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The Campbells of Argyll
Against the Stars and Stripes


A brave and distinguished clansman, Archibald Campbell was born at Inverneil, and at the age of eighteen became a captain in the Highland regiment raised by Simon Fraser for service in America. He served under Wolfe in Canada, and was wounded at the taking of Quebec.

At the close of the war the Highlanders were disbanded, and the young officer served for some years in India, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the 42nd Highlanders or Black Watch.

On the breaking out of the American War of Independence, Simon Fraser again raised a Highland regiment, and appointed Archibald Campbell Lieu-tenant-Colonel of the 2nd Battalion. When the troops arrived, Boston was in the hands of the rebels, and no warning having been received, the transport Annabel and her consort the George with Colonel Campbell on board sailed right into the harbour. Three American privateers full of armed men sailed up, and the British, thinking them friendly boats or perhaps pilots, did not try to repulse them until

the rebels attempted to board the George. Both ships then fired a broadside, which the enemy returned, and the fight went on with hardly a pause from seven in the morning until four in the afternoon. Other vessels sailed up and joined the privateers, and the George, being hard pressed, made towards the shore. An American battery opened fire on her as she approached, showing the newcomers that the place was in the hands of the enemy. The Annabel ran aground, and seeing her helpless, the three schooners surrounded the George, and ordered her to strike sail. The seamen, exhausted after nine hours of fighting, were ready to do so; but every single officer and soldier on board declared that he would rather die than yield. The action was renewed, and continued until, every shot being spent and the rudder disabled, the George grounded under a battery. With six vessels attacking her, the position was a hopeless one, and her inmates were compelled to surrender.

The brave soldiers were made prisoners, and sent to different parts of the country. For two years Colonel Campbell was in American jails, but at last was exchanged and sent in command of an expedition to Georgia.

Many of the inhabitants of the province still remained loyal, and the object of the expedition was to occupy the town of Savannah in order to afford them support. The British troops embarked at Sandy Hook in November, and it was not until a month later that they reached the mouth of the Savannah River after a stormy passage, and landed a short distance below the town.

Seeing an advance guard of the enemy in readiness, Captain Cameron pushed forward with a body of light infantry to the attack. The party was received by a volley which killed the young officer and three of his men ; then the others charged and drove the Americans back.

Only about half of the men had disembarked, but Colonel Campbell hurried forward to avenge the disaster. The enemy’s troops were about half a mile from the town, their right wing being protected by a thickly-wooded morass, and the left by rice swamps, while in front flowed a muddy rivulet.

Having discovered a path leading through the morass, Campbell determined to attack.

“They think we’ll advance to the left,” observed one of the officers, glancing towards the foe.

The colonel chuckled. “Let us cherish that opinion in them,” he said.

Only two guns had been landed, and he ordered them to be concealed until it should be time to use them. Then he sent a body of light infantry towards the enemy’s right, with the Highlanders to support them. Their instructions were to advance until they were concealed by a hollow, and then turn quietly and approach the Americans by the path through the morass.

Meanwhile the colonel ordered the troops in front to make a feint to draw off the enemy’s attention from the flanking party.

The Americans opened fire, which was exactly what was wanted.

“Let them continue to amuse themselves,” said the colonel; and the enemy went on firing without hurting any one until the light infantry appeared unexpectedly beside them, followed by the Highlanders.

The guns were then run forward, and the enemy, attacked in two directions at once, were completely taken by surprise and fled in confusion.

The losses on their side were a hundred killed, with five hundred prisoners and wounded, while four killed and five wounded was all the price the British paid for the possession of a very important place with forty-five pieces of cannon as well as stores and shipping.

This achievement was followed by the occupation of Augusta, a town in the interior, after which the whole province submitted. Colonel Campbell remained in charge until the arrival of General Prevost, who gave orders to evacuate Augusta, and made other changes which discouraged the loyalists, and lost many of the advantages gained by the British. Disheartened by seeing his work undone, Colonel Campbell returned in the following year to England, where the fame of his exploits had preceded him, and soon afterwards he was appointed Governor-General of Jamaica.

In this position he rendered important services to his country. The British were meeting with reverses in America, and the French made use of the opportunity to try to seize the British West Indian islands. Tobago, St. Eustache, St. Kitts, and Montserrat fell; but Campbell raised bodies of black troops to assist the British garrison at Jamaica, and by his unwearied vigilance held the French at bay so that they dared not attack the island.

Not only did Colonel Campbell successfully defend Jamaica, but he was able to send men and supplies to the assistance of the British in America. When Admiral Rodney came with a fleet to the West Indies, Campbell gave some of his best soldiers to serve as marines on board the ships, and in this way contributed greatly to the admiral’s victory over the Count de Grasse.

On his return to England he was invested a Knight of the Bath, and appointed governor and commander-in-chief of Madras. After some years in India, Sir Archibald was on his way to perform fresh services to his country, when he caught a chill from which he never recovered. He died in March 1791, and was buried in Westminster

Abbey, where a monument was erected to the man who had done his duty well.

******

The son of a distinguished soldier, Alexander Campbell of Monzie joined the 42nd or Royal Highland regiment in 1769, and afterwards exchanged to the 62nd Foot. He first saw service in Ireland ; then his regiment was sent to Canada for the relief of Quebec. For this service the 62nd arrived too late, but our hero took an active part in the campaign which drove the Americans from Canada.

In the following year the young officer accompanied General Burgoyne in his advance upon New York by the Hudson River. At Bemus Hill the small force of five thousand British came face to face with twenty thousand Americans strongly posted upon the heights. The attack began on the 19th of September, when the immensely outnumbered little body of British fought with a heroism which has seldom, if ever, been surpassed. For four hours the brigade to which the 62nd belonged fought most valiantly, holding their own against repeated attacks of the enemy. The little band made charge after charge with the bayonet, but all their efforts seemed to make no impression, fresh bodies of men always coming up to take the place of those who had fallen.

At close of day nearly half of Campbell’s brigade had been killed or wounded, while of his own regiment hardly sixty men remained upon their feet. A few hundred yards of the hillside had been won, but no amount of bravery could avert disaster.

The American army increased daily, and, after a fortnight’s resistance, the British were overborne and driven back by sheer weight of numbers. Burgoyne drew off towards Saratoga, his tired forces being followed and harassed by the enemy. Reinforcements were to have been sent under Sir Henry Clinton, but day after day passed and no help came. A messenger sent by Sir Henry was captured, and no news arriving, Burgoyne felt that the situation was hopeless. The men were exhausted and starving, ammunition ran out, and on the 17th of October the general was compelled to surrender. The brave resistance made by the British was so much admired by the enemy that they allowed the little remnant of an army to leave the city with all the honours of war.

Campbell was made prisoner with the rest, but was shortly afterwards exchanged. Being promoted major in the 1st Light Infantry Battalion, he made two campaigns in America, and afterwards joined the Argyll Highlanders in Nova Scotia. While on this duty he took part in one of the most heroic deeds of the war.

Penobscot in Massachusetts was at that time a lonely place with very few inhabitants, where a little settlement of refugees remained true to the British. ' They were constantly threatened by the enemy, and General Maclean, Commander of the Forces in Nova Scotia, set out with Major Campbell and about six hundred men to build a fort which would protect them.

Before the fort was nearly completed, the small garrison was startled to observe several ships sailing into the bay. Glasses were seized, and the newcomers proved to be fully armed transports from Boston. Officers and men looked at each other, and the faces became graver and graver as ship after ship sailed in until there were nineteen in view, their decks black with men.

A formidable force to send against a little body of six hundred men in a half-built fort!

"I’ll kill a few Yankees before I’m made prisoner again,” muttered Major Campbell, staring gloomily at the foe.

“Men,” said the general, “we’ll fight them. Highlanders are not going to let themselves be taken!”

“That we’re not, sir,” replied the men, fired with the brave spirit of their leader. Preparations were hastily made, while the ships landed troops to the number of three thousand, with guns and ammunition; and the enemy were received with rounds of firing.

It seemed impossible to believe that the place could be held by a handful of men with no proper defences, and the Americans were inclined to make fun of the attempt. Before many hours were over, they thought, they would be returning to Boston with a nice haul of six hundred prisoners.

The fun changed to earnest, however, when they found it impossible to break into the fort. Time after time they charged, thinking to batter down the crazy walls, but were driven back by the desperate bravery of the Highlanders.

For a fortnight the little garrison continued to make the tnost stubborn resistance, holding the three thousand men at bay. At the end of that time the situation was becoming serious. Ammunition was growing scarce, and the American vessels held supplies to last for months. “Let us hold out until the last round is gone,” said the general; “help may come.” And sure enough, on the fourteenth day of the siege, when things were beginning to look hopeless, a British fleet sailed into the bay.

Loud cheers went up from the little garrison, and a sea-fight began which ended in the defeat of the Americans. Spreading their torn sails they made for Boston, considerably reduced in number.

For his gallant conduct in the defence Major Campbell was mentioned in dispatches. The fort having been rebuilt, he was left in command of the garrison until the close of the war, when he was appointed lieutenant-colonel of his old regiment.

Several years were spent in different parts of Scotland and Ireland, and when war broke out with France Colonel Campbell was with the 3rd Guards in the Netherlands. He was constantly in action, and took part in the siege of Lincelles, when the Guards distinguished themselves by storming a strongly-fortified position held by an overwhelmingly superior force of the enemy. The “honour” which the Guards received for this action has been carried on their colours ever since.

During the Irish rebellion Colonel Campbell commanded the forces in Louth, and drove back a landing of the French under General Humbert. For his services he was raised to the rank of a general, and he passed the later years of his life in honourable retirement.


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