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CHAP: expected soon a supply of arms and clothing from the
The several States were now urged to send forward May.
their quotas of men and provisions, to enable the army to co-operate with the French. In the camp there was almost a famine ; a Connecticut regiment was on the point of marching home, where they could obtain provisions. Congress was laboring to borrow money in Holland in order to supply these wants.
A French fleet, consisting of seven ships of the line,
and also frigates and transports, at length appeared at July
Newport. This was the first division, consisting of six thousand land troops. To avoid disputes that might arise from military etiquette, Count Rochambeau, their commander, was instructed to put himself under the command of Washington. The expected supplies of arms and clothing did not arrive, and for the want of them, the American army could not co-operate in an attack upon New York.
The French fleet was followed by one from England, of equal strength, and now Clinton, trusting to his superior naval force, made preparations to attack the French at Newport ; but as he and Admiral Arbuthnot could not agree as to the plan, the project was abandoned. The British, instead, blockaded the French. News came, not long after, that the second division designed for the United States was blockaded at Brest by another British squadron. Thus, for the third time, the Americans were disappointed in their hopes of aid from the French fleet, and, instead, the militia of New England was called out to defend it at Newport.
In the South was the quietness that reigns in a conquered country ; but the unsubdued spirit of the patriots was soon aroused by their partisan leaders,-Sumter, Clarke, Pickens, and Francis Marion, the latter a Huguenot by descent, and who had served against the Cherokees
GATES ASSUMES THE COMMAND.
at the close of the French war. These leaders, with their CHAP.
XXXVI bands, generally horsemen, scoured the country, and improved every opportunity to make a dash at parties of 1780. British or Tories. At first they were almost destitute of arms; these their ingenuity partially supplied by converting scythes and knives fastened to poles into lances; wood saws into broadswords, while the women cheerfully gave their pewter dishes to be melted into bullets ; from nitre found in caverns in the mountains, and charcoal burned upon their hearths, they made their powder. So effectually did they conduct this irregular warfare, that ere long foraging parties of the enemy dared not venture far from the main army. If these patriots were repulsed in one place, they would suddenly appear in another, as vigorous as ever. While Sumter-characterized by Cornwallis, as the South Carolina “Game Cock”- with his band, was on the Catawba, Marion—known as the “Swamp Fox”—was issuing; “ with his ragged followers,” from the swamps along the Lower Peedee,
Congress now resolved to send General Gates to take command of the southern army. Great expectations were raised when it was known that the conqueror of Burgoyne was about to assume the command. But General Charles Lee remarked, “That his northern laurels would soon be changed into southern willows."
De Kalb, with the regiments under his command, retarded by want of provisions, moved slowly south. His soldiers could only by great exertion obtain their necessary supplies in the barren region through which they passed. Because of this want, he was forced to halt three weeks on Deep River, one of the upper tributaries of Cape Fear River ; there Gates overtook him, and assumed the command. Contrary to the advice of De Kalb and his officers, who recommended a circuitous route through the fertile and friendly county of Mecklenbrirg, Gates imme
CHAP: diately gave orders to march direct on Camden. He said
the wagons coming from the north, and laden with pro1780. visions, would overtake them in two days. They marched
through a region of pine barrens interspersed with swamps, and almost destitute of inhabitants. Their only food was green corn, unripe apples and peaches, and such lean wild cattle as chance threw in their way. The wagons never overtook them, but disease did, and the suffering soldiers
were greatly enfeebled. After a toilsome march of nearly Aug. three weeks, he encamped at Clermont, about twelve 13.
miles from Camden. His army had increased almost daily, principally from North Carolina and Virginia, and now numbered nearly four thousand, of whom two-thirds were continentals.
Lord Rawdon, when he heard of the approach of Gates, retreated and concentrated his forces at Camden, at which place Cornwallis had just arrived from Charleston to take command.
Gates made a move the following night to take a position nearer Camden, and Cornwallis made a similar more to surprise Gates. The advance guards met in the woods ;
after some skirmishing, both armies halted till morning. Aug. With the dawn, the battle commenced. The British 16.
rushed on with fixed bayonets against the centre of the American army, where the militia were posted ; they fled immediately, throwing down their arms lest they should be encumbered in their headlong flight. Gates himself and Governor Caswell were both carried off the field by the torrent of fugitives. The continentals stood their ground firmly, until their brave commander, De Kalb, who had received eleven wounds, fell exhausted—then they also gave way.
The American army was completely routed, scattered in small parties, and in all directions. Their loss, in slain and prisoners, was nearly eighteen hundred, besides all their baggage and artillery. The road was strewed with
DEFEAT AT CAMDEN-DEATH OF DE KALB.
the dead and wounded, the work of the British cavalry, CHAP.
. which the impetuous Tarleton urged on in pursuit of the fugitives for twenty-eight miles.
1780 Certain of victory, Gates imprudently made no arrangements for a retreat, or the preservation of his stores, but instead, he met with the most disastrous defeat ever experienced by an American army. Truly, his northern laurels had degenerated into southern willows ! A few days after the battle, he arrived with about two hundred followers at Charlotte, in North Carolina.
De Kalb was found by the British on the field still alive ; his aide-de-camp, De Buysson, would not leave him, but generously suffered himself to be taken prisoner. The Baron lingered for a few days. His last moments were employed in dictating a letter to the officers and men of his division, expressing for them his warmest affection.
Some days before the late battle, Sumter fell upon a convoy of supplies approaching Camden for the British, and took two hundred prisoners. When Cornwallis heard of it, he sent Tarleton in pursuit, who rode so hard, that half his men and horses broke down. When he arrived on the Catawba, Sumter had reason to think himself beyond pursuit, and halted to refresh his men, when he was completely taken by surprise, his company routed, and his prisoners rescued. Thus, within three months, two American armies had been defeated, and scattered in every direction.
Gates continued to retreat toward the North, having now about a thousand men. Maryland and Virginia made great exertions to recruit the army, but with little suc
Cornwallis, instead of conciliating the people by clemency, excited them to intense hostility by cruelty. Of the prisoners taken at Sumter's defeat, there were some who had given their parole not to engage in the war ; a portion of these were hanged upon the spot. There was
CHAP: more revenge and hatred exhibited in the South by the
Whigs and Tories against each other, than in any other 1780. section of the States. The severity of Cornwallis, how
ever, did not deter the patriots from action. Marion was still in the field, and the untiring Sumter soon collected another force, with which he harassed the enemy.
Washington wished to strike a decisive blow, and he invited Rochambeau, who was commanding the French troops at Newport, to meet him at Hartford, to devise a plan of attack upon New York. After consultation, it was found that the French naval force was insufficient to cope with the British fleet at New York. Accordingly, the French Admiral on the West India station was invited to co-operate; and, until he could be heard from, the enterprise was postponed.
While Washington was thus absent from head-quarters, a nefarious plot, which had been in train for some months, came to light. One of the bravest officers of the American army was about to tarnish his fair name as a patriot, and bring upon it the scorn and contempt of all honorable men. It was discovered that Arnold had promised to betray into the hands of the enemy the important fortress of West Point. The wounds he had received at the battle of Behmus's Heights had unfitted him for active service, and he was placed in command at Philadelphia. There he lived in a very extravagant style ; involved himself in debts, to pay which he engaged in privateering and mercantile speculations, most of which were unsuccessful. He was accused of using the public funds, and condemned by a court-martial to receive a reprimand from the Commander-in-chief, who performed the unpleasant duty as delicately as possible. Yet Arnold felt the disgrace, and determined to be revenged. While in Philadelphia he married into a Tory family, which opened a way to an intercourse with British officers. His