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.
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