CHAPTER XIX.

THE ATTACK UPON SAVANNAH.

"While I regret the misfortune, I feel very sensible pleasure in contemplating the gallant behavior of the officers and men of the French and American army; and it adds not a little to my consolation to learn that instead of the mutual reproaches which too often follow the failure of enterprises depending upon the cooperation of troops of different nations, their confidence in and esteem for each other are increased." --- GEORGE WASHINGTON to GENERAL LINCOLN.

Count C. Pulaski. On the 15th of September, 1779, Count d'Estaing sent a letter to General Prevost, demanding the "surrender of Savannah to the arms of the King of France." The British defences were still incomplete; the cannon were not mounted, and it would have been impossible for them to offer a successful resistance if an assault had been made. General Prevost needed time to complete these defences, and so he proposed a truce for twenty-four hours, and promised to give his answer at the end of that time. Count d'Estaing consented, and most unfortunately for the American cause. During the night the fortifications were finished, and the British garrison was reŽnforced by the arrival of eight hundred soldiers under Colonel Maitland from Port Royal. At the end of the twenty-four hours General Prevost replied that he would hold the city until driven out of it.

On the 16th the American army under General Lincoln marched down from Ebenezer and took a position on the north side of the city. The American cavalry were west of the city, and the French forces were camped south and southwest. Now a regular siege was begun. Short sallies, skirmishes, and firing of cannon occurred almost daily. The bombardment made no impression on the forts around the city, but the people of Savannah suffered a great deal. A letter written by an eye-witness describing the scene says: "The poor women and children have suffered beyond description. A number of them in Savannah have already been put to death by our bombs and cannon. A deserter has this moment come out, who gives an account that many of them were killed in their beds, and, amongst others, a poor woman with an infant in her arms was destroyed by a cannon-ball. They have all got into cellars, but even those do not escape the fury of our bombs."

When the siege had continued about three weeks, Count d'Estaing, grew impatient. Many of his soldiers and sailors were sick, and the coming of autumn with its storms threatened his fleet. He therefore resolved to storm the works and capture the city, and General Lincoln unfortunately gave his consent. At three o'clock on the morning of October 9th, twenty-five hundred men were set in motion for the enemy's works. The assault was to have been made before the day dawned, but the troops were delayed by the darkness, and it was daylight when they reached the edge of the woods before the enemy's lines. The battle was begun by an attack on the left, intended to draw the attention of the British from the right, the real point to be attacked; but the British were not deceived by this, as a deserter had informed them of the plans, and they had posted their best soldiers where the assault was to be made. As soon as the cannon began firing on the left, the French troops moved forward. Count d'Estaing was at the head of the column, and led his soldiers up the breastworks to the very mouth of the cannon. His troops fell thickly about him, and he was wounded in the shoulder. The bravest men could not stand the deadly fire, and the column was driven back. Count d'Estaing rallied his troops, re-formed his lines, and charged again, only to be again driven back. In the third charge he was again wounded, and was borne from the field.

At the same time an American column, led by Colonel Laurens, advanced toward Spring Hill redoubt, the strongest of all the forts. They were received with a galling fire from the guns of the fort. Many were cut down, but their comrades pressed on. They reached the ditch and passed it. They climbed the parapet, and planted on its top the flag of South Carolina, a flag that had been presented to the regiment by Mrs. Elliott, of Charleston. A storm of shot drove back the brave men, and cut down the staff of the flag. Sergeant William Jasper saw that it would fall into the hands of the British, and leaped again on the wall, seized the fallen flag, and carried it back to the regiment. At that moment he received a mortal wound. He was borne from the field, and on his death-bed said, "I have got my furlough;" and, pointing to his sword, continued: "That sword was presented to me by General Rutledge for my service in defence of Fort Moultrie. Give it to my father, and tell him that I have worn it with honor. If he should weep, say to him his son died in the hope of a better life. Tell Mrs. Elliott that I lost my life supporting the colors which she presented to our regiment."

Between the French and American armies, Count Pulaski, mounted on a beautiful black horse, rode at the head of the cavalry. The plan was for him to hold his command in reserve until the works were carried by one of the assaulting columns. In the midst of the conflict, Pulaski thought he saw an opening in the enemy's works, and resolved to charge through with his legion and a detachment of Georgia cavalry. Riding in advance, Pulaski shouted to his men to follow, and they rode at full speed after him. As they reached the gap between two batteries, a cross-fire poured a shower of shot into their ranks. Pulaski fell, wounded in the breast and in the thigh. In the retreat he was left where he fell, but Captain Thomas Glascock, a young Georgian of Pulaski's legion, returned with a few men through a storm of shot and shell and rescued his wounded leader. Pulaski was placed on an American vessel, and was attended by the French surgeons, but he died a few days later on the way to Charleston, and his body was dropped into the ocean.

Gen. Thomas Glascock. The repulse was complete. The French and American soldiers had done all that brave men could. The British forts could not be carried, and a thousand dead and wounded lay upon the field of battle. Two of the heroes of the Revolution, Count Pulaski and Sergeant Jasper, had sacrificed their lives for the liberty of Georgia. In after years the legislature named a county in honor of each, and the people of Savannah have erected in their public squares monuments to the men who gave their lives to redeem that city.

The next day a truce was agreed upon, and the dead were buried. Count d'Estaing took his broken army on board his ships and sailed away. General Lincoln retreated to Ebenezer, and thence to Charleston. For the time, Georgia was again completely in the hands of the British.

[ About this time there lived in Liberty County a famous partisan by the name of Robert Sallette, of whose exploits the following accounts have been written: "He appears to have been a sort of roving character, doing things in his own way. The Tories stood very much in dread of him, and well they might, for never had they a more formidable foe. On one occasion a Tory who possessed considerable property offered a reward of one hundred guineas to any person who would bring him Sallette's head. This was made known to our hero, who provided himself with a bag, in which he placed a pumpkin, and proceeded to the house of the Tory, and told him that, having understood he had offered one hundred guineas for Sallette's head, he had it with him, and that he was ready to deliver it provided the money was first counted out for him. The Tory, believing that the bag contained Sallete's head, laid down the money, upon which Sallette pulled off his hat, and placing his hand upon his head, said: "Here is Sallette's head." This answer so frightened the Tory that he immediately took to his heels, but a well-directed shot from Sallette brought him to the ground."]

[Thomas Glascock, a son of William Glascock, Speaker of the House of Representatives, was born at Augusta, GA. He served as captain in Pulaski's Legion. He subsequently became colonel in the war with the Creek Indians, and later was made brigadier-general. He was twice elected to Congress. He died at Decatur in 1841.]


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