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[303] yielded to the threats and urgency of the inhabi-
Chap. XIV.} 1780. Feb. 26.
tants of Charleston, and remained in their city, which no experienced engineer regarded as tenable.

On the twenty-sixth, the British forces from the eastern side of St. John's island gained a view of the town, its harbor, the sea, and carefully cultivated plantations, which, after their fatigues, seemed to them a paradise. The best defence of the harbor was the bar at its outlet; and already on the twenty-

seventh, the officers of the continental squadron, which carried a hundred and fifty guns, reported their inability to guard it. ‘Then,’ wrote Washington, ‘the attempt to defend the town ought to have been relinquished.’ But Lincoln was intent only on strengthening its fortifications. Setting the example of labor, he was the first to go to work on them in the morning, and would not return till late in the evening. Of the guns of the squadron and its seamen he formed and manned batteries on shore, and ships were sunk to close the entrance to the Ashley river.

Clinton, trusting nothing to hazard, moved slowly along a coast intersected by creeks and checkered with islands. The delay brought greater disasters on the state. Lincoln used the time to draw into Charleston all the resources of the southern department of which he could dispose. ‘Collecting the whole force for the defence of Charleston,’ thought Washington, ‘is putting much to hazard. I dread the event.’1 But he was too remote to be heard in time.

1 Washington to Steuben in Writings of Washington, ed. Sparks, VII. 10.

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