Monday, December 20, 2010

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Next two series we are working on

The next two series we are working on are the South Carolina campaigns against East Florida and the fall of Savannah to the British. We hope that everyone is enjoying the Swamp Fox Brigade blog as much as we are publishing it. Comments are always welcomed and appreciated here at the Brigade!!!!!!

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

From our family to yours we hope you a blessed Thanksgiving. 

Psalm 107:1 
"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Happy Birthday Major General William Moultrie

November the 23rd, 1730 William Moultrie the hero of Sullivan’s Island was born in Charlestown, South Carolina.

William Moultrie

Monday, November 22, 2010

The destruction of the Cherokee Nation in the Back Country: Part 4

In August of 1776 the Cherokee and their Loyalist allies decide to attack Col. Williams and his forces gathering to try to prevent the patriots from continuing their counter attack against the Cherokee homelands. To accomplish this 1200 braves attack Williams and his advance force early in the morning of August the first to try to destroy the threat to their Cherokee homes. This attack failed to dislodge Williams and his force because Andrew Pickens and a relief force was able to rush to Williams aid to check the Cherokee attack.  This failed attack was the last major attack of the Cherokee against the patriot force outside their land. Once the Cherokee were beaten back Williams along with Pickens began to enter the Lower Cherokee towns and began to apply the torch to them and their surrounding fields. Thus the total war against the Cherokee Nation began with the torch touching anything that the patriots felt could help the Cherokee in their path.

Andrew Pickens
On August 12th, 1776 Andrew Pickens along with thirty-five men were caught in an ambush by a large group of Cherokees. This is where Pickens entered the realm of folk lore hero with his famous Ring Fight. Pickens formed his men into a two circles and had them fire two at a time to keep the Cherokee at bay until a relief force commanded by his brother Joseph Pickens could reach them.  Until the relief force reached them the men continued their fire on the Cherokee and even resorted to hand to hand combat when a group of Cherokees tried to charge the circle. Once the Cherokee were driven off it was discovered that only one of Pickens men was wounded, while his man claimed to of killed up to over eighty attackers.

Thomas Sumter
By August the twentieth the Patriots rushed counter attack was starting to fall apart as men began to run out of supplies and the supplies promised from Charlestown had not yet reached them. As a result Williams ordered most of the men home to replenish their supplies and to recruit others to come and join them against the Cherokee. These new recruits would have been the ones left home to protect the towns and settlements as Williams and Pickens began to set up a hurried defense and attack the Cherokee back in early July. To ensure that the Cherokee would know they were not finished and to protect from another Cherokee attack Williams built Fort Rutledge at the destroyed lower town of Essenca (present day Clemson) as a rallying point for the new recruits and as a staging area for the next round of attacks against the Cherokee.  On September the twelve Col. Thomas Sumter and his men along with the promised supplies from Charlestown arrives to help bolster the troop numbers and supplies needed.

By October 1776 Virginia and North Carolina also started attacks again the Cherokee Nation in order to protect their frontier. Thus by October of 1776 the Cherokee were fighting Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia militias at all points along their border. As a result of these fighting everyone and every where the Cherokee were hard pressed to stop the patriots as they went from village to village burning them to the ground. All of their lands are touched by the sword and flame from the lower villages to the over the mountain villages. As winter approached they found themselves without shelter, without food, and without help from their British Allies. They continued to try and fight through the winter and early spring but by May of 1777 they were ready to make peace. As a result of the peace treaty, they gave up all of their lands in the lower villages thus removing the Cherokee from the back country of South Carolina. This brought peace to the back country and South Carolina which was spared from war for the next two years because of it. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Patriot Response to the Cherokee Attacks

Gov. Rutledge
Once survivors began to make their way to settlements where they could get protection and spread the alarm the people of the back country began to rally to protect their homes and loved ones. The first major attempt of organizing resistance was with Major Andrew Williams who sent out the word for the word for his Ninety Six Militia Regiment to assemble to repel the Cherokee onslaught. This effort for some days was meet with futility as few people reported to Williams call because of fear of their homes being attacked while they were gone. Also during this time period riders where sent down to Charlestown to inform the government there of what was transpiring on the frontier. At this point the officials in Charlestown, including General Lee and Gov. Rutledge were still watching for a possible second attack from the British forces located in Charlestown Harbor when word reached them of the new enemy attacking along the frontier. After several days of waiting the South Carolina government released the Third South Carolina under Thomson, the Fifth under Huger, and the Sixth South Carolina under Sumter to begin the track up the Cherokee trail to assist the local militias with dealing with the attacks. The first to get up the Cherokee Trail was the Third South Carolina and Fifth South Carolina with the Sixth following behind them collecting supplies for the troops already in the Back Country and for future operations.
As Major Andrew Williams was continuing gathering his forces the first of the other Militia Regiments began to combine with his force. The first to come to his assistance was that of Major Andrew Pickens know as the “Wizard Owl” or the “Fighting Elder” with his Lower District Militia Regiment.  Other Militia Regiments began to form and moved towards Major Williams camp to help push back the Cherokee and to punish them for these attacks. These other militia regiments included the New Acquisition Regiment, Spartan Regiment, Little River Regiment, Camden Regiment, Fairfield Regiment, Upper Craven County Regiment, a Georgia Militia Regiment under the command of Col. Samuel Jack, and a group of Catawba Indians who had been fighting against the Cherokee for many generations and were more than happy to help settle an old debt with an old enemy.  Another group also offered their help against the Cherokee also, this was the Loyalist of the Back Country who had only a few months before been fighting against the Patriots in the Snow Campaign. These Loyalist were lead by Captain Robert Cunningham who offered to raise his Loyalist Regiment to help defeat the Cherokees. When Captain Cunningham offered his sword and that of his men to fight along with the Patriots they were refused. For logical reason we can understand why Williams refused Cunningham whom he had just been fighting some months before, but the question must also be asked why Cunningham and his men fighting alongside the Cherokee as other Loyalist wasn’t were at this time?  Did they not know this was an attack orchestrated by the crown or did they not want to be known among their friends and peers as those whom had assisted in this unleashing of total war?

William Henry Drayton
As this back country army formed they received unofficial orders for their expedition against the Cherokee nation from William Henry Drayton. In his letter Word to the Wise he told the expedition to “cut up every Indian corn field and burn every Indian town.” This letter was not official and surely not needed as a catalyst to let the back country know what they could or could not do against the Cherokee. These were people use to no prisoners taken type of fighting against the Cherokee Nation as they had already fought with the Cherokee numerous times and   understood this was not a war of territory, but that of survival for each. Whoever was left standing after this war would be masters of these lands and both knew the cost would be total war along the frontier. Once the Cherokee Nation started these attacks the gloves were off and nobody from Charlestown need worry what the back country population would do to the Cherokee once they organized and went out for vengeance.

On July 15th it was found out by the Patriots that the Loyalist were more involved than what they thought in the 
Cherokee attacks. On July 15th a siege lead by the Cherokee was broken by the Patriots at Fort Lyndley which was the first check against the Cherokee since the attacks began two weeks earlier. After the siege was lifted, Loyalist were captured dressed as Indians who had help in the attack against the Patriot fort. This only hardened the feelings of the Patriots against the Cherokee and the Loyalist in the battles to come.
As Major Williams force grew he began to move closer to the Cherokee lands to set up a base of operation to shield the settlements from further attack and to act as a jump off point to attack the Cherokee towns across the border.

Our next article will be about the Patriot Counter Attack against the Cherokee.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cherokee Campaign Part 2; The Loyalist Uprising

Once John Stuart decided how to use the Cherokee Nation against the rebels with the input of other Loyalist based in the Florida Colonies such as Thomas Brown and Moses Kirkland he decided to go and meet with General Clinton in person. This plan had the approval of almost of all of the highest ranking British officials in North America and Britain such as General Howe, General Gage, Lord William Campbell, and Lord North.
Cherokee Settlements in 1776 before the attacks

So in February of 1776, Stuart boarded a boat to go and meet with General Clinton at Cape Fear off the coast of North Carolina to coordinate the efforts between the Cherokees and British Army now off of the Southern American coast trying to decide where they were going to strike. In conjunction with this meeting John sent his brother Henry Stuart and Alexander Cameron to the Cherokee Nation with as much military supplies as they could transport to the Cherokee. Once Stuart and Cameron arrived in the Cherokee nation they were greeted as friends and their military supplies divided up amongst the warriors who were now ready to attack. The next part of their mission was to coordinate with the warriors some sort of plan to attack when the British Fleet made land fall.

This part of the plan was for the Cherokee Warriors to fight alongside Loyalist who were in theory to show the Cherokee who were friends of the crown to not harm and whom were rebels that they could attack freely. This was a concept the French had used in the French and Indian War against the British themselves. This however was a different type of war all together, with people switching sides at this point of the war to protect their own interest fairly commonly. The Loyalist who were to travel with the bands of Cherokee as they began the attack wore to wear typical Cherokee clothes and war paint to help identify them as Cherokee Warriors so as to not be mistaken in a fight by the Cherokee in attacks against rebels. The other reason for the Loyalist to wear these disguises was to hide their identity to friend and foe alike. These Loyalist who fought and travelled with these Cherokee bands were doing so in their own communities, where they had families, farms, and other ties.  If they were discovered too of been helping unleash all settlers’ biggest fear of an Indian uprising along the frontier they would never be forgotten or forgiven by their former friends and neighbors.  If they were to return to these communities after this war it could only be if they were victorious and they acted as such when fighting.

Once John Stuart returned to West Florida after meeting with General Clinton the go ahead to release the Cherokee Nation was given and riders were sent out to the Loyalist in the field to begin their attacks with their Cherokee allies. So on July 1st, 1776 the Cherokee Nation along with their Loyalist allies began to attack settlers and settlements along their boards thus begun a Cherokee War along the frontier.     

When the attacks started along the border they were swift and divesting to outlying farms and settlers families.  As could be imagined these attacks were carried out without regards to gender, race, age, or even loyalty to the crown. So as the word of these attacks began to spread along the frontier an alarm went out to all of those who lived there to be on the alert and to be ready to defend themselves against the Cherokee who were now unleashed on them all.

This marked a turning point in the back country of South Carolina in regards to the attitudes of its people. Before, during, and after the Snow Campaign of 1775 the back country had been a rough place for Loyalist and Patriot with whom both sides had shed the blood of the other, property was destroyed of each, and humiliation had been distributed. However after the Snow Campaign they had thought the issues settled and people had tried to return to their lives with hard feelings towards each other but not shooting after parole had been given. Both sides had returned to their fields and were trying to make a living under these conditions. The unleashing of the Cherokee however made this struggle more bitter and devise than anyone could of imagined with both sides now playing for total victory with no quarter to be given or expected as a result, until the matter was to be resolved at the end of the war with neither side willing to give an inch until then.

Next article up is: The Patriots response to the Cherokee attacks.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A good map of British East and West Florida

I am adding this map to help show how far Tories had to travel from South Carolina to either East or West Florida for safety. 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Cherokee Campaign; Part One

This campaign against the Cherokee was the result of the Cherokee Nation going to war for King George against the Patriots of the South. On July 1st, 1776 the Cherokee Nation in an attempt to coordinate with the British attack in Charlestown launched a campaign against the settlers along the Cherokee boarder in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. This attempt to coordinate with General Clinton on Long Island was designed to help the British regain control of South for the crown. The main problem with this use of the Cherokee Nation as an instrument of war against the rebels was that they could not or would not, discriminate against whom they attacked, be it Patriot or Loyalist when this Pandora’s Box of war was unleashed on the weakly defended frontier. This unleashing of the Cherokee Nation brought about the typical horrors of war to all those who were touched by it.
Before we go into the events of this campaign, we must first understand the reasons that caused the Cherokee Nation to take up arms for King George. Cherokee warriors fighting against the English settlers was not a new concept, they had fought that at several different times in the history of the British Colony. The most influential fighting happened during the French and Indian War when the Colonist and British troops defeated the Cherokee Nation and forced them to sign a peace treaty in 1761 ending the conflict between the Cherokee and the British while the war continued on in other parts of the World. The treaty of 1761 guaranteed the Cherokee their land boundaries and that they would be treated fairly in commerce. To ensure the Cherokee were treated fairly the British Government appointed Indian Agents to help make sure all of the treaty agreements were up held and so that the Cherokee would have a person they knew to voice concerns and complaints to. As long as these agents did their job fairly, peace would flourish along the frontier.
However ever as the years passed more and more people began to more closer and closer to the Cherokee boarder as the settlements of the Midlands of South Carolina continued to flourish and grow through trade and agriculture. The growth of the Midland was a result of the Rice and Indigo gentry of the Low Country of South Carolina trying to create a buffer zone between the Cherokee Nation and their highly profitable enterprises along the coast. The Royal Government of South Carolina gave land grants and farming tools to those who agreed to develop this wilderness between the coast and the Cherokee. As a result of these land grants, people from Pennsylvania and  Virginia in North American and Ulster, the Principalities of Germany, Sweden, and other Western European countries traveled by foot, wagon, horse, and boat to get to these advertised fertile lands. This land grant program was so successful that communities began to spring up all along the frontier of South Carolina in such areas as Camden, Fairfield, New Acquisition, Williamsburg, Ninety Six, Waxhaws, Spartan, Saxe-Gotha, Orangeburg, and others. As these communities began to grow and as more people continued to come, settlers started to move father and further up the Cherokee trail from Charlestown to the Cherokees land in order to get their share of the land grants. As a result of this movement of settlers towards their lands the Cherokee  began to rely more and more on the King’s Indian Agents to help control the perceived threat that was inching closer and closer to them each day. Thus a true bond was formed between themselves and their protector the King, through the Indian Agent.
Fortunately for the Crown, an Indian Agent for whom the Cherokee had total trust in was a very loyal subject from Scotland, named Captain John Stuart.
As the South Carolinas began to move closer and closer to war with the mother country in 1775 they knew that Captain Stuart was the key to the Cherokee threat on their frontier. His influence within the Cherokee high councils was well know and that he could either help pacify the Cherokee for the Patriots or send them to war against them was on their minds in dealing with Stuart. The Patriots did not want to fight a two front war against Britain and the Cherokee at the same time for obvious reasons. To this end the local radicals began to undoubtedly pressure him to either join their cause or to be dealt with to ensure the Cherokee would not interfere with their plans. With the pressure of these radicals  beginning to weigh on him and with the Royal Government of South Carolina in exile on board a ship in the harbor, he left Charlestown and his family for the safer haven of the British Florida Colonies to continue his work and communications with the Cherokee.   
At the end of the French and Indian War Spain ceded Florida and France ceded Florida and other territories on the Gulf Coast to England. With this being such a large area England decided to divide the colony of Florida into two parts with the addition of the other territories to form two colonies. The colony that comprised much of Florida except for the panhandle was names East Florida with Saint Augustine the old Spanish capital of Florida becoming the English capital of this colony. To the west they name this colony West Florida and it was composed of the panhandle of Florida and other lands along the gulf coast with its capital being located at Pensacola.  These two new colonies were added to the thirteen along the Atlantic Coast and the Canadian colonies under the Crown’s control. While the thirteen colonies were actively gearing for war the Florida colonies were staying very loyal to the crown and thus became a sort of safe haven for Loyalist who were being driven from their homes in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and other places. As these Loyalist began to gather at the capitals of the different colonies of Florida they began to form their own Loyalist Militia groups such as the Royalist Rangers and others and started to plan their return homes to restore the crown to power and to retaliate against those who had forced them from their lands. From this hot bed of Loyalist activity, John Stuart along with his brother Henry Stuart and other such as Alexander Cameron and Moses Kirkland began to plot how to use their Loyalist and Cherokee friends to bring the crown back into power over their former land.

Richard Richardson
After Captain Stuarts escape from Charlestown and its rebel government to Pensacola in West Florida Loyalist bands were already starting to form in the back country of the colony in order to put down the rebellion. As they began to form their Loyalist Militia in the back country they did so as close to the Cherokee Nation as they could for most Patriots were at this time trying to pacify the nation and were giving them a wide berth in coming anywhere near their lands as to not provoke them. However with Stuarts relationship with the Cherokee the Loyalist where not as fear full of the Cherokee and began to form near them. AS their numbers grew the Loyalist began to strike at different points along the back country and even laid siege to the town of Ninety Six which was a Patriot strong hold in the back country. In order to relieve Ninety Six and to restore Patriot control over the back country the Council of Safety in South Carolina ordered Col. Richard Richardson with Thomas Sumter as his second in command to relieve Ninety Six and to crush the loyalist in the back country. With a thirteen hundred man force he marched to Ninety Six in November of 1775 and relieved the Patriots under threat there and then began to march his force towards the Cherokee Nation boundary line to finish off the Loyalist still trying to use the Cherokee lands for a base of operation against the Patriots. This Loyalist force was lead by Col. Thomas Fletchall and others such as Captain Patrick Cunningham. After several weeks of fighting this campaign against what was left of the Loyalist force in the back country ended in December of 1775. This was to become known as the Snow Campaign in South Carolina lore because of the harsh conditions the men fought under and travelled under. At the end of this campaign the Loyalist were smashed as an organized resistance in the back country of South Carolina with its leaders dead, in prison in Charlestown, in hiding, or making their way to one of the Florida Colonies to regroup with other Loyalist there. 

Snow Campaign Route

While the events of the Snow Campaign were playing out in South Carolina, John Stuart was devising what would be a very dangerous plan that if it worked would quickly subdue the back country of the Southern Colonies for the crown in British controlled Florida. His plan was to use the Cherokee Nation to open a second front of the war sort to speak that the rebels would have to divide their resources to fight against. If he could convince the Cherokee to go to war on the side of the British they could help Britain end the war quickly with the numbers of warriors the Cherokee could place on the field of battle along the lightly defended frontier. The major danger of this plan was that once the Cherokee Nation was unleashed on the frontier there could be no pulling them back or stopping them until events had ran their course. We must try to understand, this time period was one of no quarter in terms of fighting on the frontier. Most settlers’ biggest fear was an Indian war with all of its barbarities and now Stuart, the commissioner, whose job it was to pacify the great Cherokee Nation was willing to unleash them on friend and foe alike in order to serve his king. Stuart had to of known what he was proposing to unleash and was still willing to risk this upon the frontier.  With this plan in mind he wrote a letter suggestion to General Gage that Stuart could have the Cherokee Nation coordinate with General Clintons planned Southern Expedition to the South and have the Patriots caught between the might of the crown and the might of the Cherokee Nation. This letter he entrusted to another eager Loyalist named Moses Kirkland whom boarded a ship to Boston to take the letter from Stuart. The ship that Kirkland was riding on was captured by Patriot Privateers and Kirkland did not destroy the letter before he was taken prisoner. Thus the letter feel into the hands of the Patriots who were shocked and appalled that the crown would even think of bringing the Cherokee into the war and all of the events that it would lead to all Patriot and Loyalist who lived along the frontier. Copies of this letter were distributed to all of the Southern Delegates in Congress and to the Southern Capitals for them to distribute to the frontier to show what the crown was willing to do. This letter without a doubt cost the crown many of its loyal supporters in the colonies because of the reality of what it meant to them and their families. 

Next up:  The War begins along the frontier

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Next Series is on the Cherokee Campaign of 1776-1777

Looking forward to learning more about Richard Richardson, Andrew Williams, Andrew Pickens and their Tory counter parts. 

Andrew Pickens the Wizard Owl and also called the Fighting Elder

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Present Day Breach Inlet

The historical marker at Breach Inlet today

The sign that Clinton wished was posted in 1776 taken from the Patriot side on Sullivan's Island facing Long Island (Isle of Palms today). A duplicate sign is one on the other side of the inlet also.

View near the point of the patriot fortifications on Sullivan's Island.

Clinton's view from Long Island of Sullivan's Island,  notice Hamlin Creek and the marsh to the right of Sullivan's Island.

Good view of Breach Inlet from the Long Island point of view on the Hamlin Creek side.  Notice how the marsh would of  played a major role in Clinton developing his plan of attack.

Friday, September 24, 2010

After Action Report for the Battle of Sullivan's Island Part 15

Once the totals of wounded came back to their proper commands the battle did not seem like a costly one with the numbers lost considering the amount of shots fired. The British lost 94 killed and 182 wounded with severe damage to several of their ships including the loss of the HMS Actaeon due to not being able to refloat it after being caught on the sand bar that would later play even a greater role in United States History when Fort Sumter was built upon it. Also the last Royal Governor of South Carolina, Lord William Campbell would receive a wound that would cause great pain for him for several years until his death from it in England. 

On the Patriot side 12 were killed and 72 wounded from the two fortifications on Sullivan's Island. Moultrie would go to become the hero of the battle with the fort being named for him, Fort Moultrie. Admiral Parker and General Clinton would for years after the battle continue their war for who was at fault for the failed attack.  

The end result of the battle would be that the British were able to sail away with their pride hurt, but their Navy and Army still in tact for the campaign in New York that General Howe was about to launch. The New York Campaign would enable these British troops to redeem themselves and they will redeem themselves mighty in that campaign. For South Carolina it gave them a two and a half year breathing room from British assault, but the war did not leave South Carolina or her boarders for long. 

In fact, several days after the Battle of Sullivan's Island, the Cherokee Nation took up the war cry and started burning farms and killing people along the boarder for their protector, King George. This is where our next series of articles begins, the war with the Cherokees. 

This series was suppose to take us three weeks to complete, HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!!!

We enjoyed doing this first series and we hope that you will continue to come back for the series that will follow.     

Sunday, September 19, 2010

June 28th, 1776 Battle of Sullivan's Island; Part 14 Battle of Sullivan's Island

         On the morning of June 28th, 1776 we find Col. Moultrie with Col. Thomson at the advance guard going over the situation there, when they hear a cannon fired and start to see the British Fleet making preparations to weigh anchor. Once they realize what was happening, Moultrie jumps on a horse and begins his short three mile ride to the unfinished fort at the other side of the island where Lt. Col. Isaac Motte  and Major Francis Marion where sounding to quarters  inside the fort to prepare for the British fleet. When Moultrie left Thomson he left him in charge of the Third South Carolina Regiment, a detachment of the Fourth South Carolina Artillery manning the two guns, South Carolina Militia, the First North Carolina Continentals under the command of Colonel Clark, a group of Catawba Indians, and the Raccoon Company of Riflemen totaling around 770 men with two pieces of artillery an 18 pounder and six pounder dug in. At the fort, the Second South Carolina and  a detachment of the Fourth South Carolina Artillery Regiment totaling around 435 men where now at their guns reading for action as Moultrie rode up to the fort.

On Mount Pleasant, at Haddrell’s Point, General Armstrong was at full alert waiting to see if Clinton on Long Island was going to assault Sullivan’s Island or at Mount Pleasant so he had his troops consisting of South Carolina Militia, the Fifth South Carolina under Col. Isaac Huger, Sixth South Carolina under Lt. Col. Thomas Sumter, North Carolina Continentals, and the Eighth Virginia totaling around sixteen hundred troops. They were placed near the fortification at Haddrell’s point and at other points where Clinton could possibly make an attempt of landing at. At this point to reinforcements were sent to Sullivan’s Island because General Lee wanted to make sure the main land was protected first and of his worries of the fort being undependable as discussed before. If Lee was to order Armstrong to send troops to Sullivan’s Island they would have to be carried over in boats as the bridge that General Lee had long sought was not deemed safe for usage. 

On James Island, Fort Johnson, was manned by the First South Carolina commanded by Christopher Gadsden. They were now at battle station inside the fort and at the new battery built a little ways from the fort covering the harbor.

In the town proper of Charlestown General Lee had the rest of the South Carolina Militia, North Carolina Continentals, and the Fourth South Carolina under the command of Lt. Col. Owen Roberts prepared to defend the city proper against any attack there.

The South Carolina Navy was in port for the most part with its sailors being distributed among the new fortifications in Charlestown and along with its powder and guns.  The big exception to this was the Defence, the hero from the Battle of Hogg’s Island which was stationed in the cove behind the fort, placed there in the original defense plans of Charleston Harbor by the Patriots. Its purpose was to try to prevent the British ships from getting behind the fort if possible.

General Clinton was on Long Island with his First Brigade under the command of Cornwallis and his Second Brigade under the command of Vaughn. They had procured as many boats as possible for their amphibious assault across Breech Inlet and were now prepared to go over once the fleet began its bombardment. They had fitted some of the boats with 3 pound cannon to help with the keep the Patriots busy as they rowed across the inlet. Also HMS Lady William and HMS Raven were moving up Hamlin Creek to in range of the Advance Guard to give cover to the boats as they made their attempt across the inlet with HMS Ranger on the Atlantic side also trying to maneuver into range. 

The Royal Navy under the command of Admiral Parker had fired the signal shot from the HMS Bristol at 10:30 AM and was now trying to move from Five Fathom Hole to within range of the fort. This process took over an hour for the first hot at the effort did not occur until 11:30 AM when HMS Thunder began to fire thirteen inch mortar shells towards to the fort. As the bombardment began in earnest from the rest of the fleet joining in General Lee’s nightmare of British ships getting behind the fort on Sullivan’s Island began to come to fruition. HMS Actaeon, HMS Syren, and HMS Sphinx began to maneuver towards the cove behind the fort. We can only imagine the fear that the Patriots had as they had no real way to stop these British ships as they moved closer and closer towards their objective of cutting off the fort and firing at it from three sides with the British heavy navel guns. When the times are their darkest that’s when the Lord always seems to shine through. At this point the three ships which were now almost at a point of cutting off the fort ran hard a ground in the harbor unable to free themselves for some time and totally removing themselves from influencing the battle. As these ship’s crews worked feverishly to free their ships from the sand bar, the bombardment continued with HMS Bristol, HMS Experiment, HMS Solebay, and others  pounding the fort with their heavy guns.

With the bombardment going in full force General Lee was in Charlestown desperate for information to figure out the plan of British attack. We recall he never wanted to defend Sullivan’s Island for which the British would have been grateful for since their main objective was the island in order to close the harbor to shipping. With this in mind Lee is now waiting to see where the British blow will come with their infantry on Long Island destine to try to make an attempt somewhere to gain a foot hold. With Clinton’s plan not being clear to Lee and the fact he felt that the fort could not with stand the bombardment of the Royal Navy he did not send powder or troops to the island when the fight first began as he felt they could be lost when the island.

To see surprise of General Lee the fort was doing just fine with the troops inside it very well protected by their sixteen foot high walls that were filled with eight foot of sand in the finished sections. The cannon balls that the British were firing was doing little damage to the fort proper because of their range they were firing from, because of fear of grounding and the fact that palmetto logs are flexible enough to withstand the force of impact without splintering or breaking. As the Patriots returned fire they were starting to inflect damage on the fleet but with their limited powder supply they could not fire without the possibility of running out of powder so they fired very slowly to conserve powder. At this point when the firing was the most it was now time for Clinton to as he put it find some way for the army to assist in the assault with no clear point of attack in place.

General Clinton now decided it was time for the army to make its amphibious assault attempt across the inlet. Under the cover of HMS Lady Williams, HMS Raven, and HMS Ranger the special units of the 15th, 28th, 33rd, 37th, 46th, 54th, and 57th regiments of foot began to lad in the boats for their dash across the inlet in boats. What a far cry this was from the original plan of splashing across the inlet at low tide. HMS Lady Williams and HMS Raven moved past the troops loading on the boats to take up position to cover them and to bring their cannons into range of the Patriot advance guard.  Also at this point the Royal Artillery that Clinton had brought with him to the island began to fire from Long Island, Green Island, and an oyster bank where they had placed some cannon at. As the navy moved into position Thomson’s eighteen pound cannon roared into action and began to fire at these two ships in Hamlin Creek to great effect, causing damage to the ships and fear among the sailors. At this point in the cannon dual, Clinton chooses to send his boats loaded with troops to start across the inlet. The ships which had been sent to cover the landing where trying to counter the Patriot artillery when they went aground trying to maneuver in the creek. This no left Clinton's exposed troops to the mercy of the Patriots whose dug in position had given them ample protection from the British army and navy. Once the British troops came into range the patriot’s cannon they began to fire grape shot from their eighteen pounder and six pounder leaving the exposed troops in an awful fire. With the Royal Navy unable to cover the landings anymore and with his troops defenseless to the patriot cannon fire he calls the boats back to Long Island to await further developments.  With this, the land battle part of the Sullivan’s Island ended with the hope of the British now relying on the Royal Navy’s cannon to force the Patriots out of their fortifications and into the open.

At the height of the battle between the fort and the British Navy one of the greatest stories of South Carolina heroism in the American Revolution occurs. The flag staff of the fort was cut in half by a cannon fired by the British. This was important because once a force lowered its flag it showed they were not going to continue the fight. At this moment a sergeant in the Second South Carolina by the name of William Jasper saw what had happened and grabbed the flag and an artillery staff placed the flag on the staff and stood fully exposed to British fire at the top of the wall until a make shift flag pole could be made to place the flag on so that the British and those watching from elsewhere knew the fort was fighting on.

Around 4PM General Lee decided to go to Sullivan’s Island to see for himself how the fort was holding up. He finally arrives at the fort at 5PM from Charlestown at the same time two hundred pounds of desperately needed powder arrives from the South Carolina Navel ship Defence. Also around 5PM the 8th Virginia arrived at the advance guard with a detachment of South Carolina troops to bolster the troops there under Thomson. After a short inspection of the fort and talking with Moultrie and his staff, Lee returns to Charlestown in order to hurry powder and other supplies to the fort.

By night fall, no advantage had been gained by Parker or Clinton on Sullivan’s Island. Parker had failed to destroy the fort on the island and Clinton had not obtained a foot hold on it for his troops. The fleet had taken a beating from the slow and steady fire from the fort and needed time for repairs. Also the three ships which had grounded in the inner harbor two had managed to get free with HMS Actaeon still not able to free herself. The British Army was on Long Island secure from counter attack, but was also smarting from their attempted attack across the inlet. Also the time was drawing near for the British to sail north to join Howe on his New York Campaign. With little chance of success now possible the British after a few days decided it was best to sail north to join Howe without any more loss of men or ships.

Thus the Patriots of South Carolina gained the first major victory of the American Revolution even before the Declaration of Independence is signed. 

Next up, after action report 

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The fortifications on Sullivan's Island the morning of June 28th, 1776; Part 13 Battle of Sullivan's Island

The fort had 31 cannons mounted on the morning of June 28th, 1776 ranging from 9 pounders to the large 26 pounders. About half of the fort was completed with the side facing Northeast and northwest till not yet finished. These would be the sides opposite the entrance to Charlestown Harbor. The fort was designed to hold one thousand men, but on the morning of the 28th the unfinished fort had four hundred and twenty four men of the Second South Carolina, a twenty man detachment of the Forth South Carolina Artillery Regiment, plus the workers who had begun the daily working on the fort under the direction of the Continental Engineers Baron Massenborg and DeBrahm.

Below is a replica of a section of fort's wall at the SC State Museum in Columbia, SC

We find Major Francis Marion of the Second South Carolina in command of half of the cannon inside the fort going about his daily duty of inspecting the men and fort waiting to see when the British would attack.

Over the fort flew an indigo blue flag with a white crest moon in the top left corner. A debate about the rest of makeup of the flag still goes on today. The debate centers on the word “LIBERTY”  and if the word was on the flag or not. If it was on the flag the word “LIBERTY” was on the bottom of the flag or inside the crest moon. Moultrie describes the word “LIBERTY” inside the crescent moon and that’s good enough for us since he would have had to okay the design and making of the flag.      

At the Advance Guard we find Moultrie and Thomson with his Third South Carolina, South Carolina Militia, a detachment of North Carolina Continentals, and the Raccoon Company of Rifle men behind a sound dug in position totaling around seven hundred and seventy men with an eighteen pound cannon and six pound cannon covering Breech Inlet. At 10:30AM this morning, the battle began with a signal cannon fired from the HMS Bristol fired to begin the British assault on Sullivan's Island.  Thus we find Moultrie jumping in the saddle riding hard and fast back the three miles to his command and his destiny on this June day.   

Friday, September 3, 2010

The last preperations of the Patriots; Part 12 Battle of Sullivan's Island

By June 18th General Lee knew that Clinton had landed on Long Island with several thousand troops and was planning to attack Charlestown at either Sullivan’s Island or the main land at Mount Pleasant. As a result of this development, General Lee tried to desperately finish the fortifications on Sullivan’s Island and to send more troops to Mount Pleasant to assist with its defense since its coast line could be attacked at several different points. On June 15th Lee had appointed General Armstrong the overall commander of the Patriot forces on Mount Pleasant and Sullivan’s Island and had sent a letter to Col. Moultrie for him to report to Armstrong directly to help unify the available forces in this area of the Charlestown defenses. To help defend Mount Pleasant General Lee and General Armstrong had agreed to pull troops from Col. Thomson’s command at the advanced post since they felt his area was smaller to defend and that the troops could be put to better use on Mount Pleasant. These troops could also be sent back to Sullivan’s Island if they were needed in an attack if enough boats were available or the bridge that Lee had ordered built between Sullivan’s Island and Mount Pleasant could be completed between the cove that separated them on the southern part of the island.

General Lee had ordered the construction of a floating bridge between the island and main land on June the 10th. The purpose of the bridge was the movement of troops to Sullivan’s Island and for an escape route if needed. However you must remember that Lee did not want to defend Sullivan’s Island even calling the unfinished fort a “slaughter pen” and had come in direct conflict with Gov. Rutledge over it. Lee did back down and left Col. Moultrie and Col. Thomson on the island, but with as limited amount of men and powder as he could. The bridge was Lee’s top concern in letter after letter to Moultrie, Armstrong, Rutledge, and others about its completion being vital for an escape route for the troops if the British began to overrun the island. This obsession with an escape route seemed to make the South Carolinians cautious of Lee and his plans. There was such a concern about Lee ordering the troops off of the island, that Gov. Rutledge sent a letter to Moultrie telling him to only leave his post if he ordered it and him alone. Please remember that when Rutledge gave Lee control of the South Carolina troops on June 9th that it was before the Declaration of Independence and Lee was in South Carolina to help coordinate the troops and had no real power unless the state gave it to him. The state did so, but they could also remove the South Carolina troops at their pleasure from his command at a moment’s notice, an item that would become a hindrance to all later in the American Revolution. The bridge took hours of man power and material to try to build that could have been used finishing other fortifications around the harbor. Instead man and material was poured into its construction at the insistence of Lee. After two weeks of construction being ordered, the Patriots tried to send Col. Horry’s regiment across it on the 25th and they refused to go across because they were in fear of their lives. The work continued on the bridge after this to make it more stable, but it was not resolved before the battle. As a result, the main way of moving troops from the main land to the island would continue to be the limited amount of boats that were available. So if assistance was needed quickly or an evacuation of the island ordered it would take precious time.

In the mean time another concern for Lee was the amount of powder that Col. Thomson and his troops were using to keep the HMS Lady Williams and HMS Raven at bay with on Hamlin Creek. The two Royal Navy ships were trying to sound the creek to check for depths and Col. Thomson let lose his 18lb cannon on them to keep them at bay and even according to his men hitting the British ships a couple of times before they withdrew back up the creek on June 22nd. This exchange of cannon fire caused alarm in Charlestown as they felt it might signal the start of the battle. Once Lee found it what the cause of the firing was he sent a letter to tell those on Sullivan’s island to save the powder they did have for the real attack. The day after this exchange of cannon fired occurred the last of the Continental troops arrived in Charlestown that would participate in the battle with entrance of Col. Muhlenberg and his 8th Virginia who were sent to Mount Pleasant.

Lee continued to grow frustrated with the leadership of Moultrie on the island for Lee in letters worries Moultrie is not pushing hard enough for the completion of the bridge or the fortifications. When Moultrie is asked if he can hold his position he says he can, but Lee is not satisfied and on the 27th orders Col. Nash of the 1st North Carolina to report to him on the 28th. His purpose was to give orders to Nash to take command of the unfinished fort on Sullivan’s island. However on the morning of the 28th Nash hears cannon fire as he was making his way to Lee’s headquarters and returns to his command to prepare for the battle which has now began on Sullivans Island.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Southport, North Carolina

Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge site visit

This July, we went to the site of the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge near Wilmington, North Carolina. This was important event leading up to the Battle of Sullivan's Island, because it was the main reason that Clinton and Parker decided to go to Charlestown after the local Loyalist were defeated at the battle in February 27th, 1776. The Loyalist were heading towards South Port, North Carolina with their ultimate destination being Brunswick, North Carolina on Cape Fear to unite with Parker and Clinton waiting at Cape Fear to take back Royal control of North Carolina. This primarily Scotch-Irish force was defeated at the battle after a valiant charge against the patriots with the battle cry "Broad Swords for King George" across the bridge at Moore's Creek which the patriots had taken the boards off to slow their approach. The patriots had built earthen works and placed cannon at the only point where the Loyalist could cross at.  Thus as the Loyalist crossed the stripped down bridge they were knocked down in droves and the Patriots gained a great victory in North Carolina.

Marker at bridge

The Bridge today

A view from the side of the bridge

The Patriot earth works view from the bridge today

Below is an illustration of the earth work at the time of the battle

A young Patriot aiming the cannon