Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The History of South Carolina, From Its First European Discovery to Its Erection into a Republic >> Chapter XXIV >> Page 266

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Page 266

History | S. Babcock & Co. | 1840
Transcription 266THE HISTORY OF SOUTH CAROLINA.
British were driven from the field of battle at the edge of
the bayonet, and took refuge in a fortress. So closely
had they been pressed, and so narrow was their escape,
that a forward party of the Americans were only prevented
from entering with them, by a precipitate closing of the
doors in the face of some of their own officers and men,
who were taken prisoners in consequence, and interposed
by the captors as shields for the protection of their persons
while retreating under the mouths of the musketry which
lined its windows. The Americans were simply repulsed
from a fortress to which they had driven their enemy in
fear and with great slaughter. That the Americans
should have completed their victory by taking the house,
is undeniable. This must have been the case, had they
not yielded to the temptation presented to their wistful
eyes by the unknown luxuries of a British encamp-
ment. The spoils of the enemy proved more fatal to
their virtue, and, in consequence, to their victory, than
his weapons had done to their lives. The reproach of
losing a victory within their grasp, is greater than if they
had suffered defeat. The last may be due to fortune, to
unequal strength, to a thousand influences beyond the
courage, the conduct, or the skill of man. The first can
only arise from his wilfulness, his vices, or his mis-
conduct.
That the Americans fought well, and conquered while
they fought, is undeniable ; that they did not complete
their conquest, is a reproach, painfully increased in
its severity, by the reflection, that their failure was fol-
lowed by an unhappy loss of valuable lives, which
otherwise might have united in the shout of triumph with