THE HISTORY
OF THE
UNITED STATES

FROM 1492 TO 1920

BY JULIAN HAWTHORNE

P F COLLIER & SONS COMPANY, NEW YORK 1920

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CHAPTER  XX
THE CAROLINAS AND WEST POINT (Part 2)

 

 Operations against the southern States, where the British hoped to be assisted by the "loyalty" of the inhabitants; were begun in the autumn of 1778 by the capture of Savannah with four hundred prisoners, who, on refusing to join their captors, were sent on board the prison ships to perish of disease; many of the inhabitants submitted; some of sterner stuff moved into the western wilderness. In December, Lincoln, a brave and honest but unready soldier, was given the command of the American forces. He had at first but little over a thousand men; Georgia was then under the British yoke, and was being plundered at will. After Moultrie had driven back a party which was moving against Beaufort, the army was reenforced with two thousand men from North Carolina; and South Carolina also took measures for the defense. Lincoln, foolishly detaching fifteen hundred men to threaten the British from Brier Creek, was outmaneuvered, and the detachment beaten with the loss of a thousand men by Prevost. The latter then moved against Charleston, but it had been fortified before he arrived. A .project to raise black regiments was suggested by Laurens and supported by Hamilton; but Washington, while not denying that they might make good soldiers, pointed out that it would become a question of whether the Americans or the English could arm them most quickly; "and," added he, "where are our arms?" Congress overrode this advice, and Laurens went south with the proposition, which, however, the Georgians rejected. They began to regret having entered into the war, and were disposed to yield to the King. Charleston was menaced by the British; but was not attacked; instead, Prevost raided South Carolina, laying waste and pillaging the rich plantations, and wantonly destroying valuable furniture in private houses and killing domestic animals. Help was hoped for from the. French fleet, which had had some successes in the West Indies; and D'Estaing appeared off Savannah with thirty=three ships. In fear of a change of weather, an immediate attack was decided on; but before it could be delivered, reenforcements had arrived for the garrison; part of the attacking party was caught in a swamp; the other was unable to hold the parapet which it stormed, and eight hundred French and Americans were killed in less than an hour, including Jasper, the hero of Fort Moultrie, who, however, brought off his flag. Pulaski, the Polish volunteer, died of his wounds, and D'Estaing himself was wounded. Lincoln retreated with his shattered force to Charleston, and South Carolina seemed helpless. Property was confiscated, women and children were driven into the woods, and desolation reigned everywhere. South Carolina suffered more in the cause of independence than any of the other States.

The French fleet having-sailed for France, Clinton undertook to reduce Charleston. He sailed from New York on the 26th of December, 1779, but his fleet was so injured by storms and American privateers that on arriving at Tybee in Georgia he was obliged to send back for reenforcements. Charleston was badly fortified, and Lincoln bad but two thousand men for the defense of its considerable area. Clinton took his positions with care, summoned Lincoln to surrender, and receiving a refusal, captured Fort Moultrie without the exchange of a shot, and, aided by reenforcements under Cornwallis, completely surrounded the city. On the 12th of May Lincoln capitulated with all his force, and a million and a half dollars' worth of property. The calamity was complete. All the State was at the mercy of the invaders. The English Tar leton pursued a party of four hundred and butchered or desperately wounded two hundred and seventy of them, while they were asking for quarter; a hundred escaped, and about fifty were taken prisoners. For this act, Cornwallis gave the murderer his public thanks. Clinton took measures to force the inhabitants of the State to serve in the British army against their countrymen; but this was overshooting the mark, and operated only to prevent all chance of reconciliation.

In 1780 Cornwallis was given the chief command in the South, and a season of sickening barbarities en. sued. Samuel Wyly was cut to pieces in his own home because he had served as a volunteer at Charleston. Five guineas a head was offered for deserters brought in alive, and ten guineas if they were .dead. All Carolinians taken in arms were promised death on the gallows. Debts could not be collected except after taking the oath of allegiance. One hundred and sixty persons, twenty of them in chains, were thrust into one prison in the heat of midsummer. Sumter's house was burned, and his wife turned out of doors. Sumter himself collected a handful of men, armed them with weapons forged by country blacksmiths, and with bullets cast from household pewter, fell upon a British party of whom a crowd of women were vainly begging mercy, and killed their commander, Huck, and almost all his men, though the latter were their superiors in number. Being joined by others, Sumter surprised a force of tories and English at flanging Rock, and replenished their supply of ammunition from the bodies- of the slain. Patriots now came to him from all parts of the State, and Washington sent him over two thousand men from his army of fifteen thousand, with De Kalb in command. Virginia added nearly three thousand, though they could ill be spared. Congress meanwhile, in opposition to Washington's advice, appointed Gates instead of Greene to succeed Lincoln. When Gates reached the camp of De Kalb in North Carolina, he planned a-march to Camden, in opposition to the counsel of the officers, through a barren district. Learning of the advance of the American army, the people of South Carolina in many cases revolted against their oppressors. On the 7th of August Gates joined Caswell with some North Carolinians, and marched against the enemy at Lynch's Creek.

From this point the conduct of Gates was marked by alternate temerity, ignorance, and cowardice. He brought his army into a difficult position, where the enemy had all the advantage, and, himself remaining in the extreme rear, allowed raw levies who had never seen fighting, led by officers as ignorant as they, to sustain the brunt of the skillful veterans of Cornwallis. The Continentals alone made resistance; two-thirds of the army broke and ran in panic, and Gates himself ran faster than the rest. De Kalb, wounded, fought gallantly on foot, and put to flight Rawdon and took fifty prisoners; but Cornwallis charged him with his - dragoons, he was again wounded, and his command destroyed or dispersed. The British lost five hundred of their best men, making the v; victory more costly than they could afford; but of the Americans not a corps held together. The disaster was the result of Gates's mismanagement' solely. This General actually rode two hundred miles to the rear in three and a half days, leaving his army hopelessly outstripped, and only drew rein at Hillsborough. Sumter, with a few hundred men, had captured some British stores; on hearing of the dispersal of the army, he retreated slowly to Rocky Mount, and was surprised, while taking a noonday siesta with his men, by Tarleton, who captured three hundred of his men, and either killed or put to flight the rest. Sumter reached Charlotte two days later, alone, without hat on his head or saddle on his horse. Thus ended the summer campaign in the South. A series of reverses more uninterrupted had not yet befallen the Americans; but the time was now at hand when the triumphant Cornwallis was to bring the war to an end in a manner very different from what he had contemplated.

In September, he made ready for a triumphant march through the Carolinas to Virginia, by organizing a reign of terror throughout the country. Of his proceedings, by the agency of such men as Tarleton and Ferguson, it may be said that they equaled the worst atrocities committed by the Spaniards on the Cubans in their last war in that island. The life and property of all who were not in arms on the side of the King were forfeit, and scenes of revolting cruelty and outrage were perpetrated. Many submitted; among them persons of distinction, such as Charles Pinckney, Rawlins Lowndes, and Henry Middleton. But others resisted; and of these Sumter, Williams, and Marion were distinguished. Williams attacked a superior force on the 18th of August and routed them; Marion rescued one hundred and fifty prisoners, and captured six and twenty of their guards. A British officer wrote that 'pit is in vain we expect loyalty and attachment from the inhabitants-they are of the same stuff as all Americans." Yet Cornwallis was persuaded that his army would be recruited from among them. He proclaimed that the property of all not obviously for the King would be confiscated. Lord Germain, in London, rubbed his hands and chuckled over the reports he made of his barbarities. He marched to within a short distance of Charlotte before meeting with any important check; but the country was rising.

Jefferson, then Governor of Virginia, caused the enrollment of four hundred backwoodsmen under Camp bell. Clark captured from the British garrison of Augusta, under Brown, the gifts intended to seduce the Cherokees into an alliance. A party of forty men, under Davie of North Carolina, Attacked the vanguard of Cornwallis's force, and for a time held his whole army in check. A company of backwoodsmen under Macdowell, chased across the Alleghenies by Tarleton, roused the settlers in the remote region to activity, and they raised a force to assist him. Isaac Shelby and John Sevier led them over the mountains, effecting a junction with Campbell, and this little army was joined by a party of three hundred and fifty under. Cleaveland on September 30. Ferguson was sent against them, and Tarleton joined him with his light infantry and the British legion. The American Western army (as it called itself) camped at Cowpens, and there received the reenforcement of Williams with four hundred men; they now numbered altogether about seventeen hundred. Learning from Williams that the British were encamped in a strong natural position on the top of King's Mountain, they resolved to attack them, and nine hundred picked horsemen set out the same night on the adventure. They arrived at the foot of the precipitous mountain on the 7th of October. The enemy numbered eleven hundred. The Americans divided into four columns, and climbed to the attack in front and rear, and were within four hundred yards before they were discovered. They were met by the bayonet, but although they were themselves unprovided with that weapon, they continued the attack. The battle lasted an hour; four hundred and fifty of the enemy were killed or severely wounded; Ferguson himself fell; and the rest surrenderd. The Americans lost but twentyeight killed and sixty wounded. The attack was heroically led by Shelby, Sevier, Campbell, Winston, Williams, and Cleaveland. The men hanged nine or ten of the enemy, whom they recognized as robbers and murderers; but the leaders at once put a stop to this. Retaliation for the inhumanities committed by the British was never countenanced by the American officers, and hardly ever attempted, even under the strongest provocation, by the soldiers.

Tarleton, on learning of this disaster, made with all speed for the protection of Cornwallis. The latter began a retreat, in which he was harassed and his force depleted, and prevented from getting supplies, as always was the case when the British were in retreat through any part of America, whether it were Massachusetts, New Jersey, or the Carolinas. Cornwallis himself fell ill of fever, and be was caught at a swollen ford, where his whole army might have been destroyed, had an adequate force of Americans existed. Meanwhile Marion had surprised a party sent to surprise him; and Sumter, above Camden, had defeated and captured Wemyss, who was sent against him. Upon Wemyss were found papers giving a list of the houses he had burned and of the persons he had hanged; but he was a prisoner of war, and Sumter would permit nothing to be done to him. He repelled an attack by Tarleton, but was himself wounded, and led his force back across the Tyger. Thus ended Cornwallis's attempt to invade Virginia; and the fevers of autumn destroyed. his army more
quickly than the losses could be supplied from home.

The conduct of the war did not prevent the consideration of matters pertaining to the government and economy of the States; and already the subject of slavery 'was recognized as a probable source of future trouble. . The dividing line between North and South had begun to define itself. There wag no essential difference in the views of either group of States regarding the abstract morality of slavery; but it did not seem practically possible for the South to give up the institution, without inviting industrial ruin; whereas in the North climate and morality were at one in promoting the discontinuance of slave holding. Virginia, standing between the two sides geographically and in opinion, deplored slavery, while failing to take effective measures to do away with it. Jefferson said, "Nothing is more certainly written in the Book of Fate that the negroes are to be free; nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same Government. I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever. The way, I hope, is preparing, under the auspices of Heaven, for a total emancipation." But in most of the Southern States the subject was dismissed with the remark that, however wrong the thing might be in theory, it had become saddled on the country through no particular fault of its own, and must now remain, since all the ways of life had become conformed to it. The division of feeling which it created, and was likely to increase, between the two sections of the country, was admitted, but was not regarded as of decisive importance. After the war was over, it was thought by many that the needs of union would no longer be apparent. The South would form one empire, the North another; on both sides the doctrine of State sovereignty was held in full force. Samuel Adams went so far as to say that the South was an element of weakness in the Confederacy; the people tended to become rich and weak; and that it was a reason against extending the bounds of America to the Mississippi that the regions so settled would be open to slavery. Thus a party in the North favored ,the pretensions of Spain, though of course not from the same motives that actuated the Spaniards. On the other hand, the South would not support the North in continuing the war for the sake of maintaining the claim of New England to the Newfoundland fisheries. Unless some binding and lasting agreement were entered into for union, the States would sooner or later drift apart of themselves.

In 1780 Massachusetts took the first step to abolish slavery by law, in the opening words of her new constitution, which was adopted after long and careful consideration. "All men are born free and equal," ran this document, "and have certain natural, essential, and inalienable rights, among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness." These words freed all the six thousand slaves at that time held in Massachusetts; and their effectiveness was tested soon after by an action at law, in which the judges of the Supreme Court defined and supported their meaning. But at the same time, Vermont could not be admitted as a State, on the sole ground, urged by the South, that. to do so would "destroy the balance of power" between the two sections; and she had consequently to wait for her admission until a State in the South, where slaves would naturally be used, could enter the Confederacy at the same time.

In the winter of 1780 Clinton had about seven thousand men in the North, and Washington, whose headquarters were at Morristown, rather more than half as many; but they were, as usual, lacking in both food and clothing, not to speak of pay; and the winter was very severe. The tories told Knyphausen that the officers and men were all ripe to desert the cause; and, relying on this assurance, the General thought it would be well to enter New Jersey. He landed at Elizabethtown Point on the 6th of June, and the Americans there retreated, harassing him as they fell back: at Springfield, where Maxwell was posted on strong ground, repeated attacks failed to dislodge him; and when Washington arrived, Knyphausen, though having double his force, dared not attack him, but began a retreat. He was pursued and subjected to constant assaults and reached Elizabethtown with considerable loss. Clinton now returned from the South and resolved to abandon New Jersey. He first feinted toward Springfield, and then retreated to Staten Island, thus losing an excellent chance of destroying Washington's army. Soon after a French fleet with six thousand French troops arrived at Newport to reenforce the Americans; Clinton detached eight thousand men and sent them in a large fleet under Admiral Arbuthnot to Rhode Island; but the Admiral was inefficient, and put back before reaching his destination, much to the regret of the French and Americans who were awaiting him. Clinton, fearful of being superseded by Cornwallis, wrote to Germain for more troops; but the latter replied only by dispatching reenforcements to his rival. Finding himself, therefore, incompetent to defeat the Americans by force of arms, Clinton began to look about him for means to do it by fraud.

The instrument was not far to seek.. Arnold had been living in Philadelphia, had married there, his wife being a tort' woman, and had lived in great extravagance, insomuch that he was heavily in debt, and had not hesitated to commit peculations. The character of this man, indeed, had never had more than one redeeming feature, which was his animal courage-that reckless exposure of the person under the influence of rage and excitement which is the lowest type of daring. All his instincts were, and had always been, coarse and brutal, and his brains were little better than his heart. His history shows him to have been insensible to considerations of honor or of shame, and he regretted his abominable treason no more than he scrupled to commit it. He was almost as much despised by the British as by the Americans; but be minded this not at all, and was solely concerned to get as much money as possible out of his disgrace. History affords no instance of a baser and more sordid traitor, or of one for whose treason there was less of colorable pretext; nor could another sovereign besides George III be found in Europe who would have .found it consonant with his ideas of fitness to reward such a scoundrel by putting his family on the English pension roll.

Clinton, though less brutal in his manner and methods than Arnold, was not in other respects less stained with dishonor than he, in the transactions which were now to take place. Of Lord Germain, who so eagerly approved the plan of treason unfolded to him, enough has already been said. Finally, there is Andre, who served as the agent between Arnold and Clinton. Concerning this young man, a great deal of silly sentiment has been vented during the past century. He was treated with great consideration by Washington and the Americans generally, from first to last; he was hanged, because Washington was as just as he was humane; but it must be said that Andre was a man of worthless character, destitute of honor or scruple, and presenting all the characteristics of a smooth, insinuating, conscienceless scamp. He was good-looking and winning in manner; full of small accomplishments: a good actor, a clever scene painter, a dabbler in rimed doggerel, a lively talker; he was graceful in mind and body, well educated, and with the refinement of good breeding. At his glib tongue's end were the shibboleths of the "man of honor" of the period; he coveted distinction, and risked for it all that should be dearer to a true man than life; last, and best, he could meet death decently and acknowledge that it was deserved. 'Such was Andre, and this was all he was; and many a good-for-nothing before him has possessed all these attributes, and more. Had he escaped death, his memory would have awakened only contempt; because he suffered the penalty, he has received scarce anything but compassion and eulogy, and England built a tomb in his honor. Had lie died in such a cause as Nathan Hale died in, and with the right to say what Hale said as he stood on the scaffold, lie could not have received more consideration; and yet between him and Hale there is an abyss as wide as that between lofty self-sacrifice and ignoble baseness. Both of these men were spies; but no contrast could be more real and deep than that which separates them.

Arnold had already been furnishing treasonable in formation to Clinton before he announced that he was desirous of exchanging the American service for the British. His disloyalty and impudent behavior had given offense in Philadelphia, and his removal was demanded; but the evidences of treason were construed as indiscretion, and his punishment was but to receive a reprimand from Washington, which, we are told, was very gently administered. Arnold did not "smart under it," as has been said; but he welcomed it as a pretext for opening plain negotiations with Clinton. Germain assured Clinton that any expense "would be cheerfully submitted to" in so worthy a cause. Arnold proposed, for a sum of money, and other considerations, to betray West Point, and if possible, Washington, to the enemy. To this end, be first solicited the command at West Point, which was considered impregnable to attack; having been fortified, under the superintendence of Kosciusko, by American soldiers, with great trunks of trees and huge blocks of stone, at an outlay of vast labor, but entirely without cost, and even with the arrears of pay of the builders still unliquidated. It contained ammunitions and stores for the entire American army; and its position made it of vital importance to the cause. Arnold, then, pleading his wounds as an excuse for not asking active service, begged Washington to give him the charge of this strongholds Washington, whose honest and honorable mind, like that of the mythic Arthur of Britain, could easily be cajoled by a scoundrel, assented to his prayer. Through the agency of Andre a correspondence was carried on between Clinton and Arnold for two months; but Arnold, in order to be sure that he would get his price, insisted on a personal interview with a plenipotentiary. Andre attempted to get through the American lines, aided by an order given by Arnold to the American commander at that point, the pretest being that the person who was expected under the protection of a flag of truce was employed on private business relating to some confiscated property. This first attempt was defeated by the British themselves, one of their guard boats; whose men were not in the secret, firing upon the boat in which Andre was coming up the river.

On the 18th of September Arnold took advantage of Washington's passing on his way to Hartford, where he was to meet the French officer Rochambeau, to ask him to let an agent pass the lines on private business; but Washington refused. Learning that he expected to stop in West Point on his return, Arnold sent word to Clinton to send Andre to him at once, and to make his preparations. Clinton at once began the embarking of troops, while Andre went up the river to the British ship of war Vulture, anchored below the Point, where he waited for the boat under a flag of truce which Arnold was to send for him. On the night of September 21 the boat arrived, rowed with muffled oars by a creature of Arnold's named Joshua Heth Smith. 'In it Andre was put ashore, where he found Arnold waiting for him with a spare horse. They rode to Smith's house, where they talked over their business. The plan Arnold offered was to betray Fort Defiance by so distributing the garrison over its seven acres as to spoil their efficiency, and meanwhile to send to Washington for immediate aid; so that Clinton might be free to capture him by surprise on his way to the rescue. During their conversation the Vulture had been fired on by an American battery, and had been forced to drop down stream; so Andre, after changing his regimentals for the clothes of a countryman, made ready, with Arnold's letters and a plan of the works at West Point in his boots, to return to New York by land. Arnold went back to his quarters.

Andre crossed the Hudson at King's Ferry, passed the American post at Verplanck's Point about dusk, spent the-night near Crompond, and early on the 23d of September took the road on horseback to New York. Near Tarrytown, he fancied all danger was past; but by chance John Paulding, a poor patriot who had seen fighting and captivity, had, after his late escape from New York, organized a small party to assist him in capturing raiders and doing the like small services to the cause. At eleven o'clock, as Andre was riding up the hill from Sleepy Hollow, Paulding suddenly confronted him, and asked who he was and whither he went. "Gentlemen, I hope you are of our-party?" said Andre, never doubting they were English. "Which party?" responded the shrewd American. -- "The lower party," was Andre's fatal reply. "We are," said Paulding.-III am a British officer, out on particular business, and I hope you won't detain me a minute." Upon this admission, Paulding bade him dismount. Andre, realizing his mistake, showed his pass from Arnold. "I hope you won't be offended; we don't mean to take anything from you; but there are many bad people-going along this road, and you may be one of them. Have you any letters about you?"-1°No," said Andre. Paulding, however, wanted to see for himself, so Andre was taken aside into the shrubbery and searched; and his boots gave up their secret. "You are a spy," Paulding observed. I'Let me go, and you shall have a hundred guineas-any sum you please," exclaimed the British Adjutant General.-"No: not for ten thousand guineas!" answered Paulding. They made their prisoner accompany them to North Castle, where, in the evening, they handed him over to Jameson, the commander of the post; and, so far as Paulding and the other two men-David Williams and Isaac van Wart-were concerned, nothing more would ever have been heard of any of them;, for they omitted to give their names or to ask for a reward; and Jameson, who, so far as history enables us to judge him, was the most stupid man at that time in America, did not question them. It was Washington who, afterward, sought out the three humble patriots, whose fidelity, under Providence, saved the United States, and prompted Congress to vote them honorable annuities.

Meanwhile Lieutenant Colonel Jameson and Andre were left to each other's society; but no record of their conversation remains. We only know that, as a consequence of it, Jameson gave the amazing order that Andre should be sent back to Arnold! No comic opera contains a passage more ludicrous than this. Fortunately for the world of sane human beings, there was at the post a certain Major Tallmadge, who, though second in command, was first in common sense by an infinite degree above the Lieutenant Colonel; and he insisted upon Andre's being retained at Old Salem. He was, however, allowed to write to Arnold. The letter reached the latter a few hours before the expected arrival of Washington from Hartford; and the traitor had but just time to escape.

Washington could not comprehend the scope of what had happened till a letter from Andre enlightened him. He strove to excuse himself for having "been betrayed into the vile condition of an enemy in disguise," and begged, though "unfortunate," he might be branded with nothing dishonorable, since, he declared, he was "involuntarily an impostor." This was lying, not in the service of his country, but for personal safety only, and at the expense of his fellow conspirators. He hoped to be exchanged; and had the shameless effrontery to mention Gadsden of South Carolina, one of the most stainless and high minded patriots in America, who had been captured at the surrender of Charleston, as a fit person to be exchanged for him. Should he be executed, he insinuated, a like fate would be inflicted upon Gadsden and other men of his caliber.

He was brought to headquarters at once; his guilt was established on his own confession; a courtmartial of the most honorable men in the army tried him, and passed sentence of death unanimously; the sentence was approved by Washington on the last day of September, and he directed that the execution take place the next day. But Andre who had not hesitated to prostitute a flag of truce, to pledge his word of honor that his mission was of ,a private nature exclusively, and to put himself on a par with men of honor and patriotism, ,did not, it appeared, think it becoming his high character to be hanged; he thought he ought to be shot, if he must be killed at all. But, unfortunately for him, the British, ever since the war began, had used the gallows, and the gallows only, upon every possible occasion; and hundreds of Americans, guilty of no crime, whose shoes Andre was not worthy to unlace, had died on it at English hands. Hanged, therefore, Andre must be; and hanged accordingly he was, to the hearty satisfaction of the most elementary justice. True to his character, if to nothing else, he acted out his little scene on the scaffold; informed the spectators that he was "reconciled to his fate, but not to the mode," and begged them to "witness to the world that I die like a brave man." He died the death of dishonor which he richly deserved. Sickly sentimentality demands that we "let his misfortunes cast a veil over his errors: the temptation was great!" A man with no honorable traits of character found an opportunity to do a congenial deed; and he did it. His misfortune was the misfortune of all other criminals who have not the luck to cover their trackshe was found out. It is true, he was an English gentleman and soldier; and if English gentlemen and. soldiers are proud of him as their peer, it is not for us to grudge them that privilege. His effigy is in Westminster Abbey.

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