South and North Carolina enter the Revolutionary War



In South Carolina armed resistance was active in 1775. The Provincial Congress, over whom Henry Laurens presided, issued $600,000 in paper money and voted to raise two regiments, of which Christopher Gadsden and William Moultrie were chosen colonels. Lieutenant-Governor Bull tried in vain to suppress the republican spirit; and when, in July, Lord William Campbell arrived at Charleston with the commission of governor, and called an assembly, that body declined to do any business under him. Executive powers were intrusted to a Council of Safety, who proceeded to organize civil government on a republican basis, and to put the province in a state of defence. The Tories in the back country, who were very numerous, were disarmed by a force under William Henry Drayton, a nephew of the lieutenant-governor. An armed vessel was sent to seize an English powder-ship lying in the harbor of St. Augustine, and returned to Charleston with fifteen hundred pounds of that much needed article. Early in September, Colonel Moultrie was ordered to take possession of the little fort on Sullivan's Island near the entrance to Charleston harbor. In so doing he found no resistance; for the garrison, expecting the hostile visit, had fled to the British sloops-of-war Tamar and Cherokee, lying near, where they were soon joined by Governor Campbell, who took refuge there from a storm of popular indignation which had been created by a knowledge that he had tried to incite the Indians on the frontier to attack the Carolinians, and had tampered with the Tories in the interior. So ended royal rule in South Carolina, and republicanism reigned supreme.

Early in 1776, Moultrie was ordered to build a fort on Sullivan's Island large enough to accommodate a garrison of a thousand men, because information had been received by the Council of Safety that a British land and naval force were preparing to attack Charleston. The fort was built of palmetto logs and earth, and was named Fort Sullivan. Over it was unfurled the flag of South Carolina, which Moultrie had designed. As there was then no national flag, and the provincial troops who garrisoned the fort were dressed in blue, and wore a silver crescent on the front of their caps, he had a large blue silk flag prepared with a white crescent in the dexter corner. This was the first American flag displayed in South Carolina.

In North Carolina resistance to oppression began early, as we have seen. The Mecklenberg Declaration of Independence in May, 1775, was but a culmination in action of the patriotic sentiments of the province. Governor Martin, who succeeded Tryon, alarmed by the threatening aspect of the popular will, first fortified his "palace" at New Berne, and then took refuge in Fort Johnson, near the mouth of the Cape Fear River. From that stronghold he was driven by the patriots in arms in July, to the Pallas sloop-of-war in the Cape Fear. The fort was destroyed, and the governor fulminated menacing proclamations from his floating quarters. His political friends were numerous; but under the wise leadership of Cornelius Harnett, John Ashe and a few others, the Whigs were so well organized that they silenced the Tories, and kept the most obnoxious ones prisoners on their own plantations. The Continental Congress voted to furnish supplies for a thousand men in that province to counteract the influence of Governor Martin and his friends; and a popular convention that assembled at Hills-borough in August, and assumed the control of the colony, authorized the raising of two regiments, with Robert Howe and James Moore to command them. The governor, from the Pallas, sent a proclamation in which he denounced the Convention as treasonable, and the Convention denounced his manifesto as "a scandalous, malicious and scurrilous libel, tending to disunite the good people of the province," and ordered it to be burned by the common hangman.





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