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so long idle in Rhode Island, to assist in his defensive measures. Orders were accordingly given for the evacuation of Newport, and the troops under Sir Robert Pigot marched for New York on the 27th October, 1779. The conduct of Sir Robert during his command on Rhode Island, had gained him the character of great humanity ; for he had permitted none of those predatory excursions which had occasioned so much misery in other quarters, nor were his troops suffered to commit any needless destruction or wanton cruelties upon their quitting Newport. The evacuation was made with the utmost regularity and discipline, and in a manner which did as much credit to the soldiers, for their exact obedience, as to General Pigot for the humanity which dictated his orders.
The intelligence of the repulse of the combined army from Savannah, and the subsequent departure of the Count D’Estaing's fleet from the American coast, having releived the fears of Sir Henry Clinton for the safety of New York, he determined to give active employment to his army, which had been considerably reinforced by arrivals from Europe, by undertaling an expedition against South Carolina. With this view he committed the command of New York to Lieutenant General Knyphausen, and embarked himself with 7000 troops on board the fleet and transports, under the direction of Admiral Arbuthnot, on the 26th of December. The weather was so tempestuous and stormy during the passage, that several of the transports were lost, and very serious injury done to the whole. One of the ordnance ships, with all her stores, was sunk, and two or three fell into the hands of the Americans ; besides which nearly all the horses belonging to the expedition perished. The fleet in this
shattered condition, arrived at the Tybee on the last of January, where the damaged ships were repaired, and again putting to sea, the fleet and army arrived at North Edisto Sound, in South Carolina, on the 10th of February. They took immediate possession of John and James Islands, and on the 11th the army was disembarked. Sir Henry was now within thirty miles of Charleston, where General Lincoln lay with a force not exceeding two thousand regulars, and the militia of the town. In two days the town might have been his; he had nothing to fear in his rear, and no difficulties in front which might not have been overcome as well in a few hours as in a month; but his approaches to the town were so slow and cautious that he did not accomplish the passage of Ashley river until the 29th of March, having been upwards of forty days marching a distance of thirty miles. During this whole period the enemy had met with little or po resistance, until the 27th, when a rencontre took place between a party of their horse, under Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton and the remnant of Baylor's Regiment of Cavalry, now under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Washington. The loss of horses which Sir Henry had suffered on the voyage, was soon supplied by others, which they found no difficulty in procuring after the army had landed. The rencontre ended advantageously for Washington, who drove the enemy back and took several prisoners, among whom was Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton of the Royal Regiment of North Carolina.
The Assembly of South Carolina, being in session at the moment of the enemy's landing, clothed Governour Rutledge with full power to adopt any measures which he and his Council might deem necessary for
the safety of the city. His first step was to call upon the militia in the usual manner to repair to the rendezvous ; but little or no effect being produced by this call, a proclamation was issued requiring every inhabitant of the town, to repair to the American standard, under the penalty of having his property confiscated. This proclamation was obeyed with no greater alacrity than the previous order; very few of the militia or owners of property joined the garrison. General Lincoln had been indefatigable in his endeavour to place the town in a state of defence, and had called upon the neighbouring States for their forces, as well as upon the Spanish Governour of Havannah, to whom a promise was made of assisting the Spaniards in the reduction of St. Augustine. But when the enemy crossed the river, his whole force, regulars, militia and sailors, did not amount to 2500. Three continental ships had been sent by Congress to aid in his defence, the moment Sir Henry Clinton's design became known to them; and these with several others already in the harbour, finding it impracticable to defend the bar, took their station at Fort Moultrie, from which being driven on the 20th by Admiral Arbuthnot, they retreated to the city, and the sailors were sent on shore to the batteries. General Lincoln had considerably extended the redoubts and lines of defence which had been thrown up in the spring of 1779, so as to cross the whole Neck from Cooper to Ashley rivers. A strong abbatis and ditch, covered the front of the lines, and between them deep holes were dug at short distances. In the centre was erected a strong citadel, and wherever a landing was practicable, works had been thrown up as strong as circumstances would allow them to be made. In all this work
General Lincoln had daily assisted with his own hands, that he might by his example as far as possible excite the troops to emulation.
Sir Henry Clinton crossed Ashley river on the 30th of March, and on the 31st sat down before the works of Charleston. Lieutenant Colonel Pickens, with a corps of light artillery, made a gallant attack upon the van of the enemy on their march, and the Earl of Caithness, one of Sir Henry's aids, was wounded in the skirmish. On the 1st of April, Sir Henry broke ground in several places, and in pursuance of his original intention of making regular and cautious approaches, began his first parallel about a thousand yards distant from the American lines. On the 9th, Admiral Arbuthnot determined to make an attempt to pass Fort Moultrie, which under its brave commander in 1776, had so successfully resisted a similar attempt. The command of this fort was now entrusted to Lieutenant Colonel Pinkney, an officer every way qualified for the difficult and important task.--The British Admiral, bowever, being favoured with a strong southerly wind and flood tide, accomplished his object with but little loss, having only 27 seamen killed and wounded, and one of his transports run aground and burnt by the crew. No other opposition intervening, the fleet anchored within the harbour ready to cooperate with the land forces. On the 10th Sir Henry having completed his first parallel, summoned the town to surrender; to which General Lincoln made the following reply : “ Sixty days have been passed, since it has been known that your intentions against this town were hostile, in which, time has been afforded to abandon it ; but duty and inclinations point to the propriety of supporting it to the
last extremity." While this summons was pending, General Woodford arrived at Charleston with 700 regulars, who had accomplished a march of five hundred miles in twenty-eight days. These added nothing, however, to the strength of the garrison ; for nearly the same number of North Carolina militia whose times of service expired during the siege, abandoned the works, and to their eternal disgrace marched off to their respective homes.
On the reception of General Lincoln's answer to the summons, the British batteries were opened, and an assault commenced, which was kept up almost without intermission until the 20th. The fire was returned by the besieged with equal vigour ; but their lines had suffered considerable damage from the large mortars of the enemy, whereas but little impression had been made upon the besiegers. During this interval the enemy had completed their second parallel about six hundred yards in advance of the first. The situation of General Lincoln was now become extremely critical : the enemy being in possession of the harbour and of Charleston Neck, there remained but one pass open for his retreat, namely, across the Cooper river and along its eastern bank. His own opinion was decidedly in favour of retreating, but the civil authorities were equally opposed to it : they regarded the loss of their capital with such feelings of horrour, that they could not be brought to see the danger which attended their prolonged defence. The prayers and entreaties of those around him, determined General Lincoln, contrary to his better judgment, to remain. His situation, however, becoming more and more critical, another council of war was called on the 21st, which resulted in the following determi