It May Be Very Easily Conceived What Heat And Thirst A Man Must Feel In This Climate,
To Be Upon A Plat-form On The 28th June
“JUNE, 1776. ON the morning of the 28th of June, I paid a visit to our advance-guard (on horseback three miles to the eastward of our fort) while I was there, I saw a number of the enemy's boats in motion, at the back of Long-Island, as if they intended a descent upon our advanced post; at the same time, I saw the men-of-war loose their topsails ; I hurried back to the fort as fast as possible ; when I got there the ships were already under sail; I immediately ordered the long roll to beat, and officers and men to their posts: We had scarcely manned our guns, when the following ships of war came sailing up, as if in confidence of victory; as soon as they came within the reach of our guns, we began to fire; they were soon a-breast of the fort...let go their anchors, with springs upon their cables, and begun their attack most furiously about 10 o'clock, A. M. and continued a brisk fire, till about 8 o'clock, P. M.
THE ships were, the Bristol, of 50 guns, Commodore Sir Peter Parker: The captain had his arm shot off, 44 men were killed and 30 wounded.
THE Experiment, 50 guns: the captain lost his arm, 57 men killed and 30 wounded.
THE Active, 28 guns: 1 lieutenant killed, 1 man wounded.
THE Sole-Bay, 28 guns: 2 killed, 3 or 4 wounded.
THE Syren, 28 guns.
THE Acteon, 28 guns: burnt, 1 lieutenant killed.
THE Sphinx, 38 guns: lost her bowsprit.
THE Friendship, 26 guns; an armed vessel taken into service. *
THE Thunder»Bomb had the beds of her mortar soon disabled; she threw her shells in a very good direction; most of them fell within the fort, but we had a morass in the middle, that swallowed them up instantly, and those that fell in the sand in and about the fort, were immediately buried, so that very few of them bursted amongst us: At one time, the Commodore's ship swung round with her stern to the fort, which drew the fire of all the guns that could bear upon her: we supposed he had had the springs of her cables cut away: The words that passed along the plat-form by officers and men, were, ‘mind the Commodore, mind the two fifty gun ships: most all the attention was paid to the two fifty gun ships, especially the Commodore, who, I dare say, was not at all obliged to us for our particular attention to him; the killed and wounded on board those two fifty gun ships confirms what I say. During the action, Gen. Lee paid us a visit through a heavy line of fire, and pointed two or three guns himself; then said to me, ' Colonel, I see you are doing very well here, you have no occasion for me, I will go up to town again,' and then left us.
WHEN I received information of Gen. Lee's approach to the fort, I sent Lieut. Marion, from off the plat-form, with 8 or 10 men, lo unbar the gateway, (our gate not being finished) the gate-way was barricaded with pieces of timber 8 or 10 inches square, which required 3 or 4 men to remove each piece ; the men in the ships tops, seeing those men run from the plat-form concluded ‘we were quitting the fort,' as some author mentions: Another says, ‘we hung up a man in the fort, at the time of ‘the action;' that idea was taken from this circumstance; when the action begun, (it being a warm day) some of the men took off their coats and threw them
upon the top of the merlons, I saw a shot take one of them and throw it into a small tree behind the plat-form, it was noticed by our men and they cried out ‘look at the coat.' Never did men fight more bravely, and never were men more cool ; * their only distress was the want of powder ; we had not more than 28 rounds, for 26 guns, 18 and 26 pounders, when we begun the action; and a little after, 500 pounds from town, and 300 pounds from Captain Tufft's schooner lying at the back of the fort.
THERE cannot be a doubt, but that if we had had as much powder as we could have expended in the time, that the men-of-war must have struck their colors, or they would certainly have been sunk, because they could not retreat, as the wind and tide
were against them; and if they had proceeded up to town, they would have been in a much worse situation : They could not make any impression on our fort, built of palmetto logs and filled in with
earth, our merlons were 16 feet thick, and high enough to cover the men from the fire of the tops . The men that we had killed and wounded received their shots mostly through the embrasures. *
AN author, who published, in 1779, says ‘the guns were at one time so long silenced, that it was thought the fort was abandoned; it seems extraordinary that a detachment of land forces were not
in readiness on board of the transports, or boats' to profit of such an occasion.'
THE guns being so long silent, was owing to the scarcity of powder which we had in the fort, and to a report that was brought me, ' that the British ' troops were landed between the advance-guard and ‘the fort;' * it was upon this information, that I ordered the guns to cease firing, or to fire very slow upon the shipping; that we should reserve our powder for the musketry to defend ourselves against the land forces, there being a great scarcity of powder
at this time.
AT one time, 3 or 4 of the men-of-war's broadsides struck the fort at the same instant, which gave the merlons such a tremor, that I was apprehensive that a few more such would tumble them down. During the action, three of the men-of-war, in going round to our west curtain, got entangled together, by which the Acteon frigate went on shore on the middle ground; the Sphinx lost her bow-sprit; and the Syren cleared herself without any damage ; had
these three ships effected their purpose, they would have enfiladed us in such a manner, as to have driven us from our guns : It being a very hot day, we were served along the plat-form with grog in firebuckets, which we partook of very heartily : I never had a more agreeable draught than that which took out o£ one of those buckets at the time; it may be very easily conceived what heat and thirst a man must feel in this climate, to be upon a plat-form on the 28th June amidst 20 or 30 heavy pieces of cannon, * in one continual blaze and roar; and clouds of smoke curling over his head for hours together; it was a very honorable situation, but a very unpleasant one.
DURING the action, thousands of our fellow-citizens were looking on with anxious hopes and fears' some of whom had their fathers, brothers, and husbands in the battle ; whose hearts must have been pierced at every broad-side. After some time our flag was shot away, their hopes were then gone, and they gave up all for losti supposing that we had struck our flag, and had given up the fort: Sergeant Jasper perceiving that the flag was shot away, and had fallen without the fort, jumped from one of the embrasures, and brought it up through a heavy fire, fixed it upon a spunge-staff} and planted it upon the ramparts again: Our flag once more waving in the air, revived the drooping spirits of our friends, and they continued looking on, till night had closed the scene, and hid us from their view ; only the appearance of a heavy
storm, with continual flashes and peals like thunder; at night when we came to our slow firing (the ammunition being nearly quite gone) we could hear the shot very distinctly strike the ships: At length the British gave up the conflict: The ships slipt their cables, and dropped down with the tide, and out of the reach of our guns. When the firing had ceased, our friends for a time, were again in an unhappy suspense, not knowing our fate; till they received an account by a .dispatch boat, which I sent up to town, to acquaint them, that the British ships had retired, and that we were victorious.
EARLY the next morning was presented to our view, the Acteon frigate, hard, and fast aground , at about 400 yards distance; we gave her a few shot, which she returned, but they soon set fire to her, and quitted her: Capt. Jacob Milligan and others, went in some of our boats, boarded her while she was on fire, and pointed 2 or S guns at the Commodore, and fired them ; then brought off the ships bell, and other articles, and had scarcely left her, when she blew up, and from the explosion issued a grand pillar of smoke, which soon expanded itself at the top, and to appearance, formed the figure of a palmetto tree ; the ship immediately burst into a great blaze that continued till she burnt down to the water's edge.
THE, other ships lay at the north point of Morris's Island * we could plainly see they had been pretty roughly handled, especially the Commodore.
THE same day, a number of our friends and fellow citizens, came to congratulate us on oar victory and Governor Rutledge presented Serge ant Jasper with a sword, for his gallant behavior; and Mr. William Logan, a hogshead of rum to the garrison, with the following card. ‘Mr. William Logan, presents his compliments to Col. Moultrie, and the officers and soldiers on Sullivan's Island, and beg their acceptance of a hogshead of old Antigua rum which being scarce in town at this time, will be acceptable.' Mr. Logan's present was thankfully received. A few days after the action, we picked up, in and about the fort, 1200 shot of different calibers that was fired at us, and a great number of 13 inch shells.”
--William Moultrie, 1802,
Memoirs of the American Revolution, 174-181
* The killed and wounded on board of the men-of-war, was from their own account.
* Several of the officers, as well as myself, were smoking our pipes and giving ciders ?t the time of the action ; but we laid them down when Gen, Lee came into the fort.
* Twelve men were killed and 24 wounded. When Sergeant M'Donald received his mortal wound, he, addressing his brother soldiers who were carrying him to the doctor, desired them not to give lip, that they were fighting for liberty and their country.
* The advance, is about 3 miles from the fort at the east end of Sullivan's Island,
* 18 and 26 French pounders f At about 6 miles distance,
* About 2 miles.