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XIX.

1780.

BOOK infatuation, first attempted to treat as slaves, and

then to punish as rebels.

Towards the autumn of the present year, a reDefection of general markable event took place in the defection of gene

ral Arnold, who commanded a considerable body of troops at West Point on the North River, and who, having long since entered into a secret correspondence with sir Henry Clinton, agreed to betray into his hands that important post, and the whole of the troops entrusted to him. The mili. tary talents and successes of Arnold had raised his reputation so high, that the danger of placing confidenice in a man wholly destitute of honor and probity in private life was not sufficiently adverted to. The intercourse between the American and English generals was carried on through the medium of major André, a young man of singular accomplishments, who had passed up the river unknown and unsuspected from the head-quarters at New York to the post of West Point. But on his return by land, September 23d, after eluding the vigilance of the regular patroles, he was apprehended in disguise, and with a false passport, by three American privates, to whom he in vain offered great rewards if they would suffer him to escape. On examination, the papers found upon him, and which he had no opportunity to destroy, discovered all the particulars of the conspiracy. His case being

XIX.

1780,

referred to a board of general officers, of which the BOOK marquis de la Fayette was one, they unanimously 5 determined that he came under the denomination of a spy; and that, agreeably to the law and usage of nations, he ought to suffer death ; which, notwithstanding the equally unavailing solicitations and menaces of sir Henry Clinton, who anxiously sought the means of saving him, was on the 2d of October inflicted in that degrading mode “ which gives the brave the keenest wound.” Such was the noble candor and magnanimity of his conduct consequent on the discovery, that the high character of the American commander would have derived addi. tional lustre from indulging the earnest and sole request of major André, to be permitted to die as a soldier, not as a felon. General Arnold, with great difficulty, on the apprehension of major André, made his escape to New York, and was immediately promoted to the rank of brigadier-general in the king's service.

In the southern provinces the events of the war were of a nature more important and interesting. After the departure of sir Henry Clinton from Carolina, lord Cornwallis was left with a force apparently very inadequate to maintain possession of the province against the increasing armies of the Americans, of which general Gates, the conqueror of Burgoyne, had now taken the command. The British forces, having advanced towards the north frontier

VOL. VII.

XIX.

1780.

BOOK of the province, found their further progress inter

cepted by the enemy, who with far superior num-
bers were posted near the town of Camden. Lord
Cornwallis, sensible that a retreat would be equiva-
lent to an abandonment of the recent conquests, de-
termined to risk an engagement; and in the night
of the 15th of August, 1780, the troops were put
in motion, in hope of surprising general Gates in
his camp. That commander, with a view likewise
to the surprisal of lord Cornwallis, had marched
his troops during the night to the attack of the
British camp, and the advanced parties of the two
armies unexpectedly met in a wood near Camden.
A sort of truce was observed till day-light appeared,
when the action commenced on the part of the
British general, who was well pleased to observe
that the American commander had been under the
necessity of taking a very disadvantageous and con-
fined position, bounded by swamps on both sides,

which prevented his making any efficacious use of Victory his great superiority of numbers. The militia, of ford Corn- whom general Gates's army chiefly consisted, unable Camden. to resist the new and formidable attack of the bayo

net, fled at the first onset. The continental troops
maintained, nevertheless, their ground with great
resolution ; but, finding themselves totally deserted
by the militia, who could never be brought to rally,
were compelled to retreat, leaving behind them their
cannon, camp-equipage, and stores. This victory

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The pur

1780.

seems to have been the most complete which was oh- BOOK tained in the whole course of the war. suit continued for more than twenty miles; and co. lonel Tarleton coming up with a detached

corps at the Catawba fords under general Sumpter, charged them with such vigor that they were instantly broken, and the greater part either cut to pieces or taken prisoners.

General Gates, who thus unfortunately at Camden saw those laurels fade which he had so gloriously acquired at Saratoga, now, with little apparent attention to the point of honor, left the shattered remains of his army to the care of a general Smallwood, and retired into North Carolina to consult with the government of that province upon the means of fu. ture resistance and defence.

Lord Cornwallis, eager to improve his victory to the utmost, advanced, as soon as the excessive heats incident to the climate and season would permit, to the vicinity of Salisbury, on the frontier of North Carolina, having first detached major Ferguson to the western side of the province to collect and arm the royalists 'in that quarter. No sooner was the communication of this officer with lord Cornwallis interrupted by the extension of the distance, than a plan was formed to surround and cut him entirely off. Divers corps of the provincial militia effected a rapid junction with the mountaineers of the western districts, under the command of colonels Williams

XIX.

1780.

guson at

BOOK and Cleveland, to the amount of several thousand

men, and, marching in quest of Ferguson, soon

discovered his encampment on an eminence known by the name of King's Mountain. The Americans, dividing their force into different columns, ascended the hill in various directions, and attacked the royalists with great fury. Major Ferguson was successful on whichever side he directed his efforts; but no sooner was one division driven back, than

the former resumed its station : so that his exerDefeat of tions were entirely unavailing. But his unconquermajor Fer

able spirit disdained all ideas of surrender, and the King's Mountain. unequal conflict continued till this officer received a

mortal wound; and no chance of escape being left, nor prospect of successful resistance remaining, the second in command sued for quarter ; which was granted, and more than eight hundred men laid down their arms, about three hundred being killed or wounded in the action.

This disaster was in its consequences almost as fatal to lord Cornwallis as the affair of Trenton to general Howe. On the first intelligence of it his lordship retreated to Wynnesborough, where he was much harassed by the irregular but continual attacks of the provincials; and general Gates was enabled to write to the president of the congress, “ The enemy have so far the worst of the campaign, having lost considerably more men, officers, and arms, than your army; and even lost ground, as they had se

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