American Revolution: Major Events 1780

14-15 January: Patriot General William Alexander led 3,000 men across ice to Staten Island, New York, to attack British posts, but enemy was not surprised and Americans withdrew with 17 prisoners and some booty after losing 6 killed and about 500 “slightly frozen” in bitter winter weather.

3 February: British force of 550 from Manhattan attacked a patriot body of 450 at Young’s House (Mt. Pleasant), New York, and after sharp action forced patriots to retreat. The Latter lost 51 killed and wounded, 74 captured; British, 23 killed and wounded.

10-11 February: After a detour to Savannah for repairs and reorganization, Sir Henry Clinton’s southern expedition landed on Simmons Island and began slow but steady movement toward Charleston, South Carolina.

25 February: Congress, because of lack of financial resources, resolved to call upon the states for specific supplies to support the Army and established quotas for each state for the coming campaign.

29 February: Russian issued proclamation of Armed Neutrality containing principles for protection of neutral commerce in wartime, which helped to align European continental nations against Great Britain and led to involvement of The Netherlands as combatant.

14 March: Expedition led by Spanish Louisiana Governor Bernardo de Galvez captured British Fort Charlotte at present Mobile, Alabama, then in West Florida.

1 April: After series of maneuvers placed them in striking distance, British forces under General Clinton began siege of patriot forces under General Lincoln at Charleston.

2 April: Force of Indians and loyalists struck exposed settlement of Harpersfield, New York, killing several of inhabitants and capturing 19.

14 April: British force under Colonel Tarleton made surprise early morning attack on patriot supply depot at Monck’s Corner, South Carolina, guarded by 500 mounted Continentals and militia. Patriots were routed, with 80 or so casualties and loss of 200-400 horses, while British claimed only three casualties; also, this defeat cut last outside link of American force bottled up in Charleston.

24 April: Patriot sortie from Charleston, South Carolina, overran first line of British siege works and inflicted 62 casualties at cost of only three, but Charleston defenders were too weak to make any greater effort toward breakout.

6 May: Patriot cavalry group after capturing 18 British soldiers south of Santee River moved to Lenud’s Ferry, South Carolina, to re-cross river and join larger force of Colonel Abraham Buford. Before smaller force could cross river it was struck in surprise attack by Tarleton’s dragoons, patriots losing more than 100 in killed, wounded, and captured and British few or none.

7 May: Fort Moultrie, South Carolina, guarding entrance to Charleston harbor, captured by British from land side, American garrison of 200 surrendering without firing a shot.

12 May: After six-week siege, British forces totaling 17,200 troops and seamen forced surrender of Charleston, South Carolina, and its garrison of nearly 5,500, about half of them Continentals. During the siege patriot combat losses totaled about 230, British about 265. This surrender was the worst such disaster for the new
United States during Revolution; it was followed by British overrunning of most of South Carolina.

21-27 May: Sir John Johnson led raiding party of 400 other loyalists and 200 Indians from Crown Point to Mohawk Valley where on 22 May it burned Caughnawaga and on 23 May Johnstown, New York, as well as other settlements, slaughtering male inhabitants and on 27 May withdrawing with 40 prisoners.

25 May: At Morristown, New Jersey, two Connecticut regiments prepared to march off and go home without orders, in protest against no pay and short rations for preceding five months. This mutinous conduct, however justified, was suppressed, with some leaders lightly punished; but incident presaged more serious mutinies to come among Continental soldiers on same accounts.

26 May: British expedition of regulars and Indians from Fort Michilimackinac, Michigan, was repulsed in attack on Spanish settlement at St. Louis, Missouri.

29 May: Pursuing Buford’s Continentals northward, Tarleton attacked force nearly twice his number at Waxhaws, South Carolina, and inflicted crushing defeat on only remaining organized patriot body in South Carolina. Tarleton reported his casualties as 19 of 200 engaged, with patriots losing more than 300 of 400 engaged; including ll3 killed in British bayonet attack. Patriots claimed men trying to surrender were bayonetted.

29 May: Loyalist group near Winnsboro, South Carolina, was defeated and dispersed by patriot irregulars, marking beginning of effective patriot resurgence in Carolinas.

7-23 June: British force from Staten Island launched raid toward Morristown because of reported disaffection among Continental troops stationed there; but in engagements on 7 June at Connecticut Farms (now Union), and on 23 June at nearby Springfield, New Jersey, stout American defense turned back British and ended their offensive operations in New Jersey. Casualties in these engagements are uncertain, but British burning of towns involved helped stifle remaining loyalist sentiment in state.

20 June: Premature gathering of loyalists to join planned British invasion of North Carolina was broken up by patriots in bitter fight at Ramsour’s Mill (near modern Lincolnton), North Carolina, each side losing more than 150 in killed and wounded. Result was weak loyalist support of Cornwallis’ invasion when it did occur.

10 July: General Jean Comte de Rochambeau, commanding French army of 5,500 troops, arrived with them at Newport, Rhode Island, under orders to collaborate with Washington under latter’s general direction.

12 July: Patriot militia under Col. Thomas Sumter made surprise dawn attack on larger enemy force including some of Tarleton’s cavalry at Williamson’s Plantation (near present Rock Hill), South Carolina, and inflicted heavy loss at slight cost to attackers.

13 July: Congress unanimously resolved that Major General Horatio Gates of Saratoga fame should take command of the Southern Department and set up a committee of five to plan the defense of that department.

16 July: Near Fisher Summit in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, raiding party of British and Indians surprised Captain William Phillips’ rangers, killed ten and carried Captain Phillips off prisoner to Niagara.

21 July: Washington sent sizeable force under General Wayne to attack loyalist stockaded blockhouse at Bull’s Ferry (present West New York), New Jersey, but Wayne’s cannon were unable to destroy blockhouse, and impetuous and unsuccessful charge cost patriots 15 killed and 49 wounded, loyalist defenders sustaining 21 casualties.

30 July: Patriot force of 600 persuaded loyalist garrison of Fort Anderson (Thicketty Fort), South Carolina (10 miles southeast of Cowpens), to surrender without firing a shot.

1 August: Patriot partisan leader Thomas Sumter with 600 men attacked British fortified position at Rocky Mount, South Carolina; but lacking artillery Sumter could not capture inner circle of fortified houses and gave up after each side suffered about 12 casualties.

1 August: Skirmish at Green Spring, South Carolina, between 210 Tories of Major Ferguson’s command and 196 patriots-a prelude to King’s Mountain. Patriots drove back Tories in brisk 15-minute fire fight in which casualties were proportionately heavy on both sides.

2 August: Party of 500 Indians and loyalists under Joseph Brant attacked settlement of Fort Plank, New York, and although unable to capture fort burned most of Canajoharie settlement buildings and carried off several women and children as prisoners.

3 August: As step in his treasonous negotiations, which began in May 1779, General Benedict Arnold assumed command of post at West Point, New York, and its vicinity with intent of facilitating its capture by British.

6 August: After unsuccessful attack on Rocky Mount, Sumter’s partisans attacked British post about 20 miles to east at Hanging Rock, South Carolina, and in sharp fight defeated its loyalist garrison, defenders losing nearly 200, patriots 53.

8 August: George Rogers Clark leading expedition against British supported Ohio Indians defeated them with heavy loss and destroyed their settlement on Little Miami River.

15 August: Detachment under Sumter’s command captured British post guarding Wateree Ferry, South Carolina, and its garrison of 30, together with a large stock of supplies and wagons enroute to British main force under Cornwallis at nearby Camden.

16 August: In battle seven miles north of Camden, South Carolina, British under Cornwallis annihilated patriot army under General Gates, the most crushing defeat suffered by United States on a major field of battle during Revolution. Only 700 of 4,000 in Gates’ army were able to rally after battle at Hillsboro, North Carolina. Estimates of Americans killed, wounded, and captured approach 2,000; dead included General Kalb. British losses totaled about 325 out of about 2,240 engaged.

18 August: In ambuscade two miles from Musgrove’s Mill, South Carolina, on north bank of Enoree River, patriots inflicted about 225 casualties on attacking loyalist force, with patriot loss of only 12 in killed and wounded.

18 August: Tarleton with 160 dragoons and mounted infantry surprised Sumter’s partisans west of Wateree River at Fishing Creek, South Carolina, at cost of 16 casualties. Tarleton killed 150 patriots, captured 300, and recovered 100 British prisoners and most of booty seized at Wateree Ferry three days earlier.

20 August: Francis Marion, newly commissioned as brigadier general by governor of South Carolina, began his exploits by surprising British guard escorting 150 American prisoners to Charleston at Nelson’s Ferry (Great Savannah) crossing of Santee River, South Carolina, and killing or capturing 24 of enemy as well as releasing patriots.

4 September: General Francis Marion with group of about 50 partisans routed Tory force of 250 men at Blue Savannah, South Carolina.

14-18 September: Patriot militias drove in outposts and captured Forts Cornwallis and Grierson at approaches to Augusta, Georgia, but were unable to take the city by assault and arrival of British reinforcements forced patriots to flee. Action caused new outbreak of Tory vindictiveness in area.

21 September: At Wahab’s Plantation (on west bank of Catawba River about 10 miles southwest of Charlotte), North Carolina, patriot group of 150 surprised 60 loyalists and killed or wounded all of them.

21-25 September: Benedict Arnold and Major John Andre, Adjutant General of the British Army, met in woods on banks of Hudson inside American lines on night of 21-22 September to arrange final details of Arnold’s treason. Circumstances dictated Andre seek to return to British lines overland and he was captured near Tarrytown, 23 September, in disguise and carrying papers containing information on defenses of West Point, Arnold learned of Andre’s capture and escaped to British ship in Hudson on 25 September, just before Washington arrived at his headquarters to uncover the treason. Andre was left to his fate.

26 September: Advancing into North Carolina, Cornwallis occupied Charlotte, but not until after some sharp skirmishing there with patriot militia.

29 September: General Marion with 50 men defeated loyalist body of about same size at Black Mingo Creek (20 miles southwest of Georgetown), South Carolina, with at least 20 of loyalists killed, wounded, or captured.

2 October: Major Andre was hanged as spy at Tappan, New York.

3 October: Congress reduced authorized strength of Continental Army to 58 regiments-49 infantry, 4 artillery, 4 cavalry, 1 artificer-and made other provisions for its organization and state contributions to it.

5 October: Congress approved principles embodied in Russia’s Declaration of Armed Neutrality.

7 October: Patriot force of 900 overwhelmed somewhat larger loyalist force led by British regular Major Patrick Ferguson at King’s Mountain, South Carolina. In this battle, turning point of war in South in patriot favor, patriots lost 28 killed and 64 wounded, enemy losing Major Ferguson and 157 others killed, 163 badly wounded, and another 698 captured.

14 October: At the request of Congress to select a commander to replace Gates as head of the Southern Department, Washington appointed General Nathanael Greene.

15-17 October: Indian-loyalist force led by Sir John Johnson attacked Schoharie Valley of New York, but three forts (Upper, Middle, Lower) held out and principal damage was to houses and crops.

19 October: After passing through Schoharie Valley Johnson’s raiding party moved up north bank of Mohawk River where it was first attacked in front by much smaller force at Fort Keyser, then defeated by patriot force attacking from rear at Kock’s Field, New York (both in Palatine township). At least 40 patriots were killed in first attack and losses in second are uncertain.

26 October: Marion dispersed Tory force assembling near Tearcourt Swamp, South Carolina, in surprise attack. Killed three and wounded 14, captured horses and other booty without loss.

30 October: Congress approved Greene as commander of Southern Army, ordered Henry Lee’s and Stuben’s forces to the south, and assigned all units drawn from Delaware and states southward to the Southern Army.

9 November: Cornwallis sent detachment of 140 to attack Sumter’s militia force of 300, and in surprise (to both sides) early morning meeting at Fishdam Ford, South Carolina, 25 miles northwest of British headquarters at Winnsboro, British were beaten with considerably heavier losses than patriots.

20 November: Tarleton with about 270 dragoons and mounted infantry was defeated by upward of 1,000 militia under Sumter at Blackstocks, South Carolina, on south bank of Tyger River. British lost at least 30 killed and wounded, patriots only eight or nine; but Sumter himself was badly wounded and put out of action for weeks thereafter.

23 November: Force of 80 dismounted Continental dragoons crossed Long Island Sound from Fairfield, Connecticut, then marched across Long Island and attacked loyalist Fort George (near Brookhaven), New York. Patriots lost only one wounded; loyalist seven killed or wounded and about 200 captured who were taken back to Connecticut.

3 December: General Greene took command of Southern Department of Continental Army at Charlotte, North Carolina. His southern “army” then numbered under 2,500, less than half Continentals, and of the whole no more than one-third were properly clothed and equipped.

4 December: At Rudgeley’s Mill, South Carolina, Colonel William Washington’s cavalry used fake cannon to procure surrender of body of over 100 Tories in fortified log barn.

12-13 December: Skirmish at Halfway Swamp, South Carolina, between Marion’s men and British force escorting recruits to Hillsboro with inconclusive results.

20 December: Great Britain declared war on The Netherlands.

28 December: Patriot group of 280 Continental cavalry and mounted militia attacked 250 loyalists at Hammond’s Store (near modern Newberry), South Carolina, killing or wounding 150 and capturing 40, and with related operations discouraged loyalist support of Cornwallis.

30 December: British force of 1,200 under traitor (and now British Brigadier) Benedict Arnold arrived in Hampton Roads to begin raiding expeditions up James River.

THE COMMENTARY GAZETTE®

SOURCE: War of the American Revolution; BY: Robert W. Coakley & Stetson Conn ( United States Army Center of Military History)
CONTRIBUTOR: Frances Thompson

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