Page images
PDF
EPUB

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH

OF

GENERAL ANDREW JACKSON.

career.

To the lessons inculcated upon the youthful mind of Andrew Jackson by his exemplary mother, are to be attributed much of the fixed opposition to British oppression and tyranny, and the determined defence and support of the rights of his country, which distinguished him throughout the whole of his eventful

His grandfather, who was born in the province of Ulster, in Ireland, was descended of Scotch ancestors, and attached to their manners, language, and religion. He had four sons, the youngest of whom married Elizabeth Hutchinson, and emigrated from Ireland in the year 1765, bringing with him his two young sons, Hugh and Robert. He landed at Charleston, and purchased a tract of land, with three of his old neighbours, in what was called the Waxhaw settlement, in South Carolina. There, on the 15th of March, 1767, Andrew Jackson was born.

His father died about the same time, leaving his name to his young son, and the care of her three children to his wife, who faithfully and successfully executed the duties which thus devolved upon her.

Her youngest son she intended for the church, and therefore aimed at giving him more than the common school education which his older brothers received. The

[ocr errors]

direction of his studies was committed to the care of Mr. Humphries, the superintendent of a flourishing academy at the Waxhaw meeting-house. There he remained until the near approach of the ravages of the Revolutionary war rendered it necessary for the young Jacksons to leave the country or choose sides with the combatants. The cause of their country was their own. The sufferings of their grandfather at the siege of Carrickfergus, and the oppressions endured by the labouring poor at the hands of the proud Irish nobility, had furnished themes to their mother for conversation over the winter's fire; their tears had flowed in compassion, while their · antipathy to the cause of the woes they wept over became incorporated with their nature. Their mother had accompanied her husband to America, that they might escape from the ruthless tyranny of their English oppressors, and she readily encouraged the ardour of their patriotic devotion, and indulged them in attending the drill and general musters of the neighbourhood.

In the year 1779, the British invaded South Carolina, under General Prevost. Charleston must have fallen if that officer had marched rapidly forward; but he halted on the way, and

, gave time to the citizens to prepare for defence, and to General Lincoln to advance to their assistance. Prevost soon after returned to Savannah, leaving the post at Stono Ferry in charge of a garrison, which Lincoln determined to cut off. He advanced against it on the 20th of June, with twelve hundred men, but a part of his plan failed, and the attempt was unsuccessful. In this battle, Hugh Jackson, the general's oldest brother, lost his life, from the excessive heat of the weather, and the fatigues of the day. He had marched to battle as a volunteer in the corps of the gallant Colonel Davie, who was severely wounded in the conflict. A desire to avenge the death of his brother was thus added to the other causes of enmity towards the brutal invaders of his country, and Andrew, at the age of fourteen, accompanied his brother Robert to the American camp, and engaged actively in the cause of freedom. The British commanders in the commencement of the struggle had promised that the people might remain in peace in their homes, on condition of giving their parol not to take part in the war. But when active resistance had ceased, and the state appeared to be reduced to its former allegiance, they issued a proclamation requiring the inhabitants to enrol themselves in the militia, and be prepared to perform active service for the cause of the king. This act of injustice roused the spirit of resistance, and caused many true patriots to gather round the standards erected by the noble partisans Marion, Sumter, Pickens, and Davies. Almost all of the Waxhaw settlers who engaged in the partisan warfare, united under Colonel Davies. A plan was arranged by Sumter and Davies, which had for its object the destruction of the British garrisons at Rocky Mount and Hanging Rock. Sumter made three bold attacks on the former post on the 30th of July, 1780, but without success. Meanwhile Davies, who had been watching the garrison in Hanging Rock, cut off a foraging party consisting of three companies of tories. Sixty horses and one hundred muskets, secured by this success,

formed a very acceptable addition to the stables and military chest of Sumter, who, soon after, united his forces with those of Davies. The two commanders next marched against Hanging Rock. The contest was long and bloody. At length the badly disciplined troops of Sumter, finding themselves in possession of the greater part of the enemy's camp, and supposing the victory to be won, took to plundering and carousing. But the remnant of the garrison refused to surrender, and Sumter could get only two hundred of his men to continue the fight. Finding that the remainder of his men were rapidly becoming intoxicated, he reluctantly gave up the victory he had fairly won.

This was the first field of Andrew Jackson. Though but thirteen years of age, he fought like a veteran, and the Waxhaw settlers on that day suffered heavy loss. The unfortunate result of the fight, too, must have strongly impressed upon his mind the value of strict military regulations, and contributed to form the love of discipline which afterwards characterized his operations as a general, and which produced the declaration of martial law when perfidy was suspected at New Orleans. When Cornwallis advanced towards Charlotte, the Americans, inferior in numbers and discipline, and unable to cope with the well-armed and well-appointed veterans of the British army, retired into North Carolina.

When Cornwallis had crossed the Yadkin, the Waxhaw settlers boldly returned to their homes. In these times of trouble the laws were silent, and crime went unpunished and wrongs unrevenged. Active whigs dared not spend a night in their own houses, unguarded, without danger of surprise and death at the hands of their savage enemies. The young Jacksons

. were constantly mounted and armed, and incurring every danger with their patriotic friends and neighbours. On one occasion, a noted patriot captain, named Sands, desired to spend a night with his family; and eight soldiers, among whom were Robert and Andrew Jackson, constituted his guard. In the night, a band of tories was heard advancing to capture the house and its inhabitants. A British deserter, who was on the watch, gave the alarm to Andrew Jackson, who immediately seized his gun and ran out to meet one division of the band. Having hailed, and receiving no answer, he put his gun through the fork of an apple-tree, and fired upon the enemy. A volley was returned which killed the soldier near his side. Jackson then went into the house, while another division of the enemy advancing to attack on the opposite side, mistook the fire of their friends for a volley from the house, and began to return it. Thus they continued firing, partly upon their friends and partly upon the house, until an officer, who was in the neighbourhood, gallopped towards the house alone, sounding a cavalry charge on his trumpet. The tories became frightened and retired. Jackson had commenced firing from the door after re-entering the house, where two of his companions were shot down. He was then but fourteen years old.

Rawdon, who was actively engaged in making a desert of the country around Camden, was no sooner advised of the return of the Waxhaw settlers, than he determined to capture or destroy them. Major Coffin was intrusted with the execution of his plan. He succeeded in surprising the settlers, although they were collected together at the Waxhaw meetinghouse; eleven were taken prisoners, and the rest escaped with great difficulty. Among those who fled were the two Jacksons. They continued during the night in a thicket, but left it on the following morning for the purpose of procuring food. They were surprised at the house of Lieutenant Crawford, by a party of dragoons and tories, who had been guided thither by a tory named Johnson. While the troops were actively engaged in demolishing the furniture of the house and the clothing of its inhabitants, the commanding officer, whose boots had been mudded in crossing a creek, commanded the younger Jackson to clean them. He received an indignant refusal, and a demand for the treatment due to a prisoner of war. The cowardly ruffian aimed a blow at his head with his sword, but the young hero parried it with his left hand, upon which he received a severe wound. Robert Jackson for a like refusal received a wound on his head, which was not dressed while he remained a prisoner, and which caused his death a few days after his release. This was effected after the battle of Camden, by a partisan captain named Walker, who gave thirteen British prisoners in exchange for the two Jacksons and five of their neighbours. At the time of their release, the two Jacksons were both infected with the small-pox. The oldest son died, but Andrew was enabled by the natural vigour of his constitution to survive this complication of ills.

Before he had thoroughly recovered his health, his mother left him on an errand of mercy to the unfortunate captives who were confined in the prison-ships at Charleston. There she

a

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »