Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The History of South Carolina, From Its First European Discovery to Its Erection into a Republic >> Chapter XIII >> Page 141

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Page 141

History | S. Babcock & Co. | 1840
By a mishap of the invaders, which was of the most
providential good to the garrison, they were deprived, al-
most in the beginning of the conflict, of one of their most
formidable means of annoyance. Three vessels, the
Sphynx, the Active, and the Syren, were sent round to
attack the western extremity of the fort, which was so
unfinished as to afford a very imperfect cover to the men
at the guns, not only in that, but in almost every other
part of the structure. These vessels, in aiming to effect
their object, got entangled with a shoal called the Middle
Ground, and ran foul of each other. The Active stuck
fast, and was finally abandoned by her crew and destroy-
ed; but not before a detachment of the Carolinians had
boarded her, and discharged her loaded cannon at her
retreating consorts. The Syren and Sphynx got off and
escaped ; but not till they had suffered too many injuries
to enable them to take any farther share in the battle.
The fire of the fort was chiefly directed against the
Bristol and Experiment, both of which suffered severely
and equally in hull, masts, and rigging. The Bristol had
forty men killed and seventy-one wounded. She was
hulled in several places, and but for the smoothness of
the water, must have filled and sunk. Lord William
Campbell, late royal governor of the province, acting as a
volunteer on board, received a wound which ultimately
proved fatal. The loss of the garrison was but ten men
killed, and twice that number wounded. The shot of the
British flew over the fort, or buried themselves in the soft
wood of the palmetto.
One of its defenders distinguished himself by an instance
of daring which alone has made him famous. In the be-