Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The History of South Carolina, From Its First European Discovery to Its Erection into a Republic >> Chapter XXII >> Page 241

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Page 241

History | S. Babcock & Co. | 1840
to cross to the relief of the few brave men who had
effected the passage, while yet the planks remained upon
the sleepers.
At this moment, Armstrong and McCauley discovered
themselves to be alone. Their men had failed to cross
the bridge while the passage was available, and, of the
few by whom they had been followed, but a single soldier
remained. Coates and his officers occupied the causeway,
protected by a wagon in front, and until the plank which
he had succeeded in casting from the sleepers could be
restored, they could hope for no assistance from their
countrymen. Had they been promptly followed, the
enemy might have been cut in pieces. Now, they beheld
nothing but the seeming certainty of their own fate. The
resolution of these brave men, in this predicament, was
equally prompt and decided with that which had involved
them in it. They knew that they should be safe from the
fire of the enemy in front, as long as Coates and his
officers were in the rear ; and boldly. urging their way
through the confused bodies still flying along the cause-
way, they rapidly passed over it, gained the woods, and
wheeling to the left, escaped without hurt, within the
shelter of the forest.
Colonel Coates having succeeded in throwing the plank
from the bridge, and thus briefly delaying the advance of
the cavalry, retired to the Shubrick plantation, adjoining,
and took post under cover of its numerous buildings. At
three o'clock, the detachment of Sumter reached the
ground. He found the enemy drawn up and ready to
receive him. As the American force consisted chiefly
of riflemen and cavalry, and very few had bayonets, it