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JAMES P. COLLINS ACCOUNT OF BATTLE OF FISHING CREEK
from Autobiography of a Revolutionary Soldier, pp.41-45

The Tory party on the west side of the Broad River, were numerous; they began to muster and threaten us; they commenced house burning and plundering. Among their leaders was one called Bill Cunningham, a man that will be execrated by some of the descendants of the sufferers, perhaps to generations yet unborn. Women were insulted, and stripped of every particle of decent clothing they might have on, and every article of bedding, clothing or furniture was taken knives, forks, dishes, spoons, in fact everything that could be carried off. Not a piece of meat or a pint of salt was left. They even entered houses where men lay sick of the small-pox, that they knew were opposed to them, dragged them out of their sick beds into the yard and put them to death, in cold blood, in presence of their wives and children, or relatives. We were too weak to repel them, and it seemed as though they had been let loose from the bottomless pit, to execute infernal vengeance on all that disobeyed the mandates of the British. It seemed like our time, to suffer in the flesh, was at hand. In order to save ourselves a little longer, it was determined to join Sumpter, but we found we jumped out of the frying pan into the fire; we met Sumpter retreating rapidly; we joined in the retreat until we came to Fishing Creek, a place where it was thought we could halt in safety, and rest, but not so. Sumpter

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encamped on the main road, near the creek; we were encamped a short distance above, on his left, where another road crossed the creek; there was a guard or picket posted at a short distance in the rear; the men were all fatigued; some had kindled fires and were cooking and eating; others tumbled down and were fast asleep, and all scattered in every direction. We had drawn some provisions, and forage for our horses, and were engaged in about the same way, with, however, but few asleep. Our horses were mostly close at hand, and but few saddles off; all at once the picket guns gave the alarm they retreated on the main body with the enemy on their heels. Before Sumpter could wake his men and form, the enemy were among them cutting down everything in their way. Sumpter, with all the men he had collected, retreated across the creek at the main road, leaving the remainder to the mercy of the enemy. It was a perfect rout, and an indiscriminate slaughter. No quarter was given; we were preparing in all haste to secure our own safety. The greater part of our number dashed through the creek, at the fording place, and pushing on with all possible speed, reached the highland. After we had gotten fairly to the top of the hill, we halted. No enemy appeared, and we remained quiet for some time, waiting form some of our men, who were missing; but no tidings no one, neither friend or foe appearing. There had been but little firing, except the pistols of the enemy, and all seemed to be silent. At length a few blasts of the bugle brought some of our men in sight, who in their hurry had missed the fording place, and had gone up the creek where they found it difficult to pass, and were looking for our trail. Near sunset, a few more came up, but there were still some missing, of whom we could hear nothing. We then left the road, keeping a high, open ridge and went off some distance; night coming on, we dismounted in the woods and tied our horses; we had nothing for man or beast to eat, and the weather being warm, (August,) we kindled no fires. We lay down,

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every man with his sword by his side, his gun in his hands, and his pistol near his head. All were silent, for we expected the whole army had been taken prisoner, or put to the sword.

After I had laid down, I began to reflect. Well, thought I, if this be the fate of war, I would willingly be excused. I devised several plans to get out of the scrape, but none appeared likely to have the desired effect. The thing had gone too far, and there was no safety in retreating. At length, weary with thinking, I fell asleep. Before it was light, in the morning, we were all up, and on enquiry, it was found that five of our number were missing. It was resolved that we should return to the battle ground; a few spies having been sent forward, we followed at some distance. When we arrived, there was no appearance of the enemy all was silent. In a few moments, a party of Sumpter's men made their appearance, crossing the creek. The dead and wounded lay scattered in every direction over the field; numbers lay stretched cold and lifeless; some were yet struggling in the agonies of death, while here and there, lay others, faint with the loss of blood, almost famished for water, and begging for assistance. The scene before me, I could not reconcile to my feelings and I began to repent that I had ever taken any part in the matter; however, by custom, such things become familiar. We commenced our search, and soon found two of own party, one named Enloe, and the other Jackson, some distance apart, both setting up, unable to walk without assistance, and mangled by the sword. The other three we could not find among the living or the dead; what their fate was, we never knew, for we never heard of them afterwards. One was a lieutenant named Bryan, one of our most active men. We collected all the wounded we could; but poor fellows, we had little nourishment to give them; they all craved water, and even the little they received, seemed to revive them. We then began to look out for some provisions, for ourselves and horses; we found corn lying about in many places,

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that had not been consumed the day before, and there were several kettles setting about, where the fire had been kindled, with provisions ready cooked and provisions scattered about on the ground in various places. There was no time for choosing, and every man ate whatever he got hold of, asking no questions; then taking a glass of cold water, we all felt some what braced up. There were several horses grazing about the old field, that appeared to be nearly worn out, some with bridles and saddles on, others without.

The guns lay scattered over the field, also various articles of camp equipage. Among the guns there was one picked up, a good looking rifle, with a shot-bag and all the apparatus belonging. The gun had apparently been laid down by some one who intended taking a little sleep, in order to have her ready when he awoke. The gun was presented to the Colonel, and after viewing her some time, he observed "Well, boys I have a use for this gun I shall have to claim her as my part of the spoils." Then calling me up, said, "Well, James, you have been wanting a rifle for some time; here is one I think will suit you; she is light, and I think, a good one; she has an excellent lock; lay down you little shot-gun; take her, and take good care of her; I think you can do better with her than with the little shot-gun." A Capt. Chambers, who stood by, exclaimed, "That is right colonel, you have made a good disposition of the gun. I hope we shall have need of James, yet; he seems to be a lucky boy, and it is well to encourage him." I confess it had the effect of a stimulent, and in some measure reconciled me to my lot. After giving what help we could in burying the dead, in haste, poor fellows it was badly done, we caught two of the best looking horses we could find, and placing our two wounded men upon them, and supporting them as well as we could, we moved off, taking with us no plunder, (or very little) of what was considered of right to belong to Sumter's men, being the property of their companions who had fallen. All

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the baggage, and everything valuable, had fallen into the hands of the enemy, and they had taken it off. We got to a house, a few miles distant, where we obtained an old horse-cart, we placed them in it, and next day, got them to their home, where they both recovered, but not without being much disfigured by their wounds.

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