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Thrilling Incidents In American History

• Title
• Preface

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

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

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

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

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


THE defeat of Gates at Camden (August 16, 1780), was the most terrible of all the disasters experienced by our Southern army during the war of the Revolution. It annihilated the army, ruined the fame of its general, filled the country with alarm, and, but for the genius of Greene, would have won the Southern States to Great Britain.

At dawn of day, the American artillery opened, and the left of the line, under General Stephens, was ordered to advance. Exhorting his soldiers to rely principally on the bayonet, this officer advanced with his accustomed intrepidity. Lieutenant-Colonel Otho Williams preceded him with a band of volunteers, in order to invite the fire of the enemy before they were in reach of the militia, so that experience of its inefficiency might encourage the latter to do their duty. Upon discovering this movement, the British general gave orders to Lieutenant-Colonel Webster to lead into battle with the right. That gallant officer entered upon his duties with his accustomed judgment and courage; and, in a few minutes, General Stephens had the mortification to observe his brigade flying before overpowering numbers. The North Carolina brigade followed the shameful example; Stephens, Caswell, Gates himself struggled to stop the fugitives; but every feeling was absorbed in a desire to preserve life. The only troops left to oppose the enemy, were the continentals, and Dixon's regiment of North Carolinians, of which every corps acted with the most determined resolution.

Meanwhile, the Baron de Kalb, enveloped in the hottest of the battle, was struggling for victory on the right. A corps of the enemy who advanced against Lieutenant-Colonel Howard, were met and nobly driven out of line; and for a moment victory inclined with the Americans. Then Lord Rawdon collected the strength of his wing and came down like an avalanche upon the brigade of General Gist. But, calling his little band around him, that officer pointed to the coming storm, and ordered each man to his post. For days and nights he had toiled with his brave Marylanders, in every hardship and every danger; he had stood the hottest of the battle, and now, heedless of fatigue, he sternly awaited the living mass that was poured upon him. On they came - hundreds of muskets flashed before them, and their artillery tore and withered his ranks like a hurricane. Then came the fearful charge - and in a moment the disappointed foe were rolling back, repulsed, disheartened. High over the uproar, De Kalb's iron voice pealed along, and each soldier knew that victory or death was near. Again and again, Lord Rawdon rushed on the devoted brigade, while at each time a confused rush, a fearful silence, and then the hurryings of retreat, announced that patriotism was still triumphant. Chafing like a wounded lion, Rawdon dashed from point to point, driving his worried legion on the foe; while, on the other side, the voice of Gist, buoyant with hope and victory, thrilled the bosom of every American. Dense and resistless, his band commenced their onward movement, and the terrified British shrank at their approach.

But the moment of triumph was short. The flight of the militia on the other wing having left Colonel Webster unemployed, he detached some light troops with Tarleton's cavalry in pursuit, and opposed himself to the reserve brought up by Smallwood to replace the fugitives. The languor of repulse was succeeded by the renewed shock and terrible wrestling for victory. All alone, opposed to overwhelming numbers, the Marylanders threw themselves into a square and received the hurried rush of the enemy's artillery. Rank sunk down upon rank, until but a remnant was left. These the baron rallied around him, and, ignorant of Gates's disaster, prepared for a final effort. That charge was not the slow deliberate advance, when whole columns sink down before they reach the foe. It was hurled on the British like a whirlwind, sweeping away all resistance. Part of the enemy broke in confusion, with the loss of many prisoners. It was a moment of high hopes, and bounding exultation - and but a moment. So inferior was the force of the Americans, that while Smallwood covered the flank of the second brigade, his left became exposed; and Lieutenant-Colonel Webster, ever on the alert to seize an advantage, turned against this devoted flank his light infantry and the 23d regiment. But though almost surrounded by superior numbers, the first brigade maintained the conflict until literally pushed from the ground. But the next moment they rallied, and advanced to the desperate struggle; again they were driven back, and again rallied, rushing over bleeding masses, to the very bayonets of the enemy. Near them De Kalb, with his Maryland veterans, was fighting hand to hand with the disciplined hosts of Britain.

At length Lord Cornwallis concentrated his forces, and ordered a decisive charge. Then there was a period of wild rushing, of confused uproar, and racking suspense. Even the tones of command died in the intensity of that terrible moment. Then the cloud of battle dispersed, and De Kalb had disappeared. Pierced with eleven wounds, he had fallen beneath the trampling armies. Long rows of bayonets sprang madly toward him; but his aid, Lieutenant-Colonel du Buyssen, threw himself upon his friend, -and while crying out, "Spare the Baron de Kalb," received the keen weapon intended for his friend.

Our troops were broken; and after having wrestled all day against the flower of the enemy's army, were compelled to fly to the neighbouring woods and swamps. The pursuit was continued until not a fugitive could be seen; the road was heaped with the dead and dying; and arms, artillery, horses, and articles of baggage, were strewn in every direction.

The baron was treated with every attention by the victors, but he survived the battle only a few days. His last moments were spent in dictating a letter to General Smallwood, his successor in command, breathing in every word his sincere and ardent affection for officers and soldiers; expressing his admiration of their late noble though unsuccessful stand; reciting the eulogy which their bravery had extorted from the enemy, and the lively delight which such testimony of their valour had excited in his own mind. Then, feeling the pressure of death, he extended his quivering hand to his friend Du Buyssen, and breathed his last in benedictions on his faithfull, brave division.