Wlliam Gilmore Simms
South-Carolina in the Revolutionary War >> III. >> Page 165

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Page 165

Reviews/Essays | Walker & James, Publishers | 1853
of our misfortunes, and their causes. Some of the latter, and
the principal ones, indeed, you pointed out before your depar-
ture. Besides the force of the enemy, without, we had to
struggle, at home, against incapacity in some very important
persons, treasonable neglect of duty in the staff departments,
and an almost general disaffection of the citizens. It will
appear very extraordinary that simple field entrenchments
have supported a siege of six weeks—a space in which the
best fortified towns of Europe generally yield ; but the dura
tion of it must rather be attributed to the natural tardiness
and excessive caution of the English, than to the vigour or
skill of our opposition."
The opinions of Col. Laurens, which we have italicised,
must be received with much allowance. Col. Laurens was
one of the most remarkable and well-endowed of all the
young men of his times—bold, ardent, generous—the " Bay-
ard of the army," as he was affectionately styled by his con-
temporaries ; but the very ardency of his temper was apt to
mislead his judgment, in a matter and at a moment like the
present. That he was in great error, in ascribing almost
general disaffection to the citizens of Charleston, is in our
power to show, from other documents as well as those before
us. But, read with a due regard to their full meaning, those
which we have compiled in the present review are quite am-
ple for the purpose. Disappointed in all his hopes and anti-
cipations—mortified by the position of captive—with his
pride humbled by defeat, and his soul stung by the conscious-
ness that his native city groaned beneath the lordly tread of
foreign footsteps—Col. Laurens naturally denounced the imbe-
cility and lack of patriotism in the numbers who were found
wanting to the new faith of the great movement party. He
naturally exaggerated their numbers in his mortification, and
quite as naturally disparaged the spirit of those who remained
faithful through the whole. We know that, of the five thous-