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Redeemed Sinner. Deep Roots. Southern Heart.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Blue Hen's Chickens, Part 2

The campaign for the South began with the capture of Savannah, Georgia in late December of 1778. Surprised, the continentals retreated to join General Lincoln, who incorporated them into his command. After several small battles and much maneuvering by both sides, the British commander determined to take the city of Charleston. After a bombardment of several days, because of pressure from the town's citizen's, Lincoln surrendered the city on May 12th, 1780. With it, fell the entire Continental military establishment in the South, along with their supplies. At the time of the capitulation Colonel Abraham Buford, with the 3rd Virginia Continentals, was forty miles away, making with all haste to the relief of the city. After learning of it's fall, he turned around and headed for home. Unfortunately, he wasn't fast enough for Banastre Tarleton. After a short battle, which ended in slaughter, Tarleton had earned the nickname "Bloody Ban", and his type of fighting would be forever known to the patriots as "Tarleton's Quarter".

Washington was in deep trouble. Although he was holding his own in the north, now that his southern army was gone, the British had that many more troops freed up to march north. The British were free to rape and pillage to their hearts content. There was no organized resistance except from partisans like Francis Marion.

The mountain men had not risen yet, but they were waking from their sleep.

The Continental Congress hastily dispatched General Horatio Gates to try to hold off the British in the South. This general immediatley gathered an army and set out to fight. By early August, the day of battle was drawing near. Gates had marched his men day and night in an attempt to surprise the British. Despite the urging of his staff that the men were not ready, that they were too exhausted to fight, Gates arrogantly continued with his plan.
The battle of Camden began on August 16. The British, actually outnumbered, put 2,239 men on the field to the Colonials 3-4,000. But Cornwallis was confident that his well trained men could stand up to anything the colonists could throw at him.
It was a complete disaster. The exhausted patriots made a half hearted assault on the british line before turning and fleeing from the battlefield. Of course, this was exactly what Tarleton wanted to happen.
The slaughter began.
Future Chief Justice John Marshall later wrote, "Never was a victory more complete, or a defeat more total".

For the second time, the South lay at the feet of the invader.

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