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