Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The History of South Carolina, From Its First European Discovery to Its Erection into a Republic >> Chapter XVI >> Page 173

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Page 173

History | S. Babcock & Co. | 1840
Camden ; and solicited by that brave partisan for a small
reinforcement to enable him to capture them. Four hun-
dred men were detached on this service ; while general
Gates put the army under marching orders to Camden,
where the British maintained a strong post under the
command of lord Rawdon. On the night of the 15th, at
ten o'clock, the Americans moved from Rugely's mills,
little dreaming of the terrible fate which awaited them.
Gates was in ignorance of several facts which he might
have known, but did not know, and which it was of infi-
nite importance to his objects that he should have known.
He was ignorant that, by forced marches, lord Cornwallis
had reached Camden from Charlestown, bringing with
him a considerable detachment. With a picked force of
more than two thousand men, that enterprising command-
er took up his line of march from Camden to meet his en-
emy, at the very hour when Gates left Clermont. The
latter had given himself little time to learn any thing.
He committed a variety of blunders. He undervalued
cavalry, one of the most important portions of every army,
and one particularly important in a level country like that
through which he had to march.
He hurried his men when fatigued, without necessity,
and commenced a night movement with untried militia, in
the face of an enemy. In this march he showed none of
that vigilance upon which the success of all military enter-
prises must mainly depend. Lord Cornwallis, on the con-
trary, appears to have been accurately informed of every
particular in relation to his enemy, which it was important
for him to know. It is even said that an emissary of the
British commander succeeded in passing himself upon