Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fort Watson Present Day

Below are some picture of Fort Watson that we hope you enjoy. We will be covering this battle in detail at a later date, but we wanted to share the pictures from our on site research.

Present day photo of the Indian Mound/ Fort Watson

Below is a picture from the base of the mound looking up

A picture from the top of the mound

Fort Watson at the time of the battle

Picture of Maham Tower in use

Monday, August 23, 2010

Clinton’s Decision on Long Island; Part 11 Battle of Sullivan's Island

On June 18th, Clinton was sitting on Long Island trying to figure out how to attack the rebels on Long Island with boats instead of dashing across the inlet at low tide on foot. The fact that the inlet was seven feet deep at low tide, instead of eighteen inches deep at low tide was a fact that totally scrapped the plans of Parker and Clinton for a joint attack. Now Clinton was trying to come up a feasible new plan that would not risk his entire force in attacking Sullivan’s Island. He also knew that he and his force would soon be expected to report back to General Howe to help in the planned invasion of New York. The key question is what he could do now to deploy his troops to secure Sullivan’s Island with the smallest risk.

This was still going to be a joint army and navy operation with the main objective being the capture of Sullivan’s Island, but the question now is how to best pull it off with the clock ticking to get the mission accomplished. With the new intelligence in hand, Clinton had several factors to look at to make the new plan of attack. The first of these factors being the intelligence of the area that his forces would be landing on. Clinton knew the northern end of the island had heavy surf which would make landing difficult at best under the best conditions. Landing in open boats full of men and their equipment at the northern end of the island that was guarded by two artillery pieces and dug in infantry would be suicide. His boats full of men would have to pass this rebel position to attack Sullivan’s Island at a different landing area exposed to artillery and rifle fire as they rowed pass to a different landing site further south on the island. The second would be the location of the rebels on the island so as to discern where to best land his troops against the least resistance. By now the information he had was of the position across Breach Inlet, the unfinished fort at the southern end of the island, and a new earth work being built half way across the island manned by in his estimation thousands of troops. The third would be the rebel’s response time to his landing so as to get his troops ashore before the rebels could mass to meet the British as they came ashore. The fourth would be how many men he could land at one time on shore and start their attack on the fort as the Navy bombarded it. The answer to that question is that at the absolute most he could get at one time were seven hundred men on shore and then the boats would have to leave to get a second wave, leaving those troops exposed until the second wave could be rowed back. The fifth question being; how to best use his artillery assets and the Royal Navy to cover his landing in open boats. On land he had six cannon, four mortars and at sea he had three warships with HMS Ranger being on the Atlantic side and HMS Lady Williams and anther sloop being on Hamilton Creek with sixteen cannon among them. The problem with his artillery being that he could gain no advantage against the dug in rebels across the inlet even with placing artillery on Green Island and an oyster bank for better angles to fire at them. Also the Royal Navy could do no better because of the limited movement on the creek.

The more Clinton and his staff went over the options of attack the less Clinton liked his chances at getting across to Sullivan’ Island from Long Island. He and his staff even started looking at trying to land on the main land at Mount Pleasant to try to different rebel attention from the main action by the Royal Navy hoping to cause the rebels to abandon the fort and leave the island without a direct assault. This plan was also difficult because of the marshes and pluff mud that surrounds Mount Pleasant on the coast. Time and again Clinton sent letters to Admiral Parker and aides to try to come up with a plan of coordinated attack. This occurred for several days until Clinton decided on a course of action that finalized the plan of attack on Sullivan’s Island.

He decided that the army would wait and seek whatever opportunities that came available to them during the navel bombardment of the fort. In other words, if he could attack he would, but he would give no formal plans of how or where until he saw how the bombardment was going. He did ask for the Royal Navy to get some ships behind the fort in the cove behind Sullivan’s Island to cover his boats from that side if practical, to cover his amphibious force better. Thus he shifted the success of the operation to the Royal Navy and their ability to rain down lead on the fort and destroy it from the sea which Admiral Parker took on with pleasure.

Thus on June 21st the Royal Crown has a new plan of attack and are waiting to spring it on the rebels who have been bringing in more troops and quickly building up their defenses as the British were debating on how to redesign their attack against Charlestown.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

General Clinton on Long Island; Battle of Sullivan's Island Part 10

On June the 9th, 1776 General Clinton and his advance force of between 500-700 men land on Long Island. When they set foot on Long Island they were the first British troops to try to bring the British Southern Strategy to life. As they landed they began to secure the island and to prepare for their assault against Sullivan’s Island across Breach Inlet at low tide as they planed aboard their ships.

As the troops fanned out across the island they found no resistance to their landing and securing the island for the Crown. General Lee of the patriot forces in Charleston upon hearing of the British initial landings late in the day sent orders to General Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island to send over troops to harass the landing. Since General Moultrie did not receive the orders till after 8PM he decided that it would be best to wait until the next morning on the 10th before sending troops over to Long Island. During the night of the ninth the troops of the Fifth South Carolina under Col. Isaac Huger and the Sixth South Carolina under Thomas Sumter rifle regiments left their camps at Haddrell’s point on Mount Pleasant and went over to Sullivan’s Island to prepare to go attack the British on Long Island on the morning of the tenth. However General Lee had a change of heart and cancelled the previous orders to send troops over to Long Island and had them return to Haddrell’s point instead on the tenth.

On the tenth of June the British threat to Charleston had became all too real to the local government and military officials. On this date the South Carolina government ordered buildings destroyed at the port to make way for artillery placements and for other obstructions that could slow the British if they were to reach the city of Charleston. The town was in uproar and all those who could leave and had not done so on this date made their exit. Rutledge and the Council of Safety had declared martial law and it was in effect in full force now in Charleston. Also General Lee was at this point making a mad dash tour of the defenses of Charleston to try to make them as ready as possible for the coming British attack. His biggest concern was still the fort on Sullivan’s Island where he was trying to still convince the locals to abandon at this point. Also riders were sent out to hurry along any other regiments that were on the road to Charleston to make all speed to its defense such as the 8th Virginia under the command of Col. Muhlenberg.

Once the British Army and the British Marines finished securing the island they started to prepare for the rest of the army to land on Long Island. The main force landed between June 16th and 18th riding in long boats through the surf with men, cannon, and other military supplies. This build up was watched very carefully by the Patriots at Breach Inlet at the Advance post under the command of Lt. Col. Thompson. As the British began the buildup of troops and stores they began to send observation parties to different parts of the island to observe Patriot movements and defenses. Once such party was assigned getting intelligence back to General Clinton about the Patriot defenses across the Breach where they reported back that they had two cannon and defensive land works up across Breach Inlet. This Patriot force directly across from the British at Breach Inlet guaranteed it would be no walk in park as the British splashed across the inlet at low tide as planned.

The Royal Artillery had landed its cannon and were no doubt preparing to provide cover fire for the troops as they dashed through the inlet and raced across Sullivan’s Island to take the unfinished fort as the Royal Navy pounds the fort with its big guns.

All  was going according to plan for Clinton and Parker as the troops on Long Island prepared for the assault under Clinton and the Fleet under Parker was making ready for a massive bombardment with some of the Royal Navies biggest cannons. Then the unthinkable happened to the entire operation. While doing the last minute reconnaissance of the inlet and the surrounding area it was found that the key information that the entire planned was based on was entirely and whole heartedly wrong. To Clinton’s disbelieve it was accurately discovered that Breach Inlet was not 18 inches deep at low tide, but instead seven to ten feet in certain points at low tide. If as the British planned to dash across the inlet on foot their men would be swallowed up in their heavy uniforms with their equipment. Also to make matters worse it was also discovered that very fast currents with a terrible undertow were present at the inlet making navigating it in a boat very difficult in good conditions, but under enemy fire even that more difficult.

So now the entire operation was up in the air, as Clinton with his top commanders Lord Cornwallis and General Vaughn began to develop a plan B on how to best take the fort on Sullivan’s Island with Admiral Parker. Also keep in mind that the entire expedition against Charleston is on a time table, because General Howe was expecting Clinton and his forces to return to him soon for Howe’s planned conquest of New York.

At this point the geography of Sullivan’s Island and Long Island that Clinton found so horrifying should be explained in some detail so that it is easier to understand the decisions made by the British in Formulating plan B. Long Island has the Atlantic Ocean on its east shore, Hamlin Creek which was navigable by ships to its west coast, Spence’s Inlet to its north coast which ships could pass though to Hamlin Creek, and Breach Inlet to the South divided it from Sullivan’s Island. Between Sullivan’s Island and Long Island is a small piece of land called Green Island just to the west of Long Island before you reach Breach Inlet. It would also play a role in the upcoming battle as an artillery placement area for the British. Sullivan’s Island has the Atlantic Ocean to its east coast, with Hamlin Creek boarding its west shore, Breach Inlet to the north, and Charleston Harbor proper to its south. Also between the southern part of the island and the main land of Mount Pleasant was a cove that could hold ships of various sizes. The main land of Mount Pleasant was separated from the islands of Long, Green, and Sullivans by Hamlin Creek and a vast area of salt marsh and pluff mud which is a substance that smells awful and has the same consistency as quick sand.

With this new correct intelligence in mind; Clinton and Parker have to come up with a new plan of attack on Sullivan’s Island. While they were formulating a new plan the Patriots in Charleston were using this time to try to hurriedly finish their defenses with every precious moment the British were giving them.

Part 10 will be up next Monday

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

Thomas Sumter; Part 8 Battle of Sullivan's Island

Thomas Sumter was from the High Hills of the Santee near present day Sumter, South Carolina. He was born in Virginia but immigrated to South Carolina after he made a name for himself fighting in the French and Indian War against the Cherokee as part of the Virginia Militia as a sergeant. He even went to England after the war as an escort for Indian chiefs the British wished to impress. Upon his return he bought land in the High Hills and opened a store, mill, and farm in 1764. As he began to amass wealth over time in the High Hills, he started to resent the taxes he was paying and as a result, he turned to the Patriot cause.

He was elected to the South Carolina Provincial Congress along with a neighbor by the name of Francis Marion in 1774 that first meet on January 11th, 1775. While a member of the Provincial Congress he voted for many acts to distance South Carolina from England, he was considered a radical by many who were at the meetings. Also during this time period Thomas Sumter became a Captain in the local militia of the High Hills area. As a Captain he and his company participated in the Snow Campaign of December 1775 along with others such as Andrew Pickens,  and Lt. Col. William Thomson with the #rd South Crolina Rangers under the command of Col. Richard Richardson with a total force of 4500 men from South and North Carolina which sought out to destroy Tory strong holds and gathering points in the back country of South Carolina. During the Snow Campaign, Sumter was second in command to Col. Richardson and through this opportunity his leadership shown through as the Patriots smashed the Tories in the back country.

As a result of the name he made for himself in the Snow Campaign in February 1776 Thomas Sumter was appointed Lt. Colonel of a new regiment that was being formed in South Carolina. The new regiment would be called the 2nd South Carolina Rifle Regiment and would be made up of recruits from the Northwestern part of the state. They were to be primarily a sharp shooting regiment hence the name rifle regiment; instead of muskets they were issued rifles when possible as their primary weapon. Their name would later be changed to the 6th South Carolina a fact which will help the reader at a later date. They became an active regiment on March 25th, 1776 in Charleston after Sumter began recruiting for the regiment in the back country.

The 2nd South Carolina Rifles at the Battle of Sullivan’s Island under the command of Lt. Col. Sumter was stationed at Haddrell’s Point on Mount Pleasant on June 6th, 1776. They were being used as a ready reserve force with other regiments to meet the British if they should try to land on Mount Pleasant, but could also be ferried over to Sullivan’s Island if needed.

So on June the 6th we Find Thomas Sumter not yet the “Gamecock” he would become, eagerly waiting with his men to see what the British next move was to be.