Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The History of South Carolina, From Its First European Discovery to Its Erection into a Republic >> Chapter XVI >> Page 174

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 174

History | S. Babcock & Co. | 1840
Gates as a fugitive from Camden, and having won his con-
fidence, made his escape to his British employer.
In a fatal state of security, the result of his own self
delusion, the commander of the American army hurried
his troops forward blindly to their doom. The armies
felt each other at midnight. The fire of the British ad-
vance, first announced to the Americans the presence of
their foes. The cavalry of Armand's legion wheeled and
fled at the first discharge, but the infantry, under colonel
Porterfield, which was advancing in files on the right of
the road, coolly returned the fire, and the march of the
enemy was checked. As if by tacit consent, the respect-
ive armies recoiled, and prepared to await the daylight
for the conclusion of the strife. The Americans were
quickly formed for battle. The first Maryland division,
including the Delawares under DeI{alb, was posted on
the right ; the Virginia militia, under Stevens, on the
left ; the North Carolinians, under Caswell, held the
centre ; the artillery in battery upon the road. Both
wings rested on morasses, and the second Maryland
brigade was posted a few hundred yards in the rear of the
first, to act as the reserve. The British were formed in
a single line, with the wings covered and supported by
bodies in reserve.
The battle began with the dawn of day. It was
brought on by the advance of the American left on the Brit-
ish right, which had the appearance of being in some con-
fusion. The reception which the Virginians met proved
this to have been an error ; they were repulsed, and,
the British, charging at this moment with a cheer, fled
in the utmost confusion, many of them without even