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the day to set out for a visit, he passed the afternoon in sauntering about the village, and the evening in poring over "Lee's Memoirs." At an early hour next morning he mounted a horse and trotted off toward Martinsville.
While our hero is making his way through muddy lanes toward this interesting locality, we will compile, from the best authorities, a sketch of one of the most important battles that was fought during the war of the Rerolation.
The retreat of Greene across the Dan left North Carolina virtually in the hands of the British. Having been unable to bring his adversary to battle, Cornwallis retired to Hillsborough, from whence he issued proclamations to every quarter, calculated to induce the Tory population to rise and join the royal standard. This was what Greene most feared; and the possibility that these efforts might prove successful, kept him uneasy amidst the safety and abundance of his camp in Halifax. Scarcely did he allow the troops time for repose after their arduous retreat, before he detached a light corps, and awed by the unconquered attitude of the under Pickens and Lee, across the Dan, to hang American forces, preferred to remain quiescent on the skirts of the enemy, and, if possible, to until victory had declared for one side or the repress any attempt on the part of the loyalists other. The expected reinforcements having at to embody. The terrible fate of Pyle and his length arrived, Greene determined to give his followers seemed effectually to have accom- enemy the long-sought-for opportunity of battle. plished this result; yet, so anxious was the He advanced and, on the 14th of March, took American commander on the subject, that he his position at Guilford Court House, within would not wait for his expected reinforcements twelve miles of the enemy. His prompt and and munitions, but recrossed the Dan, with confident adversary accepted the challenge withthe main army, on the 23d of February. out hesitation. Early on the morning of the
This movement was followed by a series of fifteenth he was in motion. skillful maneuvres which lasted for ten days; Tidings of his approach having been conveythe British Commander endeavoring to force, ed to the American commander at four o'clock and the American to avoid, a general action. in the morning, he ordered his van to arms and Greene, as usual, was successful; while Corn- to breakfast with all soldierly haste, while Colwallis, foiled and tired of this unavailing pur- onel Lee, with his cavalry, was sent forward to suit, retired to a position on Deep River for the reconnoitre. Having advanced two or three purpose of giving repose to his wearied troops. miles, this officer met his scouts retiring before
In the mean time the loyalist population, the troops of Tarleton. Believing that the main warned by the slaughter of Pyle's command, body of the British army was at hand, Lee or
dered his column to retire by troops, taking distance for open evolution. The rear troop went off at full gallop, followed by the centre. The front troop, to gain the open order required, necessarily kept their horses at a walk. The enemy, mistaking the object of this movement, and supposing it the prelude to flight, made a dash at this troop, hoping thereby to hasten their pace. Finding that their advance was unnoticed, they fired their pistols, shouted, and pushed upon them a second time until their leading sections had nearly closed with the Americans. Astonished that their noise and bravadoes had in no way accelerated the pace of the legionary horse, they drew up, not knowing what to make of the sullen impassiveness of their enemy. At this moment Lee ordered the charge. The troop wheeled suddenly, and their pent up fury burst upon the foe like a thunderbolt. The columns met in a lane, and the En
XATHANIEL GREEN E
COLONEL HENRY LEE.
tinentals, were new levies, and that the whole army was comparatively illequipped and scantily provided with ainmunition.
The British force consisted-horse, foot, and artillery-of about two thousand men. But these were all veteran troops, completely armed and equipped, inured to war and accustomed to rictory.
Cornwallis made his disposition for the attack with an audacity which nothing but an entire confidence in his troops and his previous successes could have justified. From a letter, it ap. pears that he supposed his adversary to be about seven thousand strong ; and this supposed force, strongly posted, as he was aware, he hastens eagerly to attack with but two thousand men, as if he had been beforehand assured of victory.
No sooner had the British column deployed and commenced marching to the attack than the militia forming the left of the front line were seized with a panic, and fled, before a man of them had been either killed or wound
ed. Many of them did not even disglish were literally ridden down and trampled charge their guns, but left them loaded, sticking under foot by the powerful horses of the legion between the rails of the fence behind which they ary troopers. About thirty were killed, and the were posted. In vain did their officers attempt rest fled with all speed upon the main body. to rally this terror-stricken herd; in vain did The bodies of the overthrown men and horses Lee threaten to fall upon them with his draso encumbered the lane that direct pursuit was goons, and cut them to pieces. The panic was impeded, and having attempted in vain to over- complete and final. The gap thus ignominioustake and cut off the flying corps by a circuitous ly left was immediately seized by the enemy, route, Lee continued his retreat, and took the giving him a powerful advantage at the composition assigned him on the left of the Amer- mencement of the onset, and throwing the
flanking legion out of combination with the rest Greene's force was posted on a wooded hill
, of the army. But this auspicious beginning drawn up in three lines, the two first composed did not give to the enemy the speedy triumph it of militia, and the third of his Continentals, con- seemed to promise. The Virginia militia fought sisting of four regiments from Virginia and Maryland.
Colonel William Washington's cavalry, with some sharp-shooters, protected the right flank, while Lee's legion, with the Virginia riflemen, covered the left. Two pieces of artillery were placed in the rear line with the Continentals, while two six-pounders were so posted as to command the road by which the enemy was expected to advance. All told, the American force numbered four thousand five hundred men; of these about seventeen hundred were Continentals, the rest militia. Their position was chosen with ability, the woodland affording every advantage to the militia and riflemen, who were accustomed to that kind of fighting. They had too, a superior and effective cavalry, and in artillery were equal to the enemy. To counterbalance these advantages, however, it must be considered that militia, whatever may be their numerical superiority, have generally been found valueless and unreliable when opposed to regular troops; that a large portion even of the Con
COLONEL WILLIAM WASHINGTON.
with extraordinary courage and obstinacy, and did every thing that raw troops could do against the highly-disciplined and indomitable valor of their adversaries.
The first and second lines were at length driven in, and the enemy became engaged with the third line, composed of Continental troops.
At this period of the battle Greene had every hope of obtaining a complete victory, and but for a disaster similar to that which occurred in the commencement of the battle, this hope would, doubtless, have been realized.
The enemy under Lieutenant-Colonel Webster had received a check from the first regiment of Marylanders under Gunby. The second regiment, however, when assailed by a battalion of the English Guards, led by Colonel Stuart, broke and fled, leaving two pieces of artillery in the hands of the enemy.
The attempt of the Guards to pursue the flying regi. ment was checked by the First Marylanders, and at this point Washington fell upon them with his cavalry. This charge of horse was seconded by Colonel Howard with the bayonet. The Guards were ridden down and cut to pieces. Colonel Stuart fell by the sword of Captain Smith of the Marylanders.
When Cornwallis saw the remnant of this battalion flying before the advancing corps, he directed the fire of his artillery upon the mingled mass of pursuers and pursued. Brigadier O'Hara remonstrated, exclaiming that the fire would destroy the Guards. Cornwallis replied, "It is a necessary evil which we must endure, to arrest impending destruction.”
Cornwallis went in person to direct these measures to stop the advance of the Americans, and in so doing exposed himself to imminent peril, as the following anecdote from Marshall's Life of Washington will show:
“ After passing through the Guards into the open ground, Washington, who always led the van, perceived an officer surrounded by several persons, appearing to be aids-de-camp. Believing this to be Lord Cornwallis, he rushed
on with the hope of making him prisoner, when he was arrested by an accident. His cap fell from his head, and as he leaped to the ground to recover it, the officer leading his column was shot through the body and rendered incapable of managing his horse. The animal wheeled round with his rider and galloped off the field. He was followed by all the cavalry, who supposed the movement had been directed.”
Howard, with the infantry, believing himself to be out of support retired to his former position. Lee's legion in the mean time had fought its way back to the left of the main body of
Continentals, and it is probable, if Greene had been informed of this, and aware of the condi
COLONEL JOHN E. HOWARD
VOL. XV.-No. 86.-L
tion of his enemy, he would have persevered ined not to risk the annihilation of his force but and won the battle. As it was, the greater part to draw off while he could. A Virginia regiof the militia had left the field, he had found it ment which had not yet tasted battle was orimpossible to rally the second Marylanders, and dered to the rear to cover the retreat, which supposing Lee's cominand to have been either was effected deliberately and without disturbance, destroyed or cut off from the army, he determ- | as the enemy were in no condition to pursue.
The American loss in this battle, in killed, wounded, and missing, was about four hun
dred men; that of the enemy One Mile
was little less than six hun
dred, nearly one-third of the Retreat of the Americans
force engaged. The victory
belonged to the British, but ET q 요
Fox said truly in the House
of Commons, “Another such Z 모
victory would destroy the British army."
A few days after saw the 2
victorious Cornwallis in full 122
retreat on Wilmington and
the beaten Greene in hot purQ2 Cag
suit, seeking battle and unable to obtain it. With his vic
tory the British commander 2 요
lost every thing for which he had so skillfully and arduously contended. Although de
feated, the sagacious Ameri2
can regained his ascendency in North Carolina, and struck terror into the hearts of the loyalists over the whole South.
Such was the battle of Guilford, and such its results.
Porte Crayon at length ar
* The view of the Battle-ground of Guilford is copied | open field, on the left of the road, seen in the hollow tofrom Lossing's "Field Book of the Revolution." "This ward the left of the picture, was the fiercest part of the view," says Mr. Lossing, “is from the eminence south- battle, where Washington charged upon the Guards. Upon west of the old Guilford Court-House. The log-house, the ridge extending to the right, through the centre of partially clap-boarded, seen on the right, was uninhab- the picture, the second line (Virginians) was posted. The ited. In the distance, near the centre, is en Martins- snow was falling very fast when I made this sketch. Our ville, and between it and the foreground is the rolling point of view, at the old log-house, is the extreme weetvalc, its undulations furrowed by many gulleys. In an erly view of the field of controversy."
rived at Martinsville, and the results of his visit them, and then rush gallantly to meet the baywe will give in his own words.
onets of their enemies. “ It was," said he, “ with a feeling of inde- “The cannon are posted ; the ready artillescribable interest, mingled with something of rist holds the lighted match. Alternately anxawe, that I reined up my horse in the midst of ious and hopeful, the American commander rea group of ruined chimneys and decayed wood- views his order of battle. It is all wisely conen houses, all, save one, silent and deserted. sidered and complete. For the result, “Trust in There was no human being in sight of whom God, and fire low!' to make inquiry, but I knew instinctively that "The hour of impending battle is always terI was upon the field of Guilford. The face of rible. To the commoner mind the question of the country answered so well to the descriptions life or death is presented with awful distinctwhich I had read, and there had been appar-ness, while the nobler soul is torn with more ently so little change since the day of the bat- complicated emotions: “Shall victory or defeat tle, that there was no difficulty in recognizing be ours ? honor or disgrace ? a liberated counthe localities. Unmarred by monuments, un- try or a despot's bloody sword ?' contaminated by improvements, the view of the “Hark! the rolling of the English drums! silent, lonely fields and woods brought the old Like an electric shock it shakes the thousands times back, so fresh, so real, so near. Come, that stand expectant upon the embattled hill! wizard fancy, with thy spell of gramarye! fling Now the coward's cheek blanches, as with imme a picture of the fight!
potent and trembling haste he fumbles his mus“The hills are again crowned with armed ket lock. Now the warm blood rushes to the battalions. The rolling of drums, the start- brow of the brave, and with fiercer eagerness ling bugle call, the voice of command, break the he grasps his sword hilt. The head of the adsilence of the budding forest. There, swarm- vancing column is already in sight. The sun's ing in the thicket, near the edge of the wood rays glance upon their burnished arms : and behind the protecting fences, are the un
66. And more.
Behold how fair arrayed skillful militia, valiant in pot houses but unre
They file from out the hawthorn shade, liable in the field, hearkening, with fainting And sweep so gallant by! hearts, to the mingled threats and encourage
St. George might waken from the dead
To see fair England's banners fly.'
“ As the column deploys in the open ground, "Maneuvring on either flank are the snort- white wreaths of smoke rise from the wood, and ing squadrons of Washington and Lee, whose the thunder of cannon proclaims that the battle flashing sabres have already tasted blood. In is begun. Then, as the audacious Briton, in the distance are seen the serried lines of the long scarlet lines, advances steadily to the atgrim Continentals, men of reliable mettle, who tack, the crash of small arms is heard along the can hear the battle going on around them and American line. Soon the tree-tops are hidden bide their time; who, unmoved and scornful, with the rolling smoke, and the volleying mussee the panic-stricken herds of friends fly past ketry of the English, mingling with the contin