Tuesday, February 7, 2012

General Moultrie's Lost Fort

Most people know the story of General Moultrie’s fort on Sullivan's Island that was named for him after he lead the forts defense against the British on June 28th in  1776. This fort becomes the symbol of resistance in Charlestown against the crown after its walls of palmetto logs were able to with stand the bombardment of the British Navy and Col. Thomson at the other end of Sullivan's Island was able to keep the British troops on Long Island (Isle of Palms) from crossing Breech Inlet and attacking the fort by land.
General Moultrie’s forgotten fortification can be found in Dorchester County on the Ashley River. This is the earth redoubt that he built to guard the access to Charlestown near Summerville, SC. This was an important crossroad for the defense of Charlestown 28 miles up the Ashley River. This was the bridge that leads across the Ashley River to White House Meeting House named in the honor of Reverend White, which the British burned under General Provost during his raid against Charlestown in 1778 and to Dorchester Road which was the main road leading directly to Charlestown. This fortification was built between January and February of 1780 to block any British advance coming up from Savannah that were going to link up with the British General Clinton who had landed on Johns Island and was already moving his forces to James Island under the protection of the Royal Navies big guns.  At this fortification he had over 300 hundred horseman that were used as a reconnaissance force and or a rapid response force should the British appear at other crossings to impede their crossings. This cavalry force was composed of the 1st Continental Dragoons under the command of Lt. Col. Anthony White and the 3rd Continental Dragoons under the command of Lt. Col. William Washington, Col. Daniel Horry’s South Carolina Light Dragoons and other mounted troops from the local militia and unattached cavalry. This group of cavalry was put to good use in late March of 1780 by checking a British Calvary force consisting primarily of the British Legion and the 17th Light horse under the command of Col. Tarlton who had yet to earn his American nickname Bloody Tarleton.  The infantry force was composed of the 2nd South Carolina with around 250 men who defended the palmetto fort on Sullivan’s under Moultrie’s command in 1776 and whom at this time were under the direct command of his second in command at Fort Moultrie, Francis Marion. Marion’s other role at Bacon's Bridge was to form the local militia from the surrounding parishes and have them ready to defend Charlestown. This was no easy task because the locals were in fear of the British burning their homes while they were away.
Once General Lincoln, who was in total command of the defenses of Charlestown realized the British planned to cross at Stono Ferry he began to pull all his available forces to Charlestown proper  and General Moultrie’s position on the Ashley River was abandoned as his forces reported to Charlestown.  
This did not end the importance of this site since Marion would returned under the command of General Lincoln as a General in the South Carolina Militia and with a well earned nickname “The Swamp Fox”. Marion would come back to the site several times to check possible British advances or passing through to other areas of operations.
Today the spot where the fortification was located has been located and is now in the process of being protected for future generations so they won’t forget Moultrie’s lost fort as previous generations have.

1 comment:

  1. Have you actually found the Fort? Or just a general area where you think that it most likely is? I have been poking around some areas on Bacon's Bridge Road after it rains and have found a great deal of artifacts just peeking out of the dirt on the surface. I've collected pistol balls, bullets, buttons, bottle fragments, pottery shards, copper nails, furniture tacks, clay pipe pieces, etc. I was wondering if maybe I'm just walking around on an old dump site? Or perhaps a settlement?