Franklin Benjamin Hough.

The siege of Charleston : by the British fleet and army, under the command of Admiral Arbuthnot and Sir Henry Clinton, which terminated with the surrender of that place on the 12th of May, 1780 online

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Online LibraryFranklin Benjamin HoughThe siege of Charleston : by the British fleet and army, under the command of Admiral Arbuthnot and Sir Henry Clinton, which terminated with the surrender of that place on the 12th of May, 1780 → online text (page 1 of 10)
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EARLY in June, 1775, two Britifh
Men-of-War, the Brijlol and the
Experiment, appeared off the Har-
bour of Charlefton, then the Capital of
South Carolina, with the Intention of re-
ducing that City and the Colony to their
late Allegiance. Intimation of this Move-
ment had been obtained from an intercepted
Letter, addrelfed to Mr. Eden, the royal
Governour of Maryland ; and aftive Prepa-
rations were made for Defenfe before the
Enemy appeared.

The Bar was crolted with fome Difficulty,
and Operations were commenced againft
Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Ifland, and Fort
Johnlbn on James's Ifland, which guarded
the Entrance ot the Harbour. The Garrifon
of thefe Forts confifted of two Regiments
of South Carolina, under Colonel Gadfden

4 httroduBion.

and Moultrie. About five hundred Regu-
lars and three hundred Militia, under Col.
Thompfon, were ftationed in fome Works
on the northeaftern Extremity of Sullivan's
liland ; and the remaining Troops were
arranged on Hadrell's Point, and along the
Bay in Front of the Town ; the Whole
being under the Command of General Lee.
The Enemy, after coming into Pofition,
commenced a heavy Cannonade on Fort
Moultrie, but with little Effedl, as the
Works were low, and conftrudled of Earth
and Palmetto Wood, which clofed over the
Shot without leaving a Breach. The Fire
from the Fort was deliberate and fkillful,
and the Garrifon difplayed all the Ardor
and Courage of Veterans. The Engage-
ment continued until Night, when it was
found. that the Ships had been too much
difabled to renew the Adlion, and were
fcarcely in Condition to be got over the
Bar. The Enemy's Cafualties were very
heavy ; one Ship having loft one hundred
and eleven Men, and the other leventy-nine.

IntroduSlion. 5

The American Lofs was only thirty-five
Men killed and wounded. This Succefs
created great Enthufial'm throughout the
Country, and did much towards promoting
the final IlTue of Events by imprefiing the
Colonifts with a Convidtion of their Ability
to maintain the Conteft, and by increafing
the Number of thofe who were willing to
rifk Life and Fortune in the Revolution.

No further Attempt was made againft
Charlefton until after the unfuccefsful At-
tempt of the French and Americans againft
Savannah in the Autumn of 1779, when
the Departure of the French Fleet for
the Weft Indies, and the apparent Wil-
lingnefs of Georgia to return to the
Proteftion of the Britifh Power, appeared
to favour a new Enterprife againft South

General Benjamin Lincoln was at this
Time in Command at Charlefton, and
although he had Knowledge of the ap-
proaching Danger, was unable to provide
fufficiently againft it. " His Power as a

6 • IntroduEiion.

military Commander was too limited, and
his Influence on the Government of the
State too weak, to draw forth even the
Means it pofTeiTed in Time for its Pro-
tection. Though the Prefervation of its
Metropolis was of vaft Importance to the
State, no Preparations were making to put
it in a Condition to ftand a Siege. The
Forts on the Illands were in Ruins, and the
Works acrofs the Neck remained untiniflied.
The Reprefentations made on this Subjedl
to the Governour by General Lincoln were
not difregarded ; but from fome DefetSt in
the exifting Law, the Executive found it
impracflicable to obtain Labour for thefe
interefting Objeils."'

Sir Henry Clinton, Commander in Chief
of the Britilh Forces in America, who
was then ftationed at New York, having
received pofitive Intelligence that Count
D'Eftaing's Fleet had left the Coaft, failed
from Sandy Hook on the 24th ot Decem-
ber, 1779, with a large Land Force, well

' Marfhall's WaflAngton, zd Ed., i, 330.

IntroduSlmt. 7

fupplied with every Material for a Siege,
and a heavy naval Armament, under the
Command of Admiral Arbuthnot, with the
Defign of reducing the American Forces
at Charleston. This Winter Voyage was
tedious and perilous, from bad Weather
and a protrad:ed Storm ; but the Fleet ar-
rived in comparative Safety, with only the
Lofs of one Ordnance Ship, having on
board moft of the Horfes intended for
Cavalry. One of the Tranfports which
had been feparated from the Fleet in the
Storm, was brought into Charlefton, and
gave the firft pofitive Intelligence to Gen.
Lincoln of the Expedition and its Objedls.

Early in February, the Fleet entered the
North Edifto Inlet, and Troops were landed
on John's Ifland. A Part of the Veffels
blockaded the Harbour, while the Enemy,
by flow and cautious Movements, proceeded
from Stono Cut to Wappoo Cut, and
through John's and James's Ifland, until
they reached the Banks of Afhley River.

On the 20th of March the Britifli Army

8 I?2trocluSiio?t.

before Charlefton was joined by General
Patterfon, who had marched acrofs the
Country from Savannah, bringing with him
many Negroes and a Quantity of Horfes
and Cattle. From this Source the LolTes
to the Cavalry by the Storm were in
Meafure replaced, and a large Number of
effedlive Labourers were brought to their
Aid. Preparations for the Inveftment of
the Place having been completed, the firft
Labours of the Siege were began on the
firft of April, and the firft Parallel com-
menced eight hundred Yards from the
American Lines.

On the 7th, the Garrifon were reinforced
by a Detachment of Continental Troops,
numbering about feven hundred effective
Men, under General Woodford. General
Hogan, with the North Carolina Line, had
arrived before him ; and the Garrifon, thus
ftrengthened, numbered rather more than
two thoufand regular Troops, and one
thoufand North Carolina Militia, befides
the Citizens of Charlefton. Thefe Accef-

IntroduSlion, 9

fions of Strength afforded but little Aid
againft the powerful Combinations that
were brought againft the Place, and in the
End ferved only to increafe the Number of
Prifoners in the final Surrender.

On the Day following that on which
General Woodford arrived, thirteen of the
Enemy's armed Ships, favoured by Wind
and Tide, palled over the Bar, under a
heavy Fire from the Forts, but without
ferious Injury. They were favoured by a
Thunder Shower, which at a critical Mo-
ment partly obfcured them from View.

Four Frigates, a French armed Ship, and
feveral fmaller Vefi'els formed the naval
Armament of the Americans, when the
Place was inverted. They were under
the Command of Commodore Whipple of
Rhode liland, and were at firft ftationed fo
as to affift the Fire of the Forts, Ihould the
Enemy attempt to pafs the Bar. After
this Event had happened, the Veffels were
moved up to the Town, and two of them
were funk in the Mouth of Cooper River,

lo IntroduSlion.

to prevent the Enemy from entering that
Channel. " This was the critical Moment
for evacuating the Town. The Lofs of the
Harbour rendered the Defenfe of the Place,
if not defperate, fo improbable that the
Hope to maintain it could not have been
rationally entertained by a Perfon who was
not deceived by the Expeftation of Aid
much more confiderable than was adlually
received. When this State of Things was
communicated to General Wafliington by
Lieutenant Colonel Laurens, he faid in
Reply, 'The Impradlicability of defending
the Bar, I fear, amounts to the Lofs of the
Town and Garrifon. At this Diftance, it
is impoffible to judge for you. I have
the greateft Confidence in General Lin-
coln's Prudence ; but it really appears to
me, that the Propriety of attempting to
defend the Town depended on the Proba-
bility of defending the Bar ; and that when
this ceafed, the Attempt ought to have been
relinquiflied.' " '

I Marniall.



Yet this View was not entertained by
General Lincoln, and he refolved to defend
the Place as long as poffible, doubtlefs in
the Hope that Aid would arrive in Time
for his Ufe, as it was known that Troops
were on the March from Virginia to his

As conliderable Time had elapfed fince
the firft Appearance of the Enemy, the
Defences of Charlefton on the land Side,
under the Diredlion of Mons. Laumay, a
French Engineer, had become quite ef-
feftive ; and, although not in Condition to
refill a regular Siege, were of very refpedla-
ble Strength.

The Enemy's firfl Parallel, extending
acrofs the Neck, was completed on the 9th
of April, and mounted with Guns in Bat-
tery. On the loth, the Britifli General and
Admiral fent in a joint Summons to Gene-
ral Lincoln, demanding a Surrender of the
Town, as the only Alternative of faving
the Lives and Property in the Town, in
the Event of a Cannonade and Storm. To



this General Lincoln replied, that as fixty
Days had elapfed fince hoftile Intentions
were known, ample Time had been afforded
to abandon it ; but as he had ftaid to
defend it, he fliould do fo to the lafi; Ex-

The Town had hitherto been invefted
only on the Neck between Afliley and
Cooper's Rivers, and Communication was
ftill open with the Country on the North
Side of the Latter. A Cavalry Force,
under General Huger, was ftationed in the
Neighbourhood of Monk's Corner, thirty
Miles above, and two Ports were eftabliflied ;
one of which was intended to cover a
Ferry where Boats had been colledted, in
Cafe it fliould be deemed advilable to
evacuate the Town.

On the 14th of April, a Detachment
of the Enemy under Lieutenant Colonel
Tarleton, with a Corps of Infantry, the
Whole under Lieutenant Colonel Webfter,
ftruck a decifive Blow at the American
Port at Monk's Corner, killed and took



about one hundred Men, difperfed the
Remainder, captured a large Amount of
Military Stores, and made themfelves com-
plete Mafters of the Route, by which alone
the Garrifon could have retreated, and from
which Direftion alone Supplies could be

Soon after the Affair at Monk's Corner,
Sir Henry Clinton received a Reinforce-
ment of three thoufand Men from New
York ; and with thefe Accelllons to their
Numbers, Lord Cornwallis was able to take
Command on the North Side of Cooper
River, and completely intercept any Rein-
forcements that might approach in that

The Garrifon of Sullivan's Illand had
been weakened by Detachments being
withdrawn to the Town, until only two
hundred effedive Men remained. Thefe
furrendered to Captain Hudfon of the
Britiih Navy on the 8th of May, and the
vain Hopes ot fome fortunate Relief were
thus one by one finally difappointed. The

14 IntroduBio7J.

Works of the Siege had been puflied with
Energy, and the Approaches were within
a few Yards of the American Lines. The
Befiegers had iinifhed their third Parallel,
and by a Sap had puflied to the Dam that
fupplied the Canal with Water. The Gar-
rifon had been on confl:ant Duty for many
Days, Provifions were getting fcarce, and
much of the Ammunition was expended.

Under thefe Circumftances, when Nothing
remained for the Befiegers but an Affault
to complete their Labours by unconditional
Conqueft, but with thofe Chances which
may always be exped:ed from a brave Gar-
rifon in a defperate Extremity, a fecond
Summons was made, and a Negotiation for
the Terms o'i the Surrender began. The
final Details thereof were fettled on the
1 2th of May, 1780.

The following Pages contain the Cor-
refpondence which pafled between the
Commanding Generals, and the Terms
that were agreed upon. The Town and
public Stores were furrendered, and the

IntroduSiion. 1 5

Troops were made Prifoners of War upon
the Conditions ufually granted to a brave
Garrifon. The Militia were allowed to
return Home on Parole, and the Perfons
and Property ot Citizens were to be fecured,
while the Inhabitants adhered to their

The Siege of Charlefton had been ob-
ftinate but not bloody. The Approaches
were made with the greateft Caution, and,
as neither Party Tallied beyond their Lines,
their Lolfes were about equal. The Britifh
had feventy-lix killed, and one hundred and
eighty-nine wounded, while the Americans
loft ninety-two in Killed, and one hundred
and forty-eight Wounded.

The Fall of Charlefton was followed by
Succefs to the Britifli Arms at feveral
Points in the Interior, and the Spirit of the
Rebellion appeared tor the Time to be
broken in the Colonies. Many who had
committed their Fortunes to the Chances
of the Continental Caufe were overawed,
or otherwife influenced into Submillion to

1 6 Introdu&io?t .

the Conquerors, and Charleflon remained
in the quiet and undifputed Pofleffion of
the Britifh Army until its Evacuation at
the Clofe of the War.

General Lincoln loft by the Surrender
none of the Confidence and Efteem that
had been placed in him, and after being
exchanged was entrufted with a refponfible
Command at the Siege of Yorktown ; and
on the Surrender of Cornwallis, was de-
puted to receive the Submiflion of the
captured Troops. Although he claimed
an Inquiry into the Caufes of his Misfor-
tune at Charlefton, and an Inveftigation
was ordered by Congrefs, the public Jour-
nals of that Body do not fliow that the
Inquiry was ever held.


[From Rivington's Royal Gazette, No. ^62, March 18, 1780.]

Charleston, (S. Carolina) Dec. 8.

Detachment of Virginia Con-
tinental Infantry, commanded
by Col. Heth, and fome of Col.
Baylor's Horfe, arrived here laft
Thurfday. A body of Troops have
alfo arrived at the Boundary Line.
Feb. 4. The Fleet, which we have
had frequent Intelligence of collefting at
Sandy Hook, failed from thence on the
24th of December laft. It is faid to have
confifted of more than 140 Sail, about 50
of which were empty Vid:ualers and Mer-
chantmen bound to Europe. By what we
can learn, the RuJJel and Robujle, of 74

1 8 Siege of Cha7' left 071,

Guns, the Europe, Defiance, and Raifonable,
of 64, the Renonvn of 50, the Roebuck and
Romulus of 44, and the Frigates, failed with
the Fleet. Of the Tranfports, Three, viz.
the Brig Lady Crojhy, and the Sloops Swift
and Henry, have been brought in here. Off
Cape Hatteras, about four Weeks lince,
they met with a fevere Storm, which fepa-
rated the Fleet, and obliged the two Sloops,
as well as mofl of the other VefTels having
Horfes, to throw them overboard.

The common Report is, that there are
94 Veflels, including the Men of War,
bound Southerly, having on board a large
number of Troops, fome fay 8000, under
the Command of Sir Henry Clinton, or
Lord Cornwallis. The place of Rendez-
vous, in cafe of Separation, was Tybee ; at
leaft, the Veffels brought in here had fuch

Two 2-deck.ers and a Frigate have been
feen off this Bar feveral Times within this
Week paft, and a Number of heavy Guns
have been frequently heard at Night ; and

Siege of Char left on. ig

during the hazy Weather, we have had
fuppofed to be Signals from the Men-of-
War, to the fcattered Veffels as they fell in
with the Coaft.


Nemo York, March i8. Under the Caro-
lina Head of February 4th, in the fecond
Column of the third Page of this Paper,
will be found fome Suggeftions, painful to
the Rebels, of Vice Admiral Arbuthnot's
Arrival before Charleftown Harbour, the
Capital of South Carolina.

[From Rivington's Royal Gazette, No. 363, March 22, 1780.]

LAST Night, arrived from England,
by Way of Savannah, in Georgia,
His Excellency Major General Robert-
son, Governour of the Province of New
York. His Excellency had a Palfage of
eleven Days from Georgia.

We mofi: lincerely felicitate our Friends
on the Royal Army (after a tedious Paffage
from hence), having arrived without the Lofs

20 Siege of Charlejion.

of a Man, at Savannah in Georgia, from
whence they proceed to James Illand, within
two Miles of Charleftown, where are His
Excellency General Sir Henry Clinton's
Head Quarters. All the Troops are in the
lujiiejl Health, advancing about eleven Days
ago to Afliley Ferry, which approximates
to Charleftown, as does Brooklyn or Hoe-
buch Ferries to this City. Vice Admiral
Arbuthnot's Flag' was flying at Five Fa-

1 Mariot Arbuthkot was Born in 1711; attained the Rank of
Commander in 1746, and that of Vice Admiral of the Blue in
1779. For his Services before Charlefton, he received the
Thanks of both Houfes of Parliament. He returned to Eng-
land in 1781, became Vice Admiral of the Red in 1787, and
Admiral of the Blue in 1793. He DieJ January 31, 1794. —
Schomberg's Naval Chronology.

The Refolution, as pafled by ihc Commons, after fcveral
Amendments, was as follows :

" Refolved, That the Thanks of this Houfe be given to Sir
Henry Clinton, Knight of the moft Honourable Order of the
Bath, and Commander in Chief of His Majefty's Forces in
North America, and to Vice Admiral Arbuthnot, Commander
in Chief of His Majefty's Fleet in North America, and to the
Right Honourable Lieutenant General Charles Earl CornwalUs,
for the eminent and very important Services performed by them
to His Majelly and this Country, particularly in the Reduftion
of Charles Town bv the Army and Navv under the Command

Siege of Charlejion.


thorn Hole, with other Ships of War,
commanding all Accel's and Egrefs to and
from Charleftown Harbour, in which lay,
befides the Rebel Velfels, two French Ships,
one of 28 Guns, and the other of much
fuperior Size and Force.'

We have alfo a fupreme Pleafure in an-
nouncing the Arrival of 49 Sail of proviiion
Ships, &c., &c., which failed from Cork,
under the Protection of His Majefty's Ships
the Richtnond, Capt. Charles Hudfon, and
the Raleigh,'^ Capt. Gambler.

of Sir Henry Clinton and Vice Admiral Arbuthnot, and by the
late moll: glorious Vidlory obtained by Lord Cornzvallis at

" Ordered, That Mr. Speaker do fignify the faid Thanks to
Sir Henry Clinton, Vice Admiral Arbuthnot, and Earl Corn-


I The naval Force oppofed to the Englilh in Charlefton Har-
bour, at the time it was invefted by the Britilh Fleet, was under
the Command of Commodore William Whipple, and confifted of
the Bricoll, of 44 Guns, the Providence and Bofton, each of 32,

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Online LibraryFranklin Benjamin HoughThe siege of Charleston : by the British fleet and army, under the command of Admiral Arbuthnot and Sir Henry Clinton, which terminated with the surrender of that place on the 12th of May, 1780 → online text (page 1 of 10)