A Gallant Defense
The Siege of Charleston, 1780
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of South Carolina Press
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List of Illustrations
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On the afternoon of 26 December 1779, from his post in the hills ofeastern New Jersey, Brigadier General Anthony Wayne of the Conti-nental line watched through his spyglass as an immense fleet of Britishships cleared Sandy Hook and then disappeared below the horizon.Wayne counted 106 vessels in the fleet; it was one of the largest that the...
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I am indebted to so many people for the completion of this work thatit is impossible to list them all. I should begin with the staff of theCharleston Museum. If it were not for that institution and the won-derful employees there, I probably would not have been able to writethis book. Brien Varnado, the museum’s former assistant director,...
Chapter One: Early Threats
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The decision of the British high command to attack Charleston andshift their strategic focus in America to the southern colonies had itsroots in the earlier operations of the conflict, specifically in the Britishfailures. At the outset of the revolt, few on the British side anticipatedthat it would take long to subdue the rebels. But spirited resistance in...
Chapter Two: A “Very Essential Business” Begins
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From his headquarters in New York City, Sir Henry Clinton expressedparticular interest in events in the southern provinces in 1779. Prevostand Campbell’s success in Georgia encouraged Clinton, but he realizedthat the British force was large enough only to hold Georgia and thatPrevost’s ability to undertake further offensive operations in South...
Chapter Three: Reaction North and South
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On the afternoon of 11 February 1780, Major General Benjamin Lin-coln sent a hurried note to the governor’s council informing them thata British fleet was off the coast of Charleston and that, to the misfor-tune of the town, the wind was “fair for them to come in.” Lincoln hadno way of knowing that the British were merely preparing to disem-...
Chapter Four: The British on the Sea Islands
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Sir Henry Clinton’s decision to disembark in the North Edisto Riverensured that the navy would have a sheltered anchorage and the troopswould get ashore unopposed, but the landing on Simmons Island lefthis army twenty miles from Charleston. The nature of the lowcountryterrain, laced with rivers, creeks, marsh, and swamps, heralded a diffi-...
Chapter Five: That Infernal Bar
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Although the Americans offered little resistance to the steady progres-sion of the British army across Johns and then James Island, Lincolnwas still counting on probably his most important defensive asset toimpede further British operations: Charleston Bar. The topography ofthe South Carolina lowcountry had already tested the British army, but...
Chapter Six: The Defenders of Charleston
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While awaiting the outcome of British efforts to cross Charleston Bar,Lincoln and the Americans addressed the city’s defenses. Rather thanrisk his army in battle against a superior British force west of the Ash-ley River, Lincoln resigned himself to securing the city from behind itsentrenchments. Almost two months had passed since Charleston’s sol-...
Chapter Seven: Across the Ashley
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...momentum of action returned to Sir Henry Clinton and the Britishland and British troops had established batteries on Fenwick’s Point,Arbuthnot now able to send him boats and sailors and with GeneralPaterson on the march from Savannah with reinforcements, Clintonprepared to cross his army over the Ashley River to Charleston neck....
Chapter Eight: Siege Warfare
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While the popular conception of military action during the AmericanRevolution is one of armies clashing upon open fields or of small par-ties skirmishing in the countryside, siege warfare also comprised muchof the fighting during the war. Sieges took place in varying degrees inalmost every year of the Revolution. The Americans’ lack of military...
Chapter Nine: Breaking Ground: The Siege Begins
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Under cover of darkness on the evening of 1 April 1780, 3,000 menmarched from the British camp at Gibbes’s plantation and advancedtoward Charleston. The force consisted of 1,500 laborers and an equalnumber of men to guard them against an attack from the garrison. Thedetachment proceeded to the site that Major James Moncrief, Clin-...
Chapter Ten: The Cooper River Communication
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Although Clinton’s army had constructed a line of entrenchmentsacross Charleston neck and Arbuthnot’s ships had blockaded the har-departed Charleston clearly demonstrated that the British were farfrom surrounding the city completely. In the days following the RoyalNavy’s entrance into the harbor, British officers and soldiers watched...
Chapter Eleven: The Noose Tightens on Charleston Neck
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In the days after their newly constructed batteries opened upon Charles -ton, British engineers edged their siege apparatus ever closer to the city.Lincoln and his officers, meanwhile, made what efforts they could tothwart the enemy advance. But with the British taking steps to cut offthe garrison east of the Cooper, Lincoln recognized that they might...
Chapter Twelve: Investiture
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During the 20 April council of war, Lincoln informed his officers thatthe garrison had provisions on hand for only eight to ten days. Thescarcity of provision became even more evident on 22 April, when Lin-coln ordered the commissaries to reduce the daily ration of one poundof beef per man to three-fourths of a pound per man. Two days later,...
Chapter Thirteen: A Gallant Defense
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At the 26 April council of war, Lincoln and his officers vowed to fighton, but as the siege progressed, continued resistance became increas-ingly difficult. With British ships in control of the harbor, Clinton’smain army upon Charleston neck, detachments of British troops onJames Island, west of the Ashley at Lining’s Landing, and ranging...
Chapter Fourteen: Appearances in This Province Are Certainly Very Favourable
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News of Charleston’s fall reached Philadelphia by the end of May andincited great alarm among the patriots. The capture of Charleston andof Lincoln’s entire army provided the British a geographical and psy-chological springboard from which to launch an offensive against theCarolinas and possibly even Virginia. British commanders hoped, and...
Appendix A: Articles of Capitulation as proposed
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Appendix B: British and American Forces in the Siege of Charleston as of 30 April 1780
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Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 2012