Wlliam Gilmore Simms
South-Carolina in the Revolutionary War >> III. >> Page 172

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Page 172

Reviews/Essays | Walker & James, Publishers | 1853
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and ploughman Putnam, was much better, as generals, than the most sanguine hope would ever find it to be in their former humble avocations. New-England continued to have her fair proportion of the officers in this war ; and if the mere masses of the army went of, it is to the credit of the generals that all of them held on to the latest syllable of re-corded time.
But it would be a great mistake to say or to suppose that the country troops of Carolina did not muster for the defence of the city, and were not willing, in considerable numbers, to do so. They were late, and for that reason have been accounted tardy and unwilling. Let us look a little at the fact. The population of South-Carolina, at this period, consisted probably of less than fifty thousand white persons, to something like sixty thousand slaves. One would think that six thousand troops was a very fair proportion in a population of fifty thousand. But these were scattered over an immense tract of forest country, in small groups or communities, connected by obscure pathways,—roads which were rather blazed than cut, and broken by immense swamps and thickets. Intelligence was received slowly. The sense of danger was remote. The people were not easily assured of the absolute fact, and mere rumour was naturally not much regarded. We have seen that ten or twelve days were necessary, even by express, and in times of exigency, to convey tidings from Charleston to Newbern. The intelligence of the battle of Lexington, expressed all the way, was twelve days coming from Alexandria, in Virginia, to Charleston ; and this was a great thoroughfare. But, to penetrate the State with intelligence ; to seek out every remote settlement on the borders of an Indian country ; to beat through woods and fastnesses for the scattered cottage or the rising hamlet ; to travel miles, for days, seeking the single settler, required