Lossing's Field Book of the Revolution, Vol. II., Chapter XX.







Revolutionary Remains. – Visit to Jasper’s Spring. – Its historical Associations. – Departure from Savannah. – Night Voyage. – Arrival at Charleston. – Early Settlement. – Founding of Charleston. – Increase of Settlers. – Their Character. – Difficulties with the Indians. – An Insurrection. – Legislative Assembly. – French and English. – Church Liturgy adopted. – A Revolution. – Royal Government established. – Separation of the Colonies. – Extension of Settlements. – Discontents. – Disputes with the Governor. – Effects of the Stamp Act. – Boldness of the People. – Liberty Tree. – Charleston Sons of Liberty. – Pitt’s Statue. – Christopher Gadsden. – Tea repudiated. – Sympathy for Bostonians. – Provincial Convention and Congress. – Seizure of Dispatches. – Institutions of the Ministry. – Condition of the People. – Seizure of Arms and Powder. – Civil Government organized. – Seizure of Powder at St. Augustine. – Expulsion of Lord Campbell and the Garrison. – City Defenses. – Fortifications around Charleston. – Fort Moultrie. – Organization of Civil Government. – John Rutledge. – Defenses of Charleston Harbor. – Arrival of Generals Armstrong and Lee. – Arrival of the British. – Rutledge’s rigorous Measures. – Clinton’s Preparations for Attack. – Commencement of the Action. – Clinton Repulsed. – Cannonade of Fort Sullivan. – Fate of the British Fleet. – Burning of the Actæon. – Effect of the Battle. – The Loss. – Bravery of Sergeant Jasper. – Presentation of Standards. – Patriotism not sectional. – Declaration of Independence. – Fort Sullivan. – The British Lazaretto. – Formation of an Army under Lincoln. – Major Thomas Pinckney. – Battle on Port Royal Island. – Prevost’s March toward Charleston. – Preparations to receive him. – Prevost before Charleston. – Pulaski’s Attack and Defeat. – Proposition for Surrender refused. – Expected Attack. – Death of Huger. – Withdrawal of the British Army. – Battle at Stono Ferry. – Retreat of the British.


There are but few remains of Revolutionary localities about Savannah. The city has spread out over all the British works; and where their batteries, redoubts, ramparts, and ditches were constructed, public squares are laid out and adorned with trees, or houses and stores cover the earth. Not so with the works constructed by the French engineers during the siege in the autumn of 1779. Although the regular forms are effaced, yet the mounds and ditches may be traced many rods near the margin of the swamp southeast of the city. These I visited early on the morning of my arrival in Savannah, after an instructive interview with the Honorable J. C. Nicoll, to whom I am indebted for a knowledge of the several historical localities in and near the city. Their present appearance and description are delineated on page 531. After sketching General M’Intosh’s house, printed on the preceding page, I procured a saddle-horse and rode out to "Jasper’s Spring," a place famous as the scene of a bold exploit, which has been the theme of history and song. 1 It is near the Augusta road, two and a half miles westward of the city. The day was very warm. The gardens were garnished with flowers; the orange-trees were blooming; blossoms covered the peach-trees, and insects were sporting in the sunbeams.


Jasper’s Spring is just within the edge of a forest of oaks and gums, and is remarkable only on account of its historical associations. It is in the midst of a marshy spot partially covered with underwood, on the northern side of the road, and its area is marked by the circumference of a sunken barrel. Being the only fountain of pure water in the vicinity, it is resorted to daily by travelers upon the road. One of them, a wagoner, came, knelt, and quaffed when I opened my port-folio, and, as he arose from the spring I sketched him, as seen in the preceding picture. He knew nothing of the event which makes it famous.

After lingering for half an hour in the cool shade at the spring, I returned to Savannah. A slight haziness began to overspread the sky, which deepened toward evening, and descended in gentle rain when I left the city at eight o’clock in a steam-packet for Charleston. We passed the lights at Fort Pulaski at half past eight, and an hour later glided by the beacons of Tybee and breasted the rising waves of the Atlantic. Like Yellow Plush, I soon discovered the "use of basins," and at an early hour turned into my berth to prevent a turning out of my supper. During the night we passed through Port Royal entrance, touched at Beaufort, stuck in the mud in the channel between Ladies’ and St. Helena Islands, and at daylight emerged again into the Atlantic through St. Helena’s Sound. The breeze was hourly stiffening, and every "landlubber" on board preferred the berth to breakfast, until we approached Charleston bar, when the wind died away, the sun gleamed through the breaking clouds, and upon the bosom of long, heaving swells, we were wafted into Charleston harbor. We landed at one o’clock, dined at two, and at three I called upon the Reverend Samuel Smythe, D. D., with a letter of introduction, with whom I passed the remainder of the afternoon in visiting places of interest upon the banks of the Cooper River, above the city. To the kind courtesy of Dr. Smythe I am indebted for much of the interest, pleasure, and profit of my visit at Charleston and vicinity.

Here, upon the spot where the first permanent English settlement in South Carolina was accomplished, let us glance at the record of history.

In the Introduction to this work (page xxxii.), I have referred to the first attempt at permanent settlement on South Carolina soil, and the result. As it was only an attempt proved unsuccessful, and does not illustrate the growth of popular liberty, except so far as the principles of the Huguenots (those first emigrants) had influence in the political opinions of the people in after years, we will not stop to consider the details, but pass on to the period of permanent settlements.

For a hundred years after the first attempt at colonization in South Carolina was made, no settlements were undertaken, and no white man walked in her forests, except a few Spaniards, who penetrated the wilderness from St. Augustine in search of a fancied region of gold. At length the English, who had formed settlements on the Cape Fear and vicinity, turned their attention to more southerly regions.

In January, 1670, two ships, with materials for a permanent settlement, sailed from England, under the command of Sir William Sayle, who had previously visited and explored the South Carolina coast. He entered Port Royal, planted his colony upon Beaufort, and soon afterward died there. The jurisdiction of Sir John Yeamans, of the Northern colony, was then extended over this settlement, and in 1671 he was chosen their governor.

The people were easily induced, "for the convenience of pasturage and tillage," to remove to the south bank of the Ashley River, further north, and there they laid the foundation of old Charlestown 2 (at present called Old Town, or the Landing); and there was planted the first fruitful seed of the commonwealth of South Carolina [1671.]. The colony, in honor of Sir George Carteret, one of the proprietors, was called the Carteret County Colony. 3 Nine years afterward, the settlers abandoned this spot, and upon Oyster Point, nearer the sea, at the confluence of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers 4 (so called in compliment to Ashley Cooper, the Earl of Shaftesbury), a place more eligible, for commercial pursuits, they founded the present city of Charleston [1680.], and in the course of the year built thirty houses. 5 The city retained its original name of Charles Town until after the Revolution, when it was called Charleston. The general early history of South Carolina we have already considered in its connection with the North State; we have, therefore, only a few particular points to notice in its progress prior to the separation in 1729.

The beauty of the climate and the freedom which then prevailed made South Carolina a chosen refuge for the oppressed and the discontented of all lands. Several Dutch families of New York went to South Carolina when that city passed into the hands of the English, and settled on the southwest side of the Ashley, near the English colony, from whence they spread over the state, and were joined by many from "fader-land." In 1679, Charles the Second sent quite a number of French Protestant refugees (Huguenots) thither; and when, in 1685, the Edict of Nantes (see page 386, volume i.) was revoked, large numbers of the Huguenots crossed the Atlantic, and sought refuge in South Carolina from the fires of persecution about to be relighted in France. Ten years later [1696.], a colony of Congregationalists, from Dorchester, in Massachusetts, ascended the Ashley almost to its head, and founded the town of Dorchester, in the present parish of St. George, Dorchester. This was a village of considerable note during the Revolution, but it is now deserted, and little remains of the past but the primitive church and the graves around it.

Under various leaders, men of every creed and of various countries went to South Carolina; "and the Santee, the Congaree, the Wateree, and the Edisto now listened to the strange voices of several nations, who in the Old World had scarcely known each other, except as foes. There, for a while, they mingled harmoniously with the natives. The French Huguenot and the German Palatine smoked their pipes in amity with the Westo and the Serattee; and the tastes and habits of the Seine and the Rhine became familiar to the wandering eyes of the fearless warriors along the Congaree. It was not long before a French violinist had opened a school for dancing among the Indians on the Santee River." 6

For some time the colonists were obliged to depend, in part, upon the bounty of the proprietors for subsistence, and the calls of this dependence being generally answered, idle and improvident habits were begotten, highly inimical to the prosperity of a new state. The proprietors perceived the bad tendency of such indulgence, and in a letter to the colonists declared that they would "no longer continue to feed and clothe them, without expectation or demand of any return." This resolve, so unkind to the apprehension of the Carolinians, was of great benefit to the colonists. Ultimately the people, compelled to work or starve – to be provident or to be beggars – turned to their own resources, and their development began. Independence of action begat independence of thought and feeling, and in this first broken fallow, turned up to the vivifying influence of the sun and shower of free civil, political and religious life, the seed of Republican liberty, which subsequently bore such generous fruit in the Carolinas, was planted and took firm root.

In addition to the diseases incident to the climate, and the privations always attendant upon first settlement, the Carolinians were soon called upon to resist powerful foes – the Indian tribes upon whose hunting-grounds they were settling. These difficulties have been noticed in a preceding chapter. The red men were hardly quieted before internal troubles menaced the colony with a more terrible blow. Food had become scarce, discontents were heard on every side, and an insurrectionary movement occurred. The rebellion was promptly suppressed, and some supplies just then arriving from England with some new settlers, the people were quieted and became loyal. This difficulty had just passed by, when the Spaniards menaced the English, and ships of war with land troops appeared. Before their arrival, vessels which had been sent to Virginia and Barbadoes for provisions and munitions of war reached the harbor of Charleston. Governor Yeamans at once acted on the offensive, and drove the Spaniards back to St. Augustine.

Yeamans left the colony in 1674, and was succeeded by Joseph West, a man of republican tendencies. He called the freemen of the colony together in convention at Charleston to make laws for their government. This was the first legislative assembly convened in South Carolina. It might have been an auspicious event, had not the jarring interests of classes and creeds, there represented, produced discord and confusion. Cavaliers and Puritans, Churchmen and Dissenters, each strenuous for the prevalence of their respective opinions, presented, in this first attempt at representative legislation, powerful arguments in favor of absolutism. Anarchy prevailed, and in the midst of the dissensions in Charleston, the Stono Indians swept along the frontiers of the settlements, and plundered a great quantity of grain and numerous cattle. The inhabitants armed themselves, defeated the Stonos in several skirmishes, took many of them prisoners, and sent them to the West Indies to be sold as slaves. After other obstinate conflicts, the Stonos were subdued and almost exterminated. They have never had a tribal existence since, and it is believed that they have no living representative upon the earth.

A Legislative Assembly met in Charleston in 1682, and enacted laws for the civil and military operations of the colony. The spirit of freedom had begun to work in the hearts of the people, and when the collection of rents, the great cause of discontent in the Northern colony, was pressed, they rebelled. The public records were seized, and the Assembly, assuming the functions of government, imprisoned the secretary of the province. The governor (Colleton) declared martial law. The exasperated people clamored for his impeachment. The Assembly complied, and he was banished from the province. Turbulence and misrule continued until the scheme of government of Locke and Shaftesbury was abandoned; a better day then dawned. John Archdale, the good Quaker, came, and his policy was like oil poured upon troubled waters. Only one great difficulty remained – the troubles arising from the antipathy of the English to the French. The general excellence of character possessed by the latter soon disarmed prejudices; their political disabilities were removed; they were no longer excluded from participation in governmental affairs, and the last fountain of disquietude was dried up. During the whole of Archdale’s administration, and that of Blake, his successor, peace and prosperity prevailed.

James Moore succeeded Blake in 1700. He sent an expedition against the Spaniards at St. Augustine, in 1702, which proved unsuccessful. A subsequent expedition against the Apalachian Indians, undertaken by Moore, has been considered in a previous chapter.

Nathaniel Johnson, a pliant servant of Lord Granville, one of the proprietors, succeeded Moore in 1703, and, pursuant to a plan long cherished by that nobleman and his friends, he proceeded to the establishment of the Church of England in Carolina. This was the first budding of religious intolerance there. The Dissenters were excluded from the Colonial Legislature, and suffered other disabilities. They laid their grievances before the English Parliament. There they received encouragement, and the law of disfranchisement was soon repealed by the Colonial Assembly, but the Liturgy of the Church of England remained the established form of religion in the province until the Revolution.

England was now at war with France and Spain. Her enemies coalesced, and joined in an expedition against South Carolina in 1706. A squadron of five ships came from Havana and appeared before Charleston. The governor called upon the people to repel the invaders, and they cheerfully responded. The invading troops were compelled to fly to their ships, and these, in turn, being attacked by some vessels which had been speedily armed in the harbor, retreated in haste across the bar, and departed. This was the first naval victory of the South Carolinians. Of eight hundred of the enemy, almost three hundred were killed or taken prisoners.

In 1710 a speck of civil war appeared in Charleston, when two claimants to the office of acting governor, on the death of Tynte, the successor of Johnson, disputed for the honor. A compromise was effected, by referring the case to the proprietors for a decision. They wisely discarded both candidates, and appointed Charles Craven, brother of one of the proprietors, governor of the province. Under his administration the colony prospered, settlements extended, and the power of a dangerous Indian confederacy against the Carolinas was effectually broken. 7

Craven was succeeded by Robert Johnson, a son of the former governor [1717.], and during his administration a revolution occurred in South Carolina which changed the government from a proprietary to a royal one. The remote causes of this change may be found in the desire of the people for a simple and inexpensive government responsible only to the crown, and not to be subjected to the caprices, avarice, and inefficiency of a Board of Control composed of private individuals, intent only upon personal gain. The immediate and ostensible cause was the refusal of the proprietors to pay any portion of the debt incurred by the Indian war so promptly suppressed by Governor Craven; and the severity with which they enforced the collection of rents. The people looked to the crown for relief, aid, and protection. A scheme for a revolution was secretly planned, and on the twenty-eighth of November, 1719, Governor Johnson was deposed. The people proceeded to elect James Moore governor. The militia, on whom Johnson looked for aid, were against him, and finding himself entirely unsupported, he withdrew to his plantation. Moore was proclaimed governor of the province in the king’s name, and royal authority was established. During the administration of Francis Nicholson, the successor of Moore, and that of Arthur Middleton, acting governor, little of political importance occurred in relation to the colony, except the legal disputes in England concerning the rights of the proprietors. These were finally settled in 1729, by a royal purchase of both colonies (see page 356) from the proprietors, and during that year North and South Carolina became separate royal provinces.

The colony was now very prosperous, and from the period of the separation until the Revolution, nothing occurred to impede its general progress but the troubles with the Indians, detailed in preceding chapters, and difficulties with the Spaniards. Soon all alarm on account of the latter subsided, for Oglethorpe had established a barrier on the Southern border, by laying the foundation of the commonwealth of Georgia, and preparing means for keeping the Spaniards south of the St. John’s. When this barrier was made secure, the treaties with the Indians were accomplished, the war with France ended, and universal peace reigned in the Carolinas. Emigration flowed thither in a broad and rapid stream. Immigrants came from all parts of Europe. Up the Pedee, Santee, Edisto, and Savannah Rivers, settlements spread rapidly, and soon the ax and the plow were plying with mighty energy upon the banks of the Wateree, the Broad, and the Saluda Rivers, and their tributaries. 8 At one time six hundred German settlers came in a body; and from the North of Ireland such numbers of the Protestant inhabitants (Scotch-Irish chiefly) departed for Carolina that the depopulation of whole districts was menaced. Immigrants came, too, from the other colonies. Within a single year [1764.], more than a thousand families with their effects – their cattle, hogs, and horses – crossed the Alleghanies from the Eastern settlements, and pitched their tents in the bosom of Carolina. Far removed from the political power they had been taught to reverence, they soon became alienated. They felt neither the favors nor the oppressions of government, and in the free wilderness their minds and hearts became schooled in that sturdy independence which developed bold and energetic action when the Revolution broke out.

While the people of New England were murmuring because of Writs of Assistance and other grievances, the Carolinians were not indifferent listeners, especially those upon the seaboard; and before the Stamp Act lighted the flame of general indignation in America, leading men in South Carolina were freely discussing the rights and privileges of each colony, and saw in day-dreams a mighty empire stretching along the Atlantic coast from the Penobscot to the St. John’s. Already their representatives had quarreled with the governor (William Boone), because he had presumed to touch, with official hands, one of their dearest privileges (the elective franchise), and refused to hold intercourse with him. In these disputes, Christopher Gadsden, Thomas Lynch, Henry Laurens, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, the Rutledges, and other stanch patriots in the stormy strife ten years later, were engaged A spirit of resistance was then aroused, which brought South Carolina early into the arena of conflict when the war began.

When intelligence of the Stamp Act came over the sea, the Assembly of South Carolina did not wait to consult the opinions of those of other colonies, but immediately passed a series of condemnatory resolves. When, soon afterward, the proposition for a Colonial Congress came from Massachusetts, a member of the Assembly ridiculed it, 9 others thought the scheme chimerical, yet a majority of them were in favor of it, and delegates were appointed to represent South Carolina in the Congress which was held at New York [October 7, 1765.]. The iniquitous character of the Stamp Act was freely discussed by the Carolinians, and as the day approached [November 1.] when it was to go into operation, the people became more and more determined to resist it. When the stamps arrived in Charleston, no man was found willing to act as distributor, and Governor William Bull (who had succeeded Boone) ordered them to be placed in Fort Johnson, a strong fortress on James’s Island, then garrisoned by a very small force. When the place of deposit became known, one hundred and fifty armed men, who had secretly organized, went down to the fort at midnight, in open boats, to destroy the stamps. They surprised and captured the garrison, loaded the cannons, hoisted a flag, and at sunrise proclaimed open defiance of the power of the governor. The captain of the armed ship which brought the stamps opened a parley with the insurgents, and agreed to take away the obnoxious articles, and "not land them elsewhere in America." 10 This was agreed to, and the men returned to the city. So universal was the opposition to the Act, that no attempt was made to arrest the men concerned in this overt act of treason.

Under a wide-spreading live oak, a little north of the residence of Christopher Gadsden – the Samuel Adams of South Carolina – the patriots used to assemble during the summer and autumn of 1765, and also the following summer, when the Stamp Act was repealed. There they discussed the political questions of the day. From this circumstance the green oak was called, like the great elm in Boston, Liberty Tree. 11 There Gadsden assembled some of his political friends after the repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766, and, while bonfires were blazing, cannons were pealing for joy, and the Legislature of South Carolina was voting a statue in honor of Pitt, 12 he warned them not to be deceived by this mere show of justice. 13 His keen perception comprehended the Declaratory Act in all its deformity, and while others were loud in their praises of the king and Parliament, he ceased not to proclaim the whole proceeding a deceptive and wicked scheme to lull the Americans into a dangerous inactivity. And more; it is claimed, and generally believed in South Carolina, that under Liberty Tree Christopher Gadsden first spoke of American Independence. How early is not known, but supposed to be as early as 1764. 14

The people of Charleston cheerfully signed non-importation agreements in 1769 and 1770, and faithfully adhered thereto; and when the Continental Congress of 1774 adopted the American Association, its recommendations were very generally complied with in South Carolina. When tea was sent to America, under the provisions of a new act of 1773 (see page 495, volume i.), the South Carolinians were as firm in their opposition to the landing of the cargoes for sale, as were the people of Boston. It was stored in the warehouses, and there rotted, for not a pound was allowed to be sold.

The closing of the port of Boston, by act of Parliament, on the first of January, 1774, aroused the indignation and sympathy of the South Carolinians, and substantial aid was freely sent to the suffering inhabitants of that city. When the proposition for a General Congress went forth, the affirmative voice of South Carolina was among the first heard in response. In an assembly of the people, held in Charleston, on the sixth, seventh, and eighth of July, 1774, it was declared that the Boston Port Bill was "most cruel and oppressive," and plainly showed that "if the inhabitants of that town are intimidated into a mean submission of said acts, that the like are designed for all the colonies; when not even the shadow of liberty to his person, or of security to his property, will be left to any of his majesty’s subjects residing on the American continent." The same convention approved of the proposition for a General Congress, chose delegates to represent them in Federal Council, 15 and closed their proceedings by the appointment of a committee of ninety-nine, "to act as a general committee, to correspond with the committees of other colonies, and to do all matters and things necessary to carry the resolutions of the convention into execution." Henry Laurens was appointed chairman of this large committee, and it was agreed that twenty-one should constitute a business quorum. 16

In defiance of the remonstrances and menaces of Lieutenant-governor Bull, a Provincial Congress of delegates, chosen by the people, met at Charleston on the eleventh of January, 1775. Charles Cotesworth Pinckney was chosen president. That Assembly approved of the proceedings of the General Congress, and appointed a committee of inspection and observation to see that its recommendations were complied with. 17 Now began those coercive measures of the Whigs which were often wrong and oppressive, but frequently necessary and salutary. The non-importation measures were rigorously enforced, and royal power was boldly defied. The people of Charleston formed themselves into volunteer companies to practice the use of fire-arms, and the boys, catching the spirit of the hour, banded together, and with mimic weapons imitated the discipline of their seniors.

On the nineteenth of April, 1775, the day when the first blow was struck for liberty at Lexington, the packet ship Swallow arrived at Charleston, bringing dispatches for the governors of the Southern colonies. Among others was a dispatch for the acting governor of South Carolina, William Bull. His disputes with the Committee of Safety and the Provincial Congress had risen to a high pitch of acrimony, and the public mind was greatly excited. Yet all hoped for reconciliation, and few could believe that civil war would actually ensue. The arrival of the Swallow extinguished these hopes, for a secret committee who had been appointed to seize the next mail that should arrive from England, performed their duty well. 18 On opening the dispatches to the governor, it was found that the British ministry had resolved to coerce the colonies into submission. The royal governors were ordered to seize the arms and ammunition belonging to the several provinces, raise provincial troops, if possible, and prepare to receive an army of British regulars to aid them. Gage and Dunmore, we have seen, acted upon these instructions, but the patriots of Lexington, Concord, and Williamsburg thwarted them; and the Charleston Committee of Correspondence, giving those of North Carolina and Georgia timely warning, enabled them to assume an attitude of defense before it was too late. A messenger, with these dispatches, was sent to the Continental Congress, and this was the first intelligence which that body had of the real intentions of the British ministry.

A few days after the discovery of this scheme, intelligence of the battle at Lexington arrived. Suspicion now yielded to demonstration; there was no longer any uncertainty; the mother was arming against her children; war was inevitable. While patriotism, gushing in full fountain from the hearts of the people, made them proclaim boldly, We are ready! sober reason saw the disparity in the strength of the oppressor and the oppressed. England was then among the first powers of the earth; the colonies were weak in material defenses. The savage tribes on their whole western frontier might be brought, like thirsty blood-hounds, upon them; they possessed not a single ship of war; they had very little money; at the South, the slaves, by offers of freedom, might become enemies in their midst; a large number of wealthy, influential, and conscientious men were loyal to the king; the governors, being commanders-in-chief, had control of the provincial military forces, and, if their thoughts had for a moment turned to the Continental powers of Europe for aid, they were pressed back by the reflection that republican principles were at variance with the dominant sentiments of the Old World. And yet they did not hesitate. Pleading the justice of their cause, they leaned for support upon the strong arm of the God of Battles.

Having resolved on rebellion, the people of Charleston were not afraid to commit acts of legal treason. They justly considered that "all statutes of allegiance were repealed on the plains of Lexington, and the laws of self-preservation left to operate in full force." 19 They accordingly concerted a plan, like their brethren in Savannah (see page 520), to secure the arms and ammunition in the city, and on the night of the twentieth of April they seized upon all the munitions of war they could find. This was the first overt act of resistance, and at that hour began the Revolution, in earnest, in South Carolina.

A second session of the Provincial Congress commenced on the first of June. An association, drawn up by Henry Laurens, was adopted; 20 a permanent Committee of Safety was appointed; an issue of six hundred thousand dollars in paper money was ordered, and two regiments of infantry, of five hundred men each, and a battalion of cavalry or rangers, was directed to be raised. Some gentlemen were sent to the West Indies in a fast-sailing vessel to procure powder, and were fortunate enough to return with about ten thousand pounds.

After arranging military affairs, the attention of the Assembly was next turned to the organization of civil government. A Council of Safety was appointed to act during the recess of the Provincial Congress, to whom all the powers of that body were delegated. 21 They had the entire control of the army; were clothed with power to contract debts for the public service, and to issue coin and bills of credit. With this organization, civil government, upon a republican basis, was begun.

During the session of the Congress, Lord William Campbell, 22 who had been appointed governor, arrived at Charleston [July, 1775.], and was very courteously received. He professed great love for the people of the province, and assured them that he would use his best endeavors to promote the welfare of the inhabitants. Taught by experience to suspect the promises of royalty or its representatives, the people took measures to test his sincerity. The hollowness of his professions was proved, and turning their backs upon him, the patriots proceeded in their preparations for armed resistance. A vessel was fitted out by the Committee of Safety to attempt the capture of an English sloop laden with powder, then lying at St. Augustine. The expedition was successful, and fifteen thousand pounds of powder were brought safely into Charleston, though chased by cruisers sent out by Campbell. Part of this powder, which was sent to the Continental Congress for the use of the grand army, was used by Arnold and his men in the siege of Quebec at the close of 1775.

Early in September [1775.], Colonel Moultrie 23 proceeded to take possession of the fort on Sullivan’s Island, in Charleston harbor. The small garrison made no resistance, but fled to the British sloops of war Tamar and Cherokee, then lying in Rebellion Roads, in front of Fort Sullivan. Lord Campbell, perceiving the storm of popular indignation against him daily increasing, particularly when it became known that he was endeavoring to incite the Indians on the frontier to lift the hatchet for the king, and was tampering with the Tories in the interior, also fled to these vessels for shelter, and thus "abdicated" royal power [Sept. 14.].

The Provincial Council now increased the defenses of the city, and organized a company of artillery. They also took measures for fortifying the harbor. Lieutenant-colonel Motte, accompanied by Captains Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Bernard Elliot, and Francis Marion, took possession of Fort Johnson, on James Island, and on the same evening, Captain Heyward, with thirty-five of the Charleston artillery, went down and mounted three guns in the place of those spiked by the garrison when they fled. Three days afterward, the first Republican flag displayed at the South was floating over the main bastion of the fortress. 24


Colonel Moultrie soon afterward mounted some heavy cannons upon Haddrell’s Point, and all of the troops in and around Charleston were ordered [Sept. 16, 1775.] to hold themselves in readiness, for it was expected that the Tamar and Cherokee would, pursuant to Lord Campbell’s menaces, open a fire upon the town or the forts. A magazine was built at Dorchester, and ten thousand pounds of powder were sent thither. A small fort was also erected upon the Cheraw Hills, on the Great Pedee, to give confidence to the Whigs in that region where Campbell’s emissaries had been. In December, Moultrie, with a considerable force, took possession of Sullivan’s Island and commenced the erection of a fascine battery. This advantage, and a few long shots from Haddrell’s Point (where a battery had been erected), caused the Tamar and Cherokee to leave the harbor. Lord Campbell, despairing of maintaining his power, sailed to Jamaica. It was during these events upon the sea-board in the course of the autumn of 1775 that the organization of the Tories in Ninety-Six and other portions of the upper country, already noticed, occurred.


Colonel Gadsden assumed command of all the troops in Charleston early in 1776, and the Council of Safety commissioned him a brigadier. Colonel Moultrie was ordered [March, 1776.] to build a strong fort upon Sullivan’s Island, large enough to accommodate one thousand men, and to take the command there. 25 This measure was considered necessary, for certain intelligence had arrived that a fleet and army were preparing to assail Charleston, and a fort at the point designated would be a key to the harbor, with the aid of Fort Johnson. The civil government was revised; a temporary Constitution was formed 26 (the first in the colonies); and the Legislature was called the General Assembly of South Carolina. It possessed all powers of supreme local government.

John Rutledge 27 was chosen president, with the actual powers of governor; and other executive officers, with a privy and a legislative council, were elected by the new Assembly. 28 After passing a few necessary laws, the Assembly adjourned [April 11, 1776.], the Council of Safety and General Committee were dissolved, and a constitutional government began. The president and privy council were vested with executive power to administer the government during the recess of the Legislature.

Under the efficient direction of President Rutledge, Charleston and vicinity were well prepared for defense in the spring of 1776. About one hundred pieces of cannon were mounted at various points around the harbor, and a strong battery was erected at Georgetown. Brigadier-general John Armstrong, of Pennsylvania, arrived in April, and took the general command; and early in June [June 4.], Major-general Charles Lee reached Charleston. He had been sent by General Washington, after the expulsion of the British from Boston, to watch the movements of General Sir Henry Clinton, and to command the troops for the defense of the Southern sea-board. Lee’s known experience, skill, and bravery gave the people great confidence, and the alarm which had prevailed since the appearance of a British squadron off Dewees Island, five days before, soon subsided. Lee was indefatigable in his preparations for the defense of Charleston, and was generally satisfied with all the arrangements of the local authorities. The garrison at Fort Sullivan worked day and night to complete it, and when the British fleet appeared, about thirty heavy pieces of cannon were mounted upon it. 29

The British fleet bearing a land force, and both designed to act against the Southern colonies in the campaign of 1776, was commanded by Admiral Sir Peter Parker (portrayed on the next page). Its approach was providentially discovered in time 30 to allow the Carolinians to prepare for defense, and for Washington to dispatch Lee and Armstrong, officers of experience, to aid them. Parker reached the Cape Fear early in May, where he was joined by Sir Henry Clinton, from New York, who assumed the chief command of all the land troops. On the fourth of June, the day when General Lee arrived, the fleet appeared off Charleston bar, and several hundred land troops took possession of Long Island, which lies eastward of Sullivan’s Island, and is separated from it only by a narrow creek.

All was now activity among the patriots. The militia of the surrounding country obeyed the summons of Governor Rutledge with great alacrity, and flocked to the town. These, with the regular troops of South Carolina, and those of the Northern colonies who had come with Armstrong and Lee, made an available force of between five and six thousand men. Gadsden commanded the first regiment of South Carolina regulars at Fort Johnson, on James’s Island, three miles from Charleston; Colonel Moultrie those at Fort Sullivan; and Colonel Thomson, the advanced post on the east end of Sullivan’s Island. Thomson’s troops were chiefly riflemen. There was also a strong force at Haddrell’s Point, under the immediate command of General Lee. In the city, governor Rutledge, impelled by the necessities of the hour, and under the belief that an attempt would be made to pass the forts and land the troops in the city, pursued the rigorous course of martial law. Valuable stores on the wharves were torn down, and a line of defenses was made in their places. The streets near the water were barricaded, and, on account of the scarceness of lead, many window-sashes of that material were melted into bullets. He pressed into service seven hundred negroes with tools, who belonged to Loyalists; and seized, for the moment, the money and papers of the lukewarm. By these energetic measures the city was made strong in moral and physical material, and when the British fleet crossed the bar, all were ready to receive them.

While these preparations were in progress by the Republicans, Sir Henry Clinton was busy in arranging for a combined attack with the land and naval forces. He constructed two batteries upon Long Island, to confront those of Thomson upon Sullivan’s Island, and to cover the passage of his troops in boats and in fording from the former to the latter, for Fort Sullivan, the main work in the harbor, was the devoted mark for the first blow. Its garrison consisted of only three hundred and forty-four regulars and a few volunteer militia, and its only aid was an armed sloop, with powder, which was anchored off Haddrell’s Point, now Point Pleasant.


From an English Print.

At half past ten o’clock on the morning of the twenty-eighth of June, Sir Peter Parker, on board his flag-ship, the Bristol, made the signal for attack. His fleet immediately advanced, and, with springs on their cables, anchored in front of Fort Sullivan. 31 The Active, Bristol, Experiment, and Solebay led to the attack, and anchored nearest the fort. At the moment of anchoring, the fort poured a heavy fire upon them, and each vessel returned the compliment by delivering a broadside upon the little fortress, but with almost harmless effect upon the spongy palmetto logs. 32


It was a little before eleven o’clock when the action began, and terrible to the people of Charleston who looked upon the contest from balconies, roofs, and steeples, was the roar of three hundred cannons. To the little garrison the peril seemed great, yet they maintained their fire with precision and coolness. Perceiving the unfinished state of the fort on the western side, toward Charleston, Parker ordered the Sphynx, Actæon, and Syren to take a position in the channel on that side, so as to enfilade the garrison. Had they succeeded, surrender or certain destruction must have been the alternative for the Americans. The three vessels advanced to execute the orders, when they all struck upon a shoal called the Middle Ground, and while thus entangled a very destructive fire was poured upon them from the fort. The Sphynx got off with the loss of her bowsprit, and the Syren without much injury, and withdrew to another part of the harbor; but the Actæon was too thoroughly grounded to be moved. Simultaneously with the advance of the ships to the attack of Fort Sullivan, Clinton’s batteries upon Long Island, and some floating batteries in the creek, opened upon those of Thomson; and a portion of the British land forces embarked in boats under cover of their artillery, to force their way to assail the fort on the west, where it was unfinished, or at least to prevent Lee from sending re-enforcements or ammunition from Haddrell’s Point, across the bridge of boats which had now been constructed. Clinton’s whole regular force on Long Island was about two thousand troops, and between five and six hundred seamen. Colonel Thomson had only two cannons, but his riflemen were among the best marksmen in the state. He allowed Clinton’s flotilla to approach within musket shot, when he opened a destructive fire upon them from his battery and small arms. Several attempts to advance were made, and every time the sure marksmen of Carolina swept many from the boats, and Clinton was obliged to abandon his design. Lee, who had perceived the weakness of the fort on its western side, and penetrated the design of Clinton, observed this retrograde movement with joy; and when at about two o’clock, the garrison ceased firing, on account of the exhaustion of ammunition, he sent a sufficient supply from Haddrell’s Point and a schooner, and the defensive cannonade was resumed.

The fire from the ships was almost incessant, and yet the patriots in the fort were firm. 33 Their shots were dreadfully effective, and the ships were severely battered and maimed. Anxiously the seamen and marines turned their eyes toward the East, expecting aid from Clinton, but it did not appear. For ten long hours, while the iron storm from the fort was beating their ships in pieces, and sweeping whole ranks from the decks, scarcely a ray of hope appeared for the seamen; and when the sun went down, its last gleams were upon the scarlet coats and burnished arms of the British, yet upon Long Island, and kept at bay by Thomson’s batteries and sure-aimed riflemen. The contest continued without intermission until sunset, when it slackened, and at half past nine in the evening it entirely ceased. At eleven o’clock the shattered vessels slipped their cables and withdrew to Five Fathom Hole, about two miles northeastward of Fort Johnson, except the Actæon, which remained aground. Early the next morning the garrison fired a few shots at her, which were returned. At the same time, Clinton made another effort to cross from Long Island to Sullivan’s Island, but Thomson confronted him with such hot volleys, that he was obliged to retreat behind his batteries. Perceiving further efforts to reduce the fort, especially in his crippled condition, to be futile, Parker ordered the crew of the Actæon to set fire to and abandon her. They did so, leaving the colors flying and guns loaded. When they had left, the Americans boarded her, secured her colors as a trophy, carried off the ship’s bell, fired her guns at the Bristol, loaded three boats with stores, and set her on fire. Within half an hour after they left her, she blew up.

This battle was one of the severest during the whole war, and while it redounded to the military glory of the Americans, and greatly increased the patriot strength at the South, it was regarded by the British as peculiarly disastrous, aside from the actual loss of life and property in the action. 34 This discomfiture occurred at a time when the British were desirous of making the most favorable impression here and in Europe, for Lord Howe was then on his way as a commissioner to settle all disputes, or as a commander to prosecute the war. His course was to be determined by circumstances. This was the first time that the Americans had encountered a regular British fleet. The fact that it had been terribly shattered and driven to sea was very humiliating to the vanquished, and, at the same time, encouraging to the victors, at a moment when a brilliant act like this was of immense moment to the Republican cause.

On the morning after the battle, the British fleet left Charleston harbor, and proceeded to Long Island to recruit. Almost every vessel was obliged to remain for that purpose. On the thirtieth, General Clinton, with Cornwallis and the troops, escorted by the Solebay frigate, with Sir Peter Parker on board, sailed for New York with a heavy heart.

The joy of the Americans on account of this victory was unbounded, and the praises of the actors were upon all lips. On the day when Clinton sailed [June 30.], the lady of Bernard Elliot 35 presented Colonel Moultrie’s regiment with a pair of elegant colors. These were the standards which were afterward planted on the walls of Savannah by Bush, Hume, and Jasper. 36 They were afterward captured when Charleston fell, and were seen years after the war, among other British trophies, in the Tower of London. 37 The Legislature of South Carolina changed the name of the fort from Sullivan to Moultrie, in honor of its brave defender; and on the twentieth of July [1776.], the Continental Congress passed a resolution of thanks to General Lee, Colonels Moultrie and Thomson, and the officers and men under their command. 38

For three years after the repulse of the British from Charleston, South Carolina enjoyed comparative quiet while the war was raging at the North. Yet her sons were not idle listeners to the roar of cannons in New England, New York, and Pennsylvania, but flocked thither in hundreds, under brave leaders, to do battle for their common country. The patriots of that war were not divided by sectional interests. There was no line of demarkation over which men hesitated to pass. A desire for the happiness of the New England people was a twin sentiment with love for his own fireside, in the heart of the Carolinian and Georgian; and the bosom of the "Green Mountain Boy" heaved as strongly with emotions of joy when a blow for freedom was successfully dealt among the rice lands of the South, as when the shout of victory went up from the heights of Saratoga.

Upon the western frontiers of the South, the Indians, stirred up by Tory emissaries, gave the people some trouble; but from the day when the Declaration of Independence was read at Liberty Tree, 39 until, the opening of the campaign of 1779, the people of Charleston continued in quiet pursuit of lucrative commerce. Yet prosperity did not stifle aspirations for freedom, nor the accumulation of riches cause hesitation when danger drew nigh and demanded sacrifices. The spirit of liberty burned with a light as steady and eternal as the polar star, even amid the clouds and darkness of intensest sufferings which ensued.


I visited Sullivan’s Island on the day of my departure from Charleston [January 29, 1849.], and sauntered for an hour upon the beach where the old Palmetto Fort once stood. Nothing of it now remains but a few of the logs imbedded in the drifting sand. The modern Fort Moultrie is not a large, but a well-constructed fortification. The island is sandy, and bears no shrub or tree spontaneously except the Palmetto, and these are not seen in profusion. On the northwestern side of the island are the remains of an old causeway or bridge, extending to the main, nearly upon the site of a bridge of boats, which was used during the battle in 1776. It was constructed after that conflict, at the cost of Christopher Gadsden, and was called Gadsden’s Bridge. The British, when they afterward possessed Charleston, used it to pass over to their lazaretto, which they erected on Sullivan’s Island. This lazaretto was upon the site of the present Episcopal church in Moultrieville. A part of the old brick wall was yet standing when I visited the spot in 1849.

We have already considered the demonstration made by the British at the South, in the capture of Savannah at the close of 1778, and also the events in Georgia after the arrival of General Lincoln as commander-in-chief of the Southern army. Lincoln reached Charleston on the fourth of December [1779.], and proceeded immediately to re-enforce the scattered army of Howe, after the fall of Savannah [April 25.]. On the first intimation of the designs of the British upon the South, North Carolina raised about two thousand men, and placed them under Generals Ashe and Rutherford. They did not arrive in time to aid Howe at Savannah, but helped to augment the small force of Lincoln. These had entered the state; and to the concentration of these troops, and the raising of South Carolina militia, Lincoln bent all his energies.

He chose Major Thomas Pinckney 41 as his chief aid, and on the twenty-sixth of December, he marched from Charleston with about three hundred levies of that vicinity, and about nine hundred and fifty levies and militia of North Carolina, for the Georgia frontier. On the way, they met the flying Americans from the disastrous battle at the capital of Georgia, and on the third of January Lincoln established his head-quarters at Purysburg, on the north side of the Savannah River. He had been promised seven thousand men; he had only about fourteen hundred. He had been promised supplies, instead of which the new levies, and the militia conscripts who were brought to head-quarters, were destitute of tents, camp utensils, or lead, and had very little powder, and no field-pieces. The South Carolina militia, under Richardson, were insubordinate, and rapidly melted away by desertion, or became useless by actual refusal to be controled by any but their immediate commanders. Happily, their places were supplied by the arrival of General Ashe with eleven hundred North Carolinians at the close of January [Jan. 31, 1779.].

While Lincoln was recruiting and organizing an army near Purysburg, General Prevost joined Campbell at Savannah, with seven hundred regular troops from St. Augustine. Hoping to follow up Campbell’s success by striking Charleston, he sent forward Major Gardiner with two hundred men, to take post on Port Royal Island, within about sixty miles of the capital of South Carolina. General Moultrie, with about an equal number of Charleston militia, and two field-pieces, attacked and defeated Gardiner on the morning of the third of February [1779.]. The British lost almost all of their officers, and several privates were made prisoners. The loss of the Americans was trifling. Gardiner, with the remnant of his force, escaped in boats and fled to Savannah, while Moultrie, crossing to the main, pressed forward and joined Lincoln at Purysburg.

Strengthened by a party of Creeks and Cherokees, for whom a communication with Savannah was opened by the defeat of General Ashe on Brier Creek (see page 507), and informed that Lincoln, with his main army, was far up the river, near Augusta, Prevost determined to attempt the capture of Charleston. With about two thousand chosen troops, and a considerable body of Loyalists and Indians, he crossed the Savannah at Purysburg [April 25.], and pushed forward by the road nearest the coast, toward Charleston.

When Lincoln was informed of this movement of Prevost, he considered it a feint to draw him from Georgia. With that view he crossed the Savannah, and for three days marched down its southern side, directly toward the capital of that state, hoping either to bring Prevost back or to capture Savannah. In the mean while, he detached Colonel Harris, with three hundred of his best light troops, to re-enforce Moultrie, who was retreating before Prevost, toward Charleston. Governor Rutledge, who had gone up to Orangeburg to embody the militia, advanced at the same time with six hundred men of that district, and when Lincoln recrossed the Savannah in pursuit of Prevost, the interesting spectacle was presented of four armies pressing toward Charleston. 42

When Prevost commenced his invading march, Charleston was quite unprepared for an attack by land. The ferries of the Ashley were not fortified, and only some weak defenses guarded the Neck. Intelligence of the invasion aroused all the energies of the civil and military authorities in the city, and night and day the people labored in casting up intrenchments across the Neck from the Ashley to the Cooper, under the general direction of the Chevalier De Cambray, an accomplished French engineer. The Assembly, then in session, gave Rutledge power only a little less than was conferred upon him a few months afterward, when he was made dictator for the time, and the utmost energy was every where displayed. Lieutenant-governor Bee, with the council, aided the efforts to fortify the town by necessary legal orders. All the houses in the suburbs were burned, and within a few days a complete line of fortifications with abatis was raised across the Neck, on which several cannons were mounted. Colonel Marion, who commanded the garrison at Fort Moultrie, was re-enforced, and the battery on Haddrell’s Point was well manned. These arrangements were effected before the arrival of Prevost, who halted, in hesitation, for three days at Pocataligo, on account of conflicting intelligence. This delay was fatal to his success, for it allowed the people of Charleston time to prepare for an attack.

Lincoln’s distance from Charleston with the main army, the retreat of Moultrie, and the terror inspired by the torch of the invader, who went on plundering and burning, caused great numbers to remain on their plantations, and to take protection from Prevost. On the evening of the ninth of May [1779.], he encamped on the south side of the Ashley River. On that and the following day, Moultrie, Rutledge, and Harris arrived with their respective forces. That of Moultrie had dwindled from one thousand men to about six hundred. He immediately took command of all the Continental troops, while Rutledge claimed the control of the militia. This produced some confusion, but no serious misunderstanding.

On the morning of the eleventh of May, Prevost, with nine hundred regulars, crossed the Ashley and appeared before the works on Charleston Neck. He left his main army and heavy baggage on the south side of the river, and approaching within cannon shot of the lines, summoned the garrison to surrender. During the forenoon, Count Pulaski, who was stationed at Haddrell’s Point with his legion, crossed the Cooper River and entered the town, and at noon he led his infantry to attack the British advanced guard. He was repulsed with great loss. A large portion of his infantry were killed, wounded, or made prisoners. The commander himself escaped with difficulty to the American lines, under cover of some discharges of cannon.


From a drawing by Leitch.

Prevost now advanced to within a mile of the American works, when his progress was checked by a sharp cannonade. He renewed his demand for a surrender, and the remainder of the day was spent in the passage of flags. Aware of the approach of Lincoln, the Americans desired procrastination, and asked time to deliberate. Prevost refused it, and the city was filled with consternation in expectation of an assault. The civil authorities, trembling in view of the horrors of a cannonade, sent a proposition to Prevost to guarantee the neutrality of South Carolina until the close of the war, and then allow it to follow the fate of its neighbors, on condition that the royal army should withdraw. Prevost rejected the proposition, and insisted that, as the garrison were in arms, they should surrender prisoners of war. To this Moultrie and the military objected, and every moment until past midnight a cannonade was expected. 43 Not an eye closed in slumber, and at three o’clock in the morning, at the solicitation of the civil authorities, Moultrie sent a message to Prevost, renewing the proposition of the previous day. It was rejected, and all anxiously awaited the dawn, expecting a terrible assault. The morning broke clear and serene, but the eyes of the sentinels upon the batteries, and of anxious watchers upon the house tops, could perceive no traces of a beleaguing army. For a moment it appeared as if all had been disturbed by a terrible dream, but as the sun arose, the scarlet uniforms and burnished arms of the invaders were seen south of the Ashley. The British host was crossing to James’s Island. The mystery was soon solved. During the night, Prevost was informed that Lincoln, with four thousand men, was pressing on toward Charleston, and he feared that his force, hardly sufficient to attack the town with hopes of success, would be annihilated if placed between two fires. 44 He prudently withdrew, and, perceiving his pathway of approach intercepted by Lincoln, he essayed to escape back to Savannah, by way of the islands along the coast.

Lincoln soon approached, and both armies encamped within thirty miles of Charleston, the Americans upon the main, and the British upon John’s Island. 45 There they continued for a month, Prevost fearing to move forward, and Lincoln not feeling quite strong enough to pass over and attack him. Finally, an attempt to dislodge the British was made. They had cast up works at Stono Ferry, and garrisoned them with eight hundred men, under Colonel Maitland, the brave officer who died at Savannah a few months later. These were attacked on the morning of the twentieth of June by about twelve hundred of Lincoln’s troops. The contest was severe, and for an hour and twenty minutes the battle was waged with skill and valor. A re-enforcement for Maitland appeared, and the Americans perceived it to be necessary to retreat. When they fell back, the whole garrison sallied out, but the American light troops covered the retreat so successfully, that all of the wounded patriots were brought off. The Americans lost in killed and wounded, one hundred and forty-six, besides one hundred and fifty-five missing. Of the killed and wounded twenty-four were officers. The British loss was somewhat less. Three days afterward, the British evacuated the post at Stono Ferry, and retreated from island to island, until they reached Beaufort, on Port Royal. After establishing a post on Ladies’ Island, between Port Royal and St. Helena, they returned in boats to Savannah and St. Augustine. 46 The heat was now becoming intense, and Lincoln’s army dispersed, with the exception of about eight hundred men, with whom he retired to Sheldon to prepare for the opening of another campaign in October. Thus closed, ingloriously to the invaders, the second attempt of the British to possess themselves of the capital of South Carolina.



1 We have already met Sergeant William Jasper while securing the Carolina flags upon the parapet of the Spring Hill redoubt at Savannah (see page 532), and there sealing his patriotism with his life’s blood. Jasper was one of the bravest of the brave. After his exploits at Fort Moultrie, which we shall consider hereafter, his commander, General Moultrie, gave him a sort of roving commission, certain that he would always be usefully employed. Jasper belonged to the second South Carolina regiment, and was privileged to select from his corps such men as he pleased to accompany him in his enterprises. Bravery and humanity were his chief characteristics, and while he was active in the cause of his country, he never injured an enemy unnecessarily. While out upon one of his excursions, when the British had a camp at Ebenezer, all the sympathies of his heart were aroused by the distress of a Mrs. Jones; whose husband, an American by birth, was confined in irons for deserting the royal cause after taking a protection. She felt certain that he would be hanged, for, with others, he was to be taken to Savannah for that purpose the next morning. Jasper and his only companion (Sergeant Newton) resolved to rescue Jones and his fellow-prisoners. Concealing themselves in the thick bushes near the spring (at which they doubted not the guard of eight men would halt), they awaited their approach. As expected, the guard halted to drink. Only two of them remained with the prisoners, while the others, leaning their muskets against a tree, went to the spring. Jasper and his companion then leaped from their concealment, seized two of the guns, shot the two sentinels, and took possession of the remainder of the muskets. The guards, unarmed, were powerless, and surrendered. The irons were knocked off the wrists of the prisoners, muskets were placed in their hands, and the custodians of Jones and his fellow-patriots were taken to the American camp at Purysburg the next morning, themselves prisoners of war. Jones was restored to his wife, child, and country, and for that noble deed posterity blesses the name of Sergeant Jasper. That name is indelibly written on the page of history, and the people of Savannah have perpetuated it by bestowing it upon one of the beautiful squares of their city.

2 There were about fifty families who went from the Port Royal settlement to the Ashley River, and about the same number from the Northern colony accompanied Governor Yeamans thither.

3 Governor Yeamans caused a number of African slaves to be brought from Barbadoes, and in the year 1672 the slave system in South Carolina was commenced.

4 The Indian name for the Ashley was Ke-a-wah; for the Cooper, E-ti-wan. The city has a fine sheltered harbor, with the sea six miles distant.

5 The city of Charleston was laid out in 1680 by John Culpepper, who had been surveyor general of the Northern colony of the Carolinas, but was then a fugitive, on account of his participation in an insurrectionary movement there. The streets were laid out nearly at right angles, and the town site was completely inclosed with a line of fortifications. A plan of these fortifications, and of the city at that time, is published in Johnson’s Traditions and Reminiscences of the Revolution, page 3.

6 Simm’s History of South Carolina, page 64.

7 See page 356.

8 Previous to this period, some important settlements were made. Between the years 1730 and 1740, an Irish settlement was planted near the Santee, to which was given the name of Williamsburg township. At the same time, some Swiss emigrants, under John Pury, settled upon the northeast side of the Savannah, and founded the village of Purysburg. From 1748 to 1755, great numbers of Palatines (Germans) were introduced, and settled Orangeburgh and other places upon the Congaree and Wateree. After the battle of Culloden in 1745, many Scotch Highlanders came over. Some of them settled in South Carolina, but a larger portion located at Cross Creek (Fayetteville), in North Carolina. The greatest influx of settlement was after the treaty of Paris, in 1763.

9 "If you agree to the proposition of composing a Congress from the different British colonies," said the member, "what sort of a dish will you make. New England will throw in fish and onions; the Middle States flax-seed and flour; Maryland and Virginia will add tobacco; North Carolina pitch, tar, and turpentine; South Carolina rice and indigo; and Georgia will sprinkle the whole composition with saw-dust. Such an absurd jumble will you make if you attempt to form a union among such discordant materials as the thirteen British provinces." A shrewd country member replied, "I would not choose the gentleman who made the objection for my cook, but, nevertheless, I would venture to assert that if the colonies proceed judiciously in the appointment of deputies to a Continental Congress, they would prepare a dish fit to be presented to any crowned head in Europe." – Ramsay.

10 In a letter from Charleston, published in Weyman’s New York Gazette, it is stated that on the morning of the nineteenth of October a gallows was discovered in the middle of Broad Street, where Church Street intersects (then the central part of the town), on which were suspended an effigy representing a stamp distributor, and another to impersonate the devil. Near by was suspended a boot (Lord Bute), with a head upon it, covered by a blue Scotch bonnet. To these effigies labels were affixed. Upon one was the warning, "Whoever shall dare to pull down these effigies had better been born with a mill-stone about his neck, and cast into the sea." At evening they were taken down, and paraded through the street by about two thousand persons, until they came to the house of George Saxby, in Tradd Street, an appointed stamp distributor, where they made a great noise, and injured his windows and other portions of his house, to "the value of five pounds sterling." No other riotous feelings were manifested. Nine days afterward, Saxby and Caleb Lloyd made oath at Fort Johnson that they would have nothing more to do with the stamps.

11 This tree stood within the square now bounded by Charlotte, Washington, Boundary, and Alexander streets. This continued to be the favorite meeting-place until the Revolution was in full progress. Beneath that tree the Declaration of Independence was first read to the assembled people of Charleston. Its history and associations were hateful to the officers of the crown, and when Sir Henry Clinton took possession of the city in 1780, he ordered it to be cut down, and a fire lighted over the stump by piling its branches around it. Many cane heads were made from the remains of the stump in after years. A part of it was sawed into thin boards and made into a neat ballot-box, and presented to the " ’76 Association." This box was destroyed by fire, at the rooms of the association, during the great conflagration in 1838.

12 This statue was of marble, and stood at the intersection of Broad and Meeting Streets. During the siege of Charleston, in April, 1780, a British cannon-ball from James’s Island passed up Meeting Street, struck this statue, and broke off its left arm. Several years after the war, the statue, being considered an obstruction, was rudely pulled down by some workmen employed for the purpose, when the head was broken off, and it was otherwise mutilated. Good taste would have restored the arm, and kept the statue in its place until this day.

13 The following are the names of the Sons of Liberty of Charleston, who met with Gadsden, under Liberty Tree, in 1766, and with linked hands pledged themselves to resist when the hour for resistance should arrive. They are published by Johnson from the original record of George Flagg, one of the party: General Christopher Gadsden, William Johnson, Joseph Verree, John Fullerton, James Brown, Nathaniel Libby, George Flagg, Thomas Coleman, John Hall, William Field, Robert Jones, John Lawton, Uzziah Rogers, John Calvert, Henry Bookless, J. Barlow, Tunis Tebout, Peter Munclear, William Trusler, Robert Howard, Alexander Alexander, Edward Weyman, Thomas Searl, William Laughton, Daniel Cannon, and Benjamin Hawes. The last survivor, George Flagg, died in 1824.

14 Christopher Gadsden was born in Charleston in 1724. He was educated in England, where he became accomplished in the learned languages. He returned to America at the age of sixteen, and entered the counting-house of a merchant in Philadelphia, where he remained until he was twenty-one years of age. He then went to England, and on his return engaged in mercantile pursuits in Charleston. He was successful, and was soon able to purchase all of the property known as Ansonborough, which his father lost in play with Lord Anson. His house was upon the lot now (1848) owned by Mrs. Isaac Ball, and the kitchen is yet standing on the lot at the northeast corner of East Bay and Vernon Streets. Mr. Gadsden was one of the earliest opponents of Great Britain in South Carolina, and, as the Revolution advanced, was one of its firmest supporters. He was a delegate in the first Continental Congress in 1774, and his name is attached to the American Association agreed to by that body. In 1775, he was elected senior colonel and commandant of three South Carolina regiments, and was subsequently made a brigadier. He was in the engagement at the siege of Charleston in 1776. He was one of the framers of the Constitution of South Carolina, adopted in 1778. He resigned his commission in 1779, and when Charleston was taken by Clinton, in 1780, he was lieutenant governor; as such, he signed the capitulation. Three months afterward, he was taken, with others, and cast into the loathsome prison at St. Augustine (an act in open violation of the terms of capitulation), because he would not submit to indignity at the hands of Governor Tonyn. There he suffered for eleven months, until exchanged in June, 1781, when he sailed to Philadelphia with other prisoners. He returned to Charleston, and was a member of the Assembly convened at Jacksonburg in the winter of 1782. He opposed the confiscation of the property of the Loyalists, and thereby won their esteem. He was elected governor of the state in 1782, but declined the honor, and went into the retirement of private life. He died on the twenty-eighth of August, 1805, at the age of eighty-one years.

15 Henry Middleton, John Rutledge, Christopher Gadsden, Thomas Lynch, and Edward Rutledge, were appointed delegates.

16 Ramsay’s History of South Carolina, i., 18; Moultrie’s Memoirs, i., 10. The place of meeting was at a large tavern on the northeast corner of Broad and Church Streets, commonly called, at that day, "The Corner."

17 The following gentlemen composed the Charleston committee: Christopher Gadsden, Isaac Huger, William Gibbes, William Parker, Aaron Locock, Roger Smith, Maurice Simons, John Poang, Thomas Legaré, Sen., Edward Simons, Edward Blake, Samuel Prioleau, Jr., Hugh Swinton, John Champneys, William Host, John Brewton, Alexander Chisholme, Alexander Chovin, William Livingston, and John Baddeley.

18 This committee consisted of William Henry Drayton, John Neufville, and Thomas Corbett. After the mail was carried to the post-office, and before it could be opened, this committee went thither, and demanded it from Stevens, the postmaster, in the name of the Provincial Congress. Stevens allowed them to take it, under protest. It was then carried to the State House and opened. The packages for the governors were retained and opened; the private letters, with seals unbroken, were returned to the post-office.

19 Ramsay, i., 30.

20 The core of this document consisted in the declaration of those who signed it, that they were "ready to sacrifice life and fortune to secure the freedom and safety of South Carolina; holding all persons inimical to the liberties of the colonies who shall refuse to subscribe to the association."

21 This council consisted of Henry Laurens, Charles Pinckney, Rawlins Lowndes, Thomas Ferguson, Miles Brewton, Arthur Middleton, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Bee, John Huger, James Parsons, William Henry Drayton, Benjamin Elliott, and William Williams.

22 Lord Campbell was the third brother of the Duke of Argyle. He had married Sarah Izard, the sister of Ralph Izard, who belonged to the richest family in the province. The residence of Lord Campbell was on Meeting Street, now (1851) owned and occupied by Judge D. E. Huger. Soon finding his residence in Charleston unsafe, he escaped to a British vessel in the harbor, leaving his family behind. Lady Campbell was treated with great respect, but finally she too went on board the vessel, and was landed at Jamaica. The next year (1776), Campbell was on board the Bristol in the attack upon Charleston, and, while fighting on the quarter-deck, he was wounded. He died from the effects of his wounds, two years afterward.

23 William Moultrie was a native of South Carolina. He was born in 1730. We find him first in public service as an officer, in the expedition against the Cherokees in 1760. He was also in subsequent expeditions against that unhappy people. When the Revolution broke out, he was among the earliest in South Carolina to take the field on the Republican side. His defense of the fort on Sullivan’s Island in 1776, gave him great eclat, and he was promoted to brigadier. He gained a battle over the British near Beaufort in 1779, and in May, 1780, was second in command when Charleston was besieged. He went to Philadelphia while a prisoner of war, and did not return to South Carolina until 1782. He was several times chosen governor of the state, and retired from public life only when the infirmities of age demanded repose. He published his Memoirs of the Revolution, relating to the war in the South, in two volumes, in 1802, printed by David Longworth, of New York. Governor Moultrie died at Charleston on the twenty-seventh of September, 1805, at the age of seventy-five years.

24 Moultrie, in his Memoirs, says, "As there was no national flag at the time, I was desired by the Council of Safety to have one made, upon which, as the state troops were clothed in blue, and the fort was garrisoned by the first and second regiments, who wore a silver crescent on the front of their caps, I had a large blue flag made, with a crescent in the dexter corner, to be in uniform with the troops. This was the first American flag displayed in the South." – Vol. i., p. 90.

25 This fort was constructed of palmetto logs, in sections, and filled in with sand. The merlons were sixteen feet thick, and sufficiently high to cover the men from the fire that might be directed upon them from the tops of the British vessels. It was first called Fort Sullivan, being upon the island of that name, but was named Fort Moultrie, after its gallant defense by its commander, in June, 1776.

When I visited its site (a portion of which is covered by the modern strong works of Fort Moultrie) in 1849, some of the palmetto logs were visible, imbedded in the sand. The annexed engraving shows the plan of the fort when attacked in June, 1776, before it was completed. The drawing of the fort in the text is from a large plan by an English engineer, who was attached to the British fleet.

26 This Constitution was to remain in force until October of the same year.

27 John Rutledge was a native of Ireland, and came to America with his father in 1735. He studied law at the Temple in London, and returned to Charleston in 1761. He espoused the Republican cause at an early period of the dispute, and was a member of the first Continental Congress in 1774. When the temporary Constitution of South Carolina was adopted in the spring of 1776, he was appointed president and commander-in-chief of the colony. When the new and permanent Constitution was established two years later, he refused his assent, because he thought it too democratic. His prejudices yielded, however, and in 1779 he was chosen governor under it, with the temporary power of a dictator. He took the field at the head of the militia, and with great skill and energy managed the affairs of the state until the fall of Charleston in May, 1780. After the war, he was made judge of the Court of Chancery, and in 1789 a judge of the Supreme Court of the United States. He was appointed chief justice of South Carolina in 1791, and in 1796 was elevated to the seat of chief justice of the United States. He died in July, 1800.

28 Henry Laurens was elected vice-president; William Henry Drayton, chief justice; * Alexander Moultrie, attorney general; John Huger, secretary; Hugh Rutledge, judge of the admiralty; and James Parsons, William H. Drayton, John Edwards, Charles Pinckney, Thomas Ferguson, and Rawlins Lowndes, members of the Privy Council.

* In April, about a month after his appointment, Chief-justice Drayton delivered an able charge to the Grand Jury on the subject of independence. Its effects were powerful, salutary, and extensive. In South Carolina its arguments convinced the dubious, and its boldness, both of reason and expression, strengthened the feeble and upheld the wavering. It was published in all of the Whig papers of the Northern colonies; was commented upon by the London press, and received the warmest expressions of approbation from the friends of the colonists every where.

29 General Moultrie says that Lee ordered a bridge of boats to be constructed for a retreat. There were not boats enough, and empty hogsheads, with planks across, were tried, hut without success. Lee was very anxious on this point, and felt that in case of attack, the garrison must be sacrificed. "For my part," says Moultrie, "I never was uneasy on not having a retreat, because I never imagined that the enemy could force me to that necessity."

30 Early in April, Lord Dunmore sent a boat to Annapolis, with dispatches for Governor Eden, from Lord Dartmouth. James Barron, then cruising in the Chesapeake, captured this boat and conveyed the papers to Williamsburg. Germain’s communication revealed the whole plan of operations. It was dated December 23, 1775.

31 The British vessels brought into action were the Bristol and Experiment, of fifty guns each; the frigates Active, Solebay, Actæon, Syren, and Sphynx, of twenty-eight guns each; the Thunder-bomb, and Ranger, sloop, each of twenty-eight guns; and the Friendship, an armed vessel of twenty-two guns.

32 The palmetto is peculiar to the low sandy shores of the Southern States. It grows from twenty to forty feet in height, without branches, terminating in a large tuft of very long leaves. The wood is very porous, and a bullet or cannon-ball, on entering it, makes no extended fracture. It becomes buried, without injuring adjacent parts.

33 Burke, in his Annual Register, gave the following graphic account of the naval engagement and the fort: "While the continued thunder from the ships seemed sufficient to shake the firmness of the bravest enemy, and daunt the courage of the most veteran soldier, the return made by the fort could not fail of calling for the respect, as well as of highly incommoding the brave seamen of Britain. In the midst of that dreadful war of artillery, they stuck with the greatest firmness and constancy to their guns, fired deliberately and slowly, and took a cool and effective aim. The ships suffered accordingly; they were torn to pieces, and the slaughter was dreadful. Never did British valor shine more conspicuous, and never did our marines, in an engagement of the same nature with any foreign enemy, experience as rude an encounter. The springs of the Bristol’s cable being cut by the shot, she lay for some time exposed in such a manner to the enemy’s fire as to be most dreadfully raked. The brave Captain Morris, after receiving a number of wounds, which would have sufficiently justified a gallant man in retiring from his station, still with a noble obstinacy disdained to quit his duty, until his arm being at length shot off, he was carried away in a condition which did not afford a possibility of recovery. It is said that the quarter-deck of the Bristol was at one time cleared of every person but the commodore, who stood alone, a spectacle of intrepidity and firmness which have seldom been equaled, never exceeded. The others on that deck were either killed or carried down to have their wounds dressed. Nor did Captain Scott, of the Experiment, miss his share of the danger or glory, who, besides the loss of an arm, received so many other wounds, that his life was at first despaired of."

34 The loss on board of the ships was frightful. Every man stationed on the quarter-decks of the vessels, at the beginning of the action, was either killed or wounded. The commodore suffered a slight contusion. Captain Morris soon afterward died of his wounds. Forty men were killed and seventy-one wounded, on board the Bristol. The Experiment had twenty-three killed and seventy-six wounded. Her commander, Captain Scott, lost an arm. Lord William Campbell, the last royal governor of the province, who served as a volunteer, was badly wounded at the beginning of the action. The whole loss of the British, in killed and wounded, was two hundred and twenty-five. The Bristol had not less than seventy balls put through her. When the spring of her cable was cut, she swung round with her stern toward the fort, and instantly every gun that could be brought to bear upon her hurled its iron balls upon her. At the beginning of the action, Moultrie gave the word, "Mind the commodore and the fifty gun ships!" These were the principal sufferers. Although the Thunder-bomb cast more than fifty shells into the fort, not one of them did serious damage. There was a large moat, filled with water, in the center of the fort, which received nearly all of the shells, and extinguished the fusees before the fire reached the powder. Others were buried in the sand, and did no harm. Only ten of the garrison were killed and twenty-two wounded. Most of these were injured by shots which passed through the embrasures. Moultrie says that, after the battle, they picked up, in and around the fort, twelve hundred shot of different calibre that were fired at them, and a great number of thirteen inch shells.

During the action, Sergeant William Jasper, whom we have already met at the Spring, near Savannah, and witnessed his death while planting the Carolina flag upon the parapet of the British works, at the siege of that town, performed a daring feat. At the commencement of the action, the flag-staff was cut away by a ball from a British ship, and the Crescent flag of South Carolina, that waved opposite the Union flag upon the western bastion, fell outside, upon the beach. Jasper leaped the parapet, walked the length of the fort, picked up the flag, fastened it upon a sponge staff, and in the midst of the iron hail pouring upon the fortress, and in sight of the whole fleet, he fixed the flag firmly upon the bastion. Three cheers greeted him as he ascended to the parapet and leaped, unhurt, within the fort. On the day after the battle, Governor Rutledge visited the fort, and rewarded Jasper for his valor by presenting him with his own handsome small sword which hung at his side, and thanked him in the name of his country. He offered him a lieutenant’s commission, but the young hero, who could neither read nor write, modestly refused it, saying, "I am not fit to keep officer’s company; I am but a sergeant."

35 Mrs. Elliot is represented as one of "the most busy among the Revolutionary women, and always active among soldiers." She was a niece of Mrs. Rebecca Motte, the patriot widow of Orangeburg, mentioned on page 477, and during the whole war was a useful co-worker with her republican husband.

The wife of Charles Elliot, brother of Bernard Elliot, was also a glorious Whig. Her wit and repartee often scathed the proud feelings of the British officers, when the royal army occupied Charleston. On one occasion, Colonel Balfour was walking with her in her garden, when, pointing to a chamomile flower, he asked its name. "The rebel flower," she replied. "And why is it called the rebel flower?" asked the officer. "Because," replied Mrs. Elliot, "it always flourishes most when trampled upon."

36 See page 532.

37 Moultrie, i., 182. One of them was of fine blue silk, and the other of fine red silk, richly embroidered.

38 Journals, ii., 260.

39 Johnson (page 189) relates that on that occasion (fifth of August, 1776) the people of Charleston, young and old, of both sexes, assembled around Liberty Tree (see page 542) with all the military of the city and vicinity, drums beating and flags flying. The ceremonies were opened with prayer. The Declaration was then read by Major Bernard Elliot (whose lady presented the flags, mentioned on page 550), and were closed by an eloquent address by the Reverend William Percy, of the Protestant Episcopal Church. It was a hot day, and Mr. Percy’s black servant held an umbrella over his head and fanned him during the delivering of his address. Alluding to this, a British wag wrote:

"Good Mr. Parson, it is not quite civil
To be preaching rebellion, thus fanned by the devil."

40 This view is from the southwestern angle of Fort Sullivan, looking toward James’s Island. That angle, with cannons, a portion of the barracks, and the flag-staff, are seen on the right. The small building toward the left marks the center of the old Palmetto Fort. In the distance is seen Fort Sumter, and in the extreme distance, close by the angle of the fort, is seen the village upon the site of old Fort Johnson. Charleston bar, at the entrance of the harbor, is about six miles from the city. The width of the inner harbor, at its mouth, is about a mile wide. This is guarded by Forts Moultrie, Sumter, and Johnson, and by Castle Pinckney, a handsome work in front of the city, within the inner harbor.

41 Thomas Pinckney was born at Charleston on the twenty-third of October, 1750. His early years were passed in England. At the close of his studies there, he returned to Charleston, and, with his brother, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, was among the earliest and most efficient military patriots in the provincial regiment raised there. Assured of his talents and worth, Lincoln appointed him his aid, and in that capacity he served at the siege of Savannah by the Americans and French in October, 1779. He distinguished himself in the battle at Stono Ferry. He was aid-de-camp to General Gates in the battle near Camden, where he was wounded and made a prisoner. When sufficiently recovered, he was sent to Philadelphia. In 1787, Major Pinckney succeeded General Moultrie as governor of South Carolina; and in 1792, was appointed by Washington, Minister Plenipotentiary to the Court of St. James. In November, 1794, he was appointed Envoy Extraordinary to the Spanish court, and repaired to Madrid the following summer. He effected a treaty by which the free navigation of the Mississippi was secured to the United States. He returned to Charleston in 1796. At the beginning of the war of 1812, President Madison appointed him to the command of the Southern division of the army, and it was under General Pinckney that General Andrew Jackson distinguished himself. After the war, General Pinckney retired into private life. He died on the 2d of November, 1828, aged seventy-eight years. He married the daughter of Rebecca Motte.

42 Rutledge, with the men of Orangeburg; Moultrie pursued by Prevost; Prevost pursued by Lincoln; and Colonel Harris with his corps of light troops.

43 During the evening, an unfortunate accident deprived the state of the life and services of a brave officer. Having discovered a breach in the abatis, Governor Rutledge, without the knowledge of the garrison, sent out Major Benjamin Huger * and a small party to repair it. The garrison had lighted tar barrels in front of their lines to prevent a surprise, and by their light Huger and his men were discovered, and believed to be a party of the enemy. Immediately a fire of cannons, muskets, and rifles ran along almost the whole line, and poor Huger and twelve of his men were slain. The folly of having two commanders was perceived, and all military authority was immediately given to Moultrie. The cannonade alarmed the town, it being regarded as a prelude to something more dreadful.

* Benjamin was one of the five patriot brothers, who were active in revolutionary scenes. He was the gentleman who first received La Fayette on his arrival at Georgetown in 1777. His brother Isaac was a brigadier in the army under Greene; John was Secretary of the State of South Carolina; Daniel was a member of the Continental Congress; and Francis K. was quartermaster general of the Southern Department. Major Huger’s son, Francis K., married a daughter of General Thomas Pinckney, and was that officer’s adjutant general during the war of 1812.

44 According to an imperfect estimate, the number of American troops in the city was three thousand one hundred and eighty; the British force numbered about three thousand three hundred and sixty.

45 This island is separated from the main land by a narrow inlet, which is called Stono River. Over this, at a narrow place, there was then (and is still) a ferry, where the British cast up defensive works.

46 On their retreat across the fertile islands, on the Carolina coast, the British committed the most cruel depredations. The people hid their treasures, but the negroes, who had been promised freedom, repaired in great numbers to the British camp, and informed the soldiers where their master’s property was concealed. It is believed that in this incursion three thousand negroes were carried out of the state, many of whom were shipped to the West Indies and sold. Hundreds died of camp fever upon Otter Island, and for years afterward their bleaching bones strewed the ground thereon. The whole loss was more than four thousand, valued at two hundred and eighty thousand dollars. Houses were stripped of plate, jewelry, clothing, money, and every thing of value that could be carried away. Live-stock was wantonly slaughtered, and in a few cases females were violated by the brutal soldiery.



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