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General Lincoln, in the mean time, put his army in motion, and crossed the Savannah at Zubly's ferry, on the 9th; but owing to the extensive swamps and creeks, which lay in his route, and the destruction of all the bridges by the enemy in their retreat, his progress was so interupted, that he did not effect a junction with the Count's troops until the 16th, when the united armies met before the town of Savannah. General Prevost had employed the short interval allowed him, between the unlooked for appearance of the French fleet, and the union of the two armies in front of Savannah, in making the most active and vigorous preparations of defence. Lieutenant Colonels Maitland and Cruger had been ordered in from the advanced posts which they occupied, and the naval commander having dismantled his squadron, repaired to Savannah with his guns, marines and sailors. Their engineer officer, Major Moncrieff, was assiduously engaged in strengthening the old and erecting new works, in the labour of which he was assisted by two hundred negroes; and every thing evinced a determination on the part of the British General, to meet the contest with manly resistance.
The Count D'Estaing having arrived before the town previous to the junction of the allied armies, had summoned the garrison to surrender in the name of his master alone, probably from mere inadvertence, to which the British General declined to answer, alleging truly that the Count was not combating for the French sovereign only. The summons was repeated in the appropriate style by the united Generals, and Prevost demanded a truce for twenty-four hours, that he might be allowed time to adjust the terms of surrender. His only object, however, was to pro
tract negotiation, that the unfinished work of his defences might be completed; in which General Prevost gave convincing proof that he had learned a salutary lesson from the Americans at Charleston. The Count D'Estaing unfortunately acceded to the proposition; and before the termination of the illjudged trace, Lieutenant Colonel Maitland, whose march from Beaufort had been impeded by numerous obstacles, entered the town with his corps of veteran troops. Thus did the delay enable General Prevost greatly to increase the strength of his works, to receive to his assistance one of the best officers in his army, and to add at least one third to the number of his troops.
At the close of the truce, General Prevost answered to the summons, "That he should defend himself to the last extremity ;" and on the 23d the allied army broke ground for the seige. Their preparations were carried forward with great diligence, and with a seeming resolution to make up by present activity, what had been lost in the impolicy of listening to propositions for delay. In ten days from the time of breaking ground, 53 pieces of battering cannon, and 14 mortars were mounted, from which a tremendous fire was opened upon the town on the morning of the 4th of October. Opposed to these, the batteries of the enemy displayed a face of nearly one hundred pieces of all sizes, which seemed to promise a terrible conflict. General Prevost, previous to the commencement of the American fire, had solicited further time to remove the aged, the women and the children to a place of safety; but as he had chosen to neglect the abundant time which had been already allowed him, the request was regarded as a mere ruse deguerre and very properly rejected, though the rejection
brought upon the confederate Generals the imputation of inhumanity.
The batteries continued to play at short intervals for several days, but without producing any effect. The Count D'Estaing at length began to grow exceedingly impatient. He had been led to expect, by the representations which had induced him to undertake the enterprise, that the feeble condition of the enemy at Savannah would ensure him success in ten or fifteen days at most, and he had every thing to fear for the safety of his fleet, both from the stormy service of the year and British naval enterprise. He therefore proposed to General Lincoln, to change the system of regular approaches, and attempt the town at once by storm. This proposition being accompanied by the alternative of raising the seige forthwith, General Lincoln found himself reluctantly compelled to accept it, rather than abandon the enterprise, and the 9th of October was fixed upon, to attempt the enemy's works by storm.
On the morning of the 8th, an attempt was made by Majer L'Enfant to set fire to the abbatis: he succeeded, with five men, in reaching the abbatis, through a brisk fire from the British lines, and in kindling the wood; but the dampness of the air, and the greenness of the materials of which the abbatis was constructed, prevented his design from taking effect. It was a bold and daring effort, which deserved a better success. In the course of the night, a fellow by the name of James Curry, Sergeant Major of the Charleston volunteers, who had by some strange imprudence become possessed of the plan of attack intended on the following morning, deserted and carried information of it to the enemy. A storm was precisely the
wish of General Prevost, and his defences were well prepared for it; and there was no hope of his being able to withstand a regular seige, unless relieved by a British fleet superiour to the Count's. One or two sorties of small parties and an occasional slight skirmish, filled up the intermediate time.
Savannah is secure from a land attack on one side by the river; and a deep morass running perpendicular to the river affords it security in the rear. Along the margin of the morass, there was a sink in the ground, or hollow way, leading to the British right, which gave the assailants the advantage of approaching very close, before they could be discovered, or before they could be exposed to the enemy's fire. It was supposed too that this was the weakest part of the enemy's defence; but the information which had been given to him by the American deserter, enabled General Prevost to provide against his natural weakness in this quarter, by stationing Lieutenant Colonel Maitland there with his veteran troops. The plan of attack was, that two columns should be thrown into the hollow way just mentioned, composed of the elite of both armies, to move upon the enemy's right, while the militia should make a divided assault against their centre and left. General Prevost had confided his centre to Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton, and his left, to Lieutenant Colonel Cruger; the right we have already said was entrusted to the officer in whom he placed most confidence, Lieutenant Colonel Maitland.
The morning of the 9th was dark and lowering; the allied army moved to the assault a little before daylight; one of the two columns destined to attack the enemy's right was commanded by Count D'Estaing
and General Lincoln in concert, the other by Count Dillon. The former under cover of the darkness, moved along the margin of the morass, until they approached very near the enemy's lines, when a fire was opened from their well sheltered batteries, that committed great havoc on our front. The column moved on, however, undismayed: D'Estaing and Lincoln forced the abbatis and planted their respective standards on the parapet; and now had Co+ Dillon's column come up in cooperation sion of the works was cer Count was led astray the concerted cooperation. The brave soldiers who had planted their standards on the enemy's parapet were soon compelled Jeid to the vigorous attack of Iina Colonel Maitland, who coming upon them with a superiour force of grenadiers and marines, forced them into the ditch, tore down the flags that had waved in short lived triumph, and compelled the whole column to retire through the abbatis.
ness, and failed in
At the moment Lieutenant Colonel Maitland was coming up with his own corps, and the marines and grenadiers under Lieutenant Colonel Glazier united, Count Palaski at the head of 200 horse, attempted to force his way through the enemy's works and gain their rear; but the career of this gallant soldier was fatally arrested; he received a mortal wound and fell from his horse; this stopped the progress of his squadron and in all probability changed the fate of the day. The Count D'Estaing and Major General Fontange were both slightly wounded in the assault, but their undaunted bravery was of no avail the whole army were forced to retire. The united armies suffered considerably in the retreat from the enemy's artillery,