The Yemassee

By William Gilmore Simms; Alexander Cowie | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER XLVIII

" The last blow for his country, and he dies,
Surviving not the ruin he must see."

THE force brought up by the younger Grayson, and now led by Harrison, came opportunely to the relief of the garrison. The flames had continued to rage, unrestrained, so rapidly around the building, that its walls were at length greedily seized upon by the furious element, and the dense smoke, gathering through all its apartments, was alone sufficient to compel the retreat of its defenders. Nothing now was left them in their desperation but to sally forth even upon the knives and hatchets of their merciless and expecting foe; and for this last adventure, so full of danger, so utterly wanting in a fair promise of any successful result, the sturdy foresters prepared themselves, with all their courage. Fortunately for this movement, it was just about this period that the approach of Harrison, with his party, compelled the besiegers to change their position, in order the better to contend with him; and, however reluctant to suffer the escape of those so completely in their power, and for whose destruction they had already made so many sacrifices of time and life, they were compelled to do so in the reasonable fear of an assault upon two sides from the garrison before them, impelled by desperation, and from the foe in their rear, described by their scouts as in rapid advance to the relief of the Block House. The command was shared jointly between Chorley and Ishiagaska. The former had fared much worse than his tawny allies; for, not so well skilled in the artifices of land and Indian warfare, seven out of the twenty warriors whom he commanded had fallen victims in the preceding conflicts. His discretion had become something more valuable, therefore, when reminded, by the scanty force remaining under his command, not only of his loss, but of his present weakness; a matter of no little concern, as he well knew that his Indian allies, in their capricious desperation, might not be willing to discriminate between the whites who had befriended, and those who had been their foes.

Thus counselled by necessity, the assailing chiefs drew off their

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