Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The History of South Carolina, From Its First European Discovery to Its Erection into a Republic >> Chapter XV >> Page 161

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Page 161

History | S. Babcock & Co. | 1840
The marine force of the Charlestonians had been
increased by converting several schooners into gallies, and
by two armed ships which had been purchased from the
French. The inferior numbers of the garrison forbad
any serious attempts to oppose the descent of the British
upon the main, but did not prevent several little affairs, in
which both officers and men exhibited no less spirit than
good conduct. In one of these, a corps of light infantry,
commanded by lieutenant colonel John Laurens, encoun-
tered the advance guard of the British in a skirmish of
particular severity. Though the lines of Charlestown
were field works only, Sir Henry Clinton made his
advances with great caution. At the completion of his
first parallel, the town was summoned to surrender.
Its defiance was the signal for the batteries on both sides
to open, which they did with great animation on the 12th
of April.
The fire of the besiegers soon showed itself to be far
superior to that of the besieged. The former had the
advantage of twenty-one mortars and royals, the latter
possessed but two ; and their lines soon began to crumble
under the weighty cannonade maintained against them.
The British lines of approach continued to advance, and
the second parallel was completed by the 20th, at the dis-
tance of three hundred yards from the besieged. The
Americans soon perceived the hopelessness of their
situation. Councils of war were called, and terms of
capitulation offered to the besiegers, which were instantly
rejected and the conflict was resumed. The weakness
of the garrison prevented any sallies. The only one
made during the siege, took place soon after the rejection