Marion ordered me to take the mounted riflemen, thirty in number, with fifty horse, and pursue and harass the enemy as much as possible, till he could come up with the infantry.
About night I approached their encampment, and halted in a neighboring swamp; whence I continued to send out small parties, frequently relieved, with orders to pop away at their sentinels, and keep them alarmed and under arms all night. At daybreak they pushed hard for the sandpit bridge. We followed close in the rear, constantly firing on them from every thicket and swamp; and often, in spite of their field pieces, making false charges. Never did I see a body of infantry ply their legs so briskly. The rogues were constantly in a dog trot, except when they occasionally halted to give us a blast, which they did from their whole line. But though their bullets made a confounded whizzing and clatter among the branches over our heads, yet thank God they did no harm, save that of scratching some three or four of us.
On coming within a few miles of it, we made a rapid push for the bridge, which we quickly rendered impassable, by throwing off the plank and sleepers. Then having posted my riflemen in the thick woods, within fifty yards of the ford, under command of lieutenant Scott, I drew up my cavalry close in the rear, and waited impatiently for the enemy, hoping to give a handsome Bunker's Hill account of them.
The enemy were presently in sight, and formed in close column, began to push through the fording place, though full waist deep. My heart now throbbed with anxiety; looking every moment for a stream of fire to burst upon the British, spreading destruction through their ranks.
But, to my infinite mortification, no lightnings bursted forth; no thunders roared; no enemy fell. As, half choked with grief and rage, I looked around for the cause, behold! my brave lieutenant Scott, at the head of his riflemen, came stooping along with his gun in his hand, and the black marks of shame and cowardice on his sheepish face. "Infamous poltroon," said I, shaking my sword over his head, "where is that hetacomb of robbers and murderers due to the vengeance of your injured country?"
He began to stammer out some apology, which I quickly suppressed, by ordering him out of my sight. It is worthy of remark, that his men, instead of apologising for him, called him a coward to his face, and declared that it was he who had restrained them by telling them they were flanked by the enemy, who would assuredly cut them to pieces if they fired a shot.
As the advance of the British were thus undisturbedly passing on, a heavy firing was suddenly heard in the rear. It was Marion; who, having come up with the enemy, had attacked him with great fury. The British did not halt, but continued a running fight through the woods till they gained the open fields; where, by means of their artillery, they kept us at a distance. In this rencontre, Watson had his horse killed under him, and left about twenty of his men dead on the ground. His wounded filled several wagons.
He did not halt a moment, but pushed hard for Georgetown; and late at night encamped on the plantation of Mr. Trapier, to whom he told a dreadful story about Marion and his damned rebels, who would not, as he said, sleep and fight like gentlemen, but, like savages, were eternally firing and whooping around him by night; and by day, waylaying and popping at him from behind every tree he went by.
As it was too late to pursue the enemy, Marion encamped for the night near the field of battle, and next morning marched for his old post, Snow's Island, where he allowed us a few days of welcome repose.
Patriotism of Mrs. Jenkins — colonel Watson, colonel Doyle, and the tories, make alarming advances upon general Marion — his men begin to desert him — Horry turns orator, and harangues the troops — they repeat their assurances of patriotism and attachment to Marion — he dashes out again upon the enemy — prospects brighten — and the good old cause begins to look up again.
It was not for the British and Marion to lie long at rest in the same neighborhood. After a short repose, Colonel Watson, with a stout force of regulars and tories, made an inroad upon Pedee; which was no sooner known in our camp, than Marion pushed after him. We presently struck their trail; and after a handsome day's run, pitched our tents near the house of the excellent widow Jenkins, and on the very spot which the British had left in the morning. Colonel Watson, it seems, had taken his quarters that night in her house; and learning that she had three sons with Marion, all active young men, he sent for her after supper, and desired her to sit down and take a glass of wine with him. To this request, a good old lady of taste and manners could have no objection: so waiting upon the colonel, and taking a chair which he handed her, she sat down and emptied her glass to his health. He then commenced the following conversation with her:
"So, madam, they tell me you have several sons in general Marion's camp; I hope it is not true."
She said it was very true, and was only sorry that it was not a thousand times truer.
"A thousand times truer, madam!" replied he with great surprise, "pray what can be your meaning in that?"
"Why, sir, I am only sorry that in place of three, I have not three thousand sons with general Marion."
"Aye indeed! well then, madam, begging your pardon, you had better send for them immediately to come in and join his majesty's troops under my command: for as they are rebels now in arms against their king, should they be taken they will be hung as sure as ever they were born."
"Why, sir," said the old lady, "you are very considerate of my sons; for which at any rate I thank you. But, as you have begged my pardon for giving me this advice, I must beg yours for not taking it. My sons, sir, are of age, and must and will act for themselves. And as to their being in a state of rebellion against their king, I must take the liberty, sir, to deny that."
"What, madam!" replied he, "not in rebellion against their king? shooting at and killing his majesty's subjects like wolves! don't you call that rebellion against their king, madam?"
"No, sir," answered she: "they are only doing their duty, as God and nature commanded them, sir."
"The d—-l they are, madam!"
"Yes, sir," continued she, "and what you and every man in England would glory to do against the king, were he to dare to tax you contrary to your own consent and the constitution of the realm. 'Tis the king, sir, who is in rebellion against my sons, and not they against him. And could right prevail against might, he would as certainly lose his head, as ever king Charles the First did."
Colonel Watson could hardly keep his chair under the smart of this speech: but thinking it would never do for a British colonel to be rude to a lady, he filled her glass, and saying, "he'd be d—n-d if she were not a very plain-spoken woman at any rate," insisted she would drink a toast with him for all.
She replied she had no objection.
Then filling the glasses round, he looked at her with a constrained smile, and said, "Well, madam, here's George the Third."
"With all my heart, sir!" and turned off her bumper with a good grace.
After a decent interval of sprightly conversation, he called on the widow for a toast; who very smartly retorted, "Well, sir, here's George Washington!" At which he darkened a little, but drank it off with an officer-like politeness.
The next morning early, we left the good Mrs. Jenkins; and burning with impatience to give Watson another race, we drove on Jehu-like.
We encamped that night almost within sight of the enemy's fires: but found them too much on the alert for surprise. We kept, however, a good look out, and learning next morning, that a roosting party were out, Marion detached my brother colonel Horry, with some choice cavaliers, to attack them; which he did with such spirit, that at the first onset he killed nine, and made the balance, sixteen, all prisoners. The rogues were so overloaded with plunder, that for their lives they could not regain their camp, though in full view of it when they were charged. This brilliant stroke of my brother, threw the enemy's camp into the utmost hurry and uproar; and their dragoons were quickly mounted, dashing out to rescue their comrades; but in vain, for my brother brought them all off in safety to our camp.
Our strength at this time was far inferior to that of the enemy. But it soon became alarmingly reduced. For learning that, besides this heavy force under Watson, there was another from Camden under colonel Doyle, and also of mounted tories from Pedee, all in full march against us, our men took a panic and began to desert, and those who stayed behind looked very serious, and talked as if certain ruin both to themselves and families would follow from their continuing to fight in so hopeless a cause.
In answer to these desponding gentlemen, I replied, that I was ashamed and grieved too, to hear them talk at that rate.
"Our prospects," said I, "gentlemen, are to be sure dark, very dark; yet thank God, they are not desperate. We have often before now seen as heavy clouds hanging over us; and yet with heaven's blessing on our arms, those clouds have been dispersed, and golden days restored. And who knows but we may shortly see it so again? I am sure we have good reason to expect it; and also to hope that God will assist us, who are only fighting to make ourselves free and happy, according to his own most blessed will. And will it not be a most sweet cordial to your spirits as long as you live, to think that, in such trying times as these, you stood up for your country, and fought and won for yourselves and children all the blessings of liberty.
"And, besides," said I, "do not the tories, who are more than half the authors of your misfortunes, possess large estates? And have you not arms in your hands, wherewith to pay yourselves out of their ill-saved treasures?"
This speech seemed to raise their spirits a good deal.
I then went to see the general, who with his hands behind him, was walking backwards and forwards in front of his tent, meditating, no doubt, on the desertion of his men; whose numbers, from more than two hundred, were now reduced to less than seventy.
"General Marion," said I, "I am sorry to tell you that our men are now so few; especially since, according to report, we shall soon want so many."
"Why," replied he, "that is the very thing I have been grieving at; but it will signify nothing for us to stand here sighing and croaking; so pray go and order a muster of the men, that I may say a few words to them before they all run off and leave me."
Soon as the troops were all paraded around the door of his tent, he stepped upon the trunk of a fallen pine, and in his plain but impressive manner, addressed us nearly as follows: —
"Gentlemen and fellow-soldiers.
"It is not for words to express what I feel when I look around upon your diminished numbers. Yesterday I commanded 200 men; men whom I gloried in, and who I fondly thought, would have followed me through my dangers for their country. And, now, when their country most needs their services, they are nearly all gone! And even those of you who remain, are, if report be true, quite out of heart; and talk, that you and your families must be ruined if you resist any longer! But, my friends, if we shall be ruined for bravely resisting our tyrants, what will be done to us if we tamely lie down and submit to them? In that event, what can we expect but to see our own eternal disgrace, and the wide-spread ruin of our country; when our bravest and best citizens shall be hung up like dogs, and their property confiscated to enrich those villains who deserted their country, and joined her enemies; when Cornwallis, Rawdon and Tarleton, after so long plundering and murdering your friends, shall, in reward of such services, be set over you as your governors and lord lieutenants, with princely salaries out of your labors; when foreign bishops and hireling clergy shall be poured upon you like hosts of consecrated locusts, consuming the tithes and fat of the land; when British princes, and nobles, and judges, shall swarm over your devoted country, thick as eagles over a new-fallen carcass; when an insatiate king, looking on your country as his plantation, and on your children as his slaves, shall take away your substance, every year, for his pomps and pleasures; and to keep you under for ever, shall fill your land with armies; and when those armies, viewing you with malignant eyes, shall constantly be insulting you as conquered rebels; and under pretence of discovering among you the seeds of another rebellion, shall be perpetually harassing and giving up to military execution the best and worthiest of your fellow-citizens?
"Now my brave brethren in arms, is there a man among you, who can bear the thought of living to see his dear country and friends in so degraded and wretched a state as this? If there be, then let that man leave me and retire to his home. I ask not his aid. But, thanks to God, I have now no fears about you: judging by your looks, I feel that there is no such man among us. For my own part I look upon such a state of things as a thousand times worse than death. And God is my judge this day, that if I could die a thousand deaths, most gladly would I die them all, rather than live to see my dear country in such a state of degradation and wretchedness."
In reply to this speech of our honored general, we told him, in brief, it was on account of his noble sentiments we had always so highly esteemed him; that it was on account of these we had already suffered so much, and were ready to suffer more; and that rather than see our country in that wretched state which he had so feelingly described, and which, with him, we firmly believed would be the case if the British were to get the upper hand, we had made up our minds to fight by his side to a glorious death.
I never saw such a change on the face of a human being, as then took place on that of Marion. His eyes sparkled with pleasure, while in transport he exclaimed — "Well, now colonel Doyle, look sharp, for you shall presently feel the edge of our swords."
Soon as night came on we mounted, and took the swamps of Lynch's creek, though swimming deep, and after a long time spent in plunging and splashing through the dark floods, we got over, at least about two-thirds of us. The rest, driven down by the force of the current, were cast ashore on hills and high banks, which by the freshet were converted into islands; and there they continued whooping and hallooing to each other all night. When the welcome light returned, they plunged again into the furious stream, and though swept down a good way by the force of the current, arrived safely on our side where we had prepared some large fires to dry their clothes and muskets, and plenty of roasted roots and Indian cakes for breakfast.
As God was pleased to have it, none of us lost our lives, though many did their great coats, blankets, and saddles, and some few their pieces. As to myself, I must needs say, I was never so near the other world in my life. For, as we were borne along down the stream in the dark, my horse and I were carried under the limb of a tree hung thick with wild vines, which soon caught me by the head like Absalom, and there held me fast, dangling in the furious flood, while my horse was swept from under me. I hallooed for some time like a lusty fellow, without getting any answer, which made me begin to think my chance was bad. And, God forgive me for it! I could not help thinking it a sad thing, that after so many fierce frays and hard knocks with the British and tories, I should come at last to be choked like a blind puppy, in this dirty swamp: but God be praised for his good angel, who had brought me through six dangers, and now took me out of the seventh. For, as I was near giving out, a bold young fellow of the company overheard me bawling, and having the advantage of a stout horse, dashed in and took me safely off.
I was afraid at first that my horse was drowned — but sagaciously following the rest of the horses, he made his way good, but lost my saddle, great coat, and clothes. But what grieved me most of all was the loss of my holsters, with a pair of elegant silver mounted pistols, a present from Macdonald, and which he had taken from a British officer whom he killed near Georgetown.
Soon as our firearms were dried, and ourselves and horses were refreshed, we mounted and rode hard all that day, to surprise colonel Doyle. About midnight we had approached the house of a good whig, who told us that Doyle had been there, but that warned by an express from Camden, he had started in great haste, and was certainly by that time far beyond our reach. We were much puzzled in our minds for the meaning of this precipitate retreat of colonel Doyle; however, after one day of welcome rest and high cheer, we faced about, fully determined, notwithstanding our inferiority of force, once more to try our fortune with colonel Watson. But in reaching the ground where we had left him encamped, we got advice that he too, with all his troops, were gone off, at a tangent, as hard as he could drive. While we were wondering what could have possessed the British to scamper thus in every direction, captain Conyers, of Lee's legion, hove in sight, with the welcome news that the brave colonel Lee was at hand, coming up full tilt to join us; and also that general Green, with a choice detachment from the great Washington, was bending towards Camden, to recover the laurels which the incautious Gates had lost. These glorious tidings at once explained the cause of the enemy's flight, and inspired us with a joy which the reader can better conceive than I express.
Marion's method of managing the militia — sends the author on another expedition against the tories — anecdote of Mr. F. Kinloch — curious dream of black Jonathan, and fortunate escape of Mr. Kinloch — the author's party surprised by the British, but come off with flying colors.
The world, perhaps, never contained a partisan officer who better understood the management of militia than did general Marion. He was never for 'dragooning' a man into the service. "God loves a cheerful giver, and so do I," said he, "a willing soldier. To have him such you must convince him that it is his interest, for interest is every man's pole star. Every man wishes to be happy, and thereto wishes a happy wife and children, a happy country and friends. Convince him that all these invaluable blessings cannot be had without sweet liberty, and you shall have a soldier as brave as Washington. — For no man, worthy of the name, could ever yet bear to see his wife, children and friends, enslaved and miserable." Such was Marion's method of making soldiers. And what with this, and the cruelty of the British and tories, he had with him, perhaps, some of as brave and desperate men as ever fought.
"Never ride a free horse to death," he used to say to his officers; "push, while he is fresh, but soon as he begins to lag, then lie by and feed high is your play."
For this purpose he always kept a snug hiding-place in reserve for us; which was Snow's Island, a most romantic spot, and admirably fitted to our use. Nature had guarded it, nearly all around, with deep waters and inaccessible marshes; and the neighboring gentlemen were all rich, and hearty whigs, who acted by us the double part of generous stewards and faithful spies, so that, while there, we lived at once in safety and plenty.
We had reposed ourselves but two days in the pleasant wilds of Snow's Island, before Marion, learning that a part of the enemy were in the neighborhood, desired me to take captains Clarke and Irwin, with fifty men, and try if I could not bring him a good account of them.
We encamped the first night on the plantation of Mr. John Withers, where hearing that Mr. F. Kinloch, our member of Congress, was at a neighboring house, I sent him the following note.
If in these dangerous times you can think yourself safe among a handful of militia-men, I shall be very glad to see you at our camp. As to supper, thank God we can give you a trencher of fat pork and potatoes, but for bed and furniture, we can promise you nothing better than earth and sky. I shall place a sentinel on the road to conduct you to, Honorable Sir, your friend, Peter Horry.
Mr. Kinloch, who was one of the cleverest men in the world, instantly set out to come to us, but unluckily missed our sentinel, and went several miles below us to Mr. Alexander Rose's plantation, managed by a mulatto driver named Jonathan. The day being nearly spent, Jonathan very politely urged Mr. Kinloch to alight and spend the night there, promising him a warm supper and a good bed. Mr. Kinloch accepted Jonathan's offer very cheerfully, and after taking part of a nice fowl and a cup of coffee, went to bed. He had not slept long before Jonathan waked him up, and, with great terror in his looks, told him, "he was mighty 'fraid there was harm a-brewing."
"Aye, Jonathan! why so, my good lad."
"Oh, sir," replied Jonathan, "such a dream as I have had, sir! a marvellous bad dream about the enemy's coming upon you to-night, sir!"
"Poh!" quoth Mr. Kinloch, turning himself over for another nap: "I have dreamed nothing about it, Jonathan. And I'm sure such a dream ought to have come to me, and not to you: so we'll even go to sleep again, and trust to heaven."
Accordingly he fell asleep a second time; but had not long enjoyed that sweetest of opiates, before Jonathan comes again, and awakes him with the old story of his dream.
"Well, Jonathan," said Mr. Kinloch, very good-naturedly, "if you are determined to turn me out of doors, I suppose I must go. But where can I get to this time of night?"
"Why, sir," quoth Jonathan, "I'll get your horse and go with you to the main road, sir, and from there, you can't miss your way back to the house you came from this afternoon."
On Jonathan's return from the short distance he had conducted Mr. Kinloch, he found the yard filled with the British light horse!
These dreams are droll things; but they sometimes come so well attested, that there is no doubting them. He who made our frame, can certainly speak to us as well asleep as awake; and the wise will feel the importance of making a friend of Him, who can cause an airy dream to defend us as effectually as a legion of angels.
The next night, just as we were about to encamp, we lighted on a negro fellow, belonging to Mr. Joseph Alston, whom I quickly had by the heels, lest he should give intelligence to the enemy. But, as the devil would have it, just before day, the sergeant of the guard, overcome by the negro's importunities, loosened him and let him go. And, mark now, young officers, what comes from disobeying orders. This villain of a blackamoor had not gone above three miles before he fell in with the British, to whom, Judas-like, he betrayed us off hand! and they as quickly took horse, and pushed on to surprise us.
By sunrise I had all my men mounted; captain Clarke leading the advance, myself and captain Irvin bringing up the rest of the corps.
The British first discovered captain Clarke, which they did in the way of a glimpse, through an opening in the woods; then sounding their bugles, they rushed on to the charge. Unfortunately, Clarke had not yet seen the enemy, and mistaking their bugles for the huntsmen's horns, ordered a halt to see the deer go by. But instead of a herd of flying deer, behold! a column of British cavalry all at once bursting into the road, and shouting and rushing on with drawn swords to the charge. In a moment, as if themselves metamorphosed into deer, Clarke and his advance wheeled about, and giving their horses "the timber",* flew back upon our main body, roaring out as they came in sight — "The British! the British!"
— * This is a Carolina phrase for slashing. If a husband should so far forget himself as to beat his wife! which, thank God, is very rare, his neighbors, with great scorn, say of him as he pokes his hated face along, Aye, that's the jockey that gives his wife the timber. —
Quick as thought my men caught the panic, and facing about, took to their heels, and went off as if the d—-l had been behind them. I bawled after them as loud as I could roar, "Halt! Halt!" but I might as well have bawled to the whirlwinds, for it appeared to me the louder I bawled, the swifter the rascals flew. Whereupon I clapped spurs to my young Janus, and went off after them at full stretch, hoping to gain their front and so bring them to. Being mounted on a young full-blooded charger, fresh and strong from the stable, I bid fair to gain my point too, for I was coming up with them hand over hand. — But, in that very juncture of time, as the Lord was pleased to order it, my girth gave way, my saddle turned, and my charger fetching a ground start, threw me, saddle, holsters, and all, full ten feet over his head, and then ran off. I received no harm, God be praised for it, but recovering my legs in an instant, bawled out again to my men to halt and form.
Happily for me, at the very moment of my disaster, the enemy, suspecting our flight to be only a finesse, had halted, while only sixteen dragoons under colonel Camp, continued the chase.
Scorning to fly from such a handful, some of my more resolute fellows, thirteen in number, faced about, and very deliberately taking their aim at the enemy as they came up, gave them a 'spanker', which killed upwards of half their number. The rest took to flight, leaving their colonel, whose horse was slain, to shift for himself, which he quickly did by running into the woods.
The British were so near us when they received the fire of my men, that one of them, a stout fellow, as he wheeled to go off, came so close to me, where I stood on the ground, that he was lifting his broadsword for a back-handed stroke, which would probably have saved me the trouble of writing this history, had I not, with one of my pistols, which I took from the saddle when my horse left me, anticipated his kindness, by driving a bullet through his shoulder, which brought him to the ground. Then mounting his horse, while my men caught the horses of those that were killed, we galloped off, very well satisfied that the affair had turned out no worse.
On returning to Marion, I could not help complaining to him of my men, whose behavior, I said, in this last affair, had been so very dastardly, that I was much afraid, I should never again put confidence in them, nor gain any credit by commanding them. "Pshaw!" said he, with a smile, "it is because you do not understand the management of them: you command militia; it will not do to expect too much from that sort of soldiers. If on turning out against the enemy, you find your men in high spirits, with burning eyes all kindling around you, that's your time, then in close columns, with sounding bugles and shining swords, dash on, and I'll warrant your men will follow you, eager as the lion's whelps bounding with their sire to the chase of the buffaloes. But on the other hand, if by any un-looked-for providence they get dismayed, and begin to run, you are not to fly in a passion with them, and show yourself as mad as they are cowardly. No! you must learn to run too: and as fast as they; nay FASTER, that you may get into the front and encourage them to rally.
"And as to the credit that you are to get by commanding them, I find, my dear fellow, that you are entirely in the wrong there also. Our country cannot expect us to cope with British regulars. War is an art, the deepest of all arts, because the greatest of all earthly consequences depend on it. And none can expect to be masters of that terrible art, but such as serve a long apprenticeship to it. But as we have served no apprenticeship, we can know but little about it in comparison with our enemies, who in discipline and experience have greatly the advantage of us. But, thank God, we have our advantages too. — We are far better riders, better woodsmen, and better marksmen than they. These are noble advantages. Let us but improve them by redoubled activity and vigilance, and kindness to our men, and especially by often conversing with them on the grounds of the war, the merits of our cause, and the vast consequences depending. Let us, I say, in this way, make them soldiers in principle, and fond of their officers, and all will be well yet. By cutting off the enemy's foraging parties, drawing them into ambuscades and falling upon them by surprise, we shall, I hope, so harass and consume them, as to make them glad to get out of our country. And then, the performance of such a noble act will bring us credit, and credit enough too, in the eyes of good men; while as to ourselves, the remembrance of having done so much to vindicate the rights of man, and make posterity the happier for us, will afford us a pleasure that may outlive this momentary being."
Colonel Harry Lee joins general Marion — Georgetown surprised — colonel Campbell made prisoner — major Irwin killed — adjutant Crookshanks miraculously saved by his sweetheart — force of female affection — American generosity contrasted with British barbarism — interesting anecdotes of Mr. Cusac, young Gales and Dinkins, colonel Lee's little bugler, John Wiley, Peter Yarnal, young M'Coy, major Brown, colonel Haynes, and lord Rawdon.
The next day, colonel Lee with his legion came up, to the inexpressible joy of us all; partly on account of his cavalry, which to be sure, was the handsomest we had ever seen; but much more on account of himself, of whom we had heard that, in deep art and undaunted courage, he was a second Marion. — This, our high opinion of him, was greatly exalted by his own gallant conduct, for he had been with us but a few days before he proposed the surprise of Georgetown, which was very cordially concurred with by general Marion.
The infantry and cavalry employed on the occasion, were to approach the town at different points, after midnight, and at a signal from the latter, to commence the attack. Unfortunately, the cavalry did not get up in time, owing to some fault of their guide. The infantry arrived at the appointed moment, and dreading the dangers of delay, charged at once into the town, which they found utterly unprepared for an attack. Colonel Campbell, the commander, was made prisoner in his bed; adjutant Crookshanks, major Irwin, and other officers were sound asleep at a tavern belonging to a genteel family, with whom they had spent the evening with great hilarity. A detachment of our men approached the house and surrounded it. Soon as the alarm was given, the officers leaped out of bed, and not waiting to dress, flew into the piazza, flourishing their pistols and shouting to the charge. Major Irwin, with more courage than discretion, fired a pistol, and would have tried another, but just as he had cocked it, he was stopped short by the stroke of a bayonet, which ended him and his courage together. Adjutant Crookshanks, acting in the same heroic style, would have shared the same fate, had it not been for an angel of a young woman, daughter of the gentleman of the house. This charming girl was engaged to be married to Crookshanks. Waked by the firing and horrid din of battle in the piazza, she was at first almost 'reft of her senses by the fright. But the moment she heard her lover's voice, all her terrors vanished, and instead of hiding herself under the bedclothes, she rushed into the piazza amidst the mortal fray, with no armor but her love, no covering but her flowing tresses. Happily for her lover, she got to him just in time to throw her arms around his neck and scream out, "Oh save! save major Crookshanks!" Thus, with her own sweet body shielding him against the uplifted swords of her enraged countrymen!
Crookshanks yielded himself our prisoner; but we paroled him on the spot, and left him to those delicious sentiments which he must have felt in the arms of an elegant young woman, who had saved his life by an effort of love sufficient to endear her to him to all eternity.
It was told us afterwards of this charming girl, that as soon as we were gone, and, of course, the danger past and the tumult of her bosom subsided, she fell into a swoon, from which it was with difficulty that she was recovered. Her extreme fright, on being waked by the firing and horrid uproar of battle in the house, and her strong sympathy in her lover's danger, together with the alarm occasioned by finding herself in his arms, were too much for her delicate frame.
There is a beauty in generous actions which charms the souls of men! and a sweetness, which like that immortal love whence it flows, can never die. The eyes of all, even the poorest soldiers in our camp, sparkled with pleasure whenever they talked, as they often did, of this charming woman, and of our generosity to major Crookshanks; and to this day, even after a lapse of thirty years, I never think of it but with pleasure; a pleasure as exquisite, perhaps, as what I felt at the first moment of that transaction.
And it is a matter of great satisfaction to me, to think how nobly different in this respect was our conduct from that of the British. I speak not of the British nation, which I hold most magnanimous; but of their officers in Carolina, such as Cornwallis, Rawdon, Tarleton, Weymies, Brown, and Balfour, who instead of treating their prisoners as we did Crookshanks, have often been known to butcher them in cold blood; though their fathers, mothers and children, on bended knees, with wringing hands and streaming eyes, have been imploring pity for them.
There was Mr. Adam Cusac, of Williamsburg district; this brave man, "This buckskin Hampden; that, with dauntless breast, The base invaders of his rights withstood," was surprised in his own house by major Weymies, who tore him away from his shrieking wife and children, marched him up to Cheraw court-house, and after exposing him to the insults of a sham trial, had him condemned and hung! The only charge ever exhibited against him was, that he had shot across Black river at one of Weymies' tory captains.
There was that gallant lad of liberty, Kit Gales, with his brave companion, Sam Dinkins: these two heroic youths were dogged to the house of a whig friend, near the hills of Santee, where they were surprised in their beds by a party of tories, who hurried them away to lord Rawdon, then on his march from Charleston to Camden. Rawdon quickly had them, according to his favorite phrase, "knocked into irons", and marched on under guard with his troops. On halting for breakfast, young Gales was tucked up to a tree, and choked with as little ceremony as if he had been a mad dog. He and young Dinkins had, it seems, the day before, with their horses and rifles, ventured alone, so near the British army, as to fire several shots at them! For such heroic daring in defence of their country, in place of receiving applause from lord Rawdon, Gales, as we have seen, received his bloody death. His gallant young friend, Dinkins, was very near drawing his rations of a like doleful dish, for lord Rawdon had him mounted upon the same cart with the halter round his neck, ready for a launch into eternity, when the tories suggested to his lordship their serious apprehensions that a terrible vengeance might follow: this saved his life.
Everybody has heard the mournful story of colonel Lee's little bugler, and how he was murdered by colonel Tarleton. This "poor beardless boy", as Lee, in his pathetic account of that horrid transaction, calls him, had been mounted on a very fleet horse; but to gratify a countryman who had brought some news of the British, and was afraid of falling into their hands, Lee ordered the boy to exchange his horse, a moment, for that of the countryman, which happened to be a miserable brute. This Lee did in his simplicity, not even dreaming that any thing in the shape of civilized man could think of harming such a child. Scarcely had Lee left him, when he was overtaken by Tarleton's troopers, who dashed up to him with looks of death, brandishing their swords over his head. In vain his tender cheeks, reminding them of their own youthful brothers, sought to touch their pity; in vain, with feeble voice, and as long as he was able, he continued to cry for quarter. They struck their cruel swords into his face and arms, which they gashed with so many mortal wounds that he died the next day.
"Is your name Wiley?" said one of Tarleton's captains, whose name was TUCK, to Mr. John Wiley, sheriff of Camden, who had lately whipped and cropped a noted horse thief, named Smart. "Is your name Wiley?" said captain Tuck to the young man, at whose door he rode up and asked the question. — "Yes, sir," replied Mr. Wiley. "Well, then, sir, you are a d—n-d rascal," rejoined captain Tuck, giving him at the same time a cruel blow over the forehead with his broadsword. Young Wiley, though doomed to die, being not yet slain, raised his naked arm to screen the blow. This, though no more than a common instinct in poor human nature in the moment of terror, served but to redouble the fury of captain Tuck, who continued his blows at the bleeding, staggering youth, until death kindly placed him beyond the reach of human malice.
All this was done within a few hundred paces of lord Cornwallis, who never punished captain Tuck.
But poor Peter Yarnall's case seems still more deplorable. This hard fated man, a simple, inoffensive quaker, lived near Camden. Having urgent business with a man, who, as he understood, was with general Sumter, on the opposite side of the Catawba, he went over to him. The man happened, at that moment, to be keeping guard over some tory prisoners. A paper which Yarnall wanted to see was, it seems, in a jacket pocket in the man's tent hard by. "Hold my piece a moment, sir," said he to Yarnall, "and I'll bring the paper." Yarnall, though averse, as a quaker, from all killing of enemies with a gun, yet saw no objection to holding one a moment. The next day, a day for ever black in the American calendar, witnessed the surprisal of general Sumter and the release of the tory prisoners, one of whom immediately went his way and told colonel Tarleton that he had seen Peter Yarnall, the day before, keeping guard over the king's friends, prisoners to the rebels. The poor man's house was quickly surrounded by the British cavalry. Vain were all his own explanations, his wife's entreaties, or his children's cries. He was dragged to Camden, and thrust into prison. Every morning, his wife and daughter, a girl of about fifteen, rode into town in an old chair, to see him and to bring him milk and fruits, which must have been highly acceptable to one crammed, in the dogdays, into a small prison, with one hundred and sixty-three half-stifled wretches. On the fourth day, an amiable young lady, Miss Charlton, living near the prison, had heard of poor Yarnall's fate that morning. Soon therefore as she saw Mrs. Yarnall and her daughter coming along as usual, with their little present to their husband and father, she burst into tears. Mrs. Yarnall alighted at the door of the jail, and begged to see her husband. "Follow me," said one of the guard, "and I'll show you your husband." As she turned the corner, "There he is, madam," said the soldier, pointing to her husband as he hung dead on a beam from the window. The daughter sunk to the ground; but her mother, as if petrified at the sight, stood silent and motionless, gazing on her dead husband with that wild keen eye of unutterable woe, which pierces all hearts. Presently, as if braced up with despair, she seemed quite recovered, and calmly begged one of the soldiers to assist her to take down the corpse and lay it in the bottom of the chair. Then taking her seat, with her daughter sobbing by her side, and her husband dead at her feet, she drove home apparently quite unmoved; and during the whole time she was preparing his coffin and performing the funeral duties, she preserved the same firm unaltered looks. But soon as the grave had shut its mouth on her husband, and divorced him for ever from her sight, the remembrance of the past rushed upon her thoughts with a weight too heavy for her feeble nature to bear. Then clasping her hands in agony, she shrieked out, "Poor me! poor me! I have no husband, no friend now!" and immediately ran raving mad, and died in that state.
There was young M'Coy: the eye of humanity must weep often, as she turns the page that tells how this amiable youth was murdered. His father was one of the most active of our militia captains. As none better understood American rights, so none more deeply resented British aggressions, than did captain M'Coy. His just views and strong feelings, were carefully instilled into his boy, who, though but fifteen, shouldered his musket, and, in spite of his mother's tears, followed his father to war. Many a gallant Englishman received his death at their hands. For, being well acquainted with the river, and bravely supported by their friends, they often fired upon the enemy's boats, killing their crews and intercepting their provisions. This so enraged colonel Brown, the British commander at Augusta, that he made several attempts to destroy captain M'Coy. Once, in particular, he despatched a captain and fifty men to surprise him. But M'Coy kept so good a look out, that he surprised and killed the captain and twenty of his men. The rest, by giving good 'leg bail', made their escape. Young M'Coy fought by the side of his father in this and many other rencontres, in one of which he had the great good fortune to save his father's life.
At the head of some gallant friends, they fell in with a strong party of tories, near Brier creek, commanded by a British officer. As usual, an obstinate and bloody contest ensued. The combatants quickly coming to close quarters, M'Coy grappled with the officer; but not possessing strength equal to his courage, he was overpowered and thrown on the ground. The youth, who had just fired his piece into the bosom of a tory, seeing his father's danger, flew to his aid, and with the butt of his gun knocked out the brains of the officer, at the very instant he was lifting his dirk for the destruction of his father.
In a skirmish, in which his party were victorious, captain M'Coy was mortally wounded, and died exhorting his son still to fight undauntedly for the liberties of his country. After the death of his father, young M'Coy joined the brave captain Clarke. In an expedition against colonel Brown, Clarke was defeated, and young M'Coy made prisoner. Hearing of his misfortune, his mother hastened to Augusta, but arrived only in time to meet him with colonel Brown and a guard, carrying him out to the gallows. With gushing tears, she fell upon his neck, and bitterly mourned her lot, as wretched above all women, in thus losing her husband and only son.
The behavior of young M'Coy, it is said, was heroic beyond his years. Instead of melting with his disconsolate mother, he exhorted her like one who had acted on principle, and now felt its divine consolations stronger than death.
He entreated his mother not to weep for him, nor for his father. "In the course of nature, mother," said he, "we were to part. Our parting indeed, is early; but it is glorious. My father was like a lion in battle for his country. As a young lion, I fought by his side. And often, when the battle was over, did he embrace and call me his boy! his own brave boy! and said I was worthy of you both. He has just gone before, and I now follow him, leaving you the joy to remember, that your son and husband have attained the highest honor on earth; the honor of fighting and dying for the rights of man."
Anxious to save the life of so dear a son, poor Mrs. M'Coy fell on her knees to colonel Brown, and with all the widowed mother agonizing in her looks, plead for his life. But in vain. With the dark features of a soul horribly triumphant over the cries of mercy, he repulsed her suit, and ordered the executioner to do his office! He hung up the young man before the eyes of his mother! and then, with savage joy, suffered his Indians, in her presence, to strike their tomahawks into his forehead; that forehead which she had so often pressed to her bosom, and kissed with all the transports of a doting mother.
Who, without tears, can think of the hard fate of poor colonel Haynes and his family?
Soon as the will of heaven had thrown Charleston into the hands of the British, lord Cornwallis, famed for pompous proclamations, began to publish. The tenor of his gasconade was, that Carolina was now, to all intents and purposes, subjugated; that the enemies of his lord the king were all at his mercy; and that though, by the war rubrick for conquered rebels, he had a right to send fire and sword before him, with blood and tears following in his course; though he had a right to feed the birds of heaven with rebel carcasses, and to fatten his soldiers with their confiscated goods, yet he meant not to use that dreadful right. No, indeed! Far from him were all such odious thoughts. On the contrary he wished to be merciful: and as proof of his sincerity, all that he asked of the poor deluded people of his majesty's colony of South Carolina was, that they should no longer take part nor lot in the contest, but continue peaceably at their homes. And that, in reward thereof, they should be most sacredly protected in property and person.