Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

or no opposition; the country being in no state of defence. They next proceeded to the bay of Honduras, where the British loga vood cutlers were settled. These, finding themselves too weak to resist, applied to the governor of Jamaica for assistance, who sent them a suply of men, ammunition, and military stores under captain Dalrymple.

Before the arrival of this detachment, the principal settlement called St. George's Key, had been taken by the Spaniards, and retaken by the British. Captain Dalrymple in his way, fell in with a squadron from admiral Parker's fleet, in search of some register-ships richly laden; but they retreated into the harbour of Omoa, under the protection of a fort that was too strong to be attacked on the water side with safety,

A project was then formed, in conjunction with the people of Honduras, to reduce this fort; but the artillery they had with them were too light to make any impression. It was then determined to try the success of an escalade; and this was executed with so much spirit, that the Spaniards were so astonished that they made no resistance.

The soldiers threw down their arms and surrendered. The spoil was very great, being valued at three millions of dollars. The Spaniards chiefly lamented the loss of two hundred and fifty quintals of quick silver, a commodity indispensably necessary in the working of their gold and silver mines; so that they offered to ransom it at any price; but this was refused: as also the ran. som of the fort, notwithstanding the governor offered three hundred thousand dollars for it. A small garrison was left in it by the British. But it was soon after attacked by a formidable force, and they were obliged to evacuare it. But before they retired, they destroyed every thing that could be of use to the enemy; the guns were spiked, and they even locked the gates, and carried off the keys in sight of the besiegers; after which the garrison embarked without the loss of a man.

The war in America was now transferred to the southern col. opies where the operations became at last decisive. Towards the end of the year 1779, Sir Henry Clinton sailed from New York, with a considerable body of troops, intended for an attack on Charleston, in South Carolina, in a fleet of ships of war and transports under the coinmand of vice-admiral Arbuthnot.

After a tedious voyage,

in which they suffered some losses, they arrived at the Havanna, where they endeavoured to repair the damages they had sustained during the voyage. From thence they proceeded to North Edisto, on the tenth of February, 1780. The passage thither was speedy and prosperous. The transports all entered the harbour next day; and the army took possession of St. John's island, about thirty miles from Charleston, without any opposition.

Preparations were immediately made for passing the squadron over Charleston bar; but'no opportunity offered of going into the harbour, until the twentieth of March ; when it was eitected without any accident, though ile American gallies continually attempted to prevent the English boats from sounding the channel.

The British troops had previously removed from St. John's to St. James' island; and, on the twenty-ninth of the same month, they effected their landing on Charleston neck. They broke ground on the first of April, within eight hundred yards of the American works; and by the eighth, the guns were mounted in hattery.

Admiral Arbutlinot in passing Sullivan's island, sustained a se. vere fire froin the American batteries erected there, and suffar ed sone damage in his rigging, twenty-seven sea-men were killed and wounded, the Acetus transport, having on board some naval stores, grounded within gun-shot of the island, and was so much damaged that she was abandoned and burnt. Sir Henry Clinton and the admiral on the 10th of April, summoned the town to surrender to his majesty's arms. But general Linsoln, who commanded in Charleston, answered with a declaration of his intention to defend the place. The batteries were then opened agaiost ibe town, and after a short time, the fire from the American ad. vanced-works abated. The troops in the town, were not aufi. cient in point of numbers, for defending works of such extent as those of Charleston; many of them had not been much accustom. ed to inilitary service, and very badly provided with clothes, and other necessaries. Supplies and reinforcements which were anxiously expected by general Lincoln froin Virginia, and otber places, were intercepted by Earl Cornwallis and lieutenant colonel Tarleton. They totally defeated a body of vavalry and militia, as they were proceeding to the relief of the town; they likewise secured certain posts which cemmanded the adjacent country, by which means they often prevented supplies of povisions from entering into the town.

Tarleton, however, was defeated by colonel Washington at the head of a regular troop of horse ; which eircumstance afforded the ladies in Charleston, who were warmly attached to the cause of their country, an opportunity of rallying the British officers, and Tarleton in particular, who affecting to make his court to one of them, by commending the bravery of colonel Washington added, he shonld like to see him; she wittily replied, he might have had that gratification, had he looked behind him when he fled from the battle of the Cowpeps.

On the 18th of May, General Clinton again summoned the town to surrender, upon the same terms as he bad offered before. Genoral Lincoln then proposed articles of capitulation, but they were ot agreed to by general Clinton. At length the town being

closely invested and preparations made for storming it, and the ships consisting of the Roebuck, Richmond, Romulus, Blonde, Virginia, Raleigh, and Sandwich armed ship, and the Ronown, all ready to move to the assault. Ceneral Lincoln, at the earnest entreaty of the inhabitants, surrendered it on such articles as had heen proposed by the British general. This was on the 4th of May, the town having held put one month and two days, since it had first been summoned to surrender.

A large quantity of ordnance, arms, and ammunition, were found in Charleston, and according to sir Henry Clinton's account, the number of prisoners amounted to five thousand six hundred and fifteen men, but according to the account transmitted to Congress by general Lincoln, amounted only to two thousand four hundred and eighty-seven: to account for the great difference in the two statements, in the most satisfactory manner, must be, by supposing that general Clinton included the militia and inhabitants of the town. Several American frigates were also taken, and destroyed in the harbour of Charleston.

After the surrender of the town, general Clinton issued two proclamations, and a hand bill was circulated among the inhabitants of South Carolina; the design of which, was to induce them to return to their allegiance, and to be ready to join the king's troops. It imported, that the helping hand of every man was wanted to establish peace and good order; and inat as the commander in chief, wished not to draw the king's friends into danger, while success remained doubtful, so now, as all doubts upon

this head were removed, he trusted that one and all would heartily join to effect such necessary measures, as from time to time, might be pointed out for that purpose.

Those who had families, were to form a militia to remain at home, and assemble occasionally in their own districts, when required, under officers of their own choosing. Those who had no families, and could be conveniently spared for a time, it was presumed, would cheerfully assist his majesty's troops in driving their oppressors acting under the authority of congress, and all the miseries of war, far from that oolony. For this

it was said to be necessary, that the young men should be ready to assemble when required, and serve with the king's troops for any six months of the ensuing twelve, that might be requisite, under proper regulations. They might choose officers for each company to command them, and were to be allowed, when on service, pay, ammunition and provisions, in the same manner as the king's troops. When they joined the army, each man was to be furnished with a certificate, declaring that he was only engaged as a militiawan for the terin specified, that he was not to be marched beyond North Carolina and Georgia ; and thut xhen the time was expired, he was freed from all slaints

purpose

whatever of military service, excepting the common and usual militia duty where he lived. He would then, it was said, have paid his debt to his country; and be entitled to enjoy undisturbed, that peace, liberty, and property, at home, which he had con tributed to secure.

The proclamations and publications of general Clinton produced some

effect in South Carolina. A number of the inhabitants of Charleston, who were considered as prisoners on parole, signed an address to general Clinton and admiral Arbuthnot, amounting to two hundred and ten persons, soliciting to be re-admitted to the character and condition of British subjects, declaring their disapprobation of the doctrine of American independence, and expressing their regret, that after the repeal of those statutes which gave rise to the troubles in America, the overtures made by his majesty's commissioners had not been regarded by congress.

Before we proceed any further with the transactions in South Carolina, it will be necessary to take a view of the war in another part of the continent. On the tenth of July, 1780. M. Ternay with a fleet consisting of seven ships of the line, besides frigates and transports, with a large body of Fiench troops commanded by count Roehambeau, arrived at Rhode Island ; and the following day, six thousand men were landed there; a con: mittee of the genearl assembly of Rhode Island was appointed to congratulate the French general upon his arrival: whereupon he returned an answer in which he informed them that the king, his master, had sent him to the assistance of his good and faithful allies, the United States of America. At presenti he said, he oply brought over the vanguard of a much greater force destined for their aid: and the king had ordered hiin to assure them that his whole power should be exerted for their support. He added that the French troops were under the strictest discipline; and were to act under the orders of general Washington, and that they would live with the Americans as brethren.

A scheme was soon after formed, of making a combined attack with English ships and troops under the command of Sir Henry Clinton and admiral Arbuthnot, against the French fieetand troops at Rhode Island. Accordingly a considerable part of the troops were embarked at New York for that purpose. As soon as' general Washington received information of their design, by a rapid movement, he passed the North river, and with an army of twelve thousand men proceeded to King's-Bridge, in order to attack New York; bui learning that the British general had changed his intentions, and disembarked his troops on the twenty-fiest of the month, he re-crossed the river, and returned to his for. mer station.

An unsuccessful attempt was also made about this time in the Jerseys, hy Koyphauzen, with seven thousand British troops ARder bis command, to surprise the advance posts of general Waskington's army. They proceeded with great expedition, towards Springfield, ineeting little opposition till they came to the bridge which was gallantly defended by one hundred and seventy of the continental troops, for fifteen minutes, against the British army, but were at length obliged to give up so unequal a contest, with the loss of thirty-seven men. After securing this pass, the British marched from place to place, and committed so!ne depredations, but gained no laurels, and were obliged to return without effecting any thing material.

The royal arms were attended with more success in South Carolina. Earl Cornwallis, who now commanded the troops in that quarter, obtained a signal victory over general Gates on the sixteenth of August. The action began at day break: the Americans were inich more numerous than the British, but numbers were of. no advantage, as the ground, on which both armies stood was narrowed hy swainps on the right and left.

The attack was made by the British troops with great vigour, and in a few ininutes it became general along the whole line. It was at this time a dead calm, the air was hazy, so that the smokey occasioned so thiek a darkness, that it was imposable for either party to see the effects of a very heavy fire, and well supported on both sides. The British troops kept up a constant fire, or made use of bavonets as opportunities offered: and after an obstinate resistance of three quarters of an hour, tile Americans were thrown into confusion, and forced to give way in every quarter. The continental troops behaved well, but the militia were soon broken, and left the former to oppose the whole force of the Britisha troops. General Gates did all in his power to rally them, but without effect : the regular troops under general Gates retreated in good order; but the route of the militia was so great that the British cavalry pursued them to the distance of tventy-two miles from the place where the action happened. The Americans lost one thousand in killed and wounded, and a like number it is said, taken prisoners; but the accounts are not very accurate.

The British troops engaged in this action did not exceed two thousand men, while the American army is said to have amounta ed to six thousand men, of which the greater part was militia. Seven pieces of brass cannon, à number of colours, and all the ammunition-wagons. were taken. The killed and wounded of the British troops amounted to two hundred and thirteen. Major general Baron de Kalb, a Prussian officer in the American service, was taken prisover, after he had been mortally wounded; he had distinguished himself in the course of the engagement by his gallantry, and received eleven wounds.

Lieutenant-colonel Tarleton, who had greatly distinguished bimself in this action was detached the next day, with some ca

« ПредишнаНапред »