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CHAPTER XIX: Campaign of 1780 in the Southern States. - David Ramsay, The History of the American Revolution, vol. 2 
The History of the American Revolution, Foreword by Lester H. Cohen (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1990). Vol. 2.
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Campaign of 1780 in the Southern States.
1780The successful defence of savannah, together with the subsequent departure of Count D’Estaing from the coast of the United States, soon dissipated all apprehensions, previously entertained for the safety of New-York. These circumstances pointed out to Sir Henry Clinton, the propriety of renewing offensive operations. Having effected nothing of importance for the two preceding campaigns, he turned his attention southwardly, and regaled himself with flattering prospects of easy conquest, among the weaker States. The suitableness of the climate for winter operations, the richness of the country, and its distance from support, designated South-Carolina as a proper object of enterprize. No sooner therefore was the departure of the French fleet known and confirmed, than Sir Henry Clinton committed the command of the royal army in New-York to Lieut. Gen. Kniphausen, and embarked for the southward, with four flank battalions, 12 regiments, and a corps British, Hessian and provincial, a powerful detachment of artillery, 250 cavalry, together with an ample supply of military stores and provisions. Vice Admiral Arbuthnot, with a suitable naval force, undertook to convey the troops to the place of their destination.1779 The whole sailed from New-York.Dec. 26 After a tedious and dangerous passage, in which part of their ordnance, most of their artillery, and all their cavalry horses were lost, the fleet arrived at Tybee in Georgia.Jan. 31 In a few days, the transports with the army on board, sailed from Savannah for North-Edisto, and after a short passage, the troops made good their landing about 30 miles from Charleston, and took possession of John’s Island and Stono ferry, and soon after of James Island, and Wappoo-cut.Feb. 11 A bridge was thrown over the canal, and part of the royal army took post on the banks of Ashley river opposite to Charleston.
The assembly of the State was sitting when the British landed, but broke up after “delegating to Gov. Rutledge, and such of his council as he could conveniently consult, a power to do every thing necessary for the public good,1780  except the taking away the life of a citizen without a legal trial.” The Governor immediately ordered the militia to rendezvous. Though the necessity was great, few obeyed the pressing call. A proclamation was issued by the Governor, under his extraordinary powers, requiring such of the militia as were regularly draughted, and all the inhabitants and owners of property in the town, to repair to the American standard and join the garrison immediately, under pain of confiscation. This severe though necessary measure produced very little effect. The country was much despirited by the late repulse at Savannah.
The tedious passage from New-York to Tybee, gave the Americans time to fortify Charleston. This together with the losses which the royal army had sustained in the late tempestuous weather, induced Sir Henry Clinton, to dispatch an order to New-York for reinforcements of men and stores. He also directed Major General Prevost, to send on to him twelve hundred men from the garrison of Savannah. Brigadier General Patterson, at the head of this detachment, made his way good over the river Savannah, and through the intermediate country, and soon after joined Sir Henry Clinton near the banks of Ashley river. The royal forces without delay proceeded to the siege.Mar. 29 At Wappoo on James Island, they formed a depot, and erected fortifications both on that island and on the main, opposite to the southern and western extremities of Charleston. An advanced party crossed Ashley river, and soon after broke ground at the distance of 1100 yards from the American works. At successive periods, they erected five batteries on Charleston neck. The garrison was equally assiduous in preparing for its defence. The works which had been previously thrown up, were strengthened and extended. Lines and redoubts were continued across from Cooper to Ashley river. In front of the whole was a strong abbatis, and a wet ditch made by passing a canal from the heads of swamps, which run in opposite directions. Between the abbatis and the lines, deep holes were dug at short intervals. The lines were made particularly strong on the right and left, and so constructed as to rake the wet ditch in almost  its whole extent.1780 To secure the center, a hornwork had been erected, which being closed during the siege formed a kind of citadel. Works were also thrown up on all sides of the town, where a landing was practicable. Though the lines were no more than field works, yet Sir Henry Clinton treated them with the respectful homage of three parallels. From the 3d to the 10th of April, the first parallel was completed, and immediately after the town was summoned to surrender. On the 12th, the batteries were opened, and from that day an almost incessant fire was kept up. About the time the batteries were opened a work was thrown up near Wando river, nine miles from town, and another at Lempriere’s point, to preserve the communication with the country by water. A post was also ordered at a ferry over the Santee, to favour the coming in of reinforcements, or the retreat of the garrison when necessary.Mar. 21 The British marine force consisting of one ship of fifty guns, two of forty four guns, four of thirty two, and the Sandwich armed ship, crossed the bar in front of Rebellion road and anchored in Five fathom hole. The American force opposed to this was the Bricole, which though pierced for forty four guns, did not mount half of that number, two of 32 guns, one of 28, two of 26, two of 20, and the brig Notre Dame of 16 guns. The first object of its commander Commodore Whipple, was to prevent Admiral Arbuthnot from crossing the bar, but on farther examination this was found to be impracticable. He therefore fell back to Fort Moultrie, and afterwards to Charleston. The crew and guns of all his vessels, except one, were put on shore to reinforce the batteries.
April 9Admiral Arbuthnot weighed anchor at Five fathom hole, and with the advantage of a strong southerly wind, and flowing tide, passed Fort Moultrie without stopping to engage it, and anchored near the remains of Fort Johnson. Colonel Pinckney who commanded on Sullivan’s Island, kept up a brisk and well directed fire on the ships in their passage, which did as great execution as could be expected.1780 To prevent the royal armed vessels  from running into Cooper river, eleven vessels were sunk in the channel opposite to the exchange. The batteries of the besiegers soon obtained a superiority over those of the town. The former had 21 mortars and royals, the latter only two. The regular force in the garrison was much inferior to that of the besiegers, and but few of the militia could be persuaded to leave their plantations, and reinforce their brethren in the capital. A camp was formed at Monk’s corner, to keep up the communication between the town and country, and the militia without the lines, were requested to rendezvous there: But this was surprised and routed by Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton. The British having now less to fear, extended themselves to the eastward of Cooper river.Apr. 16 Two hundred and fifty horse, and 600 infantry were detached on this service, but nevertheless in the opinion of a council of war, the weak state of the garrison, made it improper to detach a number sufficient to attack that small force.18 About this time Sir Henry Clinton received a reinforcement of 3000 men from New-York.20 A second council of war held four days after the first, agreed that “a retreat would be attended with many distressing inconveniences,21 if not altogether impracticable,” and advised, “that offers of capitulation before their affairs became more critical should be made to General Clinton, which might admit of the army’s withdrawing, and afford security to the persons and property of the inhabitants.” These terms being proposed, were instantly rejected, but the garrison adhered to them in hopes that succours would arrive from the neighbouring States. The bare offer of capitulating, dispirited the garrison, but they continued to resist in expectation of favorable events. The British speedily completed the investiture of the town, both by land and water.May 6 After Admiral Arbuthnot had passed Sullivan’s Island, Colonel Pinckney, with 150 of the men under his command, were withdrawn from that post to Charleston. Soon after the fort on the island was surrendered without opposition to Captain Hudson of the royal navy.1780 On the same day, the remains of the American cavalry which escaped from the  surprise at Monk’s corner, on the 14th of April, were again surprised by Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton at Laneau’s ferry on Santee, and the whole either killed, captured or dispersed. While every thing prospered with the British, Sir Henry Clinton began a correspondence with General Lincoln, and renewed his former offers to the garrison in case of their surrender. Lincoln was disposed to close with them, as far they respected his army, but some demur was made with a view of gaining better terms for the citizens, which it was hoped might be obtained on a conference. This was asked: But Clinton instead of granting it, answered “that hostilities should recommence at 8 o’clock.” Nevertheless, neither party fired till nine. The garrison then recommenced hostilities. The besiegers immediately followed, and each cannonaded the other with unusual briskness. The British batteries of the third parallel opened on this occasion. Shells and carcases were thrown into almost all parts of the town, and several houses were burned. The cannon and mortars played on the garrison at a less distance than a hundred yards. The Hessian chasseurs were so near the American lines, that with their rifles they could easily strike any object that was visible on them. The British having crossed the wet ditch by sap, advanced within 25 yards of the American works, and were ready for making a general assault by land and water. All expectation of succour was at an end. The only hope left was that 9000 men, the flower of the British army, seconded by a naval force, might fail in storming extensive lines defended by less than 3000 men.May 11 Under these circumstances, the siege was protracted till the 11th. On that day a great number of the citizens addressed General Lincoln in a petition, expressing their acquiescence in the terms which Sir Henry Clinton had offered, and requesting his acceptance of them. On the reception of this petition, General Lincoln wrote to Sir Henry, and offered to accept the terms before proposed. The royal commanders wishing to avoid the extremity of a storm, and unwilling to press to unconditional submission an enemy, whose friendship they wished to conciliate,  returned a favourable answer.1780 A capitulation was signed, and Major Gen. Leslie took possession of the town on the next day.May 12 The loss on both sides during the siege was nearly equal. Of the King’s troops, 76 were killed, and 189 wounded. Of the Americans 89 were killed and 140 wounded. Upwards of 400 pieces of artillery were surrendered. By the articles of capitulation, the garrison was to march out of town, and to deposit their arms in front of the works, but the drums were not to beat a British march, nor the colors to be uncased. The continental troops and seamen were to keep their baggage, and remain prisoners of war till exchanged. The militia were to be permitted to return to their respective homes as prisoners on parole, and while they adhered to their parole, were not to be molested by the British troops in person or property. The inhabitants of all conditions to be considered as prisoners on parole, and to hold their property on the same terms with the militia. The officers of the army and navy to retain their servants swords, pistols and baggage unsearched. They were permitted to sell their horses, but not to remove them. A vessel was allowed to proceed to Philadelphia with Gen. Lincoln’s dispatches unopened.
The numbers which surrendered prisoners of war, inclusive of the militia and every adult male inhabitant, was above 5000, but the proper garrison at the time of the surrender did not exceed 2500. The precise number of privates in the continental army was 1977, of which number 500 were in the hospitals. The captive officers were much more in proportion than the privates, and consisted of one Major General, 6 Brigadiers, 9 Colonels, 14 Lieut. Colonels, 15 Majors, 84 Captains, 84 Lieutenants, 32 second Lieutenants and Ensigns. The gentlemen of the country, who were mostly militia officers, from a sense of honor repaired to the defence of Charleston, though they could not bring with them privates equal to their respective commands. The regular regiments were fully officered, though greatly deficient in privates.
This was the first instance, in which the Americans had attempted to defend a town. The unsuccessful event  with its consequences, demonstrated the policy of sacrificing the towns of the Union, in preference to endangering the whole, by risquing too much for their defence.
Much censure was undeservedly cast on Gen. Lincoln, for attempting the defence of Charleston. Though the contrary plan was in general the best, he had particular reasons to justify his deviation from the example of the commander in chief of the American army. Charleston was the only considerable town in the southern extreme of the confederacy, and for its preservation, South-Carolina and the adjacent States seemed willing to make great exertions. The reinforcements, promised for its defence, were fully sufficient for that purpose. The Congress, and the States of North and South-Carolina gave Gen. Lincoln ground to expect an army of 9900 men to second his operations, but from a variety of causes this army, including the militia, was little more than one third of that number. As long as an evacuation was practicable, he had such assurances of support, that he could not attempt it with propriety. Before he could be ascertained of the futility of these assurances, the British had taken such a position, that in the opinion of good judges a retreat could not be successfully made.
Shortly after the surrender, the commander in chief adopted sundry measures to induce the inhabitants to return to their allegiance. It was stated to them in an hand bill, which though without a name seemed to flow from authority: “That the helping hand of every man was wanting to re-establish peace and good government—That the commander in chief wished not to draw them into danger, while any doubt could remain of his success, but as that was now certain, he trusted that one and all would heartily join, and give effect to necessary measures for that purpose.” Those who had families were informed “That they would be permitted to remain at home, and form a militia for the maintenance of peace and good order, but from those who had no families it was expected that they would chearfully assist in driving their oppressors, and all the miseries of war, from their borders.”1780 To such it was promised “That when on service, they  would be allowed pay, ammunition and provisions, in the same manner as the King’s troops.”May 22 About the same time, Sir Henry Clinton in a proclamation declared
That if any person should thenceforward appear in arms in order to prevent the establishment of his Majesty’s government in that country, or should under any pretence or authority whatever, attempt to compel any other person or persons so to do, or who should hinder the King’s faithful subjects from joining his forces, or from performing those duties their allegiance required, such persons should be treated with the utmost severity,June 1 and their estates be immediately seized for confiscation.
In a few days after, Sir Henry Clinton and Admiral Arbuthnot, in the character of commissioners for restoring peace, offered to the inhabitants, with some exceptions, “Pardon for their past treasonable offences, and a re-instatement in the possession of all those rights and immunities which they heretofore had enjoyed under a free British government exempt from taxation, except by their own legislatures.”
The capital having surrendered, the next object with the British was to secure the general submission of the whole body of the people.
To this end, they posted garrisons in different parts of the country to awe the inhabitants. They also marched with upwards of 2000 men towards North-Carolina. This caused an immediate retreat of some parties of Americans, who had advanced into the northern extremity of South-Carolina, with the expectation of relieving Charleston. One of these, consisting of about 300 continentals commanded by Col. Buford, was overtaken at Wachaws by Lt. Col. Tarleton and completely defeated. Five out of six of the whole were either killed or so badly wounded, as to be incapable of being moved from the field of battle; and this took place though they made such ineffectual opposition as only to kill 12 and wound five of the British. This great disproportion of the killed on the two sides, arose from the circumstance that Tarleton’s party refused quarter to the Americans, after they had ceased to resist and laid down their arms.
1780 Sir Henry Clinton having left about 4000 men for the southern service, embarked early in June with the main army for New-York. On his departure the command devolved on Lieut. Gen. Cornwallis. The season of the year, the condition of the army, and the unsettled state of South-Carolina, impeded the immediate invasion of North-Carolina. Earl Cornwallis dispatched instructions to the principal loyalists in that state to attend to the harvest, prepare provisions, and remain quiet till the latter end of August or beginning of September. His Lordship committed the care of the frontier to Lord Rawdon, and repairing to Charleston, devoted his principal attention to the commercial and civil regulations of South-Carolina. In the mean time, the impossibility of fleeing with their families and effects, and the want of an army to which the militia of the States might repair, induced the people in the country, to abandon all schemes of farther resistance. At Beaufort, Camden, and Ninety-Six, they generally laid down their arms, and submitted either as prisoners or as subjects. Excepting the extremities of the state bordering on North-Carolina, the inhabitants who did not flee out of the country preferred submission to resistance. This was followed by an unusual calm, and the British believed that the state was thoroughly conquered. An opportunity was now given to make an experiment from which much was expected, and for the omission of which, Sir Henry Clinton’s predecessor Sir William Howe, had been severely censured. It had been confidently asserted, that a majority of the Americans were well affected to the British government, and that under proper regulations, substantial service might be expected from them, in restoring the country to peace. At this crisis every biass in favor of Congress was removed. Their armies in the southern States were either captured or defeated. There was no regular force to the southward of Pennsylvania, which was sufficient to awe the friends of royal government. Every encouragement was held forth, to those of the inhabitants who would with arms support the old constitution.1780 Confiscation and death were threatened as the consequence  of opposing its re-establishment. While there was no regular army within 400 miles to aid the friends of independence, the British were in force posted over all the country. The people were thus left to themselves, or rather strongly impelled to abandon an apparently sinking cause, and arrange themselves on the side of the conquerors. Under these favorable circumstances, the experiment was made, for supporting the British interest by the exertion of loyal inhabitants, unawed by American armies or republican demagogues. It soon appeared that the disguise which fear had imposed, subsisted no longer than the present danger, and that the minds of the people though overawed were actuated by an hostile spirit. In prosecuting the scheme for obtaining a military aid from the inhabitants, that tranquillity which previous successes had procured was disturbed, and that ascendency which arms had gained was interrupted. The inducement to submission with many, was a hope of obtaining a respite from the calamities of war, under the shelter of British protection. Such were not less astonished than confounded, on finding themselves virtually called upon to take arms in support of royal government. This was done in the following manner: After the inhabitants by the specious promises of protection and security, had generally submitted as subjects, or taken their parole as prisoners of war, a proclamation was issued by Sir Henry Clinton which set forth “That it was proper for allpersons to take an active part in settling and securing his Majesty’s government”—and in which it was declared “That all the inhabitants of the province who were then prisoners on parole (those who were taken in Fort Moultrie and Charleston, and such as were in actual confinement excepted) should, from and after the 20th of June, be freed from their paroles, and restored to all the rights and duties belonging to citizens and inhabitants.” And it was in the same proclamation farther declared “that all persons under the description abovementioned, who should afterwards neglect to return to their allegiance, and to his Majesty’s government, should be considered as enemies and rebels to the same, and treated accordingly.”1780 It was designed by this arbitrary change of the political condition of the inhabitants from prisoners to citizens, to bring them into a dilemma, which would force them to take an active part in settling and securing the royal government. It involved a majority in the necessity of either fleeing out of the country, or of becoming a British militia. With this proclamation the declension of British authority commenced, for though the inhabitants from motives of fear or convenience, had generally submitted, the greatest part of them retained an affection for their American brethren, and shuddered at the thought of taking arms against them. Among such it was said “if we must fight, let it be on the side of America, our friends and countrymen.” A great number considering this proclamation as a discharge for their paroles, armed themselves in self defence, being induced thereto by the royal menaces, that they who did not return to their allegiance as British subjects, must expect to be treated as rebels. A greater number from being in the power of the British, exchanged their paroles as prisoners for the protection of subjects, but this was done in many cases, with a secret reservation of breaking the compulsory engagement, when a proper opportunity should present itself.
A party always attached to royal government, though they had conformed to the laws of the state, rejoiced in the ascendency of the royal arms, but their number was inconsiderable, in comparison with the multitude who were obliged by necessity, or induced by convenience, to accept of British protection.
The precautions taken to prevent the rising of the royalists in North-Carolina, did not answer the end. Several of the inhabitants of Tryon county, under the direction of Col. Moore took up arms, and were in a few days defeated by the whig militia, commanded by Gen. Rutherford. Col. Bryan another loyalist, though equally injudicious as to time, was successful. He reached the 71st regiment stationed in the Cheraws with about 800 men, assembled from the neighbourhood of the river Yadkin.
1780 While the conquerors were endeavoring to strengthen the party for royal government, the Americans were not inattentive to their interests. Governor Rutledge who during the siege of Charleston had been requested by Gen. Lincoln to go out of town, was industriously and successfully negotiating with North-Carolina, Virginia and Congress, to obtain a force for checking the progress of the British arms. Representations to the same effect, had also been made in due time by Gen. Lincoln. Congress ordered a considerable detachment from their main army, to be marched to the Southward. North-Carolina also ordered a large body of militia to take the field. As the British advanced to the upper country of South-Carolina, a considerable number of determined whigs retreated before them, and took refuge in North-Carolina. In this class was Col. Sumter a distinguished partizan, who was well qualified for conducting military operations. A party of exiles from South-Carolina, made choice of him for their leader. At the head of this little band of freemen, he returned to his own state, and took the field against the victorious British, after the inhabitants had generally abandoned all ideas of farther resistance. This unexpected impediment to the extension of British conquests roused all the passions which disappointed ambition can inspire. Previous successes had flattered the royal commanders with hopes of distinguished rank among the conquerors of America, but the renewal of hostilities obscured the pleasing prospect. Flushed with the victories they had gained in the first of the campaign, and believing every thing told them favorable to their wishes to be true, they conceived that they had little to fear on the south side of Virginia. When experience refuted these hopes, they were transported with indignation against the inhabitants, and confined several of them on suspicion of their being accessary to the recommencement of hostilities.
July 12The first effort of renewed warfare was two months after the fall of Charleston, when 133 of Col. Sumter’s corps attacked and routed a detachment of the royal forces and militia, which were posted in a lane at Williamson’s  plantation.1780 This was the first advantage gained over the British, since their landing in the beginning of the year. The steady persevering friends of America, who were very numerous in the North-western frontier of South-Carolina, turned out with great alacrity to join Col. Sumter, though opposition to the British government, had entirely ceased in every other part of the State. His troops in a few days amounted to 600 men. With this increase of strength, he made a spirited attack on a party of the British at Rocky Mount, but as he had no artillery, and they were secured under cover of earth filled in between logs, he could make no impression upon them, and was obliged to retreat. Sensible that the minds of men are influenced by enterprise and that to keep militia together it is necessary to employ them, this active partizan attacked another of the royal detachments, consisting of the Prince of Wales’ regiment, and a large body of tories posted at the Hanging rock. The Prince of Wales’ regiment was almost totally destroyed. From 273 it was reduced to 9. The loyalists, who were of that party which had advanced from North Carolina under Col. Bryan, were dispersed. The panic occasioned by the fall of Charleston daily abated. The whig militia on the extremities of the state formed themselves into parties, under leaders of their own choice, and sometimes attacked detachments of the British army, but more frequently those of their own countrymen, who as a royal militia were co-operating with the King’s forces. While Sumter kept up the spirits of the people by a succession of gallant enterprizes, a respectable continental force was advancing through the middle States, for the relief of their southern brethren.Mar. 26 With the hopes of relieving Charleston, orders were given for the Maryland and Delaware troops to march from Gen. Washington’s head quarters to South-Carolina, but the Quarter-master-general was unable to put this detachment in motion as soon as was intended.
The manufacturers employed in providing for the army would neither go on with their business, nor deliver the articles they had completed, declaring they had suffered so much from the depreciation of the money,1780 that they  would not part with their property without immediate payment. Under these embarrassing circumstances, the Southern States required an aid from the northern army, to be marched through the intermediate space of 800 miles.Apr. 16 The Maryland and Delaware troops were with great exertions at length enabled to move. After marching through Jersey and Pennsylvania, they embarked at the Head of Elk and landed soon after at Petersburg, and thence proceeded through the country towards South-Carolina. This force was at first put under the command of Major Gen. Baron de Kalb, and afterwards of Gen. Gates. The success of the latter in the northern campaigns of 1776 and 1777, induced many to believe that his presence as commander of the southern army, would re-animate the friends of Independence. While Baron de Kalb commanded, a council of war had advised him to file off from the direct road to Camden, towards the well cultivated settlements in the vicinity of the Waxhaws: But Gen. Gates on taking the command did not conceive this movement to be necessary, supporting it to be most for the interest of the States that he should proceed immediately with his army, on the shortest road to the vicinity of the British encampments. This led through a barren country, in passing over which, the Americans severely felt the scarcity of provisions. Their murmurs became audible, and there were strong appearances of mutiny, but the officers who shared every calamity in common with the privates interposed, and conciliated them to a patient sufferance of their hard lot. They principally subsisted on lean cattle, picked up in the woods. The whole army was under the necessity of using green corn, and peaches in the place of bread. They were subsisted for several days on the latter alone. Dysenteries became common in consequence of this diet. The heat of the season, the unhealthiness of the climate, together with insufficient and unwholsome food, threatened destruction to the army. The common soliders, instead of desponding, began after some time to be merry with their misfortunes. They used “starvation” as a cant word, and vied with each other in burlesquing their  situation.1780 The wit and humour displayed on the occasion contributed not a little to reconcile them to their sufferings.Aug. 13 The American army, having made its way through a country of pine-barrens, sand-hills and swamps, reached Clermont, 13 miles from Camden.14 The next day, Gen. Stephens arrived with a large body of Virginia militia.
As the American army approached South-Carolina, lord Rawdon concentered his force at Camden. The retreat of the British from their out-posts, the advances of the American army, and the impolitic conduct of the conquerors towards their new subjects, concurred at this juncture to produce a general revolt in favor of Congress. The people were daily more dissatisfied with their situation. Tired of war, they had submitted to British government with the expectation of bettering their condition, but they soon found their mistake. The greatest address should have been practiced towards the inhabitants, in order to second the views of the Parent State in re-uniting the revolted colonies to her government. That the people might be induced to return to the condition of subjects, their minds and affections, as well as their armies, ought to have been conquered. This delicate task was rarely attempted. The officers, privates, and followers of the royal army, were generally more intent on amassing fortunes by plunder and rapine, than on promoting a re-union of the dissevered members of the empire. Instead of increasing the number of real friends to royal government, they disgusted those that they found. The high spirited citizens of Carolina, impatient of their rapine and insolence, rejoiced in the prospect of freeing their country from its oppressors. Motives of this kind, together with a prevailing attachment to the cause of Independence, induced many to break through all ties to join Gen. Gates, and more to wish him the completest success.
The similarity of language and appearance between the British and American armies, gave opportunities for imposing on the inhabitants. Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton with a party, by assuming the name and dress of Americans, passed themselves near Black river, for  the advance of General Gates’ army.1780 Some of the neighbouring militia were eagerly collected by Mr. Bradley, to co-operate with their supposed friends, but after some time the veil being thrown aside, Bradley and his volunteers were carried to Camden, and confined there as prisoners.
General Gates on reaching the frontier of South-Carolina, issued a proclamation inviting the patriotic citizens “to join heartily in rescuing themselves and their country, from the oppression of a government imposed on them by the ruffian hand of conquest.” He also gave
assurances of forgiveness and perfect security, to such of the unfortunate citizens as had been induced by the terror of sanguinary puishment, the menace of confiscation, and the arbitrary measures of military domination, apparently to acquiesce under the British government, and to make a forced declaration of allegiance and support to a tyranny, which the indignant souls of citizens resolved on freedom, inwardly revolted at with horror and detestation,
excepting only from this amnesty, “those who in the hour of devastation, had exercised acts of barbarity and depredation on the persons and property of their fellow citizens.” The army with which Gates advanced, was by the arrival of Stephens’ militia, increased nearly to 4000 men, but of this large number, the whole regular force was only 900 infantry and 70 cavalry. On the approach of Gates, Earl Cornwallis hastened from Charleston to Camden, and arrived there on the 14th. The force which his Lordship found collected on his arrival, was 1700 infantry and 300 cavalry. This inferior number would have justified a retreat, but he chose rather to stake his fortune on the decision of a battle. On the night of the 15th, he marched from Camden with his whole force, intending, to attack the Americans in their camp at Clermont. In the same night Gates, after ordering his baggage to the Waxhaws, put his army in motion, with an intention of advancing to an eligible position, about 8 miles from Camden. The American army was ordered to march at 10 o’clock p.m. in the following order.
1780Colonel Armand’s advance  cavalry. Colonel Porterfield’s light infantry, on the right flank of Colonel Armand’s in Indian-file, 200 yards from the road. Major Armstrong’s light infantry in the same order as Colonel Porterfield’s on the left flank of the legion advanced guard of foot, composed of the advanced piquets, first brigade of Maryland, second brigade of Maryland—division of North-Carolina, Virginia rear guard, volunteer cavalry, upon flanks of the baggage equally divided.
The light infantry upon each flank were ordered to march up and support the calvary, if it should be attacked by the British cavalry, and Colonel Armand was directed in that case to stand the attack at all events.
The advance of both armies met in the night and engaged. Some of the cavalry of Armand’s legion, being wounded in the first fire fell back on others, who recoiled so suddenly, that the first Maryland regiment was broken, and the whole line of the army was thrown into confusion. This first impression struck deep, and dispirited the militia. The American army soon recovered its order, and both they and their adversaries kept their ground, and occasionally skirmished through the night. Colonel Porterfield, a most excellent officer, on whose abilities General Gates particularly depended, was wounded in the early part of this night attack. In the morning a severe and general engagement took place. At the first onset, the great body of the Virginia militia, who formed the left wing of the army, on being charged with fixed bayonets by the British infantry, threw down their arms, and with the utmost precipitation fled from the field. A considerable part of the North-Carolina militia followed the unworthy example, but the continentals who formed the right wing of the army, inferior as they were in numbers to the British, stood their ground and maintained the conflict with great resolution. Never did men acquit themselves better: for some time they had clearly the advantage of their opponents, and were in possession of a considerable body of prisoners: overpowered at last by numbers, and nearly surrounded by the enemy, they were compelled reluctantly to leave the ground. In justice  to the North-Carolina militia, it should be remarked that part of the brigade commanded by Gen. Gregory acquitted themselves well. They were formed immediately on the left of the continentals, and kept the field while they had a cartridge to fire. Gen. Gregory himself was twice wounded by a bayonet in bringing off his men, and several of his brigade, who were made prisoners, had no wounds except from bayonets.* Two hundred and ninety American wounded prisoners were carried into Camden, after this action, of this number 206 were continentals, 82, were North-Carolina militia, and 2 were Virginia militia. The resistance made by each corps, may in some degree be estimated from the number of wounded. The Americans lost the whole of their artillery, eight field pieces, upwards of 200 waggons, and the greatest part of their baggage, almost all their officers were separated from their respective commands. Every corps was broken in action and dispersed. The fugitives who fled by the common road, were pursued above 20 miles by the horse of Tarleton’s legion, and the way was covered with arms, baggage and waggons. Baron de Kalb, the second in command, a brave and experienced officer, was taken prisoner and died on the next day of his wounds. The baron who was a German by birth, had long been in the French service. He had travelled through the British provinces, about the time of the stamp act, and is said to have reported to his superiors on his return, “that the colonists were so firmly and universally attached to Great Britain, that nothing could shake their loyalty.” The Congress resolved that a monument should be erected to his memory in Annapolis, with a very honorable inscription. General Rutherford of North-Carolina, was wounded and taken prisoner.
The royal army fought with great bravery, but the completeness of their victory was in a great degree owing to their superiority in cavalry, and the precipitate flight of the American militia.1780 Their whole loss is supposed to have amounted to several hundreds. To add to the  distresses of the Americans, the defeat of Gates was immediately followed by the surprise and dispersion of Sumter’s corps. While the former was advancing near to the British army, the latter who had previously taken post between Camden and Charleston, took a number of prisoners and captured sundry British stores, together with their convoy. On hearing of the defeat of his superior officer, he began to retreat with his prisoners and stores. Tarleton with his legion, and a detachment of infantry, pursued with such celerity and address as to overtake and surprize this party at Fishing Creek. The British rode into their camp before they were prepared for defence. The retreating Americans, having been four days with little or no sleep, were more obedient to the calls of nature, than attentive to her first law self-preservation. Sumter had taken every prudent precaution to prevent a surprise, but his videttes were so overcome with fatigue, that they neglected their duty. With great difficulty he got a few to stand their ground for a short time, but the greater part of his corps fled to the river or the woods. He lost all his artillery, and his whole detachment was either killed, captured or dispersed. The prisoners he had lately taken were all retaken. On the 17th and 18th of Aug. about 150 of Gates’ army rendezvoused at Charlotte. These had reason to apprehend that they would be immediately pursued and cut to pieces. There was no magazine of provisions in the town, and it was without any kind of defence. It was therefore concluded to retreat to Salisbury. A circumstantial detail of this, would be the picture of complicated wretchedness. There were more wounded men than could be conveniently carried off. The inhabitants hourly expecting the British to advance into their settlement, and generally intending to flee, could not attend to the accommodation of the suffering soldiers. Objects of distress occurred in every quarter. There were many who stood in need of kind assistance, but there were few who could give it to them. Several men were to be seen with but one arm, and some without any. Anxiety, pain and dejection, poverty, hurry and confusion, promiscuously marked the  gloomy scene.1780 Under these circumstances the remains of that numerous army, which had lately caused such terror to the friends of Great-Britain, retreated to Salisbury and soon after to Hillsborough. General Gates had previously retired to this last place, and was there in concert with the government of North-Carolina, devising plans of defense, and for renewing military operations.
Though there was no army to oppose Lord Cornwallis, yet the season and bad health of his army, restrained him from pursuing his conquests. By the complete dispersion of the continental forces, the country was in his power. The present moment of triumph seemed therefore the most favorable conjuncture, for breaking the spirits of those who were attached to independence. To prevent their future co-operation with the armies of Congress, a severer policy was henceforward adopted.
Unfortunately for the inhabitants, this was taken up on grounds which involved thousands in distress, and not a few in the loss of life. The British conceived themselves in possession of the rights of sovereignty over a conquered country, and that therefore the efforts of the citizens, to assert their independence exposed them to the penal consequences of treason and rebellion. Influenced by these opinions, and transported with indignation against the inhabitants, they violated the rights which are held sacred between independent hostile nations. Orders were given by Lord Cornwallis “that all the inhabitants of the province, who had submitted, and who had taken part in this revolt, should be punished with the greatest rigor—that they should be imprisoned, and their whole property taken from them or destroyed.” He also ordered in the most positive manner “that every militia man, who had born arms with the British, and afterwards joined the Americans, should be put to death.” At Augusta, at Camden and elsewhere, several of the inhabitants were hanged in consequence of these orders. The men who suffered had been compelled by the necessities of their families, and the prospect of saving their property, to make an involuntary submission to the royal conquerors. Experience soon taught them the inefficacy of these submissions.1780 This in  their opinion absolved them from the obligations of their engagements to support the royal cause, and left them at liberty to follow their inclinations. To treat men thus circumstanced, with the severity of punishment usually inflicted on deserters and traitors, might have a political tendency to discourage farther revolts, but the impartial world must regret that the unavoidable horrors of war, should be aggravated by such deliberate effusions of human blood.
Notwithstanding the decisive superiority of the British armies in South-Carolina, several of the most respectable citizens, though in the power of their conquerors, resisted every temptation to resume the character of subjects. To enforce a general submission, orders were given by lord Cornwallis immediately after his victory, to send out of South-Carolina a number of its principal citizens.Aug. 27 Lieut. Gov. Gadsden, most of the civil and militia officers and some others, who had declined exchanging their paroles for the protection of British subjects, were taken up, put on board a vessel in the harbour, and sent to St. Augustine. General Moultrie remonstrated against the confinement and removal of these gentlemen, as contrary to their rights derived from the capitulation of Charleston. They at the same time challenged their adversaries to prove any conduct of theirs, which merited expulsion from their country and families. They received no farther satisfaction, than that the measure had been “adopted from motives of policy.” To convince the inhabitants, that the conquerors were seriously resolved to remove from the country, all who refused to become subjects, an additional number of about thirty citizens of South-Carolina, who remained prisoners on parole, were sent off to the same place in less than three months. Gen. Rutherford and Col. Isaacs both of North-Carolina, who had been lately taken near Camden, were associated with them.
Sept. 16To compel the re-establishment of British government, lord Cornwallis, in about four weeks after his victory, issued a proclamation for the sequestration of all estates belonging to the active friends of Independence. By  this he constituted
1780John Cruden commissioner, with full power and authority, on the receipt of an order or warrant, to take into his possession the estates both real and personal (not included in the capitulation of Charleston) of those in the service or acting under the authority of the rebel Congress, and also the estates, both real and personal, of those persons who by an open avowal of rebellious principles, or by other notorious acts, manifested a wicked and desperate perseverance in opposing the re-establishment of his Majesty’s just and lawful authority;
and it was farther declared
That any person or persons obstructing or impeding the said commissioner in the execution of his duty, by the concealment or removal of property or otherwise, should on conviction be punished as aiding and abetting rebellion.
An adherent to Independence was now considered as one who courted exile, poverty and ruin. Many yielded to the temptation, and became British subjects. The mischievous effects of slavery, in facilitating the conquest of the country, now became apparent. As the slaves had no interest at stake, the subjugation of the State was a matter of no consequence to them. Instead of aiding in its defence, they by a variety of means threw the weight of their little influence into the opposite scale.
Though numbers broke through all the ties which bound them to support the cause of America, illustrious sacrifices were made at the shrine of liberty. Several of the richest men in the state suffered their fortunes to remain in the power and possession of their conquerors, rather than stain their honor, by joining the enemies of their country. The patriotism of the ladies contributed much to this firmness. They crowded on board prison ships, and other places of confinement, to solace their suffering countrymen. While the conquerors were regaling themselves at concerts and assemblies, they could obtain very few of the fair sex to associate with them; but no sooner was an American officer introduced as a prisoner, than his company was sought for, and his person treated with every possible mark of attention and respect.1780 On other occasions the ladies in a great measure  retired from the public eye, wept over the distresses of their country, and gave every proof of the warmest attachment to its suffering cause. Among the numbers who were banished from their families, and whose property was seized by the conquerors, many examples could be produced of ladies cheerfully parting with their sons, husbands and brothers, exhorting them to fortitude and perseverance; and repeatedly entreating them never to suffer family-attachments to interfere with the duty they owed to their country. When, in the progress of the war, they were also comprehended under a general sentence of banishment, with equal resolution they parted with their native country, and the many endearments of home—followed their husbands into prison-ships and distant lands, where they were reduced to the necessity of receiving charity.
Animated by such examples, as well as by a high sense of honor and the love of their country, a great proportion of the gentlemen of South-Carolina deliberately adhered to their first resolution, of risquing life and fortune in support of their liberties. Hitherto the royal forces in South-Carolina had been attended with almost uninterrupted success. Their standards overspread the country, penetrated into every quarter, and triumphed over all opposition.
The British ministry by this flattering posture of affairs, were once more intoxicated with the hope of subjugating America. New plans were formed, and great expectations indulged, of speedily re-uniting the dissevered members of the empire. It was now asserted with a confidence bordering on presumption, that such troops as fought at Camden, put under such a commander as Lord Cornwallis, would soon extirpate rebellion, so effectually as to leave no vestige of it in America. The British ministry and army by an impious confidence in their own wisdom and prowess, were duly prepared to give, in their approaching downfal, an useful lesson to the world.
1780The disaster of the army under General Gates, overspread at first the face of American affairs, with a dismal  gloom, but the day of prosperity to the United States, began as will appear in the sequel, from that moment to dawn. Their prospects brightened up, while those of their enemies were obscured by disgrace, broken by defeat, and at last covered with ruin. Elated with their victories, the conquerors grew more insolent and rapacious, while the real friends of independence became resolute and determined.
We have seen Sumter penetrating into South-Carolina, and recommencing a military opposition to British government. Soon after that event, he was promoted by Governor Rutledge, to the rank of Brigadier General. About the same time Marion was promoted to the same rank, and in the northeastern extremities of the State, successfully prosecuted a similar plan. This valuable officer after the surrender of Charleston, retreated to North-Carolina. On the advance of General Gates, he obtained a command of sixteen men. With these he penetrated through the country, and took a position near the Santee. On the defeat of General Gates, he was compelled to abandon the State, but returned after an absence of a few days. For several weeks he had under his command only 70 men. At one time hardships and dangers reduced that number to 25, yet with this inconsiderable number he secured himself in the midst of surrounding foes. Various schemes were tried to detach the inhabitants from co-operating with him. Major Wemys burned scores of houses on Pedee, Lynch’s creek and Black river, belonging to such as were supposed to do duty with Marion, or to be subservient to his views. This had an effect different from what was intended. Revenge and despair co-operated with patriotism, to make these ruined men keep the field. Having no houses to shelter them, the camps of their countrymen became their homes. For several months, Marion and his party were obliged to sleep in the open air, and to shelter themselves in the recesses of deep swamps. From these retreats they sallied out, whenever an opportunity of harrassing the enemy, or of serving their country presented itself.
1780 Opposition to British government was not wholly confined to the parties commanded by Sumter and Marion. It was at no time altogether extinct in the extremities of the State. The disposition to revolt, which had been excited on the approach of General Gates, was not extinguished by his defeat. The spirit of the people was overawed, but not subdued. The severity with which revolters who fell into the hands of the British were treated, induced those who escaped to persevere and seek safety in swamps.
From the time of the general submission of the inhabitants in 1780, pains had been taken to encrease the royal force by the co-operation of the yeomanry of the country. The British persuaded the people to form a royal militia, by representing that every prospect of succeeding in their scheme of independence was annihilated, and that a farther opposition would only be a prolongation of their distresses, if not their utter ruin. Major Ferguson of the 71st regiment, was particularly active in this business. He visited the settlements of the disaffected to the American cause, and collected a corps of militia of that description, from which much active service was expected. He advanced to the northwestern settlements, to hold communication with the loyalists of both Carolinas. From his presence, together with assurances of an early movement of the royal army into North-Carolina, it was hoped that the friends of royal government would be roused to activity in the service of their King. In the mean time every preparation was made for urging offensive operations, as soon as the season and the state of the stores would permit.
That spirit of enterprize, which has already been mentioned as beginning to revive among the American militia about this time, prompted Col. Clarke to make an attempt on the British post at Augusta in Georgia; but in this he failed and was obliged to retreat. Major Ferguson with the hope of intercepting his party, kept near the mountains and at a considerable distance from support.1780 These circumstances, together with the depredations of the loyalists, induced those hardy republicans, who reside on the west side of the Alleghany mountains,  to form an enterprize for reducing that distinguished partizan. This was done of their own motion, without any direction from the governments of America, or from the officers of the continental army.
There was, without any apparent design, a powerful combination of several detached commanders of several adjacent States, with their respective commands of militia. Col. Campbell of Virginia, Colonels Cleveland, Shelby, Sevier, and M’Dowel of North Carolina, together with Colonels Lacey, Hawthorn and Hill, of South-Carolina, all rendezvoused together, with a number of men amounting to 1600, though they were under no general command, and though they were not called upon to embody by any common authority, or indeed by any authority at all, but that of a general impulse on their own minds. They had so little of the mechanism of a regular army, that the Colonels of some of the States by common consent, commanded each day alternately. The hardships these volunteers underwent were very great. Some of them subsisted for weeks together, without tasting bread or salt, or spiritous liquors, and slept in the woods without blankets. The running stream quenched their thirst. At night the earth afforded them a bed, and the heavens, or at most the limbs of trees were their only covering. Ears of corn or pompions thrown into the fire, with occasional supplies of beef or venison, killed and roasted in the woods, were the chief articles of their provisions. They had neither commissaries, quarter-masters, nor stores of any kind. They selected about a thousand of their best men, and mounted them on their fleetest horses. These attacked Major Ferguson on the top of King’s mountain, near the confines of North and South-Carolina.Oct. 7 The Americans formed three parties. Col. Lacey of South-Carolina led one, which attacked on the west end. The two others were commanded by Cols. Campbell and Cleveland, one of which attacked on the east end and the other in the centre. Ferguson with great boldness attacked the assailants with fixed bayonets, and compelled them successively to retire, but they only fell back a little way, and getting behind trees and rocks, renewed  their fire in almost every direction.1780 The British being uncovered, were aimed at by the American marksmen, and many of them were slain. An unusual number of the killed were found to have been shot in the head. Riflemen took off riflemen with such exactness, that they killed each other when taking sight, so effectually that their eyes remained after they were dead, one shut and the other open, in the usual manner of marksmen when levelling at their object. Major Ferguson displayed as much bravery as was possible in his situation: But his encampment on the top of the mountain was not well chosen, as it gave the Americans an opportunity of covering themselves in their approaches. Had he pursued his march on charging and driving the first party of the militia which gave way, he might have got off with the most of his men, but his unconquerable spirit disdained either to flee or to surrender. After a severe conflict he received a mortal wound. No chance of escape being left, and all prospect of successful resistance being at an end, the contest was ended by the submission of the survivors. Upwards of 800 became prisoners, and 225 had been previously killed or wounded. Very few of the assailants fell, but in their number was Col. Williams a distinguished militia officer in Ninety-Six district, who had been very active in opposing the re-establishment of British government. Ten of the royal militia who had surrendered were hanged by their conquerors. They were provoked to this measure by the severity of the British, who had lately hanged several of the captured Americans, in South-Carolina and Georgia. They also alleged that the men who suffered were guilty of previous felonies, for which their lives were forfeited by the laws of the land. The fall of Ferguson was in itself a great loss to the royal cause. He possessed superior abilities as a partizan, and his spirit of enterprise was uncommon. To a distinguished capacity for planning great designs, he also added the practical abilities necessary to carry them into execution. The unexpected advantage which the Americans gained over him and his party, in a great degree frustrated a well concerted scheme for strengthening  the British army by the co-operation of the tory inhabitants,1780 whom he had undertaken to discipline and prepare for active service. The total rout of the party, which had joined Major Ferguson, operated as a check on the future exertions of the loyalists. The same timid caution, which made them averse to joining their countrymen in opposing the claims of Great Britain, restrained them from risquing any more in support of the royal cause. Henceforward they waited to see how the scales were likely to incline, and reserved themselves till the British army, by its own unassisted efforts, should gain a decided superiority.
In a few weeks after the general action near Camden, Lord Cornwallis left a small force in that village, and marched with the main army towards Salisbury, intending to push forwards in that direction. While on his way thither, the North Carolina militia was very industrious and successful in annoying his detachments. Riflemen frequently penetrated near his camp, and from behind trees made sure of their objects. The late conquerors found their situation very uneasy, being exposed to unseen dangers if they attempted to make an excursion of only a few hundred yards from their main body. The defeat of Major Ferguson, added to these circumstances, gave a serious alarm to lord Cornwallis, and he soon after retreated to Winnsborough. As he retired, the militia took several of his waggons, and single men often rode up within gunshot of his army, discharged their pieces, and made their escape. The panic occasioned by the defeat of Gen. Gates had in a great measure worn off. The defeat of Major Ferguson and the consequent retreat of lord Cornwallis, encouraged the American militia to take the field, and the necessity of the times induced them to submit to stricter discipline. Sumter soon after the dispersion of his corps on the 18th of August, collected a band of volunteers, partly from new adventurers, and partly from those who had escaped on that day. With these, though for three months there was no continental army in the State, he constantly kept the field in support of American independence. He varied his position from  time to time about Evoree, Broad and Tyger rivers, and had frequent skirmishes with his adversaries. Having mounted his followers he infested the British parties with frequent incursions—beat up their quarters—intercepted their convoys, and so harrassed them with successive alarms, that their movements could not be made but with caution and difficulty. His spirit of enterprize was so particularly injurious to the British, that they laid sundry plans for destroying his force, but they all failed in the execution.Nov. 1 He was attacked at Broad river by Major Wemys, commanding a corps of infantry and dragoons. In this action the British were defeated, and their commanding officer taken prisoner.Nov. 2 Eight days after he was attacked at Black-Stocks, near Tyger river, by Lieut. Col. Tarleton. The attack was begun with 170 dragoons and 8o men of the 63d regiment. A considerable part of Sumter’s force had been thrown into a large log barn, from the apertures of which they fired with security. Many of the 63d regiment were killed. Tarleton charged with his cavalry, but being unable to dislodge the Americans retreated, and Sumter was left in quiet possession of the field. The loss of the British in this action was considerable. Among their killed were three officers, Major Money, Lieut. Gibson and Cope. The Americans lost very few, but Gen. Sumter received a wound, which for several months interrupted his gallant enterprizes in behalf of his country. His zeal and activity in animating the militia, when they were discouraged by repeated defeats, and the bravery and good conduct he displayed in sundry attacks on the British detachments, procured him the applause of his countrymen, and the thanks of Congress.
For the three months which followed the defeat of the American army near Camden, Gen. Gates was industriously preparing to take the field.Nov. Having collected a force at Hillsbury he advanced to Salisbury, and very soon after to Charlotte. He had done every thing in his power to repair the injuries of his defeat, and was again in a condition to face the enemy; but from that  influence which popular opinion has over public affairs in a commonwealth,1780 Congress resolved to supersede him, and to order a court of enquiry to be held on his conduct. This was founded on a former resolve, that whoever lost a post should be subject to a court of inquiry. The cases were no ways parallel, he had lost a battle but not a post. The only charge that could be exhibited against Gen. Gates was that he had been defeated. His enemies could accuse him of no military crime, unless that to be unsuccessful might be reckoned so. The public, sore with their losses, were desirous of a change, and Congress found it necessary to gratify them, though at the expence of the feelings of one of their best, and till August 1780, one of their most successful officers. Virginia did not so soon forget Saratoga. When Gen. Gates was at Richmond on his way home from Carolina, the house of Burgesses of that State unanimously resolved
Dec. 28that a committee of four be appointed to wait on Gen. Gates, and assure him of their high regard and esteem, and that the remembrance of his former glorious services could not be obliterated by any reverse of fortune; but that ever mindful of his great merit, they would omit no opportunity of testifying to the world the gratitude which the country owed to him in his military character.
These events together with a few unimportant skirmishes not worthy of being particularly mentioned, closed the campaign of 1780 in the southern States. They afforded ample evidence of the folly of prosecuting the American war. Though British conquests had rapidly succeeded each other, yet no advantages accrued to the victors. The minds of the people were unsubdued, or rather more alienated from every idea of returning to their former allegiance. Such was their temper, that the expence of retaining them in subjection, would have exceeded all the profits of the conquest. British garrisons kept down open resistance in the vicinity of the places where they were established, but as soon as they were withdrawn, and the people left to themselves, a spirit of revolt hostile to Great-Britain always displayed itself,  and the standard of independence whensoever it was prudently raised, never wanted followers from the active and spirited part of the community.
[*]This detail was furnished by Mr. Williamson, surgeon-general of the North-Carolina militia, who after the battle went into Camden with a flag.