Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The History of South Carolina, From Its First European Discovery to Its Erection into a Republic >> Chapter XVIII >> Page 189

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Page 189

History | S. Babcock & Co. | 1840
imposing force, advanced within twenty-eight miles of
the British camp at Winnsborough. This audacity
suggested to Cornwallis a plan of surprising him in his
encampment. Such importance was attached to secu-
ring his individual person, that an officer, with five dra-
goons, had it specially in charge to force their way to his
tent, and take him, dead or alive."The Game Cock," as
Sumter was called by the Carolinians, was, in the lan-
guage of Cornwallis, the greatest trouble which the
British had encountered in the country. The conduct of
this enterprise was entrusted to a major Wemyss, who
approached the encampment of the American general
with considerable promptitude and caution. Fortunately,
Sumter had given more than usual strength to his advan-
ced guard. His army had lain so long in their position,
that he naturally expected attack. Colonel Taylor, by
whom the advance guard was commanded, had taken par-
ticular precautions. Fires had been lighted in front of his
line, and his men were ordered, in case of alarm, to form
so far in the rear of the fires, as to be concealed, while the
approaching enemy would be conspicuous in their light.
The videttes and pickets did their duty, and the guard
was ready to receive the attack. A murderous fire pros-
trated twenty-three of the British as they reached the
fires. The rest recoiled, then retreated for a hundred
yards before they rallied. They were brought again
steadily to the attack, and a close conflict followed ; but
the well directed fire of the Americans completed what
their advance guard had so well begun. The British
were driven from the field, and found safety only in the
darkness of the night. Wemyss fell into the hands of