• Si Biggs

Capture of Fort Moultrie

Fort Moultrie is a series of fortifications on Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, built to protect the city of Charleston, South Carolina. The first fort, formerly named Fort Sullivan, built of palmetto logs, inspired the flag and nickname of South Carolina, as "The Palmetto State". The fort was renamed for the U.S. patriot commander in the Battle of Sullivan's Island, General William Moultrie. During British occupation, in 1780–1782, the fort was known as Fort Arbuthnot. On the 29th of April 1780, a brigade of 500 seamen and marines, under captains Hudson, Orde, and Gambier, landed at daybreak at Mount Pleasant, and finding that the enemy abandoned the battery, they marched immediately towards Lampriere's Point ; and on being relieved by the troops under colonel Ferguson, they returned to Mount Pleasant.

Fort Sullivan on June 28, 1776

It was now determined to make an attempt on Fort Moultrie ; and on the night of the 4th of May, 200 seamen and marines having embarked in the boats of the squadron under captains Hudson and Gambier, and passing the fort unobserved, landed before daylight. Immediate possession was taken of a redoubt on the east end of the island, whilst another division was ready to be transported thither from Mount Pleasant under captain Orde; but the garrison surrendered on receiving a summons from captain Hudson. On the 6th of May the third parallel was completed, close to the edge of the enemy's canal, and a sap was carried to the dam, by which means a great part of it was drained to the bottom.

Fort Moultrie in 1861.

Notwithstanding the fall of Fort Moultrie, and the possession of all the principal fords and ferries, the besieged continued to hold out with the same determination ; and on the 8th they persisted in refusing the terms which were again proposed by the British commanders. The batteries obtained such superiority over those of the garrison, that the besiegers, having gained the counterscarp of the part which flanked the canal, immediately passed it, and then began works extending towards the ditch of the place. The inhabitants now became so alarmed, that they induced general Lincoln to accept the terms proposed on the 8th, which stipulated that the rebel troops and sailors should remain prisoners of war until exchanged, and all the ships, stores, and guns to be immediately delivered up. On the 12th, major-general Leslie took possession of Charlestown, and about 6000 men surrendered themselves prisoners.


The total of the British troops employed under the earl of Cornwallis before Charlestown amounted to 7,550 men.

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