Page images

distress at which patriotism feels indignant and humanity weeps. The harvest had been abundant. Plenty reigned in the land, but want in the camp of its defenders. Selfishness had succeeded patriotism, lassitude enthusiasm, in the breasts of the people, and congress exerted its powers with too little vigour to draw forth the resources of the country.

The soldiers of the Pennsylvania line were stationed at Morristown, in New Jersey. They complained that, in addition to sustaining sufferings common to all, they were retained in service contrary to terms of their enlistments. In the night of the first of January, thirteen hundred, on a concerted signal, paraded under arms, and declared their intention of marching to Philadelphia, and demanding of congress a redress of their grievances. The officers strove to compel them to relinquish

In the attempt, one was killed and several were wounded. General Wayne presented his pistols as if intending to fire. They held their bayonets to his breast; “We love and respect you,” said they, “ but if


you are a dead man. We are not going to the enemy. On the contrary, if they were now to come out, you should see us fight under your orders with as much alacrity as ever. But we will be amused no longer; we are determined to obtain what is our just due.”

They elected temporary officers, and moved off in a body towards Princeton. General Wayne, to prevent them from plundering the inhabitants,

their purpose.

forwarded provisions for their use. The next day he followed, and requested them to appoint a man from each regiment, to state to him their complaints. The men were appointed, a conference held, but he refused to comply with their demands.

They proceeded in good order to Princeton. Three emissaries from Sir Henry Clinton meeting them here, made them liberal offers to entice them from the service of congress. The offers were instantly rejected, and the emissaries seized and confined in strict custody. Here they were also met by a committee of congress, and a deputation from the state of Pennsylvania. The latter, granting a part of their demands, persuaded them to return to their duty. The agents of Clinton were then given up, and immediately executed as spies.

This mutiny, and another in the Jersey line, which was instantly suppressed, aroused the attention of the states to the miserable condition of their troops. The amount of three months' pay was raised and forwarded to them in specie. They received it with joy, as it afforded evidence that their country was not unmindful of their sufferings.




In the spring of 1781, the project of besieging New York was again resumed. Requisitions for men and stores were made upon the northern states ; and, in June, the French and American troops, marching from their respective positions, encamped together on ground contiguous to the city. But reinforcements and supplies arrived slowly, and the want of them compelled the troops in the field to remain inactive.

In the southern department far different was the fortune of the opposing armies. That of which General Greene took the command consisted of but 2000 men.

Nearly one half of these he despatched under General Morgan into the western section of South Carolina, where a British party, aided by the tories, were plundering and murdering the whigs without mercy and without restraint.

Against the American detachment, Cornwallis dispatched Tarleton, with a force considerably superior, and a large proportion of it cavalry. Morgan began to retreat, but disdaining to fly from an enemy, and uncertain whether he could escape an officer so distinguished as his pursuer for the celerity of his movements, he on the 17th of January halted at the Cowpens, anb determined to hazard a battle, before his troops decame dispirited and fatigued.

Soon after he had placed his men, the British van appeared in sight. Confident of an easy victory, Tarleton rushed to the charge with his usual impetuosity. The militia posted in front yielded, as directed by Morgan, to the shock; and the infantry composing the second line, retreated a few yards. In the ardour of pursuit, the enemy were thrown into disorder : the infantry, facing about, poured upon them a fire as deadly as it was unexpected. Their disorder was increased, and a charge with the bayonet completed their overthrow. One hundred of the enemy were killed, and five hundred made prisoners.

Seldom has a victory, achieved by so small a number, been so important in its consequences. It deprived Cornwallis of one-fifth of his force, and disconcerted his plans for the reduction of North Carolina. He sought, however, to repair by active exertions the loss which he had suffered. Having learnt that Morgan, the instant after his victory, had marched with his prisoners towards Virginia, he determined, if possible to intercept him, and compel him to restore his trophies.

Now commenced a military race, which has hardly its parallel in history. Each army strove to arrive first at the fords of the Catawba, from which both were equally distant. The American troops endured almost incredible hardships. They were sometimes without meat, often without flour, and always without spirituous liquors. Many

marching over frozen ground without shoes, marked with blood every step of their progress.

. On the 12th day after the battle, Morgan reached the fords and crossed the Catawba. Two hours afterwards, Cornwallis arrived, and, it being then dark, encamped on the bank. In the night, a heavy fall of rain made the river impassable. This gave Morgan an opportunity to remove the prisoners beyond the reach of his pursuer. And here he was joined by General Greene, who, leaving the main body of his army, with orders to march towards Virginia, had ridden, with but two or three attendants, one hundred and fifty miles for that purpose.

At the end of three days, Cornwallis found means to pass the river. The retreat and pursuit again commenced.

On the second night, the Americans reached a ford on the Yadkin. Before all had crossed, the British appeared, and a part of the baggage was left in their power. Again the two armies lay encamped on the opposite banks, and before morning this river also was made impassable by the rain. This second preservation from imminent danger, persuaded the Americans that their cause was favoured of heaven.

The next day, Greene proceeded to Guilford court-house, where he was joined by the other division of his army. Cornwallis, marching up the Yadkin, crossed at the shallow fords near its source. Both armies now started for the river Dan, on the borders of Virginia, and distant more than one hundred miles. The knowledge that there the course must terminate, gave fresh vigour

« PreviousContinue »