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THE BRITISH ATTACK THE SOUTH
In the summer and autumn bands of ferocious Iroquois (§ 32) led by Tory (§§ 160, 165) captains committed horrible massacres at Wyoming, Pennsylvania, and Cherry Valley, New York.
In the West, Captain George Rogers Clark of Virginia accomplished wonders. He and his little band of stalwart backwoodsmen set out to capture the enemy's forts (1778-1779).
They endured terrible hardships and sufferings in crossing the "Drowned Lands" where the Wabash River, in Indiana, had overflowed the country. Often they had to push forward for miles through ice-cold water waist-deep. But neither hunger, cold, nor exhaustion could force them to turn back. They literally waded to victory. Finally, they drove the British out of Illinois and later from Indiana, thus securing that immense region to the United States. It began to look as though the King of England was losing his grip on America.
183. The British attack the South; Savannah taken; Wayne's Victory; Paul Jones. The enemy, now (1778) transferred the war to the South. Their plan was to begin at Georgia and conquer northward. Then, in case the English government was forced to make peace, it hoped to be able to keep the southern territory. King George was prudent: "Half a loaf," said he to himself, "is better than none." The last of the year (December 29, 1778) an expedition attacked Savannah. The British had three men to our one; they took the city.
The British had got possession of the fort at Stony Point (Map, p. 140) in the Highlands of the Hudson. So long as they held it, our men could not cross the river at King's Ferry -- then the principal crossing place between New England and
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
the southern states. "Mad Anthony Wayne,"1 under Washington's direction, stormed and took the fort (July 15, 1779), -- at midnight, at the point of the bayonet -- never firing a shot during the battle. The capture of the fort stopped the British plans for ravaging Connecticut. They found that they must use all their forces to hold the Hudson.
The next autumn brought glorious news. Captain Paul Jones,2 the first man to hoist the Stars and Stripes (§ 179) over an American war ship, had, with the help of Benjamin Franklin (§ 135), fitted out three or four vessels in our defense. With three of these vessels, one of which was a half-rotten old hulk, he boldly attacked and captured two British men-of-war. The fight took place off Flamborough Head on the east coast of England. (Map, p. 67.)
After that most humiliating defeat England still boasted that she was "mistress of the seas," but the boast was in a lower tone; if Paul Jones had only had a few more ships, he would have made the tone a whisper.
184. The British take Charleston; Marion and Sumter's Mode of Fighting. In the spring (1780) the war in the South was renewed with vigor. The British took Charleston (May 12, 1780), and Lord Cornwallis (§ 171) held the city. But Marion (§ 115) and Sumter, with their bands of resolute men armed with a few guns, and weapons made of old scythes and saw blades, did good service in the American cause. When the British forces went out to conquer the country, the Carolina patriots attacked them just as two kingbirds attack a hawk. The kingbirds are not nearly as big and strong as the hawk, but they are far quicker. They strike him from opposite sides. They easily dodge his blows, but he cannot avoid theirs. So they worry and torment the hawk until they tire him out, and he is glad to fly in any direction to get away from them.
1 General Anthony Wayne of Pennsylvania. He was called "Mad Anthony Wayne" on account of his daring. The British thought that the Americans could not use the bayonet; Wayne showed them their mistake.
2 Paul Jones was by birth a Scotchman. He entered the American service in 1775. His name was originally John Paul.
VICTORY OF KING'S MOUNTAIN
185. Loss of Camden; Brilliant Victory of King's Mountain. The British had a small force at Camden (Map, p. 162), South Carolina -- a great center for roads, and hence of much importance from a military point of view. General Gates (§ 179) with General De Kalb (§ 176) resolved to attempt the capture of the place before Cornwallis could arrive there, but Cornwallis reached Camden first. A battle was fought (August 16, 1780) in which Gates was compelled to retreat, losing artillery and baggage, and narrowly escaping capture himself.
But while Cornwallis was chuckling over his victory, the backwoodsmen of this part of the country, sharpshooters, every man, attacked a British force at King's Mountain (October 7, 1780), on the borders of North and South Carolina, and in a terrible battle completely defeated the enemy. (Map, p. 162.)
186. Arnold's Treason; the Dreadful Winter at Morristown. Meanwhile (September 22, 1780), the most startling and the saddest event of the Revolution occurred. Benedict Arnold (§§ 164, 179), Washington's trusted friend, commander at West Point, had turned traitor. The discovery was made through the arrest of André, a British spy by whom Arnold attempted to send a plan of the fort to the British commander at New York. André was tried and hanged, but Arnold escaped to the British army. Later, the traitor led an attack on Richmond, Virginia, and burnt it, and, last of all, one on New London in his native state of Connecticut.
Arnold died in London twenty years later. It is said that the last request he made was that the epaulettes and sword knot which Washington had given him might be brought. "Let me die," said he, "in my old American uniform, in which I fought my battles. God forgive me for ever having put on any other!"
The gloom of Arnold's awful act of treason was felt in the American camp at Morristown (§ 182) in the dreadful winter (1780-1781) which followed. In some respects it was worse than that at Valley Forge (§ 181); and the men, unpaid, half fed, freezing, were driven to desperation and partial revolt.
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
187. Greene's Campaign in the South (1781); the Incident at the Tavern; Cornwallis leaves the Carolinas. But it was the gloom that precedes the dawn. General Nathanael Greene of Rhode Island had been placed in command at the South. Next to Washington he was by far the ablest soldier in the Revolution. With a little force that seemed, as he said, but "the shadow of an army," he accomplished wonders.
Early in the year (January 17, 1781) a part of Greene's men, led by Morgan (§ 179), gained the battle of Cowpens, South Carolina. (Map, p. 162.) Then Greene, who was master of the game he was now playing, retreated toward Virginia, thus drawing Cornwallis, who followed him, further and further away from his supplies at Charleston. But the American general had many anxious days during this retreat, and often the chances of success seemed wholly against him.
On one such occasion he reached Steele's tavern at Salisbury after midnight, wet to the skin with the heavy rain that had fallen all day. Steele looked at him in astonishment and asked if he was alone.
"Yes," answered the general, "tired, hungry, alone, and penniless." Mrs. Steele heard his reply; she made haste and set a smoking hot breakfast before the weary, despondent soldier. Then she carefully shut the door, and drawing two bags of silver from under her apron, she held them out to her guest.
"Take these," said she; "you need them and I can do without them."
It was such noble-hearted women as Mrs. Elizabeth Steele who helped our men to keep up heart to the end. The honor shall be theirs so long as history lasts.
GREENE'S CAMPAIGN IN SOUTH CAROLINA
At Guilford Court House (now Greensborough), North Carolina, Cornwallis defeated the Americans (March 15, 1781), but he himself lost so heavily that he could not hold his ground and had to retreat to Wilmington, North Carolina. He arrived there (April 7, 1781) in miserable plight, having lost about half of his small army by battle, sickness, or desertion. On reaching Wilmington, Cornwallis heard that Greene had turned back to attack the English force under Lord Rawdon left at Camden, South Carolina. Cornwallis was in no condition to wheel about and follow Greene. He finally decided to march northward to Petersburg, Virginia. (Map, p. 162.) There he hoped to get more troops from New York; then, having conquered Virginia, he would go back and reconquer the Carolinas.
188. Greene's Campaign in South Carolina. Cornwallis started on his long march of 200 miles. Meanwhile, Greene, aided by Marion, Sumter (§ 184), and Pickens, had driven the British from Camden (May 10, 1781). Through the summer he struck the enemy blow after blow, and ended by gaining what was practically a victory, at Eutaw Springs, South Carolina (September 8, 1781). After that the British -- what there was left of them -- fled to Charleston, shut themselves up there, and did not venture out. Greene had in fact won back the Carolinas; and he had won them, thanks to the help given by Marion, Sumter, and Pickens, with an army which did not number more than about 2000 men. To accomplish much with small means is a sure sign of greatness. Greene had done this, and Washington was the man who taught him.
189. The Crowning Victory of the War, 1781. Cornwallis reached Virginia, and after vainly pursuing Lafayette (§§ 176, 179) and destroying millions of dollars' worth of property he entered Yorktown, on a narrow peninsula at the mouth of the York River. He went there not because he wanted to, but because he must. Cornwallis had been chasing Lafayette; he boastingly said, "The boy cannot escape me." But "the boy," Lafayette, with a larger army, had turned round and begun chasing him. Cornwallis moved to Yorktown (July 30, 1781) to get
LEADING FACTS OF AMERICAN HISTORY
help by sea from New York. There the British general fortified himself. He did not know it, but he was building his own prison one that he would never get out of except by surrender.
While he was waiting for soldiers to arrive from New York a French fleet of war ships (§ 179) was coming to block him in. Now was Washington's chance to strike a tremendous blow. His plan was to march rapidly south from the Hudson to Yorktown, and, with the help of the French fleet and French troops and of Lafayette and his army, to capture Cornwallis with his whole force. Such a move required a large amount of money to pay the men and buy provisions. Robert Morris (§ 175) again came to the rescue and is said to have furnished nearly a million and a half of dollars for the good work.
Clinton (§ 171), at the head of the British force in New York, thought Washington was getting ready to attack him. Washington encouraged him to think so. Even Washington's own army supposed that was his intention. When he was ready, Washington suddenly broke camp and marched his entire force with all possible speed across the country to the head of Chesapeake Bay and thence (by vessels) to Yorktown. (Map, p. 162.)
Cornwallis looked over the walls of his fortified town. He saw the French fleet on one side, and the American army 9000 strong, with the French army 7000 strong, massed together against him on the other side. He held out manfully for more
SUMMARY OF THE REVOLUTION
than a week against solid shot, shell, and red-hot balls. Then, seeing that it was useless to struggle against fate, he surrendered. His army marched out October 19, 1781, to the tune of "The World's Upside Down." It was true; the British world in America was "upside down," and the fall of Yorktown practically ended the War of the Revolution. After more than six weary years of fighting Washington had conquered. It was "the victory of a great and good man in a great and good cause."
When the news reached London and was announced to Lord North, then the Prime Minister and the King's chief adviser, he threw up his arms as though a cannon ball had struck him, cried out wildly, "It is all over!" and then resigned his office.
190. Summary of the Revolution. The King of England insisted on taxing the American colonies without their consent. The Americans refused to pay, and took up arms in defense of their rights as loyal English subjects. The King and his party endeavored to put down the rebellion, and on July 4, 1776, the colonists declared themselves independent of Great Britain.
The War for Independence then began. At Saratoga, in 1777, the Americans gained a great victory over Burgoyne. In consequence of that victory the King of France acknowledged the independence of the United States, and sent money, ships, and men to fight in our behalf.
In 1781 Washington, with the help of French troops and of French ships of war, defeated Cornwallis at Yorktown, and took