Wlliam Gilmore Simms
South-Carolina in the Revolutionary War >> III. >> Page 98

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Page 98

Reviews/Essays | Walker & James, Publishers | 1853
rous. They have given us time enough. However, I make
no doubt, the first fair wind we shall be at it from all quar-
ters." [Johan Lewis Gervais.]
" 25th March. Your prediction with respect to the en-
trance of the British fleet proved exactly true. Their ships
passed the bar without accident or difficulty at the time men-
tioned in your letter, and moored safely in Five Fathom Hole,
where they still remain. Whether the pilots have enveloped
the passage of the bar in mystery, to increase their own
importance, or contented themselves with such a knowledge
of it as barely suited their purposes, is uncertain ; but it
appears that their accounts of it hitherto have greatly exag-
gerated the difficulties of it. I believe I mentioned to you
that the Commodore had formed his line of battle between
Fort Moultrie and the middle grounds ; and that he was
forming an obstruction in the narrowest part of the channel
in his front. This, if it had been so effected as to bring up
the leading ships of the enemy, would have thrown the whole
into confusion, and prolonged the duration of a cross fire upon
them which would have been insupportable. Although the
greatest exertions were used by active and intelligent officers
of the navy, the unconquerable elements foiled them. The
chain was not stretched and moored so as to be capable of
any resistance, before the enemy's fleet was anchored in Five
Fathom Hole. It then was evident that the British, having
a far superior naval force, would, with a leading wind and
tide, pass the fire of Fort Moultrie, break through our line of
battle, and then come-to immediately, having our ships
between them and the fort. In this case, the fire of the latter
became useless. Our ships could not move without falling aboard of the enemy, and must, after having been bloodily
cannonaded, have fallen a sacrifice. The number of ships
and additional soldiers (who would immediately have entered
into their service) would have been a most important rein-
forcement to them. These matters being considered, the
general called a council of war on board the Commodore ;.
the result of which was that the ships should, as soon as
possible, retire from their station near the fort and proceed to
Charlestown—their guns taken out and disposed in different
batteries, to be manned by the sailors under the command of