Journal of Alexander Chesney

Alexander Chesney
Alexander Chesney was a loyalist Captain living in the backcountry of South Carolina during the Revolutionary War. He was twenty years old in 1775 when the war began.

The following account is taken from the Journal of Alexander Chesney and describes his activities from the start of the war until he fled to Europe in 1782.

When the war broke out between England and America the congress party, early in 1775, were sending a quantity of Ammunition and clothing as presents to the Indians; on which the loyalists who had not joined them assembled and went to Ninety-Six, a wooden fort; after besieging the place for some days took it and the stores. After distributing the ammunition amongst the loyalists, both parties agreed to a Cessation of Arms for some weeks until several of the leading men could go and return from Charles-town to receive Lord William Campbell’s directions on the business; Colonel Fletchall and Captain John Mayfield were two of the delegates sent under the faith and sanction of a treaty; they were lodged in the jail of Charles Town and the papers they had received from the Governor Lord William Campbell were seized. In the meantime the congress party sent to the neighborhood of Ninety-Six an Army under the command of Colonel Richardson who seized the leading men of the loyalists and put them in goal and disarmed the rest; all this was accomplished before the expiration of the truce.

I went down to Jackson’s Creek when Colonel Richardson’s encampment was at Congaree, and piloted Capt. James Phillips and his company to my father’s and provided them a man (Charles Brandon) as a guide to take them to Col. Mills in North Carolina, who found guides through the Cherokee and Creek nations of Indians, on their way to St. Augustine in East Florida. There they were kindly received by the Governor and stayed there during the greatest part of the war, having been embodied in the South Carolina Regiment commanded by Major, now Colonel Joseph Robin­son, a neighbor of mine; this Regiment distinguished itself throughout the war particularly at the siege of Savannah where by their meritorious exertions they saved the garrison. I piloted all the loyalists who came in my way and amongst Capt. Buchanan, supposed to be of the Royal Navy, who endeavored to keep up the spirits of the loyalists amongst whom a regular correspondence was kept up [1776]. For this activity, I was made a prisoner, my house ransacked, and kept a prisoner in the Snowy Camp on Reedy River for about a week; Col. Richardson released me, but the Congress Party held me at enmity and forced me either to be tried at Richardson’s camp or to join the Rebel Army, which latter alternative I chose in order to save my father’s family from threatened ruin; he had been made prisoner already for harboring some loyalists; and served from April 1776 until June 1777 as a private during which time I was at Charles Town and Bolton’s landing place opposite Long Island whilst the British army was encamped there under Sir Henry Clinton; going on a reconnoitering party one day towards the British lines on Long Island a gun with grape shot was fired, one shot of which was within a few inches of killing me hav­ing struck the sand close by where I had squatted down to avoid the discharge; I endeavored with some others to get to Gen. Clinton’s Army but failed for want of a boat and returned to the Americans.

We then marched against the Indians, to which I had no objection, helped to destroy 32 of their towns under General Williamson, with Col Sumter. We had a severe battle with the Indians near the middle settlements; in the course of the engagement five or six of them concealed behind a log fired at me as I ascended the hill before the others, and one of their balls struck a sapling of about six inches diameter opposite my breast; fortunately the young tree broke the force of the ball and saved my life.

We were at this time on short allowance and my small portion having been put in the bag with the ammunition, I threw it away to get at the powder &c and was nearly starved in consequence.

On returning towards Charles Town, we were encamped at Tachaw near Nielson’s ferry on the Santee; from thence we marched to Puriesburg on the Savannah River; then by water to Savannah Town at which time we killed a number of Alligators with rifle guns; then marched to Sunbury; thence to Fort Barrington on the Altarmaha near East Florida, where we arrived the 25th March 1777 (trees then beginning to bud).

A total eclipse of the sun happened when we were at Ogreechy-River on our march to Sunbury.

While at Fort Barrington we had several skirmishes with the Creek Indians, in which I was always a volunteer. The Altamaha rose gradually (like the Nile) whilst we re­mained there.

We returned to Tacaw at the latter end of May and home in June 1777; where I purchased a tract of land on Pacolet River from Peter Howard where I remained some time. At a muster soon after I was chosen Lieutenant in Capt. Bullock’s company of Militia by my loyal friends. Went with a party to Bailis’ fort on the Indian line at the head of Pacolet River about 50 miles from home, and repaired the fort; we continued some months there and were relieved the May following [1778] by the white inhabitants making peace with the Indians at Duet’s corner.

This winter I began to trade in Charles Town with a wagon at which I had success and realized a good deal, the profits being with care 300 per cent.

In the summer I went out again after the Indians to Georgia in Capt McWhorter’s company of Volunteers as first lieutenant, the whole under command of General Williamson; we were out as far as the Altamaha. During this excursion, I suffered greatly from an attack of the Flux; in about three months the whole party returned. Col. Phillips was there also.

In the summer of 1779 I was at Augusta under General Williamson again, who marched to join General Lincoln, I was down at Stono for some weeks, and returned home on business, before the attack was made on the British lines at Stono, by General Lincoln. I continued to go frequently to Charles Town with the wagon laden with produce and returned with goods. One wagon and team were impressed last summer to Augusta & left there when we marched to join Lincoln, the Wagon and Horses of value £2000 currency were lost.

On the 3rd January 1780, I married Margaret Hodge eldest daughter of Will Hodge, and Elizabeth his wife, who was a daughter of Widow Cook, a sister to my grandmother Chesney. My wife, Margaret, was born ___ 30th 1759, as appears by an entry in her Bible a part of which was torn by accident.

It was firmly believed in the beginning of the year that Charles Town would be reduced by the British, which happened accordingly on the 12th of May following and Sir Henry Clinton having issued a proclamation commanding all His Majesty’s faithful subjects to embody for the defense of his government; a number of loyalists assembled at Sugar Creek and the waters of Fair Forest under the command of Col. Balfour, I took protection the 25th of June 1780 from Isaac Grey, Captain South Carolina Regiment. About the middle of June I embodied with the Militia as Lieutenant and I commanded in an affair at Bullock’s Creek where the rebel Party was defeated in attempting to cross the ford. My father was present on this occasion and hearing the bullets whistle without seeing by whom they were fired, asked me where are they? I placed him near a tree until the affair was over, and resolved he should not be so exposed again.

I then joined Colonel Balfour and was in an affair at James Wood’s house above the Iron-Works on Pacolet but not finding the opposition there that we expected, returned again to Fair Forest; Col. Balfour then returned to Ninety-Six, and Major Ferguson succeeded to the command under the title of Colonel and Inspector General of Militia. Shortly afterwards he marched to Thicketty Creek, encamped and requested me to carry an express to Captain Patrick Moore, then commandant at Anderson’s fort, with a particular private message to him to hold the fort till the last minute. Before I could return, the army had decamped about midnight and re­treated towards Captain Lewis Bobo’s on Tyger River, where I joined them, and we got an account that Col. McDole had, without opposition, reduced Anderson’s fort and made them prisoners, Moore having shamefully surrendered it thus disappointing Ferguson’s scheme of bringing the Americans to battle whilst attacking it.

Major Gibbs came to me in this situation of affairs, showed me a paper containing instructions to go McDole’s camp at the Cherokee Ford on Broad River and learn their numbers, their commanders names, what carriages they had, how many horse and foot, and when­ever they made any movement towards Col. Ferguson, to return and let him know, and that there would be a handsome reward. I told Col. Gibbs that what services I could do were not with any lucrative view and that I would undertake this difficult task for the good of His Majesty’s Service since he could not procure a qualified person to undertake it. I set out immediately and at Pacolet got a man to go with me, who was acquainted with the North Carolina people; we went down to McDole’s camp at night without being noticed, counted all their tents and wagons, found out who were their leaders, and that 500 horsemen were gone down to attack Nicholas’s Fort. With this news I returned, and on my way found a loyalist in whom I could confide and sent him off with the particulars by one route to Col. Ferguson whilst I went by another. The Colonel got the intelligence in time enough to intercept them at the Iron-Works and defeat them.

In returning, I was taken at Grindal Shoals by a party of Rebels under Eusaw Smith and Desmond, who took from me a Rifle gun borrowed of John Heron my brother in law; but as soon as they set out for the rebel camp, I made my escape and joined Col. Ferguson at Culbered and received his thanks and friendship. On the 9th August I was appointed Capt. and assistant Adjutant General to the different battalions under Col. Ferguson; and same day we attacked the enemy at the Iron works and defeated them with little trouble to ourselves and a good deal of loss to the Americans, in whose hands I found some of our men prisoners, whom I released.

Our next route [August 12] was down towards the Fish Dam Ford on Broad River, where there was a fight near the mouth of Brown’s Creek with Neale’s Militia where we, made many prisoners amongst the rest Esaw Smith; who had taken me so recently; after this we crossed that River and formed a junction with the troops under the command of Col. Turnbull and the Militia under Col. Phillips and having received authentic accounts that Sum­ter had cut off our retreat to Lord Cornwallis’s Army at Camden, we had it in contemplation to cross Broad River and retreat to Charles Town. At this time the halfway men (as those not hearty in the cause were called) left us; we then marched to the Rebel Col. Winns and encamped there waiting for more authentic accounts. On the 16th we heard a heavy firing towards Camden, which kept us in the utmost anxiety until the 18th when a letter was received from Capt. Ross an aid de camp to Lord Cornwallis informing us that his Lordship had attacked & defeated Gates’s Army, had killed or taken 2,200 men, 18 Ammunition Wagons and 350 wagons with provisions and other stores. This news made us as happy as people in our situation could possibly be; until the next night when we received an express that the rebels had defeated Col. Ennis at Enoree; this occasioned a rapid march that way. The main body having crossed the Enoree, I was left behind in command of the rearguard and being attacked in that situation [August 20] we maintained our ground until the main body recrossed to our support; the Americans retreated [August 21] after suffering some loss.

We encamped for some time in the neighborhood of Enoree, and then up to Fair Forest. Some particular business hav­ing called Col. Ferguson to Camden, Capt. Depeyster who succeeded him to the command [September, 1780] marched us up the Iron Works and I obtained leave to see my home and family whither I went for about two hours and sent orders for those who had shame­fully abandoned us some time ago to join us at the Iron-Works in order to do three months duty in or on the borders of North Caro­lina, and returned to the camp that night; we continued some time at the Iron works and whilst there a party of Loyalists with whom I was, defeated Col. Brannan, destroyed some of his party and scattered the rest. I was present also at a small affair at Fair Forest, the particulars of which, as well as numerous other skirmishes having escaped my memory, scarcely a day passed without some fighting.

Col. Ferguson having resumed the command and finding himself pretty strong he marched us to the North Carolina line and encamped.

A dissatisfaction prevailed at this moment amongst the Militia founded on General Clinton’s hand-bill which required every man having but three children, and every single man to do six months duty out of their province when required, this appeared like compulsion, instead of acting voluntarily as they conceived they were doing, and they were in consequence ready to give up the cause; but owing to the exertions of their officers a great part of which I attribute to myself, the tumult was happily appeased, and same night we marched with all the horse and some foot past Gilbert’s town towards Col Grimes, who was raising a body of rebels to oppose us; whom we succeeded in dispersing, taking many prisoners, and then joined the foot at Gilbert’s town and encamped there for some time; sending away the old men to their houses, and several officers to raise men to supply their places and strengthen us. Colonel Ferguson soon after got intelligence that Col McDole was encamped on Cain and Silver Creeks ; on which we marched towards the enemy, crossed the winding Creek 23 times, found the rebel party strongly posted towards the head of it near the moun­tains. We attacked them instantly and after a determined resistance defeated them and made many prisoners. The rest fled towards Turkey Cove in order to cross the mountains and get to Holstein.

On this occasion I commanded a division, [September, 1780] and took the person prisoner who was keeper of the records of the county, which I sent to my father’s as a place of safety. We then fortified Colonel Walker’s house as a protection to the wounded, and proceeded in pursuit of the rebels to the Mountains at the head of Catawba River, sending out detachments to scour the country and search the caves. A fight happened in the neighborhood between a detachment of ours and the Americans who were posted on a broken hill not accessible to Cavalry, which obliged us to dismount and leave our horses behind. Whilst employed in dislodging the Americans another party of them got round in the rear and took the horses, mine amongst the rest; but it was returned by the person who was my prisoner in the last affair; about a week before he had been released, as was usual at this time with prisoners. At this period the North Carolina men joined us fast. Our spies returned from beyond the mountains [October] with intelligence that the rebels were embodying rapidly; other spies brought us word that Colonel Clark had taken Fort Augusta with its stores &c on which we marched towards white oak and Green River to intercept him on his return from Georgia. Colonel Ferguson detached the horse in three divisions, one under my command with orders to proceed along the Indian line until I could make out Clarke’s route & join Capt. Taylor at Bailis Earls Fort. I proceeded as far as Tyger River and there, learning that Clark was gone up the bushy fork of Saluda River, I took six of the best mounted men and got on his track until I overtook the main body and made one of the enemy prisoner within view of it, whom I carried to Col. Ferguson [October 4, 1780,] who thus obtained the information required.

Our spies from Holston, as well as some left at the Gap of the Mountains, brought us word that the Rebel force amounted to 3,000 men; on which we retreated along the north side of Broad River and sent the wagons along the south side as far as Cherokee Ford, where they joined us. We marched to King’s Mountain and there encamped with a view of approaching Lord Cornwallis’s Army and receiving support; by Col. Ferguson’s orders I sent expresses to the Militia Officers to join us there; but we were attacked before any support arrived by 1500 picked men from Gilbert’s Town under the command of Colonels Cleveland, Selby and Campbell, all of whom were armed with Rifles, well mounted and of course could move with the utmost celerity. So rapid was their attack that I was in the act of dismounting to report that all was quiet and the pickets on the alert when we heard their firing about half a mile off. I immediately paraded the men and posted the officers, during this short interval I received a wound which however did not prevent my doing duty; and on going towards my horse I found he had been killed by the first discharge [9 October 1780].

Kings Mountain from its height would have enabled us to oppose a superior force with advantage, had it not been covered with wood which sheltered the Americans and enabled them to fight in their favorite manner; in fact after driving in our pickets they were able to advance in three divisions under separate leaders to the crest of the hill in perfect safety until they took post and opened an irregular but destructive fire from behind trees and other cover. Col Cleveland’s was first perceived and repulsed by a charge made by Col. Ferguson; Col Selby’s regiment was next and met a similar fate being driven down the hill; last, the detachment under Col. Campbell and by desire of Col. Ferguson, I presented a new front which opposed it with success; by this time the Americans who had been repulsed had regained their former stations and sheltered behind trees poured in an irregular destructive fire; in this manner the engagement was maintained near an hour, the mountaineers flying whenever there was danger of being charged by the Bayonet, and returning again so soon as the British detachment had faced about to repel another of their parties. Col Ferguson was at last recognized by his gallantry, although wearing a hunting shirt, and fell pierced by seven balls at the moment he had killed the American Col. Williams with his left hand; (the right being use­less). I had just rallied the troops a second time by Ferguson’s orders when Capt. De Peyster succeeded to the command, but soon after gave up and sent out a flag of truce. But, as the Americans resumed their fire afterwards, ours was also renewed under the supposition that they would give no quarter; and a dreadful havoc took place until the flag was sent out a second time, then the work of destruction ceased; the Americans surrounded us with double lines, and we grounded arms with the loss of one third our numbers [October 9].

I had been wounded by the first fire but was so much occupied that I scarcely felt it until the action was over. We passed the night on the spot where we surrendered amidst the dead and groans of the dying who had not surgical aid, or water to quench their thirst. Early next morning [October 10], we marched at a rapid pace to­wards Gilbert’s Town between double lines of mounted Americans; the officers in the rear, and obliged to carry two muskets each, which was my fate although wounded and stripped of my shoes and silver buckles in an inclement season, without covering or provisions, until Monday night [October 12] when an ear of Indian corn was served to each. At Gilbert’s Town a mock trial was held and 24 prisoners were sentenced to death, 10 of whom suffered before the approach of Tarleton’s force obliged them to move toward the Yadkin cutting and striking us by the road in a savage manner. Col. Cleveland then offered to enlarge me on condition that I would teach his Regiment for one month the exercise practiced by Col. Ferguson, which I refused, although he swore I should suffer death for it at the Moravian town; luckily his threat was not put to the test as I had the good fortune to make my escape one evening when close to that place. In the hurry to get off, I took the wrong road and did not discover my error until I found I was close to the Moravian town. I then retraced my steps until close to the pickets I had left, and taking a fresh departure, I crossed the Yadkin River before morning, proceeded through the woods toward home. John Weedyman, one of my company, had supplied me with a pair of shoes, which were of great use on this occasion, but as he remained a prisoner I never had an opportunity of making him a return.

The first night I slept in the woods. The next day, I was supported by haws grapes &c as I could find them in the woods. The second or third day in pushing through the woods to get to a ford, I heard a noise of some people (whom I knew to be Americans by the white paper in their hats) on which I lay down and was so close to them that I could have touched one of their horses in passing; fortunately I was not observed, and soon after crossed the Creek after them. I then made for the Mountains in order to be guided by the Appalachian Range and get over the rivers with greater facility. After crossing Broad River I met one Heron who had been with me at King’s Mountain and who had with some others taken flight early in the action, putting white papers in their hats. By this disgraceful stratagem they got through the American lines. I passed a night at Heron’s house and another at another man’s on whom I could depend. From both I took some provisions. All the other nights I slept out; I do not remember the number exactly, but must have been nearly a fortnight. I reached home on the 31st of October; I found the Americans had left me little. My wife had a son on the 20th whom I named William, which was all the christening he had.

As I did not know where to find any British troops I continued about home some time [November, 1780] and as the Americans were in possession of the country, I was obliged to conceal myself in a cave dug in the branch of a creek under a hollow poplar with my cousins Hugh Cooke and Charles Brandon; in which we were forced for want of room, to lie flat. Cooke’s wife brought us food and news every night; I sometimes stayed at my father-in-law’s, until I heard that Col. Tarleton had defeated Sumter at Blackstocks Fort on Tyger River; on which news I raised a company with great difficulty and joined a strong party at Col Williams’s house on Little River, where there was a strong party under General Cunningham. Major Plumber having been wounded at King’ Mountain, the command of our Regiment devolved on Jonathan Frost as Major, who directed me to assemble my company of Militia and join him at an appointed place on the Enoree.

When I came to that place on the day and time appointed I found the Americans under Capt., then Major Roebuck, in possession of it who immediately disarmed us and marched us off. It was a great blunder by Major Frost to alter the place of meeting: however he did his best to remedy it. He pursued and overtook us about 12 miles higher up and having attacked Roebuck’s party, where they were advantageously posted at a house, poor Frost was killed and the rest retreated. Roebuck, who was acquainted with me formerly, paroled me to Ninety-six where I was exchanged for Captain Clerk, a son to Col. Clerk, who had been taken after the attack on Augusta in Georgia. I was then sent to garrison the jail of Ninety-Six [December 1780], which I fortified and had the command of the Militia stationed there. Colonels Allen and Cruger commanded the fort near the jail; where I continued until Tarleton came into Ninety-Six District to go in quest of General Morgan [January 1781]. He sent to the garrison for guides acquainted with Morgan’s situation, which was then convenient to my house on Pacolet. I joined Col. Tarleton and marched to Fair Forest. Having failed to get intelligence of Morgan’s situation, he sent me out [January 16] to endeavor to do so and to make the mills grind for the Army. When I reached Pacolet River, I swam my horse over a private ford not likely to be guarded, leaving the man behind me to go on more quietly and reconnoiter the camp. I found the fires burning but no one there, on which I rode to my father’s who said Morgan had gone to the Old Fields about an hour before. My wife said the same and that they had used or destroyed my crop & took away almost every thing. I immediately returned to Col. Tarleton and found he had marched towards the Old Fields. I overtook them before 10 o’clock near the Cowpens on Thicketty Creek, where we suffered a total defeat by some dreadful bad management. The Americans were posted behind a rivulet with Riflemen as a front line and Cavalry in the rear, so as to make a third line. Col. Tarleton charged at the head of his Regiment of Cavalry called the British Legion, which was filled up from the prisoners taken at the battle of Camden. The Cavalry supported by a detachment of the 71st Regiment under Major McArthur broke the Riflemen without difficulty, but the prisoners on seeing their own Regiment opposed to them in the rear would not proceed against it and broke, the remainder charged but were repulsed; this gave time to the front line to rally and form in the rear of their Cavalry which immediately charged and broke the 71st (then unsupported) taking many prisoners. The rout was almost total. I was with Tarleton in the charge, who behaved bravely but imprudently, the consequence was that his force dispersed in all directions, the guns and many prisoners fell into the hands of the Americans.

The men being dispersed, I desired them to meet me at General Cunningham’s. I proceeded towards home to bring off my wife and child on the 17 January [1781] and found there was nothing left, not even a blanket to keep off the inclement weather, or a change of garments. Then leaving a pleasant situation in a lamentable state without a shilling in my pocket, I proceeded for General Cunningham’s, sleeping encamped that night at Fair Forest. As we could not prevail on General Cunningham to use any exertions to embody his brigade of Militia, we went to Edisto river in order to settle there, having nothing but two horses and our clothes left, everything else being in the hands of the Americans and by them confiscated. I have not been at Pacolet since, nor am I likely to be.

I continued to Robert McWhorter’s on Edisto for some days, and leaving my wife and child there, proceeded to Charles Town where, contrary to my expectations, I met with several of the British officers who had been taken at King’s Mountain and who very readily assisted me to get pay for some cattle and provisions I had furnished Col Ferguson with for the use of his detachment. And not satisfied with this, they introduced me to Col. Balfour commandant of Charles Town, who hearing from them of my great activity and that I had lost my all, he gave me an order to Mr. Cruden, Commis­sioner of Sequestered Estates, to have me accommodated with my family on some one of them. This produced an order to Col. Ballingal and Mr. Kinsay at Jacksonsboro, who ordered me a house and provisions with the use of three Negroes to attend my family. Thus was I at once introduced to a new set of loyalists and I immediately removed my wife and child and Charles Brandon with his family to Ferguson’s Riverside plantation near Parker’s Ferry on Pond-Pond River [March] where I soon fixed myself very comfortably having purchased in Charles Town some bedding &c to set up house-keeping a second time.

I joined the Negroes, allowed me for my family, with others on the Plantation and began to make a crop of Indian corn and rice.

The Rebels increased much in the neighborhood of Pond-Pond and a general rising being expected, I sent express to Col. Balfour the commandant of Charles Town to acquaint him of it. He de­tached 100 men to bring off the Militia from Pond-Pond. By his desire I sent to communicate confidential intelligence to Capt. McKinnon at Motte’s house near Nelson’s Ferry on the Santee River, which journey of 120 miles I performed in 24 hours. I then returned to Charles Town [May] and at the wish of Col. Balfour, raised a troop of horse and was stationed at Dorchester, a strong British post, and moved my wife and child thither. We had not been at this place long before I ascertained that Major Snipes, Col. Haynes and Marion had returned, crossed Pond-Pond River and were embodying troops [June, 1781] which intelligence I communicated to Lord Rawdon and His Lordship immediately ordered out a detachment of which I was one. We crossed Pond-Pond River at Parker’s Ferry, and the boats having been removed to impede our march, I swam my horse over accompanied by others and procured feather-beds to transport those who could not swim across the River; we then proceeded rapidly and reached Snipe’s plantation by daylight. We soon cleared him and his party, driving them out with loss; on this occasion I was wounded in the thigh with a spear by a man concealed in a Ha-Ha whilst in the act of leaping my horse over it. But I made him prisoner and took him with the others taken on this occasion to Dorchester. About this time a detachment was sent and succeeded in taking Col. Hynes, who soon after deservedly suffered for Treason; as it was discovered that he had communicated with the rebels whilst a British commissary. There were daily skirmishes at this period, the Americans constantly contracting our posts in every direction.

In the beginning of July I joined the Army under Lord Rawdon then marching towards Ninety-Six to relieve the place. On our approach the Americans who were besieging it broke up, crossed Broad River, and proceeded along the left bank towards Charles Town. Lord Rawdon finding that the country must be abandoned, detached his light troops towards Long Canes (a branch of Savanna River) to bring away the Loyalists and their families; taking himself with the main body along the route to Charles Town as far as Congaree. The Americans recrossed the river & made a fruitless effort to oppose his march by preventing our crossing the creek, which we did without difficulty and pro­ceeded to Orangeburg, where we expected to meet reinforce­ments from Charles Town and be joined by the light troops and Loyalists. But we were disappointed in both and soon after surrounded by the Americans who pressed us so closely that we had nothing but 1 pound of wheat in the straw served out to each man every 24 hours. The parties going out daily to forage had constant skirmishes with the enemy. One day Major Doyle sent out with what mounted men he could muster (about 20 or 30) to cover the foraging; which he did effectually, driving off the Americans with some loss; on this occasion Lord Edward Fitzgerald, having broken his sword on the back of an American, I supplied him with another to continue the attack for which he felt greatly obliged.

A day or two afterwards Major Doyle came to me with a message from Lord Rawdon to know if I could find any one well acquainted with the road to Charles Town and willing to go thither with a message of great importance; as all the expresses sent hitherto had either been killed or taken prisoner. Being perfectly acquainted with the whole of the neighboring country, I immediately went and offered my services to his Lordship which were readily accepted; I was offered any horse in the camp I might think better than my own, but I thought myself the best mounted officer there, and found before many minutes use for every muscle of the good animal that carried me. I set out instantly for Charles Town and was scarcely past the sentries when I found myself pursued by 4 or 5 of the enemy, two of whom kept it up about 20 miles through the woods; my intention was to come into the Charles Town road where it crosses the Cypress Swamp at Cunningham’s house two miles above Dorchester, but by chance I kept too much to the right and crossed the swamp by another path a little lower down, and soon after I saw a picket of the enemy on the Charles Town side of the swamp; who must inevitably have taken or killed me, had I not by good fortune missed the common path, which they were carefully guarding. I passed through Dorchester, and remained with my wife whilst a fresh horse was saddled, and I could give Captain Brereton a message from Lord Rawdon for Col Coates at Monk’s Corner of the 19th Regiment desiring him to be on the alert as the Americans had crossed Broad and Santee Rivers in great force. This was forwarded by express to the Colonel and I set out for Charles Town where I delivered my letter to Col. Balfour (the commandant) at 4 o’clock PM, twelve hours after I received it from Lord Rawdon at Orangeburgh, a distance of 80 miles.

The Col. was walking under D’ Frazier’s piazza. The detachment was instantly turned out and marched immediately to relieve Lord Rawdon from his uncomfortable situation. On reaching Dorchester I found to my grief that the Americans had visited that place during my short absence and taken away my horse with 300 others out of Major Wright’s pasture. As soon as we joined Lord Rawdon, he found himself strong enough to force his way through the enemy which he did immediately, marching towards Charles Town, and encamped without opposition near Monk’s corner; where we had some trifling skirmishes without any event of importance.

The Americans by degrees got possession of all the country except the small part inside the quarter House where I was posted.

Lord Rawdon having moved his force to some other part of the country, I then joined a corps of three companies raised for the defense of the sequestered estates by John Cruden Esq. In one of our excursions up Cooper’s River to procure a supply of rice, the schooner in which I was riding upset and 12 men were drowned, the greater part belonging to my company; being on deck, I saved myself by swimming and 6 or 7 others had the same good fortune. The Schooner turned keel up, and not being quite filled with water immediately, the men could exist for a little time; we heard them crying for assistance and did all we could to afford it but unfortunately only one man could be got out in time to save his life. This was effected by cutting a hole in the vessels bottom. I lost my watch, sword and several other things.

Soon after this the troops were obliged to abandon the neigh­borhood of the quarter house and confine themselves entirely to Charles Town neck [December 1781]; and a quantity of wood being required for fuel, I was appointed to superintend the oper­ation in which a vast number of people must be required and having full power to employ any persons, I chose a number of loyalists whom I found within the lines in a destitute condition; and this gave them immediate relief; preventing many by that means from starving. They were continued whilst I had the charge which was a great satisfaction to my feelings, but ill health coming with the affliction, I gave up the charge to Capt. McMahon early in January [1782], soon after the death of my wife, who died 28th November 1781, and is buried near Gillen Gen’s landing not far from Stuart’s house on James Island.

My illness continued without much hope of recovery. I was induced to send the child to my relations, in order to return to Europe. I took my passage in a transport called the LADY SUSAN, John Cumming master, and sailed from Charles Town the 5th April under convoy of the ORESRES sloop of war, commanded by Sir Jacob Wheate. The fleet consisted of 52 sail and we had a pleasant passage. My companions were Major Robinson, late of the Cam­den Militia, Major Michael Egan, and Lieutenant James Barber of the Royal Militia. We made Mizen head on the Coast of Ireland the 19th of May [1782] and put into Castlehaven next day in a hard gale of wind. When we landed, we proceeded to Cork by land; I got my baggage landed, bought a horse and proceeded to Dublin accom­panied by Charles Philip Campbell and Soloman Smyth, both from Charles Town; & their society not only beguiled a long and tedious journey but was the means of forming a lasting friendship with Mr. Campbell. We took lodgings together on reaching Dublin, the 4th of June in Peter’s row. I had brought a letter of introduction from Col. McMahon to his father and by his advice I drew up a memorial to the Lord Lieutenant stating my services and requesting some situation; but the then Lord-Lieutenant being of the party which was unfavorable to the Americans, I was refused. Mr. Campbell introduced me to Philip Henry, also a loyalist, who had obtained a good situation in the Custom-House and by him I was advised to turn my thoughts to obtain something of that kind, as well as to establish a claim for compensation in lieu of property lost or confiscated; but being anxious to see my few remaining relations in the County Antrim, I went thither before I had matured my plans for the future.