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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,
the moment when they were most necessary. Lord Raw- 17810
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
from their former position. The field of battle was oca 1781.
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.
letter to the chevalier de la Luzerne" This distressed
your prudence; and plunge you into a misfor-
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