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PRINTED FOR JAMES RIDGWAY, YORK-STREET, SAINT
It is generally understood, when a dedication is not satirically prefixed to a book, that it has previously obtained the approbation and protection of the person to whom it is dedicated. Our Stricturist presents to the public his profound and extensive disquisitions and tactical animadversions, under the patronage of [piv] a very splendid, senatorial, and military character; and by the aid of so respectable a sanction, would persuade his readers, that he is attacking the personal veracity, and professional fame, of Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton, under the auspicies of so highly distinguished and judicious a patron as Lord Rawdon. -- Herein the Stricturist has shewn no little sagacity. At setting out, therefore, I consider it as a duty to the public, to expose so sinister a purpose. The rank and weight of that nobleman, whose name is most judiciously chosen by the Stricturist, if used with authority, would be a just and secure passport to his production. If daringly and presumptuously usurped, will only operate to his disgrace. [pv] In the latter case, the insiduous artifice, instead of fostering malevolence under the wing of virtue, will effectually defeat its own intention. It will baffle the view of the dedicator; and far from affording the sanction of Lord Rawdon's name to his work, will detract from the credit that might be due to his own. I will not attempt to pass any panegyric upon Lord Rawdon; he is far above my praise; nor can his fame be affected by direct or implied detraction, or by an surreptitious use or abuse of his name. I take upon me to charge the Stricturist with this abuse.
It is not my intent or desire that the world should be informed whether Lord Rawdon does not approve [pvi] of the whole of his work, or of any part of it, or of no part of it; but whether it was written and published under his sanction and auspicies, which I believe I may venture to deny.
In effect, the majority of the world have been induced to believe, that the Strictures were published under the sanction of a character equally distinguished in private life, in the senate, and in the field.
To whatever imputation however any part of these Strictures may be liable, it must at least be admitted, that they are uniform and consistent from one end of them to the other. One black and unvaried die, taints the whole production; one uninterrupted strain of rancour in [pvii] every page, continually revolt the noble and generous mind. Yet the meanest person in the streets may, equal with our Stricturist, be master of abuse, although he has no better argument than his fists to justify it. The Stricturist too, in support of the gross abuse which he has substituted in the place of conclusions from reason, facts, or argument, would, I doubt not, (his abilities failing him) readily fly to his sword. But let me intreat him to spare my life; my language shall be that of a gentleman, though my arguments may embarrass both him, and the faction with whom he is united; though I may be obliged to assert and to prove that his whole production is unfair, uncandid, and unsupported [pviii] by military knowledge;and though I may shew, that while he presumes to declare "That Tarleton's assertions are absurdities hitherto unparalleled," he opposes nothing to these absurdities, but vain attempts at ridicule, vainer assertions of his own, and an endless string of vague ipse dixits.
I do not aim at literary fame, nor have I attempted the language of a Tarleton, or the borrowed one of Roderick M'Kenzie; my trifling observations result from a real affection for a man with whom I am most intimately connected, and who, by the author of the Strictures, has been most grossly misrepresented and aspersed. I am acquainted with his abilities, his honor his, courage, [pix] and his real zeal for the cause in which his country was engaged.
For the justice of this praise, I refer to your own sentence, when you shall have perused the Strictures, and the answer to them. For the last, I claim the indulgence which is due to the pen of a soldier; fairly and honestly, yet warmly, engaged in the cause of truth and friendship.
Though I blush not oftener than my neighbours, yet I trust it will be understood that I submit these remarks, with all becoming modesty, to you, Gentlemen, to whom I have the honor of addressing myself; to a tribunal who have already had opportunities of judging me; and before now have probably passed decision; to whom I would willingly [px] entrust my life, my honor, and reputation; conscious, that although there are rancorous individuals in all professions, yet, let me be tried by the voice of the army, in any part of my conduct through life. With respect and confidence I will bow to the court, and await my sentence.
Malevolent critics and rancorous detractors of public and private honor, will most likely attack me and my production. It will not require much art, or refinement of sophistry, to torture and pervert my meaning; but such serpent-headed monsters, I despise, as much as I honor and respect you, Gentlemen, to whom I appeal. By your judgment, and yours only, shall I be affected; judge me as you would wish to be [pxi] judged. A soldier addresses you in defence of an injured friend; under your banners I inlist, and seek for protection. Where I have erred, with due humility I will stand corrected. -- To the literary critics I surrender my language and my syntax. Before I committed my thoughts to the press, I was well aware that I lay under the misfortune of wanting all literary excellence, or even the advantages which I might have obtained from a most liberal education.
The indulgence I expect for myself, I shall shew to the Stricturist, when he affords me occasion. Every generous and unprejudiced reader would willingly overlook many errors, and forgive inaccuracies. But [pxii] one of his fundamental pretences, is too gross to escape animadversion; surely the Stricturist is not serious, but expresses himself ironically, when he informs us, in page 107, "That if to be disinterested is necessary to the investigation of truth, he comes so far qualified." In a simpler period, and a less experienced age, these Caledonian professions of candour might have gained credit with a credulous public; but at this time of day, the Southern world is too enlightened to be so egregiously humbugged. Again, in the same page we read, after having perused so much of his very candid production, -- "Devoid of spleen, and unconnected with Party." -- He may as well attempt to make [pxiii] the world believe, that Roderick M'Kenzie is not a native of North Britain.
He may, perhaps, imagine that this is written at Tarleton's instance; on my honor, as an Officer and a Gentleman, it is not; for his private opinion is adverse to a reply, as he holds the Strictures justly beneath his thoughts or attention. It is a voluntary act of my own, arising solely from friendship, feeling, and the love of truth.
He is extremely pointed in his remarks, relative to Tarleton's rapid rise in the army. -- I beg leave to be permitted to pay him those compliments which his Strictures, as a literary production, so justly deserve; and at the same time to rejoice with [pxiv] him on the most gigantic improvement his pen has attained in elegance of language during that very short period between the publication of his Strictures, and those elegant elegiac letters (vide elegiac Strictures, line 12, page 135) he favoured us with, in the newspapers, some few months back, signed An Officer on that Service. Had Tarleton rose as rapidly in the army, as this gentleman's pen has improved during the short period of a few months -- the very first campaign he would have been generalissimo. It affords me infinite pleasure when I compare the style of the Stricturist's former productions with the latter; and reflect with infinite satisfaction on the rapid improvement the human mind is capable of [pxv] acquiring from intense application and study. For though I do not approve of his Strictures, they being unsupported by argument and a candid state of facts; yet the language is to be commended. And, setting aside its merit or demerits, as a military performance, it must do him infinite credit as a literary one, with that part of the world who believe him to be the author.
I wish to write in the plain and simple language of a soldier, not attempting to embellish my productions with flowery subterfuges, or sophistry, which he so often flies to, instead of stating plain facts, or supporting his contradictions by argument.
[pxvi] From my connections with gentlemen of the first literary abilities in this country, my production might have came forth in a far more conspicuous point of view, had I imitated the Stricturist, and, like him, borrowed another man's pen.
I have this most satisfactory excuse for my feebleness, that this reply is entirely my own -- the correction of gross violations of syntax and daring outrages on the nominative case, and the verb, excepted.1
"The perusal of the following letters will discover that our author was destitute of many qualifications essential to his undertaking.
"To supply these material defects, he (Colonel Tarleton) appears to substitute a professional experience, so limited, as scarcely to exceed the duration of a butterfly's existence.
"Natural historians relate, that this insect is, in the first period of its existence, [p2] a crawling grub; in the second, a fluttering useless fly; and in the third, it dies."
Both these passages are low and vulgar attempts at wit and satire; full of rancour, malevolence, and puerile abuse; and by every generous soldier will be treated with the contempt they deserve.
"Earl Cornwallis was at the time Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton published his History, and at present, Governor General in India."
The fact stands thus: Mr. John Tarleton, brother to the Colonel, called on me some time previous to Earl Cornwallis's departure for India, and shewed me a letter which he had received from Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton, dated Aix-la-Chapelle; in which he desired particularly that Earl [p3] Cornwallis might be informed that he had then begun, and intended to publish, a history of the campaigns of 1780 and 1781, in the Carolinas and Virginia. Mr. John Tarleton requested of me, as a favour, to wait on Earl Cornwallis, and inform his Lordship of the Colonel's resolution. I waited on Lord Lothian, knowing him to be a very intimate friend of the Noble Earl, and communicated my instructions to him. Lord Lothian requested I would write him a letter on that subject; which request I complied with. His Lordship returned me the next day an answer, informing me that he had shewed my letter to Lord Cornwallis. The copy of my letter, together with Lord Lothian's written answer, I gave to Mr. John Tarleton, who may perhaps have them now in his possession; but it surely would be of no use to publish them, when I call [p4] on two respectable witnesses for the veracity of my assertions.
"The author (Tarleton) reasoning on some subsequent operations of the American army, is as unfortunate as in his preceding remark. He says, page 13 and 14, the body of regular troops destined for this service, (the siege of Charlestown) could have been more usefully employed in the field; where judicious operations, assisted by the resources to be found in the country, and by the approaching head of the season, could have protected the greatest part of the fertile province of South Carolina, would have soon overbalanced the present superiority of the British forces, and would have effectually prevented the co-operation of the royal navy and army. General Washington [p5] adopted this line of action when he abandoned York Island for the Jersies."
To prove whether Colonel Tarleton's opinion is an absurdity hitherto unparalleled, as our Stricturist expresses himself, page 17, it shall be my endeavour to point out the real situation in which Carolina most probably would have found itself, provided the 6000 men taken in Charlestown had escaped that capture. Sir Henry Clinton well foresaw the advantages that would accrue to the General who was to be left with the command in Carolina, from not letting one single man of that numerous garrison escape; for which purpose, as soon as possible, before he began any decisive operations against the town, he dispatched Earl Cornwallis and Colonel Webster to invest it on the other side of the Cooper River, to prevent the escape of the garrison by that quarter, while Admiral Arbuthnot [p6] effectually prevented the same by water. You, gentlemen, must recollect a considerable reinforcement being thrown into the garrison at Charlestown in sloops and schooners, by the channel of the Cooper River, leading from Monk's-corner, before we had possession of the navigation of that river, by the exertions of Captain Elphinstone, and the unwearied perseverance of the British sailors, who passed gun-boats over the neck of land which forms the peninsula.
I remember well being in company (shortly after this reinforcement had passed) with Sir Henry Clinton, who remarked on that event, "so much the better; the more are to be captured in the town, the fewer will be left to disturb the future tranquility of the province."
To discuss the point in dispute between our Stricturist and Tarleton, and to place both authors' remarks in a fair and candid [p7] light, you must permit me, gentlemen, to suppose these 6000 men to have escaped capture at Charlestown; let them be supposed to have marched out of the town by the rout of Monk's-corner, before ever we had landed on Charlestown neck; or to have passed over the Cooper River before Earl Cornwallis had invested it on that side; either of these routs they might have taken, and have marched until they had placed themselves on the other side of the Santee River. In the course of that march they would have disputed the ground advantageously at many places where we must have passed; the situation of the country would have enabled them to have harassed us at various swamps and defiles, although it might have been imprudent in them to have attempted a general action. On the other hand, Sir Henry Clinton, whose presence with a considerable part of [p8] the force was necessary at New York, must have left a greater number of troops behind him with Earl Cornwallis to oppose those 6000; the same number perhaps as were sent in the autum following, under General Leslie.
We will suppose these 6000 men in the field, and to retreat as fast as the British advance; let me ask the Stricturist, how far he will have the British advance? -- to Camden? -- or if he does not think that far enough, one hundred miles further? Although I myself must confess that I would not wish to see the noble Earl over the Santee River; but place him at Camden, or any where else the Stricturist pleases. Now gentlemen, I entreat your attention: -- General Gates, on the 16th of August, at the memorable action of Camden, brought 6000 men into the field; these joined to the 6000 captured in Charlestown, would [p9] have made 12,000. You will say that I have exaggerated the force, as numbers would have been sick and dead of the Charlestown troops; to which I reply, that as many, or more in proportion, of the additional reinforcement would in like manner have suffered.2
The British that day were not 1500, including the cavalry. I will now ask any of you, gentlemen, opposed by such a numerous and powerful body of troops, what could the noble Earl have done possessed of all his gallantry and good conduct? I hope I shall not be deemed too presumtuous when I say, he would, upon the approach of such [p10] a formidable force, fall back behind the Santee; happy, if in his power, to cover the rich part of that province behind the river: a very arduous and doubtful task to perform!
"Of the political propriety of maintaining this post (Charlestown) the Americans must have been more proper judges than our author."
Without mixing ideas of political propriety with military monoeuvres, the question is simply, whether or not General Lincoln acted as an able General, in voluntarily submitting himself, with 6000 men, to be shut up and besieged in Charlestown; the result of which, in the end, must be capitulation? He gallantly defended the town to the very last extremity; but he surely never could imagine that he would be able to prevent our taking it. I myself have too [p11] good an opinion of General Lincoln, as an officer, to imagine that he would have thus committed himself, unless he had been obliged, by intrusions from the Congress, or the state of Carolina, to defend the town.
"It cannot by any means be admitted, that six thousand American troops, indifferently disciplined, should, in any situation, be able to counteract the measures of a British force consisting of ten thousand; and to assert that a few regiments, the weak state of which is acknowledged by himself (Tarleton), would have actually prevented the co-operation of the royal army and navy, is an absurdity hitherto unparalleled."
I must here, gentlemen, beg leave to draw your attention to three points in the above remarks: -- "a British force consisting of ten thousand." In these words the Stricturist implies, that Sir Henry Clinton, whose presence [p12] with a part of the forces was absolutely necessary at New York, would have remained in Carolina, or have gone back alone, leaving behind him, to a single man, the whole army he brought with him: -- an absurd and impossible supposition. In the preceding line he allows, "The Americans to be six thousand strong: -- in the lines immediately following, he says, they were only "a few regiments in a very weak state;" and he closes this curious remark by saying, that Tarleton has been guilty of an absurdity hitherto unparalleled! Roderick, I recommend thee first to cast out the beam out of thine own eye, before thou attempt to take the mote out of thy brother's!
"The place (Fort Washington) was summoned in vain, and then attacked by General Knyphausen, Earl Percy, General [p13] Mathews, and Colonel Sterling, at the head of four separate divisions of the British army. The assailants had near four hundred men killed and wounded; and the fortress was not reduced until Earl Percy carried one of the out-works, by assault; Colonel Sterling another; and until Knyphausen, having advanced close to the parapet, was prepared to enter sword in hand."
Our Stricturist has here made a display of the names of Knyphausen, Percy, Mathews, Sterling, none of whom want his praise or comments. All he here reports is true; but though honourable and great in the actors concerned, what has it to do with his reply to Colonel Tarleton? His only business was to confute the words of Tarleton, as quoted in his Strictures, page 7: -- "General Washington adopted this line [p14] of action, when he abandoned New York island for the Jerseys."
Tarleton first maintains, that the troops taken in Charlestown would have been more advantageously employed in the field; and then cites, by way of example and precedent, the conduct of General Washington, when he previously quitted New York island for the Jerseys, a measure which contributed so much to his credit, and to our disadvantage, by preparing the way for the affairs of Trentown and Princetown. On this comparitive censure, our Stricturist is contented with boldly asserting, that General Washington did not quit New York island for the Jerseys from motives of policy, but of necessity; -- and assertion is his only proof. He states indeed the situation in which General Washington left fort Washington, and the attack of that fortress; and then, without advancing an argument to [p15] favour his contradictions of Tarleton, he hastily concludes by saying, that when these circumstances are considered, it will appear that General Washington did not abandon New York Island for the Jerseys, from motives of policy, but from necessity.
With respect to Tarleton's specific censures of the conduct of the American General, at Charlestown, our Stricturist thinks himself as much at liberty to assert, "that Tarleton's assertions are absurdities hitherto unparalleled." With this slashing declaration he seems perfectly satisfied himself; and he has the modesty to expect that his reader will be equally satisfied with the following concluding and most ingenious sentence: --
"Whatever the faults of the American General might have been, it is obvious, [p16] that his army, by quitting the only garrison, and principle port (Charlestown) in the province, and by retiring into the interior country, could not have retarded the above-mentioned co-operation: such a measure, instead of dividing, would have enabled the British to concentrate their force."
I have already attempted, gentlemen, to lay before you some description of Carolina, and in what situation that province would have found itself, supposing the 6000 men under General Lincoln not to have been captured; but this is a topic which our Stricturist chuses to pass over with contempt.
He contents himself with asserting, that the whole British force, both navy and army, would have been concentrated by the movement [p17] of General Lincoln's force into the country.
How such a concentration could have taken place upon the supposition that the 6000 Americans had quitted Charlestown, unless the Admiral had wheeled his ships up the country, on dry land, I must leave to the concentrated ingenuity of Roderick M'Kenzie, and Doctor Brown, to determine.
I return, for a moment, to the comparative consideration of the opposite measures adopted by Washington and Lincoln.
"When these circumstances are considered, it will appear, that General Washington did not abandon New York Island for the Jerseys, from motives of policy, as this author asserts, but of necessity."
It is well known, that General Washington was not driven from New York Island [p18] by force, but that he voluntarily quitted it before Sir William Howe landed: the door was open to him to escape; so it was to General Lincoln; for the latter had full time to quite the town; but he adopted the contrary system, and, in consequence, was taken. The same fate would have befallen General Washington, had he remained twenty-four hours longer in his position near the fortress bearing his name. Sir William Howe would have landed behind him on the Continent. Few of his army could have escaped over the North River for the want of boats, and our shipping having in part possession of that river. By thus judiciously moving from New York Island, he protected the fertile country of the Jerseys, Pennsylvania, and the city of Philadelphia, which otherwise must immediately have fallen into our hands. General Lincoln, by suffering himself, with an army consisting of [p19] 6000 men, to be besieged and taken in Charlestown, sacrificed the rich province of South Carolina to our will and jurisdiction.
In a word, our Stricturist condemns Tarleton for maintaining, that General Washington adopted this line of conduct when he quitted New York Island for the Jerseys; arraigns his judgment, and contradicts him flatly; but at the same time never attempts to confute his arguments; but substitutes in lieu of solid reasoning, a description of the attack of the fort, with a pompous display of cannon, magazines, and storming sword in hand! You, gentlemen, to whom I address myself, I hope will not think me too presumptuous, when you have considered the situation both of General Washington, and General Lincoln, if I take upon me to say, that I do not believe General Lincoln to have been master of his own motions: for Lincoln, as well as Washington, [p20] could certainly have moved where he pleased, and ought to have used his forces to distress, harass, and entangle the English in the interior of the province.
"When false inferences, like these, supported by erroneous illustrations, appear in the front of a performance, we listen with caution to the sequel; which indeed is the most necessary when it is considered that official dispatches, and private letters, are adduced as vouchers, though these were written under impressions from erroneous reports, founded on misrepresentations by our author himself, whole garrisons have fired vollies, bells have rang, and bonfires have been raised to commemorate advantages which never existed."
Whatever commanding General you here mean to allude to, I return you his sincere [p21] thanks for your opinion on his conduct, and report of actions under his auspices. There are but two you can possibly here allude to: -- Sir Henry Clinton, and Earl Cornwallis: they both have reported Colonel Tarleton, and his actions, in the most brilliant terms; recommending him for his gallant exertions, in a most particular manner, to the notice of Government, and protection of his king; they, certainly, Sir, have to thank you for the pains you have taken to make the world believe that the subject of their official letters have been mere matter of moonshine, ideal engagements, like castles in the air; simply, and only, the fiction of a few moments of invention, and calculated only to deceive their king and country.
"The Corsican Chief, Paoli, devised an excellent method of promoting bravery [p22] among his countrymen: he wrote a circular letter to the priests of every parish in the island, desiring a list to be made of all those who had fallen in battle. No institution was better contrived; it might be adopted by every nation, as it would give double courage to soldiers, who would have their fame preserved, and, at the same time, bear to their relatives the valuable legacy of a claim to the kindness of the state. In addition to this first principle, it certainly affords a melancholy satisfaction to find in the page of history, that justice is done to the memory of the dead; it mingles sympathy with the tears of the widow and orphan," &c. &c. &c.
"Liberal minds only are influenced by these exalted maxims; but let us consider the light in which they have been viewed [p23] by the journalist of the Southern American campaigns."
Had you given this hint to Tarleton, previous to his publication, to oblige you, I dare say he would have sent to all the parishes both in England and Ireland, but most particularly to the parish priests of Scotland, for an accurate list of those of their countrymen who fell and bled in the southern provinces of America: and as we might most assuredly rely on a most faithful account from that clergy, then should we have seen the name of Roderick M'Kenzie come forward with gigantic honour, and his fears would increase the sympathy which mingles with the tears of the widow and the orphan.
This practice, which you have recomended to Tarleton, though extremely praise-worthy, you yourself have not adopted; since it is pretty well known that you have chosen [p24] to call in medical3 instead of ecclesiastical assistance. Every generous soldier laments the loss of blood that flowed from Roderick's wound; and, lamentable indeed would it have been, if that wound had bled afresh as often as you have recited the incident in your Strictures.
"Describing the attack of the legion-infantry, when they mistook the corps under the command of Major Ferguson for enemies, page 7 and 8, he (Tarleton) entirely neglects to mention the wounds which that active officer received."
Here, sir, if you could not stop your rancorous censure on Tarleton, decency ought to have forbidden your reviving this unlucky event: the whole army felt on every occasion for the gallant Ferguson. This affair [p25] was most truly shocking and melancholy. -- The less said on this subject the best. -- It was a night attack upon an enemy's camp by the two above-mentioned corps: -- the enemy evacuated the post on hearing of the approach of the British. Ferguson arriving first, took possession; and was mistaken by the legion-infantry for the enemy; some blood was spilt on both sides, and Ferguson had very near lost a life, equally valuable to the whole army, and to his friends.
"An action which a detachment from the garrison of Ninety-six, had with an American corps, upon the 19th of August 1780, would certainly have excited the attention of a correct historian."
Relative to this action on the Ennorvee River, I have no remark to make. The commanding officer (Colonel Innes) if in [p26] his present situation your Strictures can be supposed to fall in his way, will have less reason to be pleased with them, than to be offended with Colonel Tarleton for the omission with which you reproach him, since you have not attributed to that officer his real merits.
"In our author's description of the action at Hanging Rock, the partiality which he entertains for his own corps, is evident: the gallantry of officers, and of a detachment with which he had not immediately connected, is consigned to oblivion. This assertion is justified by his silence on the loss of Lieut. Browne, of the North Carolinians, who fell in a desperate charge, which the crisis of the action rendered inevitable. Besides him, not less than seventy men of the same regiment were killed and wounded, [p27] of which however no mention is made, as it would appear a participation of the credit ascribed to the legion."
Here, sir, you attack Colonel Tarleton with more than your usual inveteracy. I hope I shall be able to prove to those gentlemen to whom I address myself, hat your assertions are founded on no other principle, but a determined resolution to follow him through his history with malevolence and ill-applied satire, equally destitute of candour, argument, and military knowledge. Tarleton, in this instance, certainly has not given to his own corps the degree of praise which they deserved. I will not be so arrogant as to give to my own ipse dixit on the merits of those most singularly gallant action; but I will lay the minute particulars of that affair before the officers to whom I address myself, who, from their vicinity to the field [p28] of action, cannot be ignorant of the truth of what I shall state.
Colonel Bryant's militia were attacked by General Sumpter, were beat, and driven out of the field -- the North Carolinians suffered nearly the same fate. The loss of the Prince of Wales's regiment sustained was heavy; that corps, both officers and men, were nearly destroyed.4 The British legion were then attacked by the whole American force. [p29] Captain M'Cullock, before the attack became general, was mortally wounded: the command of the legion devolved on Captain Rousselet. He charged the enemy; repulsed, and drove them. This officer, possessing happily not only valour, but also good conduct, joined with it, instead of permitted his victorious troops in a broken and irregular manner to pursue the enemy, (which in cases I could mention, has proved fatal, where British valour, intoxicated with a momentary success, has lost sight of discipline, regularity and order; which neglect of regularity may in future wars, if not corrected, be more severely felt5) halted, convinced of the advantage [p30] of the ground he had been attacked upon, he marched back and took possession of it again. Sumpter renewed the attack; he was again and again beat off, charged, and pursued, but with regularity. These operations of a gallant few, gave time for a few of the scattered troops to rally and join the legion, which the approach of the detachment under Captains M'Donald and Stewart, &c. &c. as related by Colonel Tarleton, obliged General Sumpter to quit the field, and desist from any further attack on that post.
Here again, sir, as in many other parts of your work, you have use of particular words and expressions to set yourself off in a literary point of view. I do not mean to [p31] enter into a contest about expressions, where they are not erroneous, and calculated to mislead in point of fact; still less do I wish to depreciate the gallantry of Lieutenant Browne. But surely, sir, the crisis of this affair, as far as I am capable of understanding that medical term, existed in the exertions of the British legion, and no where else.
But to place what I have said beyond the reach of doubt, Lord Rawdon judged the conduct of the British legion, on that occasion, to be so highly meritorious, that his Lordship actually proposed to make an application to Earl Cornwallis, for some badge of honour to be granted to that corps, for their gallant conduct to that day.
"From too great attention to his own exploits, Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton pays not that decent regard to those of [p32] others, which historical truth indespensably requires. He has not recorded the fall of several officers at the siege of Augusta; and the whole of those who displayed such distinguished bravery in the defence of Ninety-six, are, without exception, passed over in silence. Of the former of these sieges, he appears to know little indeed; and of the latter, though one of the most brilliant affairs which occurred during the war, he seems to the full as ignorant as he possibly may be of those of Candia or Rhodes."
At the time of the sieges of Augusta and Ninety-six, Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton was some hundred miles distant from them; of course it was not in his power to give an authentic account, from his own knowledge, of those operations, which, however conspicuous for their gallantry and exertions, were performed at so great a distance from [p33] him, and were conducted under the immediate inspection of Lord Rawdon. Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton was in Germany when he wrote his history, and had there no connections that could have given him the minute particulars of either of those transactions. The gallant defence of Augusta and of Ninety-six are well known to the world, and have been publicly described with justice, but not with more praise than they truly deserve. But as our Stricturist does not profess to send forth his book as a history, it seems full as absurd in him to introduce the siege of Ninety-six, in Strictures on Tarleton, as it would be in me to add to my remarks, a detail of the siege of Gibraltar, which I hope had its merits also.
In like manner, the conduct of Lieutenant Colonel Devaux had undisputed merit in the capture of the island of New Providence; [p34] but that transaction is as extraneous to your confutation and attack on Tarleton, and his history, as the narrative of Captain Cook's adventures at Otaheite or Kamschatska, would be to my defence of my friend.
The event of Candia and of Rhodes, are, I am persuaded, better known to Tarleton than to the Stricturist, or myself.
The Stricturist indeed, however conversant in ancient or modern history, might, perhaps, do better to confine himself to the battles of Culloden and Preston Pans.
In page 505, he (Tarleton) asserts, "two officers, with forty dragoons, and their horses, were all taken without a blow; but the fact is, that Lieutenant Sutherland, of the South Carolina dragoons, one of the officers thus censured, being on a [p35] foraging party, fell in with a considerable corps of the enemy's cavalry, and defended himself, when attacked, with a degree of valour bordering on excess. He was so desperately wounded in this rencounter, that the infantry, who had now advanced to his support, left him on the field for dead. This gentleman, however, still lives, though his recovery is held by the medical faculty, as an event next to a prodigy. So far was he from not exchanging blows with the superior force by which he was attacked, that a considerable portion of his skull was proved to have been cut out with a sabre, the manifest proof of which is displayed by the perception of the movements of the brain upon an application of the hand: he is now in Nova Scotia, and our author probably conceived that he might hazard such a reflection upon his conduct, as he has [p36] made upon that of other absent officers, without risque of contradiction."
Lieutenant Sutherland's gallant resistance is certainly highly to be commended: but neither does his personal bravery, or your account of his sufferings, confute Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton's statements: you contradict Tarleton, but you advance nothing in support of that contradiction; but instead of history or argument, you shock us with a long indelicate chururgical account of the motion of that officer's brain, to be perceived, as you assure us, by an application of the hand. That officer is truly to be pitied; yet what have his suffering to do in support of your argument against Tarleton? This passage may be very interesting to the gentlemen of the faculty, and a certain Doctor might turn it to account in an anatomical lecture; but such pictures cannot edify military men; nor will they be [p37] led aside from the points in view, by the numerous delusions with which you attempt to distract them throughout your whole Strictures. Ad. rem, Stricturist; you shall not fly off from the point, and attempt to bewilder our judgment, nor break the thread of the subject in discussion, by foreign subterfuges, Leonidas, Ganganelli, Thermopylae, Candia, Rhodes, Mary Queen of Scots, Corsica, Paoli, and Parish Priests, instead of real substance, truth, and argument. Ad. rem, ad. rem, Roderick!
In your Strictures, page 31, you request the friend to whom you address your letter, (who, by the bye, I believe an ideal one, or in the moon), as a grant leading rule to judge of Tarleton's history, to keep continually in view his estimation of one of his dragoon horses in preference to the life of an officer; -- this is certainly giving your friend a very sensible and weighty advice! [p38] but I hope, sir, without much presumption, to point out to the gentlemen to whom I address myself, a more striking and leading feature throughout your production; namely, a virulence and rancour, pointed against that officer personally, and more pointed against him than against his history; continually contradicting, and vainly attempting to turn him into ridicule, but without assigning an argument, or good military suggestion in confutation of him.
You seem to think that your own malevolence, ipse dixit, may supply all reasoning on the subject.
"From such anxiety in our author, not to omit the smallest loss sustained by his own corps, this reflection naturally occurs, that the fall of horses, in action where he is concerned, is intitled to a preferable [p39] attention in his work, to officers of equal, perhaps superior, merit to himself, who suffered upon other occasions."
This paltry sneer is too idle, too insignificant to merit refutation; and must be passed over with that contempt which most justly belongs to weak scurrility.
"Even Lord Rawdon escapes not the acrimony of his pen," &c. &c.
Permit me to assure you, sir, that no person can have a greater respect for Lord Rawdon, both as an officer, or a private gentleman, than Colonel Tarleton; nor is there any one more ready to render that tribute of praise to his Lordship, which his good conduct always intitles him to. But the best of men, and the best of officers, have found themselves in a perilous situation, without any misconduct to be laid to their [p40] charge. Such was the situation of Lord Rawdon in the instance alluded to, and he extricated himself like an able officer.
The approach of the American army, in force, from Quaker Meeting,6 where they lay under the command of General Du Culb, from whom, at the above place, General Gates took the command, was so sudden and unexpected, that it was not known on the other side the Santee River, until Gates was actually encamped before Lynche's Creek. I hope, gentlemen, I shall not be deemed too presumptuous when I submit the following obse4rvations to your superior judgment: --
Had Gates, when he took the command at Quaker Meeting, instantly marched toward Camden, without hesitation, delay, or halting any longer than to refresh his troops, [p41] he then would have had the choice of three decisive objects; namely, to cut off the detachments at Hanging Rock and Rocky Mount -- to prevent the two battalions of the 71st regiment, who were stationed at the Charraw-hills, on the Pedee River, from joining the royal army -- or, to attack Lord Rawdon before these detachments had joined him. I leave it to your judgment, gentlemen to decide upon the event of the measures I have suggested.
"Our author, in arraigning the penetration of General Gates, is rather unfortunate; his animadversions," &c. &c. &c.
"From his (General Gates's) known character, there is not left a shadow of doubt, that if the measures suggested by he author had been the most proper, they would not have been neglected."
[p42] I have already stated the different plans of operation of which General Gates certainly had his choice; and which, by attacking us in detail, might have been fatal to our army. Instead of adopting this mode of attack, he lay for several days before Lynche's Creek, permitted all our detachments to join the army, and gave time for Earl Cornwallis also to join it; to effect which his Lordship was forced to travel night and day, and he arrived in camp but one day before the action of Camden. Earl Cornwallis, after mustering every soldier able to bear arms, did not bring 1500 men into the field that memorable day; Lord Rawdon had not two-thirds that number of Lynche's Creek, before the detachments above-mentioned joined him, and not above 40 cavalry, the superiority of which, on the 16th of August, rendered that day complete, by the pursuit of the enemy two and twenty miles [p43] from the field of battle; and by a total destruction of their baggage, replete with an immense quantity of arms and ammunition for the supply of the whole province of Carolina, who were then ripe for a revolt from the British Government. I have attempted both honourably and candidly to point out the situation of his Majesty's troops at that time in the vicinity of Camden; and I leave it, gentlemen, to your superior judgment to determine upon the merits of Gates's conduct, and Tarleton's remarks upon it, whether it would have been more prudent in General Gates to have attacked our army in detail, which I hope I have proved he was able to do, or to act as he did.
I have neither blindly supported Tarleton, nor rancorously censured Roderick M'Kenzie; I have assigned my reasons for both; could we say the same of our Stricturist, he would appear not only in a more [p44] amiable point of view, but every generous, liberal, and candid reader would listen to him with more attention, and give greater credit to his Strictures.
"And he (Tarleton) has left us to lament, with Ganganelli, that there are some authors who, in their attempts to rise into the uncommon, have fallen into the absurd."
You have reason to lament, for had you (previously to the publication of your Strictures) perused the words of that amiable Pope, they might have profited not a little.
The mention you make of the celebrated Ganganelli, has led me to peruse a work that has afforded me much amusement.
I hope, sir, I may, without offence, be permitted to paraphrase, with very little alteration, his twenty-ninth letter from [p45] Rome, of the 2d of March, 1750, to the Abbe Lami, periodical writer, at Florence, and in my own person, address it to you.
I ALWAYS read your Strictures with pleasure, my dear Roderick, but I wish you would always give the reasons of your Strictures, instead of saying, for example, that Tarleton's assertions are absurdities hitherto unparalleled; that the style of such a work is incorrect; that there are trifles which disfigure the beauty of the book -- you should plainly prove the charge. Rules have always need of examples. There is hardly any book of which it may not be said that it contains some careless or affected expressions. When you speak in general, it gives room to believe that you have only glanced your eye over the work which you are giving an [p46] account, and that you are in haste to get rid of the trouble.
Another omission is, your not shewing the best part of the work.7 The good taste of the Stricturist requires that he should be attentive to this: -- if a work is not worth the trouble of reading, it is better not to announce it at all than to rail at the writer. It is illiberal to abuse a work, merely to make the public merry at the expense of the author.
Were your Strictures severe without satire -- exact without trifling -- just and impartial, they would discharge their duty to the satisfaction of the public: -- mine is complete [p47] every time that I can renew to you the sentiments of esteem and affection with which
I am, &c.
"It is well known that the public service required Earl Cornwallis to mount dragoons, by the expedient just mentioned; and that the British Government is too just to deprive its subjects of private property, without an equivalent, I readily admit; but that the proprietors have received payment for these horses, is denied. A number of officers, now in this kingdom, are in possession of receipts passed on this occasion by Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton, which remain to this hour undischarged. Many of these gentlemen are reduced to the scanty pittance of half pay, and it would afford them much satisfaction to know through what channel they are to make application for payment."
[p49] I assure you, sir, on this subject my indignation will hardly permit me to keep within the bounds of decency; as any deviation from that line, tending to scurrility or abuse, ever disgraces both the officer and the gentleman, and must inevitably recoil on the person it proceeds from. I shall most carefully curb my pen; though I cannot help expressing my sentiments and opinion, and declare, if I had my will, I would order this paragraph to be torn from the whole production, and burnt at the head of the British army. Permit me, sir, to inform you, although it may not perhaps be absolutely actionable, yet it has a strong tendency to a libel.
The exigencies of the times required of Earl Cornwallis to give out an order, that all persons having horses fit for the cavalry service, should deliver them at Col. Tarleton's camp, where receipts would be given for them.
[p50] I myself, in the absence of Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton, signed several receipts for horses delivered at our camp; God knows there may be some now extant with my signature; if there are, let them be produced; I am ready to present them to Government. Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton will do the same; but it is most audacious of you to attempt to make the world believe that he has unjustly deprived officers of their property.
"Such effusions of vanity as these have a very disgusting effect. To other officers, from a General of such high birth, and length of service, it was sufficient to be commanded; but this gentleman must desired and requested to do what was merely his duty," &c.
With respect to the words, desired and requested, which Tarleton often makes use [p51] of when he treats of different services on which he was employed, and which you are pleased to point out as effusions of vanity, -- if you will refer to dispatches and letters, in various situations of the war, you will find the same language held by many officers. But in this particular part of your Strictures, finding yourself without even a shadow for a charge, or cause for censure, you find yourself obliged to maintain your consistencies by sticking to aspersions, by an unusual exertion of that rancourous severity with which you follow Tarleton through your whole Strictures.
"Earl Cornwallis, with the principal column of the army, &c. &c. and Hamilton's corps, marched by Hanging Rock. He (Colonel Hamilton) was left with his [p52] regiment to garrison that post (Camden); nor did a single soldier belonging to it appear in his Lordship's camp from September to November. Thus an increase of more than five hundred regulars, is made to be his Lordship's force."
This is certainly an inaccuracy in Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton; but as Hamilton's corps was ever before this time a part of Earl Cornwallis's army, a generous and candid observer would forgive this small error; but Roderick M'Kenzie never Lets pass an opportunity of censuring Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton.
Instead of dwelling with so much satisfaction upon the minutest error in his history, it would be a more liberal employment to bring forward the particulars. The various instances of distinguished serves performed by Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton, Roderick M'Kenzie is careful never to touch upon, [p53] because they bid defiance even to his venom and malevolence.
"The assertion therefore, that he (Lieut. Colonel Tarleton) moved up the east side of the river, is a mistatement of the fact, and calculated to produce conclusions remote from the truth."
Here, sir, you charge Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton with an error relative to the move of his own corps. Every liberal reader must observe that this is an error of the printer; all books are liable to such inaccuracies; and Tarleton, I dare say, will allow you all the triumph you can derive from an error in the press.
But I intreat you, gentlemen of the army, to read the whole of this passage in Tarleton's book, and inspect his march as traced out in the map, and your liberality will instantly [p54] point out to you that the error lies in the press only.
"That a charge was ordered, is readily admitted; that the Major was wounded in attempting to lead the dragoons to this charge, is well known; but no intreaties of his, no exertions of their officers, could, upon this occasion, induce the legion cavalry to approach the American militia; -- they retreated without fulfilling the intention of the General. He therefore, much dissatisfied, ordered the light and legion infantry to dislodge the enemy, which they immediately effected."
I am extremely averse to treat on this affair at all, being myself the principal person concerned; but our Stricturist's malevolent aspersions force me not to pass this over in silence.
[p55] I acknowledge that I was guilty of an error in judgment, in entering the town at all with the cavalry, before I had previously searched it well with infantry, after the precaution Earl Cornwallis had given me.8
But when I risked so few lives in drawing the fire from the enemy, I trust that, in some measure, palliate the fault. None but the advanced guard were with me till most of the enemy had given their fire.
A part of the cavalry in reserve, whether from perceiving the enemy planted behind the houses, and imagining they were impervious to my view, (which they were, until I was considerably advanced into the town), or for other reasons best known to themselves, at this advantageous instant of [p56] time did not advance. My intent of charging through the town, after having drawn the enemy's fire, now became too late and too dangerous; and I was happy to draw the cavalry off as quick as I could, and with so trifling a loss.
The Stricturist says, "Lord Cornwallis being dissatisfied, ordered the light infantry to dislodge the enemy."
This I positively deny -- the truth stands thus:
We had a part of the legion infantry mounted on inferior horses, to enable them to march with the cavalry, ready to dismount and support the dragoons. These infantry, of their own accord, very properly had dismounted, and formed before the cavalry were near out of the town. I ordered them to take possession of the houses to [p57] the right, which was executed before the light infantry, and the remainder of the legion infantry, came up, who were left behind with Earl Cornwallis to march at the head of his column.
I appeal for the truth of this assertion to Captain Campbell, who, as their senior Captain, commanded them, came running up to me, when our dismounted infantry had advanced, and in a most friendly manner intreated me not to impute any blame to him, for not running up with the remainder of the light and legion infantry instantly on the first hearing of the firing; for Earl Cornwallis had ordered him to keep them with his Lordship. At this moment Earl Cornwallis appeared in sight, having been but a very short distance behind with the army, and ordered the whole to halt. The enemy had by this time all quitted the town for the woods and swamps [p58] close behind it. The whole light troops now advanced. You will please to recollect, Captain Campbell, whose name I have just mentioned, was not wounded in the town, but above half an hour afterwards, and full one mile further one.
It was a trifling insignificant skirmish, which no person but the malevolent Stricturist (happy at all times to detract from public or private honour) would have attempted to have made of such magnitude, or even have ever mentioned.
It would have been but liberal and just in you to have related the conduct of the cavalry that whole day; in the afternoon, as well as the morning. These troops, whom you say, neither my intreaties, nor the exertions of their officers, could induce to face the American militia, were left unsupported in the evening, under my command, by Earl Cornwallis's express orders, when he [p59] took post at Charlotte Town, and left me to engage a corps of state horse and mounted crackers that had been very troublesome the whole day, perpetually skirmishing and harassing the front of our line of march. This service they performed with spirit, alacrity, and success. We had not moved on above one mile in search of the foe, when we fell in with them, attacked them instantly whilst they were attempting to form, dispersed them with some loss, and drove them for six miles, forcing them even through the very pickets of a numerous corps of militia, commanded by General Sumner; who, supposing a large part of the army to be near at hand, broke up his camp, and marched that evening sixteen miles. Lord Rawdon is well acquainted with the truth of my statement of this affair. Let the whole army judge, whether it was liberal, honourable, or just, [p60] thus to suppress one part of the conduct of the cavalry on that day, which certainly gained them some credit; and whether it does not manifest the extreme of rancour and malice, thus to dwell upon, and give an air of considerable consequence to a trifling skirmish in the morning, not worthy to be mentioned, or even thought of after it was over, by an officer acquainted with active service.
"The king's troops left Charlotte Town the evening of the 14th, to march to the Catawba Ford. Owning to the badness of the road, the ignorance of the guides, the darkness of the night, or some other unknown cause, the British rear guard destroyed, or left behind, near twenty waggons."
[p61] This, gentlemen, is Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton's account; -- now for Roderick M'Kenzie's:
"After such a progress of six hours, the General grew impatient; the alarmed guide eluded the vigilance of the dragoons, and escaped unobserved. Left in such a situation, an army, whether not one of the individuals which composed it knew where they were, might be well contented to come off with a loss so trifling as that of a few waggons."
I must confess, I cannot myself find out the great difference between Tarleton's account, and that of our Stricturist: but Tarleton must be condemned. Let me intreat you, sir, to peruse Tarleton's account, and your own, with cool deliberation, if you can bring your mind to a state of serenity for a few moments; and then let me ask you, whether, in condemning Tarleton, you do [p62] not reflect on yourself. In my own humble opinion, gentlemen, had Tarleton substituted, instead of the ignorance of the guides, the treachery of the guide, who was a presbyterian, and a great scoundrel, his account would have been most perfect. The fact is thus: -- the army was that night lost in the woods, through the villainy of the guide, who designedly led them out of the road, and then made his escape. Every officer present must know this to be the real truth; nevertheless our Stricturist accuses Tarleton with real of pretended ignorance in this affair.
There are certain topics, gentlemen, discussed by the Stricturist, in which I shall decline following him so minutely as I have hitherto done. We are now advanced in these historical Strictures, to the period [p63] when the name of Earl Cornwallis is continually introduced: -- sacred shall that name be held by my pen. I direct myself to Roderick M'Kenzie, and to him alone. My production proceeds from a heart overflowing with friendship; and indignant when it finds the character of an honourable and gallant officer cruelly attacked, and wantonly aspersed; and I am happy, gentlemen, in addressing my sentiments to hose whose liberality, candour, and honour I have often experienced, in the course of a six years' service in America, and who will not wish me to enter into invidious subjects.
"His rout (Earl Cornwallis) thither, through the Waxhaws, was judiciously chosen. That powerful and inveterate settlement was soon crushed."
[p64] I will not presume to comment on any of the noble Earl's operations; but our Stricturist's remarks upon them have not the same title to my respect. In exposing them, I shall not be thought to deviate from the sentiments which I profess for the noble Earl, and for his conduct.
If, on the approach of the British army to Waxhaws, a total desertion of that settlement by the efficient inhabitants, who joined the American army, leaving behind them only the aged and the women and children, could be construed as a proof of the crushing of that populous district, I should agree in opinion with the Stricturist; but the statement he has given of the case being equally repugnant to common sense, military ideas, and matter of fact, I trust, gentlemen, I shall have your sanction for differing as widely from him on this occasion, as on most other occasions.
"The author is condesending enough to admit, that Charlotte Town affords some conveniences, blended with great disadvantages. The mills in the neighbourhood were supposed of sufficient consequence to render it, for the present, an eligible position; and, in future, a necessary post when the army advanced. -- But he (Tarleton) further says, the aptness of its immediate situation, between Camden and Salisbury, and the quantity of its mills, did not counterbalance its defects. The town and environs abounded with inveterate enemies; the plantations in the neighbourhood were small and uncultivated; the roads narrow and confined in every direction; and the whole face of the country covered with close and thick woods."
[p66] If I attempted to decide upon the propriety or impropriety of occupying Charlotte Town, it would be sitting in judgment upon the conduct of Earl Cornwallis, whose name shall never be mentioned by me but with all the reverence and respect that is due to so distinguished a soldier.
Honour and truth, however, call aloud upon me to lay before you the local circumstances of that place, its resources, the temper of the inhabitants, its advantages and disadvantages.
Our Stricturist asserts, "that the roads leading from Charlotte Town to Salisbury, to Camden, and to Tryon County, are perfectly good." -- Thus far I admit. All the main roads, leading to populous districts, large towns, or settlements, even in the most intricate parts of America, are spacious, and, in general, extremely good. But you, gentlemen, know full well, that [p67] forage and provisions are not to be found solely and only on the edge of the great public roads leading through any country. The most difficult situations must be explored in every district, to maintain and support an army, which remains for a length of time at any given place. Therefore, I trust, you will allow, that the whole feature of the country must be considered, and not only those particular parts that are the most cleared, which, of course, lay nearest the great main roads. I will be so bold as to assert, that Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton's words are strictly true; founded in a real knowledge, and just view of the country; "the roads narrow and crossed in every direction, and the whole face of the country covered with close and thick woods. No disastrous event, inferior to that which befel Ferguson, could possibly have given effect to the exertions of the inhabitants, inimical [p68] to the British government, around Charlotte Town: their whole force, though directed against a detachment consisting of thirty men, under the command of Lieutenant Guyon, of the 23d regiment, was repulsed with disgrace."
Though Lieutenant Guyon, of the 23d regiment, much to his credit, repulsed a very superior force, with only thirty men, this was a particular instance; for, in fact, the foraging parties were attacked by the enemy so frequently, that it became necessary never to send a small detachment on that service. Colonel Tarleton, just then recovered from a violent attack of the yellow fever, judged it necessary to go in person, and with his whole corps, or above two-thirds, when he had not detachments from the rest of the army. I will aver, that when collecting forage, I myself have seen situations near that town, where the woods were so intricate, [p69] and so thick with underwood, (which is not common in the southern parts of America) that it was totally impossible to see our videtts, or our centries from the main boy. In one instance particularly, whether Lieutenant Oldfield, of the Quartermaster General's department, was wounded; the enemy, under cover of impervious thickets, impenetrable to any troops except those well acquainted with the private paths, approached so near to the whole line of the British infantry, as to give them their fire before ever they were perceived. Charlotte Town itself, one side most particularly, where the light and legion infantry camp lay, was enveloped with woods. Earl Cornwallis himself, visiting the pickets of these corps (which from Tarleton's sickness I had the honour of commanding at that time) ordered me to advance them considerably further than usually is the custom, [p70] and connect them more closely one with the other. I am not so daring as Roderick M'Kenzie, to give my own ipse dixit for my assertions; but I appeal to my friend Lieutenant Barrington M'Kenzie, who must recollect attending the noble Earl, with me, on this business, and hearing him deliver to me his commands, I dare not say requests.
That in Polk's mill a very large quantity of flower was found, is admitted, and that from other mills in the neighbourhood there was more collected; but it was not all the produce of the country directly near Charlotte Town, but brought thither to be ground from various and distant parts. I will declare also, that the plantations were not any thing like so large or well cultivated as lower down in South Carolina. As to the disposition of the inhabitants, they totally deserted the town on our approach; not above three or four men remained in the whole town. I beg leave to decline any [p71] discussion of the supposed move of Earl Cornwallis, either through Tryon county, or to Cross Creek, for the reasons which I have repeatedly stated, and by which I shall continue to be governed in all questions affecting Earl Cornwallis.
"Such very extraordinary circumstances, and such as no human foresight could guard against, contributed to Ferguson's melancholy catastrophe."
Whether Ferguson exceeded, or only obeyed the orders of his General, it is not my business to determine; or whether his unbounded zeal for his country's cause ever left him dissatisfied when he barely performed his duty, without giving his General unexpected proofs of his enterprizing spirit, and exhibiting extraordinary powers, certainly it is that he was defeated, for this plain reason -- he was beyond the reach of support -- [p72] he was too far advanced on the left of the British army to retire on the approach of a very superior force. Detachments have been the ruin both of modern9 and ancient armies, and will be again: they must sometimes be risked, but they are ever attended by danger. Every detachment employed at such a distance that it cannot fall back safely on the main army, or be supported from it, must ever be looked upon as in the air. King's Mountain, where Ferguson halted and fought, was fifty miles in a direct line from Charlotte Town.
Our Stricturist, however, determined to abuse Tarleton in the teeth of facts, says, "circumstances, such as no human foresight could guard against, contributed to Ferguson's catastrophe."
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1 From delicacy and respect for the character of Lord Rawdon, whose name I have been unavoidably been forced to mention in the Introduction; I have submitted the first two pages to the judgment of some friends who have made considerable alterations in that part. [ back ]
2 This gentleman's own regiment, the 71st, when they marched to the Cherraw Hills in June, were 700 strong, under arms; and they did not bring above 230 men into the field of battle the 16th of August. The whole army was extremely sickly; but this regiment more so than any other, owing chiefly to the unhealthy situation they were stationed at. [ back ]
3 ____ Brown, M.D. [ back ]
4 The Prince of Wales's American regiment consisted of about eighty or ninety men. Every private, except eighteen or twenty, and every officer, were killed or wounded. The cause of this heavy loss was owing to their mistaking the enemy for our royal militia, (they being both dressed exactly alike), until they approached within forty yards, and threw in a destructive fire.
Not one word has the Stricturist said on this subject; he has not even informed us, in his description of the action, that the Prince of Wales's regiment was in the field, although two-thirds of the private men were either killed or wounded, and every officer. But this correct Stricturist often times condemns Colonel Tarleton for omitted the wounds of a single officer. [ back ]
5 My friend, Lieutenant Colonel Dundas, at the attack on James River, by the Marquis La Fayette, proved the good effects of a contrary conduct. After repulsing the first line of the enemy, instead of permitting his men, elated with the mere appearance of victory, to pursue (a la debandade) the flying foe, this able officer ordered his men to halt, formed them in regular order, and [p30] then moved in on a collected body. He was presently opposed by a fresh body of Continentals in reserve, whom he repulsed, because he was ready to receive them; and he gained all the advantages which were the natural consequences of his judicious conduct. [ back ]
6 140 miles from Lynche's Creek. [ back ]
7 The reader will please to observe, that our Stricturist has most carefully omitted touching on many signal actions gained by Tarleton, which has done him much credit; viz. Beauford's defeat -- the defeat of the American cavalry at Lenoo's Ferry -- Sumpter's defeat near Camden -- the affair of Monk's-corner -- and the affair of Tarrent's-house, in North Carolina. [ back ]
8 Earl Cornwallis ordered me to be very cautious how I advanced, as he expected a very large body of militia to be either in the neighbourhood, or town of Charlotte. [ back ]
9 Every officer, conversant in the American war, by tracing the progress of our armies from Canada to the most southern parts of the United States, will find various instances of the fatal effects of detachments, and their ruinous consequences. [ back ]
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