Wemyss Attempts a Surprise
They slept on their arms until midnight, when they were aroused by the fire of their sentinels. The patrol party had missed the enemy, and hence no alarm was given until the sentinels fired. The British, judging from the extent of Taylor’s fire that the main body occupied that position and that no advance guard had been placed, immediately charged down the hill with the expectation of falling upon Sumpter’s men in confusion. They crowded around the blazing fires in search of their victims. Taylor’s men were ready and delivered their fire at this juncture. The enemy fell back, but were again brought to the charge, but were again repulsed and fled in consternation, leaving their bleeding commander to the mercy of their foes.
It is said that when Taylor’s men delivered their first fire, a scene of confusion resulted in Sumpter’s camp utterly beyond description. The soldiers and officers ran hither and thither, whooping and yelling like maniacs. Some got ready for action and joined in it, while others ran clear off and did not join Sumpter again for weeks. Hence this action was denominated in the region round about as Sumpter’s Second Defeat, though the rout of the enemy was complete and the American loss was nothing.