Monday, August 29, 2011

St. Kitts (9): The Limits of Endurance

This is the ninth entry in a series of posts on the St. Kitts campaign of 1782. The St. Kitts campaign took place in what is known as the West Indies theater of the Revolutionary War. [Click for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, or Part 8].

Standoff at Sea

After failing to defeat the British fleet on January 26th, the Comte de Grasse (at right) kept the British navy hemmed in along the southeastern coast of St. Kitts. Each day, the French ships came within sight of the British fleet, and more it looked as if a major attack might commence. The only real combat that occurred, however, was an occasional clash involving a few frigates, schooners, or other, smaller vessels. [1]

De Grasse was frustrated with this business. His fleet had no proper anchorage, and the constant patrols at sea wore down his ships and crew. His vessels ran out of their original store of provisions in early February, and the crews then subsisted on provisions seized or commandeered from merchant ships. The French fleet was also low on ammunition after the several battles with the British on January 25th-26th. De Grasse seems to have feared being caught in this situation once an expected British reinforcement (Admiral George Rodney’s squadron) arrived and made the British fleet larger than his own. [2]

Around the time that the original provisions gave out, de Grasse was arguing that the further prosecution of the siege was inadvisable. However, the Marquis de Bouillé, who commanded the French troops on land, was determined to continue. Through some mysteries grapevine, the British naval officers almost immediately learned of this division and it gave them fresh hope. On February 8th, Captain Robert Manners of the Resolution wrote:

I understand the French commanding officers are all at variance. De Grasse is not for risking his squadron, probably wishing to preserve it for the more important conquest of Jamaica. The Marquis de Bouille declares he will not give the island up, though Dr Grasse should leave him, and [Comte de] Bougainville sides with De Bouille… [3]

De Grasse relented and maintained a thankless watch on the British fleet.

Battered Brimstone Hill

The Marquis de Bouillé’s determination to maintain the siege was well founded. On land the French were at last making good progress battering Brimstone Hill into submission.

On the night of January 31st, French infantry found at the base of Brimstone Hill a large, abandoned cache of artillery. This included eight brass 24-pounders, with 6,000 cannonballs, and two brass 13-inch mortars, with 1,500 shells. These guns had been part of the “travelling artillery of the West Indies,” kept in storage on St. Kitts. As the artillery belonged neither to the British garrison, nor to the island’s militia, neither had thought to remove the guns and mortars to a more secure location when the French invasion began. This windfall allowed the ammunition-starved French army to escalate its bombardment of the British garrison. [4]

A few days later (February 3), de Bouillé was reinforced with a battalion of Regiment Hainault, dispatched from Grenada. Also, the ship of the line Caton lent two of its 18-pounders and ten of its 24-pounders to the besieging army. [5]


The Marquis de Bouillé (at center, holding sword) at the siege of Brimstone Hill. In the background are burnt-out houses in the town of Sandy Point. At right, a mortar battery fires on the hill. (Excerpt of a French illustration).

Artillery are dragged forward during the siege of Brimstone Hill. (Excerpt of a French illustration).


The British naval commander, Vice Admiral Samuel Hood, could do little to aid the garrison. Brigadier-General Robert Prescott had returned to Antigua after the inconclusive battle on January 28th. Hood wrote that on February 8th, he was informed by signals from Brimstone Hill “that the enemy’s batteries had been successful in damaging the works and buildings [on the hill], [and] that the garrison was reduced and short of ordnance stores.” Therefore, he dispatched several officers to provide moral support to the garrison, but although the men went at night and worse disguises, all were captured. [6]

By February 11th, the state of the garrison had grown quite grim. Governor Thomas Shirley noted in his journal:

[The French] opened a battery of 4 guns near… the foot of the Hill, against the north-west front, from whence they very much annoyed the garrison on the highest parts. Twenty-three pieces of cannon and all their mortars were this day incessantly played upon the Hill, whereby the breaches already made were greatly widened and the garrison became much reduced by killed and wounded. [7]

Matters were even worse on the 12th. Shirley wrote:

This day, on the northwest front was an entire breach and all the guns disabled. In the curtain were two very large breaches; the whole parapet was destroyed… In the left flank all the guns were disabled and in the left face was a practicable breach of forty feet. [7]

Lieutenant George Lewis Hamilton described the woeful condition of the garrison’s artillery:

Upon our opening the batteries on the lower works, on the first appearance of the enemy, there was two twenty four pounders, four twelve pounders, two nine pounders and one eight inch howitzer mounted… The progress of the enemy, since they have opened their gun batteries, has been so heavy and rapid… that the eight inch howitzer only remains serviceable, and from the present ruinous and exposed state of the whole front[, it] can only be brought into action in the night, when it is supposed that the enemy's fire has abated and they are making approach to assault. [7]

He found the situation to be little better in the upper citadel and concluded that the “guns and carriages… are in the worst state and are absolutely insufficient to prevent the approaches of the enemy.”

The French could clearly see the breeches in the fortress walls, and the Marquis de Bouillé decided to mount an assault. He wrote:

The day of the 13th was to be used to reconnoiter and make dispositions, and the attack was to be on the 14th, one hour before daylight. The Marquis de Chilleau, one of the bravest men that I have known, was to command the head of my attack. The grenadiers and soldiers were full of ardor, and although I assumed that I would lose many, I counted on success. [8]


1. John Gilmary Shea (1864). The operations of the French fleet under the Count de Grasse in 1781-2 as described in two contemporary journals; John Ross (1838). Memoirs and correspondence of Admiral Lord de Saumarez, Vol. 1.

2. Shea, ibid.

3. Letters and papers of the Duke of Rutland.

4. The Journal Politique for 1782; Attaque et prise de Saint-Christophe dit le «Gibraltar» des Antilles (janvier-février 1782), in Revue Historique des Armées, Vol. 1, 1974. This article includes extracts from «Mémoires Secrets» de Bouillé; The Remembrancer, Vol. 14.

5. Attaque et prise..., ibid.

6. Attaque et prise..., ibid. Charles Middleton (1907). Letters and papers of Charles, Lord Barham, Volume 1. David Hannay (1895). Letters written by Sir Samuel Hood (Viscount Hood) in 1781-2-3.

7. Algernon Aspinall (1915). West Indian tales of old.

8. Attaque et prise..., ibid. (Translation is my own)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Months Ahead

This summer I've been blogging chiefly about the 1781 battle of Guilford Courthouse and the 1782 campaign on St. Kitts. These projects are now starting to wind down: I anticipate both will be complete in about another month.

In October I will start on a new project that is concerned with the October 28, 1776 battle of White Plains. Back in May I mentioned that I was working on a detailed topographic map of the battlefield, but since then my interests have taken a different direction. What I intend to do is blog about the wider White Plains "campaign" with the posts appearing online on the anniversary of the historical occurrences. So, for example, on October 8th, I will have a post online that describes the British planning session that occurred on October 8th, 1776. In each of these posts I will describe the events of that day by drawing upon journals, letters, and memoirs of those who were there; for example, the description of the British planning session on October 8th will be based largely on Major Stephen Kemble's journal and Lieutenant-General Henry Clinton's memoir.

There are two features of this series that particularly appeal to me. One is that there is a lot of source material to work with, and much of it makes fascinating reading. Another is that I am looking forward to exploring how a campaign gradually unfolded by taking up the events on the timescale on which they actually occurred.

The first post in the series will appear on October 8th and concern the planning session; the last post will appear on November 1st, and describe how the campaign concluded. In between these dates, there will be many posts that describe various battles and skirmishes and the more mundane aspects of soldiers' lives, including especially the constant struggle with hunger, fatigue, and sickness among the rank and file in the American army.

Once this project is done, I'm going to take a partial break from writing, and focus on painting for awhile. I haven't picked up a brush since working on Regiment von Bose in June, and I miss the nightly routine of listening to the radio while painting some figure set.

I don't know yet what I will do with this blog in 2012, other than I hope to take the blog in some new directions and explore additional battles and campaigns of the Revolutionary War.

Friday, August 19, 2011

St. Kitts (8): Watching and Waiting

This is the seventh in a series of post on the St. Kitts campaign of 1782. The St. Kitts campaign took place in what is known as the West Indies theater of the Revolutionary War. [Click for Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, or Part 7].

De Bouillé’s March

On January 28th, 1782. The British (under Brigadier-General Robert Prescott) landed troops from the 13th, 28th, and 69th regiments on St. Kitts and fought a French detachment commanded by Comte de Fléchin (Part 7). Although de Fléchin occupied a commanding height, his men were greatly outnumbered, and forced to retreat after an hour or so of heavy fighting. This withdrawal gave the British a clear road into the island’s interior. The Marquis de Bouillé quickly moved to block this opening. According to de Bouillé:

I was told around 4:30pm of the enemy landing and of M. de Flechin’s battle. I departed instantly, after issuing orders… I took 4 pieces of 8 [i.e., four 8-pounders], and I made my march during the night with around 3,000 men.

I was ignorant about the enemy’s force… I deployed my troops in two columns, with one taking the road by the sea, led by M. de Saint-Simon; the other, which I led, by the great road.

I arrived around 9pm at Basse-Terre, where I found in the rear of the town M. de Flechin with his detachment. [1]

At Basseterre, de Bouillé learned that he had more than enough men to defeat Prescott. His chief concern at this point was that the British might get around his left flank and into the mountains. There they might find some way of aiding the besieged garrison on Brimstone Hill. According to de Bouillé, “I had the hussars beat the passes, and I sent detachments to my left, with instructions to prevent an enemy movement to his right.”

When General Prescott discovered this new French force, he pulled back from the Mooring Hills to a more defensible post on St. Timothy’s Hill.

Not longer afterwards, de Bouillé began a pursuit. He wrote:

I made my march in one column. I crossed the field of battle where M. de Flechin had his combat. There I found a great number of wounded, of the English and of ours, which had been abandoned.

As daylight spread on the 29th, de Bouillé could see Prescott’s force on St. Timothy’s Hill. Just offshore were several British frigates. De Bouillé could not attack Prescott without exposing his troops to a devastating fire from front and flank. Even on the Mooring Hills his men were endangered. The British vessels saw “several parties of the enemies troops drawn up in different places” and the frigates opened fire, killing two men.

Soon, both sides withdrew. The British infantry re-embarked on the frigates, having failed to “distress, puzzle, and embarrass the enemy” as Hood had hoped. De Bouillé, with most of his men, returned to the siege of Brimstone Hill.

The Siege Unabated

Brimstone Hill once again became the locus of military operations.

On the night of the 29th, British boats attempted to get troops into Brimstone Hill fortress from a cove near Sandy Point. De Bouillé had 150 men and two cannon in this area, and they repulsed the attempt.

On the 30th, de Bouillé informed Shirley that the British relief force had received a check and reembarked. He asserted that the garrison’s situation was now hopeless and that they should surrender. Governor Shirley declined.

On the night of the 31st, French infantry found at the base of Brimstone Hill a large, abandoned cache of artillery. This included eight brass 24-pounders, with 6,000 cannonballs, and two brass 13-inch mortars, with 1,500 shells. These guns had been part of the “travelling artillery of the West Indies,” kept in storage on St. Kitts. As the artillery belonged neither to the garrison, nor to the militia, neither had thought to remove the guns and mortars to a more secure location when the invasion began. This windfall would allow the French to escalate their bombardment of the British garrison.

The British now looked forward to the arrival of a naval squadron commanded by Admiral George Brydges Rodney. Rodney had intended to set sail for the West Indies in December, but an unfavorable wind kept his fleet grounded until mid-January. When he did set sail, he encountered difficult weather. At the time that Prescott was abandoning his post on St. Kitts, Rodney was still 3 weeks away from the West Indies.

The key questions at this point were: how long could Brimstone Hill hold out against round-the-clock bombardment? How long could the French continue the siege? What would happen when the ships commanded by Rodney and Samuel Hood united?


1. Attaque et prise de Saint-Christophe dit le «Gibraltar» des Antilles (janvier-février 1782), in Revue Historique des Armées, Vol. 1, 1974. This article includes extracts from «Mémoires Secrets» de Bouillé. (Translation of those extracts is my own).

Other information in this post is drawn from: David Hannay (1895). Letters written by Sir Samuel Hood (Viscount Hood) in 1781-2-3; Algernon Aspinall (1915). West Indian tales of old; Charles Middleton (1907). Letters and papers of Charles, Lord Barham, Volume 1; George Basil Mundy (1830). The life and correspondence of the late Admiral Lord Rodney, Volume 2; the Journal Politique for 1782; Journal of the capture and recovery of Nevis in Charles Ekins (1824). Naval battles, from 1744 to the peace in 1814.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Captain Evelyn on Lexington and Concord

Earlier this year I devoted several posts to the opening of the Revolutionary War on Lexington Green. In one post, I wrote:

Five British officers who were on the green when the shooting started recorded their observations -- Major John Pitcairn, Lieutenant William Sutherland, Ensign Jeremy Lister, Lieutenant John Barker, and Lieutenant Edward Thoroton Gould. Of these, Pitcairn, Sutherland, and Lister clearly asserted how the firing began.

Recently, I stumbled upon a sixth account by a British officer -- Captain William Glanville Evelyn -- who led the light infantry company of the 4th Regiment of Foot. Evelyn's account appears in a letter dated April 23, 1775, and addressed to his father. He wrote:

On the night of the 18th instant, the Grenadiers and Light Infantry of our little army, making near 700 men, embarked privately, and crossed above the common ferry here, in order to go to a town about twenty miles off, to destroy some cannon, provision, &c., that had been collected there; the country having been alarmed by the appearance of troops in the night, they assembled from every quarter; and within about five miles of the place (Concord), our men found themselves opposed by a body of men in arms, whose design appeared to be to stop their progress. This they were soon convinced of, by receiving a scattering shot or two from them, upon which a few of our people fired, and killed seven or eight minute men; and so passed on to Concord, where they destroyed some iron guns, gun-carriage wheels, and about 100 casks of flour.

In summarizing the evidence about the events on Lexington Green, I wrote, there is a measure of agreement that either one shot, or a few shots occurring in close succession, immediately preceded a volley by the British regulars.In this respect, Evelyn's account matches that of other participants and eyewitnesses. However, Evelyn's description does not exactly match that of the other British officers, and it certainly differs from that of those American participants who flatly stated the British fired first.

For the rest of Captain Evelyn's description of the battle of Lexington and Concord, and other details of his Revolutionary War service, see here.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Guilford Courthouse in Miniature (8)

This is the eighth in a series of posts depicting the battle of Guilford Courthouse in miniature. Previous posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7.

Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Lee had been placed at the head of a flank corps (or “corps of observation”) that consisted of his own legion of infantry and cavalry, some Virginian Continental light infantry, and a corps of riflemen from western North Carolina and Virginia. As briefly noted in Part 1, this corps skirmished with the British on the British march to Guilford Courthouse. Lee’s men then took position on the extreme left end of the first American line.

It so happened that the right end of the British line (Regiment von Bose) passed through this field, giving Lee what he thought was a magnificent opportunity to stymie the British attack. He later wrote:

[the men] raked by their fire the right of the British wing, entirely uncovered… The appearance in this quarter was so favorable that sanguine hopes were entertained by many of the officers, from the manifest advantage possessed, of breaking down the enemy’s right before he approached the fence; and the troops exhibited the appearance of great zeal and alacrity. [1]

However, he claimed that he could not capitalize on the opportunity, because of the rapid collapse of the North Carolina militia on the first line (see Part 4). The sudden retreat of the North Carolinians “threw the corps of Lee out of combination with the army, and also exposed it to destruction.”

Regiment von Bose, aided by the 1st battalion of Guards (brought up from reserve), began to pursue Lee’s men. However, according to Charles Stedman:

the first battalion of the guards, and the regiment of Bose, [were] greatly impeded in advancing by the excessive thickness of the woods, which rendered their bayonets of little use. The broken corps of the enemy were thereby encouraged to make frequent stands, and to throw in an irregular fire… [2]

The pursuit of Lee caused the 1st Guards and Hessians to become separated from the rest of the British army. Soon, they would find themselves in a desperate fight for survival in the deep woods.


At the beginning of the battle, Regiment von Bose was placed on the right end of the British line, alongside the 71st Regiment of Foot (Fraser’s Highlanders).

However, after the American first line was defeated, the two regiments headed in slightly different directions, and a gap opened between them.

The further the two regiments advanced, the larger the gap became. In this image, the 71st is approaching Brigadier-General Edward Stevens’ brigade, while Regiment von Bose skirmishes with riflemen in Lee’s corps.

However, Regiment von Bose was not without support; the 1st Battalion of British Guards was soon ordered up to their assistance.

Lee’s Legion (foreground) and Campbell’s Virginia riflemen (background) skirmish with the British and Hessians in the woods.

Parties of riflemen contest the Hessians’ advance.

Virginia light infantry cause trouble for the 1st Guards.



In this post I describe the beginning of what is known as the "separate battle" at Guilford Courthouse. I've commented previously on different ways the source material for this part of the battle can be interpreted (see here).

1. Henry Lee. (1812). Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United States.

2. Charles Stedman. (1794). The History of the Origin, Progress, and Termination of the American War, Vol. 2.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Guilford Courthouse in Miniature (7)

This is the seventh in a series of posts depicting the battle of Guilford Courthouse in miniature. Previous posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6.

The second defensive line at Guilford Courthouse was comprised of two brigades Virginia militia. Brigadier-General Edward Stevens commanded the brigade on the left; Brigadier-General Robert Lawson commanded the brigade on the right.

Among those serving in Stevens’ brigade was a young rifleman named Samuel Houston. He recorded in his journal how that morning the men formed a line in the woods and loaded their rifles.

“Presently our brigade major came, ordering [us] to take trees as we pleased. The men run to choose their trees, but with difficulty, many crowding to one, and some far behind others. But we moved by order of our officers, and stood in suspense.” [1]

The men could plainly hear the opening cannonade (Part 2) followed by the roar of muskets and rifles as the first American line came under attack (Part 4). Gradually the sounds of battle drew closer.

Eventually, the 71st Regiment of Foot (Fraser’s Highlanders) emerged through the trees and attacked Stevens’ men. The blow fell not on Houston’s front (on the left end of the brigade), but rather against Stevens’ center and right.

On the first line, the Highlanders quickly overcame resistance by firing and charging with the bayonet. They found Stevens’ men much more difficult to dislodge.

According to American Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Lee, “the Virginia militia… were not so advantageously posted as their comrades of North Carolina, yet gave every indication of maintaining their ground with obstinacy. Stevens… had placed a line of sentinels in his rear with orders to shoot every man that flinched.” [2]

Instead of a single swift charge, the fighting was marked by a long thunderous exchange of rifle and musket fire. According to a Scottish author familiar with the battle, “The ground was level, but the wood was so thick and difficult, that, though the fire rolled in torrents, few were killed on either side.” [3]

Eventually, Stevens was shot in the thigh and his horse killed. [4]

Perhaps at the same time, some of the British Guards had begun to threaten Stevens’ right flank and rear. [5]

In any case, “the Virginians stood their ground & fought until their commander the brave General Stevens ordered them to retreat.” [6] Stevens’ men could hold their head high as they fell back; theirs was the one brigade of militia to wholly carry out their assignment in the Americans’ defense in depth.


British Guards and Fraser’s Highlanders advance through the woods towards the American second line. Mumford’s regiment of Lawson’s brigade is partially visible at the extreme left. Stevens’ brigade is on the right side of the road. Some of the North Carolinians that had fought on the first line can be seen retreating in the distance. [7]

Guards and Highlanders battle Virginia militia in the woods. At left, the bulk of Lawson’s brigade has taken flight (see Part 6). In the distance is part of the American third line. Some of the North Carolinians that had fought on the first line can be seen retreating towards the third line.

Another view of the above.



1. Houston's account appears in William Henry Foote (1855). Sketches of Virginia....

2. Henry Lee. (1812). Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United States.

3. David Stewart (1825). Sketches... of the Highlanders of Scotland.

4. Lee, ibid; Pension application of Cornelius Sanders.

5. According to Lee, part of the Guards first attacked Lawson’s brigade and then turned on Stevens’ brigade. In his words: “brigadier O’Hara, advancing… with fixed bayonets, aided by the seventy-first… compelled first Lawson’s brigade and then Stevens to abandon the contest.”

6. Pension application of Christopher Hand.

7. This depiction refers to the following statement by British Lieutenant-General Charles Cornwallis:

The 71st regiment and [Guards] Grenadiers, and second battalion of Guards, not knowing what was passing on their right, and hearing the fire advance on their left, continued to move forward, the artillery keeping pace with them on road, followed by the cavalry.

Events “passing on their right” will be covered in the next post in this series. The “advance on their left” refers to Webster’s activity on the British left flank, which I began to describe in Part 5, and which I will take up again in Part 9.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Guilford Courthouse in Miniature (6)

This is the sixth in a series of posts depicting the battle of Guilford Courthouse in miniature. Previous posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5.

Brigadier-General Robert Lawson commanded the right wing of Virginia militia on the American second line. Lawson’s brigade consisted of three regiments commanded by (from his left to his right), Robert Mumford, John Holcombe, and Beverley Randolph. [1]

During the opening cannonade of the battle, British round shot came bounding through the woods and into their position. According to Lawson’s brigade-major, St. George Tucker:

“Major Hubbard, of Col. Mumford’s regiment, had the skirt of his surtout shot away by a cannon ball, and his horse slightly wounded by the same. There were not, however, above ten men killed and wounded during the whole cannonade…” [2]

Lawson decided against waiting passively for the redcoats to reach his front. Instead, according to Tucker, “When the cannonade ceased, orders were given for Holcombe’s regiment and the regiment on the right of him [Randolph's] to advance and annoy the enemy’s left flank.”

This was the kind of bold gamble that potentially could win or lose a battle. The British left flank was vulnerable (see Part 5), but Lawson’s decision undermined the planned defense-in-depth.


John Holcombe’s and Beverley Randolph’s regiments advance through the woods and encounter North Carolinians retreating from the first line.


While the Virginians trudged through the woods, the British infantry broke the North Carolina line (Part 4). The rapidity of the British advance prevented Lawson’s men from acting as planned. Instead, the Virginians found their own flank imperiled when some British troops – probably from the brigade of Guards – moved into the area between Mumford’s right and Holcombe’s left. This unexpected advance unnerved the Virginians. According to Tucker:

While we were advancing to execute this order [i.e., to harass the British left], the British had advanced, and, having turned the flank of Col. Mumford’s regiment… we discovered them in our rear. This threw the militia into such confusion, that, without attending in the least to their officers who endeavored to halt them, and make them face about and engage the enemy, Holcombe’s regiment and ours instantly broke off without firing a single gun, and dispersed like a flock of sheep frightened by dogs. [2]

A chasm had suddenly opened in the Americans’ second defensive line. Fortunately for the Americans, Tucker was equal to the occasion. He wrote:

With infinite labor Beverley and myself rallied about sixty or seventy of our men, and brought them to the charge. Holcombe was not so successful. He could not rally a man… With the few men which we had collected we at several times sustained an irregular kind of skirmishing with the British, and were once successful enough to drive a party for a very small distance. [2]


Fighting on the Second Line. At left, the 33rd Foot, supported by Hessian Jaegers and the Guards light infantry (the latter not shown) battles William Washington’s flank corps. Meanwhile, other elements of the Guards brigade (upper right) and the 23rd Foot (lower right) battle parts of Lawson’s brigade.

Another view of the above. Mumford’s regiment is at left. Most of the remainder of Lawson’s brigade is fleeing, although St. George Tucker and others skirmish with the 23rd Foot in the woods.


Sergeant Roger Lamb of the 23rd Foot (Royal Welch Fusiliers) was one who got caught up in the “irregular kind of skirmishing” with Lawson’s men. He wrote, “Here the conflict became still more fierce.” When the Virginians finally gave way, he spotted a fleeing American officer. He wrote:

“I immediately darted after him, but he perceiving my intention to capture him, fled with the utmost speed. I pursued and was gaining on him, when, hearing a confused noise on my left, I observed several bodies of Americans drawn up within the distance of a few yards.” [3]

Were these more of Tucker’s men? Or had Lamb reached Mumford’s position? In any event, he was now in grave danger:

Whoever has been in an engagement well knows that, in such moments all fears of death are over. Seeing one of the guards among the slain, where I stood, I stopped and replenished my own pouch with the cartridges that remained in his; during the time I was thus employed, several shots were fired at me; but not one took effect. [3]

Lamb was relieved when a company of the guards appeared and attacked the parties of Americans. He watched with admiration as British troops “with calm intrepidity [attacked] superior numbers,” and he noted that “this instance was not peculiar; it frequently occurred in the British army, during the American war.”

In this manner, the Guards and Fusiliers dislodged the last of Lawson’s men.


Yet another view of the above. In the foreground is the cavalry component of William Washington’s flank corps – chiefly troopers of the 1st and 3rd Continental Light Dragoons. In the middle ground, most of Lawson’s men stream out of action. In the distance, a great blaze of smoke arises from where other Virginia militiamen battle British Guards and Fraser’s Highlanders (more on this next time).



I noted at the outset of this series that I would be presenting a fairly conventional account of the battle of Guilford Courthouse. The present post is something of an exception. The advance made by part of Lawson's brigade has been omitted from virtually every account of the battle (Babits' and Howard's recent history being a notable exception). My feeling is that the major source on this advance -- a letter by St. George Tucker to his wife, written shortly after the battle --provides a clear and believable description of this movement.

1. Letters of St. George Tucker to his wife (from the Magazine of American History); Lawrence E. Babits & Joshua B. Howard (2009) Long, obstinate, and bloody: The battle of Guilford Courthouse. Henry Skipwith led Mumford's regiment on the day of the battle.

2. Tucker, ibid.

3. A copy of Lamb's account (among others) can be found in this compendium.