This proclamation was accompanied with an instrument of neutrality, as an "outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace," in my lord Cornwallis towards the Carolinians; and which instrument they were invited to sign, that they might have a covenant right to the aforesaid promised blessings of protection, both in property and person.
The heart of colonel Haynes was with his countrymen, and fervently did he pray that his hands could be with them too. But, these, alas! were bound up by his wife and children, whom, it is said, he loved passing well. Helpless and trembling as they were, how could they be deserted by him in this fearful season, and given up to a brutal soldiery? And why should he insure the destruction of a large estate, when all opposition seemed hopeless? In short, with thousands of others, he went and signed an instrument, which promised security to his family and fortune. But alas! from that fatal moment he never more enjoyed peace. To hate the ministerial measures as he did, and yet thus tamely to have submitted to them; to love his country as heartily as he did, and to know that she was now fighting, with her all at stake, and yet thus to have deserted her!
These keen self-condemning reflections harrowed every root of quiet from his soul. If he went to his couch, it was only to groan, sleepless and tossing, all the restless night. If he got up, it was but to sit, or walk to and fro in his family, with dark and woeful looks, like one whom trouble had overcome.
In the midst of these anguishing reflections, which appeared to be wearing him fast to the grave, a respite was afforded, and by a hand from which it was least expected. Lord Cornwallis, having by his first proclamation, obtained to the instrument of neutrality aforesaid, the signatures of many thousands of the citizens of South Carolina, then came out with a SECOND proclamation, in which he nominates the paper above not an instrument of neutrality, but a bond of allegiance to the king, and calls upon all who had signed it, to take up arms against the rebels! — threatening to treat as deserters those who refused!
This fraud of my lord Cornwallis, excited in all honest men the deepest indignation. It completely revived colonel Haynes. To his unspeakable joy, he now saw opened a door of honorable return to duty and happiness. And since, contrary to the most solemn compact, he was compelled to fight, he very naturally determined to fight the British, rather than his own countrymen. He fled to his countrymen, who received him with joy, and gave him a command of horse. He was surprised and carried to Charleston, where lord Rawdon, then commandant, ordered him, in his favorite phrase, to be 'knocked into irons'. A mock trial, dignified with the name of 'court martial', was held over him, and colonel Haynes was sentenced to be hung. Everybody in Charleston, Britons as well as Americans, all heard this sentence with horror, except colonel Haynes himself. On his cheek alone, all agree, it produced no change. It appeared that the deed which he had done, signing that accursed paper, had run him desperate. Though the larger part, even of his enemies, believing that it was done merely from sympathy with his wife and children, felt the generous disposition to forgive him, yet he could never forgive himself. It had inflicted on his mind a wound too ghastly to be healed.
To their own, and to the great honor of human nature, numbers of the British and loyalists, with governor Bull at their head, preferred a petition to lord Rawdon in his behalf. But the petition was not noticed. The ladies then came forward in his favor with a petition, couched in the most delicate and moving terms, and signed by all the principal females of Charleston, tories as well as whigs. But all to no purpose. It was then suggested by the friends of humanity, that if the colonel's little children, for they had no mother, she, poor woman! crushed under the double weight of grief and the small-pox, was just sunk at rest in the grave. It was suggested, I say, that if the colonel's little children, dressed in mourning, were to fall at the knees of lord Rawdon, he would pity their motherless condition, and give to their prayers their only surviving parent. They were accordingly dressed in black, and introduced into his presence: they fell down at his knees, and, with clasped hands and tear-streaming eyes, lisped their father's name, and begged his life: but in vain.
So many efforts to save him, both by friends and generous foes, could not be made, unknown to colonel Haynes. But he appeared perfectly indifferent about the result! and when told that they had all failed, he replied with the utmost unconcern — "Well, thank God, lord Rawdon cannot hurt me. He cannot be more anxious to take my life than I am to lay it down."
With his son, a youth of thirteen, who was permitted to stay with him in the prison, colonel Haynes used often to converse, in order to fortify him against the sad trial that was at hand. And indeed it was necessary, for seldom has a heavier load been laid on a tender-hearted youth. War, like a thick cloud, had darkened up the gay morning of his days: the grave had just closed her mouth on a mother who doted on him; and he now beheld his only parent, a beloved father, in the power of his enemies, loaded with irons, and condemned to die. With cheeks wet with tears, he sat continually by his father's side, and looked at him with eyes so piercing and sad, as often wrung tears of blood from his heart.
"Why," said he, "my son, will you thus break your father's heart with unavailing sorrow? Have I not often told you, that we came into this world but to prepare for a better? For that better life, my dear boy, your father is prepared. Instead then of weeping, rejoice with me, my son, that my troubles are so near an end. To-morrow, I set out for immortality. You will accompany me to the place of my execution; and when I am dead, take and bury me by the side of your mother."
The youth here fell on his father's neck, crying, "Oh my father! my father! I will die with you! I will die with you!"
Colonel Haynes would have returned the strong embrace of his son; but, alas! his hands were loaded with irons. "Live," said he, "my son, live to honor God by a good life; live to serve your country; and live to take care of your brother and little sisters!"
The next morning colonel Haynes was conducted to the place of execution. His son accompanied him. Soon as they came in sight of the gallows, the father strengthened himself and said — "Now, my son, show yourself a man. That tree is the boundary of my life, and of all my life's sorrows. Beyond that, the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest. Don't lay too much to heart our separation from you; it will be but short. 'Twas but lately your dear mother died. To-day I die. And you, my son, though but young, must shortly follow us."
"Yes, my father," replied the broken-hearted youth, "I shall shortly follow you: for indeed I feel that I cannot live long." And so it happened unto him. For on seeing his father in the hands of the executioner, and then struggling in the halter, he stood like one transfixed and motionless with horror. Till then he had wept incessantly; but soon as he saw that sight, the fountain of his tears was staunched, and he never wept more. It was thought that grief, like a fever, burnt inwardly, and scorched his brain, for he became indifferent to every thing around him, and often wandered as one disordered in his mind. At times, he took lessons from a fencing master, and talked of going to England to fight the murderer of his father. But he who made him had pity on him, and sent death to his relief. He died insane, and in his last moments often called on the name of his father, in terms that brought tears from the hardest hearts.
I hope my reader will not suppose, from these odious truths which I have been telling him about the British and tories, that I look on them as worse than other men; or that I would have him bear an eternal hatred against them. No, God forbid. On the contrary, I have no doubt on my mind, that the British and tories are men of the same passions with ourselves. And I also as firmly believe, that, if placed in their circumstances, we should have acted just as they did. Upon honor this is my conviction now; but it was not always so: for I confess there was a time, when I had my prejudices against them, and prejudices, too, as strong as those of any other man, let him be who he would. But thank God those prejudices, so dishonorable to the head, and so uneasy to the heart, are done away from me now. And from this most happy deliverance, I am, through the divine goodness, principally indebted to my honored friend, general Marion, of whose noble sentiments, on these subjects, I beg leave to give the reader some little specimen in the next chapter.
Short and sweet — or, a curious dialogue between general Marion and captain Snipes, on retaliation.
"No radiant pearls that crested fortune wears, No gem that sparkling hangs in beauty's ears; Not the bright stars that night's blue arch adorn, Nor opening suns that gild the vernal morn, Shine with such lustre as the tear that flows Down virtue's manly cheeks, for others' woes."
What gigantic form is that which stalks thus awfully before the eyes of my memory; his face, rough and dark as the cloud of winter, and his eyeballs burning like coals of fire? 'Tis the impetuous captain Snipes. He is just returned from the quarter house near Charleston, where he and captain M'Cauley, with Macdonald and forty men, have recently surprised and cut to pieces a large party of the enemy. He looks as if the fury of the battle had not yet subsided in his wrathful countenance. His steps are towards Marion, and as he presents a packet, he exclaims in an angry tone, "There, sir, is a Charleston paper. You'll see there how those villains are going on yet. Not satisfied with all the murders they had committed before, they have gone now and murdered colonel Haynes." Here he gave the heads of that disgraceful act, seasoning his speech every now and then, as he went along, with sundry very bitter imprecations on lord Rawdon.
"Ah shame! shame upon him!" replied the general with a sigh, and shaking his head; "shame upon lord Rawdon!"
"Shame!" answered captain Snipes, his eyes flashing fire; "shame! I hope something heavier than shame will light upon him for it soon. The American officers have sworn never again to give quarter to the British or tories."
Marion. God forbid that my countrymen should have taken such an oath as that!
Snipes. Why, general Marion, would you have the enemy go on at this rate, and we take no revenge?
M. Revenge? O yes, to be sure, sir; revenge is sweet, and by all means let us have it; but let it be of the right kind.
S. Of the right kind, sir! what do you call revenge of the right kind?
M. Why, sir, I am for taking that kind of revenge which will make our enemies ashamed of their conduct, and abandon it for ever.
S. Ashamed of their conduct! Monsters! they are not capable of shame.
M. Pshaw! don't talk so, captain Snipes! our enemies, sir, are men, and just such men as we are; and as capable of generous actions, if we will but show them the way.
S. Well then, general Marion, how do you account for that great difference between us and them in point of spirits? We have never yet killed any of their men, except in fair fight, that I have heard of; but they have often murdered ours. Yes, the cowardly rascals! they have often done it, and that in cold blood too.
M. Granted. And I am very glad that when we have had them in our power, we have always treated them so much more generously. But, I suppose the reason of such barbarity on their part, is, they have had, or which is the same thing, have THOUGHT they had greater provocations.
S. They be d—n-d, they and their provocations too! Are not WE the persons who have been invaded, and plundered and murdered by THEM, and not they by us? How then can they have greater provocations?
M. Why, sir, sprung originally from them, and always looked on by them as their children, our turning now and fighting against them, must appear, in their sight, a very great provocation; as great perhaps as that of children fighting against their parents. And again, our shaking off what they glory in, as the wisest, and freest, and happiest government on earth, must make us seem to them as no better than the vilest traitors and rebels; which cannot otherwise than prove another very great provocation. And again, after having been first settled in this country by them, as they will have it, and afterwards, so long and liberally assisted with their best blood and treasure, in hope that some day or other we should be of service to them; that now, at the very time when, by our immense population, we were just arrived to the so long desired point, to swell their wealth and spread their commerce and arms over the world, we should separate from them, blast all their fond hopes, and throw them back to the former level; this, I say, you will certainly allow, must be a very severe provocation. Now, sir, putting all these provocations together, and also taking poor human nature into the account, is it to be wondered at, that the British should be so much more angry, and consequently more violent than we?
S. Why, certainly, general Marion, you have always a very fine knack of setting off your arguments. But still, sir, I can't see things in that light. For a man, sir, to go and trump up a pack of claims against me, and all of them because I can't credit him in the abominable extent he wishes, to fall upon me and kill and murder me, as the British and tories have done with us, and we not stop them by revenge! why, my God! sir, it will never do. For, at this rate, whom shall we have living in all this country, in a little time, but the British, and their friends the tories and negroes?
M. My brave captain let me tell you again, I am as anxious to stop them as you can possibly wish me to be; but I am for doing it in what I think the right way. I mean the way of policy and humanity.
S. Policy, sir! can there be policy in letting our best men be murdered by these savages! I'm sure general Washington did not think so. For, though I am no man of learning myself, yet I have been told by those that are, that, on its being threatened by general Gage to hang an American soldier, he instantly wrote him word, that if he dared to do such a thing, the life of a British soldier should pay for it. And, it is well known, that he kept the British army and nation too, in a fright for three months together, with the halter constantly around the neck of captain Asgil, expecting every day to be hung for the murder of captain Huddy.
M. True; general Washington did act so. And it was policy to act against a foreign enemy. But our standing with the tories is quite a different case, and requires a very different course. The tories are our countrymen, a part of our own population and strength, so that every man of them that is killed, is a man forever lost to ourselves. Now, since the British have put them up to murder us, if we go, out of revenge, to murder them again, why, in the course of a little time our population will be so cut up, as to allow the British ministry, with ease, to take our country, and make slaves of us all; which is just what lord North desires.
S. Yes, I dare say it is. But I hope he'll be disappointed yet.
M. No doubt of it, sir; if we shall be wise and magnanimous enough to follow the true policy, which is no other than HUMANITY to these deluded people, the tories; and to this we have every inducement that generous spirits could desire. The tories and ourselves are brothers; many of us went to the same school together; and a thousand times have ate and drank in each other's houses. And as to the quarrel in which we are now unfortunately engaged, though not the most, still we are much in fault. We made no allowances for those follies of theirs which led to it. They thought — First, That we were too nearly allied to England to go to war with her; this was a weakness, but there was something amiable in it. — Secondly, They thought the British were much too warlike and powerful to be resisted by us: this was an error, but it was learned in the nursery. — Thirdly, They wished to keep in with the British, merely that they might save their property; this was altogether from fear, and therefore claimed some commiseration. But no! we could not grant one grain of indulgence to any of their mistakes. We would have it, they all proceeded from the vilest of motives. We called them traitors, and cowards, and scoundrels; and loaded them with a thousand indignities besides. Well, the consequences were, as might have been expected from human weakness and passion. Wrought to desperation, and caring not what they did, they have gone and joined our enemies, and many valuable lives have been lost on both sides. Surely 'tis high time now that we should set about doing something to end it.
S. Well! let them set about ending it themselves. They were the first to begin it.
M. But would you have the tories to lead to glory?
S. GLORY! I should think it meanness to be the first to make overtures to such rascals!
M. Well, but, captain Snipes, when brethren, as we are, fall out, is it policy to go on to exasperate and cut each other's throats, until our enemy comes and takes away a fine country, of which, by such madness, we had rendered ourselves unworthy? Would it not be much better policy to trace back all our wrong steps of passion and revenge, and making hearty friends again, and joining our forces against the common enemy, drive him out of our country; and then by establishing a free government, and encouraging agriculture and commerce, and learning, and religion, make ourselves a great and happy people again; would not this, I say, be the true policy?
S. Why yes, I confess, general Marion, it would be a noble thing, and very desirable, if it could be done. But I cannot bear to think of being the first to make terms with the tories, after they have been burning, and plundering, and murdering our best friends. It is too hard, sir, for mortal flesh and blood.
M. It is a great trial, I confess; but "the heavier the cross the brighter the crown," you know, sir. And as to the difficulty of the undertaking, that's the very thing that should make us jump at it; the glory of showing ourselves wiser and better men than our enemy. And besides, let us recollect that the glory of this exploit all now lies with us: for if we do not pluck up courage and do it, it will never be done. — The tories are, generally, an ignorant people; and therefore not much of wise or good is to be expected from that quarter. They have also, in many instances, acted a very savage part by us: their consciousness of this can have no tendency to make them court reconciliation with us. Since, then, but little is to be expected from THEM, it seems incumbent on US to do the more. We have better information, and we have also a much better cause. These are great advantages which God has given us; and now it becomes us to improve them, to his glory and to our own honor, by showing a conciliatory and magnanimous spirit towards our enemies. And though it should cost us labor to win such a victory, yet, I am confident, that when won, it will appear to us the most glorious that we ever achieved. To conquer an enemy by the sword, is, no doubt, honorable; but still it is nothing in comparison of conquering him by generosity. As arguing both superior virtue and courage, it commands higher admiration from the world, and is reflected on by ourselves with far more self-esteem and applause. And then, sir, only consider how such conduct will gild the future scenes of life. This unfortunate quarrel betwixt us and our countrymen, the tories, is not to last forever. It was only the act of a wicked ministry, attempting, by an unconstitutional tax to enslave an affectionate part of the nation. God can never suffer such an attempt to prosper. It must be but a momentary quarrel; and we ought to accustom ourselves to think of it as such, and to look beyond it to the happy days that are to succeed. And since the storm of war is soon to subside into the calm of peace, let us do nothing now, that may throw a cloud over the coming sunshine. Let us not even talk of 'exterminating war'! that unnatural crime which would harrow up our souls with the pangs of remorse, and haunt our repose with the dread of retaliation — which would draw down upon our cause the curse of heaven, and make our very name the odium of all generations. But, far differently, let us act the generous part of those who, though now at variance, are yet brothers, and soon to be good friends again. And then, when peace returns, we shall be in proper frame to enjoy it. No poor woman that we meet will seem to upbraid us for the slaughter of her husband; no naked child, for robbing him of his father; no field will cry against us for a brother's blood. On the contrary, whenever the battles which we are now fighting, shall recur to our thoughts, with the frightened enemy grounding their arms and crying for quarter, we shall remember how we heard their cries and stopped the uplifted sword. Joy will spring in our bosoms, and all around will smile with approbation. — The faces of the aged will shine upon us, because we spared their sons; bright-eyed females will bless us for their surviving husbands: and even the lips of the children will lisp our praises. Thus with a heaven of delighted feeling in our hearts, and the smiles both of God and man on our heads, we shall pass the evening of our days in glorious peace. And when death shall call us to that better world, we shall obey without reluctance. Conscious of neither dread nor hate towards any of the blessed people that dwell there, we shall go in strong hope of witnessing the bright realities of that state, where all is immortality and love. Perhaps we shall there meet many of those whom it has been our sad destiny to fight with here; not in their present imperfect state, but in their state of exaltation, clad in robes brighter than the stars, and their faces outshining the sun in his noonday splendors. Perhaps at sight of us, these glorious spirits may rush with new-flushed beauties, to embrace us, and in the presence of crowding angels, recount our kindness to them in the days of their mortality; while all the dazzling throngs, listening delighted, shall fix on us their eyes of love, inspiring those joys which none but strong immortals could sustain. Are not these, O my friends, hopes worth contending for? Is revenge to be cherished that would rob us of such honors? Can generosity be dear that would ensure to us such so great rewards? Then let us not think benevolence was enjoined in vain, which is to conduct us to such immortal felicities."
As Marion spoke these words, his countenance, which in general was melancholy, caught an animation beyond the reader's fancy to conceive. The charms of goodness, and the bright rewards which await it, were painted in such living colors on his face, that not even the stranger could have beheld it unmoved. On me, who almost adored Marion for his godlike virtues, its effects were past describing. My bosom heaved with emotions unutterable, while the tear of delicious admiration swelled in my eyes. As to captain Snipes, he appeared equally affected. His eyes were riveted on the general, and towards the close of the speech his breath seemed suspended; his color went and came; and his face reddened and swelled; as under the powerful eloquence of the pulpit.
Marion and Lee attack and take fort Watson and fort Motte — interesting anecdotes.
From Georgetown, Marion proceeded with colonel Lee to attack the British post on Scott's lake, generally called fort Watson. The situation of this fort was romantic and beautiful in the extreme. — Overlooking the glassy level of the lake, it stood on a mighty barrow or tomb like a mount, formed of the bones of Indian nations, there heaped up from time immemorial, and covered with earth and herbage. — Finding that the fort mounted no artillery, Marion resolved to make his approaches in a way that should give his riflemen a fair chance against their musqueteers. For this purpose, large quantities of pine logs were cut, and as soon as dark came on, were carried in perfect silence, within point blank shot of the fort, and run up in the shape of large pens or chimney-stacks, considerably higher than the enemy's parapets. Great, no doubt, was the consternation of the garrison next morning, to see themselves thus suddenly overlooked by this strange kind of steeple, pouring down upon them from its blazing top incessant showers of rifle bullets. Nor were they idle the while, but returned the blaze with equal fury, presenting to us, who lay at a distance, a very interesting scene — as of two volcanoes that had suddenly broke out into fiery strife, singeing the neighboring pines.
Though their enemy, yet I could not but pity the British, when I saw the great disadvantage under which they fought. For our riflemen, lying above them and firing through loopholes, were seldom hurt; while the British, obliged, every time they fired, to show their heads, were frequently killed. — Increasing still the awkwardness of their situation, their well, which was on the outside of the fort, was so entirely in the reach of our rifles, that they could not get a pail of water for coffee or grog, without the utmost hazard. After a gallant resistance, they surrendered themselves prisoners of war; one hundred and twenty in number.
This fort had been very judiciously fixed in a country exceedingly fertile, and on a lake abounding with fine fish, and from its contiguity to the river Santee, forming an admirable deposite for their upland posts. From their military storehouse, which was on the outside of the fort, the British attempted, at the commencement of our attack, to get out their goods, and to roll them up into the fort. But in this exposed state, their men were picked off so fast by our sharpshooters, that they were soon obliged to quit such hot work.
The sight of their casks and bales, rolled out and shining so richly on the side of the hill, set the fingers of our ragged militia-men on such an itch, that there was no resisting it. And presently a squad of three of them were seen pushing out, without leave or license, to attack a large hogshead, that lay very invitingly on the outside of the rest. The enemy seeing the approach of our buccaneers, reserved their fire until they had got pretty near up to the intended prize; then all at once cut loose upon them with a thundering clap, which killed one, crippled a second, and so frightened the third, that he forgot the cask, and turning tail, thought of nothing but to save his bacon! which he did by such extraordinary running and jumping, as threw us all into a most immoderate laugh.
Presently up comes my black waiter, Billy, with a broad grin on his face, and says, "Why, master, them militia men there, sir, are tarnal fools: they do not know nothing at all about stealing. But if you will please, sir, to let me try my hand, I can fetch off that hogshead there, mighty easy, sir."
"No, no, Billy!" said I, shaking my head, "that will never do, my lad. I value you much too highly, Billy, to let you be knocked on the head, so foolishly as all that comes to."
"Lord bless you, sir," replied he, smiling, "there is no more danger in it, than in eating when a body is hungry. And if you will only please let me try my hand, sir, if you see any danger, why then, master, you may call me back, you know, sir."
Upon this he started. Fortunately for him, our riflemen, seeing what he was after, made a noble diversion in his favor, by throwing a galling fire into the fort. On getting within thirty yards of the hogshead, he fell flat on his face, and dragged himself along on his belly until he reached it. Then seizing the hogshead with a hand on each chine he worked it backwards and backwards, like an alligator pulling a dog into the river, until he had fairly rolled his prize to the brink of the hill, where, giving it a sudden jerk by way of a start, and at the same time jumping up, he ran with all his might down the precipice, the hogshead hard after him, and was soon out of all danger. Numbers of shots were fired at him, but not one touched him, which gave great joy to our encampment, who were all anxious spectators of the transaction, and seemed to take a deep interest in Billy's success. And no wonder; for he was a most noble-hearted fellow, and exceedingly useful in camp. Officers or soldiers, cadets or colonels, no matter who they were, that asked Billy a favor, they were sure to have it done for them; and with such a cheerful air, as did them more good than the service itself. So that I much question, whether there was a man in all our camp, whose good luck would have given more general satisfaction than his.
On opening Billy's hogshead, which indeed was no hogshead, but rather a puncheon, as big as two hogsheads, there was a prodigious stare among our men at the sight of so much wealth.
100 strong white shirts for soldiers, 50 fine do. do. for officers, 50 camp blankets, 100 black stocks, 100 knapsacks, and 6 dragoon cloaks, were the valuable contents of Billy's cask. The native genius of the poor fellow instantly broke out in a stream of generous actions, which never stopped, until the hogshead was completely emptied. First of all, he began with me, to whom he presented half a dozen of the fine shirts and black stocks, with a dragoon's cloak. Then to the general he made a present, also to the officers of his family. To his fellow-servants, who messed with him, he gave two shirts a-piece. But what pleased me most in Billy's donations, was his generosity to the two men who had miscarried in their attempt on the same cask. Seeing that they were much mortified at their own failure, and a little perhaps at his success, he desired them to come and help themselves to what they liked. Hearing him then express a wish that he knew what to do with the balance, I told him that many of our dragoons were poor men, and much in want of shirts. "Aye, sure enough," said he, and immediately handed them out a shirt a-piece, until all were gone.
For this generosity of Billy's, general Marion dubbed him "CAPTAIN Billy", a name which he went by ever afterwards. Nothing was ever more seasonable than this supply, purchased by Billy's valor; for before that, we were all as ragged as young rooks. There was not an officer in camp, except colonel Lee and his staff, who was so rich as to own two shirts. I am very sure that Marion's aids had but one a-piece. And yet so independent of wealth is cheerfulness, that I have often seen our officers in their naked buffs, near a branch, singing and dancing around their shirts, which they had just washed, and hung on the bushes to dry.
From the reduction of fort Watson, we set out immediately in high spirits, for the still nobler attack on fort Motte. For the sake of fine air, and water, and handsome accommodations, the British had erected this fort in the yard of Mrs. Motte's elegant new house, which was nearly enclosed in their works. But alas! so little do poor mortals know what they are about! the fine house, which they had rudely taken from poor Mrs. Motte, proved to the British, what his gay shirt did to Hercules. It wrought their downfall. For, after a fierce contest, in which many valuable lives were lost on both sides, through the sharp shooting of the yaugers, and the still closer cutting of our riflemen, it struck Marion that he could quickly drive the enemy out of the fort, by setting the house on fire. But poor Mrs. Motte! a lone widow, whose plantation had been so long ravaged by the war, herself turned into a log cabin, her negroes dispersed, and her stock, grain, &c. nearly all ruined! must she now lose her elegant buildings too? Such scruples were honorable to the general; but they showed his total unacquaintedness with the excellent widow. For at the first glimpse of the proposition, she exclaimed, "O! burn it! burn it, general Marion! God forbid I should bestow a single thought on my little concerns, when the independence of my country is at stake. — No sir, if it were a palace it should go." She then stepped to her closet and brought out a curious bow with a quiver of arrows, which a poor African boy purchased from on board a Guineaman, had formerly presented her, and said, "Here, general, here is what will serve your purpose to a hair." The arrows, pointed with iron, and charged with lighted combustibles, were shot on top of the house, to which they stuck, and quickly communicated the flames. The British, two hundred in number, besides a good many tories, instantly hung out a white flag in sign of submission.
The excellent Mrs. Motte was present when her fine new house, supposed to be worth six thousand dollars, took fire; and without a sigh, beheld the red spiry billows prevailing over all its grandeur.*
— * Judge William Dobein James, who was present, assures us, in his biography of Marion, that the fire was put out "before much mischief was done". — A. L., 1997. —
The day after the destruction of her house, she invited general Marion with all the officers, British as well as American, to dine with her. Having now no better place of accommodation, she entertained us under a large arbor built in front of her log cabin, where, with great pleasure, I observed that the same lady could one day act the Spartan, and the next the Parisian: thus uniting in herself, the rare qualities of the heroine and the christian. For my life I could not keep my eyes from her. To think what an irreparable injury these officers had done her! and yet to see her, regardless of her own appetite, selecting the choicest pieces of the dish, and helping them with the endearing air of a sister, appeared to me one of the loveliest spectacles I had ever beheld. It produced the happiest effect on us all. Catching her amiable spirit, we seemed to have entirely forgotten our past animosities; and Britons and Americans mingled together, in smiles and cheerful chat, like brothers. I do not recollect a transaction in the whole war, in which I can think that God looked down with higher complacency than on this. And to the day of my death, I shall believe, that God enabled us to beat the British in arms, because we had so far beaten them in generosity. Men, who under such cruel provocations, could display such moderation as we did, must certainly have given our Maker good hope, that we were equal to the glorious business of self-government; or in other words, of living under a republic, which must certainly be his delight, because both implying and producing more wisdom and virtue, than any other government among men.
The name of the British commandant, our prisoner, was Ferguson; and a very pleasant gentleman he was too, as I found on getting acquainted with him, which I soon did. After talking over our various adventures in the war, he asked me if I did not command the cavalry, in the late skirmishing between Watson and Marion. I told him I did. "Well," replied he, "you made a very lucky escape that day: for do you know that we were twelve hundred strong, owing to colonel Small's joining us in the march?"
"Then truly," said I, "if that were the case, I made a lucky escape, sure enough."
"And where were you," he asked again, "when general Marion so completely surprised our guard at Nelson's old fields: were you there?"
I told him I was not, but that my brother, Hugh Horry, was.
"Well," continued he, laughing heartily, "that was MY lucky day. I had a command there that morning of about thirty men, as an advance. We had not left the guard more than five minutes before the Americans charged and swept all. The moment we heard the firing and the cries of our people, we squatted in the high grass like so many rabbits, then running on the stoop, till we gained the woods, we cleared ourselves." I laughed, and asked how many men he supposed Marion had that morning."
He replied, he really did not know, but supposed he must have had three or four hundred.
"Well, sir," said I, "he had exactly thirty."
The reader may perhaps conceive Ferguson's astonishment: I cannot describe it.
Soon as the dishes were removed, we were presented with a spectacle to which our eyes had long been strangers, a brave parade of excellent wine: several hampers of which had been received at the fort the very day before we commenced the attack. To poor soldiers like us, who, for years, had hardly quenched our thirst on any thing better than water or apple brandy grog, this was a sight immensely refreshing. Whether it was owing to the virtues of this noble cordial, with the recollection of our late glorious victories; or whether it was the happy result of our generosity to the enemy, and of their correspondent politeness to us, I do not know; but certain it is, we were all very gay. But in the midst of our enjoyments, which none seemed to relish with a higher glee than general Marion, a British soldier came up and whispered to one of their officers, who instantly coming round to the general, told him in a low voice, that the Americans were hanging the tories who had been taken in the fort!
In a moment he sprang up, in a violent passion, and snatching his sword, ran down towards our encampment. We all followed him, though without knowing the cause. On turning the corner of the garden which had concealed their cruel deeds, we discovered a sight most shocking to humanity, a poor man hanging in the air to the beam of a gate, and struggling hard in the agonies of death. "Cut him down! cut him down!" cried the general, as soon as he had got near enough to be heard, which was instantly done. Then running up, with cheeks as red as fire coals, and half choked with rage, he bawled out, "In the name of God! what are you about, what are you about here!"
"Only hanging a few tories, sir," replied captain Harrison of Lee's legion.
"Who gave you a right, sir, to touch the tories?"
To this, young M'Corde, of the same corps, replied, that it was only three or four rascals of them that they meant to hang; and that they had not supposed the general would mind that.
"What! not mind murdering the prisoners. Why, my God! what do you take me to be? do you take me for a devil?"
Then, after placing a guard over the tories, and vowing to make an example of the first man who should dare to offer them violence, he returned with the company to Mrs. Motte's table.
Of the three unfortunate tories that were hung dead, one was named Hugh Mizcally. The name of the person so timely cut down was Levi Smith, a most furious tory. This title produced him such respect among those degenerate Britons, that they appointed him gatekeeper of Charleston, a circumstance that operated much against the poor whigs in the country. For Smith soon broke up a pious kind of fraud, which the wives and daughters of the tories had for some time carried on at a bold rate.
To the immortal honor of the ladies of South Carolina, they were much more whiggishly given than the men; insomuch that though married to tories, they would be whigs still.
These fair ladies, in consequence of their relation to the tories, could, at pleasure, pass into Charleston; which they never left without bringing off quantities of broad cloth cut and jumped into petticoats, and artfully hid under their gowns. The broad cloth, thus brought off, was for regimentals for our officers. — Things went on swimmingly in this way for a long time, till Smith, getting one day more groggy and impudent than usual, swore that some young women who were going out at the gate, looked much bigger over the hips than they had need, and insisted on a search. The truth is, these fair patriots, preparing for a great wedding in the country, had thus spoiled their shape, and brought themselves to all this disgrace by their over greediness for finery. But Mr. tory Smith affected to be so enraged by this trick, which the girls had attempted to play on him, that he would never afterwards suffer a woman to pass without first pulling up her clothes.
He carried his zeal to such length, as one day very grossly to insult a genteel old lady, a Mrs. M'Corde.
Her son, who was a dragoon in Lee's legion, swore vengeance against Smith, and would, as we have seen, have taken his life, had not Gen. Marion interposed.
In the Charleston papers of that day, 1781, Smith gives the history of his escape from Marion, wherein he relates an anecdote, which, if it be true, and I see no reason to doubt it, shows clear enough that his toryism cost him dear.
In his confinement at Motte's house, he was excessively uneasy. Well knowing that the whigs owed him no good will, and fearing that the next time they got a halter round his neck, he might find no Marion to take his part, he determined if possible to run off. The tories were all handcuffed two and two, and confined together under a sentinel, in what was called a 'bull-pen', made of pine trees, cut down so judgmatically as to form, by their fall, a pen or enclosure. It was Smith's fortune to have for his yoke-fellow a poor sickly creature of a tory, who, though hardly able to go high-low, was prevailed on to desert with him. They had not travelled far into the woods, before his sick companion, quite overcome with fatigue, declared he could go no farther, and presently fell down in a swoon. Confined by the handcuffs, Smith was obliged to lie by him in the woods, two days and nights, without meat or drink! and his comrade frequently in convulsions! On the third day he died. Unable to bear it any longer, Smith drew his knife and separated himself from the dead man, by cutting off his arm at the elbow, which he bore with him to Charleston.
The British heartily congratulated his return, and restored him to his ancient honor of sitting, Mordecai-like, at the king's gate, where, it is said, he behaved very decently ever afterwards.
Smith's friends say of him, that in his own country (South Carolina) he hardly possessed money enough to buy a pig, but when he got to England, after the war, he made out as if the rebels had robbed him of as many flocks and herds as the wild Arabs did Job. The British government, remarkable for generosity to their friends in distress, gave him money enough to return to South Carolina with a pretty assortment of merchandise. And he is now, I am told, as wealthy as a Jew, and, which is still more to his credit, as courteous as a christian.
The author congratulates his dear country on her late glorious victories — recapitulates British cruelties, drawing after them, judicially, a succession of terrible overthrows.
Happy Carolina! I exclaimed, as our late victories passed over my delighted thoughts; happy Carolina! dear native country, hail! long and dismal has been the night of thy affliction: but now rise and sing, for thy "light is breaking forth, and the dawn of thy redemption is brightening around."
For opposing the curses of slavery, thy noblest citizens have been branded as 'rebels', and treated with a barbarity unknown amongst civilized nations. They have been taken from their beds and weeping families, and transported, to pine and die in a land of strangers.
They have been crowded into midsummer jails and dungeons,* there, unpitied, to perish amidst suffocation and stench; while their wives and children, in mournful groups around the walls, were asking with tears for their husbands and fathers!
— * All Europe was filled with horror at the history of the one hundred and twenty unfortunate Englishmen that were suffocated in the black hole of Calcutta. Little was it thought that an English nobleman (lord Rawdon) would so soon have repeated that crime, by crowding one hundred and sixty-four unfortunate Americans into a small prison in Camden, in the dogdays. —
They have been wantonly murdered with swords and bayonets,* or hung up like dogs to ignominious gibbets.
— * A brother of that excellent man, major Linning, of Charleston, was taken from his plantation on Ashley river, by one of the enemy's galleys, and thrust down into the hold. At night the officers began to drink and sing, and kept it up till twelve o'clock, when, by way of frolic, they had him brought, though sick, into their cabin, held a court martial over him, sentenced him to death, very deliberately executed the sentence by stabbing him with bayonets, and then threw his mangled body into the river for the sharks and crabs to devour. —
They have been stirred up and exasperated against each other, to the most unnatural and bloody strifes. "Fathers to kill their sons, and brothers to put brothers to death!"
Such were the deeds of Cornwallis and his officers in Carolina! And while the churches in England were, everywhere, resounding with prayers to Almighty God, "to spare the effusion of human blood," those monsters were shedding it with the most savage wantonness! While all the good people in Britain were praying, day and night, for a speedy restoration of the former happy friendship between England and America, those wretches were taking the surest steps to drive all friendship from the American bosom, and to kindle the flames of everlasting hatred!
But, blessed be God, the tears of the widows and orphans have prevailed against them, and the righteous Judge of all the earth is rising up to make inquisition for the innocent blood which they have shed. And never was his hand more visibly displayed in the casting down of the wicked, than in humbling Cornwallis and his bloody crew.
At this period, 1780, the western extremities were the only parts of the state that remained free. To swallow these up, Cornwallis sent Col. Ferguson, a favorite officer, with fourteen hundred men. Hearing of the approach of the enemy, and of their horrible cruelties, the hardy mountaineers rose up as one man from Dan to Beersheba. They took their faithful rifles. They mounted their horses, and with each his bag of oats, and a scrap of victuals, they set forth to find the enemy. They had no plan, no general leader. The youth of each district, gathering around their own brave colonel, rushed to battle. But though seemingly blind and headlong as their own mountain streams, yet there was a hand unseen that guided their course. They all met, as by chance, near the King's mountain, where the ill-fated Ferguson encamped. Their numbers counted, made three thousand. That the work and victory may be seen to be of God, they sent back all but one thousand chosen men.
A thousand men on mountains bred, With rifles all so bright, Who knew full well, in time of need, To aim their guns aright.
At parting, the ruddy warriors shook hands with their returning friends, and sent their love. "Tell our fathers," said they, "that we shall think of them in the battle, and draw our sights the truer."
Then led on by the brave colonels Campbell, Cleveland, Shelby, Sevier, and Williams, they ascended the hill and commenced the attack. Like Sinai of old, the top of the mountain was soon wrapped in smoke and flames; the leaden deaths came whizzing from all quarters; and in forty minutes Ferguson was slain, and the whole of his party killed, wounded or taken.
To avenge this mortifying blow, Cornwallis despatched colonel Tarleton with thirteen hundred and fifty picked troops, against Morgan, who had but nine hundred men, and these more than half militia. At the first onset, the militia fled,* leaving Morgan with only four hundred to contend against thirteen hundred and fifty, rushing on furiously as to certain victory. What spectator of this scene must not have given up all for lost, and with tears resigned this little forlorn, to that unsparing slaughter which colonel Tarleton delighted in? But, contrary to all human expectation, the devoted handful stood their ground, and, in a short time, killed and captured nearly the whole of their proud assailants!
— * While Weems' exaggerations have been left largely unremarked in this text, the disservice done to those militia who fought bravely at Cowpens compels me to note that this description is inaccurate. — A. L., 1997. —
Raging like a wounded tiger, Cornwallis destroys all his heavy baggage, and pushes hard after Morgan. The pursuit is urged with unimaginable fury: and Cornwallis gains so fast upon the Americans, encumbered with their prisoners, that on the evening of the ninth day he came up to the banks of the Catawba, just as Morgan's rear had crossed at a deep ford. Before the wished-for morning returned, the river was so swollen by a heavy rain, that Cornwallis could not pass. Adoring the hand of Heaven, the Americans continued their flight. On the morning of the third day, Cornwallis renewed the pursuit with redoubled fury, and by the ninth evening, came up to the banks of the Yadkin, just as Morgan's last rifle corps was about to take the ford. Presently the rain came rushing down in torrents, and by the morning light the furious river was impassable! Who so blind as not to acknowledge the hand of God in all this?
Soon as he could get over, the wrathful Cornwallis renewed the pursuit; but before he could overtake them at Guilford Courthouse, the Americans, joined by their countrymen, gave him battle, and killed one third of his army. Cornwallis then, in turn, fled before the Americans; and as he had outmarched them before, he outran them now, and escaped safely to Wilmington. With largely recruited force he returned to Virginia, where four hundred deluded men, (tories) under colonel Pyles, came forward to join him. On their way they fell in with Col. Lee and his legion. Mistaking them for Tarleton and his cavalry, they wave their hats and cry out, "God save the king! God save the king!" Lee encourages the mistake, until they are all intermixed with his dragoons, who at a signal given, draw their swords and hew the wretches to pieces. Only one hundred make their escape. These fall in, the next day, with colonel Tarleton, who, mistaking them for what he called "damned rebels", ordered his troops to charge, which they did; and regardless of their repeated cries, that "they were the king's best friends," put most of them to death.
Thus wonderfully did God baffle lord Cornwallis, and visit a sudden and bloody destruction upon those unnatural wretches, who were going forth to plunge their swords into the bowels of their own country.
After this, being joined by all the British troops in that quarter, he rolled on like an angry flood to Williamsburg and York, where God sent his servant Washington, who presently captured him and his fleet and army, near ten thousand strong.
The British evacuate Charleston — great joy of the citizens — patriotism of the Charleston ladies.
As when a lion that has long kept at bay the fierce assaulting shepherds, receives at last his mortal wound, suddenly the monster trembles under the deadly stroke; and, sadly howling, looks around with wistful eye towards his native woods. Such was the shock given to the British, when the sword of heaven-aided justice struck down the bloody Cornwallis. With him fell the hopes of the enemy throughout our state.
In Charleston, their officers were seen standing together in groups, shaking their heads as they talked of the dreadful news. While those who had marched up so boldly into the country, now panic-struck, were every where busied in demolishing their works, blowing up their magazines, and hurrying back to town in the utmost dismay. Hard pressing upon the rear, we followed the steps of their flight, joyfully chasing them from a country which they had stained with blood, and pursuing them to the very gates of Charleston. As we approached the city, our eyes were presented with scenes of desolation sufficient to damp all hearts, and to inspire the deepest sense of the horrors of war. Robbed of all animal and vegetable life, the neighboring plantations seemed but as dreary deserts, compared with what they once were, when, covered with sportive flocks and herds, and rice and corn, they smiled with plenteousness and joy. In the fields, the eyes beheld no sign of cheerful crops, nor in the woods any shape of living beast or bird, except a few mournful buzzards, silently devouring the unburied flesh of some poor wretched mortals, who had fallen in the late rencontres between the English and Americans. Indeed, had those days continued, no flesh could have been saved; but blessed be God, who shortened them, by chastising the aggressors (the British) as we have seen.
On the memorable 14th of December, 1782, we entered and took possession of our capital, after it had been two years seven months and two days in the hands of the enemy. The style of our entry was quite novel and romantic. On condition of not being molested while embarking, the British had offered to leave the town unhurt. Accordingly, at the firing of a signal gun in the morning, as agreed on, they quitted their advanced works, near the town gate, while the Americans, moving on close in the rear, followed them all along through the city down to the water's edge, where they embarked on board their three hundred ships, which, moored out in the bay in the shape of an immense half moon, presented a most magnificent appearance.
The morning was as lovely as pure wintry air and cloudless sunbeams could render it; but rendered far lovelier still by our procession, if I may so call it, which was well calculated to awaken the most pleasurable feelings. In front, were the humble remains of that proud army, which, one and thirty months ago, captured our city, and thence, in the drunkenness of victory had hurled menaces and cruelties disgraceful to the British name: — And close in the rear, was our band of patriots, bending forward with martial music and flying colors, to play the last joyful act in the drama of their country's deliverance; to proclaim liberty to the captive; to recall the smile on the cheek of sorrow; and to make the heart of the widow leap for joy. Numbers, who, for years, had been confined to a single room in their own elegant houses, could now throw open their long-locked doors, and breathe and walk at large in these beloved apartments, from which they had been so long excluded. Numbers, who, for years, had mourned their separation from children, wives, and sires, were now seen rushing, with trembling joy, to the long-coveted embrace. Oh! it was a day of jubilee indeed! a day of rejoicing never to be forgotten. Smiles and tears were on every face. For who could remain unmoved, when they saw the little children running with outstretched arms to embrace their long absent fathers; when they saw the aged trembling with years and affection, clasping their warrior sons, glorious in arms, and those sons, with pleasure-sparkling eyes, returning the pious embrace, and congratulating the deliverance of their fathers; while all along the streets, as we moved in clouds of joy-rolling dust, nothing was to be heard but shouts of, LIBERTY and AMERICA FOREVER; and nothing was to be seen but crowds of citizens shaking hands and thanking God for bringing them to see that happy day. And to crown all, on both sides of us, as we marched in shining rows, stood our beauteous countrywomen, mingling their congratulations. The day was precious to all, but none I believe enjoyed it so highly as did the ladies of Charleston. Being, great numbers of them at least, women of fortune and liberal education, they had early discovered the deformity of lord North's enslaving principles, "unconditional taxation", which they abhorred worse than the yaws; and hating the measure, they could not but dislike the men who were come to execute it. In common with their sex, they were sufficiently partial to soldiers of honor. But alas! they were not permitted the pleasure to contemplate the British in that prepossessing light. On the contrary, compelled to view them as mere 'fighting machines', venal wretches, who for pay and plunder, had degraded the man into the brute, the Briton into the buccaneer, how could they otherwise than detest them?
Nor were the manners of the British officers at all calculated to remove those antipathies. Coming to America, under the impression that the past generation were 'convicts', and the present 'rebels', they looked on and treated their daughters only as 'pretty Creoles', whom it was doing great honor to smile on!
But this prejudice against the British officers, founded first on their sordidness, then, secondly, fed by their insolence, was, thirdly and lastly, matured by their cruelty. To see the heads of their first families, without even a charge of crime, dragged from their beds at midnight, and packed off like slaves to St. Augustine; to see one of their most esteemed countrymen, the amiable colonel Haynes, hung up like a dog before their eyes; and to hear continually, from all parts, of the horrid house-burnings and murders committed by Rawdon, Tarleton, Weymies, and their tory and negro allies, filled up the measure of female detestation of the British officers. They scorned to be seen in the same public walks with them; would not touch a glove or snuff-box from their hands; and in short, turned away from them as from the commonest felons or cut-throats. And on the other hand, to be treated thus by 'buckskin girls', the rebel daughters of convict parents, was more than the British officers could put up with. The whig ladies, of course, were often insulted, and that very grossly too; and not only often threatened, but actually thrown into the provost or bastile. No wonder then that they were highly delighted to see such rude enemies, after repeated overthrows in the country, chased back to town, and thence, covered with disgrace, embarking to leave the country for ever. No wonder that, on hearing of our line of march that morning, they had decked themselves in their richest habits, and at the first sound of our drums, flew to their doors, windows, and balconies, to welcome our return.
Never before had they appeared half so charming. Sweet are the flowers of the field at every season of the year, but doubly sweet, when, after long icy winter, they spread all their blossoms to the spring-tide sun. Even so the daughters of Charleston, though always fair, yet never seemed so passing fair as now, when after sustaining the long wintry storms of British oppression, they came forth in all their patriot charms to greet the welcome beams of returning liberty. And never shall I forget the accents of those lovely lips, which, from behind their waving handkerchiefs, that but half concealed their angel blushes, exclaiming, "God bless you, gentlemen! God bless you! welcome! welcome to your homes again!"
Marion returns to his plantation — is appointed a member of the legislature — some valuable anecdotes of him — his marriage — and retirement.
After the retreat of the British from Carolina, Marion sheathed his sword for lack of argument, and went up to cultivate his little plantation in St. John's parish, where he was born. But the gratitude of his countrymen did not long allow him to enjoy the sweets of that rural life, of which he was uncommonly fond. At the next election, he was in some sort compelled to stand as a candidate for the legislature, to which, by an unanimous voice, he was sent, to aid with his counsel, the operations of that government, to whose freedom his sword had so largely contributed. The friends of humanity were all highly pleased with his call to the legislature. From his well known generosity to his enemies, during the war, they fondly hoped he would do every thing in his power to extinguish that horrid flame of revenge, which still glowed in the bosoms of many against the tories. Nor did Marion disappoint their hopes. His face was always, and undauntedly, set against every proposition that savored of severity to the tories, whom he used to call his "poor deluded countrymen". The reader may form some idea of general Marion from the following anecdote, which was related to me by the honorable Benjamin Huger, Esq.
During the furious contests in South Carolina, between the British and Americans, it was very common for men of property to play 'jack of both sides', for the sake of saving their negroes and cattle. — Among these, a pretty numerous crew, was a wealthy old blade, who had the advantage of one of those very accommodating faces, that could shine with equal lustre on his victorious visitants, whether Britons or buckskins. Marion soon found him out; and as soon gave him a broad hint how heartily he despised such 'trimming'; for at a great public meeting where the old gentleman, with a smirking face, came up and presented his hand, Marion turned from him without deigning to receive it. Everybody was surprised at this conduct of the general, and some spoke of it in terms of high displeasure. However, it was not long before they caught the old weathercock at one of his tricks, and, soon as the confiscation act was passed, had him down on the black list, fondly hoping, no doubt, to divide a large spoil. Marion, who was then a member of the legislature, arose to speak. The aged culprit, who also was present, turned pale and trembled at the sight of Marion, giving up all for lost. — But how great, how agreeable was his surprise, when instead of hearing the general thundering against him for judgment, he heard him imploring for mercy! His accusers were, if possible, still more astonished. Having counted on general Marion as his firmest foe, they were utterly mortified to find him his fastest friend, and, venting their passion with great freedom, taxed him with inconsistency and fickleness that but illy suited with general Marion's character.
"It is scarcely eighteen months, sir," said they, "since you treated this old rascal with the most pointed and public contempt, on account of the very crime for which we wish to punish him. And here, now, instead of taking part against him, you have declared in his favor, and have become his warmest advocate with a legislature."
"True, gentlemen," replied Marion, "but you should remember that it was war then; and therefore my duty to make a difference between the real and pretended friends of my country. But it is peace now, and we ought to remember the virtues of men, particularly of the old and timid, rather than their follies. And we ought to remember too, that God has given us the victory, for which we owe him eternal gratitude. But cruelty to man is not the way to show our gratitude to heaven."
Of the same complexion was his behavior in a large party at governor Matthew's table, just after the passage of the famous act to confiscate the estates of the tories. "Come, general, give us a toast," said the governor. The glasses were all filled, and the eyes of the company fixed upon the general, who, waving his bumper in the air, thus nobly called out — "Well, gentlemen, here's damnation to the confiscation act."
The following anecdote of Marion I have heard from a thousand lips, and every time with that joy on the countenance, which evinced the deep interest which the heart takes in talking of things that are honorable to our countrymen.
While Marion was a member of the legislature, a petition was presented to the house for an act of amnesty of all those arbitrary measures which the American officers had been obliged to adopt during the war, in order to get horses, provisions, &c. for the army. The petition was signed by the names of all the favorite officers of the state, and among the rest, by that of our hero. Some of his friends, it seemed, had done it for him, on the supposition that he needed such an act as well as the rest. But Marion, who had listened very attentively to the reading of the petition, on hearing his name mentioned as one of the subscribers, instantly arose, and insisted that his name should be struck off from that paper. He said "he had no manner of objection to the petition; on the contrary, he most heartily approved of it, and meant to vote for it; for well did he know, he said, that during the war, we had among us a world of ignoramuses, who, for lack of knowing their danger, did not care a fig how the war went, but were sauntering about in the woods, popping at the squirrels, when they ought to have been in the field fighting the British; that such gentlemen, since they did not choose to do any thing for their country themselves, might well afford to let their cattle do something; and as they had not shed any of their blood for the public service, they might certainly spare a little corn to it; at any rate he had no notion, he said, of turning over to the mercy of these poltroons, some of the choicest spirits of the nation, to be prosecuted and torn to pieces by them; but that, nevertheless, he did not like to have his name to the petition, for, thank God, he had no favors to ask of them. And if, during the war for his country, he had done any of them harm, there was he, and yonder his property, and let them come forward, if they dare, and demand satisfaction."
And I never heard of any man who ever accused him of the least injury done him during all the war.
Marion continued a member of the legislature, until orders were issued to repair and put in commission Fort Johnson, to the command of which he was appointed, with the pay of about twenty-two hundred dollars per annum. Though this salary had been voted him chiefly because of his losses during the war, yet it was not continued to him longer than two or three years, when it was reduced to less than five hundred dollars annually. Numbers of people had their feelings greatly hurt on this occasion, and, I dare say, much worse than his own. For he was a man who cared very little for money; and besides, about that time he entered into matrimony with that excellent and wealthy lady, Miss Mary Videau, who, with her affections, bestowed on him a fortune sufficient to satisfy his utmost wishes, even though they had been far less moderate than they were. Seeing now no particular obligation on him to continue longer in the public service, he gladly yielded to his sense of what he owed to a generous and beloved companion, and with her, retired to his native parish of St. John's, where, amidst the benedictions of his countrymen, and the caresses of numerous friends, he spent the short remnant of his days, participating every rural sweet with the dear woman of his choice, feasting on the happy retrospect of a life passed in fighting for THE RIGHTS OF MAN, and fondly cherishing the hopes of a better.
The author's last visit to Marion — interesting conversation on the importance of public instruction — free schools shown to be a great saving to a nation.
I often went to see Marion. Our evenings were passed as might have been expected between two old friends, who had spent their better days together in scenes of honorable enterprise and danger. On the night of the last visit I ever made him, observing that the clock was going for ten, I asked him if it were not near his hour of rest.
"Oh no," said he, "we must not talk of bed yet. It is but seldom, you know, that we meet. And as this may be our last, let us take all we can of it in chat. What do you think of the times?"
"O glorious times," said I.
"Yes, thank God!" replied he. "They are glorious times indeed; and fully equal to all that we had in hope, when we drew our swords for independence. But I am afraid they won't last long."
I asked him why he thought so.
"Oh! knowledge, sir," said he, "is wanting! knowledge is wanting! Israel of old, you know, was destroyed for lack of knowledge; and all nations, all individuals, have come to naught from the same cause."
I told him I thought we were too happy to change so soon.
"Pshaw!" replied he, "that is nothing to the purpose. Happiness signifies nothing, if it be not known, and properly valued. Satan, we are told, was once an angel of light, but for want of duly considering his glorious state, he rebelled and lost all. And how many hundreds of young Carolinians have we not known, whose fathers left them all the means of happiness; elegant estates, handsome wives, and, in short, every blessing that the most luxurious could desire? Yet they could not rest, until by drinking and gambling, they had fooled away their fortunes, parted from their wives, and rendered themselves the veriest beggars and blackguards on earth.
"Now, why was all this, but for lack of knowledge? For had those silly ones but known the evils of poverty, what a vile thing it was to wear a dirty shirt, a long beard, and ragged coat; to go without a dinner, or to sponge for it among growling relations; or to be bespattered, or run over in the streets, by the sons of those who were once their fathers' overseers; I say, had those poor boobies, in the days of their prosperity, known these things as they NOW do, would they have squandered away the precious means of independence and pleasure, and have brought themselves to all this shame and sorrow? No, never, never, never.
"And so it is, most exactly, with nations. If those that are free and happy, did but know their blessings, do you think they would ever exchange them for slavery? If the Carthagenians, for example, in the days of their freedom and self-government, when they obeyed no laws but of their own making; paid no taxes, but for their own benefit; and, free as air, pursued their own interest as they liked; I say, If that once glorious and happy people had known their blessings, would they have sacrificed them all, by their accursed factions, to the Romans, to be ruled, they and their children, with a rod of iron; to be burdened like beasts, and crucified like malefactors?
"No, surely they would not."
"Well, now to bring this home to ourselves. We fought for self-government; and God hath pleased to give us one, better calculated perhaps to protect our rights, to foster our virtues, to call forth our energies, and to advance our condition nearer to perfection and happiness, than any government that was ever framed under the sun."
"But what signifies even this government, divine as it is, if it be not known and prized as it deserves?"
I asked him how he thought this was best to be done?
"Why, certainly," replied he, "by free schools."
I shook my head.
He observed it, and asked me what I meant by that?
I told him I was afraid the legislature would look to their popularity, and dread the expense.
He exclaimed, "God preserve our legislature from such 'penny wit and pound foolishness'! What sir, keep a nation in ignorance, rather than vote a little of their own money for education! Only let such politicians remember, what poor Carolina has already lost through her ignorance. What was it that brought the British, last war, to Carolina, but her lack of knowledge? Had the people been enlightened, they would have been united; and had they been united, they never would have been attacked a second time by the British. For after that drubbing they got from us at fort Moultrie, in 1776, they would as soon have attacked the devil as have attacked Carolina again, had they not heard that they were 'a house divided against itself'; or in other words, had amongst us a great number of TORIES; men, who, through mere ignorance, were disaffected to the cause of liberty, and ready to join the British against their own countrymen. Thus, ignorance begat toryism, and toryism begat losses in Carolina, of which few have any idea.
"According to the best accounts, America spent in the last war, seventy millions of dollars, which, divided among the states according to their population, gives to Carolina about eight millions; making, as the war lasted eight years, a million a year. Now, it is generally believed, the British, after their loss of Burgoyne and their fine northern army, would soon have given up the contest, had it not been for the foothold they got in Carolina, which protracted the war at least two years longer. And as this two years' ruinous war in Carolina was owing to the encouragement the enemy got there, and that encouragement to toryism, and that toryism to ignorance, ignorance may fairly be debited to two millions of loss to Carolina.
"Well, in these two extra years of tory-begotten war, Carolina lost, at least four thousand men; and among them, a Laurens, a Williams, a Campbell, a Haynes, and many others, whose worth not the gold of Ophir could value. But rated at the price at which the prince of Hesse sold his people to George the Third, to shoot the Americans, say, thirty pounds sterling a head, or one hundred and fifty dollars, they make six hundred thousand dollars. Then count the twenty-five thousand slaves which Carolina certainly lost, and each slave at the moderate price of three hundred dollars, and yet have seven millions five hundred thousand. To this add the houses, barns, and stables that were burnt; the plate plundered; the furniture lost; the hogs, sheep, and horned cattle killed; the rice, corn, and other crops destroyed, and they amount, at the most moderate calculation, to five millions.
"Now, to say nothing of those losses, which cannot be rated by dollars and cents, such as the destruction of morals and the distraction of childless parents and widows, but counting those only that are of the plainest calculations, such as, 1st. Carolina's loss in the extra two years' war. $2,000,000 2d. For her four thousand citizens slain in that time, 600,000 3d. For twenty-five thousand slaves lost, 7,500,000 4th. For buildings, furniture, cattle, grain, &c. &c. destroyed, 5,000,000 —————- $15,100,000 —————-
Making the enormous sum of fifteen millions and odd dollars CAPITAL; and bearing an annual interest of nearly ten hundred thousand dollars besides! and all this for lack of a few free schools, which would have cost the state a mere nothing."
I sighed, and told him I wished he had not broached the subject, for it had made me very sad.
"Yes," replied he, "it is enough to make any one sad. But it cannot be helped but by a wiser course of things; for, if people will not do what will make them happy, God will surely chastise them; and this dreadful loss of public property is one token of his displeasure at our neglect of public instruction."
I asked him if this were really his belief. "Yes, sir," replied he, with great earnestness, "it is my belief, and I would not exchange it for worlds. It is my firm belief, that every evil under the sun is of the nature of chastisement, and appointed of the infinitely good Being for our benefit. When you see a youth, who, but lately, was the picture of bloom and manly beauty, now utterly withered and decayed; his body bent; his teeth dropping out; his nose consumed; with foetid breath, ichorous eyes, and his whole appearance most putrid, ghastly, and loathsome, you are filled with pity and with horror; you can hardly believe there is a God, or hardly refrain from charging him with cruelty. But, where folly raves, wisdom adores. In this awful scourge of lawless lust, wisdom discerns the infinite price which heaven sets on conjugal purity and love. In like manner, the enormous sacrifice of public property, in the last war, being no more, as before observed, than the natural effect of public ignorance, ought to teach us that of all sins, there is none so hateful to God as national ignorance; that unfailing spring of NATIONAL INGRATITUDE, REBELLION, SLAVERY, and WRETCHEDNESS!
"But if it be melancholy to think of so many elegant houses, rich furniture, fat cattle, and precious crops, destroyed for want of that patriotism which a true knowledge of our interests would have inspired, then how much more melancholy to think of those torrents of precious blood that were shed, those cruel slaughters and massacres, that took place among the citizens from the same cause! As proof that such hellish tragedies would never have been acted, had our state but been enlightened, only let us look at the people of New England. From Britain, their fathers had fled to America for religion's sake. Religion had taught them that God created men to be happy; that to be happy they must have virtue; that virtue is not to be attained without knowledge, nor knowledge without instruction, nor public instruction without free schools, nor free schools without legislative order.
"Among a people who fear God, the knowledge of duty is the same as doing it. Believing it to be the first command of God, "let there be light," and believing it to be the will of God that "all should be instructed, from the least to the greatest," these wise legislators at once set about public instruction. They did not ask, how will my constituents like this? won't they turn me out? shall I not lose my three dollars per day? No! but fully persuaded that public instruction is God's will, because the people's good, they set about it like the true friends of the people.
"Now mark the happy consequence. When the war broke out, you heard of no division in New England, no toryism, nor any of its horrid effects; no houses in flames, kindled by the hands of fellow-citizens, no neighbors waylaying and shooting their neighbors, plundering their property, carrying off their stock, and aiding the British in the cursed work of American murder and subjugation. But on the contrary, with minds well informed of their rights, and hearts glowing with love for themselves and posterity, they rose up against the enemy, firm and united, as a band of shepherds against the ravening wolves.
"And their valor in the field gave glorious proof how men will fight when they know that their all is at stake. See major Pitcairn, on the memorable 19th of April, 1775, marching from Boston, with one thousand British regulars, to burn the American stores at Concord. Though this heroic excursion was commenced under cover of the night, the farmers soon took the alarm, and gathering around them with their fowling pieces, presently knocked down one-fourth of their number, and caused the rest to run, as if, like the swine in the gospel, they had a legion of devils at their backs.
"Now, with sorrowful eyes, let us turn to our own state, where no pains were ever taken to enlighten the minds of the poor. There we have seen a people naturally as brave as the New Englanders, for mere lack of knowledge of their blessings possessed, of the dangers threatened, suffer lord Cornwallis, with only sixteen hundred men, to chase general Greene upwards of three hundred miles! In fact, to scout him through the two great states of South and North Carolina as far as Guilford Courthouse! and, when Greene, joined at that place by two thousand poor illiterate militia-men, determined at length to fight, what did he gain by them, with all their number, but disappointment and disgrace? For, though posted very advantageously behind the corn-field fences, they could not stand a single fire from the British, but in spite of their officers, broke and fled like base-born slaves, leaving their loaded muskets sticking in the fence corners!*
— * Again, as Weems has slandered a great number of brave and true militia-men, it should be noted, that being desperate to make his point, he is not entirely frank here in his descriptions of events. The "poor ditch" described below was doubtless better protection than "corn-field fences", nor did the militia flee the field, but only fell back on the main body. Other factors also figured, such as differences in population density and geography. Finally, a large number of the New England loyalists (tories), whose existence Weems denies, fought for the British in the Carolinas. — A. L., 1997. —
"But, from this shameful sight, turn again to the land of free schools; to Bunker's Hill. There, behind a poor ditch of half a night's raising, you behold fifteen hundred militia-men waiting the approach of three thousand British regulars with a heavy train of artillery! With such odds against them, such fearful odds in numbers, discipline, arms, and martial fame, will they not shrink from the contest, and, like their southern friends, jump up and run! Oh no; to a man they have been taught to read; to a man they have been instructed to KNOW, and dearer than life to prize, the blessings of FREEDOM. Their bodies are lying behind ditches, but their thoughts are on the wing, darting through eternity. The warning voice of God still rings in their ears. The hated forms of proud merciless kings pass before their eyes. They look back to the days of old, and strengthen themselves as they think what their gallant forefathers dared for LIBERTY and for THEM. They looked forward to their own dear children, and yearn over the unoffending millions, now, in tearful eyes, looking up to them for protection. And shall this infinite host of deathless beings, created in God's own image, and capable by VIRTUE and EQUAL LAWS, of endless progression in glory and happiness; shall they be arrested in their high career, and from the freeborn sons of God, be degraded into the slaves of man? Maddening at the accursed thought, they grasp their avenging firelocks, and drawing their sights along the death-charged tubes, they long for the coming up of the British thousands. Three times the British thousands came up; and three times the dauntless yeomen, waiting their near approach, received them in storms of thunder and lightning that shivered their ranks, and heaped the field with their weltering carcasses.
"In short, my dear sir, men will always fight for their government, according to their sense of its value. To value it aright, they must understand it. This they cannot do without education. And as a large portion of the citizens are poor, and can never attain that inestimable blessing, without the aid of government, it is plainly the first duty of government to bestow it freely upon them. And the more perfect the government, the greater the duty to make it well known. Selfish and oppressive governments, indeed, as Christ observes, must "hate the light, and fear to come to it, because their deeds are evil." But a fair and cheap government, like our republic, "longs for the light, and rejoices to come to the light, that it may be manifested to be from God," and well worth all the vigilance and valor that an enlightened nation can rally for its defence. And, God knows, a good government can hardly ever be half anxious enough to give its citizens a thorough knowledge of its own excellencies. For as some of the most valuable truths, for lack of careful promulgation, have been lost; so the best government on earth, if not duly known and prized, may be subverted. Ambitious demagogues will rise, and the people through ignorance, and love of change, will follow them. Vast armies will be formed, and bloody battles fought. And after desolating their country with all the horrors of civil war, the guilty survivors will have to bend their necks to the iron yokes of some stern usurper, and like beasts of burden, to drag, unpitied, those galling chains which they have riveted upon themselves for ever."
This, as nearly as I can recollect, was the substance of the last dialogue I ever had with Marion. It was spoken with an emphasis which I shall never forget. Indeed he described the glorious action at Bunker's Hill, as though he had been one of the combatants. His agitation was great, his voice became altered and broken; and his face kindled over with that living fire with which it was wont to burn, when he entered the battles of his country. I arose from my seat as he spoke; and on recovering from the magic of his tongue, found myself bending forward to the voice of my friend, and my right hand stretched by my side; it was stretched to my side for the sword that was wont to burn in the presence of Marion when battle rose, and the crowding foe was darkening around us. But thanks to God, 'twas sweet delusion all. No sword hung burning by my side; no crowding foe darkened around us. In dust or in chains they had all vanished away, and bright in his scabbard rested the sword of peace in my own pleasant halls on Winyaw bay.
The death of Marion — his character.
"Next to Washington, O glorious shade! In page historic shall thy name have place. Deep on thy country's memory are portrayed Those gallant deeds which time shall ne'er erase.
Ah! full of honors, and of years farewell! Thus o'er thy tomb shall Carolina sigh; Each tongue thy valor and thy worth shall tell, Which taught the young to fight, the old to die."
The next morning, I set out for my plantation on Winyaw bay. Marion, as usual, accompanied me to my horse, and, at parting, begged I would come and see him again soon, for that he felt he had not long to stay. As the reader may suppose, I paid but little heed to this expression, which I looked on as no more than the common cant of the aged. But I soon had cause to remember it with sorrow. For I had been but a few weeks at home, before, opening a Charleston paper, I found in a mourning column, "THE DEATH OF GENERAL MARION". Never shall I forget the heart-sickness of that moment; never forget what I felt when first I learned that Marion was no more. Though the grave was between us, yet his beloved image seemed to appear before me fresher than ever. All our former friendships, all our former wars returned. But alas! he who was to me the soul of all the rest; the foremost in every battle; the dearest at every feast; he shall return no more! "Oh Marion, my friend!" my bursting heart seemed to say, "and art thou gone? Shall I no more hear that voice which was always so sweet; no more see that smile which awakened up such joy in my soul! Must that beloved form be lost forever among the clods in the valley. And those godlike virtues, shall they pass away like the empty visions of the night!"
From this deep gloom which strong atheistic sorrow had poured over my nerves, I was suddenly roused, as by an angel's touch, to the bright hopes of religion. The virtues of my departed friend all flashed at once upon my kindling thoughts: his countenance so stern with honor; his tongue so sacred to truth; that heart always so ready to meet death in defence of the injured; that eye ever beaming benevolence to man, and that whole life so reverential of God. The remembrance, I say, of all these things, came in streams of joy to my heart.
"O happy Marion!" I exclaimed, "thou art safe, my friend; thou art safe. No tears of mine shall doubt thy blissful state. Surely if there be a God, and that there is, all nature cries aloud through all her works, he must delight in virtue, and what he delights in must be happy."
Then it was, that I felt what a benefactor Marion had been to me. How dear his company while living; how sweet his memory when dead. Like the sun travelling in brightness, his smiles had ever been my joy, his example my light. And though now set in the grave, yet has he not left me in darkness. His virtues, like stars, are lighted up after him. They point my hopes to the path of glory; and proclaim, that, though fallen, he is not extinguished.
From the physicians and many others who attended him in his last illness, I learned that he had died as he had lived, a truly GREAT MAN. His chamber was not, as is usual with dying persons, a scene of gloom and silent distress, but rather like the cheerful parlor of one who was setting out on an agreeable journey. "Some," said he, "have spoken of death as a leap in the dark; but for my part, I look on it as a welcome resting place, where virtuous old age may throw down his pains and aches, wipe off his old scores, and begin anew on an innocent and happy state that shall last for ever. What weakness to wish to live to such ghastly dotage, as to frighten the children, and make even the dogs to bark at us as we totter along the streets. Most certainly then, there is a time when, to a good man, death is a great mercy even to his body; and as to his soul, why should he tremble about that? Who can doubt that God created us to be happy; and thereto made us to love one another? which is plainly written in our hearts; whose every thought and work of love is happiness, and as plainly written as the gospel; whose every line breathes love, and every precept enjoins good works. Now, the man who has spent life in bravely denying himself every inclination that would make others miserable, and in courageously doing all in his power to make them happy, what has such a man to fear from death, or rather, what glorious things has he not to hope from it?"
Hearing one of his friends say that the methodists and baptists were progressing rapidly in some parts of the state, he replied, "Well, thank God for that; that is good news." The same gentleman then asked him which he thought was the best religion. "I know but one religion," he answered, "and that is hearty love of God and man. This is the only true religion; and I would to God our country was full of it. For it is the only spice to embalm and to immortalize our republic. Any politician can sketch out a fine theory of government, but what is to bind the people to the practice? Archimedes used to mourn that though his mechanic powers were irresistible, yet he could never raise the world; because he had no place in the heavens, whereon to fix his pullies. Even so, our republic will never be raised above the shameful factions and miserable end of all other governments, until our citizens come to have their hearts like Archimedes' pullies, fixed on heaven. The world sometimes makes such bids to ambition, that nothing but heaven can outbid her. The heart is sometimes so embittered, that nothing but divine love can sweeten it; so enraged, that devotion only can becalm it; and so broke down, that it takes all the force of heavenly hope to raise it. In short, religion is the only sovereign and controlling power over man. Bound by that, the rulers will never usurp, nor the people rebel. The former will govern like fathers, and the latter obey like children. And thus moving on, firm and united as a host of brothers, they will continue invincible as long as they continue virtuous."