Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The History of South Carolina, From Its First European Discovery to Its Erection into a Republic >> Chapter XXII >> Page 239

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Page 239

History | S. Babcock & Co. | 1840
The furious onset of the cavalry deprived them almost
of the power of resistance. They threw down their
arms without firing a gun. Colonel Coates having pass-
ed Quinby bridge, had already commenced its demoli-
tion, and only awaited the passage of the rear guard and
his baggage, to complete its destruction. The planks
which covered the bridge were already loosened from
their sleepers, and a howitzer, at its opposite extremity,
was so placed as to protect the party engaged in throwing
them off. As the rear guard had been overcome without
any fight, no alarm gun had been fired, no express had
been sent to apprise the British commander of his dan-
ger, and he was almost wholly unprepared for his defence.
The panic, by which he had lost one important part of
his force, had nearly involved the annihilation of the re-
mainder. He happened, however, fortunately for him-
self, to be at the bridge when the American cavalry came
rushing into view. His main body was, at this moment,
partly on the causeway, on the south side of the bridge, and
partly pressed into a lane beyond it. Thus crowded, they
were wholly disabled from immediate action. Coates,
nevertheless, coolly prepared himself as well as he might,
to remedy the difficulties of his situation, and make his re-
sistance as effectual as possible. Orders were dispatched
to his troops on the advance, to halt, form, and march up,
while the artillerists were called to the howitzer, and the
fatigue party to the renewal of their labors for the destruc-
tion of the bridge.
If the situation of the British was thus perilous, that of
the pursuing Americans, for a time, became scarcely less
so. The planks sliding into the water, and the open jaws