Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The History of South Carolina, From Its First European Discovery to Its Erection into a Republic >> Chapter XXIV >> Page 258

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Page 258

History | S. Babcock & Co. | 1840
The memorable battle of Eutaw springs, was fought
on the 8th of September, 1781. The number of the
Americans, rank and file, was about two thousand.
That of the British, was something more than two thou-
sand three hundred. The day was fair, and intensely
hot ; but the battle opened in a wood, the shade of
which afforded some relief to the combatants. At four
o'clock in the morning, the American army moved in four
columns from its bivouac. The state troops of South
Carolina, with Lee's legion, formed the advance, under
command of colonel Henderson. The militia of South
and North Carolina, under Marion, followed next. Then
came the regulars under general Sumner. The rear was
closed by Washington's cavalry, and Kirkwood's Dela-
wares, under colonel Washington. So completely had
the detached parties of the Americans cut off those of the
British, that the advance of their army was unsuspected.
The only patrol had been captured during the night ; and
so entirely secure did Stewart esteem himself in his
position, that an unarmed party of an hundred men, had
been sent out to gather sweet potatoes. Two deserters
from Greene's army, conveyed to the British commander
the first intelligence of the approach of the Americans,
and captain Coffin, at the head of his cavalry, was sent
out, as well to recall the potatoe " rooting party," as to
reconnoitre. The American advance, when encountered,
was immediately charged by Coffin, with a confidence
which showed his ignorance of its strength and of
the greater force of which it was the precursor. He
was repulsed ; the firing alarmed the potatoe diggers,