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The British Attack on Charleston -- Battle of Sullivan's Island

Detailed Revolutionary War naval battle plan, showing the engagement of the British and American forces off the coast of South Carolina, during the British assault on Fort Moultrie on Sullivan Island.

The plan shows the fortifications at Fort Moultrie, along with the positions and names of 10 British ships, led by Sir Peter Parker. The purpose of Parker's expedition was to provide naval support for a British expedition supporting loyalists in the southern colonies and most notably Charleston. Parker led an unsuccessful assault on Fort Moultrie on June 28, 1776. In the process, Parker lost one ship (the HMS Acteon, which is shown run aground in the middle of the map) and was himself injured during the battle.

The present example is from a rare French edition of Ramsay's History of South Carolina and is one of the earliest printed maps engraved by Charles Picquet, who would go on to become one of France's leading map makers of the early 19th Century. The map illustrates the fine precise style of Picquet's maps.

Battle of Sullivan's Island

The Battle of Sullivan's Island was fought on June 28, 1776,  near Charleston, South Carolina, during the first British attempt to capture the city from American forces. It is also sometimes referred to as the First Siege of Charleston.

The British organized an expedition in early 1776 for operations in the rebellious southern colonies of North America. The expedition reached the coast of North Carolina in May 1776. Finding conditions unsuitable for their operations, General Henry Clinton and Admiral Sir Peter Parker decided instead to act against Charlestown. Arriving there in early June, troops were landed on Long Island (now called Isle of Palms), near Sullivan's Island where Colonel William Moultrie commanded a partially constructed fort, in preparation for a naval bombardment and land assault. General Charles Lee, commanding the southern Continental theater of the war, would provide supervision.

The land assault was frustrated when the channel between the two islands was found to be too deep to wade, and the American defenses prevented an amphibious landing. The naval bombardment had little effect due to the sandy soil and the spongy nature of the fort's palmetto log construction. Careful fire by the defenders wrought significant damage on the British fleet, which withdrew after an entire day's bombardment.

The British withdrew their expeditionary force to New York, and did not return to South Carolina until 1780.