Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The History of South Carolina, From Its First European Discovery to Its Erection into a Republic >> Chapter XXIII >> Page 247

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Page 247

History | S. Babcock & Co. | 1840
commandants were appointed for the administration of its
affairs, whose powers were left undefined, and were,
indeed, dictatorial.
Among these commandants, the most conspicuous was
lieutenant colonel Balfour. He was a vain man, proud
of his authority, and solicitous of its exercise. By the
subversion of every trace of the popular government,
without any proper civil establishment in its stead, he
contrived, with the aid of a few coadjutors, to concentrate
in his own person all powers, whether legislative, judi-
cial, or executive, and exercised over the citizens a like
authority with that which he possessed over the military.
For the slightest offences, and on pretexts the most idle
and insufficient, they were imprisoned in places the most
loathsome. Some were incarcerated in the vaults beneath
the Exchange, then termed the provost ; some were hur-
ried on board the prison ships, denied to see their friends
and families, and .deprived, not only of their accustomed
comforts, but of those necessaries which health and
decency equally demanded.
The fortune of war had thrown nearly five thousand of
the Carolina troops into the hands of the British, and these
were made to endure all the evils and hardships which it
was in the power of vain insolence, malignant hostility,
blind prejudice, or the accustomed arrogance of British
officers towards their colonial dependents, to display.
Under a policy no less short-sighted than inhuman, which
so generally marked the proceedings of the British com-
manders in America, they determined to break the spirit
of the people to the will of their sovereign, and enforce, at
the point of the sword, submission to their exactions.