The American Revolution in South Carolina

British Land at Edisto Island & Simmons Island

February 11, 1780


Patriot Cdr:

None
British Cdr:

General Sir Henry Clinton / Vice-Admiral
Mariot Arbuthnot
Killed:

0
Killed:

0
Wounded:

0
Wounded:

0
Captured:

0
Captured:

0
Old District: 

Charles Town District
Present County:

Charleston County

Since the British were not have much success in the Northern Theater, General Sir Henry Clinton assumed command of all the British forces in the colonies and decided to initiate a new Southern strategy after Savannah fell in 1779. But, he had to wait on reinforcements that were on their way from England. Soon after they arrived, he assembled his forces (approximately 8,500) onto ninety (90) troopships, escorted by fourteen (14) warships, and sailed from New York Harbor bound for Charlestown, South Carolina on December 26, 1779.

The fleet barely escaped being caught in the ice floes of New York Harbor, but they did manage to sail directly into a gale that lasted for four days - scattering their ships across the Atlantic Ocean. One ship, the Anna, with thirty Hessians, Ansbach Jaegers and artillery, was dismasted and drifted for eleven weeks until landing at St. Ives on the coast of Cornwall in England. Most of the cavalry's horses had to be thrown overboard during the gale to save the ships.

In the early part of February of 1780, the fleet finally assembled in Savannah - with eleven ships missing. In addition to the Anna, the transports Judith and the Russia Merchant, along with a one-masted artillery transport ship was lost. The Russia Merchant was carrying most of the heavy seige artillery and ammunition needed to conquer a fortified town such as Charlestown. A voyage that normally took only ten days ended up taking the British fleet almost five weeks.

General Sir Henry Clinton put Brigadier General James Patterson ashore with 1,400 infantry and orders to mount a diversion by the way of Augusta, Georgia and to keep the backcountry militia tied down so they could not reinforce Charlestown. With Brigadier General Patterson were Major Patrick Ferguson and Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, who immediately set out to replace their lost cavalry horses from local plantations in and around Beaufort.

On the evening of February 11th, Brigadier General Alexander Leslie landed unopposed on Simmons Island (now called Seabrook Island) with the Light Infantry and the Grenadiers. It rained heavily all that night, but General Clinton came ashore and spent the night under a tree in the rain.

On February 12th, the rest of the invasion force was issued three days rations and disembarked. The artillery had to remain on board since there were no horses to pull it. On the morning of February 14th, the Jaegers and the 33rd Regiment of Foot set out in search of Stono Ferry. Capt. Johan Ewald of the Jaegers wrote that the march was "through a wilderness of deep sand, marshland, and inpenetrable woods where human feet had never trod." They did not see any Patriots, but they did hear firing in the swamps. After investigating, the Hessians found the British Grenadiers firing their muskets to attract attention since they were lost.

This group now marched to Stono Ferry and soon realized that they were exposed to the Patriot's cannons on the high ground on the other side of the river. They quickly turned around to get out of range, but the Patriots simply watched and did not fire a shot.

General Sir Henry Clinton with Lt. General Charles, Lord Cornwallis arrived at James Island early in the morning of February 15th. The night before, the Patriots quietly abandoned their position nearby. As the British moved across the Stono River, the defenders of Charlestown had not fired a single shot. Meanwhile, other Patriots were ordered to destroy Fort Johnson so it could no longer be a defendable position for the British.

The "quiet" lasted almost another week before hostilities finally had to happen. On February 22nd, a detachment of Patriot cavalry were the first to attack the British since this force had landed on American soil - at Stono.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British Participants

None

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General Sir Henry Clinton

Vice-Admiral Mariot Arbuthnot

Lt. General Charles, Lord Cornwallis

Brigadier General Alexander Leslie

Brigadier General James Patterson

Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton

Major Patrick Ferguson

Capt. Keith Elphinstone

Capt. Johan Ewald

8,500 troops from many different units



© 2008 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved