Sometimes small incidents, rather than glorious exploits, give us the best evidence of character. So, as portrait painters are more exact in doing the face, I must give particular attention to the marks of the souls of men. — Plutarch

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

Two Unselfish Women

When the battle of Cowpens was over, and the few remnants of Tarleton's force had fled to join Cornwallis, the latter marched forward, hoping to catch up with Morgan's army and crush it with his superior force before it could join Greene's forces. Both armies were therefore anxious to reach the ford over the Catawba first, and tramped ahead as fast as possible, stopping to rest only when the men were completely exhausted. But, in spite of the great odds against him, Morgan finally managed to give Cornwallis the slip, and, crossing at the ford, was soon joined by Greene. The two generals continued the retreat, cleverly tempting Cornwallis to follow, until finally the whole American army was safe beyond the Dan River in Virginia.

We are told that it was during this race for the Dan that Greene once stopped at the house of a patriot Southern lady, Mrs. Steele. She quickly supplied him with warm garments and food, and hearing him say he could not pay her because he was penniless, she brought him all her savings, which she forced him to accept and use for the sake of his country.

It seems also that in the course of this campaign the Americans laid siege to a house which served as a fort for British soldiers. Although Light-Horse Harry Lee was very anxious to secure these men, he soon found that he could not drive them out of the house. He therefore asked Mrs. Motte, owner of the place, whether she would allow him to set fire to it, to force the British out.

She not only consented to this,—although the house was all she had, but brought Lee an Indian bow and arrows, so that he could shoot bits of flaming wood upon the shingled roof. The house was thus soon in flames, and the British, seeing they would be roasted alive if they staid in it, and shot if they tried to escape, promptly surrendered. Then the fire was put out, and as it had not yet gained much headway, Mrs. Motte did not, after all, lose the house which she had been willing to sacrifice for the sake of her country.

As was the case all through the Southern campaign, the British were very cruel; still, a few patriots managed to escape from their clutches. For example, one of Tarleton's men once ordered a prisoner to give him the silver buckles he wore. The man proudly bade the Englishman take them if he wanted them. Knowing that he would be slain if he did not escape, the American killed the man kneeling before him, and, jumping on a riderless horse, dashed away. Before any of the four hundred men around there thought of pursuing him, he was out of reach.

As soon as his men had rested a little from their fatigues, Greene again led them against the British, whom he met at Guilford Courthouse in North Carolina. Here, although the Americans behaved with great valor, the British won the victory. But it was at the cost of so many lives that" when Fox, a British statesman, heard of it, he sadly exclaimed: "Another such victory would ruin us!"

The site of the old Revolutionary battlefield at Guilford Courthouse is now a beautiful park. Here are many interesting statues, and in the museum, among other curiosities, you can see British and American flags peacefully crossed, showing that after the war was over the two parties generously forgot the past and were ready to meet as friends.

After the battle of Guilford Courthouse, Cornwallis retreated to the coast, and Greene turned his attention to the British forces farther south, with which he fought the battles of Hobkirk Hill and Eutaw Springs. In the latter engagement, Marion, surrounded by the foe, encouraged his brave men by saying: "Hold up your heads, boys! Three fires, three cheers, and a charge, and you are free!" During the same engagement one of Lee's men found himself alone and without arms in the midst of the enemy. With great presence of mind, he seized an officer, wrenched his sword out of his hand, and, using him as a shield, fought his way back to his friends.

Though Greene was often defeated and never won a great victory, the British loudly complained that he never knew when he was beaten. But while Greene modestly described his own doings as, "We fight, get beat, rise and fight again," he and his two thousand men were little by little driving the British out of South Carolina. Indeed, by their brave efforts the. Americans finally recovered both South Carolina and Georgia, with the exception of the cities of Charleston and Savannah.


Front Matter

Our Country Long Ago
The Barbarous Indians
The Mounds
Where the Northmen Went
The Northmen in America
Queer Ideas
Prince Henry the Navigator
Youth of Columbus
Columbus and the Queen
"Land! Land!"
Columbus and the Savages
Home Again
Columbus Ill-treated
Death of Columbus
How America Got its Name
The Fountain of Youth
"The Father of Waters"
The French in Canada
French and Spanish Quarrels
The Sky City
Around the World
Nothing but Smoke
Smith's Adventures
The Jamestown Men
Smith Wounded
Pocahontas Visits England
Hudson and the Indians
The Mayflower
Plymouth Rock
The First Thanksgiving
Snake Skin and Bullets
The Beginning of Boston
Stories of Two Ministers
Williams and the Indians
The Quakers
The King-Killers
King Phillip's War
The Beginning of New York
Penn and the Indians
The Catholics in Maryland
The Old Dominion
Bacon's Rebellion
A Journey Inland
The Carolina Pirates
Charter Oak
Salem Witches
Down the Mississippi
La Salle's Adventures
Indians on the Warpath
Two Wars with the French
Washington's Boyhood
Washington's Journey
Washington's First Battle
Stories of Franklin
Braddock's Defeat
Wolfe at Quebec
England and her Colonies
The Stamp Tax
The Anger of the Colonies
The Boston Tea Party
The Minutemen
The Battle of Lexington
Bunker Hill
The Boston Boys
The British leave Boston
Declaration of Independence
A Lady's Way of Helping
Christmas Eve
The Fight at Bennington
Burgoyne's Surrender
Winter at Valley Forge
The Quaker Woman
Putnam's Adventures
Indian Cruelty
Boone in Kentucky
Famous Sea Fights
The "Swamp Fox"
The Poor Soldiers
The Spy
A Traitor's Death
Two Unselfish Women
Surrender of Cornwallis
British Flag hauled down
Washington's Farewell