The Fall of Charleston ~ May 12, 1780
n early 1780, General Henry Clinton sent about 10,000 of his Redcoats in to Charleston which was being defended by General Benjamin Lincoln and his Patriots. Charleston was the most important American port south of Philadelphia and was under a very effective siege by the Redcoats, the Patriots became trapped.
The shelling began and the British bombardments were hitting their targets. The people of the city had very little with which to fight back. Gen. Lincoln offered to give up the city if the Redcoats would allow his men to leave. Unfortunately Gen. Clinton’s response was to inundate them with even more shelling.
The situation grew worse as Gen. Clinton ordered a non-stop barrage on Charleston on May 9, 1780. The city erupted in flames, buildings were reduced to rubble and its citizens could endure no more. With no where else to turn, Gen. Lincoln was forced to surrender Charleston.
Over 5400 men lost their lives in the battle and the Patriots suffered a devastating loss of armament losing 10 warships, four hundred cannons and countless ammunition. Any hope the people had of independence was fading. The loyalist in the Carolinas began to openly support the crown and the leaders in the North believed Britain would retain Georgia and the Carolinas. The fall of Charleston was the Patriot’s lowest point in the war.
Most South Carolinians were pledging allegiance to the crown, as the glimmer of freedom was rapidly vanishing. At this time Moses Curtis entered into the war joining Brandon’s Regiment with the South Carolina Militia. His brother, Fielding Wood Curtis Sr., joined the Continental Army. They both fought in many battles together, the most infamous battle being “The Battle of the Cowpens” which occurred on January 17, 1781 and drove Cornwallis and his army out of the Carolinas. Mel Gibson’s movie, “The Patriot” is a fictionalized version of that battle.