Wlliam Gilmore Simms
South-Carolina in the Revolutionary War >> III. >> Page 141

image of pageExplore Inside

Page 141

Reviews/Essays | Walker & James, Publishers | 1853
bridge, which I did not know of. As soon as I had stepped
upon the bridge, an uncommon number of bullets whistled
about me. On looking to my right, I could just see the heads
of twelve or fifteen men, firing upon me from behind a breast-
work. I moved on and got in. When Major Mitchell saw
me, he asked me by which way I came in. When I told him
over the bridge,' he was astonished; and said, ` It is a thous-
and to one, sir, that you were not killed. We have a covered
way to go out and in.' I stayed in this battery about a quar-
ter of an hour, to give the necessary orders ; in which time
we were constantly skipping about, to get out of the way of
the shells thrown from their howitzers. They were not more
than one hundred yards from our works, and throwing their
shells in bushels in our front and left flanks." John Lewis
Gervais, writing from Georgetown on the 1st May, says, " I
believe there are about 800 stands of arms here ; but more
than that number will be wanted to arm the South-Carolina
and some of our own militia. If we had arms enough, I
certainly should be of opinion to arm as many blacks as were
willing to engage." This opinion of one of the Privy Coun-
cil of South-Carolina, at a moment of greatest peril, shows
no such fear of our " peculiar institution " as our Eastern
brethren constantly intimate that we entertain. At that time
the danger would have arisen from the great number of the
slaves being of the African race—a race peculiarly brutish
and capricious. The negroes of the South, now, are almost
wholly natives of the country. The opinions of Gervais were
entertained by many others, and the measure was recom-
mended by General Greene. But they were not an efficient
race in battle. The British uniformed some three hundred
of them, and found no profit in it. Besides, they were most
needed for agricultural purposes, by both parties. The negro
labourer of Carolina fed the troops of both armies, as well in