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for Trumpet and Two Percussionists

 

OUT OF THE QUIET
The Battle of Camden
August 16, 1780

I.    Out of the Quiet

Suddenly out of the quiet came a sharp challenge, an interchange of scattered shots, and then loud huzzas of challenging troops.  The van of both armies came together at 2:30 o’clock in the morning on the Sutton farm, which was about 8 miles from Camden [SC], just north of the ford over Gum Swamp.

II.    A Fearful Reality

The prisoners taken by each side during this scrimmage soon informed their captors of the true condition of affairs.  Cornwallis was assured by both prisoners and deserters that the whole of Gates’s army was marching with the intention of attacking the British at Camden.  From them Cornwallis learned that the force confronting him was far greater than his own.  From one of the British who had been made a prisoner Colonel Williams obtained the startling information that five or six hundred yards in front lay the whole British Army, represented as consisting of about 3,000 regular troops, commanded by Lord Cornwallis in person.  Each side was as much surprised at the astounding information as was the other.  The situation least expected to arise -  that is, to encounter the opposing army on the march and in the dark – had become a fearful reality, requiring the exercise of prompt and heroic qualities of leadership on the part of each commander were he to save his command from destruction and turn surprise into victory.

III.    A Dead Calm

There was a dead calm at the time, preventing the smoke of battle from rising, which added to the haziness in the air.  Due to the obscured atmosphere, it became difficult to see the effect of the very heavy fire which ensued.

IV.    Panic Upon a Multitude

He who has never seen the effect of a panic upon a multitude can have but an imperfect idea of such a thing.  The best disciplined troops have been enervated and made cowards by it.  Armies have been routed by it, even where no enemy appeared to furnish and excuse.  Like electricity, it operates instantly; like sympathy, it is irresistible where it touches.
Colonel Williams in writing of these events.

V.    All That Can Be Expected

There was now a distance of nearly 200 yards between the two Maryland brigades, and owing to the thickness of the air dependence had to be placed upon the hearing, and not upon the eyesight, to learn what was occurring on a different part of the battle field.  At this critical moment the deputy adjutant general, anxious that communication between the brigades should be preserved and hoping in the almost certain event of a retreat, that some order might be sustained, hastened from the First to the Second Brigade and begged his own regiment, the Sixth Maryland, not to fly.  He was answered by its commander, Lieutenant Colonel Ford, who said:  They have done all that can be expected of them; we are outnumbered and outflanked; see the enemy charge with bayonets!

OUT OF THE QUIET (Tpt/Percussion)

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