CHAPTER XV. THE WAR IN THE WEST AND IN THE SOUTH

THE WEST. - After Great Britain obtained from France the country between the mountains and the Mississippi, the British king, as we have seen (p. 143), forbade settlement west of the mountains. But the westward movement of population was not to be stopped by a proclamation. The hardy frontiersmen gave it no heed, and, passing over the mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, they hunted, trapped, and made settlements in the forbidden land.

TENNESSEE. - Thus, in 1769, William Bean of North Carolina built a cabin on the banks of the Watauga Creek and began the settlement of what is now Tennessee. The next year James Robertson and many others followed and dotted the valleys of the Holston and the Clinch with clearings and log cabins. These men at first were without government of any sort, so they formed an association and for some years governed themselves; but in 1776 their delegates were seated in the legislature of North Carolina, and next year their settlements were organized as Washington county in that state. Robertson soon (1779) led a colony further west and on the banks of the Cumberland founded Nashboro, now called Nashville.

KENTUCKY. - The year (1769) that Bean went into Tennessee, Daniel Boone, one of the great men of frontier history, entered what is now Kentucky. Others followed, and despite Indian wars and massacres, Boonesboro, Harrodsburg, and Lexington were founded before 1777. These backwoodsmen also were for a time without any government; but in December, 1776, Virginia organized the region as a county with the present boundaries of Kentucky. [1]

GEORGE ROGERS CLARK. - In the country north of the Ohio were a few old French towns, - Detroit, Kaskaskia, Vincennes, - and a few forts built by the French and garrisoned by the British, from whom the Indians obtained guns and powder to attack the frontier. Against these forts and villages George Rogers Clark, a young Virginian, planned an expedition which was approved by Patrick Henry, then governor of Virginia. Henry could give him little aid, but Clark was determined to go; and in 1778, with one hundred and eighty men, left Pittsburg in boats, floated down the Ohio to its mouth, marched across the swamps and prairies of south-western Illinois, and took Kaskaskia.

Vincennes [2] thereupon surrendered; but was soon recaptured by the British general at Detroit with a band of Indians. But Clark, after a dreadful march across country in midwinter, attacked the fort in the dead of night, captured it, and then conquered the country near the Wabash and Illinois rivers, and held it for Virginia. [3]

SPAIN IN THE WEST. - The conquest was most timely; for in 1779 Spain joined in the war against Great Britain, seized towns and British forts in Florida, and in January, 1781, sent out from St. Louis a band of Spaniards and Indians who marched across Illinois and took possession of Fort St. Joseph in what is now southwestern Michigan, occupied it, and claimed the Northwest for Spain.

THE SOUTH INVADED. - Near the end of 1778, the British armies held strong positions at New York and Newport, and the French fleet under D'Estaing was in the West Indies. The British therefore felt free to strike a blow at the South. A fleet and army accordingly sailed from New York and (December 29, 1778) captured Savannah. Georgia was then overrun, was declared conquered, and the royal governor was reestablished in office. [4]

THE AMERICANS REPULSED AT SAVANNAH. - Governor Rutledge of South Carolina now appealed to D'Estaing, who at once brought his fleet from the West Indies; and Savannah was besieged by the American forces under Lincoln and the French under D'Estaing. After a long siege, an assault was made on the British defenses (October, 1779), in which the brave Pulaski was slain and D'Estaing was wounded. The French then sailed away, and Lincoln fell back into South Carolina.

BRITISH CAPTURE CHARLESTON. - Hearing of this, Sir Henry Clinton and Lord Cornwallis sailed with British troops from New York (December, 1779) to Savannah. Thence the British marched overland to Charleston. Lincoln did all he could to defend the city, but in May, 1780, was compelled to surrender. South Carolina was then overrun by the British, and Clinton returned to New York, leaving Cornwallis in command.

PARTISAN LEADERS. - South Carolina now became the seat of a bitter partisan war. The Tories there clamored for revenge. That no man should be neutral, Cornwallis ordered everyone to declare for or against the king, and sent officers with troops about the state to enroll the royalists in the militia. The whole population was thus arrayed in two hostile parties. The patriots could not offer organized opposition; but little bands of them found refuge in the woods, swamps, and mountain valleys, whence they issued to attack the British troops and the Tories. Led by Andrew Pickens, Thomas Sumter, and Francis Marion whom the British called the Swamp Fox, they won many desperate fights. [5]

CAMDEN. - Congress, however, had not abandoned the South. Two thousand men under De Kalb were marching south before the surrender of Charleston. After it, a call for troops was made on all the states south of Pennsylvania, and General Gates, then called "the Hero of Saratoga," was sent to join De Kalb and take command. The most important point in the interior of South Carolina was Camden, and against this Gates marched his troops. But he managed matters so badly that near Camden the American army was beaten, routed, and cut to pieces by the British under Cornwallis (August 16, 1780). [6]