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CHAP. IV.

1779.

dable spirit and bravery; but they finally feparated without victory on either. Yet the proud and gallant Britons, whose island has long affumed the haughty ftyle of mistress of the feas, who have justly boafted their fuperiority in naval engagements, could not forbear to claim the advantage in this doubtful conflict. But it is certain the wounded fleets under the admirals Barrington and Byron, found fome difficulty in reaching St. Chriftophers, without fome of their fhips falling into the hands of their enemy.

The count de Eftaing returned to Grenada; and the lillies of France waved for a fhort - time in the Weft Indies; and the English admirals were infulted in their turn, by the parade of the French fleet before St. Chriftophers, in the fame manner lord Barrington had before manoeuvred in vain at Martinico, without provoking the Frenchmen to engage. After these partial fucceffes, the count de Eftaing foon left the tropical feas, and repaired again to the American continent, where the affiftance of a naval force was by this time exceedingly wanted, to aid the operations of the Americans.

The fouthern campaign had been opened the preceding year, by the feizure of the capital of Georgia. Sir Henry Clinton, late in the autumn of one thoufand feven hundred and feventy-eight, had ordered a large detachment of

1779.

Heffian, British and provincial troops, under the CHAP. XV. command of lieutenant colonel Campbell, to Savannah, to affift major general Prevost in further profecuting fome unexpected advantages he had already gained. They were escorted by a small squadron under the command of commodore Parker, and arrived in the Savannah the twenty-feventh of December.

The ftate of Georgia was at this time in a. very weak and defenceless fituation. Their frontiers were exposed to the depredations of the favages; and the rude incurfions of the wild borderers who mixed with them, had often been fo troublesome, as to require the call of the fouthern militia to check their outrages. Colonel Campbell landed his troops immediately on his arrival in the river, and by feveral fpirited and judicious movements, poffeffed himself of the town of Savannah, the capital of the state, with little or no lofs, and obliged general Robert Howe, a gentleman of North Carolina, who commanded a party of about eight hundred militia, to retreat with precipitation.

Orders had been previously given by fir Henry Clinton to major general Prevoft, the commander in chief in East Florida, to repair with all poffible expedition, to aid the invafion and reduction of Georgia. This active officer immediately collected his remote cantonments, and with dispatch and perfeverance, pushed

CHAP. XV.

1779.

his march through a hot and barren country of great extent. Surmounting innumerable difficulties and fatigue, he reached Sunbury, and took poffeffion of the town and garrifon, before Campbell had poffeffed himself of Savannah.

Both military skill and a great degree of humanity, marked this firft important enterprise' in the fouth. The British commander forbid that the inhabitants not in arms fhould be either molested or plundered; and by promifes and proclamations, encouraged them to fubmit quietly to the authority of the parent state. Some acquiefced by inclination, and many impelled by neceffity, appeared ready to enlist under the Britifh ftandard; others, of more bold and independent fentiments, made their escape across the river, with the hope of an asylum in South Carolina.

Thefe fucceffes again encouraged the difaffect ed and disorderly people, who had long infefted the back parts of North Carolina, to renew their incurfions. Thofe infurgents had been apparently fubdued, their leaders cut off, and their fpirits broken, in the beginning of the American convulfions; but their averfion tơ the reigning powers in that state, still rankled in their breasts: they had impatiently waited an opportunity of difplaying it, in all the fierce and cruel modes of favage war, in conjunction

with the neighbouring Indians, to whom they had attached themselves.

They confidered this a favorable crisis, and again left their rural occupations. They united with fome scattering parties of the fame defcription, on the borders of South Carolina and Georgia, embodied themselves, and in their progrefs committed every outrage, that might be expected from an armed banditti. But on an attempt to join general Prevost, their main body was attacked by the provincial militia, many of them cut off, and others taken prisoners; the remainder fled to the frontiers of Georgia, where, with their old affociates of the wilderness, and all others who could be collected in the back fettlements, they united to aid general Prevoft in his future operations.

The hazardous fituation of Georgia, and the imminent danger of the wealthy state of South Carolina, had fpread an alarm that awakened to immediate exertion for the recovery of the one, and the fecurity of the other. General Lincoln had feasonably been fent forward to take the command in the fouthern department. He reached Savannah a fhort time after colonel Campbell's arrival there; but he found himfelf not in fo eligible a fituation as might have been wished. The number of troops under his command fell far fhort of expectation: the artillery and ftores were infuflicient; and every

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CHAP. XV.

1779.

CHAP. XV.

1779.

difficulty was enhanced by the want of order and difcipline in the militia, who refufed to fubmit to the neceffary fubordination of armies: they left their pofts and retired at pleasure.

General Lincoln however, consistent with his ufual difpofition on all occafions, endeavoured to make the best of his fituation. He continued himself at Purisburgh, with the main body of his army, and ordered general Ashe, with a detachment of two thousand men, to take a ftrong poft at a place called Briar Creek. His defign was to fecure the upper part of the country against the loyalifts, who were every where collecting their strength.

Soon after general Ashe had taken poffeffion of the advantageous poft, that in the opinion of the principal officers, promifed perfect fecurity, general Prevoft formed and executed the defign of furprising him there. To facilitate this judicious measure, he made fuch arrangements on the banks of the Savannah, as took off the attention of general Lincoln: at the fame time, he ordered his brother, colonel Prevoft, by a circuitous march of fifty miles, to fall unexpectedly on Afhe's party at the creek. The fuccefs of the enterprife juftified the defign; the whole detachment was routed, many of them killed or captured; and thus the way was opened for the loyalifts, and their copper-colored allies in the back country, to join Prevoft

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