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another body of militia were hastening to his assistance from the State of Virginia, he was prevented from waiting for their arrival by want of provisions, and, after staying for one day only at the cross-roads, finding that the enemy intended to dispute his passage by Linch's creek, he marched to the right towards Clermont, where the British had established a defensible post. On his approach to the latter place, however, Lord Rawdon, who commanded the advance of the British, concentrated all his forces at Camden, whilst Gates mustered the whole of his army at Clermont, which is distant from Camden about thirteen miles.
These events occurred on the 13th of August, and on the next day the American troops were reinforced by a bo dy of 700 of the Virginia militia. At the same time Gates received an express from Colonel Sumpter, who reported to him that he had been joined by a number of the South Carolina militia, at his encampment on the west side of the Wateree, and that an escort of clothing, ammunition, and other stores, was on its way from Charleston to Camden, and must, of necessity, on its way to its destination, cross the Wateree at a ferry about a mile from that place. On receiving this intelligence, Gates sent forward a detachment of the Maryland line, consisting of 100 regular infantry and a company of artillery, with two brass field-pieces, and 300 North Carolina militia, all under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Woodford, who was instructed to join General Sumpter, and assist him in intercepting the convoy. At the same time General Gates made preparations for advancing still nearer Camden, in the expectation that
Why did not Gates wait for the Virginia militia?
if Lord Rawdon did not abandon that post as he had done that of Clermont, his supplies would be cut off by the bodies of militia which were expected to pour forth from the upper counties, and he would thus be compelled to a surrender. On reaching the frontier of South Carolina, Gates had issued a proclamation, inviting the inhabitants to join his standard, and offering an amnesty to such of them as, under the pressure of circumstances, had promised allegiance to the British Government. Though this proclamation had not been without effect, it had not called forth the numbers upon which the American General had been led to calculate; and, after the departure of Lieutenant-Colonel Woodford's detachment, the abstract of the field-returns submitted to him by his deputy Adjutant-General indicated no more than between 4000 or 5000 men as constituting his disposable force. Gates, disappointed as he was by the scantiness of these returns, determined to persevere in his plan of offensive operations, and marched about ten at night on the 15th of August to within half a mile of Sander's Creek, about half way between his encampment and Camden. Lord Cornwallis, who the day before had repaired to his head-quarters at Camden, and had taken the command of the British army, was also resolved, though his forces amounted only to 2000 men, of whom 1700 were infantry and 300 cavalry, to attack the enemy in their camp, and advancing for that purpose, at half-past two in the morning, encountered their advanced parties near Sander's Creek. Here some firing took place with various success but on the whole the British had the advantage in this night
What did Gen. Gates issue?
rencounter. Early the ensuing morning both armies prepared for battle. On the side of the Americans, the second Maryland brigade, under the command of General Gist, occupied the right, which was flanked by a morass; the Virginia militia and the North Carolina infantry, also covered by some boggy ground, were posted on the left, whilst General Caswell, with the North Carolina division and the artillery, appeared in the center. A corps de reserve, under the orders of General Smallwood, was posted about three hundred yards in the rear of the American line.
In arranging the British forces Lord Cornwallis delegated the command of the right to Lieutenant-Colonel Webster, who had at his disposal the 23d and the 33d regiments of foot. The left was guarded by some Irish volunteers, the infantry of the legion, and part of Lieutenant-Colonel Hamilton's North Carolina regiment, under the command of Lord Rawdon. The cavalry of the legion was stationed in the rear, where also the 71st regiment was stationed as a reserve. The respective armies being thus disposed, the action began by the advance of 200 of the British in front of the American artillery, which received them with a steady fire. Gates then commanded the Virginia militia to advance under the command of Colonel Stevens, who cheerfully obeyed the orders of his commander-in-chief, and, when he had led his men within firing distance, urged them to charge the enemy with their bayonets. This portion of the American army did not, however, emulate the gallantry of their leader. Lord Cornwallis, observing their movement, gave orders to Lieutenant-Colonel Webster to attack them. The British in
How was the American army arranged for battle?
fantry obeyed his lordship’s commands with a loud cheer. The American militia, intimidated by this indication of determined daring, were panic-struck, and the Virginians and the Carolinians threw down their arms and hastened from the field. The right wing and the corps de reserve, however, maintained their position, and even gained ground upon the enemy; but Lord Cornwallis, taking advantage of a favorable moment, charged them with his cavalry, and put them completely to the rout. The victors captured the whole of the baggage and artillery of the Americans, who were pursued by the British cavalry for the space of twenty miles; and so complete was their discomfiture, that on the second day after the engagement Gates could only muster 150 of his fugitive soldiers at Charleston, a town in the south of North Carolina, from whence he retreated still farther north to Salisbury, and thence to Hillsborough. The sickliness of the season prevented Lord Cornwallis from pursuing the broken remains of the enemy's army; but he employed the leisure now afforded him in inflicting vengeance on such of the inhabitants of South Carolina as had been induced, by the presence of Gates's army, to declare in his favor. The militiamen who had joined the republican standard, and had fallen into his hands as prisoners, he doomed to the gallows. The property of the fugitives, and of the declared friends of independence, he confiscated. These acts, though severe, were perhaps justifiable by the strictness of the law. But neither in law nor in honor could his lordship justify the seizure of a number of the principal citizens of Charleston, and most of the military officers residing there under the faith of the late capitulation, and sending them to St. Augustin.
Reduced to desperation by these injudicious severities,
How was Cornwallis afterwards employed?
the bold and active among the disaffected formed themselves into independent bands, under different chieftains, amongst whom Marion and Sumpter were distinguished by their spirit of enterprise. These harassed the scattered parties of the British, several of which they cut off; and and by their movements the loyalists to the north of the Carolinas were kept in check. Eight of these chieftains having under their forces, attacked Major Ferguson, who had been sent to the confines of the two provinces to assemble the friends of the British government, and killed or wounded 250 of his new levies, and took 800 prisoners, Ferguson himself being amongst the slain. This success was followed by important results: Lord Cornwallis had marched into North Carolina, in the direction of Salisbury; but when he heard of the defeat and death of Ferguson, he retreated to Winnsborough in the southern province, being severely harassed in his retrograde movement by the militia and the inhabitants; and when he retired into winter-quarters Sumpter still kept the field.
In the mean time General Gates had collected another army,
with which he advanced to Charlotte. Here he received intelligence that Congress had resolved to supersede him and to submit his conduct to a court of inquiry. Mortified as he was by the ingratitude of his country, on the notification of this resolve of the supreme power he dutifully resigned his command. But on his way home from Carolina, his feelings were soothed by an address from the legislature of Virginia assuring him that the remembrance
In consequence of these proceedings what did the more bold and active do?