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Southern Campaigns


SOUTHERN CAMPAIGNS of the American Revolution (1780–1781) were a vigorous effort by the British, after setbacks in the North, to quash rebellion in the Carolinas and Georgia. On 26 December 1779, Sir Henry Clinton and General Charles Cornwallis sailed from New York with eight thousand men. Landing at Savannah, they forced the surrender of the American forces in Charleston. With the British victory at Waxhaw Creek on 29 May, no organized American force was left in the three southernmost states. General George Washington sent two thousand men to the aid of South Carolina, but Horatio Gates promptly lost most of this army at the Battle of Camden (16 August). Meanwhile, Cornwallis detached Major Patrick Ferguson with twelve hundred men, but this force was annihilated at Kings Mountain on 7 October, and another detachment under Colonel Banastre Tarleton was destroyed at the Battle of Cowpens (17 January 1781). Nathanael Greene had succeeded Gates in December 1780. With General Daniel Morgan's aid, he lured Cornwallis into North Carolina and dealt hima crippling blow at Guilford Courthouse on 15 March 1781. The British commander then retired to Wilmington, North Carolina, and prepared for a renewed strike into Virginia. Sir Henry Clinton had sent Benedict Arnold into Virginia with sixteen hundred British troops, but Arnold had delayed. Greene, ignoring Cornwallis's invasion of Virginia, returned to South Carolina, and although he theoretically lost engagements at Hobkirk's Hill (25 April), Ninety-Six (22 May–19 June), and Eutaw Springs (8 September), he so weakened the British forces that by 10 December 1781 he had driven the only remaining British army in the Deep South into a state of siege at Charleston. Meanwhile, Cornwallis had been cornered by a joint American-French force, and he surrendered at Yorktown, Virginia, on 19 October 1781.


Alden, John R. The South in the Revolution, 1763-1789. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Universtiy Press, 1957.

Higgins, W. Robert., ed. The Revolutionary War in the South. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1979.

Lumpkin, Henry. From Savannah to Yorktown. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1981.

Morrill, Dan L. Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution. Baltimore: Nautical and Aviation Publishing, 1993.

Alvin F.Harlow/a. r.

See alsoCamden, Battle of ; Cowpens, Battle of ; Eutaw Springs, Battle of ; Guilford Courthouse, Battle of .

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