Siege of Charles Town - 1780

1780 Siege of Charles Town

The War for American Independence began well for the Patriots in the South.  In the city of Charles Town, South Carolina (known as “Charleston” after the war)—an unfinished palmetto fort withstood the cannon balls of the British fleet  in 1776. Men like William Moultrie, Francis Marion, William Jasper, and others became Revolutionary War heroes.  

Four years later—the American Revolution was deadlocked.  In the North, battles were won and lost with little effect. General Henry Clinton and the British high command decided they needed a “Southern Strategy.”  

The British decided to bring the war to the South because (1) they hadn’t really won any major victories and (2) there were a lot of loyalists in the South, particularly in the two Carolinas. If they captured the Southern colonies, the British knew they would have control over the most valuable colonies. More than 6,000 British troops were shipped from New York to Charles Town (view map). After a short siege, the city fell.

Soon the entire Continental Army of South Carolina surrendered, and Charles Town found itself under martial law. Paroles were revoked and rebels were ordered to swear an “oath of allegiance” to the British crown. Charles Town would supply the British army with provisions and become the base of operations to secure the interior of the Carolinas and achieve victory in the South.

 

Vocabulary Terms

Continental Army - created by the Second Continental Congress and commanded by George Washington.

Siege - a military operation in which enemy forces surround a town or building, cutting off essential supplies, with the aim of compelling the surrender of those inside