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wounded as soon as, in all the circumstances of the case, they were able ; but could afford them no adequate assistance, for they were without tents, and there were no houses near to shelter the sufferers. Besides, the troops had marched several miles in the morning, had no provisions for themselves on that day, and consequently could give nothing to their bleeding companions. The succeeding night was extremely dark and wet, and the piercing shrieks of the dying falling on the ear amid the deep gloom, and under torrents of rain, penetrated every feeling heart with anguish, but, though melting with compassion, they were unable to afford even the shadow of relief. Ere morning death rescued many of the miserable sufferers from their pangs.
Cornwallis, however, had gained no permanent advantage. His army, which was weak before, was much diminished. He made every possible exertion, and employed all the means at his disposal to the best advantage. After an obstinate conflict, he had dislodged the enemy from an advantageous position, and driven him from the field ; but his embarrassments were not relieved. So far from being able to follow up his victory and pursue General Greene, he was obliged to fall back, although the motives which led to the battle of Guildford courthouse were little weakened. The British army was so much diminished, and the difficulty of finding subsistence in that part of the country was so great, that on the third day after the battle he began a retreat, leaving a number of the wounded, who could not properly be rernoved, at the quaker's meetinghouse, under the protection of a flag of truce. The battle of Guildford courthouse may be considered as the first step in a series of movements which terminated in the overohrow of the British power in America.
Instead of returning to South Carolina, Cornwallis retired to Cross creek, on a branch of Cape Fear river, where there was a friendly settlement of Scottish highlanders, and afterward to Wilmington, about 100 miles lower on the same river. Before his departure from Wynnesborough in pursuit of Morgan and Greene, Cornwallis had directed Colonel Balfour, the commandant of Charleston, to send a sufficient force by sea, to take possession of Wilmington in North Carolina, situated near the mouth of Cape Fear river. Balfour intrusted the execution of this enterprise to Major Craig, who, about the end of January, entered the place after a slight resistance. He carefully fortified himself, and made his post respectable.
For the convenience of his sick and wounded, and for procuring subsistence to his army, Cornwallis by easy marches proceeded toward Cross creek, in the hope that there the troops would be plentifully supplied, and the sick and wounded receive that comfortable accommodation and those refreshments of which they stood greatly in need. He arrived at Cross creek about the beginning of April
, where he had to encounter new disappointments. Forage for four days could not be procured within twenty miles; and the communication by water with Wilmington was found impracticable ; for the river is narrow, the banks in many places are high, and the inhabitants of a considerable part of the interve
ning country were extremely hostile. In all these circumstances, Cornwallis was obliged to proceed toward Wilmington, the vicinity of which place he reached on the 7th of April. There, for a while, we shall leave him, and ata tend to the operations of General Greene.
When General Greene took his position at the iron-works on Troublesome creek, after the battle of Guildford courthouse, he expected that Cornwallis would follow up his advantage, and attack him without delay. He therefore prepared again to fight. His army, indeed, was much diminished; but he had lost more in numbers than in effective strength. The militia, many of whom had returned home, had shown themselves very inefficient in the field. As soon as he received certain information that, instead of pursuing, Cornwallis was retreating, he resolved to follow him, and advanced accordingly. On arriving at the quakers' meetinghouse, he found the wounded British and American officers and soldiers who had been left behind ; but he had no means of making any adequate provision for them. In that distressing case, General Greene addressed a letter to the quakers in the vicinity, in which he told them that he had been brought up in their persuasion, and that now they had an opportunity of exercising their humanity, without distinction of parties, both to the wounded British and Americans, who without their friendly aid must perish. His appeal was not disregarded ; for the quakers immediately furnished the requisite supplies for the hospital.
General Greene, who was now in his turn the pursuer, followed Cornwallis 80 closely, that skirmishes occasionally happened between his advanced par ties and the rear-guard of the British army: but no conflict of importance ensued. On the morning of the 28th of March he arrived at Ramsay's mills, on Deep river, a strong post, which the British had evacuated a few hours before, crossing the river by a bridge erected for the purpose. There General Greene paused, and meditated on his future movements. His
had for some time past suffered much from heavy rains, deep roads, and scarcity of provisions. On reaching Ramsay's mills, his men were starving with hunger. The troops were much exhausted, and stood in need of repose and refreshment. Besides, in that critical state of the campaign, he found himself reduced to a handful of continentals. Most of the North Carolina militia had left the army. The Virginia militia had been called out for six weeks only; that period was nearly expired and the place of those who were about to return home was not yet filled up by those who were to succeed them. Small as his army was, he found great difficulty in procuring subsistence for it.
Cornwallis had fairly the start of the Americans, and was advancing to a place where he would find more plentiful supplies, and easily communicate with the sea; so that General Greene was sensible that with the force then under his command he could make no impression on him. He resolved, therefore, instead of following his opponent, to proceed to South Carolina. That step, he thought, would oblige Cornwallis either to follow him or to abandon his posts in the upper parts of the southern states. If he followed him, North Carolina would be relieved, and enabled to raise its quota of men for the continental service; but if he remained in that state, or proceeded to the northward, it was likely that the greater part of the British posts in South Carolina and Georgia would be reduced, and that those states would be restored to the Union. But he entertained little apprehension of Cornwallis being able, with the force then under his command, to make any permanent impression on the powerful state of Virginia.
On the departure of the militia, General Greene's army was reduced to the regular troops of Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware, amounting to about 1,700 men, including cavalry and artillery; and the British army, under the immediate command of Cornwallis, was still less numerous, not exceeding 1,500 men. So small was the force with which Great Britain and the United States were eagerly contending for an extensive and valuable tract of country.
Having refreshed his troops, and collected provisions for a few days, General Greene moved from Ramsay's mills, on Deep river, on the 5th of April, toward Camden ; and on the morning of the 20th of the same month encamped at Log town, in sight of the British works at that place.
Cornwallis had not been without apprehensions of General Greene's proceeding to South Carolina, and had despatched several messengers to Lord Rawdon, who commanded at Camden, to prepare him for such an event; but not one of these messengers reached the place of his destination. Soon after his arrival at Wilmington, Cornwallis received certain information that General Greene had actually made the apprehended movement; and it threw him into much perplexity. He was alarmed for the safety of Rawdon ; but, though desirous of assisting him, he was convinced that the Americans were already so far advanced that it was impossible for him to arrive at Camden in time to succor Rawdon, if he should need succor. His lordship's fate and that of his garrison would probably be decided long before he could reach them; and if General Greene should be successful at Camden, he, by attempting to relieve it, might be hemmed in between the great rivers, and exposed to the most imminent hazard. On the other hand, if Rawdon should defeat General Greene, there would be no need of his assistance. A movement so perilous in the execution, and promising so little in the result, was abandoned, and Rawdon left to his own resources. uncommonly active campaign was now about to open in South Carolina and Georgia. The importance of the prize, the talents of the generals, the courage and sufferings of the soldiers, and the accumulated miseries of the inhabitants, all contributed to give the struggle for those states a degree of interest seldom felt in military transactions in which such small armies are engaged.
When Cornwallis entered North Carolina, the command of South Carolina and Georgia was committed to Lord Rawdon; and, for the security of the British power in those provinces, a line of posts was continued from Charleston, by the way of Camden and Ninety-Six, to Augusta in Georgia. Camden was the most important point in the line, and there Rawdon had taken post with a garrison of about 900 men. On the day before he left Ramsay's mills, General Greene sent Colonel Lee with his legion to join General Marion, and surprise an intermediate post, which, like other stations of the kind, was but slightly fortified, and garrisoned by a few regulars, and such of the militia of the country as attached themselves to the British interest.
General Marion on the northeast, and General Sumpter on the southwes parts of South Carolina, each at the head of a small party of mounted followers, had maintained a bold but ineffectual warfare; and from their feeble and desultory efforts no serious apprehensions were entertained: but after the arrival of General Greene in South Carolina, they proved useful auxiliaries and troublesome enemies.
Lee joined Marion ; and, on the 15th of April, they unexpectedly presented themselves before Fort Watson, a British post on the Santee. It was an Indian mound, rising 30 or 40 feet above the level of the plain. Neither the garrison nor the assailants had artillery; but in a few days the Americans constructed a work on an unusual plan, which overlooked the fort, and from the top of which the riflemen fired with such unerring aim that not a man of the garrison could show himself without certain destruction. On the 23d, the garrison, consisting of 114 men, capitulated.
General Greene hoped to arrive at Camden before Rawdon got notice of his march ; but the inhabitants of the territories through which he passed were disaffected to the revolutionary cause; and he was obliged to forage with the same precautions as if he had been in an enemy's country; consequently his progress was slower than he had expected ; Rawdon had received early information of his advance, and was ready to receive him when he appeared before Camden on the 20th of April.
Camden was a village situated on a plain, covered on the south by the Wateree, a river which higher up is called the Catawba ; and below, after its confluence with the Congaree from the south, assumes the name of the Santee. On the east of it flowed a rivulet called Pinetree creek; on the north and west sides it was defended by a strong chain of redoubts, six in number, extending from the river to the creek. General Greene, whose force at that time amounted only to about 1,200 men, felt himself unable either to storm or completely to invest the place. He encamped before it to wait for the arrival of the militia whom he expected, and to be in readiness to improve any favorable opportunity that might occur ; but he had not been long in that position when he was informed that Colonel Watson was marching up the Santee to join Rawdon. General Greene was sensible that, if that reinforcement arrived safely in Camden, he would be unable to maintain his ground before the place. He resolved to intercept Watson; which could be accomplished only by movements too rapid for the presence of baggage and artillery. In order to rid himself of these incumbrances, he sent them under the care of Colonel Carrington and some North Carolina militia to Lynch's creek, nearly 20 miles north from Camden, and moved his camp to the east of that place on the road to Charleston. But Watson, having been interrupted by Marion and Lee, did not arrive so soon as was expected ; and Greene found it difficult to procure provisions for his men in his new position. On the 24th he sent an order to Carrington to join him with the baggage and artillery at Hobkerk's hill, an eminence rather more than a mile north from Camden on the road to the Waxhaws. On the same day he marched his army to that place; where the left of his encampment was covered by a swamp, and the hill, as well as the ground between it and Camden, abounded with trees and underwood.
At that time a drummer deserted from General Greene, and informed Rawdon of the absence of his militia, artillery, and baggage. That officer immediately resolved to seize the favorable opportunity, and to attack the American general while destitute of artillery, and unsupported by the militia, or by Marion and Lee. Accordingly, on the morning of the 25th, at the head of about 900 men, he marched from Camden to attack General Greene's camp; and, by making a circuit, and keeping close to the edge of the swamp, under cover of the woods
he gained the left flank of the Americans, where the hill was most accessible, undiscovered. While the Americans were cooking their provisions, and General Greene at breakfast, the alarm was given by the outposts firing on the Brit
At that critical moment the militia and the cannon arrived, and General Greene soon had his army in order of battle. The Virginia brigade, under General Huger, was on the right ; the Maryland brigade, under Colonel Wil. liams, was on the left; and the artillery in the centre. The North Carolina militia, under Colonel Reade, formed a second line ; Captain Kirkwood, with the light infantry, was placed in front, to support the advanced parties, and to retard the progress of the British troops. So confident was General Greene of victory that he ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Washington, with his cavalry, to turn the right flank of the British, and to charge them in the rear.
Meanwhile the American advanced parties and Kirkwood's infantry, after a brisk fire, were driven in ; and Rawdon advanced steadily to attack the main body of the American army. The 63d regiment, supported by the volunteers of Ireland, formed his right; the king's American regiment, supported by Captain Robertson's corps, composed his left ; the New York volunteers were in the centre. The North Carolina volunteers and cavalry were in the rear, and formed a reserve.
After viewing the British army, and observing the narrow front which it presented, General Greene, sanguine in his hopes of success, ordered the second Maryland regiment to attack its right flank, a part of the Virginia troops to assail its left
, and the rest of the Virginia and Maryland continentals to march down the hill and oppose it in front. Thus the British army was to be assailed in front, on both flanks, and in the rear.
Rawdon, perceiving General Greene's intention, quickly extended his front, by bringing the Irish volunteers forward into the line. The firing became very close, and though the American column which descended the hill was supported by a destructive discharge of grape-shot from the artillery, yet that part of the continentals was soon broken by the British troops, and fell back in confusion. Their officers were unable to rally them. The British gained the summit of the hill; and General Greene, surprised and mortified at the sudden and unexpected reverse, and apprehensive of the utter discomfiture and ruin of his army, ordered such of his continentals as were still unbroken, and his militia, who had not been engaged, to retreat. Washington, who had gained the rear of the British army, and made a number of prisoners, seeing the infantry driven from the field, paroled some wounded officers and retired, carrying with him about fifty prisoners, among whom were the royal surgeons.
In the confusion the American cannon were run down the hill, and concealed from the British among some bushes ; but, in his retreat, Washington observed and drew them off. The pursuit was continued nearly three miles, but was ultimately checked by a furious charge made by Washington, with a body of cavalry. The retreat from the field was conducted in good order ; and the Americans carried off all their baggage, artillery, and some prisoners. They halted for the night at Saunder's creek, four miles from Hobkerk's hill; and next day proceeded to Rugely's mills, twelve miles from Camden. After the engagement the British returned to Camden.
Hobkerk's hill was a hard-fought battle; and, considering the numbers engaged, each party suffered considerable loss. The Americans had nearly 300 men killed, wounded, or missing; and among them were some valuable officers. In killed, wounded, and missing, the loss of the British amounted to 258, out of about 900 who were on the field.
The battle of Hobkerk's hill, like that of Guildford courthouse, was of no permanent advantage to the British. For Rawdon was in no condition to follow