Journal of the Siege
of Charleston by the English in 1780. The Army Commanded by
Gen. Sir Henry Clinton, and the Fleet by Admiral Arbuthnot.
The Garrison by Major-General Lincoln.
February 9, 1780.
The English fleet arrived in Stono Inlet; the alarm was
fired in Charlestown.
10th.-The troops landed.
March 9 and 10, 1780.
Seven vessels were sunk near the mouth of Cooper River, and
cables fixed from one to the other, to prevent the entrance
of this river.
13th.-The enemy took possession of the land on Ashley River
opposite the town, constructed a battery near the mouth of
Wappoo, on the prolongation of Tradd street.
21st.-The English fleet passed the bar, and anchored in Five
25th.-Our armed vessels before Fort Moultrie returned to
town; their cannon were transported into the land
29th.-The English army crossed Ashley River twelve miles
above the town.
30th.-The advanced guard of the enemy came within two miles
of Charlestown, when a party of two hundred men, under
Colonel John Laurens and a little while after two
field-pieces), went out against them, who, after a skirmish
of some hours, returned towards sun-set. The fortifications
of Charlestown were, even at this time, very incomplete. All
the negroes in town were impressed, who, together with the
parties detailed from the garrison, were henceforth employed
upon the works.
31st.-At day-break we observed that the enemy had opened his
trenches in three places.
original is in French, and was kept by DeBrahm, an engineer.
The translation was made and furnished me by Col. Jas.
Ferguson, of Dookon.
April 1 and 2, 1780. The enemy's works were a little
extended, and ours augmented.
3d.-This morning the battery was discovered upon a height,
at Hampstead. At battery of four pieces was constructed on
our right to oppose that of the enemy, from which, as well
as from all the others, a continued firing of shot and bombs
was kept up the following night along the lines.
4th.-This morning, daylight discovered to us the enemy's
battery very much injured.
5th.-Last night's fire of our batteries was kept up as
heretofore. The enemy's galley approached the town, and
fired upon it all night. We began to dig wells in our front,
and to close up the gorge of the horn work.
6th.-The fire of the batteries and the works continued as
before. To-day the reinforcement under General Woodford
7th.-Very little fire from our batteries last night, and
more on the part of the enemy. The enemy has prolonged the
right of his first parallel. All our workmen employed
8th.-Last night the enemy commenced a battery of six pieces.
All our workmen employed making traverses. A quarter of an
hour before sun-set, the English fleet passed Fort Moultrie,
under a heavy fire on both sides, and anchored in a line
near Fort Johnson. Nobody wounded or killed in Fort
Moultrie. The fleet consisted of the following vessels:--One
of 50 guns, two of 40, four frigates, two vessels armed
en flute, and two other smaller ones; one of these
armed en flute grounded on a band called "The
9th.-The vessel which grounded was abandoned, and burnt by
the crew last night. This morning the commencement of a
battery appeared in front of our left. Our workmen employed
10th.-The works of the enemy were advanced. Our negroes
employed in making a battery of five pieces of redoubt, and
the soldiers on fatigue in making traverses. This evening a
parley was received from the enemy, demanding the surrender
of the town; it was refused.
11th.-Our batteries kept up a great deal of fire last night.
The enemy had repaired his batteries, and mounted some
cannon. Finished the battery in the redoubt. Our workmen
employed in making traverses, and strengthening the profiles
of some works. This evening Major Gilbank was accidentally
killed, making some experiments with shells.
12th.-Very little firing last night. The enemy had more
cannon mounted. The workmen employed as before. Our sailors
employed in elevating the parapet near Exchange Battery, and
making embrasures to it. At 12 o'clock, meridian, three
chalops passed Fort Moultrie, and joined the fleet, although
fired upon all the time by the Fort.
13th.-Very little firing last night. This morning one of the
batteries of the enemy was finished, the others not quite;
the trenches extended. This morning, at 9 o'clock, the enemy
opened his batteries, firing bombs, carcasses and hot balls,
which were returned with all our force from the batteries.
This lasted about two hours, when the firing was abated on
both sides, till about 5 o'clock, when all the fire was on
the side of the enemy. We had one 18 pounder dismounted, and
two houses burnt in town. Our workmen employed as
14th.-A slow fire was kept up on both sides last night. The
approaches of the enemy a little advanced. The enemy's
galley fired all night. He commenced another battery
opposite the town, on the banks of Ashley River.
15th.-Fire from the batteries and works as before. The enemy
had a bomb battery. His second parallel commenced, and
manned by the Chasseurs, who kept up a continued fire upon
16th.-In addition to his usual fire, the enemy opened his
new battery. Last night we extended from our redoubt a
counter-mine with a small parallel whence we could return
the fire of the enemy's musketry. This evening one of our
Gallies ascended Cooper river to a place whence she
enfiladed the English camp for several hours, which was
briskly answered by field pieces from the camp.
17th.-The enemy enfiladed the town on all sides last night
and threw a great quantity of bombs-sometimes from fifteen
to twenty at once. We worked upon our counter mine. We
received intelligence from our detachment at Lamprieres,
that one thousand or fifteen hundred of the enemy under
General Lord Cornwallis had passed Monk's Corner,
Strawberry, Bonneau's Ferry, and Wappetaw, and actually
arrived within six miles of the said post. This morning the
enemy's second parallel was prolonged towards our left,
supplied with bags of earth and full of Chasseurs.
18th.-Fire from the batteries as heretofore, and a shower of
musketry all day; this day like last night very rainy.
19th.-Fire from the batteries as heretofore. This evening
three of the enemies Gallies descended from Wappoo down
Ashley river to the Fleet under a heavy fire from our
batteries; one lost her mail mast. This night the
communication is made from the battery of the French sailors
to the town.
20th.-Fire from the batteries as ordinary. This evening the
Ravelin commenced in front of the horn work.
21st.-Fire from the batteries as ordinary. This morning the
enemy had commenced two batteries, near his second
22d.-Fire from the batteries as ordinary; and from the
musketry more than ever. This morning a parley was sent to
the enemy and the answer returned about 9 o'clock in the
23d.-Fire from the batteries as ordinary. The enemy extended
the saps of his second parallel.
24th.-Fire from the batteries as ordinary. This morning at
daybreak, a party of two hundred men under Col. Henderson
made a sortie upon the enemies works which caused a general
fire of musketry on both sides. The party returned in a
little while with twelve prisoners. Our loss was one Captain
and one soldier killed.
25th.-As ordinary. Last night Col. Parker of the Virginia
line was killed by a musket shot.
26th.-As ordinary. The enemy commenced his third parallel.
Troops from a vessel and four gallies, landed at Mount
Pleasant, and took possession of a battery of one piece,
losing one galley in this affair.
28th.-As ordinary. Last night our Fort at Lamprier's was
evacuated, and taken possession of by the enemy to-day. It
was not until this moment that Charlestown was completed
invested; the enemy having possession of James Island,
Wappoo, Charlestown Neck, Hobcaw Point, Lamprieres, and
Haddrell's Point; and his fleet anchored in the Road-stead
before the town.
29th.-As ordinary. The enemy's third parallel almost
finished, and a battery commenced; as likewise a redoubt on
May 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.-As ordinary. Our hospital ship taken
by the English and carried higher up the river.
4th, 5th, and 6th.-The enemy employed in making three
batteries upon his third parallel. And we to make two
7th.-This morning at eight o'clock Fort Moultrie
capitulated. A sixty-gun ship joined the English Fleet.
8th.-As ordinary. Another redoubt was commenced last night
in rear of our left line. This morning the enemy sent a
parley again to demand the town-the truce was prolonged
throughout the whole day. In a Council of War composed of
all officers of the General Staff, it was resolved by a
majority of votes, to propose a capitulation.
9th.-The enemy had cannon mounted in the batteries of his
third parallel.* The two commanders not agreeing upon the
terms of capitulation the siege commenced this evening at
nine o'clock with greater warmth than ever.
May 10th.-As ordinary.
11th.-As ordinary. The enemy's trenches are extended under
the abbatis of the advanced battery. This afternoon a parley
was sent to the enemy to propose fresh terms of
12th.-The terms were accepted, and the English army took
possession of the town. The English have worked very hard
upon the fortifications. All that I can learn is, that they
have strengthened the profiles of the lines; that they have
constructed a Fort at Hampstead very nearly upon the plan
herewith, marked with dotted lines; and some redoubts more
advanced; they have also commenced a battery on Shultz's
Folly-but the foundation is scarcely raised.
*That it was
for the purpose of mounting these cannon that the English
proposed the truce I do not pretend to say, but this much is
certain, that had it not been for the truce, this would have
been a very laborious and dangerous job, and almost
(From Documentary History of the American Revolution,
by Gibbes, Volume 2, p. 124)
Gibbes, v. 2, p. 124