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1781. pletely investing it. On the 21st Greene received intel

ligence, that lieut. col. Watson, who had made an incursion to Peedee, was on his return to Camden with 4. or 500 men: upon which he sent his baggage and artillery, which could not follow him, under a guard of militia, to a secure position, and threw all his regular troops below the town, where appearances indicated more forcible boftilities against the garrison ; and frequent skirmishes evinced the enemy's apprehensions of danger upon that quarter : but the principal design of Greene, to intercept Watson, was prevented by his de- , lay, and a report of his having crossed the Santee.

On the 24th the army returned to the north side of the town, orders being previously sent for the artillery and baggage to rejoin it at Hobkirk's hill, about a mile froin Camden. The army took post on the hill, the better to improve the opportunity that any. fortie might afford; and by its being more remote than the position formerly occupied, to impress the enemy with an idea of the Americans beginning to be apprehensive of their own danger. The precaution of calling the rolls often was taken; notwithstanding which, one Jones, a drummer, eluded the attention of the officers and the vigilance of the guards, and got fafe into town. thing was apprehended from that circumstance, as the : army was well posted, and desired nothing more than a

field action. April On the morning of the 25th this order was issued 25.

— The troops are to be furnished with two days provision, and a gill of spirits per man as soon as the stores arrive.” The provisions were issued; but the spirits being in the rear of the baggage train, did not arrive at,


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the moment when they were most necessary. Lord Raw- 17810
don concluding that gen. Greene was not prepared for an
action, and that a favorable moment offered; marched
out to attack him. The Americans were cooking their
victuals, and Greene was at breakfast; about ten o'clock;
when some of his advanced sentinels; half a mile in
front of the camp, fired upon the van of the British.
The American troops were foon formed, and waited
with cheerful countenances the approach of the enemy:
col. O. Williams then rode to head quarters, 2 or 300
yards in the rear of the line, and returned before they
engaged. All the baggage, as is customary in general
actions, was ordered off. The cavalry (which was un-
saddled and feeding, on the first alarm) was now ready ;
and fo certain was Greene of success, that without the
least hesitation, he ordered lieut. col. Washington to
turn the right flank of the British; and to charge in
their rear. By this time the fire between the British
van, and the American light infantry picquets became
very lively; and the Maryland troops (who had been
ordered to sit down) stood up and made ready. The
second regiment; being on the left of the line, was or-
dered to advance and attack the British on their right
flank; which was done by lieut. col. Ford, who received
a mortal wound in the action: the first regiment, com-
manded by col. Gunby, was ordered to charge tlie enemy
in front. The two Virginia regiments were ordered to
act in a similar manner upon the left of the British, and
were led on by Greene in person, aided by gen. Huger;
lieut. cols. Campbell and Hawes. The artillery was
well posted and doing great execution, and a sinail body
of militia was coming into action, when suddenly a



1781. number of the Americans began to retire, though the

danger was not apparently great, and every body seemed ignorant of the cause. Col. Williams was at this inftant near the centre of the Maryland brigade, and with the assistance of col. Gunby and other officers, endeavoured to rally the men. They halted and gave a few fires; but could not be brought again to charge. A general retreat took place. Washington, in the execution of the order given him, had at one time poffesfed himself of near 200 prisoners: but he relinquished the greatest part on seeing the army retire. The officers he paroled on the field of battle; and then collecting his men, wheeled round, made his own retreat good with the loss of three men, and carried off with him fifty prison

The fortune of the day was irretrievable: but Greene, with his usual firmness, instantly took measures to prevent Rawdon's improving the success he had obtained. The retreat was conducted with such order and deliberation, that most of the American wounded, all their artillery and all their baggage, were safely carried off, together with six royal commissioned officers, beside Washington's prisoners. The action was continued with intervals, till about four in the afternoon, and till the Americans had retreated about four miles; when a detachment of the infantry and cavalry, under Washington, were ordered to advance and annoy the British. The York volunteers, a handsome corps of horse, being a little advanced of the British infantry, Washington, with great intrepidity, instantly charged them, killed a number and dispersed the rest. The British army, without attempting any thing further, retired to Camden, and Greene encamped the Americans about five miles




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from their former position. The field of battle was oca 1781.
cupied only by the dead. The loss of the Americans
in killed, wounded and mising, was 264 * Among
the first was capt. Beatty of the Maryland line, one
of the best of officers, and an ornaient to his pro-
fession. Many of the missing returned.

The next day Greene in general orders commended the exertions of several corps; but implicitly and by silence censured the infantry of the battalions; which would not have been done had he known the real cause of their apparent misconduct. The virtual censure was feverely felt, and the dissatisfaction of the troops upon the occasion, who said they were ordered to retire, and the complaints of many of the officers who acknowledge ed they had communicated such orders, at length pro. duced, at the instance of col. Gunby, a court of inquiry. It then appeared that Gunby received orders to advance and charge bayonets without firing: this order was instantly communicated to the regiment; which advanced cheerfully for some distance, when a firing began on the right, and in a short time became general through the whole regiment. Soon after, two' of the right hand companies gave way, when Gunby ordered the other four to be brought off. This was done, and they joined Gunby at the foot of the hill, where he was exerting himself in rallying the other two companies, and at length effected it.

The regiment was again formed, and gave a fire or two as above related. Greene în

general orders pronounced Gunby's spirit and activity unexceptionable ; but his order for the regiment to retire extremely improper and unmilitary; and declared that

The return to the Board of War,


1781ę to be the only probable cause why they did not obtain

a complete victory.
April On the 28th gen. Greene thus expressed himself in a

letter to the chevalier de la Luzerne" This distressed
country I am sure cannot struggle much longer, with-
out more effectual support. They may struggle a little
while longer, but they must fall; and I fear their fall
will lay a train to fap the independence of the rest of
America.--I have, agreeable to your excellency's advice,
impressed the states all in my power with a sense of their
danger ; but they have not the means to make the ne-
ceffary exertions.--We fight, get beaten, rise and fight
again. The whole country is one continued scene of
blood and Naughter.” On the ift of May he wrote to,
the marquis de la Fayette-“ You may depend upon it,
that nothing can equal the sufferings of our little army,
but their merit. Let not the love of fame get the bet-

your prudence; and plunge you into a misfor-
tune in too eager a pursuit after glory. This is the voice
of a friend, and not the caution of a general.” Capt,
Smith of the Americans was deprived of the common
indulgence allowed to prisoners, on a charge brought
against him by deserters from Greene's army, of mur-
dering an officer and three privates belonging to the
guards after the action of Guildford. Greene complain-
ed of it to lord Rawdon in a letter of May the 3d, and
said Nothing can be more foreign to the truth than
the charge. Į have only to observe upon it, that had
such a charge been made against any of

your officers, whom the fortune of war had thrown into our hands, before I should have treated them with any peculiar marks of indignity, I should first have made the inquiry, and

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