Events relating to the battle at the breach

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Doug MacIntyre TIMELINE March 13, 2011 Page


This research aid helps make sense of confusing historical accounts to create a reasoned reconstruction of the past. It is a work in progress. At least one source is listed for each entry. Notes [in brackets] refer to the Bibliography. Comments in italics are mine. Where sources differ, I attempt to reconcile conflicting accounts in the interest of accuracy. I welcome and appreciate corrections and suggestions.

January 1775

South Carolina's First Provincial Congress meets. Delegations from the province's various districts include many gentlemen who will be directly or indirectly involved in the 1776 Battle of Sullivan's Island and related events. The representatives are men such as Henry Laurens, Christopher Gadsden, Peter Timothy, William Tennent, John Rutledge, Francis Marion, William Moultrie, Daniel Horry, Charles C. Pinckney, William Bull, Gabriel Marion, James Mayson, Andrew Williamson, Edward Rutledge, Richard Richardson, Thomas Sumter, William Henry Drayton, Barnard Elliott, William Thomson, H.W. Harrington, and Samuel Wise. Colonel Charles Pinckney is elected President and Peter Timothy is elected Secretary. [Moultrie/Memoirs pp 14-18] The patriot leaders were well-acquainted. For example, Moultrie and Thomson had served together at least 15 years – as members of Colonial Assemblies, officers in the Cherokee War and commissioners to adjust the boundary between the Carolinas. Effective working relationships among these and other patriot leaders will contribute to simultaneous victories on opposite ends of Sullivan's Island in June 1776.

Spring 1775

In March, Patrick Henry gives his rousing speech, "Give me liberty or give me death". On April 19 patriot minutemen clash with British redcoats at Lexington and Concord. "The shot heard round the world" symbolizes the beginning of the Revolutionary War. In May Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys seize Fort Ticonderoga and the Second Continental Congress meets in Philadelphia. They name George Washington Commander in Chief of the American army. On June 17, the British win a costly victory as they drive the Americans from Breed's Hill in the Battle of Bunker Hill. British General Henry Clinton performs well.

June 1775

South Carolina's Provincial Congress forms three regiments: 1st commanded by Colonel Christopher Gadsden, 2nd commanded by Colonel William Moultrie, and 3rd (Rangers) commanded by Lieutenant Colonel William Thomson. Thomson "soon filled his regiment with many of the best riflemen in the state, he himself being the most practiced marksman in his command." (Johnson/Traditions pp 90-91)

Disagreement over Indian affairs is one of many issues dividing the British government and American patriots/revolutionaries. As tensions mount, Thomas Gage, the British general-in-chief for North America, writes to the Earl of Dartmouth, British Secretary of State for the American Department, arguing “we need not be tender of calling upon the Savages.” The ministry agrees, responding that the Indians should be made to “take up the hatchet” and punish “his Majesty’s rebellious subjects.” Soon, Stuart receives directions to prepare the southern natives for action, so as “to distress them [the rebels] all in their power." (Dennis/Native Americans pp 207 and 260)

July-December 1775

Royal Governors Josiah Martin of North Carolina and William Campbell of South Carolina appeal to Lord Dartmouth for military action to support loyalists in the south.  He is impressed and suggests that Sir William Howe, British Commander-in-Chief in North America, dispatch an expedition.  King George III is supportive and plans are developed.  (Bearss pp 1-2) A squadron of warships under the command of Commodore Sir Peter Parker is to be dispatched from the British Isles. Seven regiments of infantry and two companies of artillery under the command of Lord Charles Cornwallis will be aboard. When the fleet reaches Cape Fear, NC, Cornwallis will surrender command and a packet of sealed orders from the Secretary of State to Major General Henry Clinton. (Lipscomb/Lowcountry p 20) In November 1775, Lord George Germain replaces Dartmouth as Secretary of State for the American Department. He oversees the American War for Independence in that capacity under Prime Minister Lord North until 1782.

The 3rd Regiment of South Carolina is mobilized as "rangers", a mounted regiment of riflemen who patrol the backcountry and fight dismounted. [Scoggins/Brothers p 79] Lieutenant Colonel William Thomson is in command. In August, there is a near mutiny by some soldiers due to pay and conditions being less than promised by the officers who recruited them. The problem is resolved. The regiment provides support for the mission of William Henry Drayton and Reverend William Tennent to promote the patriot cause in upper South Carolina. They establish military presence and encourage citizens to join the Revolutionary Association for Public Defense. This organization of those committed to liberty becomes known as "The Association".

Elements of Thomson's regiment are involved in actions to subdue loyalists at Fort Charlotte, Ninety Six, and other locations. On December 22, Colonel Thomson commands about 1300 rangers and militia who capture loyalists at Great Cane Break in upper SC near present-day Greenville. [O'Kelley/Nothing p 71] Thomson and his officers and men gain more valuable combat experience under awful conditions during the very successful Snow Campaign. [Johnson Traditions p 91] [Salley/Orangeburg pp 286-338] Colonel Thomson and Captain Thomas Sumter work together. [Gregorie/Sumter pp 41-43]

Both sides seek to convince Indians as well as settlers that they can better serve their interests. Cherokees are the largest group of Indian people on the western frontier, in the piedmont and mountains of South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina. The Cherokees form an uneasy alliance with the British and loyalists. Cherokees will attack backcountry patriots in the summer of 1776 shortly after the British attack at Sullivan's Island. (Dennis/Natives p 200) See July 8 and 11.

The Catawba Indians are recent enemies of the Cherokees who live on lands bounded on all sides by white settlement near present-day Rock Hill, SC. The small Catawba nation will serve the American cause throughout the war. Before the end of 1775, several dozen Catawba warriors are recruited by the patriot Council of Safety to hunt down runaway slaves. (Dennis/Native Americans p 200) They are involved in action throughout 1776; see notes on June 27.

November 1775

On November 11-12, a skirmish occurs between British ships Tamar (pronounced "Tamer") and Cherokee and the new patriot schooner Defence in the harbor near today's Old Village of Mt Pleasant. Patriots are sinking vessels at the mouth of Hog Island Channel to obstruct passage and assist in harbor defense. This is considered the first battle of the Revolution in SC. It stiffens public resolve and generates public support for defending the city at Sullivan's Island in addition to closer locations in 1776. (Lipscomb/Lowcountry pp 16-17)

December 1775

Exiled British government officials have been encouraging enslaved Africans to join them in exchange for the promise of freedom. Hundreds are escaping and hiding on barrier islands off the coasts of Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia, hoping to be picked up by the British fleet. Sullivan's Island is a sanctuary for runaway slaves who raid provisions from nearby plantations. The British ships have been using the old "pest house" or lazaretto, a colonial quarantine station and the only structure on Sullivan's island, as a watering station. Lieutenants John Withers and James Coachman of Captain John Allston's company of foot rangers make a retaliatory raid. (Allston's company is also known as the Raccoon Company and the Indian company.) After a tip, most of the fugitive slaves are removed in boats sent by the Cherokee, but the raiders kill three-four fugitive slaves and take 16 prisoners, including slaves and loyalists. This is expected to "humble our Negroes in general". They also burn the pest house, destroy water casks belonging to British ships, and leave the island unsafe for future landing parties. [Schama/Rough pp 84-85] [Lipscomb/Lowcountry p 19]

Major Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and 200 soldiers of the 1st Regiment of SC set up a battery of 18 pounders at Haddrell's Point. The patriots now control access to Sullivan's Island via the Cove between the island and the mainland. (Lipscomb/Lowcountry p 20)

American forces under Benedict Arnold fail to capture Quebec December 30-31.

January 6-9, 1776

Cut off from provisions, the British men-of-war Tamar and Cherokee and their supporting vessels abandon Charles Town and head to Savannah. A committee of the Council on Safety visits Sullivan's Island and recommends building a fort. The Council adopts the proposal and contracts with Cornelius Dewees for palmetto logs at one shilling per foot. Lieutenant John Fergusson of the Cherokee has first-hand knowledge of Sullivan's Island and Charles Town waters. In June, he will be in Savannah, only a few hours sail away. However, he will not be consulted or brought to Charles Town, leaving the Royal Navy's battle plan dependent upon African American pilots who had been either seized from coastal shipping or spirited out of Charles Town. (Lipscomb/Lowcountry p 20, 26)

January 12-14, 1776

Responding to intelligence about a British invasion, the Council of Safety orders Colonel Thomson to send a detachment of ranger volunteers to Sullivan's Island immediately "for the better securing the possession thereof." Thomson himself does not go at this time; he sends 8 officers with 66 rangers and 28 prisoners who agree to work on fortifications. The prisoners had been captured during the Snow campaign. South Carolina Vice President Henry Laurens writes "the rangers are heartily disposed to the service". (Salley/Orangeburg pp 340-343)

Thomson's regiment is always divided. Ranger companies are frequently attached to larger units as scouts or flexible fighters. In 1776, detachments are stationed at Charles Town, Sullivan's Island, Dorchester, Fort Charlotte, Beaufort and perhaps other locations. Thomson establishes his headquarters near Ten Mile House. (Salley/Orangeburg pp 340-343) Ten Mile House was in present-day North Charleston, near the intersection of Remount Road and Rivers Avenue. (Parker/Revolutionary War p 78) Most, but not all, of the 3rd Regiment will serve together on Sullivan's Island in June. One or two companies were in Beaufort in early June and there is no evidence they made the trip to Sullivan's Island.

February 12, 1776

Sir Peter Parker's fleet sails from Cork, Ireland after a two-month delay. Lord Cornwallis and several army regiments are with him. The fleet is to rendezvous with a British expedition from the northeastern colonies at Cape Fear, NC. A portion of the three-month voyage is beset by some of "the worst weather ever known at sea". (Bearss/NPS p 4) (Foster/Diary pp 34-37) Dr. Foster was a surgeon who joined the British expedition before departure from Ireland. His diary from October 1775 through October 1777 was released by his family about 1938.

In the same timeframe, Colonel Christopher Gadsden brings to Charles Town substantially accurate English and American newspaper accounts of the expedition. (Lipscomb/Lowcountry p 22)

February 27, 1776

At Moore's Creek, NC patriots under Colonel Richard Caswell rout a loyalist force, dashing British hopes for assistance from a large number of loyalists in North Carolina. (Stedman/American War pp 178-182) (Bearss/NPS p 4) (Ryan/Jeremiah pp 135-137)

February-March 1776

Patriots in Charles Town, SC anticipate an attack and begin preparing defenses. Planters begin moving their families and valuables into the country and soon a general exodus is underway.

March 1, 1776

The Continental Congress names Major General Charles Lee to command the entire southern army. He is held in high esteem for his abilities as a professional soldier. The recently-promoted Brigadier General John Armstrong (a veteran of the Indian wars in Pennsylvania) is to assume command of the South Carolina forces; however, South Carolina has no continental troops. (Lipscomb/Lowcountry p 23) The patriot officers and politicians from different places will satisfactorily work out authority and relationships when they are together in June.

March 2, 1776

The Council of Safety orders Colonel William Moultrie to proceed to Sullivan's Island and take command of the force already engaged in building a large fort. (Lipscomb/Lowcountry p 22) Moultrie later explains that he was "ordered down to Sullivan's Island, to take command; where we were building a large fort sufficient to contain 1000 men. As this was looked upon as the key of the harbor; a great number of mechanics and negroe laborers were employed in finishing this fort as fast as possible, we having got certain intelligence that the British were preparing, at New-York, for an expedition against Charlestown." (Moultrie/Memoirs p 124)

March 12, 1776

Major General Henry Clinton has been named commander the British Southern Expedition. This is his first major command and his first time sharing command with a naval officer. (Willcox/Clinton Memoirs p 32 note)

Arriving at Cape Fear with 1500 men, Clinton learns of the patriot victory at Moore's Creek and realizes North Carolina cannot be returned to obedience at this time. He expects to meet Sir Peter Parker, who was to sail from Ireland in December, but Parker has not arrived. (Bearss/NPS pp 6-7)

While waiting for Parker, Clinton is visited by John Stuart, British superintendent for Indian affairs. They confer as to how the southern Indians might be used in some sort of "concerted plan." (Dennis/Native Americans p 210)

March 17, 1776

The British evacuate Boston and the British navy moves to Halifax, Canada.

March 26, 1776

The Provincial Congress declares South Carolina a free and independent republic and adopts a constitution "…'till a reconciliation between Great-Britain and the colonies should take place." John Rutledge is elected President, Henry Laurens Vice-President, William Henry Drayton Chief Justice. William Moultrie and William Thomson are members of the congress and will continue to serve as it is renamed the General Assembly. (Salley/Orangeburg pp 262-265)

April 1776

General Armstrong arrives from the north and takes command of the troops in South Carolina. According to Colonel Moultrie, "He was a brave man, and a good officer, but not much acquainted with our manner of defence which was principally forts and batteries, with heavy pieces of cannon: we had at that time at least, 100 pieces of cannon mounted in different parts of our harbor." (Moultrie/Memoirs p 140) Twenty-six years later, Moultrie reflects in his memoirs, "In the course of this reading, it will be found how ignorant we were in the art or war, at the commencement of our revolution." (Moultrie/Memoirs p viii)

May 1-3, 1776

Commodore Parker arrives at Cape Fear, five months after the date initially planned for departure from Ireland. British troops spot Major General Lee as they skirmish with patriots on shore. Lord Cornwallis arrives as Dr. Foster is dining with Major General Clinton, some officers, and exiled Royal Governors Martin of NC and Campbell of SC. (Foster/Diary pp 44-47)

Parker begins gathering the fleet, resupplying and coordinating with generals Clinton and Cornwallis. (Bearss/NPS p 7) Clinton's orders from Secretary of State Germain name several areas of the southeastern seaboard as possible military objectives, taking specific note of the South Carolina port. The orders say, "If you should judge it expedient to proceed in the first place to South Carolina, as Charlestown is the seat of commerce of all that part of America and consequently the place where the most essential interests of the planters are concentered, the restoration of the legal government there must and will have very important consequences." (Lipscomb/Lowcountry pp 20-21)

May 1776

The best use of the gathered force is unclear to General Clinton. He has guidance from his military superior, General Howe, to get back to New York in time for a summer campaign. A ship joining the fleet at Cape Fear discloses that recent dispatches from Howe to Clinton had been thrown overboard to avoid capture. (Foster p 54) (Willcox/Clinton Memoirs p 372) Clinton realizes South Carolina loyalist support is mainly in the Piedmont, not along the coast where the army and navy could strike immediately. The navy's late arrival in America gives the expedition limited time for operations in the southern colonies before heading north for a summer campaign, so the scope of any activities will have to be limited. Lacking other guidance, Clinton favors a return to the Chesapeake Bay. (Willcox/Clinton Memoirs p 373) (Bearss/NPS p 10)

May 24-26, 1776

Lieutenant Toby Caulfield of the Royal Navy and Captain James Moncrief of Clinton's engineer corps conduct a daring 48-hour reconnaissance of Charles Town harbor and approaches. They sail from Cape Fear in the schooner Pensacola Packet escorted by the frigate Sphinx. According to Dr Foster's diary, Caulfield sounds the bar and finds it passable by the largest ship, the Bristol, at high tide. Moncrief lands alone at the fort which is under construction on Sullivan's Island. He talks with a guard, walks around the fortifications and makes a sketch. The patriots do not suspect him of being an enemy until he is leaving. They fire at his boat but he escapes unhurt. On May 26, Moncrief presents an encouraging report to Commodore Parker at Cape Fear. (Willcox/Clinton Memoirs p 29) (Foster/Diary pp 54-55) (Lipscomb/Lowcountry p 20) This information is the deciding factor in Parker and Clinton agreeing on the mission to seize Sullivan’s Island. Clinton later explains to Germain, "I was induced to acquiesce in a proposal made to me by the commodore to attempt the reduction of that fortress by a coup de main [sudden attack]." (Davies/Documents p 162) Later, Germain's caution will influence Clinton's tentative actions at Breach Inlet (see May 31, 1776 entry below).

May 27, 1776

Richard Hutson is a young patriot leader – a member of the General Assembly in 1776, who will later serve as a delegate to the Continental Congress, the first intendant (mayor) of Charleston, and Lieutenant Governor. He is well-connected and well-informed, dines with General Armstrong, and serves at Fort Johnson. On this day Hutson writes in a letter, "Most people seem to imagine that we shall have a visit from the Generals Cornwallis and Clinton, the latter end of this week on the Spring Tides." (Hutson/Letter Book) That Saturday will be June 1. A few days later, Dr Foster mentions that the highest spring tides will be Sunday-Monday, June 2-3. (Forster/Diary p 57) The highest and lowest "spring" tides occur every two weeks concurrent with new moons and full moons. Based on these accounts, we assume spring tides also occur about June 29 – July 1 (28 days later). The tidal range during the attack on Fort Sullivan June 28 is probably above average but not extreme, even if exacerbated by winds. I have found no account of violent storms that might have affected tides in late June 1776.

May 31, 1776

The British army and navy sail from Cape Fear for Charles Town at sunrise.  (Foster/Diary p 56, Wilcox p 39) Enroute, the captain of the sloop Ranger delivers to General Clinton a letter written on March 3 by Lord George Germain, British Secretary of State for the American Department. Clinton infers that he should return to New York if he determines that "nothing could be soon effected which would be of real and substantial service and advantage, or that making any attempt would expose the troops to great loss from the season being too far advanced and that there should be a hazard of disappointing his service to the Northward ..." He confers with his generals and decides to continue, as the Sullivan's Island mission is consistent with this guidance. (Davies/Documents p 163) (Bearss/NPS pp 13-14)

British ships are spotted near Dewees Island, sending Charles Town into wild confusion. An attack is expected within a few days. Express riders are dispatched to all parts of the province with the call for militia. Troops pour into the city as refugees evacuate. Lead weights are removed from windows to be cast into musket balls. Barricades are erected on principal streets and small fortifications are thrown up wherever the British might disembark. The printing presses and public records are relocated to places of safety (such as Dorchester). President Rutledge even requests that gambling and horse racing be suspended. In a dramatic and expensive move, stores and buildings on the wharves are torn down to clear fields of fire. This transformation improves security and eventually results in a more beautiful city. (Moultrie/Memoirs pp 140-141) (Bearss/NPS pp 30-31, 43) (Russell/Revolution p 90) (Lipscomb/Lowcountry p 23)

June 1-4, 1776

Thomson is camped "near the Ten mile house" in present-day North Charleston (Parker/Guide p 78) with orders to march to Sullivan's Island. In a letter to SC President John Rutledge dated 1st June 1776, he mentions that 40 of his men are ill with the Flux and he himself is "unwell". (Salley/Orangeburg p 438) Thomson was ill before and after the Battle of Sullivan's Island. See also letters he wrote October-December 1776 and August-September 1777. (Salley/Orangeburg pp 444-447 and 452-455) His health during the battle is unknown.

The fleet is at anchor 20 miles from Charles Town, near Bull’s Bay.  (Foster/Diary p 57) South Carolina's exiled Royal Governor William Campbell is with the expedition and gives input about recapturing Sullivan's Island. He concludes, "Two battalions of infantry and a detachment of artillery would be sufficient to hold Charleston if supported by two frigates in the harbor." Parker and Clinton discuss tactical options by letter and in person. They meet face-to-face aboard the Sovereign to clear up confusion and concerns. Each suggests plans for the other and they do not reach complete agreement. Parker favors a coup de main (sudden attack) by the army landing on Sullivan's Island near the Breach, supported by the navy. (Russell/Victory) (Bearss/NPS pp 27-28)

June 3, 1776

Colonel Moultrie reports to President Rutledge that a ship has been busy sounding the inlet at the Advance Guard and along Long Island. "It seems as though they intended a descent somewhere hereabout." (Moultrie/Memoirs p 146)

June 4, 1776

The squadron anchors off the Charles Town Bar. (Parker/Narrative p 83) Dr Foster writes "…they say there are thirty Thousand disciplined troops in the Town and Fort, that have been trained to arms for this two years past, that they are possessed with as much fanatic Fury as ever Oliver Cromwells Troops were." With glasses, he can plainly see men at work on the fort and he sees that the town is very pretty with "an air of magnificence". (Foster/Diary p 59)

Early June 1776

Clinton tells Cornwallis that he will "not attempt anything blindfolded", and "I must reconnoiter the object before I attempt it." (Bearss/NPS pp 15-16) Unfortunately for the British, he did not reconnoiter Breach Inlet before committing his force to Long Island with the assumption the channel could be forded.

Before going to Sullivan's Island, Colonel Thomson is granted two days furlough to take care of personal business at his plantation, Belleville, about 50 miles away in Orangeburg District. "He immediately mounted his horse, rode home, effected his business, and returned to the city within 48 hours. (Salley/Orangeburg p 370) Thomson's abilities were legendary and he is still considered a hero in his home area. Other personal stories are in Salley/Orangeburg pp 375-385.

June 4-10, 1776

On or about June 5, highly regarded Major General Charles Lee arrives in Charles Town, boosting patriot morale.  He gets to work at a torrid pace and immediately expresses concern about defending Sullivan's Island. After inspecting the fort, he appeals to President Rutledge for it to be abandoned. He finds little support from anyone in the government for abandoning the island. The South Carolina leadership that rejected Lee's advice remembers the difficulty of dislodging a small hostile force from Sullivan's Island in late 1775. (Moultrie/Memoirs pp 141-142) (Russell/Victory pp 177-178) (Bearss/NPS pp 34 and 41) (Lipscomb/Lowcountry pp 23-24) Had the troops been withdrawn to the mainland, the British could have accomplished their objective without firing a shot. A British garrison stationed on Sullivan's Island in 1776 would have changed the course of the war, but there is no way to know how history would be different.

Morgan Brown is an 18 year-old soldier from North Carolina who had been with Thomson's regiment of rangers several months. His account, published in Russell's Magazine in 1859, states "General Lee had come on and taken the command, and we soon understood it was his opinion that the troops on the island were to be sacrificed. But our more immediate commander determined to defend it to the last extremity." (Brown/Reminiscences p 64)

Lee in 1776 "was a tall, skinny, ugly man of 44, with a bony nose. His arrogance, extreme temper, vanity, coarseness, and egotistical nature made him a difficult man to tolerate, but Washington and other patriots hoped his vast military experience would serve the patriot cause well." (Russell/Revolution p 88) On the 9th, President Rutledge announces that General Lee is in command of all troops in South Carolina to avoid any conflict over authority in the campaign. (Russell/Victory p 181) Over the next month, the South Carolina leadership will find this man of 10,000 oddities difficult, yet effective.

Parker directs that the men-of-war Ranger, St Lawrence and Friendship be placed where General Clinton thinks proper. Schooner St Lawrence, Ranger and eight of the smallest transports are positioned in Spence's Creek and an armed ship takes its station off the south end of Long Island. (Davies/Documents-Transcripts p168)

June 6, 1776

Major General Clinton, Commander of His Majesty's Forces in the Southern Provinces of N. America, issues a proclamation demanding submission. It is ignored by the patriots. (Wells/Gazette)

June 7, 1776

Patriot Major Samuel Wise of Thomson's 3rd Regiment is on Sullivan's Island at Breach Inlet in command of 210 troops.  He can see 50 ships in Charles Town waters.  (Gregg/Cheraws p 268) Over the next three weeks, Wise writes several long letters from his position on Sullivan's Island to his friend, Henry William Harrington (1748-1809), Sheriff of Cheraw District. By the end of June, Harrington is stationed at Haddrell's Point, unbeknownst to Wise. Wise's last surviving letter was dated June 27. Both men had been delegates to the First Provincial Congress. Harrington will become a brigadier general in the Revolution, a legislator in both North Carolina and South Carolina, and a planter. Wise will be killed in action at Savannah on October 9, 1779. (Salley/Records pp 28-29)

June 7 - 10, 1776

Richard Hutson is stationed at Fort Johnson. He counts 52 ships including men-of-war, transports, store ships and prizes. (Hutson/Letter Book)

After the ships pass the bar June 7, General Clinton immediately embarks in a small sloop to reconnoiter the islands north of Charleston. He scouts for two days and determines that a landing on Sullivan's Island would be impractical because of the violent surf. He decides to land the army on Long Island. Reasons include (1) Long Island is not held by patriots in any force. (2) It communicates with the mainland by creeks navigable by boats of draft. (3) It is but a small distance north of Sullivan's Island. (4) Pilots confidently report that Breach Inlet is passable on foot at low water. He does not check the ford at the Breach. (Willcox/Clinton Memoirs pp 30-31, 374) He later tells Lord Germain that Lord Cornwallis agrees with him. (Davies/Documents-Transcripts p 163) Assembling the army on Long Island is a mistake from which the expedition is not able to recover.

The British army begins staging on Long Island as generals Clinton, Cornwallis and Vaughan make an unopposed landing at the north end with 500 troops. (Parker/Narrative p 83) (Russell/Victory p 181) (Bearss/NPS p 24)

Upon learning of the landing, Lee sends a message on the 8th to Moultrie ordering an attack on Long Island by Thomson's and Sumter's regiments reinforced by Alston's, Mahan's and Couritier's companies. For support, he orders Moultrie "to move, down to the point, commanding the breach, two field-pieces." He also orders "a considerable reinforcement of riflemen" for Colonel Thomson, (Moultrie/Memoirs pp 150-151) (Salley/Orangeburg p 344) Moultrie receives the order on the afternoon of the 10th and preparations are made for an attack that night. When he learns the Bristol has crossed the bar, Lee rescinds the order. (Bearss/NPS p 42)

June 10, 1776

The British army plans to attack en masse across Breach Inlet.  By this date, all the British ships of war have crossed the Charles Town bar and are cleared for attack.  The army is ordered to be ready to land with three day’s provisions.  Six transports are to carry 500 men each near Long Island; flat boats are to carry men from the transports to shore.  “…these orders appear to be from the Generals receiving information that the small crick which separates Long Island from Sullivan’s Island was fordable for the whole Army in which case they were to ford over and attack the Enemy in the Rear When the Shipping had silenced the great Battery in Front.”  (Foster/Diary p 60) 

Captain John William Gerard de Brahm, the engineer of Fort Sullivan, is sent to the northeast point of Sullivan's Island to build breastworks of palmetto logs at the Advanced Guard. (Johnson/Traditions p 92) (Drayton/Memoirs p 288) (McCrady/History p 145) Emplacements for the cannons include brick foundations, which will be temporarily uncovered by shifting sands years later.

Cognizant of the threat from Long Island, Lee insists the British must be kept off Sullivan's Island at all costs. He encourages Moultrie to move two field cannons up to command the inlet. He also orders Moultrie to concentrate on completing the bridge connecting the mainland and Sullivan's Island, and to return 400 of the reinforcements sent to attack Long Island on the 9th. (Moultrie/Memoirs pp 154-155) (Russell/Revolution p 91) The advanced guard soon has the cannons. Moultrie gives the bridge low priority. General Lee believes Sullivan's Island cannot be defended. He is bolstering the force on the mainland and preparing for withdrawal from Sullivan's Island.

June 11, 1776

Dr Foster writes, "We are elate with the Idea of being in three Days time in Possession of Charles Town, where we are in hopes of getting fresh Provisions and vegetables which we so much long for, the Town is so large and bears so much the air of grandure, that we may promise to ourselves something more than the bare necessaries of Life, who knows but I may sleep in a house in three Days time!" (Foster/Diary p 61)

June 13, 1776

General Clinton proposes having his footsoldiers seize the northern end of Sullivan's Island, then attack the fort. He and Commodore Parker work out a system of signals. (Bearss/NPS p 46-47) (Russell/Victory p 186)

June 14, 1776

Major General Henry Clinton and Lord Cornwallis arrive on Long Island for the coming battle.  (Bearss/NPS p 47) They previously had landed with an advance party of 500 men on June 7.

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