Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The History of South Carolina, From Its First European Discovery to Its Erection into a Republic >> Chapter XXII >> Page 240

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Page 240

History | S. Babcock & Co. | 1840
of the howitzer, ready to send destruction into their
crowded ranks, left them little time for deliberation.
Pressing upon each other, a dense mass upon a narrow
causeway, they felt that the withdrawal of the enemy's
fatigue party from the destruction of the bridge, would be
the signal for applying the lighted port-fire to the howit-
zer. A moment longer, and the iron hail would have
mowed down their columns.
The front section of the American force was led by
captain Armstrong, of Lee's legion. He saw the danger,
and availed himself of the single moment that was left
him. Dashing over the bridge, he drove the artillerists
from the gun. Lieutenant Carrington followed ; the third
section advanced, but faltered. Mayhem, at the head of
Marion's men, feeling the halt, charged by the legionary
cavalry ; hut the death of his horse arrested his progress.
Captain McCauley, who led his front section, pressed on,
passed the bridge, and joined in the fierce melee, hand to
hand, that was going on upon the causeway beyond.
This narrow passage was now crowded, and a conflict,
no less confused than desperate, followed their encounter.
Some of the working party, snatching up their guns,
delivered a single fire and then fled. Two of Lee's
dragoons fell dead at the mouth of the howitzer, and
several were badly wounded. Still the others remained
unhurt. Coates, with his officers, covered by a wagon,
opposed them with their swords, while the British in-
fantry hurried forward to find an opening in which they
might display. Lee, meanwhile, had arrived, and was
engaged with Mayhem and Dr. Irving, his surgeon, in
repairing the bridge, so as to enable the rest of his force