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                           Edward Darnall Arvin       

                                                                                   Part 1 – The War for Independence


                                                    Here the manly fortitude of the troops of the Maryland

                                                    Line was very great…for which their praise should never

                                                    be forgotten.              Sergeant-Major William Seymour                                                                 

                                                                A Journal of the Southern Expedition



                                                    We fight, get beat, rise and fight again.

                                                                                      Major General Nathanael Greene






     Edward Darnall Arvin was born in the province of Maryland, a British colony in America, to a poor tenant farming family in late January or early February 1757. He was born a few miles north and west of George Town in Frederick County (present day Montgomery County). It is unlikely that a formal record of his birth was ever made. His father, Thomas Arvin, was an Irish immigrant who had come to America as an indentured servant. Thomas had worked off his indenture and had gained his freedom. He had then married Sarah, nee Darnall, a middle child of an English family whose patriarch, Edward Darnall, had also immigrated to America as an indentured servant. Thomas was likely a Catholic; Sarah an Anglican. Thomas and Sarah had met, married and originally settled in Zachia Manor, one of the original proprietary lands of Maryland. They had then relocated to Frederick County. Their son, Edward Darnall Arvin, was probably named after his grandfather Edward Darnall—Sarah’s father—who had passed away in 1754.

     Edward Darnall Arvin was one of the middle children, the fourth son, in a typically large colonial family. We have no record of his sisters’ names, but we know the names of some of his brothers. The oldest was Elias, born sometime between mid 1751 and mid 1752. Next was Elisha, born sometime between mid 1753 and mid 1754. The third son, Thomas, Jr., was probably born in 1755. Edward, as stated, was born in 1757. We know there was a younger brother Joshua, probably born about 1758 or 1759. And there may have been other brothers as well, although written records are scarce and inconclusive.


     The Arvin family ran a small tobacco farm of the sort that was common in Maryland and Virginia. They grew other crops as well (wheat was beginning to challenge tobacco as the preeminent money crop), and they raised livestock. Maryland had almost no schools; it was the most backward of all the colonies in America in providing for public schooling. Edward and his siblings had no opportunity to get any formal education at all. Their father had become semi-literate only by teaching himself to read and write in a very limited way. He had also simply picked things up through social interaction with others in the colony. The children had to do the same with what help their parents could give them.   

     Economic times were reasonably good when Edward was very young, but in 1763 at the conclusion of the Seven Years’ War (which was called the French and Indian War in America) a series of events in Europe led to a severe recession in America in 1764. Edward—only seven years old—had helped the family pack everything up, abandon their homestead near George Town and move all their belongings back down to Charles County.

     The Arvin’s had been forced to move back to Zachia Manor, where they had lived before Edward was born, and to relocate back to their old homestead. One of Sarah’s brothers, Thomas Darnall and his wife (also named Sarah), had helped them get settled back in Zachia. Thomas and Sarah Darnall’s family was also large; they had eight children: John, Elizabeth, Samuel, Isaac, James, Thomas, Mary and Nancy. The two families probably operated their two tenements, with almost 250 acres of land, as a sort of commune.

     Edward grew from a young boy to a young man in Zachia Manor on the tenements of his parents and his aunt and uncle. And as he grew older, the colony of Maryland, along with the other British colonies in America, grew steadily apart from their mother country. A process later recognized as the American Revolution began to develop. Edward would be one of those who would bear the greatest burden of this Revolution.


     Edward’s parents, along with his aunt Sarah Darnall and his uncle Thomas Darnall (and most all the planters in Maryland and Virginia) were mired to a greater or lesser extent in debt, as vast amounts of credit flowed from the British Isles to America. They never had enough money, but they managed to grow enough tobacco and other crops to get by. They sold their crops to a store in Piscataway Town—four miles north—and they received credit at the store to buy what they needed. This was common all throughout the tobacco growing regions. The stores were managed in America by managers called “factors,” and were owned by large mercantile firms in Scotland. The firms had implemented an extensive network of these colonial stores and had developed a highly efficient system of crop exportation and household goods importation.

     Edward’s oldest brother, Elias, married and moved from the family farm north and west to Prince George’s County about 1771. He and his wife Mary probably located within the Anglican parish of St. John’s (the church still stands today.)  They had started their own family in Prince George’s County, and probably farmed there also. Next oldest brother, Elisha, also married and had moved with his wife to be close to Elias and Mary. Perhaps they had a single household at one point in time, or had a cooperative farming arrangement much like the Thomas Arvin’s and Thomas Darnall’s had.



The American Revolution   


     Differences grew more and more irreconcilable between Great Britain and her colonies in America. Massachusetts Bay became the leader of the resistance, and Boston a hotbed of passion for “Liberty!” In December, 1773, provincials in Boston threw a cargo of tea off a ship docked in the harbor as a protest to taxation on the tea by Britain. In an effort to reassert authority, Parliament and King George imposed a series of harsh measures—The Coercive Acts—upon the colony. Instead of intimidating Massachusetts Bay, the Acts infuriated them; the Acts actually had the unintended consequence of uniting all the British colonies in America against Great Britain. Even down in conservative and “inconsequential” Maryland, the situation got progressively worse. A British emigrant who arrived in Maryland in these times observed that “They are all liberty mad.”1 By December 1774 the Maryland Convention recommended that all men between the ages of 16 and 50 years old form themselves into companies of militia. A local militia would soon exist in almost all areas of the province of Maryland. Thomas “Harvin”, Jnr., Edward D. “Harvin” and Armanias “Harvin” are listed as private soldiers in Benjamin Cawood’s Company of the Charles County Militia.2 No dates are shown on the documents, although it is likely they are from this period of time. The battalion was under the command of Colonel Francis Ware Sr. (Benjamin Cawood’s military career would not extend past service in the militia, but Francis Ware Sr. would have a distinguished record in the Continental Army. And both men also later served terms as Sheriff of Charles County. Both were wiped out financially by the fiscal responsibilities of public office in the depression that followed the war.) It seems likely that Edward’s older brothers Elias and Elisha Arvin joined the militia of Prince George’s County at this time also, although we have no documentation. There is a record, however, of Elias being called up to militia duty in Prince George’s County in 1782 when “the British were up the Potomac.”

     Edward was just 18 years old when British troops in Boston marched upon the cities of Lexington and Concord. News of these events spread like wildfire everywhere in the colonies, and undoubtedly made a deep impression on Edward. The Second Continental Congress, in Philadelphia, recommended that a portion of the militia be formed into companies ready to respond on a moment’s notice to any military emergency. In addition to Massachusetts Bay colony, these “minutemen” were established in Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maryland. The Congress also established the Continental Army (so named as a counterpoint to Britain’s “ministerial army”) and appointed one of its delegates, George Washington, who lived in Virginia just across the Potomac from Charles County, to be its commander-in-chief. Soon news of the Battle of Bunker Hill reached Maryland. No doubt every provincial in America would have agreed with King George’s declaration that the colonies were in a state of “open rebellion.”

     In December 1775, the Maryland Convention again met in Annapolis. It decided that minuteman companies within the militia will be discontinued after 1 March 1776. But every able-bodied freeman between 16 and 50 years of age was to enroll in some company of militia. “Also, it was agreed to raise 1444 men for the defense of the province…with Colonel William Smallwood of Charles County as commanding officer.”3 This force would be known as Smallwood's Battalion of Regular Troops. Francis Ware was named Lt. Col. of the battalion, and John Hoskins Stone was named Captain of the First Company. In January 1776, the Maryland Convention published Resolves establishing “Early and Independent Companies” of Regular Troops. There were to be eight companies of 68 privates each, with proper officers, formed into a battalion under Col. William Smallwood and Lt. Col. Francis Ware.

     As Edward turned 19 years old, a rage militaire or “passion for arms,” was sweeping the colony. Patriotism burned strong. The Maryland Convention passed Resolves which enlarged the size of the Maryland Battalion from eight to nineteen companies and elected officers for it. Pay scales were set up. A colonel was to be paid $50 per month plus $30 for expenses, lieutenant-colonel $40 plus $20, etc. Privates were to be paid $5½. A ration was also established; it consisted of one pound of beef, or three quarters pound of pork, one pound of floor or bread per man per day, three pints of peas, or other vegetables; one quart of Indian meal per week; a gill of rum, per man per day; candles for guards; twenty-four pounds of soft soap, or eight pounds of hard soap for one hundred men per week. Uniforms to be hunting-shirts, marines in blue, land forces other colors. These land forces were to be stationed throughout the province, with one-half a company in Charles County. The province was divided into five militia districts or brigades, each to be commanded by a brigadier general. The counties of St. Mary’s, Charles, Calvert and Prince George’s were constituted as the First District.4    

     Meanwhile in Massachusetts Bay, British troops, under siege by the American forces, evacuated Boston. The news of this dramatic development reached Maryland in April, 1776. Then, in anticipation of the British army’s next move, His Excellency General Washington began transferring his Continental forces to the province of New York.



The Rage Militaire


     The Continental Congress began developing plans for a “Flying Camp,” a sixteenth century term for a body of armed men available for quick movement. It was to consist of 10,000 militia and state troops from Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware, to defend the Middle Department (which originally included the State of New York) from the British. Maryland was to furnish 3400 men, Pennsylvania 6000 and Delaware 600. “A request from the Continental Congress for military personnel had been on the [Maryland] convention’s agenda since June 3. On June 25, the delegates agreed to contribute 3405 men for service until December 1, 1776. To command the force…the convention selected Thomas Johnson and awarded him the rank of Brigadier General.”5 “The men were to be considered in the service of Congress and were to be paid with Congressional funds. State troops were probably much better organized than the militia and some of them were ordered north to reinforce Washington’s army after the British began to land. These state units were paid as and served with the Continental Army and during the reorganization of late 1776 and early 1777 their men were largely incorporated into the Continental Army. Important state units at the camp included Smallwood’s Maryland Regiment [and]…several Maryland independent infantry companies.”6     

    Edward tells us later that he “enlisted on April 10th 1776.” But he was not called to active duty over the next three years. He probably remained subject to militia service in Charles County only. He was not called to duty in the Flying Camp (which was physically located in New Jersey), perhaps because of a shortage of arms for the rank & file. He probably continued to live at home and helped in running the farm with his parents, where there was no shortage of chores. From the pension application of a fellow Charles County resident, John Burch, we have some insight into what militia duty was like. John, who filed for a pension decades later in Kentucky, states that:


He was born in Prince George’s County Maryland on the 18th day of January 1759 and when quite a child was taken by his father to Charles County Maryland. He lived there until he was, he thinks near about 19 or 20 years of age, when it was reported [Virginia Governor Lord] Dunmore was coming up the Potomack River and he was called out with others to meet him, marched about 30 miles down the River, when news was brought that the vessels had gone down the river and sailed off & after about a weeks service on this duty he returned home & was discharged and went home with directions to await further orders….

     The applicant cannot now specify all the particular periods of his service on the Potomack River. But as he lived near the river, he was continually on every alarm of the approach of vessels up the Potomack river, called upon to march up the river to watch the vessels. He thinks he can say he was two years in actual service of this kind upon the Potomack in the same Company above named and under the same officers above named.

     He could, in fact safely say that he was in the service well on to three years. Sometimes he was out a week. Sometimes two weeks & sometimes 3 or 4, not being allowed to stay at home sometimes not more than a day or two & he cannot now remember that he was ever permitted, during the time, to stay at home for the space of one whole week, so that it may be said in fact that he was on service all the time, never being permitted to stay at home long enough to work a crop or do anything for himself.

     He does not remember having received a written discharge at any time. If he did it is now lost….



     We can imagine that Edward’s time was spent in a similar way, split between sporadic militia duty and tending to chores at home.



Maryland in the War


     Maryland always ranked in the top rung of support for the cause of liberty. The same 1776 Maryland Convention which contributed troops to the Flying Camp also deployed these State Troops to Continental service. “This convention ordered Colonel Smallwood to proceed immediately with his battalion to Philadelphia and put himself under the Continental officer commanding there, and ordered the Independent Companies to proceed northward and put themselves under the command of Colonel Smallwood.”8 “…Colonel Smallwood, on the 10th of June, embarked at Annapolis six companies of his regiment for the head of Elk River; and on the same day Major Gist, of the same regiment, embarked three companies at Baltimore for the same place, (now Elkton, Cecil County), whence they marched to Philadelphia….

     “Immediately upon his arrival, Colonel Smallwood reported to congress for orders, and on the 17th, President Hancock directed him to march his regiment as soon as possible to New York and report to General Washington….upwards of one thousand troops from Maryland…were now on their way to join the flying camp at [Elizabeth Town] New Jersey….The British army…now amounted to twenty-seven thousand men….To meet the force of the enemy, General Washington had at his disposal 17,225 men….these undisciplined troops were extended over a line of defense…more than seventeen miles in length….the Council of  Safety sent forward during the next fortnight the entire state quota of troops.” The Council of Safety wrote in a letter, “…we are sending all that we have that can be armed and equipped…”9    

     Smallwood’s Battalion, known also as “Smallwood’s Marylanders,” was attached to the brigade of Major General William Alexander, Lord Stirling, and took part in the disastrous Battle of Long Island on 27 August 1776. They were used as both and advance and a covering party, which exposed them to extraordinary danger and hazard. A shocking total of 256 men were reported killed wounded or missing, with many prisoners taken. Reports on developments in the war were printed in The Maryland Gazette weekly, and undoubtedly many families in Charles County had sons who were casualties, prisoners or missing in action. Camp conditions were reported to be deplorable; much of the time only half the men were fit for duty.

     On 16 September both the Flying Camp and Smallwood’s Marylanders took part in the Battle of Harlem Heights. And later, The Maryland Gazette printed a letter from White Plains reporting that, “Colonel Smallwood is just come in, wounded in the arm and hip, but not dangerously….” Smallwood was promoted by Congress to brigadier general, with an effective date of 23 October. He was sent home to Charles County to recuperate.


    Things went from bad to worse for the Continental Army. In November, both the Flying Camp and Smallwood’s Marylanders took part in the costly American surrenders of Fort Washington in New York and Fort Lee in New Jersey. On December first, the enlistments of the recruits for the Flying Camp ran out.  “The Flying Camp was dissolved, many of the officers and men joining the newly organized Continental Regiments.”10 Another militia soldier was Samuel Elgin, who states:



…That he was born in Charles County Maryland, that in the said county in the year 1776, on the 1st day of June of that year, he joined a company of volunteers raised at Port Tobacco, in the said county, commanded by Capt Thomas Harrison….He states that he belonged as he now recollects to that class of soldiers called the Flying Camp, the company turned out for six months. When he first turned out the company to which he belonged was called down on the Potomac to help guard the coast, as Lord Dunmoor was then on the Potomac….after being on the Potomac a short time the company to which he belonged  was ordered to join the main army under Washington at York Island we joined the main army on the last of August or first of September a few days after the Americans had been defeated at Long Island….When we left the Potomac, for the main army, we passed through Annapolis, then on to the head of Elk, then to Wilmington, then to Philadelphia, then on to Trenton, then to Princeton where the College was then to Brunswick, then to Perth Amboy, then to Elizabeth Town & then to York Island…then the British surrounded us and we escp off in the night, got clear marched all night & and at break of day joined Washington again at White Plains, two days after our arrival there the British & our men under Genl Smallwood had an engagement….Gen Smallwood had…moved through the country to the Scotch Pines, then in between Brunswick & Princeton…
     he was discharged on the last of December he states that he got no written discharge but was with others turned out …(?)… and by the officers turn term having expired, he hence states that it took him twenty three days to get home. we had hard times getting home. as we got nothing for our service, and had sometimes to starve….





     By late December, 1776, the situation became more desperate for the cause of liberty. The Continental Army stood on the brink of disintegrating. Colonists began thinking that perhaps independence was really not in the cards for America after all. Thomas Paine’s pamphlet The American Crisis (“These are the times that try men’s souls…”) was published on 19 December. But on 26 December the Commander in Chief personally led a 2400 man contingent which crossed the Delaware River at night and pulled off a spectacular surprise attack of the British and their hired Hessian troops at Trent Town. Then in January of 1777, he again surprised and defeated the British at Princetown. With these remarkable victories came a complete turn-around of public opinion. The Continental Army then established winter quarters at Morristown in New Jersey, and Congress gave the Commander in Chief authority to raise an additional 16 regiments of troops.12 News of these victories was tempered, however, by the stunning news that Philadelphia, perhaps the finest city in America and certainly the capitol of the Revolution, had been occupied by the British.


     Another Charles county resident, Charles Rigg, tells of his enlistment. Here is some of the narrative from the pension application. Rigg stated:


                         …that he enlisted in the army of the United States on the 29th

                        March (or about that day) in the year 1777 – at Port Tobacco in

                        Charles County, Maryland, for the Term of Three years into

                        Capt. Starret’s Company, in the Reg’t Commanded by Colo

                        Stone of Maryland Troops. That he enlisted as a private – and

                        went immediately into service, marched from Port Tobacco to an-

                        napolis where he was inoculated for the Small Pox. As soon as

                        the company recovered from the small pox, marched to Philadelphia.


                        He served but one term of enlistment. Resided on the Potomac near Hoe’s Ferry

                        Charles County Maryland, when he enlisted & served for years afterward.

                        The following officers he recollects – Genl Smallwood of Port Tobacco –
o Johnny Stone of same place….



     An American Continental Army was still a new concept in these years, and still in its formative stages. “After about 1777 one usually finds infantry regiments of the Continental Army referred to as the Continental Line, thus implying these regiments would form a line of battle in defense of the thirteen rebel colonies of the continent. This is what is normally meant by the term Continental Line. The states’ contingents of infantry which would comprise this line were often referred to individually as the Massachusetts Line or the North Carolina Line, etc.”14 So it was at this time that “The Maryland Line” came into being, with Brigadier General William Smallwood its commander.

     Colonel Francis Ware Sr. resigned on 18 February 1777, and Lt. Col. John Hoskins Stone was promoted to Colonel and given command of the 1st Regiment. Young Samuel McPherson was also in this regiment. He had begun his career as a cadet in 1776, and had advanced through the ranks to ensign, 2nd Lieutenant, and 1st Lieutenant through 1777. He became a Captain Lieutenant in 1780.15



The Census of 1778


     Edward is shown on the “Census” of 1778, which was actually an attempt to find out who had not signed an Oath of Allegiance to the new State of Maryland. “From the very beginning of their occupation, the British vigorously sought to uncover civilian enemies within their lines, but Gen. Washington tried to live with the same situation within his lines until it proved to be too dangerous. It was not until January 25, 1777, that Washington issued a proclamation declaring that all suspected Loyalists must either take the oath of allegiance to the United States of America or ‘granting full Liberty to all such as prefer the interest and protection of Great-Britain to the freedom and happiness of their country, forthwith to withdraw themselves and families within the enemy’s lines.”16

    The Arvin clan is shown living in Zachiah Manor, still on land that Thomas Arvin, Sr. and Thomas Darnall, Sr. had farmed for decades. In the “Port Tobacco East Hundred” are listed Thomas Arvin Sr., his third son Thomas Arvin Jr., his fourth son Edward Arvin and Joseph Arvin, which was perhaps a misspelling of the name of his fifth son, Joshua Arvin. All were described as “eighteen years old and upward.”  (First son Elias Arvin and second son Elisha Arvin had moved to Prince George’s County.)





     Most of Washington’s army spent an abysmal winter at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, in 1777-1778. Many soldiers did not survive. In the spring, the Americans finally forged an alliance with the French; but learned that the British now occupied Savannah, Georgia. In late 1778, Washington’s troops establish winter quarters at Middlebrook, New Jersey. Again there was a great want of supplies, but the Continental Army managed to survive over the winter. Then in May, 1779, the British squadron entered the Chesapeake Bay and ravaged the shores of Virginia. The threat to Maryland was so great that all militia of the state was ordered to the defense of Baltimore. However the marauders withdrew from the Chesapeake and sailed up the Hudson River to take possession of Stony Point and Verplanck’s Point in New York.


     That summer, Edward, now twenty-three years old and unmarried, made a fateful decision. He decided the time had come for him to join the Maryland Line of the Continental Army. He enlisted with the young Samuel McPherson mentioned earlier, and “swore in” under John Hoskins Stone. These officers were assigned to the First Company of Smallwood’s Battalion of regular troops,17 but at this time were “on command,” that is, detailed to Charles County to recruit new troops such as Edward. Congress had authorized a “Continental bounty” to those enlisting. In addition, Maryland offered a bounty of its own.
     “Recruiting for the Maryland Line began in winter or early spring, when officers returned to the state, often to their home counties, seeking soldiers for the upcoming campaign….each recruiter, it was expected, would enroll only eight or ten men. These small-scale operations eased civilians’ transition to military life. They frequently remained near home for a while to be outfitted, inoculated against smallpox, and at least minimally trained before marching off to camp. Beginning in 1777, recruiting became a remarkably tedious annual ritual in Charles County and other localities. In 1779 a recruiting party was stationed in the County from March through July.”18

     The recruiting party was stocked with plenty of fast-depreciating Continental currency with which to cover its recruiting expenses. On Tuesday, 1 June 1779, the Council of Maryland, “Ordered that the western shore Treasurer pay to Capt James Fernandes four thousand Dollars, two thousand to be delivered over Lieut William Bruce of the Ist Regimt and two thousand to be delivered over to Lieut Samuel McPherson of the same Regimt to be expended in the recruiting Service.”19 The recruiting burden fell hard on Charles County. “The annual quota of Continentals (exclusive of the militia reinforcements) varied….the army called upon the county for no fewer than eight-three nor more than 145 men. Compared with the available pool of manpower, these were substantial numbers.”20

     The Commander of the 1st Maryland Regiment, Colonel John Hoskins Stone himself, headed up this recruiting party in Charles County. He was a man held in considerable esteem there. His older brother Thomas Stone, representing Maryland at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, had signed the Declaration of Independence three years prior. Col. Johnny Stone had been wounded in the Battle of Germantown in 1777, but had returned to the army by June 1778, when he led his troops in the Battle of Monmouth. He was now lame, but he was still very active in the service of his country, and he had again returned to Charles County to recruit in 1779. Recruiters were required by the state legislature to be “active and spirited” and residents of the counties in which they were recruiting. Edward says in his pension application more than fifty years later, “That he enlisted in the service of the United States, as a private under Capt McPherson…and swore in under Colo Stone, who gave him his bounty…”

    The bounty at this time included twenty dollars in Continental money and a grant of 100 acres of land in the Territory of Ohio from the Continental Congress, and in addition from Maryland forty dollars Continental, a fifty-acre tract of land, clothing (a regimental uniform, including a pair of shoes and stockings), plus an exemption “from all taxes during the time of their being on duty, and for the space of four years after they are regularly discharged.” Edward would therefore become the first in his family to actually become a land owner—at least potentially so—and thereby also a voter. All he had to do was to serve his country and survive for the “duration of war.” (Because of burgeoning inflation, the Continental bounty had to be increased to $250 the next year. “Small as was the compensation of the average soldier, inflation rendered this pittance more insignificant than ever.”)21   

     Why did Edward enlist? Patriotism certainly played a part. And there was always pressure from the society in which he lived to volunteer. The militia had to supply men for the Continental Army. If there were not enough volunteers to meet a district's quota, a draft might be levied on it. Bounties to volunteers were helpful, and poverty was certainly a factor. “…whereas the army initially attracted a broad spectrum of freeman, including substantial property holders, its ranks were soon filled with economically marginal men…. It is not hard to imagine the members of [the militia], aware that they must either furnish a soldier or be subject to the draft, offering enough incentives to persuade a poor man to agree to any service…. By 1778, therefore, Charles County was sending it most available men, those who did not own plantations. Still…they were not necessarily marginal individuals with few ties to the community…. Some likely were younger sons who had not yet established themselves independently….” Consider that Edward was twenty-two years old, unmarried and living at home with his parents. He had not made his own mark in the world yet. To him, the Continental Army might well prove an honorable vocation.

     “Why was recruiting so difficult? Patriotic enthusiasm certainly waned as tales of combat and the hardships of camp life—filth, disease, exposure to weather, inadequate supplies, and homesickness—drifted back from the army. But more was involved. Indeed, people needed to look no further than Charles County to appreciate that life as a Continental soldier would likely be one of deprivation.” But Edward already lived in a world of deprivation. Many families such as the Arvin’s were too poor to supply their departing sons with anything at all—blankets, clothing or food. In some prosperous localities, such as near Charleston, South Carolina, before the war began, the recruiting money was used to pay for lively social events. Captain Bernard Elliott states in his 1775 recruiting journal that, “I gave a Barbacue to the Recruits with their leave to invite their friends, and their Lasses of the Vicinage to a Virginia hop, about forty attending, the barbacue served up, and as soon as dinner was over the real Virginia dances began, & continued till the evening when the Lasses returned to their homes.” But at Port Tobacco in 1779 Colonel Stone used his recruiting money to buy corn for the recruits. There was no dance.22


      The Council of Safety (Maryland’s de-facto executive body) reported to His Excellency General Washington on 9 July 1779 that, “We have not been altogether without Success, tho’ it is much short of our Wishes….There have been some few Applications to us for Appointments in the Maryland Line, such as from Recommendations we were satisfied would do Credit to it, we have gratified.”23

     It is easy to imagine that this small group of volunteers, along with substitutes and militia class draftees (who were serving short terms on active duty) gathered together at Port Tobacco. Edward’s entire family may have walked with him to the gathering point, probably the town square, as did other soldiers’ families. From there, they said their tearful brave goodbyes and were marched, perhaps by Col. Stone and Lt. McPherson and/or other officers returning from furlough, to Annapolis to be housed at the military hospital with others new soldiers from other parts of the state while they underwent smallpox inoculation, received their uniforms and got some rudimentary training.

     Recruits were also being assembled in Baltimore prior to their movement to camp. On 13 July, the Council “Ordered that the Commy of Stores deliver to Capt Geo. Keeports 40 Coatees [the Continental Army short coat, an icon of the Revolutionary War], & 20 pr Shoes for the recruit in Balto…and Serge Denim suff for 2 pr Breeches…300 yds Oznabs which you could immediately get made into Shirts…and deliver for each Recruit a pair of Shoes Overalls and a Shirt, taking Receipts from the Officers.”24 This uniform, a brown coatee with red facings and cuffs, was how the new Maryland troops were outfitted at this time.





     “During the war, Annapolis was a collection and dispatch point for soldiers. In April 1777, for example, the governor and council issued an order directing all persons who had enlisted in the service of the state and not joined any regiment or corps to report immediately to Annapolis.”25 Later in the war, William Smallwood called for all recruits to be “sent to Annapolis to be clothed, armed and disciplined.”26
    Annapolis, now “inconsiderable” compared to Baltimore, but still the genteel and fashionable capitol of Maryland, had
about 1300 residents. (Baltimore, with a population over 6000, had overtaken it in size and commercial importance.) But, to the exasperation of the citizens and merchants, Annapolis was also the state’s hub of military activity. There were usually about 200 soldiers passing through town at any given time. “During these years, maintaining a retail outlet in Annapolis was difficult at best. From 1777 to 1778, the Chesapeake Bay was effectively blockaded at its mouth by the British navy, and goods had to be transported from Philadelphia or the Atlantic Ocean side of the Eastern Shore making them hard to get and expensive….If anything, the great number of military personnel that periodically flooded the town hampered retail trade. Soldiers were, in general, poor and rowdy, and in all likelihood their presence dissuaded the more affluent planters form making more than the most necessary trips to town. The soldiers themselves were not good customers until late in the war. Only after 1781, when soldiers were paid depreciation certificates and given western lands, did merchants find their business profitable. Then they were able to capitalize on the inability of the average soldier to wait until his certificates reached maturity or to afford the cost of establishing a farm on his land grant. Merchants offered him immediate credit for goods at their stores in exchange for one seventh the face value of his pay, and he accepted.”27 Edward and the other recruits probably went directly to the military hospital for the smallpox inoculation.

     The military hospital, one of two in the state, was at that time operated by Dr. Richard Tootell, Surgeon’s Mate, in a rented house in town. He pleaded for donations of supplies in The Maryland Gazette, weekly from August 1776 through November 1776:


                  ANNAPOLIS HEAD QUARTERS, 31 July, 1776.  The  benevolent people of this city,

                  and  country, are earnestly requested to lend all the old sheets, and other old linen, they

                  can conveniently spare, to  Dr. Richard Tootell. Their donations will be received  (with

                  thanks)  either  at  the  doctor’s  own  house  or  at  the  military  hospital  shop,  on  the

                  State-house hill, where the free-school was formerly kept. Bees and myrtle wax, sassafras,

                  sepeta  and  black  snake-roots, tormentil  and calamus, are purchased. Likewise country

                  sarsaparilla, if clean, split and well cured. Dog-wood berries, which must be gathered ripe

                  and cured in the shade; when dried, if found they will appear of a dark red, if black they

                  are faulty and will not answer the purpose.  R. TOOTELL, S.M.”



     The rented house was “owned by the merchant James Williams, but residents were not pleased at having the sick so near. In 1780, the hospital was moved to the poorhouse a mile outside of the town limits on the road to Baltimore. There it remained for the duration of the war, while the displaced poor, less of a health hazard, were lodged in the community.”28 By March 1777, Dr. Tooteel’s ads had turned into an offer to purchase “Seneca Snake-root, Black Snake-root, Pekune-root, and Misletoe of the oak, Honey and Bees-wax ; old linen, particularly dowlas, for making lint, and 30 or 40 weight of clean long tow.”  





     As for the smallpox treatment itself, inoculation was still in general use. “It was not until the very early nineteenth century that Dr. Edward Jenner’s method of preventing smallpox by vaccination with the cowpox virus became popular…”  “The method of inoculation most commonly used in the colonies at this time…required a two-week preparation period…during which the patient was put on a diet of light and nonstimulating foods, dosed with mercury and antimony, bled, and purged. The inoculation itself was done by means of puncture rather than incision, as had been customary earlier, and on the leg, so that it would be as far as possible from the head and other vital areas. The patients were put on a ‘cooling regimen,’ exposed to cool air, and permitted to drink cool water while suffering from the disease which, acquired in this manner, was reputed to have become ‘an innocent disease’ with the death rate of one in 1,000, compared to a rate of one in ten for smallpox caught by unintentional exposure. Nevertheless…the Director General of the Army Medical Department, wrote in 1772 of his concern that the mercury given during the smallpox inoculation process could lead to other diseases once the patient had recovered from the smallpox itself.”29

     “Yet another generalized remedy of recent origin was mercury, used earlier against venereal disease and as a purgative, but now also used as an alternative to treat many diseases, often in the form of calomel or the reputedly better tasting but more nauseating corrosive sublimate. Its new popularity was, an American physician boasted, ‘in its origin exclusively American, and …to our colonial physicians the world is indebted for one of the greatest improvements ever made in medicine.’ Mercury was increasingly prescribed after 1750 for diseases classified as inflammatory, particularly pleurisy, pneumonia, and rheumatism, but it was also eventually used for typhus, yellow fever, dysentery, smallpox, tuberculosis, dropsy, hydrocephalus, and diseases of the liver…. ‘[It was thought to] set up an artificial illness, transferring diseases of the head, eyes, and of the bowels to the mouth, where they are less dangerous and more manageable,’ in line with the principle put forward…that ‘no two fevers can exist in the same constitution, nor two local diseases in the same part at the same time.’ Others accounted for the action of mercury by its weight, saying that mercury compounds expelled ‘morbid matter’ from the digestive system and cleared out the glands, particularly the salivaries, and the blood vessels, promoting better circulation and eliminating disease.

     “It is not likely that there were any physicians at the time unaware of the unpleasant side effects of mercury, since even laymen could recognize them and physicians were at times forced to order smaller than usual doses lest the patient realize what he was receiving and refuse to take it. Diarrhea, bleeding gums, nosebleeds, and loosening of the teeth were among the consequences the American physician John Warren described as ‘frequently troublesome and at times alarming.’”30



Departure for Camp


     Despite the primitive state of healthcare in America, Maryland sincerely tried to do its part to give importance and dignity to the induction procedure. Recruits were outfitted in fresh new uniforms, if available, and departed from Annapolis on the State Boat, the Dolphin.  But inevitably some recruits lost their nerve before they actually got to camp, and desertion was a persistent problem.  On 16 July 1779, the Council of Safety wrote to Colonel Uriah Forest, who was recruiting from Baltimore, that “We have drawn the Money for Capt Bailey & Mr Shelmerdine as you desire and have wrote to Mr Keeports to have the Oznabs made up into Shirts & the Cloathing delivered. If Cloathing could be sent to you from the Continental Stores, it would greatly facilitate the Recruiting Service and in some Measure prevent Successful Desertion, we wish you would press for 100 or 150 Suits Shirts & Hats. Colo Stone sent 15 Recruits 2 deserted at Marbro’ and two here [Annapolis]; the State Boat is cleaning, we hope to send the remaining Recruits off in her this Evening; the Boat shall call at Whetstone Point, [where Fort Whetstone and later Fort McHenry would be built] for yours, as you request, 40 Linen Coatees go up with her. We wish to be furnished with a Return of the Recruits and to which Regiments they belong, as far as they can be ascertained in Order to lay before the Assembly”31

    The trousers and jackets were made from striped linen, the shirts from white linen, and the coatees from brown linen at this time.32 In the early years of the war, brown was the official color for Continental uniforms, having been adopted by the Continental Congress on 4 November 1775 after consultation with the Commander-in-Chief and the New England governors.33 Washington’s General Order of 2 October 177934 fixed blue as the color of the coatee for all branches of the service, the small clothes (vest, breeches or overalls, and shirt) to be white and for all state regiments of Continental Line, with distinctive differences in the linings and facings. Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia were to have red facings and cuffs. Additionally, officers were ordered to be equipped with spontoons,35 which were seven foot long wooden poles tippied with a metal prong. Officers were now to cease carrying guns, the operation of which was considered a distraction from their primary mission of directing their men, and to use spontoons for signaling and close combat defense. 



     Colonel Stone wrote to Governor Thomas Johnson asking for his help in clothing and getting the new recruits to camp (which was at that time located in The Highlands of New York State, along the Hudson River):


                                          Port Tobacco    July 3rd 1779

                                   May  it  please  your   Excellency


                                                                I have  this  day

 ordered a party of the recruits from                                                              

 this  place to march  for Annapolis
                   and  from   thence by  the  most
 convenient route  to  Camp. I  shall  be  much

 obliged by  your ordering them to

 be conveyed  to  the head  of  Elk                 [Elkton, MD ]

 by   water  from  thence they  may

 march   to   Christiana   and    be                  [Christina Bridge, DE ]
 convey’d to Trent Town by a water              
[Trenton NJ ] 

 carriage  and  by  this   route  they

 will  miss  both  Balto   &  Phila  at

 both of these places they are likely

 to be enticed to desert. You will ob-

 -serve by the list which will be presented

 by the serjt the quantity and kinds

 of Cloathing they want and I shall be much

 obliged if you would be so kind to order
 them to  be  furnished. We  are un-
 -fortunate in  having  several of our

 men sick & unable to  march. The
 recruiting business is nearly at an end
 in Charles.    I am you Excellencys

                                                                Most Wship

                                                                 J H Stone



    Later records show Edward as enlisted for pay purposes on 11 July 1779.37 Camp returns (here’s one from later in the war) show eighty-four men were listed as “joined, enlisted, recruited” for the Maryland forces at Highland Falls, N.Y. in July and August, 1779.38 Forty-one of these were assigned to Colonel John Hoskins Stone’s 1st Maryland Regiment during this same time frame, so it is likely that once the new troops from Annapolis and Baltimore arrived at camp, Edward immediately became a member of the 1st Maryland Regiment. (Desertion was still a problem even here. Stone’s regiment alone suffered nine desertions in these two months. This was not an unusually high number.) The return for July 1779 shows the 1st Regiment had a total headcount of 335, but only 272 were “fit for duty” at this time. Four regiments made up the First Brigade, totaling 1434 men, under the command of Brigadier General William Smallwood. (A Second Brigade was under the command of Brigadier General Mordecai Gist.)

     The two brigades, comprising an army division of 2550 soldiers, were under command of Major General Johann Kalb, a large-framed, robust Bavarian who passed himself off as “Baron de Kalb.” De Kalb was a volunteer who had served in the French army and was a close personal friend of the Marquis de Lafayette. De Kalb was one of the most gallant of the foreign volunteers: “Major General Jean, Baron de Kalb…was neither a Baron nor a ‘de,’ having begun life in 1721 as Johann Kalb, son of Bavarian peasant….His physical presence was surely an important factor in his rise. He was over six feet, with strong features and a robust frame. His aquiline nose lent credence to his bogus genealogy. De Kalb’s physical endurance was legendary. He was in his mid-fifties during the American war but could march thirty miles a day on foot and often did, for he preferred walking to riding. His personal habits were spartan, and he bore cheerfully with the troops the hardships and inconveniences of war.” Baron de Kalb had married up and into money by wedding a French heiress. “In 1776, aged fifty-five, still seeking glory, perhaps bored with the comforts and daily pursuits of domestic life, he kissed wife and children goodbye and went to America with Lafayette. After some delay he was commissioned a Major General by Congress. De Kalb was one of its happier choices.”39

     The Maryland Division was part of a middle encampment, near the Buttermilk Falls, (now Highland Falls) on the west side of the Hudson River. It consisted of a grand total of seven Maryland regiments and one Delaware regiment, in those two brigades. The scene must have been impressive to the new recruits. Another encampment lay—and could probably be seen—on the east side of the Hudson. And a third encampment lay about 12 miles off to the west in a place called Smith Clove (present day Monroe, NY). The Commander-in-Chief, His Excellency George Washington, made his headquarters at New Windsor, New York. (The 1779 headquarters site was not preserved.)Washington’s entire army at all locations, including General Benjamin Lincoln’s army in Charleston, South Carolina, was almost 29,000 men, although only 22,500 were “fit for duty.”


     It was mid-summer in the Hudson River Valley, and the weather was hot. Major General de Kalb wrote home to his wife in France on 14 July 1779 that he had just made an inspection trip of his troops.


           Yesterday I made the most wearisome trip of my life, visiting the posts and pickets of the army in the

           solitudes, woods and mountains, clambering over the rocks, and picking my way in the most abominable

           roads. My horse having fallen lame, I had to make the whole distance on foot. I never suffered more from

           the heat. On my return I had not a dry rag on me, and was so tired I could not sleep.40



In Company of Brave Men


     Despite the hot weather, Edward and the other recruits quickly settled in to the camp routine. But just about the time of Edward’s arrival, that routine was disrupted by news that the Americans had accomplished a glorious victory just to the south at Stony Point. Many troops from Maryland, including Colonel Stone, were involved in the action. The camp must have been buzzing with stories, rumors, news of what happened. And it must have made a strong impression on Edward and the other new recruits. 


          Stony Point was a British fortified position dominating the western landing of King’s Ferry and a major crossing

          place of the Hudson (North) River just north of Haverstraw Bay in New York State. On the night of July 15-16,

          1779, 1350 American light infantry assaulted this post. The British garrison was captured. Along with valuable

          stores and artillery, in the War of Revolution, the capture of Stony Point was an exceptional American military


               [Commander-in-Chief of The British Army in America, Lieutenant General ] Henry Clinton opened the
          northern campaign of 1779 in late May by threatening the Hudson Highlands. The British massed some 6,000
          men on 70 vessels and 150 flat-bottomed boats and moved north up the Hudson to take control of King’s
          Ferry….this force easily chased off the Americans at Stony Point….forcing American dispatch riders and supply
          convoys to use more northerly crossing involving detours of more than 30 miles.

               A major goal of Clinton’s campaign was to lure Washington from the protection afforded by the New Jersey

          hills to open ground, which was thought to be more advantageous arena for the British….As Clinton moved up

          the Hudson, Washington responded by moving the American army across New Jersey to the Highlands.

               In order to protect the vital Highlands, Washington positioned his men in a line running from east to west

           approximately 12 miles north of Stony Point. Washington made his headquarters at New Windsor.

                Washington…needed some measure of success to maintain American morale and insure the continuation of

           the war effort. The British garrison at Stony Point was an ‘affront’ to the Americans, but Washington at first

           considered the position too strong to attack. But he was soon to change his mind….

                Washington gave General Anthony Wayne a detailed plan of attack on Stony Point on July 10. [Edward’s

           enlistment started on 11 July 1779.] …Wayne was to attack with between 1,000 and 2,000 men. The

           vanguards were to use only the bayonet. Midnight was the time suggested…The men were to wear white

           feathers or cockades in their hats as a distinguishing mark. Secrecy was essential. Wayne submitted [a] plan

           to the commander-in-chief early in the morning of July 15….Washington immediately gave Wayne

                A ‘forlorn hope’ detachment (i.e. soldiers with a particularly difficult mission) of 20 volunteers and one

           officer, armed with axes, preceded each column….The men were also told of Washington’s bounties of $500,

           $400, $300, $200 and $100 for the first five men into the British post….

                Just after midnight on the moonless, pitch black night of July 16, Wayne’s columns, moving in tandem,

           crossed from the mainland to Stony Point and began circling the British post before the British realized the

           danger….the general alarm sounded in the British camp.

                Ignoring the British musketry and artillery fire, the Americans raced through the water, along the beach and

           then around the end of the first line of abatis [tree branches laid out to slow troop advances]. At the second

           abatis, Wayne was knocked down by a musket ball that grazed his head. The ball created a bloody but

           non-lethal two inch gash and momentarily stunned the general. But he was helped up by his aides...shook off the

           effects of the wound, and resumed his place in directing the attack…

                Men from Wayne’s column were the first to enter the British main fortified position. The British batteries
          were not fully enclosed, and the Americans easily rushed through the gaps….Confusion reigned throughout the
          British lines.

                Lt. Col. Fleury was the first American into the fort, tearing down the British flag as he arrived. Fleury was

           followed closely by Lt. George Knox of the forlorn hope, Sergeant Baker of Virginia, who was wounded four

           times, Sergeant Spencer of Virginia, and finally Sergeant Donlop of Pennsylvania. These men earned the

           bounties Washington had promised.

                The Americans repeatedly shouted, “The fort’s our own!” at the top of their lungs as they raced through the
           fort. In the uproar, the British were unable to form an effective defense….soon the British were crying for
           quarter. Within 30 minutes the action at Stony Point was over. With just the bayonet, the American light infantry
           had taken the British strong point.

                The rules of warfare permitted the slaughter of any soldiers taken in a night attack. With restraint and

           discipline, the Americans light infantry granted quarter. The British reported 20 killed, 74 wounded, 58 missing,

           and 472 captured. The Americans losses were placed at 15 killed and 83 wounded. Along with military stores

           and supplies, the Americans captured 15 artillery pieces….British prisoners were marched off to Easton,

           Pennsylvania….Washington gladly shook the hand of every man who had made the assault….

                The principal result of this successful night bayonet assault was the uplifting of American morale. Wayne

           was voted a Gold Medal by Congress. Fleury and Stewart were awarded silver medals. The $500 Fleury won for

           being the first to enter the British fort was distributed to the men in his advanced guard. The value of the

           captured military stores and ordnance was put at $158,640. This sum was divided up among the 1350 officers

           and men who had made the attack.

                The action brought praise for Wayne and his infantry. There had been no atrocities. Quarter had been granted.

           It was a thoroughly professional exercise, worthy of troops of the highest caliber. The Americans had displayed

           bravery. American intelligence was superior. Security had been maintained. Coordination of the two attacking

           columns was outstanding, even in the dark and under difficult conditions. The speed, skill, and daring of the

           light infantry’s assault directly contributed to their success…

                The disaster at Stony Point ended any future campaign plans Clinton had for the North during the rest of

           1779. From the British base in New York City, Clinton would now turn his attention to the South to capture the

           Carolinas and Virginia for the Crown.41


     Colonel Stone was severely wounded in this engagement and was forced to resign his commission, effective the first of August. He again returned to Charles County, and later served the state as governor from 1794 to 1797. Lt. Col. Uriah Forest (who had himself been wounded at the Battle of Germantown and had lost a leg at the Battle of Brandywine) was temporarily placed in command of the 1st Maryland Regiment beginning in August. Lt. Col. Peter Adams would take command of the Regiment in March 1780.    

      On the night of 18 August an equally daring night assault was made on Paulus Hook, led by a young Major named Henry Lee (shown here.) The twenty-three year old was known as “Light Horse Harry.” Inspired by Wayne’s attack, Lee received permission from Washington to execute a similar plan on Paulus Hook, again using some Virginia and Maryland troops. On the hot still summer night of 16 August, Major Lee and his hand-picked men killed 30 British soldiers and took 159 prisoners, all without firing a shot.            

     Congress once again resolved to issue a gold medal, this time to Major Lee for his heroics at Paulus Hook, the last stronghold of the British in New Jersey. As a fresh recruit, Edward must have been mightily impressed with these developments. He found himself in the company of some of the bravest men in America, and this would undoubtedly have an influence on his character as the war unfolded. He was now part of the celebrated First Maryland Regiment.   



Winter Quarters at Morristown                                             


     The spectacular Stony Point and Paulus Hook victories marked the last major action of the 1779 campaign, and for the rest of the year things settled back into a predictable sameness. Both armies went into repose, but they were not inactive. “There was no engagement, the troops being occupied in constant reconnaissance and frequent movements requiring them to camp in the open or in the woods without their luggage. De Kalb for a whole month slept on the bare ground or in his camp chair.”42 Eventually the hot summer yielded to a cool, dry autumn. And as winter approached, an experience worse than Valley Forge awaited the Continental Army.


     The Commander in Chief came to the realization that after assisting in an unsuccessful siege of Savannah, the French fleet had sailed for the West Indies and was not coming north to assist him this year. (The West Indies, with a lucrative sugar trade, was considered more valuable and more strategically important than mainland North America.) He quickly decided that his army would winter at Morristown, New Jersey. He knew he had a problem: the army could defend itself and build its own housing there, but how would it feed itself? But there were no alternatives, it would be the same wherever they established camp. “I very well know that a supply of Forage will be difficult at this post, and so it will be wherever the Bulk of the Army shall sit down.” Although the army had spent the winter of 1776-1777 here, it was at that time less than half as large, and much of it had been spread out along enemy lines, quite some distance from Morristown itself. Things would be more difficult this winter. “From the day of their arrival, ‘8433 rank and file’ would be quartered in and on the outskirts of Morristown. Morristown and the neighboring area could not provide essential food and forage for such a large number of men and their horses. A contemporary record states that the village of Morristown, in 1780, consisted of only ‘sixty or eighty [houses] round the meeting house.’ This would suggest a population of 200 or 300 people….Probably not over one acre in a hundred within ten miles of Morristown was under cultivation; the balance was swamp and timber land. Thus, in 1779-1780, Morristown and vicinity were in no way equipped to supply even minimum essential needs of the army, with the exception of timber and wood with which to build their huts and feed their fires.”43  

     Two years of below average rainfall and a dry autumn had kept crop yields low and made milling difficult, which had resulted in a critical shortage of grain throughout the Mid-Atlantic States. To insure food supplies would be adequate along the way, Washington wanted the various divisions of his army to march to winter camp by different routes. Quartermaster General Nathanael Greene issued the orders: “…the Maryland and Pennsylvania Divisions [were] to be sent from West point to New Windsor…through the wood to Haverstraw-iron work, thence to Suffrans [Suffern NY ] and to Pompton [Pompton Plains, NJ ]…and to proceed to Morristown.”44 De Kalb and his division left for Morristown on 26 November 1779, but by now late autumn had the teeth of winter. It took five days to march to Morristown over this route, “in the course of which quite a number of his men died because of the fearsome cold.” Supplies and the men’s clothing were inadequate. “It was difficult enough to march without bread, but it was made much worse when men were called upon to march in cold November weather without sufficient clothing, and, in many cases, without shoes. As Gen. Washington observed, ‘the deficiency of Shoes is so extensive, that a great portion of the Army is incapable of duty.’”45   
     Edward arrived, frozen and famished. “The Maryland division seems to have been the first of the West Point contingent to arrive to complete its march. On November 30, Lt. [Robert] Parker [an officer with the New York Artillery] noted in his journal that, ‘The First Maryland arrived today.’ It is presumed that the 2nd Maryland was not far behind.” The Commander in Chief, having departed from his headquarters in New Windsor, New York, rode in the next day. He established his headquarters with its entourage at the widow Ford's house, about three miles to the northeast.

     “Even as the troops had begun their march to Morristown the weather had taken a turn for the worse. Following are entries in Lt. Parker’s journal:

     ‘November 25…The roads very bad & the weather cold…

     ‘November 26…about 11 o’clock it began to snow & continued all day, at night it cleared up very cold…

     ‘December 1…very severe storm…

     ‘December 5…Snow all day and the weather cold…

     ‘December 6…the snow knee deep & the weather very cold.’ The weather continued generally bad throughout December and into January. There were seven snowstorms in December alone. On January 3, Surgeon [James] Thacher noted in his diary, ‘experienced one of the most tremendous snow-storms ever remembered; no man could endure its violence many minutes without danger to his life.’ Lieutenant John Barr noted in his diary on January 7, ‘the storm continues from N.W. Saturday 8th excessive Cold and wind from the N.W.’ Again on January 10, Gen. Washington noted that ‘the snow set in pretty briskly…the soldiers are so enfeebled from hunger and cold, as to be almost unable to perform their military duty or labor in constructing their huts.’”46


     The first order of business, of course, had to be housing. “The enlisted men’s huts apparently measured sixteen feet in front and back and fourteen feet on either side. Bunks for up to twelve men were placed on the interior walls, except where the fireplace and chimney stood. In addition to a front door, each hut was supposed to have a window, but the intense cold encouraged many soldiers to postpone making windows. Behind the enlisted men’s quarters in each brigade camp sat the officers’ huts, which varied in design and generally held from two to four men each.48 Trees had to be felled and logs cut. “Although most of the troops began cutting logs early in December, it would not be until the end of the month that the bulk of the enlisted men would be hutted. Almost the whole of December the men slept ‘on the frozen ground’ in tents. Some of the men, at first, did not even have tents to shelter them.”48 

     During this long and severe storm, Surgeon Thacher…said, ‘the sufferings of the poor soldiers can scarcely be described, while on duty they are unavoidably exposed to all the inclemency of the storms and severe cold; at night they now have a bed of straw on the ground, and a single blanket each man; they are badly clad, and some are destitute of shoes….We have contrived a kind of stone chimney outside, and an opening at one end of our tents gives us the benefit of the fire within. The snow is now from four to six feet deep, which so obstructs the roads as to prevent our receiving a supply of provisions…”49   

     They were finally out of the weather into their huts, but there was no relief from the hardships faced by soldiers and officers alike. Because the snow had drifted and piled up on the roads, supply wagons could not get to Morristown, and the result was slow starvation for the camp. “Private Joseph Plumb Martin of the Connecticut line recalled that, ‘We were absolutely, literally starved. I do solemly declare that I did not put a single morsel of victuals into my mouth for four days and as many nights, except a little black birch which I gnawed off a stick of wood, if that can be called victuals. I saw several of the men roast their old shoes and eat them, and I was afterwards informed by one of the officers’ waiters, that some of the officers killed and ate a favourite little dog that belonged to one of them.”50 Major General de Kalb wrote that, “Those who have only been in Valley Forge and Middlebrook during the last two winters, but have not tasted the cruelties of this one, know not what it is to suffer.”51 

     Things were so desperate that on December 16, Washington wrote a letter to the governors of the Middle States.


              The situation of the army with respect to supplies is beyond description alarming. It has been five or six

              weeks past on half allowance, and we have not more than three days bread at a third allowance on hand,

              nor any where within reach. When this is exhausted, we must depend on the precarious gleanings of the

              neighbouring country. Our magazines are absolutely empty everywhere, and our commissaries entirely

              destitute of money or credit to replenish them. We have never experienced a like extremity at any period

              of the war….Unless some extraordinary and immediate exertions are made by the States…there is every

              appearance that the army will infallibly disband in a fortnight….52 


     By December 23, things had reached the tipping point. “Forty-eight hours before Christmas, Washington had had to impose a more unusual measure, concerning forage. So destitute of food was the army, that the general instructed Colonel Clement Biddle to grind the Indian corn usually used as horse feed and to transport it to camp. There it would be meted out to the starving men. That expedient doomed a number of horses, but it succored the troops.”53

     Still there were not enough supply wagons arriving to bring relief from starvation to the camp. “Washington…decided to impress supplies for the troops at Morristown. On January 5, he not only informed Congress that he could not prevent men form plundering, but that an intolerable dearth of provisions existed….The next day Washington ordered his brigade commanders to discharge all men whose enlistments expired on January 31….[He] also informed the magistrates of New Jersey counties of the impressment.”54 Sixty-seven men were discharged from the 1st Maryland Regiment alone. One wonders where these discharged troops were supposed to turn; where could they go, how would they eat? As young Samuel Elgin, discharged from the Flying Camp back on 1 December 1776, recalled, “…it took him twenty three days to get home. we had hard times getting home. as we got nothing for our service, and had sometimes to starve.”

     “Notwithstanding the hardships that General Washington and his army were experiencing at Morristown, somehow an organized camp life was maintained. As much as possible, the men in camp were kept occupied from reveille to taps. Mess [whenever provisions arrived], exercise, roll call, drill, inspection, guard and fatigue duty were daily routines….There were numerous other away-from-camp guard duties. One was the ‘Main Guard at Morristown….’Desertion, a serious offense, carried a severe penalty. A soldier ‘Deserting with his Arms and Accoutrements and loading his Arms,’ was a breech of the articles of war and punishable with death, usually hanging. Such hangings were well attended by large groups of men in camp. If a soldier just left camp for a few days to go home to see his wife and family, then returned to camp, he was not considered a deserter.”55 No doubt, Edward’s family experienced the same winter in Maryland that he did at Morristown, and they must have been concerned about him over the course of that winter. But there was nothing they could do directly for him, and it was much too far for him to get back to visit them. Edward celebrated his twenty-third birthday at Morristown.

     “The enlistedmen had few amusements, save an occasional public celebration, such as St. Patrick’s Day, when a Pennsylvania officer managed to buy a hogshead of rum for his men.”56


     The State of New Jersey saved the army that winter. “The response to the appeal was universally gratifying. By the end of the month, the commander-in-chief was able to report to Congress: “The situation of the Army for the present, is and has been for some days past, comfortable and easy on the score of provision….they gave the earliest & most cheerful attention to my requisitions and exerted themselves for the Army’s relief in a manner that did them the highest honor. They more than complied with the requisitions in many instances and owing to their exertions in a great measure the Army has been kept together.”57



The Southern Campaign


     Even as the Continental army struggled to survive in the North, Great Britain had decided to reduce the Southern colonies to its will. Savannah was already occupied. Now Charleston—the richest city in America—would be taken; then all of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia would be brought back into the fold, thus isolating the holdout Northern colonies. The redcoat army, with the aid of thousands of Loyalist militia volunteers joining it as it swept north, would then completely subdue the Patriots. End of rebellion.
     “Since British forces were moving from New York to attack Charleston, it was obvious that the theatre of war was moving to the South. Washington desired that a strong force should march south to come to the aid of General Benjamin Lincoln, who was in command at Charleston. This critical post was under siege by a strong British army at the time. For this task Washington selected de Kalb, ordering him to march on March 3, 1780, to Philadelphia, to make preparations for his southern expedition….Washington wished to send troops into the South because the British movements in that direction were making it the vital theatre of war. The troops selected for this campaign were from Maryland and Delaware – states represented in practically all engagements from the siege of Boston in 1776 to the end of the war. The contingents were few in number but distinguished for their courage…Washington placed in the hands of Congress the decision as to whether or not the expedition should be undertaken…[and] suggested that the troops might embark at Head of Elk (present Elkton) and sail down Chesapeake Bay, entering the James River en route to Petersburg. This procedure would not only make the trip easier for the soldiers, but would serve to prevent desertions as the men moved through their home states.”58

     “On 18 March, the Maryland Line received a large stock of clothing from the Clothier General of Maryland. [The First Regiment, consisting of 216 members, received hats, coats, vests, breeches, leather overalls, woolen overalls, shirts, shoes, stockings, blankets, socks, and stocks.] These materials were issued on 4 April. By 12 April, all men were completed to two shirts, two pair of shoes, and two pair of overalls. The division then marched south, took ship and sailed down the Chesapeake.59

     Also on 4 April 1780, General de Kalb left for Philadelphia to make preparations for the move, should Congress give the go ahead. De Kalb arrived there four days later, and found that the Continental Congress, acting with unusual speed, had already decided to accept Washington’s suggestion. But he met with one disappointment after another in attempting to equip his troops. Regardless of the problems with supply and equipment, the army had to move in order to help save the South. “As soon as it was ascertained that enemy forces had left New York, the Maryland Division broke camp at Morristown and on April 16, 1780, started the march to Philadelphia. Here de Kalb superintended their equipment. He then sent the infantry, numbering 1400 men, to Elkton, the northernmost point of Chesapeake Bay, where they embarked on May 3 for Petersburg Virginia, while the artillery with the baggage and ammunition, proceeded south by land.”60

    “The regiments that Washington sent southward were the cream of the Continental Army before the arrival of Baron von Steuben, and his training gave them the necessary techniques and sharpened their edge. The infantry of the Maryland Line and the Delaware Line were as good as any the British army could offer, which made them very good indeed.”61


     Edward and the Maryland First Brigade left immediately, with the Second Brigade ready to follow soon thereafter.     “After reaching Annapolis on 8 May, ships took on additional stores produced in Maryland. Maryland contracted to produce coat and vest buttons for its Continentals during the spring of 1780. The buttons were to have the letter “M” and a regimental number (1-7) on them.”62 The transport ships continued down Chesapeake Bay and then up the James River. As they did so they passed the Nansemond River, with its little tributary Bennett Creek. Along this creek, in an earlier time, had been the site of former Virginia Governor Richard Bennett’s plantation, and across from him had been the site of  the homestead of John Arvine [real name John Army], where for a few short years life had been so sweet for the Puritans who lived there in the 1630’s. And as the ships moved up the James, the soldiers also passed Pagan Point on the Pagan River, where John Army and his partner William Newman had survived the winter of 1622/23 with just a few bushels of corn. Soon, off their starboard, the soldiers might have seen “old Jamestown” Island itself, once the site of Virginia’s capital city, but now just a cattle farm owned by the Ambler family. The Ambler homestead, a two-story brick home, would have been much more noticeable to them than the old site of James City itself, where only the crumbling brick tower of the little church and a few other foundations remained. Without realizing any of this the troops continued up the James until they arrived at Petersburg, where they disembarked.


     Delaware’s intrepid Captain Robert Kirkwood (“He died as he had lived, the brave, meritorious, unrewarded, Kirkwood.”) was attached to the Maryland Line’s Second Brigade. He kept a journal of his activities in the Southern Campaign, in which he recorded over 5000 miles marched. In it he noted that on 8 May they, “Set sail from the Head of Elk, in Compy with 50 sail of vessels, being the Second brigade in the Maryland Line, Destin’d for Petersburgh, Virginia, at which Port the vessel I was in arrived the 23 Inst.”63               

     General de Kalb was delayed in leaving Philadelphia, and was becoming frustrated because he had much to do. “On May 13, 1780, de Kalb left Philadelphia, was detained two days in Annapolis, waiting for money to be paid by the treasurer of the State of Maryland, and arrived at Richmond May 22. Governor Thomas Jefferson had removed the rendezvous of the troops twenty-three miles southward, to Petersburg, de Kalb rode there on the next day. He found that the last of the troop transports had just arrived, which kept him busy night and day putting his forces into marching order.” In a letter to his wife, he wrote that he would have loved to see his young friend the Marquis de Lafayette (eight months younger than Edward, but a Major General in the Continental Army.) But the gallant de Kalb would never see his friend again. His troops were already under way on a 500-mile march through a hot, disagreeable region already plundered of anything useful to them. “I think my troops will have much to suffer….the fate of Charleston evidently depends upon the succor to be brought by me, it is to be hoped that I shall come in time. But I cannot be there before the end of June….my troops, divided into three brigades, [The 1st Maryland Regiment. The 2nd Maryland & Delaware Regiment. And French volunteer Lt. Col. Tuffin Charles Armand’s Legion of Horse and Foot, with Col. Charles Harrison’s Artillery] will take up their line of march, provided always the long promised wagons are forthcoming….It is very possible that the fate of Charleston will have been decided before my arrival.”64
    Edward was paid $50.00 at Petersburg from this money given to de Kalb by the treasurer of Maryland at Annapolis, but it was fast-depreciating and almost worthless. And this was the last pay the troops would see for three long years. De Kalb himself wrote before they left Morristown that, “A hat costs four hundred dollars, boots the same, and everything else in proportion.…Money scatters like chaff before the wind, and expenses almost double from one day to the next.”65

     “Although troops began arriving in Petersburg, Virginia in late May, some vessels carrying shoes, shirts and overalls not arrive until 30 May. Men were issued additional shirts, shoes and overalls beginning on 26 May….The division was so short of wagons that one brigade marched, then sent wagons back to the second, which loaded them with its own baggage and marched forward.”66


     “Wagons, absolutely essential to an army on the march, had been promised to de Kalb, but they arrived in negligible quantity. This caused irritating delays, but in his determination to proceed toward the enemy, on June 1, 1780, he ordered the first brigade to advance; the few wagons on hand had to be used to transport the tents, while the soldiers, despite the terrific heat of the Virginia summer, were required to carry their own baggage. The second brigade started on June 6, while de Kalb brought up the rear on June 8.”67

     They were headed towards Hillsborough and Salisbury, towns in central North Carolina. Their progress was disagreeably hot and frustratingly slow. Back in Petersburg, de Kalb expressed his bitter frustration: “I meet with no support, no integrity, and no virtue in the State of Virginia….For my part I expect a most toilsome campaign, having been detained much too long by the non-arrival of my wagons.”68 Then he received the disastrous news that what he had suspected had taken place. On the 12th of May, Charleston had capitulated to Charles Lord Cornwallis. Major General Benjamin Lincoln had surrendered the entire Continental Army in the South with over 5,000 men taken prisoner. South Carolina Governor John Rutledge had fled, and the enemy under Cornwallis was advancing northward with an army of unknown size bent on the destruction of the Continental Army.

     De Kalb immediately sent orders to the First Brigade and the artillery to halt where they were until he and the Second Brigade could join up with them and consolidate. “I suppose my orders will find them not far from Salisbury. There I will consider what steps to take, if a junction with Governor Rutledge may be expected, and whether there will be any prospect of obtaining militia from Virginia and North Carolina; but even then the enemy will be vastly superior in number. I am determined to be on the defensive until reinforcement….”69    


     This of course in no way changed the army’s living conditions, which were as miserable as ever. De Kalb again wrote Mme. de Kalb on 21 June, the day after he reached the North Carolina border.


              Here I am at last, considerably south, suffering from the intolerable heat, the worst of quarters, and the

              most voracious of insects of every hue and form. The most disagreeable of the latter is what is commonly

              called a tick, a kind of strong black flea which makes its way under the skin, and by its bite produces the

              most painful irritation and inflammation, which lasts a number of days. My whole body is covered with

              these stings. I do not know yet whether the strength and movements of the enemy, and the difficulty of

              feeding my little army will permit me to advance two hundred miles further to the borders of this state….Of

              the violence of thunderstorms in this part of the world Europeans cannot form any idea.70


     “The two brigades united 27 June 1780 at Hillsborough, North Carolina, and marched further south. More shoes and shirts were issued at Buffalo Ford, North Carolina. The march was hard on the division, largely because of food shortages due to two years of poor harvests and disruptions caused by the war.”71 “Difficulties increased the further southward the army penetrated. At Hillsboro de Kalb had to stop for some days to permit the exhausted soldiers to rest. Not only did supplies for the sustenance of his men fail to arrive, but likewise the Virginia and North Carolina militia regiments. He resumed his march in a southwestwardly direction toward Greensborough, but on reaching Wilcox’s Iron Works on Deep River he had to halt once more because of want of provisions. On 7 July he wrote his wife from camp:


             Since giving you some account of myself at Goshen, I have had to make the most fatiguing marches, endure

             much heat, and overcome difficulties, but I am still far from the end. It is even possible that after reaching

             the goal assigned myself, I shall be compelled to retreat without striking a blow, for want of provisions.72


     “The State of North Carolina made no arrangements for the subsistence of the Union troops, but devoted all its efforts to building up its own militia. This left de Kalb no alternatives but to send out foraging parties. Though these were ordered by no means to deprive any farmer of his total supplies, they, as well as the army as a whole, acted as starving men would act under such circumstances….” For example, there was


          …the case of a well-to-do farmer who met the soldiers and begged that for God’s sake they would not ruin

          him, for he had a large family of children to maintain. The soldiers replied that it would never do for them, as

          fighters for their country, to starve. The man heaved a deep sign without saying a word. His young corn, which

          seemed to cover about fifty acres, was just in the prime roasting ear stage and he had also a couple of beautiful

          orchards of peach and apple trees, loaded with young fruit. Scarcely were our tents pitched, before the whole

          army, foot and horse, turned in to destroy. The trees were all threshed in a thrice; after which the soldiers fell,

          like a herd of wild boars, upon the roasting ears, and the horses upon the blades and stalks. So that by morning

          light there was no sign or symptom left that corn had ever grown there since the creation of the world. What

          became of the poor man and his children God only knows, for by sunrise we were all under marching orders

          again heading for the South.73  



Congress Makes a Change


     After his stunning success in Charleston, Sir Henry Clinton, the Commander-in-Chief of British forces in America, sent detachments into the interior to secure several strategic towns in a great arc: Georgetown in the Low Country; Camden, on the direct road to a village called Charlotte; the trading post of Ninety Six; the hamlet of Cherow; and Augusta in Georgia. Lieutenant General Charles, 2nd Earl Cornwallis led the detachment to Camden, which surrendered without resistance. Lt. Col. Francis, Lord Rawdon, his second in command, was installed there. He fortified the town with redoubts, and it became the principal supply depot for British operations in the back country. Clinton set sail for New York in early June, leaving Cornwallis in command in the south with an army of four thousand men.  

     At the same time, the wheels were turning in Philadelphia. “On learning of the surrender of Charleston, Congress in unbecoming haste and without consulting Washington, unanimously, on June 13 appointed as commander of the Southern army Horatio Gates, in full knowledge that he was Washington’s enemy….‘Gates was the military idol of the day. He had actually compelled the surrender of an entire British army, and that was a pedestal large enough to sustain a popular hero. The fact that Gates had twice as many men as Burgoyne was not taken into account; nor was the fact that the British at Saratoga were out of food and hopelessly lost in the woods. They would have surrendered if Gates had been in China.’”74 But “Gates had more friends in Congress during the year 1780 than did the Commander-in-Chief.” And, unlike “Baron” de Kalb, he was an American.

     As the “egregiously incompetent” Major General Gates rode south to assume command, de Kalb wrote to him on July 16 from his camp on the Deep River, “…I have struggled with a good many difficulties for provisions ever since I arrived in this State; and altho’ I have put the troops on short allowance for bread, we cannot get even that….no assistance from the legislature or executive power; and the great unwillingness of the people to part with anything….no immediate supplies to be depended upon in the first instance after a difficult march.” Gates replied from Hillsborough on July 20, expressing his astonishment at de Kalb’s difficulties. General Gates was set to be introduced on July 25. But the command was “of an army without strength, a military chest without money, a department apparently deficient in public spirit, and a climate that increases despondency instead of animating the soldier’s arm.”75  

    “Gates arrived at Deep River, North Carolina, to take command from de Kalb on July 25. He promptly rejected de Kalb’s plan to strike at Camden over a route southwest through Salisbury and Charlotte, which offered fertile and friendly territory. Impatient for new glory, Gates insisted on a more direct route, fifty miles shorter but running through a barren country, roadless and townless, whose meager stocks of food had already been taken by the enemy. The longer route was the old trading route from Philadelphia to Charleston over which supplies from the north could reach the army. De Kalb and his men who knew the country agreed that food and new militia could be obtained from the friendly inhabitants, particularly in Mecklenburg County and Charlotte, its principal town. Gates listened, but his order to march stood, and the army set out the hard way….”76

     Gates issued his orders, as recorded on 26 July 1780 in Smallwood’s Orderly Book.77 He stunned the army with an order for “The troops to hold themselves in readiness to march at an Hour’s Warning.” But he assured them that “The Army may be satisfied that such measures are taken and have for some time been taken by Congress and the Executive Authority of all the Southern States from Delaware Inclusive that plenty will soon succeed the late unavoidable scarcity of Provisions Rum Salt and every requisite will flow into Camp which shall then with a liberal hand be distributed to the army…”

     “The latter order was a matter of great astonishment to those who knew the real situation…”



The March South


     “The army got under way on July 27. De Kalb and the other officers all agreed that the Commander’s plan was the result of his utter ignorance of the territory, of sources of supply, and of the condition of the half-starved soldiers….For lack of horses, two field pieces had to be left behind as the army, on orders of General Gates, began its inauspicious march southward.”78

     “The three days’ march from Coxe’s mill to Kimborough had developed numerous matters of discipline highly unsatisfactory to the commanding general. The loads of overburdened wagons were increased by many of the foot troops and even the sentinels throwing their guns and equipment into them; wagons halted for frivolous reasons; the Artillery stretched along the road, unduly elongating the column; kind-hearted teamsters added to the burdens of their jaded teams by permitting women camp followers to ride, ‘sometimes two in one wagon.’ Measures were taken to correct these evils, and after a rest of two days the march was resumed on the 1st day of August….”79

     “….Though the troops were half starved and almost exhausted, they were forced to march on, doing seventeen or eighteen miles a day. Being human, they showed their resentment at the General’s unfulfilled promise. They began to straggle, to steal, to plunder. Even those who remained in the ranks looked dark and scowling, and a mutiny...was on the point of breaking out when the officers, mingling with the men, and reasoning with them, succeeded in silencing the murmurs for which there was, unfortunately, only too much justification. They showed their empty canteens and haversacks, and convinced the privates that the sufferings were all equal, exhorted them to bear up under the hardships of the hour, and promised that if the expected supplies did not arrive soon, foraging parties would be sent out by every corps in all directions to collect what little corn might still be stored in the country, and bring it to the mill….Shortly after…it happened that a little stock of corn was brought into camp. The mill began to grind.”80

     With a little food in the bellies, the troops had fresh hopes for the future. Not so for the officers, who had at their own request had been served last. The officers, some of whom resorted to using their hair powder to thicken their soup, knew “it was useless to complain to the commanding general, as no one could advise him how to extricate himself quickly at this stage of his dilemma. Nevertheless he was informed of what took place in the camp and was aware of the critical stage of feeling among the troops.”81   


     On August 6 General Gates rode over to North Carolina militia General Richard Caswell’s camp, where he was entertained with a sumptuous meal and wine, showing that North Carolina took care of its own. In the best of spirits, arrangements were made for uniting the forces. General Richard Caswell was to be in command of the left wing, while de Kalb with the regulars was in charge of the right. “Entrusting his untrained militia with the entire left side of the American line, with the bulk of de Kalb’s Continentals on the right side and the remainder of the regulars in the rear, Gates put an incredible faith in irregulars to stand resolutely in open combat”82 where terrifying bayonet charges by the British regulars were sure to take place. At noon on August 7 the forces joined, marched a few miles in the direction of the hostile post on Lynch Creek, and encamped.

     That night there was an “ominous presage” of the disastrous outcome of the Battle of Camden. Colonel Otho Holland Williams of the Maryland Line, who was Gates’s adjutant, and Lieutenant Colonel Ford, the officer of the day, made rounds late at night to test the vigilance of the guard. On the right wing the officers were met with the kind of readiness which inspires sense of security; but on the left wing all was silent. The patrolling officers were not once challenged, rode by the guards without being stopped and found their way unobstructed even to the tents of the generals and staff officers, some of whom “complained of their unnecessary disturbance at an hour so unusual among gentlemen.” Williams was amazed at the tables and chairs and bedsteads and other domestic furnishings which were “scattered before the doors in great disorder.”83


     “Early the next morning before the break of dawn the ‘General’ was sounded, followed by the ‘March,’ as soon as the troops were paraded. The Army moved off by the left, which put the North Carolina Militia in the lead…. 

     “With the near approach of the enemy it was again necessary for General Gates to endeavor to rid his column of excess baggage, both animate and inanimate. The Army was still encumbered with an enormous train of heavy baggage, a multitude of women, and not a few children. An escort was therefore arranged…to convoy a wagon train to Charlotte Town. All the sick and the heavy baggage were sent to the rear and as many of the women as could be driven from the line. Many of the latter, however, preferred to share every toil and danger with the soldiers to accepting the security and provisions promised at some rendezvous in the rear.

     “The American Army bivouacked that night at Lynches Heights. Rum was issued, and the troops were held in readiness to assemble at their alarm posts at every alarm….Early the next morning, the 11th, the Army marched by the right flank up the north bank of Little Lynches Creek….On the 12th the march was continued to Marshall’s plantation on Little Lynches Creek. On the 13th of August Clermont was reached, the home of Lt. Col. Rugeley, 13 miles from Camden.”84 

     Sergeant-Major William Seymour, of the Second Maryland and Delaware Regiment, like Captain Kirkwood, kept a journal of the unit’s activities. In it he notes: “We encamped at Rugeley’s mills on the 13th of August, which the Enemy had abandoned on our approach….Here came and joined us a vast number of Militia, in number about 3000 men, from Virginia, North and South Carolina, which seemed to us to be a good omen of success, but proved to be our utter ruin in the end, for, placing too much confidence in them, they at length deceived us and left us in the lurch…” Nevertheless, “so confident was the General, and indeed it was every one's opinion, that we should drive the enemy, we being far superior to them in numbers, we having three thousand militia and about thirteen hundred standing troops, and they not exceeding thirteen hundred here.85


     While the American Army camped at Rugeley’s Mills, there was another decisive development—Lord Cornwallis himself arrived to take charge of the British forces. “On 9 August 1780 Lord Cornwallis received a dispatch from Lord Rawdon that Horatio Gates was advancing on Camden with an army reported to be 5000 strong….He left Charleston the next day and rode…day and night for Camden and arrived on the evening of 13 August.”86

     “Meanwhile, Gates made another foolish decision…With an enemy of unknown strength somewhere before him, he weakened his own by sending 100 Maryland Continentals, 300 North Carolina militia, and two artillery pieces to [South Carolina militia General Thomas] Sumter” in an attempt to capture a British wagon train making its way up to Camden. Foolish because, if Gates were to win the upcoming battle, he could have easily have overtaken the wagon train later.87 “While Gates was weakening his force, the British were reinforcing theirs. Disturbed by rumors of the approach of an American force estimated to be twice Gates’s actual number, Cornwallis had hastened to assume personal command at Camden, ordering in four companies more of light infantry from the post at Ninety-Six.”88 “…with the reinforcements brought by Cornwallis, the British forces numbered fully three thousand men, most of them well-disciplined veterans, supported by a strong body of cavalry under [Lieutenant Colonel Banastre] Tarleton, and six heavy cannon.”89


     The night of August 15 was hot, humid and moonless; stars provided the only light. “On [that night], the order for the march for Camden was issued, which was to be taken up at ten o’clock in the evening….Gates…did not know that Cornwallis had arrived in Camden to support Rawdon. Furthermore, he believed that he had 7,000 men in his command. He called a council of officers…informing them of his plan, based on the erroneous estimate of his actual force….Colonel Williams…found that the men fit for duty numbered exactly 3052. [Gates’s] reply was: ‘These are enough for our purpose.’” Even more ominous was the fact that more than half of these men were militia, many facing the enemy for the first time and uninstructed in the use of the bayonets which had just been issued to them. Not only that, but “…It seems incredible that Gates remained ignorant of the arrival of Cornwallis.”90

     “Gates read his orders to his council of war….As soon as the meeting was over, the officers expressed their shock at the sudden offensive planned by Gates, seemingly without intelligence to the enemy’s plans or position. All tents were to be struck at tattoo and the troops ready to march that night at precisely 10 o’clock. The Cavalry of Armand’s legion was to take the advance, supported on each flank by a column of foot troops marching in Indian file 200 yards from the road….In rear of the covering force came the advance guard of foot, composed of advance pickets, then the First Maryland Brigade with its artillery in front, the Second Maryland Brigade with its artillery in front, the division of North Carolina Militia, and the division of Virginia Militia. The baggage of each brigade was in the rear of the brigade. All troops were ordered to observe the most profound silence on the march—‘and any soldier who offers to fire without the command of his officer, must be instantly put to death.’”91

     “The Battle of Camden is noted for some very tragic decisions by the American commander, but one of them certainly borders on the ridiculous. It was customary to serve the troops an allowance of one gill of rum when they were about to fight the enemy; but no spirits were at hand. [The General himself had written to Governor Nash of North Carolina that, “Rum is as necessary to the health of a soldier as good food.”] Gates therefore conceived the bright idea that molasses, of which a supply had just been received, would serve as an acceptable substitute. Probably few soldiers thought so. In [Brigadier General Mordecai] Gist’s order book ‘rum,’ first written in, was crossed out and ‘molasses’ substituted. Accordingly, one gill of molasses per man, and a full ration of corn and meat were issued to the army previous to their march, which commenced according to orders at about ten o’clock on the night of August 15th. The troops of General Gates’ army had frequently felt the consequences of eating bad provisions, but at this time a hasty meal of quick-baked bread and fresh beef with a dessert of molasses missed with mash or dumplings, operated so cathartically as to disorder many of the men, who were breaking ranks all night and were certainly much debilitated before the action commenced in the morning.

     By a remarkable coincidence, Lord Cornwallis—easily the most aggressive general the British had in America—decided to move on the advancing American army that same evening. “After surveying the situation, and ‘seeing little to lose by a defeat and much to gain by a victory,’ he resolved ‘to take the first good opportunity to attack the rebel army.’ At ten o’clock the night of the fifteenth of August, he marched his forces out of town toward Gates’s position to fall on the rebels at dawn.”92 “Both armies bent on a surprise attack, but ignorant of each other’s plans, started at the same hour of the night on the same road, in opposite directions.”93

     “Slowly and quietly through the warm night the two armies approached each other. Each commander believed he was about to gain a decided advantage over his opponent. Cornwallis expected to make a surprise attack upon the American camp at Rugeley’s at dawn. The head of Gates’s column, which moved more slowly than did the British, was nearing the ford over Gum Swamp, and just beyond lay the position covering Sanders Creek, which it was the American commander’s intention to occupy. Mounted scouts patrolled the dark road ahead of the two armies, expecting to find nothing on their front more alarming than a raiding or reconnoitering party. Not one, in those silent columns of more than 5,000 men, knew that the foe was approaching in full strength and with sinister purpose.”94

     “Suddenly out of the quiet came a sharp challenge, an interchange of scattered shots, and then loud huzzas of challenging troops. The van of both armies came together at 2:30 o’clock in the morning on the Sutton farm, which was about 8 miles from Camden, just north of the ford over Gum Swamp.”95



The Battle of Camden      16 August 1780           


     “In the first clash between the two advance parties the wounded in Armand’s legion retreated and threw the whole corps into confusion. The corps recoiled suddenly against the front of the column of the Infantry behind, creating disorder in the leading brigade, the First Maryland, and occasioning a general consternation throughout the whole extent of the army….Musketry fire was exchanged for nearly a quarter of a hour, when the two armies, finding themselves opposed to each other, ceased firing as though by mutual consent to determine upon the next move.

     “The prisoners taken by each side during this scrimmage soon informed their captors of the true condition of affairs.

Cornwallis was assured by both prisoners and deserters that the whole of Gates’s army was marching with the

intention of attacking the British at Camden. From them Cornwallis learned that the force confronting him was far greater than his own. From one of the British who had been made prisoner Colonel Williams obtained the startling information that five or six hundred yards in front lay the whole British Army, represented as consisting of about 3,000 regular troops, commanded by Lord Cornwallis in person. Each side was as much surprised at the astounding information as was the other.”

     Here was a true crisis situation, “requiring the exercise of prompt and heroic qualities of leadership on the part of each commander were he to save his command from destruction and turn surprise into victory. Daylight was fast approaching; by half past 4 o’clock the dawn of the coming day would bring the armies within view of each other. But little more than an hour was left in which to deploy the troops in battle formation….

     “The British soon recovered from the disorder occasioned by the first alarm, but for a long time the American Army

was gripped by fear….The astonishment of the commanding general upon learning that the entire British Army was but a musket shot away could not be concealed. He ordered Colonel Williams to call a council of war with all possible celerity….General Gates then asked: Gentlemen, what is best to be done? All were mute for a few moments, when [Virginia militia] General [Edward] Stevens exclaimed: Is it not too late now to do anything but fight?96


     Only about eight miles north of Camden, the armies had met in a narrow space between two wide swamps. The American line was formed before daybreak; Gist’s second brigade, composed of one Delaware and three Maryland regiments on the right; in the center the North Carolina militia; and Stevens’s Virginians on the left, together with Armand’s corps. The Army reserve consisted of the First Maryland Brigade of approximately 400 men, including Edward Arvin, under General Smallwood. The first position of the reserve was across the road and about 200 yards in the rear of the front line. The artillery was stationed in front of the center. De Kalb was in command of the right wing and took his post with it in the line. Gates, who “had on a pale blue coat with epaulettes, with velvet breeches, and riding a bay horse,” stationed himself and his staff far to the rear, about 400 yards behind the reserves.97

      “As night gave way to the coming day out of the darkness appeared the dim visage of the ghostly armies. Every eye was strained to catch a movement of the enemy; every heart beat with the fear of the unknown and hope of some advantage in troops and position….”98 “As darkness lifted, Colonel Williams noted the dim outline of British infantry advancing. He ordered the artillery to open fire and then rushed to the rear to report to General Gates: ‘The enemy are deploying on the right, Sir. There’s a good chance for Stevens to attack before they’re formed.’

     “‘Sir, that’s right. Let it be done.’ And that was the last order he gave in that battle or any other.”

     Williams galloped back to the front lines. “But it was too late for Stevens to attack. The British were upon them, fired one volley, and then rushed forward in a bayonet attack. The militiamen had never been under fire, nor had they ever been instructed in the use of the bayonet. Weak and terrified as they were, they cast away their muskets and ran for their lives. In their panic they threw the first Maryland reserve into complete confusion. General Gates was swept away in the general rout, and did not stop until he reached Charlotte, sixty miles from the battlefield.”99

     “The unworthy example of the Virginians was almost instantly followed by the North Carolinians; only a small part of the brigade…made a short pause.”100


     Many years later, Garrett Watts of the North Carolina militia, recalled that,


I well remember everything that happened the next morning: I remember that I was among the nearest to the enemy; …that we had orders to wait for word to commence firing; that the militia were in front and in a feeble condition at the time. They were fatigued. The weather was warm excessively. They had been fed a short time previously on molasses entirely. I can state on oath that I believe my gun was the first gun fired, notwithstanding the orders, for we were close to the enemy, who appeared to maneuver in contempt of us, and I fired without thinking except that I might prevent the man opposite from killing me. The discharge and loud roar soon became general from one end of the lines to the other. Amongst other things, I confess I was amongst the first that fled. The cause of that I cannot tell, except that everyone I saw was about to do the same. It was instantaneous. There was no effort to rally, no encouragement to fight. Officers and men joined in the flight. I threw away my gun, and, reflecting I might be punished for being without arms, I picked up a drum, which gave forth such sounds when touched by the twigs I cast it away. When we had gone, we heard the roar of guns still, but we knew not why. Had we known, we might have returned. It was that portion of the army commanded by de Kalb fighting still.”101


     Now almost the entire militia, constituting two-thirds of the Southern Army, had fled, many without firing a shot. Colonel Williams later wrote, “He who has never seen the effect of a panic upon a multitude can have but an imperfect idea of such a thing. The best disciplined troops have been enervated and made cowards by it. Armies have been routed by it, even where no enemy appeared to furnish an excuse. Like electricity, it operates instantly; like sympathy, it is irresistible where it touches.”

     “The regular troops, who had the keen edge of sensibility and fear rubbed off by strict discipline and hard service, saw the confusion with but little emotion. Some irregularity was created by the militia breaking pell-mell through the First Maryland Brigade, but order was restored in time to give the British a severe check, which abated the fury of their assault and obliged them to assume a more deliberate manner of acting….”   

    Now both the center and the left were gone – hopelessly gone. The right wing of Marylands and Delawares, under General Mordecai Gist and dauntless de Kalb, its own left wide open to the enemy, alone held the field against Rawdon’s repeated attacks. De Kalb called for the reserve, the First Maryland Brigade. It had recovered from its confusion, but had so far had little part in the battle. His aide sought its commander, [General Smallwood] to give him the message: but Smallwood was not with the troops – had, in fact, left the field. Otho Williams took charge and brought the brigade forward in line with the American right wing. It was immediately hotly engaged. Williams tried to bring it up to the left of the Second Brigade, but the British were between them. In spite of his efforts, the enemy held a gap of six hundred feet between the two.”102

     “The disparagement in numbers of the two armies at this phase of the action was not so great, there being about 1,300 regular infantry of the British opposed to about 1,000 Continentals, but there was no way of checking the flanking movement which the British were making against the First Maryland Brigade. There were no more reserves, and the brigade was compelled to give ground. It fell back reluctantly and collectedly, and then a moment later, under the rallying cry of some of its officers, it bravely returned to the fray. It was obliged to give way a second time and was again rallied and renewed the contest. Meanwhile the Second Brigade, fighting under the immediate leadership of De Kalb and Gist, was more than holding its own, inflicting heavy losses upon the Volunteers of Ireland.”103

     “General Cornwallis now had all of his regiments concentrated against these two gallant brigades.” It was stifling hot, and the winds were calm. In the early morning light, gray-blue musket smoke hung in the air, concealing the two separated American lines from each other. Sound rather than sight became the only means of communication between them. “Colonel Williams at this critical moment…hastened from the First to the Second Brigade and begged his own regiment, the Sixth Maryland, not to fly. He was answered by Lieutenant Colonel Ford: They have done all that can be expected of them; we are outnumbered and outflanked; see the enemy charge with bayonets!


 Cornwallis saw his chance. He swung Webster’s regulars against the front and flank of the First Maryland

                Brigade. The Marylanders gave ground, rallied, were driven back, rallied again, but at last were overcome
 and routed.

                     Now there were only Gist’s Marylanders and Delawares left to fight or fly. They fought….They had

                stood off…more than a thousand men against their possibly six hundred – not only stood them off, but had

                driven them back. With one bayonet charge, they had broken through the ranks of their attackers and taken

                fifty prisoners. Then their left was turned and they were driven back. De Kalb and Gist reformed them.

                Again they charged, and again they were driven back. Yet once more they attacked. It was at this point that

                their companion brigade [Edward and the First Maryland] was broken and swept away. The smoke and dust
                hung in clouds in the air, so thick that one could see but a little distance. De Kalb and Gist knew nothing of
                the retreat of the other brigade, were not aware of the fact that they and their few men stood alone on the
                field….They had no orders from Gates to retire. So they fought on, “and never did troops show greater
                courage than those men of Maryland and Delaware….the Delaware and Maryland troops contended with the
                superior force of the enemy for nearly an hour.

                     De Kalb’s horse was shot out from under him. “Long after the battle was lost in every other quarter, the

                gigantic form of de Kalb, unhorsed and fighting on foot, was seen directing the movements of his brave

                Marylanders and Delaware troops.” His head had been laid open by a saber stroke….

                     The fighting was hand to hand, terrific in its fierceness. Sabers flashed and struck, bayonets lunged and

                found their meat, clubbed musket fell on cracked skulls. But Cornwallis, as vigilant as Gates was not, had

                now thrown his entire force on these last remaining foemen, 2,000 men on no more than 600.

                     Overwhelmed by numbers that almost entirely surrounded him, de Kalb called for the bayonet again. All

                 together his men answered. De Kalb in their lead, they crashed through the enemy’s ranks, wheeled, and

                 smote them from the rear. But ball after ball had struck their heroic leader. Blood was pouring from him;

                 yet  the old lion had it in him to cut down a British soldier whose bayonet was at his breast. That was his

                 last stroke. Bleeding from eleven wounds, he fell.

                      ...Tarleton’s cavalry…swept down upon them, broke their ranks, and the battle was over….Such…as

                 had not fallen or been captured scattered and fled to the swamps.

                     Prostrate in the field lay de Kalb….Some of the enemy, British or Tory, carried him off and propped him

                 against a wagon….There he stood, gripping the wagon with both hands, his head in weakness bowed on his

                 chest, bleeding to death from all his wounds, when Cornwallis came riding by…and caused him to be cared

                 for by the British surgeons. His great bodily vigor kept the life in him for three days before he died in

                      But where was Gates? From the time he gave the first order to Stevens, not a word of any sort from him

                 to his fighting men. He had been “swept away” in the torrent of fleeing militia in the very first minutes of
                 the battle, as some historians describe his flight. “Swept away” he was – on the fastest horse in the
                 army….And that gallant steed never stopped until he landed his master at Charlotte, sixty miles from the
                 field of honor.” There Gates slept that night.104


     The masters of the field included “Bloody Banastre” Tarleton’s British Legion, dressed in their distinctive green jackets. “Soon the road for ‘some miles’, so an observer wrote, ‘was strewed with the wounded and killed, who had been overtaken by the Legion in their pursuit. The number of dead horses, broken wagons, and baggage, scattered on the road, formed a perfect scene of horror and confusion – arms, knapsacks and accoutrements found were innumerable: such was the terror and dismay of the Americans.’

     “Almost a thousand of the rebel army were killed in all, including De Kalb; almost as many were taken prisoner….In addition, Gates had lost all his stores and baggage and all his seven brass cannon.”105 Colonel Armand’s Legion of Horse and Foot was no help. “As for Col. Armand’s horse, they thought upon nothing else but plundering our wagons as they retreated off.”106


     “And what of Horatio Gates? What role did he play in the debacle once it began? None, sad to say….From Salisbury Williams wrote, ‘many officers wrote to their friends…and being chagrined and mortified at not overtaking their commanding general in so long a retreat, expressed themselves with great disgust and freedom.…The only apology that General Gates condescended to make for the army for the loss of the battle was, ‘a man may pit a cock, but he can’t make him fight.’…

     “Gates’s excuse that he was trying to rally the militia grows stale as we watch him ride further and further from the scene of combat. He had to have heard the heavy firing behind him and realized that the Continentals were still fighting. But on that 16th day of August 1780 he kept riding to the rear, to Rugeley’s Mills five miles up the road, by that night to Charlotte sixty miles away, by the 19th 180 miles to Hillsborough….On his ride he met William Richardson Davie and his horsemen advancing toward Camden. Without stopping he called out that Davie should retire to Charlotte or the British dragoons would be upon him. Davie replied that ‘his men were accustomed to Tarleton and did not fear him,’ but Gates was pressing hard for Charlotte and probably did not hear him….Davie then sent an officer in pursuit of Gates with the message that if the General so desired Davie would go on and bury the dead, to which Gates replied, ‘I say retreat! Let the dead bury their dead.’[Luke 9:60]

     “Can we possibly imagine Lord Cornwallis behaving in such a manner? Or General Washington? One hesitates to call any man a coward…but we are entitled to expect of officers that they never shirk, never run. In an age when generals commonly exposed themselves to inspire the troops and often paid with their lives, Major General Horatio Gates was conspicuously absent from the battles of Saratoga and rode far and fast from Camden’s terrible field.

     “It took Gates three days to reach Hillsborough. It took de Kalb three days to die.”107

     The day of the battle the British brought the mortally wounded de Kalb back to Camden, and he was delivered to the home of a prominent physician, Dr. Isaac Alexander (in the 300 block of Broad St., but long since destroyed.) Upon his death, he was buried with full military honors behind the house. His remains were moved in 1825 to their present location, on the grounds in front of the Bethesda Presbyterian Church (at 502 DeKalb Street.) The Marquis de Lafayette, while making his triumphal return visit to the United States, laid the cornerstone for the monument, still in place there, in a “spectacular ceremony.” The site of the battle itself, about eight miles north of Historic Camden on Highway 521 and Flat Rock Road, is considered “endangered.” But serious efforts are now under way to preserve and protect it. (See: )                    


The Survivors Struggle


     The rout of the Americans became total and complete. It turned into a terrifying panic and an “every man for himself” headlong retreat north. Tarleton and his Legion dragoons quickly advanced toward Rugeley's. They took militia General Rutherford and many others prisoner. But the pursuit also dispersed the British, and a halt was ordered for them to regroup and to dislodge a small party of Americans who were rallying the militia and tending the wagons. The arrival of Tarleton quickly caused this group of Americans to flee also. The chase again commenced and did not let up until the British cavalry reached Hanging Rock, 22 miles from the battle field. By this time the Americans were completely scattered, and fatigue had overpowered the British.  “The Virginians, who knew nothing of the country they were in, involuntarily reversed the route they came and fled to Hillsboro. The North Carolina Militia fled in different directions, most of them taking the shortest way home. The regular troops, it has been observed, were the last to quit the field. Major [Archibald] Anderson, of the Maryland line, was the only officer who  rallied, as he retreated, a few men of different companies, and whose prudence and firmness afforded protection to those who had joined his party. Colonel Gunby, Lieutenant Colonel Howard, Captain Kirkwood, and Captain Dobson, with a few other officers and 50 or 60 men, formed a junction and proceeded together.”108 Could Edward have been among these men?

     Sergeant-Major Seymour described what he saw as the regulars made their way north in the fearsome retreat. “Here was a most shocking scene to behold, our poor scattered troops everywhere dispersed through the country, and the Tories everyday picking at them, taking every thing from them which was of any value.”109 As for Captain Kirkwood, he blocked it all out. “I can give no account of our Marches on the Retreat until we came to Salisbury….”110 Likewise the Orderly Book of General Smallwood would not show another entry for two long weeks.

     As for the detachment sent to aid militia General Sumter in capturing the British wagon train, “Bloody Ben” Tarleton overtook and surprised them; they had literally let their guard down. “Genl. Sumter [was] defeated by a party of Horse and Infantry at the head of Fishing Creek, by the negligence of the Brigade Major not posting out a picquet, the men having their arms stacked, when the enemy, unperceived by any, had taken possession of them, where they put every one to the sword who came in their way. Here was another scene of misery to see about one hundred and thirty of our Continental Troops, with two pieces of cannon, who but the day before the action of the sixteenth were detached to Genl. Sumter, with 800 Militia, all killed, wounded, and taken prisoners, besides 36 waggons loaded with rum, stores, etc., which he had but the day before taken from the enemy.”111

     “General Gates was much censured on account of the defeat of the Americans on Sander’s Creek, because he provided for no place of rendezvous in the event of being obliged to retreat; for not having his baggage and stores at a proper distance from the scene of action, and because of an improper arrangement of his army for attack, placing his unskilled militia on the right, opposite the British veterans of Webster. Armand spoke harshly of Gates, and even intimated that he was a coward or a traitor. Gates’s great fault appears to have been a too sanguine belief that he could easily crush the inferior force of his enemy. His vanity was always the source of his greatest trouble. In this instance he was too confident of success, and made no provision for the contingencies of adversity; and hence his utter weakness when the victorious blow was struck by the British, and he was obliged to flee.
      “On the seventeenth and eighteenth, Smallwood and Gist arrived at
Charlotte, with several other officers, and there they found more than one hundred regular infantry, Armand’s cavalry, Major Davie’s partisan corps from the Waxhaw settlement, and a few militia. Gates began to hope that another army might be speedily reorganized, when intelligence of the disaster of Sumter at Fishing Creek reached him. He retreated to Hillsborough, where the Provincial Congress was in session, with Governor Abner Nash at its head. That officer exerted all the power and influence of his station to aid the discomfited general. The Legislature provided for procuring arms, ammunition, and stores; ordered militia drafts, and took other vigorous measures for the defense of the state. Salisbury, toward which it was believed Cornwallis would march, was made the place of rendezvous.”112
     Sergeant-Major Seymour: “We assembled at Salisbury the few that were left, Genl. Smallwood having taken the command of them, this being the first place we made any halt since the action of the sixteenth of August. From here we marched on the 24th under the command of Genl. Smallwood, directing our route of Hillsborough, that being the next place of rendezvous, which we reached with much difficulty on the 6th September, 200 miles from Campden….Here we lay from 6th September til the 7th October, waiting for clothes, arms, and accoutrements….”113

     Once again the War for Independence hung by a thread. An entire Southern army had been lost to the British in Charleston on the twentieth of May. Now, three months later, a second Southern army had been completely vanquished. It was so decimated that it had to be reorganized. It was now top-heavy with officers; there were not enough rank and file to even constitute one single brigade. What had been the celebrated Maryland Division with its two proud brigades now became simply the Maryland Regiment, with just two battalions of four companies each. “Here were the men who were left of the First and Second Brigades formed into two battalions, that of the First brigade commanded by Major [Archibald] Anderson and that of the Second by Major Hardman, the whole amounting to about 800 men.”114      

     In Hillsborough, General Smallwood pulled the remnants of the Marylanders and the Delawares together. “Smallwood took temporary command and did much to keep the army from disintegrating in the following weeks. Congress rewarded him with an official thanks. Moreover, it promoted Smallwood to Major General.” The promotion was effective 15 September 1780.115

     An entry in Smallwood’s Orderly Book for 20 September demonstrates how Gates was depending on him to help keep order:


                                    A Subaltern two Serjeants, two Corporals one Drum  and
                  Twenty four Rank and file from General Smallwoods Brigade to missn
                  Guard  Daily  at the  Markett  House  in  Hillsborough. This  Guard  to

                  Furnish  two Centinels  for  the Gaol and as many as are necessary for
                  the Commissary and Quarter Master Stores in Town, to send out Pickets
                  at  night  for  the  Security  of  the  Post  and  to  take  up  and  confine
                  all  Soldiers  who  may  be formed  in  or  about Town without papers      
                  sign’d  by a  General or Field Officer. 



     While General Smallwood was reconstituting the command, General Gates was primarily concerned with defending himself. “From Hillsboro, Gates, his pride badly wounded, wrote to his Commander-in-Chief ‘The victory is far from bloodless on the part of the foe,’ he reassured Washington, and Cornwallis he thought would not likely ‘be able to reap any advantage of consequence from his victory.’

     “…There was little he could do. The militia were gone beyond recall. Remnants only of the Delawares and the Marylands remained, encamped about the pillared brick courthouse in Hillsboro. In mid-September, Colonel Buford arrived with ‘the mangled remains’ of his regiment and some recruits, less than three hundred in all. Fifty militia came, and a body of Delawares retaken from their British captors by partisan Francis Marion. In all, Gates put together a force of some twelve hundred, all that were left of the three thousand he had confused for seven thousand before Camden.”116 Edward Arvin was one of those who survived.


     As acting Adjutant of the Southern army, Colonel Otho Holland Williams (shown here) was responsible for making written reports about its condition, and this was no small task. He wrote three letters about the sad state of affairs at Camp Hillsborough on 12 October 1780. They are preserved today in the archives of the Maryland Historical Society. Here is a synopsis of each letter, as prepared by the Society:

1780 Oct. 12

O[tho] H[olland] WILLIAMS. To Gov. [Thomas Sim] LEE, Maryland.

Encloses the most exact return he can get of the Maryland troops; many returned as missing are probably dead or imprisoned; some officers are back in Maryland recruiting, some are in camp waiting for the arrival of more men to be commanded; lost a great many of their arms on the retreat [from Camden, S. C.] besides those taken from 150 of Mary[lan]d and Delaware Troops who were retaken by Col. [Francis] Marion; of the 150 men, only about 60 rejoined their corps, some were sick but most of them just departed; their clothing and tents are now such as to move men to compassion for the naked soldiers; hopes that in November, when he will again report, he will have more supplies;

[MHS, OH Williams papers (1 of 8, item 56)]

1780 Oct. 12

[Otho Holland WILLIAMS] Camp Hillsborough, N. C. To Col. [Alexander] SCAMMELL.

His arduous duties and the defeat in a general action will excuse his not sending in the reports he should have sent; lost all their papers except the Gen[era]ls [?]; officers are perplexed and seem unable to give him [Williams] the data he needs; cannot tell who are dead and who are captive, so he is reporting most of them as missing;

[MHS, OH Williams papers (1 of 8, item 57)]

1780 Oct. 12                                                 

[Otho Holland WILLIAMS] Hillsborough [N.C.]. To Baron [Frederick William Augustus] STEUBEN.

Is at last able to make returns of the Maryland and Delaware troops; in the disaster of August 16 [at Camden, S.C.], all musters and inspections, all account books and other papers were lost, save a few regimental muster rolls; these were sent to the Board of War; has had to draw up his own forms for the returns he is now submitting;…has received no clothing for the present season, and what they have on their backs is too worthless to render an account of; their baggage and equipment fell into the hands of the enemy, all but some 25 tents and 20 or so camp kettles;

[MHS, OH Williams papers, (1 of 8, item 58)]

     At last a return was compiled, showing the staggering Southern army loses, brigade by brigade. The Americans suffered 1000 casualties, 1000 captured and 132 missing. Here is a small section of the report, showing part of the return for the First Regiment of the First Maryland Brigade. Ananias Arvin (whose exact relationship to Edward is unknown) is listed as a deserter. Lest we judge him too quickly, the Preface to Volume 18 of the Archives of Maryland: Muster Rolls (published by the Maryland Historical Society in 1900) states, “It should be noted that the term ‘deserter,’ when used without the addition ‘to the enemy,’ merely signifies that the soldier was absent from his command without leave. The discipline of the Revolutionary armies was not strict, and many left the ranks, when they were needed at home, returning to the service after a few months.”



                                FIRST   BRIGADE   LOSSES


                                   First   Maryland Losses


Barna. Allen               private        16Aug80        prisoner

Thomas Allison                                       do         prisoner

Ananias Arvin                                  8Aug80       deserted                   [His relationship to Edward is unknown.]

William Bulley             Sergt          16Aug80       prisoner

John Baker                  private         10Aug80       deserted

Thomas Boarman      private         16Aug80       prisoner

Zekiel Burnes              private                 "                killed

Zachariah Butt           private                                 missing

Amos Beck                  private                                 missing

Charles Byrne             private                                   killed

. . .




     “Earl Cornwallis, meanwhile, was ambitious to be on with his dream of gobbling up Virginia and rolling through Maryland and Pennsylvania. Only the sickness of his army and the savagery of the little rebel bands of irregulars in South Carolina held him up. Early in September, instead of going into North Carolina as he had hoped to do, he was forced to move to the Waxhaws, where in the higher, cooler country he thought ‘the change of air might be useful.’ ‘The great sickness of the Army, the intense heat, and the necessity of totally subduing the rebel country between the Santee and Pee Dee have detained me longer than I could have wished,’ he wrote [Secretary for the American Department, Lord George] Germain on September 19.”118 With just over two thousand men, he began to move up the Wateree River from Camden on 8 September, and by 25 September he was within sight of Charlotte. But he faced heavy resistance from the partisan militia, and with the defeat of Patrick Ferguson and his Loyalist militia at King’s Mountain, he was stymied. He set about establishing winter quarters at Winnsboro, South Carolina.    


     As for the Americans, they were now extremely short on manpower, equipment, clothing, arms and ammunition, and shelter. And they could not look to the states for much help. “The states had inadequate administrative machinery to raise enough food and war materials for the army. It was not entirely the fault of the civil officials, who complained with some justification that many resources had been drained in supplying the troops that fought at Charleston and Camden. Morale too had fallen precipitately; military enlistments were few, for men stayed home to protect their property and families from Tory marauders.”119 Even when supplies were raised, they could not be quickly delivered to where they were needed. “The major supply problem was obtaining wagons….Replacement of weapons lost or damaged on 16 August 1780 or during the retreat took a great deal of energy during the fall of 1780. On 7 September, a brigade of wagons loaded with arms and cartridges was on its way from Richmond to Hillsborough but ‘aboute forty Waggon Loads of Arms & Aminision and other Accouttrements’ had gotten only as far as Petersburg, Virginia, by the end of the month. Wagons for moving them all further were not available until 11 October when the last of the shipment finally moved forward.

“Small lots did get through as portions of the total were shipped when wagons were available. On 30 September, replacement weaponry from three chests of arms which arrived that day were issued to complete the Maryland Regiment….they were probably French muskets and accoutrements.120

     “As the Continentals reorganized, replacement of uniforms was underway. Clothing, blankets and knapsacks from Continental supplies and North Carolina were issued to Continentals on 19 September [vests, stockings, knapsacks, blankets, vest buttons, shirt buttons, red thread, white thread and blue thread]

     “On 8 October, a small quantity of shoes, shirts, overalls and knapsacks were issued to the line troops. None of these items went to the Light infantry which marched for New Providence, NC that morning. The Continentals numbered 781 enlisted men on 1 October.121

     More supplies were received at Hillsborough on 17 October: 600 “suits” from a clothier in Maryland: 200 Regimental coats, 116 shirts, 546 vests, 538 overalls, 403 hats, and over 242 pairs shoes.  “So desperate were the Continentals, issues commenced on 18 October and continued through the 28th. Few details are known about these uniforms, except that the regimentals were blue faced red short coats.” In compliance with the Commander-in-Chief’s orders, uniforms would now be standardized throughout the Continental Army. Also spontoons were ordered to be obtained by officers. The brown coatees would apparently no longer be made. “This issue forms a new baseline for Maryland Battalion and Light Infantry uniforms until June 1781….

     “In addition to clothing shipped to the army, additional articles came with recruits. One hundred Maryland reinforcements left Richmond for Hillsborough about 28 August 1780. On 2 November, 300 additional Marylanders marched south through Richmond. This group included recruits for the Maryland Line and the Regiment Extra. The Continental recruits were presumably wearing blue coats faced red, but the Regiment Extra wore brown coats faced red and leather breeches. This unit became the Second Maryland about 10 March. After about 1 February, its men were issued the same clothing as the Maryland Battalion.”122



Daniel Morgan Returns                                         


     But perhaps the most important reinforcement received by the Southern Army up to that point was a retired colonel with a luminous military mind and a war-torn body. The most original thinker of the Revolutionary War now returned to an army which needed him desperately.  As demonstrated so vividly by Gates at Camden, tactics that did not work seemed always to be used over and over again. The militia was no match for the galvanized British regulars using iron discipline and superior tactics. “Holding a deep contempt for their American foes, British officers were quick to call on the bayonet when faced with opposition….Invariably, militia would panic and flee. And invariably, American generals, including George Washington, ignored painful lessons and repeatedly lined up militia in formal ranks in open fields to await the onslaughts of highly trained, rigidly disciplined British and German regulars, and raged when those precisely placed lines crumbled into stampeding herds. The proper use of militia in formal battle awaited one of the rare generals of the war who can truly be called brilliant. That man was not Horatio Gates.”123 

     “Daniel Morgan is hardly known as a Revolutionary hero today, but contemporaries considered his experience and talents as legendary….Morgan led through respect and by example. He was a powerful figure who feared no danger and sought the hottest action. During the French and Indian War, he suffered a wound in which the ball entered the back of his neck, passed through his mouth, taking out the left rear teeth, and emerged through his upper left lip. Contemporaries described a livid scar, but illustrations rarely show any indication, although [portrait artist Charles Willson] Peale gave him a subdued mark.”124

     “The giant wagoner had retired from the army in the summer of 1779, disgruntled by Congress’ failure to advance him in rank and very uncomfortable in health from an old rheumatic or arthritic condition. For fifteen months he had resided at home in Frederick County, Virginia, until called back into service when Gates was ordered south….Almost the first thing Gates did, after being notified…was to write him a note of welcome. Recognizing Morgan’s remarkable flair for handling troops, Gates proposed to give him command of such a corps and endeavoring to persuade Congress to promote him to brigadier general….When the promotion did not come, Morgan refused to rejoin the service, but after Gates’s rout at Camden, he flung personal pride aside and rushed to Gates’s support—in spite of the fact that he was so straitened financially that he had to take along a mare to sell on the way to pay his traveling expenses.”125

     “Entering Hillsboro, North Carolina, in late September, Morgan alighted before the pillared brick courthouse that served as Gates’s headquarters and the temporary meeting place of the state legislature….After he saw the Southern army encampment a mile or so out of town, Morgan may have wondered what he or anyone else could do. Barely 700 Maryland and Delaware Continentals were there….These regulars, along with 500 additional men, mostly new arrivals from Virginia, slept in wigwams made of fence rails and cornstalks….

     “Gates helped eliminate the chances of friction between Morgan and the local officers by keeping an old promise: he gave Morgan an independent light corps. Though the new unit consisted mainly of picked men, its size—three companies of Continental infantry, sixty Virginia riflemen, and seventy cavalrymen—must have disappointed Morgan. He was fortunate in his principal subordinates. Lieutenant Colonels John Eager Howard and William Washington, commanding infantry and cavalry respectively, were capable officers who had battlefield experience with Washington’s army. Howard was a Marylander who later served his state as governor, delegate to the Continental Congress, and member of the United States Senate. Washington was a portly, good-natured Virginian and a relative of the Commander-in-Chief. Morgan was also lucky in getting a suit of clothing for each of his men from the North Carolina Board of War. Since clothing was extremely scarce for the bulk of the Southern army, Gates resolved to remain with most of his troops at Hillsboro until he could raise and outfit a formidable striking force.”126


     “Alarmed [by the threat posed by Cornwallis], the North Carolina Board of War urged Gates to send westward all the Continentals having shoes to assist the state militia, which was to be headed by Brigadier General William Smallwood, a Maryland regular then at Hillsboro. The board requested that Colonel Morgan, ‘the famous Partisan, accompany Smallwood. As the board wrote Morgan, his well-known ‘Character as a Soldier’ would infuse new morale into the militia. Gates agreed to detach Morgan and instructed Smallwood to impede Cornwallis’s progress through guerrilla operations. This strategy, which Gates himself should have employed earlier instead of pressing down on Camden, was already being put to good use by the North Carolina irregulars….”127 Captain Robert Kirkwood made note of Morgan’s assignment in his journal. “Octb. 7. This day three Companies of Light Infantry were Chosen, one under Command of Capt. Bruen from Virginia, Second by Capt. Kirkwood, & the third by Capt. Brooks the Whole Under the Command of Col. Morgan.”128 Sgt-Major Seymour also noted Morgan’s appointment in his journal, then added a tribute to his company commander, Captain Kirkwood: “whose heroick valour and uncommon and undaunted bravery must needs be recorded in history till after ages.”129

        The detachment set out the next day. “While Morgan was on detached duty, just before the army left…Hillsboro…he received word of his promotion.”130 Private Samuel Elgin, the Charles County militia member mentioned previously, recalled an encounter he had with the charismatic Morgan: “the men would not follow their Col. at that time Genl Morgan came up and encouraged us told us he knowed we were the men that would fight. his appearance and talk to us encouraged us.…”   



The Flying Army


     Upon hearing that Cornwallis had retreated from Charlotte Town, Gates decided to move the main army there. Morgan also set out toward it, marching slowly, awaiting orders from Smallwood. “When Smallwood finally came up with the militia and Morgan’s men about October 20, he assembled his force at New Providence, twelve miles south of Charlotte. A more aggressive general might have endeavored to obstruct Cornwallis….Neither Smallwood nor Cornwallis undertook large scale operations that month.”131 Still,the size of Morgan’s little detachment kept increasing. “We encamped at New Providence the 22d ult., the men all in good spirits. Here joined us two battalions of North Carolina Militia under the command of Genl. Davidson. 25th moved our encampment further to the right, and in a more regular form. At this place Col. Washington with a detachment of First and Third Light Dragoons, joined us, which, together with the Light Infantry and three companies of Riflemen, formed the Flying Army.”132 We know from his pension application that Edward Arvin was detached from the Maryland Line and assigned to the Flying Army, but we don’t know exactly when. It may have happened at this time.

     Despite Seymour’s journal entry, evidence suggests the name “Flying Army” was not actually coined until a few weeks later by the man who was soon to head the Southern Department. Rumors flew, but at this point in time no one, neither officer nor enlisted man, knew who it would be.133 He would later write to General Lafayette that “I gave this the name of flying Army; and while its numbers are so small, and the enemy so much superior, it must be literally so; for they can make no opposition of consequence.”134

     Typical of the derring-do with which Morgan’s little army operated is this episode as recorded by Seymour:


     On the 28th [November] our Horse and Infantry marched for Rugeley’s mill, leaving our tents standing, and the sick

     and barefoot men left as a guard. We came before Rugeley’s on the first December where Col Rugeley lay, with

     his Regiment  of Tories, in the number of about two hundred, strongly fortified. Col. Washington with the light

     Horse being sent to draw them out, who ordered a party of them to dismount and represent Infantry, they getting a

  large pine knot, hauling along which served for a piece of cannon, [Col. Williams wrote, “he had the address to
  plant the Trunk of a pine Tree upon three prongs so pointedly like a Field Piece.”
] and had the same effect as if
  was the best piece in Christendom. This great piece of ordnance was drawn up in full view of the Tories. Col.

     Washington at the same time sent in a sergeant with a flag demanding the Tories to surrender, upon which Col.

     Rugely demanded some time to consider, but the sergeant who bore the flag made answer and told him that we had

     cannon and would put them all to immediate death if they did not give up, upon which the Tories marched out and

     gave up their fortifications, without so much as firing a single shot, and surrendered themselves up as prisoners of

     war. On the 2d December we returned to camp.”135       



Nathanael Greene Takes Charge


     Back in Philadelphia, the wheels of change had turned. Congress had now moved to consider the disaster that was Camden, and not even General Gates’s influential friends there could save him. “On the fifth of October, 1780…the Continental Congress in Philadelphia resolved that General Washington order a court of inquiry into the conduct of General Gates and appoint an officer to command in the Southern Department until the court had acted.

     “The choice seemed to many to be between William Smallwood and Nathanael Greene, but the Congressional Delegates from the theatre concerned very decidedly wanted Greene….Undoubtedly he was Washington’s choice as the most resourceful, accomplished officer he could recommend. For years Greene had proved himself, in the words of Henry Lee, ‘a very highly trusted councellor of the Commander-in-Chief, respected for his sincerity, prized for his disinterestedness, and valued for his wisdom.’ He was a thoughtful strategist, rather than an inspiring leader. He knew how to make the most of limited resources. He seldom showed brilliance, but he had much of Washington’s capacity for enduring….”136

     Greene had to leave his Highland Department command immediately, without even a chance to say goodbye to his beloved wife Caty. “Nothing should have torn me from you but the General’s absolute orders to come on and not let anything detain me.’…At headquarters, Greene received his orders and the welcome news that he would have Henry [Light Horse Harry] Lee’s Legion there and Baron von Steuben to assist him in training and regulating his army.”137

     “He arrived in Philadelphia on 27 October to seek cavalry reinforcements and supplies from Congress. He received little of what he asked, and of clothing to cover half-naked troops there was none, from either Congress or comfortable Philadelphia merchants….Baron von Steuben rode with him as far as Virginia, where the Baron stayed to forward reinforcements and supplies to Greene.

     “On the way south they stopped in Annapolis, where Greene begged for clothing. He repeated his pleas in Virginia to Governor Thomas Jefferson. What he received from Delaware, Maryland and Virginia were protestations of poverty. Nathanael Greene and the army in the South could look to themselves for succor….

     “Gates was in Charlotte with what passed for an army. Greene arrived on 2 December. To describe the two men as not close would be a gross understatement. It could have been an awkward moment, but both carried it off with aplomb.”138 “Gates retired to his home Traveler’s Rest in Virginia, there to become sulky, disgruntled, disillusioned as no one listened to his pleas for the inquiry to clear his name. At last Congress passed a resolution dismissing the court, but the general never again saw important service.”139



William Smallwood Departs


     As for Greene’s potential rival for command of the Southern Army, “General Smallwood set out on his march for Maryland” on December 17.140 He had earned a promotion to Major General for his efforts after Camden, but he now found himself at the zenith of his military career. “Smallwood’s promotion was made possible by de Kalb’s death. His new position, however, put him directly under the command of another of the foreigners, Baron von Steuben, the Prussian drillmaster who so effectively disciplined and trained Washington’s army that winter at Valley Forge. Once again Smallwood carped. Neither Washington nor Congress sympathized with his nativist sentiments, however. After all, Kalb and Steuben and many of the other foreign officers had proven themselves invaluable to the American cause. Nathanael Greene, who now commanded the Southern Department, sent Smallwood home for the duration of the war to raise men and supplies, tasks at which he excelled. …He retained his commission until November 15, 1783, when he resigned….Smallwood [had a] general reputation of obstinacy and irascibility. Otho Holland Williams, another Maryland officer, described Smallwood as a particularly unforgiving man who was flawed by ‘low ambition’ and ‘the meanness of his resentments.’[Williams wrote “Gen. Smallwood, the only officer who could hope to succeed Greene, found a way to retire from a difficult field.”141] Throughout the war, Smallwood complained about the rank and privilege accorded foreign officers such as Steuben, Lafayette, Pulaski, and others, most of whom he deemed unworthy….the general complained that many Maryland men who should be joining his command were instead joining Count Pulaski’s Legion, an independent unit. Smallwood constantly carped about his own slow advancement in rank and felt that his native state was not getting its fair share of credit for its part in the war. He also displayed discomforting insensitivity to his men’s sacrifices in battle.”
     He returnedto civilian life and his estate in Charles County. By 1783, he had at least five slaves. In 1785, he accepted Maryland’s offer of the Governorship and served three one-year terms. By 1790, he had increased his slaveholdings to fifty-six individuals. Governor William Smallwood died in 1792.142



Greene and Morgan


     Major General Nathanael Greene was now firmly in charge of the Southern army, but it was far from an enviable command. “At Charlotte, Greene had his own hands full….He called for exact returns of the troops and was appalled to discover that he was in command of ‘but the shadow of an army in the midst of distress.’ Its paper strength was 90 cavalrymen, 60 artillerymen, and 2,307 infantry, of whom 1,482 were present and fit for duty. Only 949 of his foot soldiers were Continentals; the rest were militia, those irregulars who, in the South even more than in New England, came and went as they pleased….The troops’ addiction to plundering had made them a ‘terror to the inhabitants’ about Charlotte, and the neighborhood had been picked clean.”143 “The Continentals were in a poor state of discipline because they lacked adequate clothing, food, and shelter. Smallpox posed a real threat to the militia, but not to the Continentals who had been inoculated.”144 

     Greene beckoned General Morgan to him, and “On 3 December 1780 a living legend rode into Nathanael Greene’s camp at Charlotte to report to his new commander. Rarely have two men of such uncommon martial gifts had the opportunity to complement one another. Renowned from Quebec to the Carolinas, celebrated in one army and feared by another, his life a succession of dramas one of which would be enough for most men, Brigadier General Daniel Morgan of the Virginia Line was by far the Continental Army’s finest battle captain. If one were to judge him by all who have led Americans in battle, he would have no superiors and few peers….”145 


     “Pending improvement in his numbers, and augmentation in the necessary supplies, the army was to remain inactive. The country around Charlotte Town had been depleted so thoroughly of food and forage, that on the 8th of December Greene wrote to [his engineer] Colonel Kosciusko to examine the country along the Peedee for a distance of 20 or 30 miles south of Little River, for a good position for the army….The unhappy condition of the southern army is pictured in a letter written to Washington on the 7th of December, wherein Greene says:



     Nothing can be more wretched and distressing than the condition of the troops, starving,

     with cold and hunger, without tents and camp equipage. Those of the Virginia line are

     literally naked, and a great part totally unfit for any kind of duty, and must remain so until

     clothing can be had from the northward.


     “After two weeks of arduous attention to a multitude of details, report having been received in the meanwhile from Kosciusko of a favorable site for the army on the Peedee, the troops were put under marching orders on the 16th, but due to heavy rains the march was postponed until the 20th.” He took his army to a “position selected on the east bank of the Peedee, opposite to Cheraw Hill, which was reached on the 26th. General Greene called his new location a ‘camp of repose,’ adding in this connection, in a letter to Washington written on the 28th of December, ‘no army ever wanted one more, the troops having totally lost their discipline.’”146

     Greene immediately set about rebuilding his tattered army as no one else could have. He would not wait for supplies from the North.  “Nathanael Greene….moved to alleviate uniform supply problems by producing clothing locally. Greene ordered cloth in Charlotte made up into shirts and overalls by the women around Salisbury, NC.” By sheer force of will, he made due even without currency. Payment in salt is documented for some shirts and overalls, and when salt ran out, clothing was paid for in iron. “In addition to clothing, soldiers in Salisbury made up 52 common tents, enough for 3 to 400 men, and sent them to the army at Hicks Creek.

     “Shoes were a constant problem for eighteenth century armies. Continental Army shoe life appears shorter than in the British 71st Regiment where two pair of shoes lasted about a year. A return of shoes needed was made on 13 December ….On 7 January, two wagons full of supplies, including shoes, were sent from Cross Creek (now Fayetteville), NC. Greene had ordered 200 pair of shoes sent to Morgan’s Flying Army from Salisbury....The shoes did not leave Salisbury because guards could not march for want of shoes....”147



Divide or Be Conquered


     “On the twentieth of December, Greene marched from Charlotte toward the campsite his engineer had chosen. But before leaving the North Carolina village, Greene made a daring decision and split his little army….He was not strong enough to meet Cornwallis; yet he must not appear to retreat. Moving down on the Pee Dee would appear like a retreat, but by sending a wing of his army to the west of the Catawba River, he would be better able to feed both parts, would protect the country, encourage the people, and threaten Cornwallis’ flank if he should move northward again.”148 The duty to be performed by Morgan's detachment was far removed from Greene's headquarters, with the British Army between. Greene outlined instructions for his guidance:


Camp Charlotte, December 16, 1780.


You are appointed to the command of a corps of light infantry of 320 men detached from the Maryland line, a detachment of Virginia militia of 200 men, and Colonel Washington's regiment of light horse, amounting to from sixty to a hundred men. With these troops you will proceed to the west side of the Catawba River, where you will be joined by a body of volunteer militia under command of General Davidson of this State, and by the militia lately under command of General Sumter. This force and such others as may join you from Georgia, you will employ against the enemy on the west side of the Catawba, either offensively or defensively, as your own prudence and discretion may direct—acting with caution and avoiding surprises by every possible precaution. For the present, I give you the entire command in that quarter, and do hereby require all officers and soldiers engaged in the American cause to be subject to your orders and commands.

The object of this detachment is to give protection to that part of the country and spirit up the people—to annoy the enemy in that quarter-to collect the provision and forage out of their way….

Confiding in your abilities and activity, I entrust you with this command, being persuaded you will do everything in your power to distress the enemy and afford protection to the country.

Given under my hand at Charlotte this 16th December, 1780.


     “Now on the twentieth of December, as Brigadier General of Light Infantry, Morgan separated from Greene at Charlotte.” Morgan’s little Flying Army left Charlotte on the following day, after being granted another increase in strength. “On the 21st ult. The troops under general Morgan marched from Charlotte, being joined by two companies more of the light infantry detached from the Maryland Line.”149 It is possible that Edward was detached to join the Flying Army at this time rather than earlier, but no documentation exists either way. It is quite likely, however, that he was under Morgan’s command from this time forward. He was probably in the First Maryland Company of the Light Infantry Battalion, commanded by Captain Richard Anderson. The entire Light Infantry Battalion was commanded by Lt. Col. John Eager Howard.
     Again the Light Army’s size continued to increase. “As Morgan marched toward Ninety-Six, several small militia groups joined him. By Christmas Day he had established himself across the Broad River on the north bank of the Pacolet.
     “On the Pacolet, Morgan soon found himself ‘at a loss how to act.’ Militia units joined him so fast that it became impossible to provide for his force in the neighborhood. Yet, he feared advancing near the enemy, for he knew that Cornwallis could dispatch a superior force toward him ‘with the greatest dispatch.’ This would oblige him to retreat,
which would discourage the Whigs….Meanwhile, Greene wished him to maintain his position as long as possible, cautioning him to guard against a surprise….Morgan knew what Greene had to tell him: ‘Colonel Tarleton is said to be on his way to pay you a visit. I doubt not but he will have a decent reception and a proper dismission.’”150  
Greene to Morgan, 29 Dec 1780: “Do not be sparing of Expresses.” Greene to Morgan, 3 Jan 1781: “The militia you know are always unsuspicious; and therefore more easily surprised. Don’t depend too much on them.” 
While on the move with Morgan, Sergeant-Major Seymour made note of people who lived in the area, and he could have been describing Edward Arvin himself, the son of Irish immigrant Thomas Arvin when he wrote, “The inhabitants along this way live very poor, their plantations uncultivated, and living in mean dwellings. They seem chiefly to be the offspring of the ancient Irish, being very affable and courteous to strangers.”151

      General Greene, meanwhile, found time to write a letter from his “camp of repose” to his old friend Joseph Reed, president of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania, in which he details the shocking and near hopeless situation in which he found himself:                                                                                                          


                                                                                                                   Camp on the Peedee, January 9th, 1781


       ….All the way through the country, as I passed, I found the people engaged in matters of interest and in

pursuit of pleasure, almost regardless of their danger. Public credit totally lost, and every man excusing himself from giving the least aid to Government, from an apprehension that they would get no return for any advances.
     I overtook the army at Charlotte, to which place General Gates had advanced. The appearance of the troops  was wretched beyond description, and their distress, on account of provisions, was little less than their suffering for want of clothing and other necessaries. General Gates had lost the confidence of the officers, and the troops all their discipline, and so addicted to plundering, that they were a terror to the inhabitants….
     The battle of Camden is spoken of very differently here to what it is to the Northward, and as for a regular retreat, there was none; every man got off the ground in the best manner he could….General Gates and Smallwood were not upon good terms; the former suspected the latter of having an intention to supplant him….The General (Smallwood) IS gone to the Northward….upon the whole I think him a sensible man and a good officer.
     The wants of the army are so numerous and various, that the shortest way of telling you is to inform you that we have nothing….unless the army is better supported than I see any prospect of, the Country is lost beyond redemption, for it is impossible for the people to struggle much longer under their present difficulties….We are living upon charity, and subsist by daily collections. Indian meal and beef is our common diet, and not a drop of spirits have we had with us since I came to the army. An army naked and subsisted in this manner, and not more than one-third equal to the enemy in numbers, will make but a poor fight, especially as one has been accustomed to victory and the other to flight. It is difficult to give spirits to troops that have nothing to animate them.
     I have been obliged to take an entire new position with the army. General Morgan is upon the Broad River with a little flying army….




     But the gradual rebuilding of the army did continue. “On January 13, Greene’s force would receive a major addition in Light Horse Harry Lee’s Legion made up of 100 horse and 180 foot. Lee’s Legion were the best scouts and raiders on the American side.”153 This was the same Henry Lee who, as twenty-three year old Major Henry Lee, had surprised the British at Paulus Hook back on 18 August 1779, when Edward first joined the army at camp Buttermilk Falls. Among Lee’s men was an amazing young man named John Richardson, who had already been with Lee for more than two years and was now a mounted dragoon. John and Edward would soon become acquainted, and decades later they would be living in the same county. As part of Edward’s pension application, John Richardson would vouch for Edward’s service during the war.    


     Seymour, back on the Broad River with Morgan: “We lay on the ground from the twenty-fifth December, 1780, till the fourteenth January, 1781, and then proceeded on our march further up the river towards the iron works in order to frustrate the designs of the enemy who were coming round us, Colonel Tarleton one side and Lord Cornwallis on the other. We encamped on the Cowpens Plains on the evening of the sixteenth January.”154

     “[Cornwallis had] detached Tarleton with a force of 750 men and two three-pounders across the Broad River to push Morgan ‘to the utmost,’ compelling him fight or flee….Morgan watched these British movements closely….As Tarleton drew closer, Morgan pulled father back until as the cold, raw evening of the sixteenth closed in, he reached a place called Hannah’s Cowpens on the Broad River. There he decided to stand and face the foe he knew he could not evade….”155 Captain Robert H. Kirkwood—a man of action, not words—recorded in his journal for 17 January 1781 a simple “Defeated Tarleton.”  But there was a little more to the story than that. The Battle of Cowpens would mark a turning point in the United States of America’s War for Independence.



The Battle of Cowpens      17 January 1781                                          


A Partial List of the Combatants: American Forces

Commanding Officer Brigadier General Daniel Morgan



Lieutenant Colonel John Eager Howard

Maryland-Delaware Light Infantry Battalion


Captain Robert H. Kirkwood

Delaware Company                                    63 rank & file

Captain Richard Anderson

1st Maryland Company                              60 rank & file                     [Edward was most likely here.]

Captain Henry Dobson

2nd Maryland Company                             60 rank & file

Lieutenant Nicholas Mangers

3rd Maryland Company                              60 rank & file


Lieutenant Colonel William Washington

3rd Regiment of Continental Light Dragoons                82   


South Carolina Militia                                            270

Colonel Andrew Pickens


North Carolina Militia                                            300

Colonel Joseph McDowell


Georgia Militia                                                        490

Major John Cunningham


Total American Forces engaged                            900 – 2,400



British Forces

Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton                                  


British Regulars


7th (Royal Fusilier) Regiment of Foot

1st Battalion                                                                167


71st Regiment of Foot (Fraser’s Highlanders)

1st Battalion                                                                263


British Legion Dragoons                                               250


British Legion Infantry                                                  201


Total British Forces engaged                          1,050



     As battle loomed, Seymour reported, “The men seeming to be all in good spirits and willing to fight.”156 Lt. Col. Tarleton’s men were very hungry. He had run out of “victuals” by the 15th and there was not much hope of forage, since he was moving through the area which had already been picked clean by the Flying Army. However, on that day he came close to catching Morgan. There was a small skirmish, and Morgan’s force quickly withdrew, leaving their breakfast on the campfires. It “yielded a good post, and afforded plenty of provisions, which they had left behind them, halfcooked, in every part of their encampment.”
      By nightfall on January 16th, Morgan was still six miles from the crossing of the Broad River. William Washington reported that Tarleton was less than ten miles to his rear. General Morgan decided to make his stand at a place called Hannah’s Cow Pens, a well-known spot where farmers wintered their cattle. Low ridges, just high enough to conceal the Patriot army, ran across the field.

     Major Thomas Young was riding as a volunteer with Colonel Washington’s dragoons, seeking to avenge the murder of his brother by the Tories. Today was his birthday—he was seventeen. He wrote in his memoirs:



We were very anxious for battle, and many a hearty curse had been vented again General Morgan during that day’s march for retreating, as we thought, to avoid a fight.

     Night came upon us, yet much remained to be done….It was upon this occasion I was more perfectly convinced of Gen. Morgan's qualifications to command militia, than I had ever before been. He went among the volunteers, helped them fix their swords, joked with them about their sweet-hearts, told them to keep in good spirits, and the day would be ours. And long after I laid down, he was going about among the soldiers encouraging them, and telling them that the old Wagoner would crack his whip over Ben (Tarleton) in the morning, as sure as they lived. “Just hold up your heads, boys, three fires,” he would say, “and you are free, and then when you return to your homes, how the old folks will bless you, and the girls kiss you, for your gallant conduct!” I don't believe he slept a wink that night!157



     Morgan also found time to address Edward and the rest of his Continentals. South Carolina militia Major Joseph McJunkin wrote in his memoirs, “The revillie was beat, and Howard’s regiment paraded to hear their general…He said to them ‘My friends in arms, my dear boys, I request you to remember Saratoga, Monmouth, Paoli and Brandywine, and this day play well for your honor and liberty.”158

     An hour before dawn Morgan was informed that Tarleton was only five miles down the road. “Boys get up!” he shouted, “Benny is coming!” He had his men eat a breakfast that had been prepared the night before. Extra ammunition and flints were issued, and then the wagons were sent to the rear. Now the novel way he would use the militia was revealed. He deployed his forces as no previous commander had ever conceived of, much less attempted.     McJunkin described Cowpens as a “long ascending plain, overgrown with large chestnuts.” Morgan had placed his least reliable forces in the front, at the bottom of this nearly level plain. He knew the militia, and he knew how to use them. Morgan understood that the militia were likely to run, but he told them they were allowed to run after they fired two rounds at the “epaulets,” meaning at the British officers.

     The first line was a skirmish line consisting of 120 selected marksmen. These men would be partially concealed in high grass and trees. Their job was to fire two volleys and then retreat to the second line, firing as they fell back. Morgan’s second line was 150 yards up the plain. It consisted of 300 Georgia, North and South Carolina militia led by Colonel Andrew Pickens. These troops were in extended order in the grass and among the trees. They were at a tree line, behind the crest of a small hill. Their task was to fire until the enemy came close enough for the bayonet charge which Morgan knew would come, and then fall back to the third line.

     One hundred and fifty yards beyond the second line, on top of the plain under the chestnut trees, was Morgan’s coup de grace, his third line: the Continentals under the command of Colonel John Eager Howard. Howard and his battalion of light infantry were in the center of the Mill Gap road. On the Continental’s left were 100 Augusta Riflemen. To Howard’s right were Virginia and South Carolina militia.


     In the predawn darkness, before the battle ever began, an incident occurred which must have given Tarleton pause. The British dragoons had captured a wounded but “not to be intimidated” Sergeant Lawrence Everheart of the Continental dragoons when his horse fell. Everheart stated in his pension application that he was “taken to Col Tarlton: our army at this point of time being perhaps three miles in the rear. Dismounting from his horse, that officer [Tarleton] asked the petitioner after some previous conversation if he expected Mr. Washington & Mr. Morgan would fight him that day.


      Yes if they can keep together only two hundred men was the reply.

      Then he said it would be another Gates' defeat.

      I hope to God it will be another Tarlton's defeat said this petitioner.

      I am Col. Tarleton, Sir.

      And I am Sergeant Everhart.

      My wounds were bleeding at this time but soon afterwards were dressed by the surgeon.”159


     The action began on that frosty morning in January. Morgan’s riflemen fired at Tarleton’s cavalry, who were scouting ahead of his main army. This slowed the dragoons considerably, and the riflemen could not be driven back. So the British cavalry rejoined Tarleton’s main line. The British army was almost 1,100 strong; it was now only 300 yards from Morgan’s first line. In the center of Tarleton’s line was the British Light Infantry. To the left of the Lights was the British Legion infantry, and in between both was a three-pound cannon. On the right of the Lights were the new recruits of the 7th Regiment, and in between them was another three-pound cannon. A company of fifty dragoons was stationed at each end of the line.

     It took Tarleton nearly half an hour to deploy the men into a line of battle. In the dim light of the pre-dawn they dropped their packs and blankets and grounded all excess gear except their arms and ammunition. Then Tarleton gave the command to the entire line, now in double rank, to advance at open order and confront Morgan’s skirmish line. The skirmishers continued to fire on the approaching line, but slowly gave ground and drifted back to Pickens’s militia line. The British artillery also fired, in unison, at the skirmishers, and moved forward with the British line. These cannon shots flew over the heads of the militia and landed amongst Colonel Washington’s Dragoons, who were far to the rear waiting in reserve. Washington moved his men—including Thomas Young—to a safer location on the right wing in order to sidestep the danger.

     Now the British Legion Infantry moved forward quickly, but was receiving a “heavy and galling fire.” The North Carolinian riflemen didn’t yield until “the bayonet was presented.” Even then the skirmishers moved back in an orderly way, firing and dodging between the trees. The rest of the militia had now been waiting nervously in the second line for more than hour for their time to come. They had heard, and now they finally could see their enemy. Thomas Young continues:



The morning of the 17th of January was bitterly cold. We were formed in order of battle, and the men were slapping their hands together to keep warm – an exertion not long necessary….
     About sun-rise, the British line advanced at a sort of trot, with a loud halloo. It was the most beautiful line I ever saw. When they shouted, I heard Morgan say, “They give us the British halloo, boys, give them the Indian halloo, by G—” and he galloped along the lines, cheering the men, and telling them not to fire until we could see the whites of their eyes. Every officer was crying don't fire! for It was a hard matter for us to keep from it….
     The militia fired first. It was for a time pop—pop—pop, and then a whole volley. 



      Tarleton’s less experienced 7th Regiment returned fire, but with not much effect on the Americans. His Light Infantry and his Legion Infantry knew better than to waste their fire. They attempted to close the distance with the militia, because only then could their bayonets be put to use. But now the fire from Morgan’s men began to stagger the Light Infantry and stopped their assault. At one point two thirds of the British officers were down, and over half of the men fell. Some of them did not go down due to wounds, but instead collapsed due battle fatigue—lack of sleep, lack of food and the high stress of continual fighting their way up the rising Cowpens plain without a letup. It was too much even for these skilled soldiers.

      Morgan had placed his second line beyond the crest of a hill, and the British fire went predictably over the heads of these militia. But the riflemen could clearly see the British silhouetted on the hilltop, and they continually hit their marks. Now each of the four militia battalion did as they were supposed to do, firing one round in turn, then reloading.  With great effort the British recovered from the initial shock of this fire, and once again mounted an assault charge. It was their only hope. Some militia were even able to fire off a second shot, thus punishing the British again. Most of Tarleton’s command who were lost in the battle fell in front of the second militia line. “The dead were found in straight lines across the field.”

      Inevitably, as the enemy charged them, the second-line militia was unable to defend against the bayonet. But Morgan’s plan was still working, and his trap was set. “The American advance corps…opened their fire and supported it with animation under a brisk fire from the British, until the bayonet was presented, when they retired and took their posts in the intervals left for them.” Morgan had ordered spaces left in the third line for the militia to scurry through without disrupting the Continentals. They retreated in “very good order, not seeming to be in the least confused.” In addition, some of the riflemen were still moving back from tree to tree, firing as they went. As the South Carolina militia moved through the middle of the third line, Morgan and his aides slowed their withdrawal and began reforming them in the rear of the Continentals.

     Tarleton’s men thought the militia was beaten as they dashed off to safety behind the third line. The British army came on in great spirits, shouting as they moved forward, losing their tight-knit order. They did not know yet about the Continentals. Tarleton also saw the fleeing militia, and also thought that they were ready to be finished. He ordered the cavalry to strike at both flanks to bring an end to the battle. “As the militia retreated, they were charged by the British light dragoons of the advance.” The Dragoons hacked and slashed at all within reach; some of Pickens’s militia ran to their horses and fled the field. American surgeon John Welchel received “seven wounds on his head and two on his Shoulders….the wounds in the head opened the skull to the brains.” But he survived.160 Tarleton’s dragoons stormed in amongst the militia, and James Collins wrote in his memoirs,

Tarleton’s cavalry pursued us; now, I thought, my hide is in the loft.   Just as we got to our horses, they overtook us and began to take a few hacks at some, however without doing much damage. They, in their haste, had pretty much scattered, perhaps thinking they would have another Fishing Creek frolic [where Tarleton had surprised and destroyed Sumter’s South Carolina partisans at Camden] But in a few moments, Colonel Washington’s cavalry was among them like a whirlwind, and the poor fellows began to keel from their horses without being able to remount.

     The shock was so sudden and violent they could not stand it, and immediately betook themselves to flight. There was no time to rally, and they appeared to be as hard to stop as a drove of Choctaw steers going to a Pennsylvania market.

     In a few moments, the clashing of swords was out of hearing and quickly out of sight.  By this time, both lines of the infantry were warmly engaged and we being relieved from the pursuit of the enemy and began to rally and prepare to redeem our credit, when Morgan rode up in front and waving his sword cried out, “Form, form, my brave fellows! Give them one more fire, and the day is ours! Old Morgan was never beaten!”161  



     Once the American militia had passed through the lines as planned, the steely Continentals closed ranks. They must have presented an almost legendary tableau standing there on the plain. “The unengaged Continentals must have been quite disconcerting to Tarleton’s infantry. Just having seen victory in the backs of the militia, they now saw trouble in the solid ranks wearing blue coats faced with red, outlined by white belts supporting cartridge box and bayonet scabbard.”162 Their general and the other officers were riding impatiently behind them. “The powerful & trumpet like voice of our Commander drove fear from every bosom, and gave new energies to every arm.”163 Another 17-year-old boy, William Anderson, was in the Virginia Battalion. He later wrote,



Morgan had commanded his troops not to fire until he gave the order, and then to aim at the knee buckles, which were conspicuous upon the knees of the British soldiers. A young man in the Botetourt Company, before General Morgan gave the order to fire, had leveled his rifle and was taking aim at the British, who were then rapidly approaching General Morgan's lines, and were then in point blank range. General Morgan cursed this young soldier, asking him “what in hell” he meant by violating his orders; and the young soldier, with tears running down his cheeks, said, “General, I’m not going to fire; I’m just taking good aim.”



     While the militia was passing through the Continental line, the British officers dressed their lines. Though their red coated infantry had been badly injured, they were still able to maintain control. And as the initial shock of seeing the Continental line under the trees wore off, they reformed from open order into regular order. If they were to take on the Continentals they would need to be a more compact force, able to withstand the hand-to-hand, life or death struggle that would soon occur. “They then advanced on boldly.” The British artillery had again been pushed up the road and was with the 7th Fusiliers.
     A supreme test of American vs. British willpower and determination then began. What followed became one of the defining moments in the War for Independence. “Morgan reported to Greene that, ‘when the enemy advanced on our lines they received a well directed and incessant fire,’ or, as Virginia private Richard Swearingen said, ‘the regulars came up and began to pour it into them nicely.’ Continental officers reported the British advanced ‘under a Very heavy fire until the[y] got Within a few yards of us’ and Howard’s ‘regiment commenced firing.’ The firing ‘was kept up with coolness and constancy.’…‘Once the volleys began, they quickly developed into a very hot fire….The Americans received [the British] with unshaken firmness.’ ‘The fire on both sides was well supported, and produced much slaughter.’ The fight grew more intense as both sides kept up the pace of firing. Both British and Continentals ‘maintained their ground with great bravery; and the conflict between them and the British troops was obstinate and bloody.’ ‘All the officers and men behaved with uncommon and undaunted bravery.’…‘The contest became obstinate; and each party, animated by the example of its leader, nobly contended for victory. Our line maintained itself so firmly.’”164

     Now the fighting grew to a climax. The two sides fired volley after volley into each other’s ranks for ten minutes. The British infantry was approaching exhaustion—they could not go forward but were unwilling to retreat. The Continentals were just as stubborn. Tarleton, though still holding back his cavalry reserve, did bring up his infantry reserve, the 71st Highlanders. This action allowed the British left to extend beyond the Continentals of the American right and thereby to potentially outflank them. Now Lt. Col. John Eager Howard himself continues the narrative:



I had but about 350 men and the british about 800….their line extended much further than mine….Seeing my right flank was exposed to the enemy, I attempted to change the front of Wallace’s company [the Virginia State Troops].  In doing this, some confusion ensued, and first a part and then the whole of the company commenced a retreat. The officers along the line seeing this supposed that orders had been given for a retreat, faced their men about and moved off.

     Morgan who had mostly been with the militia, rode up to me and expressed apprehensions….But I soon removed his fears by pointing to the line and observing, Do men who march like that look as though they are beaten?  He then ordered me to keep with the men until we came to the rising ground near Washington’s horse, and he rode forward to fix on the most proper point for us to halt and face about.

     In a minute we had a perfect line. The enemy were now very near us. Our men commenced a very destructive fire which they little expected and a few rounds occasioned great disorder in their ranks.



     Still on horseback, Thomas Young found himself—like Edward—in the thick of this maelstrom. “At this moment the bugle sounded. We were about half formed, and making a sort of circuit at full speed, came up in the rear of the British line, shouting and charging like mad men!” A classic “double envelopment” of the enemy now ensued. Kirkwood’s Delaware’s “wheeled to the right and attacked their left flank so vigorously that they were soon repulsed.” Young recalled that, “when the regulars fired, it seemed like one sheet of flame from right to left. Oh, it was beautiful! When the line fired, the ground was instantly covered with the bodies of the killed and wounded.” Howard ordered a drum roll, signal for a charge: “While [they were] in this confusion I ordered a charge with the bayonet, which order was obeyed with great alacrity.”165 Young: “A total route ensued. The British broke, and throwing down their guns and cartouche boxes, made for the wagon road and did the prettiest sort of running!” Despite his back pain, General Morgan picked up his 11 year old drummer boy and kissed him on both cheeks.          

     “As the British line fled from the field they left the artillery behind.  Washington’s Dragoons rode through the Highlanders and continued on toward the Legion cavalry in reserve. In their path were the artillerymen. The artillerymen did not run, but stood by their guns. The Dragoons cut down the drivers of the artillery lumbers, and rode on.

     “Howard ordered [Edward’s company commander] Captain Richard Anderson of the Marylanders to take the artillery piece closest to him. Anderson saw the gunner about to put the slow match to the gun [“leveled at them”] and sprang over the gun with his spontoon. Anderson turned his improvised pole-vault onto the gunner, and killed him. At the other gun the Marylanders were going to bayonet the gunner, ‘who appeared to make it a point of honour not to surrender his match.’ Howard stopped them.” But in the end, “all the artillerymen were bayoneted, sabred, or shot to the last man.

     “The 17th Dragoons, and…the Legion Cavalry, returned to save the guns, but were stopped by the Continentals and Virginians who had pushed on past the guns. A short cavalry fight erupted that involved some of Washington’s Dragoons….Pickens’ riflemen fired on the dragoons, then mounted their own horses, and continued to press the British until ‘they began to throw down their arms, and surrender themselves prisoners of war.’
      “The British infantry ran as they never had before, dropping their weapons and accouterments. British Regulars dropped their muskets and fell to the ground begging for mercy. Along the Patriot’s line came the cry, ‘Tarleton’s Quarters…Tarleton’s Quarters!’ Morgan quickly got the men under control, and stopped a possible massacre.…Howard promised quarter to Major McArthur of the 71st if he surrendered.

      “McJunkin wrote, ‘When Howard called out “throw down your arms and you shall have good quarter,” in an instant 500 men piled their arms.’ McArthur offered his sword to Pickens, stopping the slaughter. The 71st had suffered badly in the battle. Out of sixteen officers that were on the field, nine were killed or wounded, and all but one was captured. McJunkin described them, ‘the Highlanders contrasted strangely with that of their conquerors. They looked like a set of nabobs, in their flaming regimentals, set down with us militia, in our tattered hunting shirts, black, smoked and greasy.’”166


     Even to this point, Tarleton had not brought up his cavalry reserve. One of his subordinates, Captain Roderick Mackenzie, criticized him later. “The advance of the British fell back and communicated a panic to others, which soon became general; a total rout ensued. Two hundred and fifty horse which had not been engaged, fled through the woods with the utmost precipitation, bearing down such officers as opposed their flight.... Even at this late stage of the defeat…Tarleton with no more than fifty horse, hesitated not to charge the whole of Washington’s cavalry…supported by the Continentals….The loss sustained was in proportion to the danger of the enterprise, and the whole body was repulsed.”167


     In less than an hour, by 8:00 A.M., the main encounter was over. “Morgan’s victory was complete. Only the enemy’s baggage guard and Tarleton himself with a handful of cavalry escaped. A hundred and ten of the British were killed, including ten officers, 702 were taken prisoner. Morgan’s booty included the two British three-pounders, eight hundred muskets, one hundred horses, thirty-five wagons of baggage, sixty Negro slaves, a huge quantity of ammunition and ‘all their music.’ His loss was twelve killed, sixty wounded.”168

     Washington pursued Tarleton for 22 miles and took “near one hundred” prisoners, but he could not catch the “Green Dragoon” himself. Kirkwood and Seymour’s party marched along behind as support, and did not return until “late in the afternoon,” when, exhausted, they “lay amongst the Dead and Wounded Very Well pleased With Our Days Work.”

     Tarleton had lost 86% of his force. He now would have to report this directly to his commanding officer. American prisoners were present when he brought the bad news to Lord Cornwallis. They stated that while “he listened to Tarleton’s narrative, was leaning on his sword; he pressed it so hard in his fury, that it broke, and he swore he would recover the prisoners at all hazards.”169 He later wrote to Rawdon, “The late affair almost broke my heart.”


     A brief extract from Morgan’s formal report on the battle to Greene:


Camp on Cain Creek on Pedee
January 19
th, 1781.

Dear Sir-The troops I have the honor to command have gained a complete victory over a detachment from the British Army commanded by Lieut.-Col. Tarleton. It happened on the 17
th inst., about sunrise, at a place called the Cowpens, near Pacolet River….


Although our success was complete we fought only 800 and were opposed by upwards of one thousand chosen British Troops. Such was the inferiority of our numbers that our success must be attributed, under God, to the justice of our cause and the bravery of our Troops. My wishes would induce me to mention the name of every private centinel in the Corps. In justice to the brave and good conduct of the officers, I have taken the liberty to enclose you a list of their names from a conviction that you will be pleased to introduce such characters to the world.

I am sir, Your obedient servant,


A List of the Commissioned Officers in the Action of 17
th January, 1781

Of the Light Infantry.

John E. Howard, Lt.-Col. Commd'g.
Benj. Brooks, Captain and Brig. Major.
Captains Robert Sherwood, Delaware.          
[Captain Robert Kirkwood]
Anderson, Maryland.
Dobson, do.
Lieutenants Ewing, do.
Watkins, do.
Hanson, do.
Barnes, do.
Miller, do.
King, do.
Dyer, do.
Smith, do.




     The Confederation Congress resolved to award a Gold Medal to General Morgan for his heroic victory, which lifted the spirits of the whole nation. In addition, it was resolved to award silver medals to Lt. Col. William A. Washington and Lt. Col. John Eager Howard (shown here with his medal). Due to lack of funds, Congress never actually had Morgan’s medal, as well as those awarded to several others, struck. For years the issue remained open. Never timid, Morgan eventually made written inquiries as to his medal’s disposition. Finally, with the institution of the Federal government in 1789, action was taken, and the medals were struck in France. Early in his first administration, George Washington appointed Thomas Jefferson, who was then serving as Ambassador to France, as the first Secretary of State. Jefferson may well have brought home with him the mahogany boxes containing the medals—including Washington’s own, which had been authorized back in 1776. He placed the medals in Washington’s hands three days after taking office as Secretary of State (with just five employees) in April 1790. Washington sent Morgan’s medal to him with a note of appreciation.

    Morgan’s original gold medal is now lost. A replica of the medal, struck in silver from dies made in 1839, recently sold at auction for $80,500.




Daniel Morgan Departs


     Cornwallis wanted his men back, but Dan Morgan was a step ahead of him. “Morgan knew that Cornwallis would be coming after him to get back all of the prisoners from Cowpens, so he withdraw into North Carolina. Colonel Pickens was left behind to bury the dead and take care of the wounded. Pickens gathered up what equipment might be useful, collected the dead, and after taking the paroles of the British, placed the wounded in tents under a white flag with medical personnel to await the expected return of Tarleton….

     “Greene at first thought to attack Ninety-Six, but the Virginia militiamen under General Stevens were preparing to leave for their homes when their time expired. Greene decided to let Morgan lead Cornwallis out of South Carolina, then combine the two forces and attack the British far from their supply lines. Cornwallis had been under instructions from Clinton not to invade North Carolina or Virginia without making Georgia and South Carolina secure. Cornwallis took Greene’s bait and followed.”172

     Morgan, always a brilliant tactician, lost no time withdrawing from the Cowpens. The next day, S-M Seymour wrote, “On the 18th we marched off with the prisoners, directing our course for Salisbury.”173 And about this time Edward Arvin had a birthday. He was now twenty-four years old.


     The Flying Army set off to the northwest and marched toward Gilbert Town (now Rutherfordton) North Carolina. Morgan had a two day head start on Cornwallis, “who wrote to his subordinate Lord Rawdon, ‘I shall march tomorrow with 1200 Infantry & the Cavalry to attack or follow him to the Catawba.’” It was the second time that Cornwallis had struck north, but this time there would be no turning back, and neither His Lordship nor his soldiers would ever again see South Carolina.”174 Morgan, suffering from sciatica, rheumatism, piles and hemorrhoids, nevertheless pushed himself as hard as he pushed his men. (“I grow worse every hour. I can’t ride or walk.”) They crossed the Catawba on 23 January.  

     Cornwallis arrived two days later, only to find Morgan long gone, and with the painful loss of Tarleton’s fast-moving strike force, he did not have a means to close in on him. Rain, road and rivers made it impossible for his army, with its long cumbersome baggage train, to move with the speed of a flying army. So he chose a drastic solution, one even more unorthodox than Greene’s division of his army. “The loss of my light troops could only be remedied by the activity of the whole corps.” He would convert his entire force into a light army. Cornwallis burned the baggage train in a huge bonfire. He kept only enough wagons for medical supplies, salt and ammunition. Otherwise everything went, even his own personal belongings. There was now not even a supply of rum—a very important commodity to eighteenth century soldiers. (Morgan’s men had been suffering from the same problem of “illiquidity” for quite some time. “We have nothing to drink.” he wrote Greene.) But Cornwallis “resolved to follow Greene’s Army to the end of the World.”  

     Nathanael Greene left the main army to General Isaac Huger with orders to march to Salisbury and rode 125 miles west, arriving to take personal charge of the retreat on 30 January. “His strategy of dividing the army had worked. It was now time to reunite it and get in Cornwallis’s way. In case further retreat was necessary, he ordered the tireless Colonel Edward Carrington to begin gathering boats on the Dan River in Virginia just over the North Carolina line. But he was optimistic. ‘I am not without hopes of ruining Lord Cornwallis.’” Greene would soon outgeneral his foe.

     After successfully fording the Catawba, the Flying Army rejoined the main army a few miles beyond Salisbury at the Yadkin River on 3 February. Even though it was swollen and made dangerous by recent rains, Greene had no alternative. “To fight Cornwallis, especially with a raging river at his back, was out of the question. He had to cross….All day the boats went back and forth, carrying troops and their supplies and the refugees and most of the wagons, all without loss or mishap….” Cornwallis, upon reaching the Yadkin, in frustration rolled up his artillery pieces to the banks and fired six-pounders, which fell harmlessly on the other side.

     “The next morning Morgan and the Continentals left for Guilford Courthouse, forty-seven miles away. They were short on food. It rained all the way.” They did manage to arrive at the courthouse, but for the Old Wagoner it was the end of the line. “Morgan simply could no longer continue active service in the field. Greene offered him command of an elite force of light troops that would act as a rear guard for the army. Morgan declined….” The command went to Colonel Otho Holland Williams.

     Greene held a Council of War and it was decided to retreat to safety across the Dan River (which becomes the Roanoke River downstream in Virginia). It would be Morgan’s last council. “On 10 February Daniel Morgan heaved his pain-wracked body into a carriage and headed for Virginia and home. Nathanael Greene fixed his place in history better than anyone: ‘Great generals are scarce—there are few Morgans to be found.’”175



The Race to the Dan River


     Now the rag tag Southern army was again united. “At Guilford Courthouse General Greene’s Army assembled on the 5th from Chiraw Hills, and in a most dismal condition for want of clothing, especially shoes, being obliged to march, the chief part of them, barefoot from Chiraw Hills. Here however they were supplied with some shoes, but not half enough”176 Interestingly, the Flying Army had provided for themselves with the spoils of war taken from their defeated enemy at Cowpens. “When Morgan’s men rejoined the army following the victory at Cowpens, Alexander Garden reported ‘many’ soldiers from the Salisbury Hospital and the Flying Army were dressed in scarlet and green coats, apparently taken from the British at Cowpens. Some coats were probably on ‘returned’ American soldiers…who apparently kept their British clothing.”177 

     Greene still needed to avoid Cornwallis, at this time passing through the Moravian town of Salem, but now the stakes were raised. “The march from Cowpens to the army’s rendezvous 150 miles away at Guilford Courthouse was a skillful, orderly retreat accomplished in stages. Now however, a race began to the Dan River. It was also conducted with skill and precision and the added fillip of heart-pounding tension. The key players on the American side were Morgan’s light troops, now commanded by the intelligent, highly competent Otho Holland Williams. They were reinforced by a small but very professional unit of horse and foot led by a brave and dashing cavalryman from Virginia. Lieutenant Colonel Henry Lee, Jr.”178 Edward Arvin was very likely still with Col. Williams’s light infantry, and his comrade-in-arms John Richardson was with Lee’s Legion.

    “Cornwallis was to the west, or left, of the Americans. The light troops of Otho Holland Williams, 700 strong, would act as a screen between Cornwallis’s column and Greene with the main force. Williams’s mission was to keep Cornwallis far enough away to mask Greene’s true destination. As the columns marched north, Greene would angle eastward and then head directly toward the lower ferries, putting as much distance as possible between himself and Cornwallis, while Williams led Cornwallis toward the shallow upper falls. At some point, of course, Williams would have to make a dash for the lower ferries and get there enough ahead of Cornwallis to cross unscathed. Greene moved out with the main force early on 10 February. Williams marched with the elite light troops after breakfast. Lee’s Legion was Williams’s rear guard.”179 “The next days, every officer in Greene’s army knew, would see a race whose outcome might determine the fate of the South. If Greene were overcome and defeated, Cornwallis’ way would be open to a junction with the British in Virginia. Once that had been achieved, the contest in the South would be at an end….”180


     Cornwallis soon came to realize what the American army was up to and went full tilt after Williams. “For five tense days, with his rear almost never out of sight of the enemy’s van, often drawing up to force him to deploy and then flying once more, Greene raced Cornwallis to the Dan.”181 By 13 February both Cornwallis and Williams were at forced march pace. Seymour: “By this time it must be expected that the army, especially the light troops, were very much fatigued both with traveling and want of sleep, for you must understand that we marched for the most part both day and night, the main army of the British being close in our rear, so that we had scarce time to cook our victuals, their whole attention being on our light troops.”182

     Williams realized that there might come a time he and his troops might have to be sacrificed to protect the main army; he might have to “risque the Troops I’ve had the Honor to command and in so doing I risque everything.” At one critical point they caught a glimpse, up ahead through the trees, of campfires burning. Was it Greene and the main army? If so, Williams, Edward, Henry Lee, John Richardson—everyone—would be called upon to make their sacrifice. For a few moments tensions ran very high. But as they approached, it was found to be an old campsite burning down, and Greene had long since departed. Their sacrifice was postponed, but they were still forty miles from the banks of the Dan.

     They were able to rest a few hours, then near midnight Lee reported the British van advancing on the American pickets. “The light troops resumed their march with alacrity.” At mid morning on the 14th both armies stopped for an hour to feed the troops. Then, relentlessly, the contestants pushed on. Williams received a dispatch from Greene, written from the Dan at 2:00 P.M. “The greater part of our wagons are over and the troops are crossing.” That evening another courier rode in. “1/2 past 5 o’clock. All our troops are over and the stage is clear….I am ready to receive you and give you a hearty welcome.” The light troops raised a great cheer, which the British were close enough to actually hear, and realized what it meant. “Otho Holland Williams had brilliantly executed one of warfare’s most difficult maneuvers. Now the task was to save themselves.”183

     “Fourteen miles from the Dan, Otho Holland Williams headed for the crossing with the Continentals and the Virginia riflemen. Lee’s Legion continued as the rear guard….Greene was on the bank to greet Williams and cross with him.”  Edward and the Continentals crossed in the boats which had been provided by Lt. Col. Carrington. Now Lee sent on John Richardson and the rest of his infantry to cross, and “between eight and nine, the cavalry reached the river just as the boats had returned from landing the Legion infantry.” The faithful Edward Carrington directed the dragoons with their equipment into the boats; the horses would swim. The last boat across brought Carrington, Light Horse Harry Lee and the last troop to the friendly shore. “The British van arrived after daybreak the next morning. Cornwallis had driven his army forty miles in thirty-one hours, but the Americans had done it in twenty.”184





     Now consider the genius of Nathanael Greene. His plan to “ruin” Cornwallis (not necessarily defeat him in battle) was working. “Cornwallis had been outgeneraled, once again faced by a river he could not cross….[He] was ignorant of the temper of the immediate country surrounding him, had not a hope of receiving reinforcements, and had burned his supplies. He had no supply depots, no hospitals for his sick and wounded, no strong towns to retreat to should misfortune strike. His commander in chief, Sir Henry Clinton, did not even know his whereabouts. Greene had drawn Cornwallis 240 miles from his nearest base of communication and supply, Camden….”185 Cornwallis wrote there to Lord Rawdon, “the fatigue of our troops and the hardships which they suffered were excessive.” His army being too weak to enter “so powerful a province as Virginia,” he decided to withdraw “by easy marches” to Hillsborough. “It was on 22 February that Cornwallis planted the King’s standard, issued his proclamation, and waited for [militia volunteer] Tories. And they came…a subordinate wrote, ‘The novelty of a camp in the backwoods of America more than any other cause brought people to stare at us. Their curiosity satisfied, they returned to their homes….’”186  

     In contrast to Cornwallis, “Greene’s astute management of local resources supplemented supplies coming overland from the north. His leadership in solving the supply problems of his army has been overshadowed by the strategic skill with which he maneuvered his army, but it was equally important to the Continentals’ success. While the Continentals suffered constantly from shortages of subsistence, weapons and clothing, ultimately they had enough to get the job done….On 24 February, a brigade of wagons left Chesterfield Courthouse [Virginia] for the army depot then at Prince Edward Courthouse [Virginia] with 573 stand of arms and 436 cartridge boxes. Continentals from Delaware, Maryland and Virginia were already at Prince Edward Courthouse waiting for new arms and clothing before rejoining the army….”187


Historical Note: On 1 March 1781, Maryland, now the sole holdout to ratification of the Articles of Confederation, finally was satisfied with the resolution of other states’ claims on the lands in the frontier—the last obstacle to agreement. With the signatures of John Hanson and Daniel Carroll, the two Maryland delegates to Congress sitting in Philadelphia, it became the last state to ratify the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union. The birth of the United States was now complete. It was an imperfect union, a stool with only one leg. The government had no judicial branch, for it had no judges. It had no executive branch, for it had no administration. There was only the legislative branch, represented by the Confederation Congress with its limited powers. The states still held all the cards. But it was a beginning.



South into North Carolina


     Although now safely north of the Dan, General Nathanael Greene could scarcely afford to go into repose. He had to make a show of force south of the Dan to demonstrate that Cornwallis did not control the region simply by occupying Hillsborough. He made his decision. “The movement of the army south began 19 February when Greene sent Light Horse Harry Lee with his legion [including John Richardson] and two companies of the Maryland Line [including Edward?] back across the Dan to collect intelligence and join Pickens.…On 22 February Greene had recrossed with the main army….”188 Cornwallis again moved toward Greene, and for almost three tense weeks more cat-and-mouse games were played, Colonel Williams always screening the main army from the British. Over 1000 militia joined the Southern army, as did 400 Maryland Continentals sent by Steuben. On 10 March the army again united, and Captain Kirkwood wrote, “The rest of the Infantry joined their respective Regiments, marched. 11th. Marched this day toward Guilford Courthouse.”189  Sergeant-Major Seymour noted as an aside that, “The inhabitants here and about Guilford Court House are chiefly Irish, being very courteous, humane, and affable to strangers, as likewise are the inhabitants of Mecklinbourg and Roan, over the River Yatkin, the latter being true friends to the country on this present critical occasion.”190 The American army, over 4000 strong, arrived at the area around the courthouse, rested, bivouacked overnight and waited. “At daybreak on 15 March Lord Cornwallis marched with the intention of fighting that day. Waiting at Guilford Courthouse, Greene had the same intention.”191



Battle of Guilford Courthouse     15 March 1781                  


     “I was at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse under General Greene. This was fought at some old fields turned out and surrounded by broken fences. General Greene having divided his army into three divisions, behind one of these fences [he] placed first a division of select riflemen; second, the militia were stationed in the rear in the woods; last, and still further in their rear to prevent a retreat like General Gates’s, were placed the regulars. This was a great battle. Both sides fought until they were willing to cease, but we had the advantage, for the last division was just beginning to bear heavy on them, and the British had to give back. These were times of great suffering. We had but little to eat, as little to wear, feeble and worn down….” Garret Watts of the North Carolina militia. The same Garret Watts whom General Gates had recklessly pitched against the British regulars at Camden the previous summer.192


     In setting his three lines, or “divisions” as Watts called them, Greene followed the advice sent by General Morgan, who had written to him on his way back home. “‘If the militia fights,’ the old waggoner said, ‘you will beat Cornwallis; if not he will beat you, and perhaps cut your regulars to pieces.’…Greene placed his third and principal line—the cream of his forces, his Continentals—in a curve along the brow of the courthouse hill, about five hundred and fifty yards behind the second line. Marylands and Delawares were on the left and Virginians on the right. Two fieldpieces stood in the center. The Continentals, with whom Greene would remain during the battle, were a half-mile back of his first line, and the woods cut both the first and second line from view.”193 North Carolina militia, must have felt very isolated indeed.    

     Of Greene’s 4400 troops, 1700 were Continentals. Maryland was one state which had managed to recruit, train and send south an additional regiment (the Regiment Extraordinary or simply the Regiment Extra). Due to a surplus of officers, Greene pensioned the new regiment’s officers and sent them back home. Most of the new soldiers became the Second Maryland Regiment, although some were integrated into the original regiment, which now was called the First Maryland Regiment.194 Edward Arvin, now proven in battle beyond question, remained in the First Maryland Regiment, which was on the American left of the third line. The First Maryland Regiment and the Second Maryland Regiment now became The Maryland Brigade.

      “The Maryland Brigade was commanded by Colonel Otho Holland Williams. Colonel John Gunby led the First Maryland….Lt. Col. Benjamin Ford led the Second Maryland….only the 1st Maryland and the Delaware companies were hardened veterans, equal to any regiment Cornwallis could throw at them. Recruits composed most of the 2nd Maryland, and the two Virginia regiments had been raised to replace those lost at Charleston the previous year and had seen little if any action.”195


     Lee and Tarleton’s dragoons had already clashed three times that morning. This skirmishing convinced each side that the other was “at hand.” The lines were formed, but it wasn’t until the after noon that the battle actually commenced. As midday came and went, everyone fell quite in nervous anticipation. All eyes fell to the road, each soldier straining for a first glimpse of red.   

     “About 1:30 P.M. on 15 March 1781, the head of the British column appeared on the New Garden road and with measured tread and to the beat of drums and sound of fifes and Highland pipes marched across the brook and spread in both directions on the edge of the cleared area. Captain Anthony Singleton of the Continental artillery started the battle with his two six-pounders, and Lieutenant John McLeod of The Royal Artillery rushed three six-pounders forward and answered.”196 The British advanced, deployed and again used their most fearsome weapon—a bayonet assault—on the first line, the North Carolina militia crouching behind a fence row, a “cover too insignificant to inspire confidence.” What inevitably happened next had the echoes of Camden. Colonel Lee wrote, “To our infinite distress and mortification, the North Carolinians took flight….so thoroughly confounded were the unhappy men that, throwing away arms, knapsacks, and even canteens, they rushed like a torrent headlong through the woods….   

     “Cornwallis, ‘persevering in his determination to die or conquer,’ re-formed and moved against Greene’s second line. ‘At this place’ observed Colonel Tarleton, ‘the action became more severe.’ The Virginians on the left held stubbornly for a time, until Cornwallis himself led the redcoats against them, and they began to fade back through the trees toward the third line.”197

     Between the American second and third lines was a natural bowl-like amphitheatre, the basin of a small creek, which had been cleared of trees. British Lieutenant Colonel James Webster led the first two units out of the woods “down into the bowl, across it, and charged up the other side at the waiting Continentals. He drove his men at the cream of Greene’s army: 1st Maryland and Delaware companies of Kirkwood and Jacquett. Grim, silent, these tested veterans held their fire until Webster and his men were within 100 feet, and then shattered them with a thunderous volley. Webster was severely wounded by a musket ball that struck him directly in the knee. The British were repulsed in disorder.”198

     Tarleton, writing in 1787: “At this period the event of the action was doubtful, and victory alternately presided over each army.” Author John Buchanan, writing in 1997: “If the fighting had been fierce up to then, it was about to get worse.”  The British regrouped and the 2nd Guards Battalion, now emerging from the woods, charged at the 2nd Maryland Regiment.  The sight of their bayonets quickly advancing on them was too much for these untested regulars; they turned and fled as quickly as the North Carolina militia. Two American artillery pieces were lost to the enemy. But, Colonel John Gunby, of the 1st Maryland Regiment, “did not hesitate to order [his] regiment to face about, and we were immediately engaged by the guards. Our men gave some well directed fire, and then advanced and continued firing.” John Buchanan continues his masterful narrative in The Road to Guilford Courthouse.



A North Carolina militiaman, Nathaniel Slade, watched from the courthouse. “This conflict between the brigade of guards and the first regiment of Marylanders was most terrific, for they fired at the same instant, and they appeared so near that the blazes from their muzzles of their guns seemed to meet.” In this exchange Colonel Gunby’s horse was killed and he was pinned under it, and John Eager Howard took over the regiment he had led so brilliantly at Cowpens.

     Suddenly a bugle call echoed over the amphitheatre. William Washington, as vigilant as he had been at Cowpens, had swung his dragoons to the rear of the Guards. Washington led a thundering charge that hit 2nd Guards from behind and swept through them, riding them down, sabering them. Stunned by the unexpected, the Guards were not ready for Washington’s encore. He and his dragoons had their splendid Virginia chargers under control, got them turned, and with sabers swinging charged back through the broken British ranks.

     The Guards were in disorder. Many, although not badly hurt, had been knocked down by the big chargers. John Eager Howard took immediate advantage and drove the 1st Maryland with bayonets extended in a fierce charge that ended in a desperate encounter between two elite units….

     Under the onslaught of Howard’s Continentals the Guards wavered, bent, seemed to be on the verge of breaking. Incredibly, the flower of Cornwallis’s army was in grave danger of being driven from the field, perhaps destroyed. John Eager Howard recalled that, “The whole were in our power.” Was Guilford Courthouse another Cowpens in the making? It might have been had another general commanded the British that day. Cornwallis emerged from the woods and observed what had happened before him. Then he did what he had to do….

     Lieutenant John McLeod was at hand with his six-pounders.…Cornwallis ordered McLeod to fire grapeshot into the mass of struggling men, into friend and foe alike. [British Brigadier General] Charles O’Hara laying painfully wounded on the ground beside the cannon begged him not to do it. Lieutenant McLeod hesitated. Cornwallis sternly repeated the order. The cannons roared, spewing grape into the flesh of Britons and Americans….[Edward states in his pension application that he was wounded in the left hip and the small of the back in the Battle of Guilford Courthouse.] The melee dissolved as soldiers of both sides scattered. Cornwallis had done what he had to do. The crisis passed.

     Cornwallis pressed forward toward the gap from which 2nd Maryland had fled. Cornwallis had to win. But Greene had only to avoid serious defeat while making Cornwallis pay to dearly for victory. He decided he had accomplished both and at 3:30 P.M. ordered a withdrawal from the battlefield….Their morale unbroken, the Continentals tramped off, ready to fight another day….

     Cornwallis first ordered a pursuit by the Fusiliers and the Highlanders but quickly recalled them. His army was in no condition to pursue. Behind him, around him, lay hundreds of dead and wounded British soldiers. It was a notable victory he and they had won, as fine it has been said as any in the long British annals of war. The performance of the rank and file had been magnificent, their officers had conducted themselves with their usual contempt for death. But to what purpose?...Cornwallis had set out in January with between 3,200 and 3,300 men. Despite Tarleton’s disaster at Cowpens he had pushed on with some 2,550 men. Now his force was reduced to slightly over 1,400 effectives, and they were no longer fit to campaign. Charles, 2nd Earl Cornwallis, had ruined his army….Cornwallis…is reported to have said, “I never saw such fighting since God made me. The Americans fought like demons.”

     …Nathanael Greene was a cool strategist of the first order and always had uppermost in mind that he could not, he must not, lose the army….Tactically, by a narrow margin, Lord Cornwallis had won the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. Strategically, by a wide margin, Nathanael Greene had set up Cornwallis for an even worse disaster, and laid the firm foundation on which he could win the campaign in the Carolinas.199



     Edward never tells us how badly he was wounded. We don’t know whether he was able to march off the field under his own power or perhaps move haltingly on the shoulders of his comrades. But he may have been so badly hurt he could not be moved, and had to be left behind, laying on the field with many other American and British wounded. If so, he lived through a horrific experience, as bad as anything experienced by any soldier anywhere in the war. “The day had been bright and crisp. As night the weather turned. ‘The rain fell in torrents,’ wrote Charles Stedman. ‘Near fifty of the wounded…sinking under their aggravated miseries, expired before the morning. The cries of the wounded and dying, who remained on the field of action during the night, exceed all description.’ They had no tents—all had gone into the great bonfire at Ramsour’s Mill—and there were too few ‘houses near the field of battle to receive the wounded.’ The British troops had last eaten about 4:00 P.M. the day before the battle, and Stedman reported that they did not eat again until about the same time the day after the battle….another participant, Light Horse Harry Lee, wrote ‘The night succeeding this day of blood was rainy, dark and cold. The dead unburied, the wounded unsheltered, the groans of the dying and the shrieks of the living cast a deeper shade over the gloom of nature.’

     “Charles O’Hara, writing about a month later to Lord the Duke of Grafton was equally gloomy. ‘I never did, and hope I never shall, experience two such days and Nights as those immediately after the Battle, we remained on the very ground on which it had been fought cover’d with Dead, with Dying and with hundreds of wounded, Rebels as well as our own—a violent and constant Rain that lasted about Forty hours made it equally impracticable to remove or administer the smallest comfort to many of the Wounded.’ But a surgeon did find time to amputate the index and middle fingers of Banastre Tarleton’s his right hand.”200         



Medical State of the Art                                        


     “American doctors…were still limited by a lack of scientific data and by their profession’s predilection for reasoning rather than research as a way of discovering better forms of treatment for their patients.…Regardless of the injury, the medical care the surgical patient was likely to receive ran along familiar lines: ‘moderate evacuation, by bleeding, and gentle purging, together with a low diet.’ In addition, ‘when the wounded person has not suffered any great loss of blood, it will be advisable to open a vein immediately and take from the arm a very large quantity, and to repeat bleeding the surgical patient, as circumstance require, the second, and even the third day.’…Among the potions most highly regarded by military surgeons were opium and bark, usually peruvian or cinchona bark, the source of quinine….

     “The care of the patient after surgery was carefully supervised both to ensure appropriate care of the wound itself and to note and treat possible complications….Poultices were called for when it was desired for the wound to suppurate….Turpentine, used in the eighteenth century to combat minor bleeding, now appears to have real value against bacteria.

     “The appearance of ‘laudable pus’ was considered a good sign….Redness and heat around a wound were seen as inevitable, as was fever in serious wounds….The average eighteenth century surgeon was so unaware of the causes and effects of infection that, when a colleague achieved an unusually low mortality rate, the explanation was sought in his surgical techniques and not in his standards of cleanliness….

     “The types of surgery most commonly performed in the Army involved, of course, gunshot wounds and their consequences….When it was realized that the ball was not poisonous, surgeons were urged not to probe too deeply but rather let the ball remain if it could not be located easily….

     “When battle injuries involved fractures, the question of amputation arose, many surgeons favoring immediate amputation in compound fractures….The patient would be fortified against these ordeals by the administration of opium and, perhaps, rum and his ears filled with lamb’s wool to deaden the sound.” 201



Seeking Safe Haven


    The Continental Army had left the British masters of the field. “Day was breaking, wet and gray, when Greene’s army trudged into the old encampment at the iron works. The general was as exhausted as any private. For six weeks he had not removed his clothes or slept in a bed. But his fatigue was lessened by a cheerful, gossipy new letter from his vivacious wife and by the regimental reports that began to come into his tent. For a time he feared that although he had inflicted a severe blow on his enemy, his action had been in fine ‘unsuccessful,’ that the earl might gather himself up from the battlefield of Guilford and march on him again. So all day long, under the pelting rain, he had his men dig earthworks in the clay soil of the bluffs over Troublesome Creek.”202 Slowly his mood and that of his men lifted, and with good reason. The masters of the field were not masters very long.

    “The British army stayed two days at Guilford Courthouse. On the second day seventeen wagons loaded with wounded were sent back the way they had come to the Quaker settlement at New Garden. Later that day the camp followers left. The more serious cases were given an extra day of rest….

     “Leaving the kindly Quaker community, the army made a slow, painful march to the hamlet of Cross Creek (modern Fayetteville).” They found neither the friendliness nor the provisions that Cornwallis expected, and “he reported to Clinton: ‘With a third of my army sick and wounded…the remainder without shoes and worn down with fatigue, I thought it was time to look for a place of rest and refitment….Under the circumstances, I determined to move immediately to Wilmington….’”203 Five of his officers, including Lt. Col. James Webster, died on the way. Charles O’Hara managed to survive, and would fight another day.

     “On 7 April the exhausted survivors of Lord Cornwallis’s ‘mad scheme’ arrived at Wilmington. The day before Nathanael Greene, who had shadowed Cornwallis on his march to a safe haven, wheeled his army south and marched for South Carolina….Cornwallis…had all he wanted of the Carolinas. He wrote [commander of the British forces in the Chesapeake Major General William] Phillips, ‘I assure you that I am quite tired of marching about the country in quest of adventures.’…

     “On 25 April Lord Cornwallis, relinquishing his responsibility to secure Charleston and South Carolina, pursuing his delusion of a grand, climactic battle, turned his worn and decimated army northward where he found more adventures and fulfilled his American destiny in a village in Virginia called Yorktown.”204


     Seymour: “General Greene finding it impracticable to follow Lord Cornwallis any farther, and seeing he could not come up with him, he therefore bent his course towards Campden, marching over the same ground which our army went the last summer along with General Gates. This is a poor barren part of the country. The inhabitants are chiefly of a Scotch extraction, living in mean cottages, and are much disaffected, being great enemies to their country.”205 Lieutenant Colonel Francis Lord Rawdon was still in Camden, now in charge of the 8,000 British and Hessian regulars and the Tory militia scattered throughout South Carolina and Georgia.



A New Campaign


     Greene had conceived a new strategic plan. He wanted, of course, nothing less than to clear the South of all British occupation. The first item of his new agenda was to surprise Lord Rawdon in Camden, and in effect to blockade the town into submission. After passing through the chilling site of Gates’s ignominious defeat the previous summer, the army arrived in the vicinity of Camden from the north via the Great Road (which connected Charlotte and Charleston). They found the town fortified and a “log town” built along the Road, shielding the approach from the north. Greene camped a mile and half from Camden on a sandy ridge called Hobkirk’s Hill. He hoped eventually to lure Lord Rawdon out to do battle with him, but he got more than he bargained for. On the morning of 25 April 1781, Lord Rawdon “sallied forth” stealthily from the southeast and surprised him. Most of the troops were scattered about the area, cooking rations, bathing or washing clothes in the river. Edward was on “picquet” duty with the main army. Captain Kirkwood and his men stood guard further out. General Greene was just sitting down to a cup of coffee when he heard the picquets’ fire.         



Second Battle of Camden: The Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill      25 April 1781


A List of the American Forces                                                   


Commanding General Major General Nathanael Greene

Colonel Otho Holland Williams
Left Flank Brigade Commander

Colonel John Gunby
1st Maryland Regiment                                                         200           
[Edward was likely here.]
Captain Robert Kirkwood’s Delawares                                  40
Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Ford
2nd Maryland Regiment                                                        200

General Isaac Huger
Right Flank Brigade Commander

Lieutenant Colonel Samuel Hawes
1st (4th) Virginia Regiment                                                     200
Lieutenant Colonel Richard Campbell
2d (5th) Virginia Regiment                                                     200

Captain John Smith's Light Infantry Company

Lieutenant Colonel William Washington’s Cavalry                    90

Colonel James Read’s North Carolina militia                           254 

Colonel Charles Harrison’s artillery company       (3 six-pounder cannon) 


     Garrett Watts of North Carolina again: “I was also during this term of my service with General Greene at the battle of Camden, or near it. Through carelessness or otherwise, the tired soldiers were suffered to loiter and wash at the River Wateree, and in the meantime a drummer belonging to some of the regiments under General Greene deserted, entered Camden, and let the British know our condition. They came out upon us, and we had to fight hard and finally were compelled to give way….”206 William Seymour gives us his account:

On the twenty-fifth the enemy made a sally out of Campden and were down on our picquet before discovered. At this time the men were, for the chief part, some washing clothes, and some were out in the country on passes. The first that discovered the enemy were a small picquet belonging to the light infantry, under the command of Captain Kirkwood. As soon as the sentinels discovered them, they fired on them, and gave the alarm; upon which the light infantry immediately turned out  and engaged them very vigorously for some time, but, being overpowered by the superiority of their numbers, they retreated about two hundred yards across the main road, where the main picquet of our army was formed, and, falling in with them, renewed the fire with so much alacrity and undaunted bravery, that they put the enemy to a stand for some time, [Edward Arvin was wounded “through the left shoulder” by a British officer using his spontoon. Edward “shot and killed the officer, he being on the scouting party.”] until, being overpowered by the superior number of the enemy, they were obliged to retreat, not being able any longer to withstand them, having all this time engaged the main army of the enemy.
     By this time the main army was drawn up, and engaged them with both cannon and small arms, in which Captain Singleton, of the Train, very much signalized himself in leveling his pieces so well and playing with such impetuosity, that they put the army into great confusion, having killed and dangerously wounded great numbers of them as they crossed the main road; as did likewise Colonel Washington with his cavalry, who, falling in with their rear, killed and wounded a great number of them, making two hundred and fifty of them prisoners.
     Our main army, being is some confusion by this time the enemy taking them in the flank, retreated off, leaving the enemy masters of the field of battle, however, they veary dearly bought, they having three hundred and fifty killed and wounded in the field, our loss not exceeding two hundred in killed, wounded and prisoners.
     Lord Rawdon retreated with his army in to Campden, and General Greene with his army retreated about four miles.
     In this action the light infantry under Captain Robert Kirkwood was returned many thanks by the General for their gallant behaviour; as did likewise Captain [Perry] Benson, of the Maryland Line, who signalized himself in this action, having fought the whole time along with the infantry.”207 


A letter on the Battle of Hobkirk’s Hill, written by eyewitness Samuel Mathis in 1819

Account of the Battle of Hobkirks Hill as some call it, or Battle of Camden as called by others, though the ground on which it was fought is now called the Big Sand Hill above Camden.

This hill lies one mile and three-quarters from the Court House and from where the gaol then stood. Over this hill runs the great road leading from Charlotte in North Carolina to Charleston in South Carolina. It runs in a direct line from the top of the Hill past the gaol and through the Town of Camden, nearly a due South course. It had been opened quite wide by Col. Joseph Kershaw a few weeks before the British came to Camden and made to correspond with the streets of the Town that it entered to wit 90 feet wide up to the top of the hill. It was woody on each side of the road and in some places (near the Town) very thick near the hill and on the South side of it was not so thick, but was more open….

Lord Rawdons Headquarters were in Col. Joseph Kershaws house on this hill. His troops lay directly in front of him inside of a stockade of about 400 or 500 yards square, supported by four redoubts, situate at the distance of about 200 or 300 yards from each angle of it. One of these redoubts was round the gaol, from which the British frequently fired their cannon at our officers….

While the British lay in this situation, Gen. Greene with the American Army approached them. When he first came he encamped on the North side of them on Hobkirks Hill, staid but a very short time, perhaps not more than two days….He wheeled off with the American Army went round the head of Little Pine Tree Creek and made a bridge across Big Pine Tree Creek three miles above Camden, came around and appeared below on the Southeast and Southward of Camden.

This maneuver had an excellent effect. It alarmed the British very much: it threatened their mills from which most of their bread stuff was drawn, it divided their Forces….It insulated Lord Rawdon himself and jeopardized his retreat.

Gen. Greene remained but a few days below Camden….Gen. Greene then…wheeled off, recrossed Pine Tree Creek and came back again and encamped on Hobkirks Hill. His artillery was not with him in these maneuverings it had been sent off beyond Lynches Creek under the care of Col. (Edward) Carrington who acted as Quartermaster General in the Southern Department.

Gen. Greene arrived at Hobkirks at night and encamped on it in battle order, his right extending a short distance to the west of the Great Road and his left reaching to the East end of the hill near Martins Spring. Here the hill is of very easy ascent and this spring and the Branch that runs from it contained the only water that was to be found near the American Troops. From this end of the hill a road led off Southeast towards the mill now Carters, and another old obscure road directly towards the town parallel to the Great Road. Capt. (Robert) Kirkwood with his Light Infantry, being a remnant of the Delaware Troops, was posted here on or between these two roads a short and proper distance in front of the left, Capt. Smith with his Light Infantry on the right and two strong pickets were placed in front of the Army but the woods were so thick that a man could not be seen at 100 yards distance at noon day.

It was late in the evening on the 24th of April (1781) that Gen. Greene pitched his camp here, without artillery and apparently without cavalry or Militia; for Col. Washington with his cavalry and about 250 North Carolina Militia under Col. Meade were encamped about 2 or 3 miles in the rear. In the night or early morning a deserter from the Americans went to the enemy and informed Lord Rawdon of Gen. Greene's situation.

This deserter did not know of Washingtons and the militia being in the rear. His Lordship immediately had the redoubts all manned with Negroes and Tories and every man of his whole army, in the most silent and secret manner, without any drums, fife horn or any noise or general parade all went off as they got ready, the cavalry first, then men and officers all on foot leading their horses, the infantry following in open order and trailed arms, taking down the valley in the Southeast corner of the town, in the opposite direction from where the American Troops lay, lest some of them might happen to be down and discover them marking out; this was about ten oclock in the forenoon of the 25th April. The weather had been dry and it was a beautiful clear sunshiny day rather warm for the season of the year.

The British were soon behind the hill on which their headquarters stood and of course well concealed, they proceeded up along the side of the swamp until they arrived at Col. Kershaws upper mill and thence along the road or along the miry branch up to Martins Spring at the East end of Hobkirks Hill. They had no doubt got in close order before this time and their cavalry detached off to their left so as to fall into the Great Road a short distance in front of Hobkirks Hill so as to attack our right while the main army turned our left.

The British marched on until discovered by Kirkwood who attacked and fought them with great resolution until overwhelmed, the British displayed to the left, which brought them upon our pickets by whom they were attacked in turn, the British did not fire but pressed directly forward with charged bayonets and drove our pickets in. [Edward and the British officer were in mortal combat at this point.] Kirkwoods muskets gave the first alarm to the Americans, several of whom were at the spring cooking and washing and had to run a considerable distance before they got to their arms which were stacked in the very line they had to form. However, the most if not all of them did get to their arms and were regularly formed in battle array. The Virginia Brigade with Gen. (Isaac) Huger at its head having under him Lieut. Cols. (Richard) Campbell and (Samuel) Hawes, took the right, the Maryland Brigade led by Col. (Otho Holland) Williams, seconded by Col. John Gunby and Lieut. Cols. (John) Ford and (John Eager) Howard occupied the left. Thus all the Continentals consisting of four regiments much reduced in strength were disposed in one line, with the artillery under Col. (Charles) Harrison on the road in the center. The reserve consisted of the cavalry under Col. Washington started at the firing of the first of Kirkwoods muskets and the North Carolina Militia under Col. Meade who also came up at the same time.

Gen. Greene having his men now formed was much pleased with the opportunity so unexpectedly offered of a battle with the enemy not doubting that he would in a few hours be in Camden. He directed Cols. Campbell and Ford to turn the enemys flanks and ordered the entire regiments to advance with fixed bayonets upon him ascending the Hill and detached Col. Washingtons cavalry to gain the rear.

The British when they first attacked near the spring pressed directly forward and succeeded in turning our left. Their left had displayed towards our right under cover of thick woods and could scarcely be seen except by our pickets until they began to rise the hill (which is about 150 or 60 yards from bottom to top). Their cavalry had reached the Great Road and advanced in close order and slow step up the hill directly in front of our cannon which had just arrived and opened on them in the broad road a well directed fire with canister and grape did great execution and soon cleared the road so that all their doctors were sent to take care of the wounded. Washingtons Cavalry coming up at this moment completed the rout of the York Volunteers took all the British doctors or surgeons and a great many others prisoners, more than one third of Washingtons men were encumbered with prisoners, who hindered their acting when necessary.

Our left was some what turned or yielding, our Col. Ford was wounded but the men were neither killed nor prisoners. The left of the British at least their cavalry were routed, many killed and many prisoners. Lord Rawdon hearing the cannon, and seeing his horse dispersed was stunned and astonished beyond measure, ordered the deserter to be hung and galloping up to the scene of disaster was quickly surrounded by Washingtons Horse and his sword demanded. One of his aids received a severe wound from the sword of a dragoon. Lord Rawdon is a man of uncommon address. This was a critical moment. Although our left was giving way yet Gen. Huger on our right was gaining ground and was beginning to advance upon the enemy and Col. Gunbys Regiment of brave soldiers, veterans of the Maryland line had all got to their arms were well formed and in good order, but too impatient waiting the word of Command some of them began to fire in violation of orders and seeing the British infantry up the hill in front of the_________. Col. Gunby suffered them to come up within the few paces and then ordered his men to charge without firing, those near him hearing the word first rushed forward, whereby the regiment was moving forward in the form of a bow. Col. Gunby ordered a halt until the wings should become straight; this turned the fate of the day. Previously being ordered not to fire and now ordered to halt, while the British were coming up with charged bayonets, before the colonel could be understood and repeat the charge the enemy were in among them and made them give way….

The scene was quickly changed. Washingtons Dragoons were not attacked by horse and foot and the very prisoners that they had mounted behind them seized the Arms of their captors and over came them. General Greene now ordered a retreat and pushed on Washingtons Cavalry to Saunders Creek which lay 4 miles in the rear to halt the troops and stop the stragglers should there be any either from the militia or regulars to make off; in this he succeeded; carrying off with him all the British surgeons and several officers….

I am with great Respect yours,
Samuel Mathis

26 June 1819
To: Genl. W. R. Davie


     Lord Rawdon soon realized he could no longer hold Camden with the forces he had left. He burned the town and marched out.  (In modern times, residential development on the north side of the city of Camden has overlaid Hobkirk’s Hill, which was never preserved. But with patience and the help of the Kershaw County Chamber of Commerce, the approximate locations of the events can be determined. In fact, their brochure is perhaps the best graphic available. It is quite possible that Edward Arvin was in Capt. Perry Benson’s company on this day. (For more information on Perry Benson, see The Great Road from Charlotte to Charleston is now more or less Broad Street, and the “parallel road” is probably Lyttleton Street. General Greene’s headquarters was near what is now Greene Street.)

The Siege of Ninety Six      May-June 1781

     Despite his mixed results at Hobkirk’s Hill, a determined Greene and his Continental Army lost no time in setting out on his next objective: the outpost of Ninety Six. “We marched from Campden on the 12th [May], leaving a guard to destroy the works, and proceeded in our march for Ninety-Six.”208 Although he was unfamiliar with its tactics, Greene attempted a classic eighteenth century siege of the British-occupied town of Ninety Six, where Lt. Col. John Harris Cruger was in command. Edward does not mention participating in this siege, perhaps because he did not actually consider it a battle. We know, however, that he was not in the British hospital at Camden (which later became the American hospital) as of June 1781.209 He may have been on limited duty while recovering from his spontoon wound, which was probably quite severe, and which effected his ability to farm later in life.

      As for General Greene, supplies as always were on his mind. “In May, Greene moved against Ninety Six, SC. For a month, all supplies were directed to here….Fourteen clothing wagons moved south in a convoy including another eight to ten ammunition wagons. The shipment reached Salisbury with 22 wagons on 17 May. When Greene heard the clothing had arrived, he immediately sent an aide to personally bring it to Ninety Six….On 10 June, the men were issued clothing.210

     Col. Williams wrote his brother from the American camp as the siege was on:


1781 June 12

Otho [Holland WILLIAMS], Camp before Ninety Six, S.C. To [Elie WILLIAMS].

[He] is well despite great fatigue and danger; Camden [S.C.], Fort Watson [S.C.], Fort Mott[e, S.C.], Fort Granby [S.C.], Nellsons [Nelson's] Ferry [S.C.], George Town [S.C.], Fort Dreadnought [S.C.], and Augusta [Ga.] have all been reduced [by the Americans] or abandoned [by the British]; British hold now only Charles Town [Charleston], [Fort] Ninety-Six in South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia; Pensacola [Fla.] is said to be taken and [St.] Augustine to be under siege by the Spaniards; they have now been besieging Ninety-Six for three weeks and will take it unless the British get reinforcements….murders are committed daily by pretended Whigs and reputed Tories; recent American successes have checked the vicious influence of the British, and the fall of Ninety-Six may unite all the people in a confidence in the United States….hopes to terminate this tour of duty soon, and to get back to his friends….

[MHS, OH Williams Papers, (1 of 8, item 106)]


     Seymour: “We lay before this garrison from the twenty-second of May till the twentieth of June, when, on the eighteenth, we had a general attack upon the town, taking Holmes’s Fort with the redoubt therein, thereby occasioning them to lose the use of their springs. The garrison must have surrendered had not Lord Rawdon with his army come, upon which we were obliged to raise the siege.”211


1781 June 23

Otho [Holland WILLIAMS], Bush river, S. C. To Elie WILLIAMS, Washington County, Md.

…Southern Army invested Ninety-Six on May 22, and continued the siege until June 20, when they had to give it up; everyone deserves great credit….of the men, 58 were killed, 69 were wounded and 20 are missing; the Southern Army took one of the redoubts and, in a few days, would have taken the whole, but for the arrival of Lord Rawdon with reinforcements; got into the ditch of the strongest [British] fort, but could not hold it….does not know what Gen. Greene is going to do next….have not enough officers left to command the small remnant of veterans still left….hopes to get home to Maryland in the fall; Greene will grant him any proper indulgence, and he [Otho H.] would not wish to leave the field at any improper time, for fear of disappointing Greene.

[MHS, OH Williams Papers (1 of 8, item 107)]

     Lt. Col. Francis Lord Rawdon marched in to Ninety Six to great cheers, only to march out again within a few days. With the abandonment of Camden, Ninety Six could not be held permanently, and as Col. Williams told us all the other British strongholds and outposts had either been abandoned or seized by the Americans. Lord Rawdon himself, with a frail constitution and physically worn down, left for England. He was be replaced by Lt. Col. Alexander Stuart. Today, Ninety Six is well preserved as a National Historic Site by the National Park Service. The very road which Edward and the Continental Army marched in on prior to the siege, Island Ford Road, is still clearly visible. 


     In the heat of that summer the Continental Army resided on the High Hills of the Santee in South Carolina. It was a time for the men to relax and refresh. Again Greene was concerned with supplies, and again he was thinking ahead. “Hunting shirts replaced regimental coats for the summer of 1781. Greene did not issue regimentals because he felt they were not needed in the southern heat and he anticipated clothing shortages later in the year….

     “In preparation for winter, another shipment of Continental clothing had been sent….the regimental coats were…blue coats with red facings. The vests and breeches were white.

     “Greene continued to expand cloth, shoe and boot replacement throughout the year. In September 1781, he was already planning for the coming spring by ordering more overalls produced in Harrisburgh, NC. His long range planning was crucial in keeping his small army in the field. Despite their often ragged appearance, the men were getting enough clothing when the supplies moved.”212



The Battle of Eutaw Springs      8 September 1781              


     A new field commander had replaced Lt. Col. Lord Rawdon, but again the British found that they kept winning the battles and losing the war. Eutaw Springs, perhaps the bloodiest battle ever fought in the War for Independence, proved to be another indecisive contest which accomplished little other than to continue the process of wearing down the British and making their continued occupation of the South extremely costly.  


    Greene had rested and restored his army, and its size had actually swollen to 2000 with the addition of substantial numbers of militia. Sergeant-Major Seymour begins the tale. “This day our army was in motion before daybreak, resolved to fight the British Army. We marched in the follow order of battle, viz: the South and North Carolina Militia in front and commanded by Generals Marion and Pickens, having Colonel Lee’s horse and infantry on their left. The second line was composed of infantry on their left. The second line was composed of North Carolina Regulars, Virginians and Marylanders, with two three-pounders and two six-pounders. Colonel Washington’s horse and infantry were the corps-de-reserve. In this order we marched down to action. Coming within three miles of the enemy’s encampment, we fell in with a foraging party of sixty men, loaded with potatoes, most of whom we either killed, wounded or took prisoners. We met with no further opposition till we came within one mile of their encampment before discovered, and with their front line began the action, which soon brought the action general….”213

     “Greene ordered his second line—the Maryland and Virginia Continentals—to advance and meet them with bayonets. He ordered Lee to charge Stewart’s left flank, and William Washington from his reserves to fall on [the enemy, but] they were cut up and defeated and he himself, after being entangled with his fallen horse, bayoneted and taken.

     “Lee’s Legion, however, poured a raking fire into the British left, and the Virginians and Marylands charged forward shouting. The Virginians, less experienced, returned the enemy fire, but the Marylands, obedient to orders, trotted forward with trailed arms and shattered the enemy left with bayonets. The check on the British left soon spread to the center; one by one the redcoat regiments gave way and fled through their camp of tents to the cover of [a] brick house…214 The Americans pursued them as they fled through their own camp, and that led to all sorts of trouble. Colonel Williams continues:


The retreat of the British army lay directly through their encampment, where tents were all standing, and presented many objects to tempt a thirsty, naked and fatigued soldiery….Nor was the concealment afforded by the tents…a trivial consideration, for the fire from the windows of the house was galling and destructive, and no cover from it was anywhere to be found except in the tents….

    Here it was that the American lines got into irretrievable confusion. When their officers had proceeded beyond the encampment, they found themselves nearly abandoned by their soldiers, and the sole marks for the party who now poured their fire from the windows of the house….

     Everything now combined to blast the prospects of the American Commander. The fire from the house showered down destruction upon the American officers; and the men, unconscious or unmindful of the consequences…fastened upon liquors and refreshments they afforded, and became utterly unmanageable….

     By this time General Greene, being made acquainted with the extent of his misfortune, ordered a retreat.215



     Only John Eager Howard had been able to restrain his troops, the Marylands. “Again Nathanael Greene had stood on the threshold of triumph. One more push might have won an indisputable conquest and utterly routed the enemy. But [he] could not afford to gamble: he must save an army for a fall campaign. But his objective had been accomplished: Stewart was demoralized and certain to draw back to the coast.

     “Four long blazing hours Greene’s army had lived on that terrible field, where the fighting had been the most obstinate the general had ever seen.”216 Three days later, Williams wrote to his brother:

 1781 Sep. 11

O[tho] H[olland] WILLIAMS, Trout Spring [S.C.]. To Elie WILLIAMS, Washington County, Md.

Victory is ours, after one of the bloodiest battles ever fought in America; Gen. [Nathanael] Greene was determined to drive the enemy from the Up Country; he [Greene] drove Lt. Col. [Alexander] Stewart as far as Eutaw [S.C.]….our [the American] vivacity equalled the obstinacy of the enemy…and the number of wounded is not yet certain…a great number now sleep in the Bed of Honor; Our success was so near being compleat that Officers at the door of Coll. Stewarts Head Quarters were killed and taken; Greene withdrew his forces a few miles, to a spring where his men could refresh themselves; the enemy, after destroying a great many stores, abandoned their position on the evening of September 9, leaving many wounded, and about 1000 stand of arms mostly broken; Greene has followed the enemy more than 20 miles, forcing them to give up a strong position…the enemy are now at Monks Corner [S.C.], about 30 miles from Charles Town [Charleston, S.C.]….the Maryland Brigade behaved so well that the General passed on them the highest encomiums in the field; they paid for their laurels in the death of four officers, and the wounding of seven more….Americans lost forty or more commissioned officers killed or wounded, the enemy lost still more.

[MHS, OH Williams Papers, (1 of 8, item 115)]

     The final return would show 139 American dead, 375 wounded, 8 missing. Stuart lost 866 in all, more than 40% of his force. His army was no longer fit for operations in the field. He did indeed withdraw to Charleston. The Honorable Confederation Congress resolved to award Nathanael Greene a Gold Medal for his actions at Eutaw Springs.

     Lt. Col. John Eager Howard was severely wounded in the left shoulder during the battle and would soon leave for home. Howard would later succeed William Smallwood as Maryland’s governor in 1789, and go on to serve in the Maryland Senate and later the United States Senate. Edward was wounded in the battle also, although we never find out any details. Also wounded at Eutaw Springs was Edward’s friend and comrade-in-arms John Richardson, the dragoon in Henry Lee’s Legion of Horse, and he later tells us “he was discharged from the service during inability in consequence of wounds received at the Battle of Eutaw Springs in the State of South Carolina.”217 They may have both spent long days in the American hospital recuperating. Decades later, Edward and John successfully applied for a Revolutionary War service pensions from the federal government. John would vouch for Edward in court in support of his application.They would still be acquainted after more than half a century.
      In modern times, most of the battle site was submerged when Lake Marion filled. Today, only a small section is above water, preserved as an historic site. The tomb of the Swamp Fox, Francis Marion, is located a few miles away.

     Over the next few days, Sergeant-Major Seymour, “marched with the army on the road leading to Lawrence’s Ferry on the Santee, and separated from them, they being bound to the high hills of Santee, and we for the encampment of Mr. Caldwell’s farm at Half Way Swamp, nineteen miles….Here we lay until the sixth of November.”





     “On the day following Eutaw Springs, a French fleet sailed into Chesapeake Bay in Virginia and sealed the fate of the ambitious earl whom Greene had sent to a faraway trap at a village called Yorktown.”218 By 17 October 1781, with the French ground and naval assistance, American forces had trapped him. His long and fruitless “mad scheme” now ended by the siege, time had come for the British commander to pay the piper. But he couldn’t bear to surrender his army in person to the American Commander-in-Chief. “Lord Cornwallis, pleading illness, had told Brigadier-General Charles O’Hara to represent him. O’Hara tried to hand over his sword to the Comte de Rochambeau but the French officer would not accept. ‘We are subordinate to the Americans,’ he said, ‘General Washington will give you orders.’

     “O’Hara turned away and rode over to offer his sword to the American Commander-in-Chief. But, as Lord Cornwallis was not there, Washington gave up the honour of receiving it to Benjamin Lincoln, who tapped it in silent acceptance of surrender.

     “‘The play, sir,’ Lafayette told a friend, ‘is over.’        

     “On the day the surrender was signed, Admiral Graves and Sir Henry Clinton, with seven thousand men aboard their fleet, sailed at last out into the Atlantic past Sandy Hook south of New York. Five days later they reached the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, where they encountered a small boat with a white man and two blacks who brought them the news from Yorktown.

     “The ships turned round and sailed away north again, back to New York.”219  


     Word of the surrender of Cornwallis reached the Southern Department a few days later. Captain Kirkwood recorded in his journal, “Received Intelligence of the Surrender of Lord Cornwallaces whole Army to his Excellency Genl. Washington in York Town Virginia on the 17 Inst.” 220 In a letter to Henry Knox, Greene wrote, a bit wistfully, “We have been beating the bush and the General has come to catch the bird.”

     “Within five weeks dispatches containing news of Cornwallis’s surrender at Yorktown were brought to London and handed to Lord George Germain, who took them immediately to [Prime Minister Frederick] Lord North….He paced up and down the room, exclaiming in mingled horror and relief, “O God! It’s all over!”221

     Not quite. The war in the South would still take many months to play out. Washington’s task was now to keep American hearts and minds focused on getting the British to the bargaining table; what is more, Charleston and New York City were still occupied. He sent Pennsylvania and Maryland troops under Generals St. Clair, Wayne, and Gist, from the Yorktown army south to reinforce Greene on the Ashley River.


1781 Nov. 10

Otho [Holland WILLIAMS], High Hills of Santee [S.C.]. To E[lie] WILLIAMS.

Lt. Col. [John Eager] Howard, a very valuable Officer and Friend, wounded at Eutaw [S.C.], is leaving camp in a day or two, and will forward this letter from
Baltimore; the success of Gen. [George] Washington in Virginia overshadows their [Southern Army’s] exploits, but they are still happy, nevertheless; hopes that, when the troops now expected from Virginia arrive, they will be able to lay siege to Charles Town [Charleston, S.C.], the only enemy garrison now left in the state; they [Southern Army] are only the remnant of an army, and can engage the enemy only when the militia bring up their numbers to the fighting point; season has been exceedingly sickly, but the men are now recovering; fall of Charles Town depends somewhat on the arrival of the French fleet which has plenty to do in the West Indies; hopes by next spring to have Charles Town back in the United States, and himself back in Maryland; Gen. [Nathanael] Greene is his friend and has promised him every indulgence consistent with the good of the Service;

[MHS, OH Williams Papers, (1 of 8, item 128)]


Seventeen Eighty-Two

     General Greene and the reinforced Southern army had established winter quarters along the Ashley River, several miles above Charleston.222 But seemingly endless military operations still went on, and William Seymour was still marching. A sample: “Nothing of consequence happened from this time till we came to Stono Ferry, two hundred miles from Gooden’s Mill, which we reached on the twelfth of January, 1782, we having detachments from the Pennsylvanians [belonging to General Anthony Wayne’s command, having come from Yorktown] and Carolinians joined us, the whole amounting to four hundred men, which, together with Lee’s infantry and a detachment from the Maryland Line, amounting to about three hundred men, the whole amounting to about seven hundred men.”223 Greene, now about twenty-five miles up-river from Charleston, effectively had a cordon around the city, where Major General Alexander Leslie was in command of the British garrison. And Edward Arvin, just turning twenty-five years old, most likely was on detached duty again. “Marched since we left our quarters near Morristown five thousand five hundred and three miles….Here we lay until the third of March….The 27th of June our horse and infantry moved further down the Ashley River.”224 In July, General Greene also moved the main Southern Department forces further down the Ashley River to within 12 miles of Charleston.225

     The war dragged on, and the troops were becoming bored, restless and homesick. They complained about their lack of pay. Otho Holland Williams, now a brigadier general, stationed back in Annapolis but without a field command, took up their cause.

 1782 July 7

O[tho] H[olland] WILLIAMS, Annapolis. To Governor T[homas] S[im] LEE.

Communicates to the Governor the complaints of the Maryland line now with the Southern Army; Maryland troops have endured fatigue and danger with firmness and their complaints
have always been humble and respectful; generals in charge of the Southern Army [Horatio Gates and Nathanael Greene] have been satisfied with their behavior; they are the only troops that have constantly kept the field since the spring of 1780 without a shilling of pay, real or nominal, without a[n adequate] supply of clothing... and without any other subsistence than... they have occasionally collected by force of arms; they have stood the neglect of their country [Maryland] without mutiny or disaffection; others, onlisted in the same service with them, have received bounties for three years when they got none; all the corps reinforcing them have received cash for pay and subsistence before they would leave the state where they were recruited; the officers, of course, will submit to every sort of injustice, but the common soldiers, being men of less consideration, may cause trouble; asks the Governor and Council to petition Congress to have the minister of finance take part of the specie raised in Maryland for the pay of the Maryland troops; speedy action of this sort would silence the compliants of the soldiers.

[MHS, OH Williams papers, (1 of 8, item 156)]


The Battle of Combahee Ferry      27 August 1782


     “By the middle of 1782, the American operations in the South had been successful, only Charleston being held by the British, Major General Leslie commanding. He proposed to Greene a cessation of hostilities and an arrangement to be made to bring in food through the American lines. Greene refused to enter into the agreement and referred it to the Congress. Leslie then resumed hostilities. Green[e] organized a detachment under Gist to oppose Leslie. On 23 August, Gist was ordered to Combahee Ferry to oppose any enemy force on the other side of the river. The British had eighteen small boats, with three hundred regular troops and two hundred Tories. Gist threw up an entrenchment and mounted a howitzer at Cheraw Point, about twelve miles below the Ferry, to cut off the retreat of the vessels.

     “…Gist ordered Laurens, with the Delaware Regiment, to hasten to Cheraw Point and reinforce the artillery there, the rest of the brigade to follow….As Laurens’ party came up they were met with a sudden volley. Laurens was killed and a number of men shot down….Gist tried to dislodge them, but failed….Gist then rejoined the army and his brigade was not again engaged during the war.

     “In November 1782, after Gist’s withdrawal, Captain William Wilmott was left with a small force to harass the enemy and guard John’s Island. In one of his expeditions he fell into an ambush and was shot dead. This was the last bloodshed in the war.”226


1782 Nov. 12

N[athanael] GREENE, Ashley River [S.C.]. To [Otho Holland WILLIAMS].

Received [Williams'] letter of October 1 a day or so ago; sorry he has such bad rheumatism, and urges him to be persevering and patient in the use of the waters; would be happy to have him in the field but has no command for even the officers now with him; all except one regiment each of the Pennsylvania and Maryland Lines are going home in a day or so; Gen. [Mordecai] Gist has been ill ever since Combahee where [Col. John] Laurens fell [August 27, 1782]; Delaware troops are also going home; first and third regiments of light dragoons are now incorporated into one, under the command of Major [John] Swan for the present, but [Col. George] Baylor and [Col. William Augustine] Washington are arranged [sic] to it; Congress and the Board of War are going to keep only full corps in the field, and where a state has not enough to form a corps, to have the number of officers proportional to the men; for this reason, many [of Williams'] officers are to return….thinks the enemy will be all gone by a day or two; there were 18,000 [enemy] troops in the Southern Department last year, besides more than 2,000 militia and 1,000 Negroes, an amazing difference between their forces and ours; does not yet know how he and his forces will spend the winter; expects a great frolic when they enter Charlestown [Charleston, S.C.]

[MHS, OH Williams papers, (1 of 8, item 167)]


The Evacuation of Charleston

     After Yorktown, Washington hoped to end the war in the South with a combined French-American expedition against Charleston. But the French admiral Compte de Grasse was anxious to return to the West Indies, and it was not to be. American interests in the South remained in the hands of the skillful and vigilant Greene, but there was little more fighting to be done, as the British shut themselves up behind fortified lines. Greene dispatched his loyal subordinate “Mad Anthony” Wayne on an expedition to Georgia with a small force, and Wayne had the satisfaction of occupying Savannah, which the enemy evacuated on 11 July 1782. Now only Charleston and New York remained in British hands. But even the waiting game took its toll, and the soldiers still wanted to go home.

    “Greene’s little army upon the Ashley, composed of troops from North and South Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, found camp life in the summer of 1782 as fatal as the battle-field. Fevers proved sharper than the sword….‘Our camps is very thin….Hospitals crowded, a great many sick in camp; deaths so frequent the funeral ceremony dispensed with.’ The Ashley River was low and ‘full of alligators.’ Food and water were alike unfit. No wonder the soldiers longed for a release from such service, and when word came that a speedy peace was probable, and that Charleston was to be evacuated, the visions of home seemed to become something more than dreams. Long delays occurred on the part of the British, and it was not until December 14th that they took their final leave. By mutual agreement the transfer of the city to Americans was to be effected quietly, and as Leslie moved out Greene moved in….In the afternoon, as the last of the British marched to their boats at the docks, Wayne, now returned from Savannah, marched in with three hundred Light Infantry, the Legion Cavalry, and twenty artillerists, the rest of the army remaining in camp.

     “The British sailed off in three hundred ships, taking with them over thirteen thousand Tory inhabitants and captured slaves from South Carolina and Georgia….” The turnover was a subdued affair; the town had been under occupation for years, and much Loyalist sympathy still existed there.

     A Hessian account of the departure warned that, “…no citizen should open a door or a window in three days, much less should one let himself be seen on the street on pain of punishment until the end. Moreover if any one transgresses in other respects by firing guns and other excesses during the out-march to the water, he will be at once taken in custody and sent to Nova Scotia upon a wild, wild island, where there is no wood…”
     “When we came to the water, some small vessels lay there on which we proceeded to the big ships and then departed from the city up the harbor.”

     “General Leslie and suite reached New York about January 1st following….every point upon the coast within the limits of the thirteen States was free from the presence of the enemy, New York excepted. The evacuation of the latter city was not to occur until nearly a year after….With that move the complete autonomy of the United States was established.”227 Greene established the Southern Army headquarters at John Rutledge’s home in town. John Rutledge had been succeeded as governor by his younger brother Edward, whose mansion was just across Broad street. Both homes still stand today and are designated as historic sites. They are privately operated as bed-and-breakfasts.

    A little later in December, Greene moved his forces to James Island in the Charleston harbor.228 



End of the War


     Effective 1 January 1783, Washington disbanded the 3rd and 4th Maryland regiments and transferred all personnel to the 1st and 2nd regiments. Yet still the Maryland troops remained in Charleston. Edward turned twenty-six years old in late January or early February. He would state in his pension application that he “remained with General Greene until the termination of the Revolution,” which it seemed would never come to fruition.
     The United States of America still had much left to be done to accomplish this termination. The Commander in Chief, after brilliantly handling a potential rebellion of his officers at Newburgh, turned his attention to demobilization. The preliminary peace treaty was signed and ratified by Congress in April. “Washington and Secretary at War [Major General Benjamin] Lincoln promptly worked out the mechanics of disbanding the army. Congress adopted a general resolution on April 23…Enlistments for the duration [such as Edward’s] would expire only with the ratification of a definitive treaty, but Congress allowed the Commander in Chief to furlough the troops at his discretion. He would therefore be able to recall the army if negotiations collapsed.”229 


     The final departure of the American army from Charleston began with an evacuation of the sick. General Greene issued this order on May 23 to Secretary at War Lincoln:



                                         Head Quarters May 20th 1783

Dear Sir

              I   have   sent   home   a   number  of  the  sick  and

convalescent soldiers, belonging to the States of Maryland

and  Pennsylvania,  whose  cases  the  Surgeons  thought

require   an   immediate   removal   to   the   Northward.

The  Maryland  troops  are  ordered  to  be landed at Ana

=polis, and  Genl  Smallwood  as  the Officer command

ing  in   Maryland  is   instructed  to  take  your   orders

on   their   future   destination.  The  Pennsylvania  troops

will  land  at  the  Head  of   Elk  and  cross  by  land  to

Christeen   &   from  there  go  to  Philadelphia  by  water.                      [Christina Bridge, Delaware]

The Officers who accompany the troops are without cash

to  defray  the  expenses  after  landing.   This   you  will

please  to  give  orders   on.   I  am  with   great   esteem.

                                            as must be: the hble ye


Major Genl Lincoln




     “On May 26 Congress ordered that all men were to march home under the control of officers; at the same time, it allowed them to keep their arms as a bonus….Washington announced the furlough policy on 2 June 1783….The rest of the Army, including the troops from the Southern and Western Departments, went home on furlough.”230 But as of early July, 1783, troops were still in Charleston. An excerpt from the pension application of Jesse Gammon, of the North Carolina militia, who enlisted late in the war:



...we marched down and crossed Ashley River at Bacon's Bridge, on to

Head Quarters on Ashley Hill where the main army was encamped under General

Greene....--The Declarant recollects Generals Greene and Gist-

He does not recollect any other officers. We remained here about three months,

when we marched about six miles to James Island, one mile from Charleston,

crossing the Trapson[?] Gulf which reaches from Stono River to Ashley River. We

encamped on James Island and built huts. We remained here untill the 4th of July

1783. On this day, the Artillery fired one round with the cannon, and the

Infantry fired two rounds, one running fire and one fire by platoons….the day

after we went to Charleston, we received orders by one of our non-commissioned

officers, that the North Carolina men were marching to Wilmington and for us

to join them. We left Charleston immediately and joined our companies at the

fork of the road twelve miles from Charleston…At this place we were

discharged. Declarant's discharge was handed to him by his Orderly Sergeant

Sturdevant; by whom it was signed, does not know, being illiterate.





Home at Last


     At long last, Edward and his fellow Marylanders left the South. Rather than having to march, they were shipped home. “In July, transports arrived at Annapolis, bringing officers and soldiers of the Maryland Line, about 500 of them, from Charleston, South Carolina.”232 And it was probably at Annapolis that Edward received his furlough, although no record of it survives.

     This was a bittersweet time for him and his comrades. In his “Narrative,” Sergeant Joseph Plumb Martin described his release from the army up in Pennsylvania: “‘The old man’ our captain, came into our room…and…handed us our discharges, or rather furloughs. I confess, after all, that my anticipation of the happiness I should experience on such a day as this was not realized. We had lived together as a family of brothers for several years…had shared with each other the hardships, dangers, and sufferings incident to soldier life, had sympathized with each other in trouble and sickness; had assisted in bearing each others burdens, or strove to make them lighter by council or advice; had endeavored to conceal each others faults, or make them appear in as good a light as they would bear….And now we were to be (the greater part of us) parted forever, as unconditionally separated as though the grave lay between us….we were young men and had warm hearts….Ah! It was a serious time!

     “Some of the soldiers went off for home the same day that their fetters were knocked off; others stayed and got their final settlement certificates, which they sold to procure decent clothing and money sufficient to enable them to pass with decency through the country and to appear something like themselves when they arrived among their friends. I was among those….I…sold some of them and purchased some decent clothing and then set off.”233

     Edward was now a survivor of more than four years of the hardships and deprivations of war. He was just an ordinary person, but he had lived through an extraordinary time and circumstance. His sacrifices, along with those of his officers and comrades, bought America her liberty. He walked home that summer from Annapolis, perhaps arriving unannounced at his parent’s homestead, not seen or heard from since he marched away at the Port Tobacco town square, still dressed in his tattered old Continental uniform, carrying his musket. Imagine him walking up to the house and greeting his mother Sarah as she was working around the home. Children! Quick, run get your father! Edward’s home! What joy!


     Edward probably again lived with his parents in the old Zachia Manor in Charles County, at least for a while. In the post-war years to come he would marry Sallie Padgett (whose family also lived on Zachia Manor), and they would start to raise a family there. No doubt they lived very close to the homesteads of both his parents and her parents, perhaps on land Edward’s father, Thomas Arvin, had purchased as Confiscated British Property during the war. Thomas was still weighed down by debts owed to James Brown & Company, and he now had taken on the additional burden of paying the State of Maryland for this newly acquired land. Though the struggle for debt relief had always been a permanent part of Thomas’s life, with the new peace treaty it was about to get much worse.


      Meanwhile, the end of the War for Independence continued to unfold. “On 2 November Washington…released his Farewell Order to the Philadelphia newspapers for nationwide distribution to the furloughed men,” referring to them as “one patriotic band of brothers.”234 Soon the Continental Army, including the Maryland Line, was almost entirely disbanded. Its former Commander-in-Chief, His Excellency General George Washington, resigned his commission in a dramatic ceremony at Annapolis on 23 December and rode home to Mount Vernon in time to be with Martha for Christmas. And surely Edward and Sallie celebrated Christmas with their families also.

     The definitive peace treaty with Great Britain had been signed in Paris on 3 September 1783. Now the Confederation Congress, sitting in Annapolis, ratified it on 14 January 1784. And just as Thomas Paine had predicted in those dark days early in the war, Maryland was now one of THE FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES OF AMERICA. 



Death of Nathanael Greene


     Like so many other Americans, Nathanael Greene and his wife Caty entered the post-war era with a large family—they had five children. Grateful for what the general had done for his country, the State of Georgia granted him a plantation, confiscated British property, near Savannah, which he named Mulberry Grove. After twice turning down the post of Secretary at War, he retired from public life and was living comfortably as a country gentlemen, land-rich but cash-poor. Ever the benevolent leader during the war, he had personally guaranteed payment to several Charleston merchants to facilitate the manufacture of clothing for his men, and he was still obligated. Despite this debt, life was good. Nathanael and Caty were enjoying the South, surrounded by their many friends. But in the summer of 1786 all that changed.
     “On June 11, Nathanael and Caty drove to Savannah where they spent the evening and night with the Nat Pendletons. On the following day they started home, stopping off at a neighboring plantation of a William Gibbons. Before leaving, Nathanael walked over the rice-fields with his host and though the day was exceedingly hot he wore no hat.

    “On the way home in the carriage, Nathanael suddenly complained of a severe headache, and upon arriving at Mulberry Grove he immediately went to bed. The headache continued all through the next day and became intense the following morning. Alarmed, Caty summoned Dr. John Brickel, a Savannah physician, who drew off a measure of blood. That night Nat Pendleton came for a visit and was shocked at Nathanael’s disinclination to talk. When he became worse and lapsed into a semi-stupor, a second doctor named McCloud was called in as a consultant. He made a diagnosis of sunstroke, applied blisters, and drew more blood.…Anthony Wayne came and sat up all night with his former commander.

     “At dawn on June 19, 1786 Caty sat in a chair, weeping silently. On the bed nearby lay the body of her husband, her greatest admirer, her staunchest friend. Anthony Wayne sent the word to Savannah. His hand trembled as he wrote, ‘I have just seen a great and good man die…’”235 Nathanael Greene was only forty-four years old.
     When the news reached Maryland it was announced in the 20 July edition of The Maryland Gazette.




                                                       S A V A N N A H,        June 22.

                                            On Monday last,  the 19 th  of  June,   died at  his

                                        seat near  Savannah,  Nathaniel Greene, Esq ; late    

                                        major-general in the army of the United States; and

                                        on Tuesday  morning  his remains were brought to

                                        town  to  be interred.   The melancholy  account of

                                        his death was made known by the discharge of  mi-

                                        nute guns from  Fort Wayne ;  the shipping  in  the

                                        harbour  had  their colours half-masted ;  the shops

                                        and  stores  in  town  were shut ; and every class of

                                        citizens,  suspending   their  ordinary  occupations,

                                        united in giving testimonies of  the deepest  sorrow.

                                             The   several   military   corps   in   town,  and  a

                                        great part of the militia of Chatham county attended

                                        the  funeral.

                                            General  Greene  left  behind  him a wife and five

                                        children ;  the eldest of  whom is about eleven years

                                        of  age.  The loss  of  such a man, to  such  a  family,

                                        must  be  truly afflicting!

                                          Thy darts, O death! that fly promiscuous round,

                                          In such a victim many others wound.






Continued in Edward Darnall Arvin Part 2 – The Post-War Years

Researched and written by Robert Joseph Arvin, Jr.       
©   Copyright A.D. 2007



1.   Nicholas Creswell, The Journal of Nicholas Creswell 1774-1777 (1924), p 17, 57, as quoted by Jean B. Lee in The Price of Nationhood (1994), p 118

2.   Mrs. G. W. Hedges, Unpublished Revolutionary War Records of Maryland, p 234-236. Also, Maryland
   State Archives, Revolutionary War Papers, Box 6, Folder 21

3.   Louise Joyner Hienton, History of Prince George’s Heritage, Sidelights on the Early History of Prince George’s
   County, Maryland from 1696 to 1800
(1972), p 176

4.   J. Thomas Scharf, History of Maryland From the Earliest Times to the Present Day (1881), Vol. 2, p 192-194;
   Hienton, Heritage, p176

5.   Ronald Hoffman, A Spirit of Dissension (1973), p 167

6.   Fred Anderson Berg, Encyclopedia of Continental Army Units (1972), p 42

7.   National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), War Department Collection of Revolutionary War
   Records, Revolutionary War Pension Applications, Record Group 93, Microcopy 804, Reel 408

8.   Hienton, Prince George’s Heritage, p 178-179

9.   Scharf, History of Maryland, Vol. 1, p 240-242

10.  Rieman Steuart, A History of The Maryland Line in the Revolutionary War 1775-1783 (1969), p 5

11.  NARA, RG 93, M 804, Reel 910

12.  Hienton, Prince George’s Heritage, p 182

13.  NARA, RG 93, M 804, Reel 2047

14.  Berg, Encyclopedia, p 31-32

15.  Steuart, The Maryland Line, p 5

16.  Samuel Stelle Smith, Winter at Morristown, 1779-1780: The Darkest Hour (1979), p 16

17.  Steuart, History, p 3

18.  Jean B. Lee, Price of Nationhood, p 164

19.  Maryland State Archives (MSA), Vol. 21, p 433

20.  Lee, Nationhood, p 164

21.  Arthur J. Alexander, “How Maryland Tried to Raise Her Continental Quotas” Maryland Historical Magazine
    (1942), Vol. 42, pp 187-188, 190

22. Lee, Nationhood, p 165-167; “Bernard Elliott’s Recruiting Journal,” The South Carolina Historical and
    Genealogical Magazine
, Vol. 17, No. 3, (July 1916), p 96

23.  MSA, Vol. 21, p 469

24.  MSA, Vol. 21, p 470-471

25.  MSA, Vol. 12, p 212, as quoted by Edward C. Papenfuse, In Pursuit of Profit, The Annapolis Merchants in The
    Era of The American Revolution 1763-1805
(1976), p 83

26.  Maryland Historical Society, Otho Holland Williams papers (1 of 8, item 143)

27.  Smallwood’s Essay on Speculation, Executive Papers, as cited by Papenfuse, In Pursuit of Profit, p 94

28.  The Maryland Gazette, 1 August 1776 and 27 February 1777; MSA, 43:96, 581-82; both as cited by Papenfuse, In
       Pursuit of Profit,
pp 85, 93

29.  Dr. Mary C. Gillett, The Army Medical Department 1775-1818 (1990), p 14

30.  ibid, p 7

31.  MSA, Vol. 21, p 471

32.  MSA, Vol. 21, p 158

33.  W. C. Ford, ed., Journals of the Continental Congress (1907), Vol. 3, p 323

34.  Library of Congress (LOC), Manuscript Division (MsD), Peter Force Collection, Series 8D, Microfilm 17137, Reel
       55, Item 129

35.  Varick Transcripts of Washington’s General Orders; LOC MsD, Peter Force Collection, Series 8D, Microfilm
       17137, Reel 55, Item 129

36.  MSA, Maryland State Papers (Red Books) Vol. 25, folio 58

37.  MSA, Musters of Maryland Troops in the American Revolution, Vol. 18, p 125-126

38.  Charles H. Lesser, ed. The Sinews of Independence; Monthly Strength Reports of the Continental Army (1976),

       p 124

39.  John Buchanan, The Road to Guilford Courthouse (John Wiley & Sons Ltd. 1997 (, p 127-129

40.  Adolf Edward Zucker, General De Kalb, Lafayette’s Mentor (1966), p 183

41.  Richard L. Blanco and Paul J. Sanborn, eds., The American Revolution 1775-1783, An Encyclopedia (1993),
    Vol. 2, p 1590-1595

42.  Zucker, De Kalb, p190

43.  Smith, Morristown, p 5

44.  ibid, p 5-7

45.  Zucker, De Kalb, p 190
46.  Thomas R. Bard, “Journal of Lt. Robert Parker” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (1904),
       Vol. 28, p 23

47.  S. Sydney Bradford, “Hunger Menaces the Revolution, December, 1779—January, 1780” Maryland Historical

       Magazine (March 1966), Vol. 61, p 2-3

48.  Smith, Morristown, p 10

49.  George F. Scheer and Hugh F. Rankin, Rebels & Redcoats (World Publishing Co., 1957), p 422

50.  Smith, Morristown, p 14

51.  Zucker, De Kalb, p 190

52.  John C. Fitzpatrick, The Writings of George Washington, Vol. 17, p 273-274, as quoted by David F. Burg in An

       Eyewitness, The American Revolution (2001), p 270

53.  Bradford, “Hunger Menaces…” Maryland Historical Magazine, Vol. 61, p 11

54.  ibid, p 14-15

55.  Smith, Morristown, pp 17, 18

56.  Scheer and Rankin, Rebels & Redcoats, p 424

57.  Leonard Lundin, Cockpit of the Revolution (1940), p 420

58.  Zucker, De Kalb, pp 192,197

59.  Lawrence E. Babits, “Supplying the Southern Continental Army, March 1780 to September 1781” Military
    Collector & Historian,
Vol. 48, 4 (Winter 1995), p 164-165

60.  Zucker, De Kalb, p 198

61.  Buchanan, Road to Guilford Courthouse, p 127

62.  Babits, “Supplying the Southern…” p 164-165

63.  Rev. Joseph Brown Turner, ed., The Journal and Order Book of Captain Robert Kirkwood of the Delaware
    Regiment of the Continental Line
(1910), Part 1, p 9.

64.  Zucker, p 200

65.  ibid, p 190-191

66.  Babits, “Supplying…” p 165

67.  Zucker, p 200

68.  ibid, p 200-201

69.  ibid, p 201

70.  ibid, p 203

71.  Babits, “Supplying…” p 165

72.  Zucker, p 203

73.  ibid, p 205

74.  ibid, p 206

75.  ibid, p 208

76.  William J. Casey, Where and How the War was Fought (1976), p 296

77.  LOC, MsD, Peter Force Collection 8D, Microfilm 17137, Reel 67, Item 159

78.  Zucker, p 210-213

79.  Lieut. Col. H. L. Landers, The Battle of Camden South Carolina August 16, 1780 (1929), p 11-14

80.  Zucker, p 210-213

81.  ibid, p 214

82.  Dan Higginbotham, The War of American Independence (1983), p 359-360

83.  Zucker, p 215

84.  Landers, Battle of Camden, p 16-18

85.  William Seymour, “Journal of the Southern Expedition, 1780-1783, by William Seymour, Sergeant-Major of the
    Delaware Regiment,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (1883), Vol. 7, p 287

86.  Buchanan, Guilford Courthouse, p 157

87.  Buchanan, p 155

88.  Scheer and Rankin, Rebels & Redcoats, p 468

89.  Zucker, p 220

90.  ibid, p 220

91.  Landers, p 24-25

92.  Scheer and Rankin, p 468

93.  Zucker, p 220-221

94.  Landers, p 38-40

95.  Zucker, p 221

96.  Landers, p 38-40

97.  Zucker, p 222-223; Landers, p 40-54

98.  Landers, p 40-54

99.  Zucker, p 222-223

100.  Landers, p 40-54

101.  Pension Application of Garret Watts,” John C. Dann, ed., The Revolution Remembered (1977), p 194-195

102.  Zucker, p 223

103.  Landers, p 40-54

104.  Christopher Ward, The War of the Revolution (1952), as quoted by Zucker, p 223

105.  Christopher Hibbert, Redcoats and Rebels, the American Revolution through British Eyes (1991), p 278

106.  Seymour, Journal, p 288. “Bancroft, in his account of Camden, says, Armand disliked his orders and was insubordinate.” (Seymour, Journal, footnote)

107.  Buchanan, p 171-172

108.  Landers, p 40-54

109.  Seymour, p 289

110.  Kirkwood, p 11

111.  Seymour, p 289; also see: Betsy Knight, “Thomas and William Woolford: The Travails of Two Maryland
      Brothers Who Served in the South During the American Revolution,” Maryland Historical Magazine, Vol. 84,
      No. 4 (Winter 1989), p 379-386

112.  Benson J. Lossing, Lossing’s Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution (1852), Vol. 2, Chap 25

113.  Seymour, p 289-290

114.  Seymour, p 289; Gates to Washington, 3 September 1780, p 66; Otho H. Williams, Brigade and
      Regimental Orders, 12 September 1780, Revolutionary War Collection, MSA MS 768, as quoted by Lawrence
      E. Babits, “The ‘Fifth’
Maryland at Guilford Courthouse: An Exercise in Historical Accuracy,” Maryland
      Historical Magazine
(1989),Vol. 83, No. 4, p 370-378

115.  Ross M. Kimmel, In Perspective, William Smallwood (1976), not paginated

116.  Scheer and Rankin, p 475-476

117.  Website: (courtesy of Kershaw County Historical Society)

118.  Scheer and Rankin, p 476

119.  Dan Higginbotham, Daniel Morgan, Revolutionary Rifleman (1961), p 115

120.  Babits, “Supplying the Southern Army,” p 165, 169

121.  ibid, p 165, 169

122.  ibid, p 166

123.  Buchanan, p 160-161

124.  Lawrence E. Babits, A Devil of a Whipping (University of North Carolina Press (
      2001), p 23

125.  Scheer and Rankin, p 491

126.  Higginbotham, Morgan, pp 107, 109-110

127.  ibid, p 108

128.  Kirkwood, Journal, p 11

129.  Seymour, p 290

130.  Scheer and Rankin, p 491

131.  Higginbotham, Morgan, p 112

132.  Seymour, p 290

133.  Buchanan, p 292 (letter to Alexander Hamilton on 2 Nov 1780)

134.  Babits, Whipping, p 168: footnote for Chapter 2 (Greene’s letter to Lafayette 29 December 1780)

135.  Seymour, p 291

136.  Scheer and Rankin, p 487

137.  ibid, p 487-488

138.  Buchanan, p 275

139.  Scheer and Rankin, p 489-490

140.  Seymour, p 292

141.  MHS, “OH Williams Papers,” 23 January 1781 (1 of 8, item 85)

142.  Ross M. Kimmel, In Perspective, William Smallwood (1976), not paginated

143.  Scheer and Rankin, p 490, 492

144.  Babits, Whipping, p 6

145.  Buchanan, p 276

146.  Secretary of War Dwight L. Davis, Historical Statements Concerning Battle of King’s Mountain and Battle of
   Cowpens SC
(1928), p 54-61

147.  Babits, “Supplying,” p 166

148.  Scheer and Rankin, p 490-491

149.  Davis, King’s Mountain and Battle of Cowpens, p 54-61

150.  Scheer and Rankin, p 492-493

151.  Seymour, p 292

152.  William B. Reed, Life and Correspondence of Joseph Reed (1847), Vol. 2, p 344-346, as excerpted by Albert
         Bushnell Hart, ed., “Building of the Republic,” American History Told by Contemporaries (1899), p 609-612

153.  William J. Casey, Where and How the War Was Fought (1976), p 300

154.  Seymour, p 293

155.  Scheer and Rankin, p 492-493

156.  Seymour, p 294

157.  Thomas Young, “Memoir of a Revolutionary Patriot of South Carolina,” The Orion (October 1843), Vol. 3,
         p 84-88

158.  Rev. James Hodge Saye, Memoirs of Major Joseph McJunkin, Revolutionary Patriot, (1837)

159.  NARA, Pension Application S25068, M804, Reel 944. See also Thomas Batch, “Sketch of the Life of
         Lawrence Everheart,” Papers Relating Chiefly to the Maryland Line During the Revolution (1857), p 42-52

160.  NARA, Pension application of John Welchel, RG 93, M804, Reel 2547

161.  John M. Roberts, ed., James P. Collins, Autobiography of a Revolutionary Soldier (1859)

162.  Babits, Whipping, p 101

163.  NARA, Pension Application of William Blevins, RG 93, M804, Reel 249

164.  Babits, Whipping, p 101

165.  Henry Lee, The Campaign of 1781 in the Carolinas (1824), note 97-98

166.  Patrick O’ Kelley, Nothing but Blood and Slaughter (2004), Vol. 3, p 48-49

167.  Roderick Mackenzie, Strictures on Lt.-Col. Tarleton’s “History of the Campaigns of 1780 and 1781.” (1787),
         p 100-101

168.  Scheer and Rankin, p 498-499

169.  J. B. O’Neill, “Revolutionary Incidents—Memoir of Joseph  M’Junkin, of Union.” Magnolia (1843), Vol. 2,

         p 39

170.  Online Archives of the South Carolina Historical Society

171.  Online Archives of the South Carolina Historical Society: Cowpens Papers: Being Correspondence of
         General Morgan and the Prominent Actors
, from the collection of Theodorus Bailey Myers, pp. 37-38
         Document ID: Myers, p. 38, Date: 3/09/1781. The auction was the Lucien M. LaRiviere sale of 21 May 2001,              by Bowers and Merena Galleries.
See also the website of the Department of State. 

172.  O’ Kelley, Blood and Slaughter, Vol. 3, p 50

173.  Seymour, p 295

174.  Buchanan, p 338
175.  ibid, p 351

176.  Seymour, p 296

177.  Babits, “Supplying…” p 166

178.  Buchanan, p 352

179.  ibid, p 355

180.  Scheer and Rankin, p 507

181.  ibid, p 507

182.  Seymour, p 297

183.  Buchanan, p 358

184.  ibid, p 358

185.  ibid, p 359

186.  ibid, p 360

187.  Babits, “Supplying…” p 169

188.  Buchanan, p 362, 365

189.  Kirkwood, p 14

190.  Seymour, p 377

191.  Buchanan, p 369

192.  John C. Dann, ed., “Pension Application of Garret Watts,” The Revolution Remembered (1977), p 195

193.  Scheer and Rankin, p 513-514

194.  Babits, “An Exercise…” p 370-378

195.  Buchanan, p 373

196.  ibid, p 373

197.  Scheer and Rankin, pp 516, 517

198.  Buchanan, p 378

199.  ibid, p 379-381. Caveat: The tradition that Cornwallis ordered his own men to be fired upon has recently been challenged by authors Lawrence E. Babits and Joshua B. Howard in Long, Obstinate, and Bloody, The Battle of Guilford Courthouse. (2009, University of North Carolina Press. They contend the story first appeared in Memoirs by Henry Lee and has been simply retold by later authors. The incident was never mentioned by Cornwallis or O'Hara in their own accounts of the battle, and Lee was engaged in his own struggle more than a quarter of a mile away at the time.

200.  ibid, p 381

201.  Dr. Mary C. Gillett, The Army Medical Department 1775-1818 (1990), pp 1, 14-18

202.  Scheer and Rankin, p 520

203.  Buchanan, p 382-383     

204.  ibid, p 382-383

205.  Seymour, p 380

206.  Dann, Revolution Remembered, p 196

207.  Seymour, p 381-382

208.  ibid, p 383

209.  E-mail from Prof. Lawrence E. Babits, who has seen “quite a complete” list of the people in it

210.  Babits, “Supplying…” p 167. (Note 47: Pickering reported a probable long delay “for want of money.”)

211.  Seymour, p 383

212.  Babits, “Supplying…” p 168

213.  Seymour, p 386

214.  Scheer and Rankin, p 535

215.  Robert W. Gibbs, Documentary History of the American Revolution (1853-57), Vol. 3, p 149-156

216.  Scheer and Rankin, p 538

217.  NARA, Application S46507, RG 93, M 804

218.  Scheer and Rankin, p 539

219.  Hibbert, Redcoats and Rebels, p 330-331

220.  Kirkwood, p 26

221.  Hibbert, p 333

222.  Lesser, Sinews, p 240

223.  Seymour, p 387

224.  ibid, p 390

225.  Lesser, p 240, note H

226.  Steuart, Maryland Line, p 165-166

227.  “Evacuation of Charleston S.C., 1782,” Magazine of American History with Notes and Queries (1882),

         p 826-830

228.  Lesser, p 142

229.  Robert K. Wright, The Continental Army (1983), p 179

230.  ibid, p 179

231.  Pension Application, NARA, RG 93, M804

232.  Hienton, Prince George’s Heritage, p 197

233.  Joseph Plumb Martin, A Narrative of Some of the Adventures, Dangers and Sufferings of A Revolutionary
(1830), p 202-204

234.  Wright, Continental Army, p 180-181
235.  John F. and Janet A. Stegeman, Caty, A Biography of Catherine Littlefield Greene (1977), p 124





Portraits of Continental Army officers by Charles Willson Peale, courtesy of National Park Service, Museum Mangement Program ( Independence National Historic Park collection.

Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emmanuel Leutze (1851), courtesy New York Metropolitan Museum of Art (

Washington and Lafayette at Valley Forge by John Ward Dunsmore, courtesy of Library of Congress, American Memory collection (

Maps of The Highlands, New Jersey, North Carolina and South Carolina, courtesy of Library of Congress, American Memory collection

Buttermilk Falls from Panorama of the Hudson River, 1846 by William Wade

Morristown encampment: images from NPS Handbook 120, Morristown (1975), illustrated by Don Troiani, courtesy of the National Park Service.

Battle of Camden by Alonzo Chappell, courtesy of The National Archives.

De Kalb Wounded at Camden by E. Benjamin Andrews (1895), De Kalb Monument by Benjamin Lossing (1850) and Charleston in 1780 by Benjamin Lossing (1851), all courtesy of University of Southern Florida, Clipart ETC (

Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Lord Cornwallis by Thomas Gainsborough, courtesy of National Portrait Gallery, London (

Battle of Cowpens by William Ramey (1845)

Surrender at Yorktown by John Trumbull (1820)

Schematic maps of Battle of Cowpens: images from A Devil of a Whipping, by Lawrence E. Babits, courtesy of University of North Carolina Press. ( Used with permission.

Militia at Guilford Courthouse by Don Troiani, courtesy of NPS Museum Management Program

The First Maryland Regiment Holding the Line at Guilford Courthouse courtesy of The United States Army Center for Military History. (

Arvin Ancestry Biographical Sketches