Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The History of South Carolina, From Its First European Discovery to Its Erection into a Republic >> Chapter XXVII >> Page 307

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Page 307

History | S. Babcock & Co. | 1840
est of the fatal event which closed his adventure.The
warm hospitality of the lady of the mansion, and the bland-
ishments of female society, beguiled the time, and the
company did not separate until two hours before the hour
when the detachment was set in motion. The expected
conflict was the subject of conversation, and the appre-
hensions of the ladies were soothed by the pleasant
indifference with which he spoke of the event.
At three o'clock he commenced his march, mounted,
and at the head of his detachment, altogether unsuspicious
of danger, when the enemy was discovered. They had
probably received some intelligence of the march of the
detachment ; and, landing on the north bank of the river,
and pushing into the road that communicates with the
point, they had formed an ambuscade in a place covered
with fennel and high grass, and were completely con-
cealed from sight, until they rose to deliver their fire
upon the unsuspecting Americans. With the discovery
of the British, the decision of Laurens was promptly
taken. He saw that his only alternative against a
shameful surrender, or a more dangerous if not more
shameful retreat, was an energetic charge. This he
instantly ordered, and with characteristic courage led the
way. He fell at the first fire ; so did captain Smith of the
artillery, and the men were thrown into confusion and fled.
The howitzer fell into the enemy's hands, who pursued
the flying infantry about a quarter of a mile, when they
were met by general Gist. The pursuers fell back and
drew up under cover of a wood near the edge of the
river. An attempt to dislodge them before the infantry
came up, failed, and was attended with some loss.