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1781.

A military race now commenced between the pursuing British under lord Cornwallis and the fleeing Americans under gen. Greene. The latter retreated as expeditiously as possible, and crossed the Yadkin partly in fats and partly by fording, on the 2d and 3d of the month, and secured the boats on the north side. Though Cornwallis was so clofe in the rear, as that a smart skirmish happened between a party of riflemen and his advance, yet a want of boats, and the rapid rising of the river from preceding rains, made his crossing impossible. This second hair-breadth escape was considered as a fresh evidence of their being favored by Heaven. They viewed it with pious gratitude; and frequently remarked, that if the rising of the river had been a few hours fooner, Morgan's whole detachment would have been in the power of a greatly superior army; if a few hours later, that Cornwallis would have effected his passage, so as to have enabled him to get between the two divifions of the American army, which might have proved the destruction of both. That the Americans should effect their passage in two successive instances, while the British (whose advance was often in sight of the American rear) were providentially restrained, affected the devout inhabitants of the neighbouring settlements with lively thanks to the Most High, and added fresh vigor

to their exertions in behalf of their country. Feb. On the 5th Greene wrote to Hugermo" I intend, if

we can find a good position, to prepare to receive the enemy's attack. It is not improbable, from lord Cornwallis's pushing disposition, and the contempt he has for our army, we may precipitate him into some capital misfortune. If Cornwallis knows his true interest he will

pursue

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pursue our army. If he can disperse that, he completes 1781.
the reduction of the state; and without it he will do
nothing to effect.” His lordship being obliged to march
his
troops
about

25 miles to the upper fords, which are
generally passable, gave time for the junction of the two
divisions of the American army on the 7th, near Guil-

7. ford court house ; circumstances not having admitted of its being done either at Charlotte or Salisbury.

Lord Cornwallis's first object, that of retorting the fatal blow given by Morgan at the Cowpens and of recovering the captives, being frustrated ; and the British army being without tents, and like the Americans, dependent for subsistence on what could be hastily picked up by detachments on a rapid march ; it was doubted whether his lordship would prosecute his enterprise further : so that gen. Greene spent the 8th of February in refreshing all his regular forces at Guilford court house, which was much wanted. The light troops had not time, after the battle, to take care of the wounded or even breathe (surgeons were left on the field) and their retreat of 150 miles was effected under difficulties that harassed them exceedingly. The retreat of the battalions from the Peedee under Huger, was conducted for 100 miles under circumstances requiring the utmost patience. The worst waggons, with the poorest teams, and most useless part of the baggage, were early sent off by col. 0. Williams to Hillsborough ; but the best, and even the artillery, was an encumbrance in their situation. They were some times without meat, often without flour, and alway without spirituous liquors. Notwithstanding the wintry season, and their having little clothing, they were daily reduced to the neceflity of fording deep

creeks,

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1781. creeks, and of remaining wet without any change of

raiment, till the heat of their bodies and occasional fires
in the woods, dried their tattered rags. Their route lay
through a barren country, which scarcely afforded necef-
faries for a few straggling inhabitants. They were re-
tarded by heavy rains, broken bridges, bad roads and
poor horses. Many of them marched without shoes
over the frozen ground, and through flinty roads, which
fo gashed their feet, that the blood marked every step
of their progress. All these hardships were endured
without the loss of a single sentinel by desertion. Lee's
partizan legion had undergone extreme service, through
their additional expedition to George Town, 75 miles
distant from the point where the retreat of the battalions
commenced.

Though the toils and sufferings of the Americans ex-
ceeded, those of the royal army were far from trifling.
The British had in common with the others bad roads,
· heavy rains, a want of cover, deep creeks and rivers
through which to pass in the depth of winter : but then
they were well supplied in the articles of shoes and
clothes. The difficulties and evils arising from lord
Cornwallis's destroying the superfluous baggage and
waggons were not small : but they were submitted to
with the most general and cheerful acquiefcence, from

his lordship's setting the example.
Feb. On the oth of February gen. Greene wrote to gen.

Sumpter—" I shall avoid a general action if possible :
but I am afraid it will not be in my power. Our force
is so small and in such distress, that I have little to
hope, and every thing to fear.” The troops present
and fit for action were 1426, beside rijemen and others,

amounting

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amounting to 397, and 176 cavalry, in all 1999. But 1781, they were greatly fatigued, and in general much dispirited. The forces under Cornwallis (as Greene then thought and said in his letter to gen. Washington) confifted of between 2500 and 3000, including near 300 dragoons and their mounted infantry. These were well clothed, amply equipped, and confident of every advantage. In the morning a council of war was called; of which Greene sent the following account to governor Nash of North Carolina—" It was the unanimous opinion of a council of war this day, that it would be inevitable ruin to the army, and no less ruinous to the American cause, to hazard a general action: the council therefore advised to our crossing the Dan immediately.” The proper measures were instantly taken. A light army was formed out of col. Lee's legion, the regular battalion of infantry under col. Howard, the cavalry under col. Washington, and a small corps of Virginia riflemen under major Campbell, amounting to about 700 men, the flower of the southern American army. Gen. Morgan being rendered totally unfit for command, or even to march with his corps, by the great fatigue he had suffered, and the torment he was in with the rheumatism, Greene was embarrassed in the appointment of an officer to succeed him. He finally resolved to confer that honor upon the deputy adjutant general, col. Otho Holland Williams, who entered upon his command on the roth; when Greene marched with the main army from Guilford court house toward the Dan, which forms the boundary between North Carolina and Virginia.

Lord Cornwallis well knowing the inferiority of the American army, conceived hopes of getting between

Greene

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1781. Greene and Virginia, and of reducing him to the ne

cessity of either fighting or abandoning his communication with that state, and likewise of running the risk of being hemmed in between the great rivers in the west, the sea on the east, lord Rawdon in the south, and the main royal army in the north. To this end Cornwallis kept the upper country, (where only the rivers are fordable) as he supposed that the Americans could not make good their passage in the deep water from the want of a fufficient number of flats. In case they attempted it, he expected to overtake and force them to an action before they could cross. But the advantages resulting from the season of the year, and from the face of the country, intersected with rivers and creeks, were so improved by Greene as completely to bafle his lordship. The better to avoid a rapid pursuit, the main and light army took different routes. The next day the latter had a rencounter with the van of the British army, in which an officer and half a dozen privates of Tarleton's legion were made prisoners, and several killed. Frequent skirmishes, and the manoeuvres practised to miflead Cornwallis, had the desired effect, and gave Greene time to send forward his baggage. On the morning of the 13th, Greene wrote to Williams-" It is dent the enemy intend to push us in crossing the river. The night before last, as soon as I got your letter, I sent off the baggage and stores, with orders to cross as fast as they got to the river. The North Carolina militia have all deserted us, except about 80 men. Majors and captains are among the deserters. You have the flower of the army, don't expose the men too much, left our situation should grow more critical, Finding

very evi

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