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Thrilling Incidents In American History

• Title
• Preface

Revolutionary War
• Opening Of The Revolution
• The Boston Massacre
• Affair of the Sloop Liberty
• Affair of the Gaspee
• The Tea Riot
• The Boston Port Bill
• The First Continental Congress-Consequent Parliamentary proceedings
• Organization of the Minute-Men
• Patrick Henry-Second Provincial Congress-First Military Enterprise
• Battles of Lexington and Concord
• Battle of Bunker's Hill
• Capture of Ticonderoga
• Second Continental Congress-Washington's Appointment
• Siege of Boston
• Incidents at the Evacuation of Boston
• Burning of Falmouth
• Arnold's Expedition to Quebec
• Siege of Quebec, and Death of Montgomery
• Scenes at Quebec during the Siege
• Expedition against Charleston
• The Declaration of Independence
• The Battle of Long Island
• Washington's Retreat through New Jersey-Capture of General Lee
• Battle of Trenton
• Battle of Princeton
• Capture of General Prescott
• Battle of Brandywine
• Battle of Germantown
• Battle of Red-Bank
• Attack on Fort Mifflin-Retirement of the Army to Valley Forge
• Battle of Bennington
• Murder of Miss M'Crea
• Battle of Stillwater
• Battle of Bemis' Heights, and Retreat of Burgoyne
• Capture of Forts Clinton and Montgomery
• Surrender of Burgoyne
• The Treaty with France
• Attack on Savannah, and Death of Pulaski
• Storming of Stony Point
• General Sullivan's Campaign against the Mohawks
• Tarleton's Quarters
• Battle of Camden, and Death of De Kalb
• Arnold's Treason
• The Loss of the Randolph
• The British Prison-Ships
• Capture of the Serapis
• Putnam's Feat at Horseneck
• Battle of Eutaw Springs
• Wayne's Charge at Green Spring
• Capture of the General Monk
• The Mutinies
• Battle of the Cowpens
• Capture of New London
• Massacre of Wyoming
• Surrender of Cornwallis

War With France
• Capture of L'Insurgente
• The Constellation and Vengeance

War With Tripoli
• Burning of the Philadelphia
• Bombardment of Tripoli
• Loss of the Intrepid
• Expedition of General Eaton

Second War With England
• Battle of Tippecanoe
• Capture of the Guerriere
• Tragical Affair of an Indian Chief
• Battle and Massacre at the River Raisin
• Captain Holmes's Expedition
• Capture of the Caledonia and Detroit
• The Wasp and Frolic
• Gallant Conduct of Lieutenant Allen at the Capture of the Macedonian
• Capture and Destruction of the Java
• Siege of Fort Meigs
• Capture of York, and Death of General Pike
• Defence of Sackett's Harbour
• Defence of Fort Stephenson
• Battle of Lake Erie
• Battle of the Thames
• Gallant Action of Commodore Chauncey under the guns of Kingston Citadel
• The Sacking of Hampton
• Capture of the Peacock
• Massacre at Fort Mimms
• Surrender of Weatherford
• Battle of Niagara
• BattIe of New Orleans

War With Mexico
• Battle of Palo Alto
• Battle of Resaca de la Palma
• Capture of Monterey
• Battle in the Streets of Monterey
• Thrilling Scenes in the Battle of Buena Vista
• Bombardment of Vera Cruz
• Battle of Cerro Gordo
• Battles of Contreras and Churubusco
• Storming of Chapultepec


THERE is often a parallel to be observed in the fortunes of great men. As Washington, after a period of long and vexatious inaction, crowned his military course with the capture of Cornwallis; so his most active officer, Gen. Greene, completed his brilliant course by the victory of Eutaw Springs. That great man found the South a conquered province. A fine army led by an indefatigable general, and flushed with victory, was ready to crush the least signs of rebellion or opposition; and so sure did Cornwallis consider his conquest, that he was ready to march into Virginia before Greene had arrived to supersede General Gates. How the American general rose as difficulties pressed him, - how his comprehensive mind embraced in one sweep, all the plans and requisites for a successful campaign, -how he gave spirit and discipline to the defeated Americans; led them cheerfully into battle; made them veterans, and wrung from his astonished opponent the long-worn laurels of the South - are familiar to all. The reward of his brilliant career, the natural consequence of his toil and suffering and anxiety, was the action at Eutaw Springs.

The evening of the 7th of September, 1781, was serene and beautiful. On the wide stretching plains of the South, the blue sky with her thousand stars looked down with a stillness and solemnity, that lent a magic influence to all around, and raised the feelings of man from earth to heaven. Yet, even amid that quiet scene, dark and terrible passions were rankling, for five thousand men lay in arms waiting for the dawn to light, to guide them to death and slaughter.

For three days previous to this, General Greene had advanced by easy marches toward the enemy's position. But to his astonishment the latter appeared to have no intimation of his approach, and although the American scouts came within reconnoitering distance, he still remained in the same position. Although Greene's march was effected without any attempt at concealment, yet, during the night of the 7th, the same dead calm continued; nobody was observed moving.

But the morning of the 8th was destined to break this oppressive quietness. At four o'clock Greene put the Americans in motion, arranged in two columns, with the artillery in front. Lieutenant-Colonel Lee formed the advance, and Lieutenant-Colonel Washington the rear. After advancing cautiously to within four miles of the British camp, Lee suddenly encountered a party of the enemy, and halted. The echoing of musketry through the woods, soon gave notice to the American commander that an action had commenced, and the horse were hurried forward to participate. The hot fire in front so severely galled the British that they began to give way. At the same moment the cavalry dashed into their rear, driving before them the enemy's horsemen and foragers, scattering the infantry in all directions, and securing about forty with their captain.

The soldiers had marched but a little distance after this skirmish, when they encountered a second corps, and the action recommenced. The artillery was now opened on both sides, and, while the soldiers were falling beneath its fire, each army formed its line of battle. The North Carolina militia, with those of South Carolina, made the first line; the continentals the second. Lee's legion had care of the right flank, and Henderson's corps of the left. Two three-pounders were in the front line, and the remainder of the artillery, two sixes, in the rear. The cavalry under Lieutenant-Colonel Washington formed the reserve. The British formed but one line, drawn up in front of their tents, with two separate bodies of infantry and cavalry in their rear, and their artillery distributed in different roads along the line.

While the skirmishing continued, one corps after another came into action, until the greater part of both armies was engaged. The fire ran from rank to rank, raking the long extended lines, and bringing infantry, horse, and artillery-men to the ground. Part of the British centre, with two other regiments, rushed suddenly upon the advance militia, routed them after a short struggle, and hurried on toward the left flank. But the troops composing this part of the army, under Lieutenant-Colonel Henderson, received the shock with firmness, and poured forward their volleys with a rapidity and precision, that stopped pursuit and restored the battle. Fired by this spirited conduct, Greene dashed toward his second line, and ordered its centre, under Brigadier-General Sumter, to move into the chasm, left by the retiring militia. These troops poured into action with loud shouts; the battle grew darker and bloodier, and the enemy in their turn fell back to the first position. Lieutenant-Colonel Stewart, the British commander, hurried into action the infantry in rear of his left wing. The conflict was then terrible. Regiments were sweeping along under galling fires; the hot sun was beaming and dancing over thousands of bayonets, and helmets, and sabres; cavalry were thundering from rank to rank, the sheaths of the dragoons ringing across the field; while the ground, air, and woods rocked, with the rushings of angry thousands, the rattling of musketry, the loud roaring of cannon. The plumes of officers were leaping here and there between the volumes of smoke; charge after charge was crushing scores into the earth; and the love of life, the strong universal tie, was suspended in the whirlings of passion.

High over this scene of uproar, General Greene's form was observed, like some powerful spirit, swaying the elements of destruction and terror. His voice rang wildly through the fearful uproar, and his sword flashed with startling energy in the bright sunbeams, as he drove on his brave men to different positions. Observing the closeness of the conflict, he determined upon a decisive movement, and ordered up the Maryland and Virginia men. Their loud shouts announced their coming; and soon, like the blast of a volcano, their drizzling hail opened upon the British. Whole companies were annihilated, or reduced to skeletons; horse and rider sunk at once to the earth, and for a moment the veterans of England staggered.

At this critical moment, Major Majoribanks hurled his grenadier battalion into action, and sustained his faltering comrades. But, determined on victory, Greene ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Washington to fall upon him; and, galloping furiously along the line, called for the bayonet. Suddenly the American fire died away, and the long extended line was bending forward to the charge. Blasting volleys were poured into their ranks, and brave fellows sunk down on every side. Every gun was aimed full at their faces, and every cannon glared terribly upon their densely packed ranks. Still they stpped not-swerved not. The eye of Greene was upon them, and the war-worn defenders of the South were leading them on. The woods resounded with their firm tramp, and the enemy prepared for the terrible encounter.

At this moment Lieutenant-Colonel Lee, observing that the line extended beyond the British flank, instantly ordered a company to gain the latter, and give it a raking fire. Assailed in front by the bayonet and in flank by musketry, the enemy recoiled in haste. For a moment they rallied-the armies closed- bayonets plunged at opposing bosoms; then all was dark. The next moment the British line was broken, the troops flying in all directions, and leaving their camp the undisputed prize of the victors. Had the natture of the ground been favourable to the movements of cavalry, the whole British army would have been captured. But, unfortunately, Colonel Washington became involved in a swamp, where he could neither advance nor recede; and in this position he was exposed to the fire of the whole retreating corps. Many officers were killed, his horse shot under him and himself bayoneted and taken. One-half of his corps was destroyed. This afforded the British an opportunity of covering their retreat; while part of them entered a large stone house, adjoining the road.

In this pursuit the Americans captured three hundred prisoners and two pieces of artillery. Consternation prevailed in the British army; fugitives were hastening toward Charleston; and the staff were destroying stores of every kind.

At this critical juncture, when Lieutenant-Colonel Lee had possession of all the roads commanding the retreat, he received intelligence that a sustaining corps had failed to come up, and could not be found. This unlooked-for news was not less fatal to the bright prospect of personal glory than to the splendid issue of the conflict. Lee was obliged to withdraw, and immediately Stewart restored his broken line, and renewed the action. He regained his captured camp and artillery, and took two American pieces.

Thus closed the battle of Eutaw Springs, in which accident wrested a complete victory from the hands of the American general. It lasted more than three hours, and was fiercely contested, the corps in both armies bravely supporting each other. With the exception of the cavalry, where the advantage lay with the Americans, the armies were about equal, both in numbers and composition. Each numbered twenty-three hundred, with like proportions of irregulars. The loss was uncommonly great. According to official returns, more than one-fifth of the British, and one-fourth of the American army, were killed and wounded, and officers on both sides considered the loss much greater. The enemy made sixty prisoners, all wounded; the Americans about five hundred, including some wounded left in camp byeolonel Stewart at his retreat. Of six regimental commanders, only Williams and Lee were unhurt. Washington, Howard, and Henderson were wounded; and the respected and beloved Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell was killed. Both sides claimed the victory, but the advantages were altogether with the Americans.