« PreviousContinue »
through a field beyond which was a fence and a thick 1781. wood. In the skirts of this wood next to the field, the first American line was drawn up, confifting of the North Carolina militia. The fecond line behind that. was formed of the Virginia militia. The third and last line confifted of the Maryland and Virginia continentals under Huger and Williams. Washington with his cavalry, and a corps of Delaware light infantry and fome riflemen under col. Lynch, covered the right flank; and Lee with his legion and fome riflemen under col, Campbell, the left. The whole were so strongly posted, that Greene was fearful left Cornwallis fhould not attack them in front, but change his position and fall upon their flanks. The front line was only in fight; the two others being covered by the wood in which they were posted. The Americans had two pieces of cannon in the field before them. After a brisk cannonade between them and the British, which lafted from about half an hour after one till two, the latter advanced in three columns, the Heffians on the right, the guards in the centre, and Webster's brigade on the left. The whole moved on toward the North Carolinians, who waited the attack, until the enemy got within 140 yards, when part of them fired once, while a great number ran away without firing or being fired upon. All the exertions of their officers to rally them were ineffectual. They deferted the most advantageous poft Greene ever faw, and let in the enemy upon the second line compofed of the Virginia militia under Stevens. He had the address to prevent his brigade from receiving any bad impref fions from the retreating North Carolinians, by giving out that they had orders to retire after discharging their E 4 pieces.
181.pieces. To cherish this idea he ordered his men to open their files to favor their paffage. The Virginians behaved much better than the Carolinians, did great execution, and kept up their fire till they were ordered to retreat. Stevens had pofted forty riflemen at equal distances, twenty paces in the rear of his brigade, with orders to shoot every man who should leave his post. That brave officer, though wounded through the thigh, did not quit the field. The continental troops were last engaged, and fought with great fpirit. The contest was long and fevere: but the British carried their point by fuperior discipline. They broke the fecond Maryland regiment, turned the American left flank, and got into the rear of the Virginia brigade, and appeared to be gaining Greene's right, which would have encircled the whole of the continental troops, fo that he thought it advisable to order a retreat. About this time Washington made a charge with the horse on a part of the brigade of British guards, and the firft regiment of Marylanders following the horse with their bayonets, near the whole of the party fell a facrifice. Huger with the Virginia brigade was the laft that engaged; and gave the enemy a check. After a hard battle of near two hours, the Americans retreated in good order to the Reedy Fork, and croffed the river, about three miles from the field of action. They halted, drew up till they had collected most of the ftragglers, and then retired to Speedwell's Iron Works ten miles diftant from Guildford. Greene loft his artillery (the two fix pounders that Morgan had lately recovered, with two others) and two ammunition waggons, the greatest part of the horses being killed before the retreat began,
This victory coft the British dear. Their killed and 1781. wounded exceeded 600 men, befide officers. The guards loft col. Stuart, with the captains Schutz, Maynard and Goodriche, befide fubalterns. Col. Webster, a brave experienced and diftinguished officer, died of his wounds to the regret of the royal army. Brigadier generals O'Hara and Howard, and col. Tarleton, with feveral other officers, were wounded.
About 300 of the continentals and 100 of the Virginia militia were killed and wounded, among the former was major Anderson of the Maryland line, a most valuable officer. Among the latter was Huger, befide Stevens already mentioned. Of the North Carolina militia fix were killed and three wounded, and 552 miffing. Of the Virginia militia 294 were mifling. Few of the miffing were made prifoners. They returned home, and never rejoined the camp; fo that gen. Greene's army fustained a greater diminution than the British. It was however foon apparent, that the advantages of the engagement were on his fide.
Though lord Cornwallis iffued out a proclamation Mar. three days after the battle, fetting forth his complete 18. victory, and calling on all loyal fubjects to stand forth and take an active part in reftoring good government, and offering pardon and protection to all rebels, murderers excepted; yet on the 19th he decamped, abandoning all his boasted advantages, and his hofpital at the Quaker meeting-house, containing between 70 and 80 wounded British officers and foldiers. He also left behind him all the wounded Americans taken on the 15th, and retreated toward Crofs Creek. Greene expected that he would have advanced, and therefore had
1781. prepared for another action; but upon hearing that his lordship was attempting to avoid it, he pursued him the next day with all poffible expedition. Greene having no means of providing for the wounded of his own and the British forces, wrote a letter to the neighbouring inhabitants of the quaker perfuafion, in which he mentioned his being brought up a quaker, and observed that an opportunity offered for the exercife of their humanity, without confining themselves to either party, by taking care of the wounded both British and Americans, who must otherwise perish. His recommendations and arguments prevailed, and the quakers fupplied the hofpitals with all that was wanting till the fick and wounded recovered.
So great was the avidity of the Americans to renew the conflict with Cornwallis, that notwithstanding the weather was very wet and the roads deep, they marched almost constantly without any regular fupply of proviMar. fions. On the morning of the 28th, they arrived at Ramfay's mills on Deep river, a strong position which his lordship evacuated a few hours before, by croffing the river on a bridge erected for that purpose. Evident figns of precipitation were found in and about his lordfhip's encampment. Several of the dead were left on the ground unburied. Beef in quarters was found in the flaughter pen on which the hungry continentals fed greedily; but that not being fufficient to allay their keen appetites, they eat without a murmur the garbage which was meant for the buzzards * Cornwallis had now fairly the start of Greene, and was in a fituation to maintain his advantage. He was on the fouth fide of Deep
Col, O. H. Williams,
river, with Cape Fear on his left, and fupplies for his 1781. army in front: whereas Greene was too far advanced to expect any immediate fuccour from the country behind him; he was therefore under the neceffity of giving up the purfuit*. Nothing but blood and flaughter has prevailed among the whigs and tories in that part of the country which has been the scene of the late tranfactions, and their inveteracy against each other muft depopulate it if continued.
Here let us close our account of the operations under lord Cornwallis and gen. Greene, and enter upon those that relate to Virginia.
General Arnold, with near 50 fail of veffels, arrived in the Chesapeak by the end of December. He landed, with about 1500 men and a few light horfe, 15 miles below Richmond, and marched into that town about 12 Jan. o'clock on the 5th of January. The public ftores and 5 buildings were destroyed; together with the rope walk, and the rum and falt in the merchants hands. The troops went on eight miles to destroy the foundery and magazine at Weft-Ham; but the arms and ammunition had been removed to Manchefter, in Powhatan county, where the governor was, with baron Steuben, who had arrived from the northward by the beginning of December. The next day at noon they retreated the fame way they came; with the defsign of committing those destructions in other places, that might disable the ftate as far poffible from making effectual oppofition to
The advantage of col. O. H. Williams's official papers, of private letters, and of fubfequent converfation with gen. Greene, for the purpose of information, has occafioned a variation in divers parts of the above narrative from Dr, Ramfay and others,