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280

TARLETON AT CHARLOTTESVILLE.

[CHAP. III.

to cut off La Fayette's retreat to the mountains. But as soon as the young Marquis learnt that Lord Cornwallis, with his army, had crossed James River at Westhe left Richmond with about three thousand men, over, two-thirds of whom were militia, and who were all that the State was then able to arm.1 He crossed the Chicahominy, and proceeded towards Fredericksburg, with the twofold object of protecting military stores, and of meeting the reinforcement he expected from Pennsylvania. Cornwallis had been able to add to the number and efficiency of his cavalry by means of the fine horses with which Virginia abounded; and to avail himself of this advantage, he despatched Lieutenant-colonel Simcoescarcely inferior to Tarleton as a partizan leader-with five hundred men, infantry and cavalry, to destroy the arsenal and military stores at the Point of Fork in Fluvanna. He at the same time detached Tarleton, with two hundred and fifty well-mounted horse, to seize the members of the Legislature then sitting in Charlottesville. Before Simcoe reached the Point of Fork, Baron Steuben, who was there stationed with six hundred new levies for the protection of the arsenal and stores, mistaking Simcoe's force for the van of the British army, hastily crossed the Fluvanna, after having destroyed such stores as he could not remove. Under a continuance of the same mistake, he destroyed the stores which he had removed, before he continued his unnecessary retreat. Fifty of his men, who had not yet crossed, were captured by Simcoe. Tarleton was also disappointed as to the main object of his expedition. A private citizen happened to be at a tavern in Louisa, and seeing Tarleton's detachment on its march, suspected the object; and by means of a fleet horse and a shorter road, gave Governor Jefferson and the members

1 Letters from Jefferson to Washington, IV. Burke, page 492.

1781.]

ALBEMARLE OLD COURT-HOUSE.

281

of the Assembly, with the exception of seven, sufficient notice to effect their escape. The Assembly had time to adjourn to Staunton, beyond the mountains.

After La Fayette had retreated across the Rapidan, he was joined by Wayne, with eight hundred men from Pennsylvania; and he had previously received small reinforcements of militia and of well-mounted horse. With this increase of strength he recrossed the Rapidan, and marched to the protection of the valuable magazines at Albemarle Old Court-house, which Tarleton had been detached to destroy. He was then in a position which compelled him to engage the whole force under Cornwallis, to which his was greatly inferior, or abandon the protection of the magazines. But by great exertions he was, in the course of a night, able to open a road' long disused, and to march his whole force on it to a strong position at the old Court-house, by which he effectually protected the public stores. He was here joined by a large corps of riflemen from the mountains. Cornwallis finding all his attempts to circumvent "the boy" ineffectual, and overrating La Fayette's force, abandoned his purpose, and turned his course to the lower country. La Fayette followed in the same direction; keeping, however, at a prudent distance.

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Cornwallis finding that his enemy had eluded him, and might in turn annoy him, deemed it prudent to descend to the lower country. He accordingly, on the eighteenth of June, retreated to Williamsburg. La Fayette at Rich

1 This road to the first Albemarle Court-house having been originally much used by runaway debtors emigrating to the South, was called, in the neighborhood, The Rogue's Road. After the Revolution, it was known as The Marquis's Road. In travelling it many years since, I have noticed the letter K cut on some old pine-trees at the road-side, by which, as I learned, the unschooled fugitives indicated Carolina to those who might follow their example.

282

SUMMARY OF THE MILITARY FORCE. [CHAP. III.

mond was joined by Steuben with four or five hundred new levies, making his whole force four thousand men; but only fifteen hundred were disciplined troops. Cornwallis's force was numerically larger: it consisted wholly of veterans, and a well-mounted cavalry. La Fayette kept at the distance of about twenty miles. He was overtaken by Colonel Butler, and an action ensued, that was indecisive.

Washington meanwhile remained in New York, ready to make an attack with Rochambeau on the city, when circumstances should favor him. His letter communicating his purpose to Congress having been intercepted, Sir Henry Clinton, alarmed for the city, wrote to Cornwallis for a part of his force, which he, having sent, thought of retreating to Portsmouth. La Fayette having approached him while at James Town, an action ensued, in which the American force was worsted, and then retreated behind a morass. Fortunately, Cornwallis thought this was a stratagem, and did not follow up his advantage; but the next day proceeded to Portsmouth.

The military force embodied in the beginning of 1781, to maintain the cause of independence, is thus stated in Marshall's Life of Washington :'

"The Southern troops, from Pennsylvania to Georgia, did not exceed three thousand men. Of the Northern troops, twelve hundred had been detached to Virginia, under La Fayette; with these they amounted only to three thousand effective men in April. The cavalry and artillery was less than one thousand. With some small additions the whole reached four thousand men in May. They were ill supplied with clothing, and were seriously threatened with a want of provisions. The quartermaster's department was without means of transport."

' IV. Marshall, page 446

1781.]

OPERATIONS IN SOUTH CAROLINA.

283

At this time an invasion from Canada was threatened, as well as new hostile combinations among the Indians. A further source of perplexity arose from the settlers of what is now Vermont, who claimed lands there under the grants of New Hampshire, while New York had always asserted this country to be a part of her territory. A furious contest arose on this subject, which threatened to end in bloodshed. The Vermonters insisted on being admitted into the Union. Their course made it probable that, in case of their application being refused, they would submit to British authority.

Under these embarrassing circumstances, it was agreed between Washington and Count Rochambeau to make an attempt to wrest New York from the British, as their force in that city did not exceed four thousand five hun dred men; but the whole American army in Virginia and the Northern States, in June, was less than five thousand men.

Let us now return to the operations in South Carolina. After Lord Cornwallis left that State, the command devolved on Lord Rawdon. Marion and Sumter were still in arms, but though they defied all attempts of Lord Rawdon to capture them, they were able to effect nothing of importance.

Greene, on his return to South Carolina, attempted to carry some of the several posts which the British had erected from Charleston to Augusta. He first made an attack on Camden. Unable to storm the works, or completely invest the place, he took a position before it to profit by circumstances. Having detached a part of his force to obtain provisions, Lord Rawdon, with nine hundred men, sallied out to attack Greene, who was then posted at Hobkirk's Hill, and from whom victory was again snatched, when he thought it within his grasp.

284

ACTION AT HOBKIRK'S HILL.

[CHAP. III. Greene, finding the fortunes of the day changed, reluctantly ordered a retreat, which was made in good order, and with fifty prisoners. The loss of the Americans in this action, in killed, wounded and missing, was two hundred and sixty-six. The number engaged was twelve hundred. The total loss of the British was two hundred and fifty-eight.

Several of the British posts were subsequently taken, when Lord Rawdon, not being able to bring on a general engagement, retired to the lower country. Greene invested the British fort at Ninety-six, but Lord Rawdon being reinforced by three regiments from Ireland, the besiegers were repulsed with considerable loss, and the attack was abandoned by Greene. In several partial rencounters with cavalry the Americans were successful, and took a hundred prisoners.

During these fierce rencounters of the two hostile armies, the opposite parties of patriots and loyalists had their animosity excited to the highest pitch, and occasionally gratified their vindictive feelings by inflicting the penalties of treason. One of those who suffered in this way was Colonel Hayne of Charleston, who being charged with deserting the British cause, after he had given in his qualified adhesion, was hung as a traitor. He was highly respected in South Carolina, and his death was so resented, from the peculiar circumstances of his case,' that it had almost produced a system of retaliation.

Throughout the summer, both parties were actively engaged in subjecting different portions of the country to their respective authorities, in which the American cavalry particularly distinguished itself. Greene, no

'See II. Ramsay's Hist. Rev., p. 277.

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