July 17, 1779
I have the honour of giving you a full and particular relation of the reduction of this point, by the light infantry under my command.
On the 15th instant at 12 o'clock, we took up our line of march, from Sandy beach, distant 14 miles from this place. The road being exceedingly bad and narrow, and having to pass over high mountains, through deep morasses and difficult defiles, we were obliged to move in single defile the greatest part of the way. At eight o'clock in the evening, the van arrived at Mr. Springsteel's, within one and a half miles of the enemy, and formed into columns as fast as they came up, agreeable to the order of battle annexed; viz. Col. Febiger's and Meig's regiments, with Major Hull's detachment, formed the right column; Col. Butler's regiment and Major Murfree's two companies, the left. The troops remained in this position until several of the principal officers, with myself, had returned from reconnoitering the works. Half after 11 o'clock, being the time fixed upon, the whole moved forward, the van of the right consisting of 150 volunteers, properly officered, who advanced, with unloaded musquets, and fixed bayonets, under the command of Lieut. Col. Fleury; these were preceded by twenty picked men and a vigilant and brave officer, to remove the abbatis and other obstructions. The van of the left, consisting of 100 volunteers, under the command of Major Steward, with unloaded musquets and fixed bayonets, also preceded by a brave and determined officer, with twenty men, for the same purpose as the other.
At twelve o'clock the assault was to begin on the right and left flanks of the enemy's works, while Major Murfree amused them in front; but a dead morass covering their whole front, and at this time overflowed by the tide, together with other obstructions, rendered the approaches more difficult than were at first apprehended, so that it was about 20 minutes after twelve before the assault began, previous to which I placed myself at the head of Febiger's regiment, of eight columns, and gave the troops the most pointed orders not to fire upon any account, but place their dependence on the bayonet, which order was faithfully obeyed. --Neither the deep morass,the formidable and double rows of abbatis, or the strong works in front and flank, could damp the ardour of the troops, who in the face of most tremendous and incessant fire of musquetry, and from cannon loaded with grape-shot, forced their way at the point of the bayonet, through every obstacle, both columns meeting in the center of the enemy's works, nearly at the same instant.
Your excellency's most
obedient and humble servant,