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Siege of Charleston

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The Siege of Charleston is one the major battles which took place towards the end of the American Revolutionary War in which the British began to shift their focus towards the southern colonies. From 1777-1778, they had a considerable amount of success, namely in Georgia with the Siege of Savannah. The prestige thus won by the British in the south in 1779 was immensely increased in the following year, when they victoriously swept up through South and North Carolina.

Failing, as stated, to achieve any advantage in the north in 1779, Sir Henry Clinton, under instructions from government, himself headed a combined military and naval expedition southward. He evacuated Newport, R.I. (October 25), left New York in command of the German general Wilhelm von Knyphausen, and in December sailed with 8500 men to join Prevost at Savannah. Cornwallis accompanied him, and later Lord Rawdon joined him with an additional force. Marching upon Charleston, Clinton cut off the city from relief, and after a brief siege, compelled Lincoln to surrender on the 12th of May. The loss of this place and of the 3000 troops included in the surrender was a serious blow to the American cause. The apparent submission of South Carolina followed. In June Clinton returned to New York, leaving Cornwallis in command, with instructions to reduce North Carolina also. Meanwhile an active and bitter partisan warfare opened. The British advance had been marked by more than the usual destruction of war; the Loyalists rose to arms; the whig population scattered and without much organization formed groups of riflemen and mounted troopers to harass the enemy. Little mercy was shown on either side. The dashing rider, Colonel Banastre Tarleton, cut to pieces (April 14, 1780) a detachment of Lincoln’s cavalry, and followed it up by practically destroying Buford’s Virginia regiment near the North Carolina border. On the other hand, daring and skilful leaders such as Francis Marion and Thomas Sumter kept the spirit of resistance alive by their sudden attacks and surprises of British outposts. Hanging Rock, Ninety-Six, Rocky Mount and other affairs brought their prowess and devotion into notice. By the month of August 1780, with the main British force encamped near the North Carolina line, the field seemed clear for the next advance.

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