Wlliam Gilmore Simms
South-Carolina in the Revolutionary War >> South-Carolina in the Revolution >> Page 52

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Page 52

Reviews/Essays | Walker & James, Publishers | 1853
tern, this third attempt of the British upon the city of Charles-
ton, found it less prepared than ever for defence.
" Unfortunately for Carolina," [says Ramsay,] " the most
formidable attack was made upon her capital at a time when
she was least able to defend it. In 1776, a vote of her new
government stamped a value on her bills of credit, which, in
1780, could not be affixed to twenty times as much of the
same nominal currency. At this important juncture, when
the public service needed the largest supplies, the paper bills
of credit were of the least value. To a want of money was ad-
ded a want of men. The militia were exhausted with an un-
interrupted continuance of hard duty. The winter, to others
a time of repose, had been to them a season of most active ex-
ertions. The dread of the small-pox, which, after seventeen
years absence, was known to be in Charleston, discouraged
many from repairing to the defence of the capital. The six
continental regiments on the South-Carolina establishment, in
the year 1777, consisted of two thousand four hundred men ;
but in the year 1780, they were so much reduced by death,
desertion, battles, and the expiration of their terms of service,
that they did not exceed eight hundred."
These are some of the principal causes of the weakness of
Charleston at this period ; but they are not dwelt upon with
the needful emphasis. The dread of the fever of the metrop-
olis, not less than of the small pox, was a sufficient reason for
discouraging the militia of the interior ; Charleston being at
that period no such region of salubrity as she now appears.
The familiar comparison of that day likened her, in respect to
the malaria influence, with the pestilential climate of Batavia.
Besides, a country militia like ours—men accustomed to the
free ranges of the forest—are particularly reluctant to be
cooped up within the walls of a beleaguered city at any time.
Such a restraint would be adverse to every sensation of life of
which they were ever conscious, and would, no doubt render,
them obnoxious to every form of disease, which, whether an
epidemic prevails or not, must seize upon the morbid and dis-