Note by FOC, webmeister: These documents on Tarleton Brown are Copyright ©2000 L. E. Jarrell, all rights reserved. All OCR errors are mine alone, and are not to be attributed to either Tarleton Brown, publishers, or Gene Jarrell. Please inform me of errors. This document was supplied by, and thanks to, Gene Jarrell for use on these web sites. I searched for this document for several decades and never found it! (FOC)
Memoirs of Tarleton Brown
A Captain in the Revolutionary Army
Written by himself
My father, William Brown, was a planter in Albemarle County, Virginia, where I was born on the 5th day of April, 1757. Flattering inducements being held forth to settlers in the rich region of South Carolina contiguous to the Savannah River; and my uncle, Bartlett Brown, having already moved, and settled himself two miles above Matthews Bluff, on the Savannah River; my father bought some negroes, and left them with his brother to make a crop; and in 1769, a year afterwards, my father and family, consisting of eleven persons, emigrated to this country and settled on Briers Creek, opposite to Burtons Ferry. We found the country in the vicinity very thinly inhabited. Our own shelter for several weeks to protect us from the weather was a bark tent, which served for our use until we could erect a rude dwelling of logs.
Having cleared a piece of land, we planted, and found the soil to be exceedingly fertile in the river swamp, producing abundant crops. The country was literally infested with wild beast, which were very annoying to the inhabitants - killing the stock and destroying the crops - and were so bold, daring, and ravenous, that they would come into our yards, and before our doors take our sheep and poultry. Indeed it was dangerous to venture out at night beyond the precincts of our yard unarmed. We used every device to exterminate them, and ultimately effected our objects by setting traps and poisoned bait.
The forest abounded with all kinds of game, particularly deer and turkeys - the former were almost as gentle as cattle. I have seen fifty together, in a days ride in the woods. The latter were innumerable, and so very fat that I have often run them down on horseback. The range for cattle was excellent; it was a very common thing to see two hundred in a gang in the large ponds. In any month of the year beeves [beef] in the finest order for butchering might be obtained from the forest. It was customary then to have large pens or enclosures for cattle under the particular charge or direction of some person or persons. I was informed by one of those who kept a pen at King creek, that there had been marked that spring seven hundred calves. Our produce for market was beef, pork, staves, and shingles. There was but little corn planted in that section then; and, indeed, there was scarcely any inducement to plant more than sufficed for our own consumption, there being but few mills in the country, and consequently very little demand for the article.
From the fact of the new and unsettled state of the country, it may be readily inferred that the roads were very inferior; in truth, they were not much better than common bridle paths; and I feel confident in asserting that there were not, in the whole Barnwell District, any conveyances superior to carts of common wood slides. There were a great many wild horses running at large in the forest when we first settled in the district, a number of which were caught and sold by various individuals, who pursued exclusively the business for a living.
In 1775 the war broke out in South Carolina, and troops were required for the service - a draft was accordingly ordered in our section, and being one among the drawn number, we forthwith took up the line of march for Pocataligo, then under command of General Bull, where we were stationed about seven weeks. Nothing of importance requiring our attendance at that place, our company; was discharged, and we returned to our homes, where we had scarcely arrived, when another draft was ordered, for the first siege of Savannah, Georgia. On this occasion I escaped being drawn, but was employed by William Bryant to act in his place.
We embarked in an open boat, on the Savannah River, Captain Moore commanding our company. After three days passage down the river we arrived at Savannah, in good health and in fine spirits, all eager to engage in the contest, and to assert our rights as freemen through the muscles* of our muskets and at the points of our swords. We passed some heavy and mortal shots at the enemy, which were returned with equal fierceness and more deadly effect. During the heat of the battle, the iron hail pouring in torrents upon our devoted heads, a ball struck me in the breast, but being well nigh spent, it providentially did no other damage than raise a blood blister. We stayed at Savannah about seven weeks, and then returned to South Carolina, under the command of General Bull.
Having now become greatly attached to the army, in April, 1776, I enlisted in the regular service at Fort Littleton, Beaufort District, commanded by that brave and sagacious officer, Captain William Harden. There were about eighty-five men stationed at Fort Littleton, and I am the only one now remaining of that number. The greater part of the rest, through the fortunes of war, left their bones bleaching upon the battle plains: the few who survived the ravages of war, have long since fallen beneath the cold and relentless hand of death.
In July, 1777, I left Captain Harden, but immediately joined Colonel James Thompson's detachment on Pipe Creek. While stationed there, I accompanied Captain John Mumford, and a few choice fellows, upon an expedition to Georgia, to take a guard commanded by Captain Mott, a Tory, near Hutson's Ferry. We thought to surprise them; but, through some unaccountable means, they had discovered our intentions sometime before we reached the house where they were barricaded, and smugly encasing themselves, were prepared for our attack, and kept us at bay by firing at us through their portholes. The enemy, from their favorable position, could single out our men with deadly aim.
During the engagement, I screened myself behind a tree, with the twofold object of protecting myself from danger and taking deliberate aim at the enemy. Whilst in the act of shooting, a ball from the fort struck the tree just above my head, and dashed the bark into my face. I was rather cautious how I projected my head again beyond the necessary limits, as our Captain was most severely wounded in the knee, and John Booth mortally, of which he soon died, we gathered our wounded in blankets, and returned to South Carolina, to Colonel Thompsons camps. When Charleston fell into the hands of the British, under the command of sir Henry Clinton and Admiral Arbuthnot, Captain Munford, in attempting to make his way to the American Army, was attacked at Morris Ford, Salkahatchie, by old Ben John and his gang of Tories. In this encounter the poor fellow lost his life, and a truer patriot and braver soldier never fell. He now sleeps at the foot of a large pine, on the left hand side of the main road to Barnwell Court House, a few rods south of the bridge, just at turn of the road from which you can see the bridge.
A short time after these misfortunes, being stung to the quick at our recent defeat and irretrievable loss, and thirsting for justice, a company of fifty horse, led by Colonel Thompson and Major Bourguoin, sallied forth on a second expedition to take the formidable Captain Mott and his allies. In this instance, fortune favored us. I took part of the company, and went between the house and swamp. Our approach was so quiet and unexpected by the Tories that, making a chargeupon them, they, without the least effort to defend themselves, surrendered. Taking our prisoners, we returned in triumph to our headquarters, and from thence they were sent to Charleston under a strong guard.
After this capture of Captain Mott and his band of Tories, I continued with Captain Thompson but a short time. Leaving him, in conjunction with Joshua Inman and John Green, I raised a company of horse, which we called the "Rangers", with the view of scouting those sections of the country adjacent to the Savannah River, both in Georgia and South Carolina, as occasion required. Our station was at Crackers Neck, S.C. Whilst there, our rude boys would go out in the back swamp and frolic with the inhabitants, and from the great quantity of pinders they saw among them, said they would give it the name of Pinder Town, by which name it has gone ever since, as it is not well known by the name of "Pinder Town." During our stay at Crackers Neck, we took two trips to Sunsburry, Midway Settlement, Georgia, under the command of General Pickens and Twiggs. We had a fight with the British and Tories on Ogeechee Causeway; but not much damage was sustained on either side.
In one of our trips to Midway, a young man by the name of Richardson went ahead of us for the purpose of advising the enemy of our approach, but there lived a Mr. Cooper upon the road, directly in our route, who had a pretty daughter named Jane; and it was well known that young Richardson was in love with Miss Jane, and we suspected that he would call in to see her; so I selected a few men, and by a shorter route between the house and the swamp, intercepted him. He was, as we conjectured, at Coopers and as soon as he heard the approach of our men, he ran out - we fired upon him and left him dead. Cooper ran into the old field, but we sent a few shots after him. one of which entered his heel and stopped him (I think the distance was nearly two hundred yards) - we brought him to the house, and left him with his family.
In our two trips to Georgia, we made a road in it, which since has become a public road, and is now called the "Rebel Road." Georgia, at this time, was completely in the hands of the British and Tories. They often crossed the river, and killed and plundered the Whigs without mercy. On one occasion I visited my father and the family, with the view of remaining with them all night. On arriving at home, I was pleased to find my brother-inlaw, John Joice, and a friend from Augusta there, on a visit for a short time, for the times were now dangerous, the Tories having threatened my life and the life of one of my brothers. I felt that in case that we were attacked, they might render us essential service. And it so came to pass that on this very night they came to put into execution their threat. It was about midnight when they arrived. I was sleeping in the hall, and was awakened by the barking of the dogs. In a few minutes I was brought to my feet by a loud rap at the door. I asked, "Whos there"? Several voices together replied "Friends", and said that they were from Sisters Ferry, General Lincolns Army that their term of enlistment had expired, and that they were now on their way home, were greatly fatigued from traveling, and would like to remain with us during the night. I expressed to them my regret at our inability to accommodate them, as our house was filled with company. After a few minutes secret deliberation, they asked for a torch of fire, and said they would go to Briers Creek and encamp. I felt disposed to accommodate them as far as practicable, yet I had some misgivings with regard to the truth of the statement they had made; but recollecting that the militia were about to be discharged at that point, my doubts were in a great measure removed. I, therefore, opened the door and handed them a light, but, as if directed by a supernatural agency, I instantly closed it again, and looking through the crack above the door, I could distinctly see what passed among my friends without, by the light of their torch, and to my astonishment I found them to be Tories. Hear judge of the narrow escape I made. With what ease they could have put an end to my existence, entered our abode and massacred all within, ere we could have been aroused to a sense of our danger. Coming to the door a second time, they asked for water. I had now discovered the true object of their mission, arid was upon my guard. Having made the door doubly fast, I told them in a repulsive tone they might get it out of the well in the yard. This exasperated them exceedingly, and with loud voices they denounced me, father, and all the family, threatening to visit vengeance upon the whole household, and with fiendish fury and united strength endeavored to burst the door from its hinges; but finding that they could not, the endeavored to shoot me through the crack (it being a log house, as before mentioned), and they had a tolerable fair chance to do so, as the door of the room in which my father and family lay was open, and the light shining through it from the room into the hall where I was. They fired four or five times, but missed me and killed my little brother, who was aroused by the noise. By this time we had gathered our arms, and they made off some little distance from the house, still firing, but to no effect. We were well supplied with power and ball, and if they had been men and stood their ground like soldiers (and not have skulked off into the dark as all cowards and villains do when there is an opportunity offered to fight on equal grounds), we would soon have given them what they richly deserved. I have good reason to be thankful to Almighty God for his kind care and protection of me through so many dangers. I can plainly discern a divine interposition in my deliverance from the hands of those prowling murderers and plunderers.
A few months subsequent to this period, I withdrew from the "Rangers" at Crackers Neck, and connected myself with a company of militia keeping guard at Burtons Ferry. We exchanged shots almost every day with the British and Tories, who were on the opposite side (Georgia). A man moved over and joined our party, who said he had buried three jugs of rum at Hershmans Lake, and designated the spot. One of our number (Benjamin Green) said he knew the place, having once lived in the vicinity of the lake; so being in the right humor for an exploit, we soon devised, and put into execution a plan for visiting the premises. Benjamin Green, Henry Best, John Colding and myself took a small canoe and proceeded down King Creek to Savannah River; while we were moving up the stream of the river, with every prospect of success in our enterprise, a gang of Tories numbering thirty-five suddenly appeared upon the bank, where they had been lying in ambush, awaiting our approach. they hailed us, swearing that if we did not come to and surrender, they would kill every one of us. But we had too much knowledge of these rascals and their duplicity to be decoyed in that manner, and to trust ourselves to their clemency. We well knew that if we submitted, would be the inevitable consequence, and, therefore, preferred risking our chances in the little canoe, as there was a possibility of evading their shot. Immediately turning our boats head, with our united strength we urged her forward toward the opposite shore. At this instant they commenced a heavy firing at us. Best was soon wounded, and instantly leaped into the water, and clung to the side of the canoe. Colding also received several wounds, which disabled him from further assistance, so he laid down in the canoe, and Green by his side. All hopes of success seemed now centered in myself; with the rapidity of thought, I seized the best paddle, seated myself in the stern of the canoe, and moved her forward with astonishing celerity, reaching in a few minutes the land. Whilst paddling, I felt an acute sensation across the back of my neck and shoulders. On reaching the shore, I examined myself, and found that they had put three balls through my clothes, two of which had slightly scarified my flesh. Returning to the ferry, we severally recovered from our wounds, but never felt again a disposition to repeat our expedition. Poor Best and Colding had scarcely entered upon duty again before they were both killed by some of these very Tories.
On one occasion I was under the necessity of going home on some important business. Soon after my arrival, a company of horse passed directly in front of our residence. My first impression concerning them was that they were a reinforcement of our guard at the ferry. So soon as I had finished my business, I returned with all possible speed, overjoyed at the prospect of an accession to our members. On reaching the fort, to my astonishment, I found it completely evacuated. My reinforcement turned out to be a gang of Tories from Jacksons Branch, on the Salkahatchie, commanded by that famous old Tory, Ned Williams. When they rode up to the ferry, the guard took them to be friends, and gave them a cordial reception, congratulating themselves upon so large an addition to their force. They then unconsciously and ignorantly delivered themselves up to the enemy, and were taken across the river and placed in the hands of a large body of British and Tories, stationed at Harbards store, about two miles from the ferry. The intelligence of this capture reached Colonel Leroy Hammond of Augusta, who, without delay, marched down at the head of an effective force, and slew nearly the whole of the enemy, releasing and returning the Whig captives to Augusta, from whence my father, who was one among the number taken, came safely home.
The country now seemed to be almost in complete subjugation to the British. Yet had they not been aided and abetted by those unprincipled and bloodthirsty tools, those fiends incarnate, who it were a base slander to term men," I say, had the Tories but shown themselves the genuine sons of America - the uncompromising, unswerving, champions of liberty, bound together by every social and national tie - the enemy would never have gained a solid foothold upon our shores, and tyranny and oppression would sooner have been swept from our lands. But how sadly the reverse! They who had grown up "side by side, and hand in hand, together", father, son, and brother, were arrayed in mortal and ferocious strife against each other. The friends of liberty were beset on every hand, and from every quarter, until drawn from their homes and families, with stout hearts and strong arms, they struck
"For their altars and their fires,
God, and their native land".
Eternal vigilance and action were indispensable, by which, and with firm reliance on the God of battles, they fought, bled, and conquered.
It was seldom, indeed, that I sought the peaceful shades of my home, as a respite from the laborious duties and toils of the service. The enchantments of the family circle exercised an almost uncontrollable influence over the hearts and minds of men, and yet sweet as are the voices of those we love, and strongly as do cling our heartstrings around the objects of our affections, appealing to our sympathies in loud and soul-stirring language, still louder and more imperative is the call of our country to duty, and the soldier rushed precipitately from the charms and delights of the family circle to the call of his country, his heart burning with patriotic zeal for glory.
Such was the state of things at this crisis, and such was the fire which burned in the breast of every Whig of the Revolution. It was no time for supineness and lamentation - every energy of the soul had to be exercised, for it was the struggle of weakness against strength, of the undisciplined against the disciplined, and of the raw and untutored militia of an infant country with the well trained regulars of an old, experiences, and skillful nation.
With these truths impressed upon my mind, I allowed myself little or no leisure time, and was either engaged in the performance of duty in the camp, or scouting, as circumstances required. A short time after the capture of our guard at the ferry, I accompanied Colonel McCoy, who took command of a small force on a trip to the Ogeechee River, in Georgia, with a view of attacking a little band of Tories quartered in that vicinity. These we overtook in the woods, before arriving at the rendezvous; a running fight ensued, but from the denseness of the forest we were thwarted in our design, and the Tories made good their escape, for, if my memory serves me correctly, not one of them was killed. Thus frustrated and baffled, we returned to Carolina, On our arrival, we learnt that Captain James Roberts, who had been scouting with a company on the Edisto River, had (whilst encamping for the night, by some treachery of the Tories) been delivered into the hands of Colonels Chaney and Williams, who cruelly butchered many of his men, Captain Roberts and the rest escaping only with their lives. For this outrage we determined to have satisfaction. So thirty-six men, myself among the number, immediately volunteered under Captain Joseph Vince, a fine officer and a brave soldier, to pursue these scoundrels, and to avenge the blood of our brace comrades. We overtook some of their number in what is called the "Fork of Edisto River", upon whom we visited summary and immediate justice, killing five or six. From thence we proceeded to Captain Salleys "Cowpens," a few miles distant. Whilst there our commander rode, unaccompanied, to a mill located near the house of the Pens. Here he was fired upon by several Tories lying in ambush hard by and seriously wounded by musket shot - in consequence of which he was disabled from doing duty for some time. This unfortunate circumstance interrupting our further march, we were compelled to retrace our steps and return to headquarters, Savannah River.
At this time my fathers family lived at the Big House, now belonging to Colonel Hay, of the Boiling Springs, and a man by the name of Adam Wood lived a near neighbor to them, with whom I formed an acquaintance and and entered into an agreement with, that in the event either of our families were attacked, we should render each other every assistance in our power. But a short time elapsed from the period of said agreement before a band of Tories, passing through that section at night, stopped at Woods house, killed him, and commenced a general work of destruction, laying waste everything which chanced to be in their way. I distinctly heard the uproar and the firing of arms, and from the direction I knew Wood was attacked. Having retired for the night, I immediately arose, and in company with three other set out for the seat of action. When within a few yards of the house, observing their large and overwhelming numbers, I deemed it prudent to secrete ourselves by the roadside until they had passed. We lay concealed but a few minutes, when, having completed their work of death and desolation, the whole part rode by, two deep. As they passed I counted them, and they numbered one hundred and fifty, headed by those notorious scoundrels, robbers, and murderers, who defeated the gallant Roberts on the Edisto, as before stated, Chaney and Williams. They now made their way for the "Big House", but apparently pressed for time, and finding no one at home (my fathers family having taken the precaution, during my absence, to remove therefrom), they proceeded on their course towards Captain Vinces station, on Savannah River. Believing that they intended an attack upon the fort, I suggested to John Cave, one of my companions, that we had better set out forthwith, and, if possible, beat them, and apprise Captain Vince of his danger. So mounting our fastest horses, we sallied forth with all possible speed, and after considerable difficulty, threading our way through the swamps, we arrived at the fort just before the break of day. I requested the sentinel to inform the Captain that I had important intelligence to communicate to him, and desire as quick an interview as possible. The Captain returned an answer that he was sick and confined to his bed. I replied that I could take no excuse, sick or well, he must come out directly. This authoritative command brought him forth immediately. I then related to him what had transpired at the Big House, of the enemys numbers, and of his approach towards that garrison, advising him, at the same time, to evacuate the fort as soon as possible, unless he felt assured of his safety, and of his being able successfully to contend against so formidable a body, tendering, at the same time, our assistance. He stated to us that his force consisted but of twenty-five men, expressed great doubts of his ability to defend himself against such a numerous enemy, and thought it policy to adopt my suggestion to leave the fort, which was agreed on, and in a few minutes the fort was left to the mercy of the enemy, who in the course of one hour afterwards made a charge upon it with his full force, confidently expecting a prize; but instead of a prize they had the sore mortification to find that their deep laid scheme and hellish design on this occasion was completely baffled.
From this point they turned towards their headquarters, on Edisto. In crossing the Lower Three Runs, they stopped at the house of a Mr. Collins, a very quiet and inoffensive man, and for advanced in years, say about eighty-five. Whatever may have been the sentiments of this old gentleman, he maintained a strictly neutral position, shouldering arms on neither side; yet those fiends of darkness dispatched him, and his head as white as snow by the frost of many winters, for an eternal world, flow could these monsters in human shape dream of prospering, when murdering the aged and inoffensive in this horrid and brutal manner - and why all this bloodshed? Because the honest Whigs of the Revolution, knowing full well the rights of man, and daring to maintain them, refused to be galled by the servile chains of a foreign despot, and to bow submissively to his barbarous imposition. It was this which inspired them with invincible fortitude and zeal, and enabled them to throw off the yoke, and to declare themselves "free, sovereign, and independent".
I continued scouting both in Georgia and Carolina with very little intermission until the British, under Sir Henry Clinton, took Charleston, with General Lincolns Army of 4,000 men, in 1780 - the intelligence of which threw the whole State into consternation and alarm. Our stronghold, with the major part of the army, and those poor deluded wretches, the Tories, by this success of their allies at Charleston, seemed urged on with renewed impetuosity in their cruel and diabolical purpose. And dark indeed were the prospects of the friends of liberty about this juncture; despair was depicted in every countenance; our sun because obscured, and seemed ready to go down to rise no more, and the bird of liberty appeared as if taking its parting gaze of the fertile and flowery region over which it had hovered to plant the tree of liberty - beneath whose bowers the dispersed and oppressed of all nations might find an asylum.
What now to do I knew not. It appeared like madness to remain longer, surrounded by an overwhelming foe, liable at any moment to be butchered without mercy; and to flee the country as almost equally trying - many were pursuing the latter expedient, leaving for other sections where danger was less threating and where hostilities had scarcely opened. And my brother, Bartlett Brown, and myself thought it advisable for us to pursue the same course, so we returned to Virginia, our native State. In consequence of the scarcity of clothing during the war, we were poorly clad, and in bad condition to set out on a journey of five hundred miles, and that too, with but the paltry sum of three dollars in our pockets to defray our expenses. On reaching the "Ridge", about seventy miles from home, our little party had augmented to the number of sixty or seventy, all fleeing the country with the same object in view as ourselves. Journeying onward we arrived at Fishing Creek, where we encamped a day or two, not wishing to progress too rapidly for fear of overtaking a detachment of British Calvary under Colonel Tarleton, who we learned had been sent by Lord Cornwallis to attack Colonel Buford, and had surprised and defeated him at the Waxhaws, and were on their line of march through Charlotte, North Carolina, which lay directly in our route. Whilst encamped at Fishing Creek, a fellow by the name of Mobley, an Tory, came into our camp as a spy.
This fellow was so inquisitive, and so particular in examining everybody and everything about the premise, that our suspicions were very much excited in regard to his true character. We, however, suffered him to depart unmo1ested. And afterwards we learned that he returned to the encampment at the head of a large gang of Tories, with view to capture us, but we anticipated his design and escaped from his clutches, being at the distance of fifteen or twenty miles when he made his charge upon the tents. Continuing onward we arrived in sight of Charlotte, when we again encamped, remaining several days. Here many of our party separated from us for different routes, reducing our number to about thirty.
The citizens of Charlotte dispatched a messenger to us, praying that in the event that the British, who were marching towards that quarter, attacked the town we would render them assistance. This we promised to do, provided they would furnish us with ammunition, our supply being almost exhausted. On the return of their messenger they sent us a keg of power and lead in proportion. But at the expiration of three days, waiting for the anticipated attack, the citizens of Charlotte informed us that the enemy had gone back. We then "struck our tents" and resumed our march, taking with us the ammunition sent to us by the citizens of Charlotte, which served as in place of money, as we could barter it for bacon and corn at the mills we passed on. Throughout the rest of our journey nothing of importance transpired.
We reached our place of destination in Virginia, our mother country, all safe and sound. Shortly after our arrival there, intelligence was received that depredations and outrages to an alarming extent had been perpetrated in South Carolina, particularly in our own district. The substance of which was that McGeart and his company of Tories crossed the Savannah River from Georgia, at Summerlins Ferry (now called Stones Ferry), taking the course of the river, and killing every man he met who had not sworn allegiance to the King. This notorious scoundrel passed in this trip through the neighborhood where my father lived, and brutally murdered seventeen of the inhabitants, among whom were my father, Henry Best, and Moore, leaving John Cave for dead, who afterwards recovered. They burnt my fathers house level with the ground, and destroyed everything he possessed my mother and sisters escaping by fleeing to the woods, in which they concealed themselves until the vile wretches departed. But the work of death did not stop here. This atrocious deed of the sanguinary McGeart and his band was shortly succeeded by another equally cruel, nay, doubly cruel. The British Colonel Brown marched down from Augusta with an overwhelming force of Tories and Indians, and taking their stand at "Wiggins Hill", commenced a slaughter of the inhabitants. The news of which reached the ears of those brave and dauntless officers, Colonels. McCoy and Harden, who soon hastened to the defense of the terrified Whigs. and coming upon the enemy, charged upon them and killed and routed them to a man, Colonel Brown escaping to the woods. Colonels McCoy and Harden, having accomplished all that was required of them, retired from the field of action, after which Brown returned with the residue of his force and retook the "Hill", at which he remained until he hung five or our brave fellows - Briton Williams, Charles Blunt, and Abraham Smith, the names of the other two not recollected - then he decamped for Augusta. My brother and myself were now in Virginia, among our relations and friends, and would have been as happy as we desired, had it not been for the intelligence from South Carolina, particularly of the section we had left. Hearing that the British, Tories and Indians had murdered our father and sixteen more of his neighbors, burning to ashes his house and all within it, our mother and sisters escaping to the woods, with little or nothing to support upon, and no male friend to help them, my blood boiled within my veins, and my soul thirsted for vengeance.
We now learnt that General Washington had sent an army to the South, under the command of General Gates and Baron DeKalb, and we determined forthwith to set out for the seat of strife we had left. In our journey we passed Anson Court House, NC, which we found to be a hot bed of Tories. Colonel Wade and his company were stationed there, and the Tories were flocking in and rallying under him from all quarters. On the day of our arrival there, a large gang came in, headed by a fellow who doubtless thought he was doing great things for the King and his servile subjects. My mind could not revolve upon their delusion, and the little value they set upon the rich gems of liberty and independence, with which the Whigs were so enamored, and for which they so hard struggled. It has often been a matter of astonishment to me how we escaped the swarm of Tories at Anson Court House. But so it is, we did, and being eager to accomplish our journey and lose no time, we traveled through long chilling rains, it being in the fall season, exposing our selves to imminent danger, for the fever raged with great mortality at that time in that region of the country. While at Anson Court House a fellow endeavored to prevail upon us to stay all night with him, but from his suspicious appearance we declined his invitation, and declared our intention to pursue our route, notwithstanding the storm that was raging. On that night, as well as on several preceding ones, we took shelter under large trees in the swamp, our clothes being as wet as water could make them, and our bodies almost chilled through. In the morning it cleared off, and we pursued our journey.
Overtaking General Marion at "Kingstree", Black River, SC, we immediately united with his troops. Marions route lay then between the Santee and Little Peedee Rivers; arid being desirous to intercept and defeat Colonel Watts, who was then marching at the head of four hundred men, between Camden and Georgetown, every arrangement and preparation was made to carry into execution his design. All things being now ready, Colonel Watts appeared in sight at the head of his large force, and as they marched down the road with great show and magnificence (hoping no doubt, to terrify and conquer the country), they spied us; at which time the British horse sallied forth to surround us; General Marion, with his characteristic shrewdness and sagacity, discovered their maneuvers, anticipated their object, and retreated to the woods, some four or five hundred yards, and prepared for them. In a few moments they came dashing up, expecting to find us all in confusion and disorder, but to their astonishment, we were ready for the attack, and perceiving this, they called a halt, at which time General Marion and Colonel lorry ordered a charge. Colonel Horry stammered badly, and on this occasion he leaned forward, spurred his horse, waved his sword, and ran fifty or sixty yards, endeavoring to utter the word Charge, and finding he could not, balled out, "Damn it, boys, you, you know what I mean, go on"!
We were then doing what we could, pressing with all rapidity to the strife, and before the British could get back to the main body, we slew a goodly number of them. Being eager to do all the damage we could, we pursued the fellows very close to the line of the main body, and as soon as they got in, Colonel Watts began to thunder his cannon at us, and to tear down the limbs and branches of the tree, which fell about us like hail, but did no damage than to wound one of our men, Natt Huston, and one horse slightly. General Marion now finding his force, which consisted only of two hundred men (though sterling to a man, brave, fearless, and patriotic), was too small to give Colonel Watts open battle, guarded the bridges and swamps in his route, and annoyed and killed his men as they passed.
For prudence sake, General Marion never encamped over two nights in one place, unless at a safe distance from the enemy. He generally commenced the line of march about sunset, continuing through the greater part of the night. By this policy he was enabled effectually to defeat the plans of the British and to strengthen his languishing cause. For while the one army was encamping and resting in calm and listless security, not dreaming of danger, the other, taking advantage of opportunity, and advancing through the sable curtains of the night unobserved. often effectually vanquished and routed their foes. It was from the craftiness and ingenuity of General Marion, the celerity with which he moved from post to post, that his enemies gave to him the significant appellation of the "Swamp Fox." Upon him depended almost solely the success of the provincial Army of South Carolina, and the sequel has proven how well he performed the trust reposed in him. His genuine love of country and liberty, and his unwearied vigilance and invincible fortitude, coupled with the eminent success which attended him through his brilliant career, has endeared him to the hearts of his countrymen, and the memory of his deeds of valor shall never slumber so long as there is a Carolinian to speak his panegyric.
The heavy rains which prevailed at this time and inundated the country to a considerable extent, proved very favorable to General Marion. He now set a detachment of seventy men, my self one of that number, across the Santee, to attack the enemy stationed at "Scotts Lake" and "Monks Corner". We crossed the river at night in a small boat, commanded by Captains James and John Postell, dividing our forces into two companies, each consisting of thirty-five men. Captain James Postell took one company and proceeded to "Scotts Lake", but ascertaining the strength of the army, and finding the place too well fortified to warrant an attack, he abandoned the project and returned again to the river, and waited the arrival of Captain John Postell, who, in the meantime, had marched with the other company to "Monks Corner". It was my good fortune to accompany the latter. Just about the break of day we charged upon the enemy, and our appearance was so sudden and unexpected that they had not time even to fire a single gun. We took thirty-three prisoners, found twenty odd hogsheads of old spirits, and a large supply of provisions. The former we destroyed, but returned with the latter and our prisoners to the army on the Santee. The news of our attack on "Monks Corner" having reached the enemy at "Scotts Lake", they forthwith marched to their assistance, but arrived too late to extend any - we had captured their comrades, bursted their hogsheads of spirits, gathered their provisions, and decamped before their arrival. Captain James Postell, being apprised of their march to assist their friends at "Monks Corner," returned to the fort, set fire to it, and burned it level to the ground.
Shortly after this circumstance one of our most efficient officers, Colonel Harden (whom I have before mentioned as having had an important engagement with Browns men at "Wiggins Hill"), joined the army under General Marion, as also did Major Snipes, who had recently made a miraculous escape from the Tories through the faithfulness of his negro man, Cudjo. Major Snipes related the whole circumstance to me, and displayed the blisters upon his body, occasioned by the intense heat of the flames from the house set on fire by the Tories as he lay concealed in a brier patch close by, a particular account of which may be seen in Horrys Life of General Marion.
On the 1st day of April, 1780, I left General Marion on the Big Peedee River, in company with eighty others, forming a detachment under the command of Colonel Harden and Barker, and Major John Cooper. The two last mentioned officers were from Midway settlement, Georgia. There were also several other brave and energetic men who rendered themselves conspicuous in the war in our detachment, Fountin Stewart, Robert Salley, the Sharpes and Goldings, from Georgia. Our route lay by the "Four Holes. Crossing the Edisto at Givhams Ferry, we fell in with a man who assisted Brown in hanging the five brave fellows at "Wiggins Hill". We gave him his due, and left his body at the disposal of the birds and wild beasts. Pursuing our march, we came to "Red Hill", within about two miles of Pattersons Bridge, Salkahachie, It was now in the night, but the moon being full strength, and not a cloud to darken her rays, it was most as bright as day. Near this place were stationed a body of Tories, commanded by Captain Baron. They were desperate fellows, killing, plundering and robbing the inhabitants without mercy or feeling, A company of men, commanded by Major Cooper, were now sent to see what they could do with those murderers. In a few minutes after their departure we heard them fighting, which continued for nearly one hour, when Major Cooper returned and told us he had killed the greater part of them, with but the loss of one man, John Steward, from Georgia.
We then proceeded on for Pocataligo. Soon after we left Red Hill we entered upon a long, high causeway; a man came meeting us and told us Colonel Fenwick, with the British horse, were marching on just behind. We paid no attention to him not knowing who he was, but went ahead; however, we did not go many rods before the advance parties met and hailed each other - a charge now ordered on both sides, and we directly came together on the causeway, so a fight was inevitable, and at it we went like bull dogs. The British at length made their way through, though they found it tough work in doing so. We put one of their men to his final sleep on the causeway, and wounded eight more badly, one of whom they had to leave on the road. They wounded one of our men, Captain James Moore, in thirteen places, though very slightly, and two others who never laid up for their wounds.
We now lay by for two or three days, and then marched for the fort at Pocataligo. When we came in sight of it, I took thirteen of the best mounted men to survey the premise, and to lead them out if possible. When we had got within about two hundred yards of Bambifers house, where the British had deposited their wounded, I saw a negro run in the house, and immediately I saw several men running for the fort; we struck spurs to our horses, and soon came up with them and took them prisoners. When we had gotten them to our company, we found them to be Colonels Fennick and Leachmore, who had been out to see their wounded. When we arrived at the fort, we had not the smallest hope of taking it, but now finding we had two of their most efficient officers, (Major Andrew Devo the only one in the fort), Colonels Harden and Baker sent a flag in form them to give up the fort. When the flag was passing by Colonel Fennick, he asked what that meant. On being told it was for them to surrender the fort, he ripped and swore, and hoped "that if they did surrender it, they might all be in hell before the morrow",
After deliberation in the fort for the space of two hours, they all marched out, well armed, tied their horses to what was then called "Abatis," advanced some little distance from the fort, and formed a line. We then marched between them and the fort and took them prisoners - they having one hundred and ten men and we eighty. If all the men in the fort had been brace and true to their cause, I dont think one thousand men could have taken them, for the fort was advantageously located and well fortified, approachable only at three points, all of which were well guarded by a deep creek and cannons. Part of the men in the fort were as good Whigs as we had - Colonel Stafford, Colonel Davis, Captains Felts and Green, whose son was with us, also others. We now paroled the prisoners and sent them to Charleston, then burnt the house and leveled the fort with the ground. Next day Colonel McCoy, who had been outlaying, came down to us, and my brother, Bartlett and myself left Colonel Haren and came off with him. On our way we called in at old Mr. Hexts, at Coosawhatchie, the father of the late Lawrence Hext, of the Boiling Springs, Beaufort District. After we left Mr. Hexts and had progressed some distance, a young man behind us, named Wald, whose horse was jaded and traveled slowly, met Ned Williams with a gang of Tories, who asked him who those were that turned up the lane. He told them that is was Colonel McCoy and his company, and that the fort at Pocataligo was taken. They then broke for the Salkahatchie. Wald now came up and told us the circumstance, and we immediately pushed after them, and followed them into the Salkahatchie Swamp, but could not overtake them. We returned, got dinner, and encamped that night near the water pond, on the side next to Captain John Carters Boiling Springs, in a pine thicket, an little below the springs. Next morning we went up to the "Big House" now belonging to Colonel Hay, and there found those of my fathers family that the Tories and Indians had left, who we had not seen before for twelve months. To describe the joy of that meeting in inexpressible; we now behold some of those, who were endeared to us by the strongest ties of nature, whom we never expected to see again this side of eternitys ocean, thinking that they had fallen victims to the awful storm of war which had been, and was then, raging. Here we could have remained with them, and gladly toiled and labored for their comfort and happiness, but such was our countrys great demand for service, we could only stay a few moments with them.
Bidding them farewell, with no hope of meeting them again, we marched for the seige of Augusta. On our way up, we learned that Colonel Browns (a Tory) boats were going up the Savannah River. We went in pursuit of them, and attacked them about opposite the place of the late Stephen Smith, of Savannah River, but they got on the Georgia side, and we could do nothing with them. From this we marched to Augusta, where we met Generals Pickens and Twiggs, and commenced the work of extermination. The first attack that we made was on the fort at Silver Bluff, now the property of Governor Hammond, of South Carolina. Browns boats had now arrived, and stowed away their goods in the fort. The British not being willing to yield without a struggle, we stove a cannon ball through the brick house in the fort, and they immediately marched out and surrendered, for fear we would serve them the like trick.
The next fort we attacked was that commanded by the wretched Grason, at the upper end of town, This we soon stormed and took - Captain Alexander shooting Grason for his villainous conduct in the country. Some made their escape from us by fleeing to Browns fort, near the river. Before we laid siege to Browns fort, a fellow by the name of Rutherford (a villain withal) took a company and slipped out in the night down the river, opposite Beach Island, and just at the break of day surprised our horse guard. It being in the bend of the river, the British and Tories got round them, and having a superior force, our men took to the river, but they killed several of our brave fellows while they were swimming, some making their escape - my brother Bartlett Brown, was one among that number. We heard of their trip after our guard, and pushed to cut them off, but were too late by a few momentarily, for as we got within one hundred and fifty yards on the lane, we saw them enter. A few moments sooner, and we would have fixed them smugly.
We now commanded the siege of Browns fort. In taking this fort, we had great difficulty. We raised a platform fifteen or twenty feet high, and mounted a cannon upon it, and from thence fired at them in the fort. In this way we destroyed a good many of them, but finding we were too hard for them in this way, and to screen themselves from the thunder and lightning of our platform, they dug several caves in the sides of the walls of the fort and crawled into them, We then continued the entrenchment, and as we entrenched, we rolled up cowhides and placed them on the embankment for portholes to shoot through. One morning I was standing next to young Stafford, who was about to shoot through one of our portholes, and there came a ball from the fort and killed him dead. Young Stafford was with me in General Marions Army, and he was, indeed, a brave and patriotic fellow, and dying in freedoms cause, his memory should never fade from our recollection. Before Brown would surrender, we entrenched so near his fort that I ran a hoe-halve from the entrenchment into the fort. On finding we were so near upon him, he marched out and surrendered with all his force and goods. Brown had been such a desperate fellow, there existed great anxiety to kill him; but as he came under capitulation, we had not chance to do so at this time, but I determined to do so on his way down the river. I took a few brave fellows, and slipped down the river to carry into execution my determination, but he made his escape, through the shades of the night, in a small canoe.
When we commenced the siege of Augusta it was the 1st of April, 1781; when we closed it was the 1st of the ensuing August. Having labored so hard and incessantly to dig Brown out of his fort, I concluded when I had done so to take a peep into it, but it was a sore peep to me, as I took the small-pox from it. I now went home very sick, and as none of our family had ever had it, I had to take to the woods - so I retreated back of the Big House to an old field, next to the swamp, under a large oak tree. The weather being very hot I suffered intensely. While there I employed Peggy Ogleby to be my nurse. This slut was a Tory, and informed her clan where I was. They said they would come and kill the d--n rebel, but as I had an invisible and Almighty Protector, they had not the power to execute their malicious design. If I am not mistaken, the period I lay under that oak was forty days. When I recovered I joined Major Cooper, at Beech Island, and we continued scouting until the end of the war, in December 1782. I then returned home, but the British and Tories had nearly destroyed everything we possessed. My mother lived but a short time after the close of the war, and the estate she left each child was thirty-nine pounds ten shillings, sterling.
Although the war had closed, the Tories were still troublesome, plundering and occasionally killing the inhabitants. The foremost scoundrels in this diabolical work were John Black, Zekiel Maulfers, Lark Loudon, and two others, whose names I will not mention as they have relations in the country, who could not help what they did, These fellows murdered a good man at Cherry Hill, Georgia, for which John Black and the two whose names are not mentioned, were killed and hung at Savannah; the other two, the worst of the clan, made their escape to Carolina, where they murdered and plundered until the citizens were afraid to travel the roads, day or night. Finding the Whigs were upon the lookout for them, they stole Judge Raywoods match horses and five negroes, and horses from various persons, and started for the Western country.
I heard of their crossing the ridge and being unwilling they should escape with impunity, I got three other men, Richard Simmons, Gill Thomas, and Benjamin Brown, and put out after them. We pursued them into East Tennessee - over Watorger, we came upon them and took them prisoners. It was now in the month of January, and extremely cold; the snow was on the ground two feet deep, and withal, I had the measles very badly. What to do I hardly knew. I concluded, however, to risk the consequences, and bidding farewell to these cold and frozen regions, I began to retrace my steps with my prisoners and their plunder. We crossed the Watorger on the ice, and when we had gotten on the Yellow Mountains, it snowed again and freesed the top, so that passage through it was very difficult, We had to force our way by changing the foremost horse every hundred yards. Just as we got to the turn in the mountain, night overtook us, so we encamped for the night, building our fire out of the chestnut limbs on the snow. Next morning we came down to the foot of the mountains to one Samuel Bright, and got a little dry pumpkin for our breakfast, the people having little or nothing else to eat. Having so many prisoners, horses and negroes, our funds now ran out, so we had to sell what we could spare to defray expenses.
We now came to Pad Bryants, where these runaways had left one of Judge Haywoods horses, which we got, and tarried all night. It was indeed a dark and rainy night, and the prisoners thought to take advantage of us by it, so they framed an excuse to go out. Being handcuffed and tied, I apprehended no danger, but I took one of my company along with me, They had unperceived, loosed the rope under the blankets. It was in an old field, on the slant of a hill, and when we had gotten out they started to run down the hill. My gun being loaded with buck-shot, I fired at one of them and struck one shot in his ankle, his foot being up in the crack of the gun, the shot run up into the calf of his leg, but it did not bring him to the ground. Being young and active, I now threw my guy down and pushed after him, and just as I was about to take hold of him I struck a stump, which knocked me over, but I soon recovered from my fall, and put out after him again; and, as before, just as I was about to take him a second time, I ran upon the second stump, which threw me clean over. I now gave up the chase, as by this time he had gotten too far. Next morning I had a curiosity to examine the ground I had run over after these fellows, and I found but the single two stumps in the way - they had just missed them and I run over both. We now went in pursuit of these villains, when we soon came upon one, and taking him, Simmons put an end to his existence; the other was taken the next day, and put in the 96th District prison. When we had gotten home we sent for him, and he was carried to Beaufort, where there were seven indictments against him. He was tried, condemned and hung.
On the delivery of Judge Haywoods horses to him, he gave me twenty-five guineas, not only for his horses, but also for putting a stop to the outrages of these villains. The other persons whose property we brought back gave us five guineas apiece, and the public gave us twenty-five pounds sterling.
Some time after the close of these things, I married and settled myself between the San Hill and Cedar branches, waters of the Lower Three Runs, Barnwell District. On each of these streams I build mills, and from the mills, between which I lived, I have my place the name of "Fork Mills". The mills are now owned by Major Wm. H. Peyton, my son-in-law. From this place I moved to Boiling Springs, where I have lived and enjoyed fine health for many years, and where I expect to die, if I die at home. I have followed the delightful business of farming ever since the close of the war, and the Lord has been pleased to grant me enough of the good things of this life to keep me free from want down to the present moment.
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