Retracing Our Family Legacy
16 September 1776 in the Continental Army as the 15th Virginia Regiment.
12 February 1777 to consist of 9 companies from Chesterfield, Brunswick, Southampton,
King William, Mansemond, Princess Anne, Isle of Wight, Surry, Sussex, Westmoreland,
Northumberland, and Richmond Counties and the Borough of Norfolk.
11 May 1777 to the 3d Virginia Brigade, an element of the
1 November 1777 to consist of 8 companies.
22 July 1778 from the 3d Brigade and assigned to the 2d Brigade, an element of
the Main Army.
and redesignated 12 May 1779 as the 11th Virginia Regiment, to consist of 9 companies
Disbanded 1 January 1781
June 15, 1775
Abolished: End of war.
15, 1775 - December 23, 1783|
March 1, 1776
comprised of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
in the war, Maryland and Delaware were transferred to the department.
End of war
1, 1776 - September 9, 1776|
9, 1776 - September 25, 1778|
25, 1778 - June 13, 1780|
13, 1780 - October 17, 1780|
17, 1780 - end of war|
See letter from Commander Benjamin Lincoln at bottom of this page.
Siege of Charleston
29th March to 12th May, 1780
in Charleston, South Carolina
Commanded by Gen. Benjamin Lincoln
Commanded by Gen. Henry Clinton
Conclusion: British Victory
In December 1779,
General Clinton sailed himself sailed south bound for Charleston from New York
City. The British fleet included ninety troopships and fourteen warships with
more than 8,500 soldiers and 5,000 sailors. Because they had been delayed several
months in leaving, the fleet now sailed through stormy seas. The first storm hit
on December 27 and lasted three days. On January 1, 1780 another storm hit and
lasted six days. This pattern continued and the fleet was separated.
having been separated by constant storms about two-thirds of the British fleet
had regrouped. However, they found themselves off the coast of Florida and had
to sail back north. They went as far as Georgia where a diversionary infantry
force was put ashore on February 4, 1780. The cavalry commanded by Lt. Colonel
Banastre Tarleton and including Major Patrick Ferguson also went ashore to find
new mounts. During the voyage the horses had to be put overboard, because of serious
injuries like broken legs.
Clinton then continued sailing north with the main body of his force. Back in
1776, Clinton had deferred to Admiral Sir Peter Parker whose choice of approach
directly into Charleston Harbor had been a disaster. Clinton had learned his lesson
from that defeat and chose to land his forces thirty miles south of Charleston
and approach overland. While the army marched overland, the ships would sail up
the rivers delivering provisions as necessary. The first men were put ashore on
February 11, 1780
On February 4, 1780, a diversionary infantry force
was put ashore in Georgia. The cavalry commanded by Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton
and including Major Patrick Ferguson also went ashore to find new mounts. During
the voyage the horses had to be put overboard, because of serious injuries like
broken legs. Lt. General Henry Clinton had chosen to land his forces thirty miles
south of Charleston and approach overland.
first men, English and Hessian Grenadiers and the 33rd Regiment of Foot, were
put ashore on February 11, 1780, on the southern tip of John's Island. On February
14, these men set out in search of Stono Ferry, which was the crossing point to
James Island. Later that day, they found the river, but the other bank with fortified
and manned by militia. The British retreated without taking fire from the Americans.
The next day they discovered that the Americans had deserted their position overnight.
February 24th, fortifications were completed at Stono Ferry and the British crossed
over to James Island the next day. There was a Continental presence on the island.
French Chevalier Pierre-François Vernier commanded the cavalry, while Francis
Marion commanded the American infantry. They had been observing the British movements
for several days. On February 26th, they attacked a returning British scavenging
patrol as it passed down a narrow way. The German Jägers came to their rescue
and drove Vernier off.
spite of the Continental presence and continued skirmishing with Chevalier Vernier
and his cavarly, the British gained control of James Island by March 1st. After
a month on March 10, 1780, General Clinton's second-in-command Lt. General Charles
Cornwallis finally led the main force onto the mainland at Wappoo Cut. On March
11th, naval ships finally came up the Stono River and delivered much needed supplies.
March 11 until the 21th the British fortified their position which was located
where the Wappoo Creek flowed into the Ashley River. They mounted artillery to
shell American ships and keep the Ashley River secure. They then moved upstream
and north, away from Charleston, slowly securing the plantations along the way
while the Americans shadowed them from across the river.
Under the cover of
fog on March 29th, the British crossed the Ashley River upstream from the heavily
fortified Ashley Ferry and established themselves on Charleston Neck. When the
Americans learned that the British were on the Neck, they abandoned their breastworks
at Ashley Ferry. By April 1st, the British had moved down into position to begin
their siege works.
the British slowly closed in, naval maneuvering in Charleston Harbor for the Americans
was a disaster. In December 1779, four frigates had arrived under the command
of Commodore Abraham Whipple and were joined by four ships from South Carolina
and two French ships. There were 260 guns afloat and forty guns at Fort Moultrie.
However, even before the British arrived, Whipple informed Maj. General Benjamin
Lincoln that the flotilla could not defend the entrance to Charleston Harbor.
General Lincoln questioned Commodore Whipple's conclusion, but Whipple was backed
up by a naval board. Whipple chose to first withdraw to the mouth of the Cooper
River. Meanwhile the British began their approach on March 20th. When Whipple
saw the size of the British attack fleet, he scuttled the ships at the entrance
of the riverOn
April 2nd, siege works were begun about 800 yards from the American fortifications.
During the first few days of the siege, the British operations were under heavy
artillery fire. On April 4th, they built redoubts near the Ashley and Cooper Rivers
to protect their flanks. On April 6th, a warship was hauled overland from the
Ashley River to the Cooper River to harass crossings by the besieged to the mainland.
On April 8th, the British fleet moved into the Harbor under fire only from Fort
12th, Lt. General Henry Clinton ordered Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton and Major Patrick
Ferguson to capture Monck's Corner, which was a crossroads just south of Biggins
Bridge near the Santee River. General Isaac Huger was stationed there 500 men
under orders from General Lincoln to hold the crossroads so that communications
with Charleston would remain open. On the evening of April 13, 1780, Lt. Colonel
Tarleton gave orders for a silent march. Later that night, they intercepted a
messenger with a letter from Huger to Maj. General Benjamin Lincoln and thus learned
how the rebels were deployed. At three o'clock in the morning on the 14th, the
British reached the American post, catching them completely by surprise and quickly
routing them. Following the skirmish, the British fanned out across the countryside
and effectively cut off Charleston from outside support.
Carolina Governor John Rutledge left Charleston on April 13th. On the 21th a parlay
was made between Lincoln and Clinton, with Lincoln offering to surrender with
honor. That is, with colors flying and marching out fully armed, but Clinton was
sure of his position and quickly refused the terms. A heavy artillery exchange
followed. On April 23rd, Lt. General Charles Cornwallis crossed the Cooper River
and assumed command of the British forces blocking escape by land. Finally on
April 24th, the Americans ventured out to harass the siege works. The lone American
casualty was Tom Moultrie, brother of Brig. General William Moultrie. On April
29th, the British advanced on the left end of the canal that fronted the city's
fortifications with the purpose of destorying the dam and draining the canal| Charleston
Americans knew the importance of that canal to the city's defenses and responded
with steady and fierce artillery and small arms fire. By the following night,
the British had succeeded in draining some water. By May 4th, several casualties
had been sustained and the fire had been so heavy that work was often suspended.
On the 5th, the Americans made a countermove from their side, but by the 6th,
almost all of the water had drained out of the heavily damaged dam and plans for
an assault began.
that same day, May 6th, Fort Moultrie surrendered. On May 8th, General Clinton
called for unconditional surrender from General Lincoln, but Lincoln again tried
to negotiate for honors of war. On May 11th, the British fired red-hot shot that
burned several homes before Lincoln finally called for parlay and to negotiate
terms for surrender. The final terms dictated that the entire Continental force
captured were prisoners of war. On May 12th, the actual surrender took place with
General Lincoln leading a ragged bunch of soldiers out of the city. The
senior officers including Maj. General Benjamin Lincoln eventually were exchanged
for British officers in American hands. For all others in the Continental army,
a long stay on prison boats in Charleston Harbor was the result, where sickness
and disease would ravage them. The defeat left no Continental Army in the South
and the country wide open for British taking. Even before Lincoln surrendered,
the Continental Congress had already appointed Maj. General Horatio Gates to replace
quickly established outposts in a semicircle from Georgetown to Augusta, Georgia,
with positions at Camden, Ninety-Six, Cheraw, Rocky Mount and Hanging Rock in
between. Parole was offered to back country rebels and many accepted, including
Andrew Pickens. Soon after securing Charleston, Lt. General Henry Clinton gave
command of the Southern Theatre to Lt. General Charles Cornwallis and on June
5th, he sailed north back to New York.
Clinton's one order to General Cornwallis before he left, was to maintain possession
of Charleston above all else. Cornwallis was not to move into North Carolina if
it jeopordized this holding. Clinton also had ordered that all militia and civilians
be released from their parole. But in addition, they must take an oath to the
Crown and be at ready to serve when called upon by His Majesty's government. This
addition angered many of the locals and led to many deserting or ignoring the
order and terms of their parole.
Northern New Jersey
Period: 20 November 1776 - 26 June 1777
Staten Island and Northern New Jersey
Engagements from capture of Fort Lee to British withdrawal to start the invasion
Period: 25 August - 19 December 1777
Eastern Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware
Engagements from British landing at Head of Elk to Washington's encampment at
campaign to seize Philadelphia, the second mayor phase of British strategy in
1777, began in late July. Some 15,000 troops under Howe's command sailed from
New York on 23 July and landed at Head of Elk (now Elkton), Maryland, a month
later (25 August). Washington, with about 11,000 men, took up a defensive position
blocking the way to Philadelphia at Chad's Ford on the eastern side of Brandywine
Creek in Pennsylvania. Howe attacked on 11 September, sending Cornwallis across
the creek in a wide-sweeping flanking movement around the American right, while
his Hessian troops demonstrated opposite Chad's Ford. Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene's
troops staved off Cornwallis' threatened envelopment of Washington's whole force,
and the Americans fell back to Chester in a hard-pressed but orderly retreat.
Patriot losses in this engagement totaled about 1,000 killed, wounded, and prisoners.
British casualties were less than 600.
their victory at Brandywine the British forces under Howe maneuvered in the vicinity
of Philadelphia for two weeks, virtually annihilating a rear guard force under
Brig. Gen. Anthony Wayne at Paoli on 21 September 1777, before moving unopposed
into the city on 26 September. Howe established his main encampment in nearby
Germantown, stationing some 9,000 men there. Washington promptly attempted a coordinated
attack against this garrison on the night of 3 - 4 October. Columns were to move
into Germantown from four different directions and begin the assault at dawn Two
of the columns, both made up of militia, never appeared to take part in the attack,
but in the early phases of the fighting the columns under Greene and Divan achieved
considerable success. However, a dense early morning fog which resulted in some
American troops firing on each other while it permitted the better disciplined
British to re-form for a counterattack and a shortage of, ammunition contributed
to the still not fully explained retreat of the Americans, beginning about 0900.
Howe pursued the Colonials a few miles as they fell back in disorder, but he did
not exploit his victory. American losses were 673 killed and wounded and about
400 taken prisoner. British losses were approximately 533 killed and wounded.
Period: 20 December 1777 - 10 July 1778
Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey
Operations relating to the British occupation of Philadelphia and withdrawal to
conclusion of the Franco-American Alliance (6 February 1778) British forces in
America had to give consideration to the new threat created by the powerful French
fleet. General Clinton, who relieved Howe as British commander in America on 8
May 1778, decided to shift the main body of his troops from Philadelphia to a
point nearer the coast where it would be easier to maintain close communications
with the British Fleet. Consequently, he ordered evacuation of the 10,000-man
garrison in Philadelphia on 18 June. As these troops set out through New Jersey
toward New York, Washington broke camp at his winter headquarters in Valley Forge,
and began pursuit of Clinton with an army of about 13,500 men. Advance elements
under Mad. Gen. Charles Lee launched the initial attack on the British column
as it marched out of Monmouth Courthouse (now Freehold), N. J., on 28 June, an
extremely hot day. For reasons not entirely clear Lee did not follow up early
advantages gained, and when British reinforcements arrived on the scene he ordered
a retreat. This encouraged Clinton to attack with his main force. Washington relieved
Lee and assumed personal direction of the battle, which continued until dark without
either side retiring from the field. But, during the night, the British slipped
away to Sandy Book, N. J., from where their fleet took them to New York City.
The British reported losses of 65 killed, 155 wounded, and 64 missing; the Americans
listed 69 killed, 161 wounded, and 130 missing. General Lee was subsequently court-martialed
and suspended from service for disobedience and misbehavior. Washington's army
moved northward, crossed the Hudson, and occupied positions at White Plains, N.
Period: 10 February - 29 May 1780
Siege of Charleston and related occupation of South Carolina through the battle
SOURCE URL: http://www.uswars.net/1775-1783/states/va/va-15.htm
Letter From Commander Benjamin Lincoln
See Chart at Top of Page
The Southern Department