“The Severest Blow We Ever Received”: The Fall of Charleston, South Carolina, May 12, 1780

Emerging Revolutionary War Era

On May 12, 1780, around noon, the Southern Continental Army formed up in the tabby Hornwork (near present-day Marion Square), marched out of the fortifications and laid down their weapons between their main defensive line and the Hornwork. Their flags were cased and they were forced to play a Turkish march on their drums. This was humiliating to the Patriot defenders. British and Hessian grenadiers entered the Hornwork and the British flag was raised over the American fortifications. Charleston, South Carolina had officially fallen.

Today a state historic marker marks the location of where the Americans surrendered.

During the surrender ceremony, the British Army lined up to watch the American Continentals surrender their arms. They were amazed to see the wretched condition of the American soldiers. They noted their clothes were ragged and torn and many had no shoes. Despite this, they were extremely disciplined and professional. One British officer noted that it was “admirable that these…

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