Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The History of South Carolina, From Its First European Discovery to Its Erection into a Republic >> Chapter XIV >> Page 152

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Page 152

History | S. Babcock & Co. | 1840
from Augusta of two hundred and fifty, were seeking to
re-inforce Moultrie. These three last reached Charleston
in season.
On the 11th of May, nine hundred of the British army
crossed the Ashley river ferry and appeared before the
lines. Their cavalry were encountered as they advan-
ced, by the infantry of an American legion, under count
Pulaski, a distinguished Polish exile. A bloody conflict
ensued, in which the Americans were forced to retreat ;
but not till they had shown a degree of desperate courage
which inspired equal confidence in the citizens and
caution in the enemy.
The whole army of the British took post about a mile
above the lines. Unfurnished for a seige, their only hope
of success lay in an assault ; and to meet this, the garri-
son stood to their arms all night. A false alarm during
the night, led to a general discharge of musketry and
field pieces along the city lines, by which unfortunate
mistake, major Benjamin Huger, at the head of a patrol,
was killed with twelve of his party.
The next day the surrender of the town was demanded
by Prevost ; and in the temporary panic which his presence
with so strong a force inspired, the proposal was actually
entertained by a portion of the citizens. The negotiation
was finally left to Moultrie, whose answer was an unhes-
itating defiance. " I will save the city," was the confi-
dent answer of this brave man, and it restored the confi-
dence of the citizens. The assault was not even attempted.
The firmness of the citizens, and the approach of Lincoln
with his army, determined Prevost to forego the conquest
so nearly in his grasp. He decamped that night, being