Skip to main content

Carolina campaign

Carolina campaign, 1780–81, of the American Revolution. After Sir Henry Clinton had captured Charleston, he returned to New York, leaving a British force under Cornwallis to subordinate the Carolinas to British control. Cornwallis swept north and capped his success in the battle of Camden on Aug. 16, 1780. The American force was completely routed, the gallant Baron de Kalb was mortally wounded, and the American commander, Horatio Gates, fled from the field, outdistancing officers and men in retreat. Patriot defense was broken in the Carolinas, where only the swift and secretly moving guerrilla bands of Francis Marion, Thomas Sumter, and Andrew Pickens harassed the invaders. The American cause was advanced, however, with the remarkable battle of Kings Mt. (Oct. 7, 1780), where bands of frontier riflemen under Isaac Shelby, John Sevier, and William Campbell surrounded a British raiding party under Patrick Ferguson; the British commander fell, and his men surrendered. This victory prefaced the campaign fought in North Carolina by Gen. Nathanael Greene (who had been appointed to succeed Gates) and his lieutenants, notably Light-Horse Harry Lee and Daniel Morgan. It was Morgan who at the head of a raiding party met and all but annihilated Cornwallis's raiders under Banastre Tarleton at Cowpens (Jan. 17, 1781). Cornwallis pushed north and at Guilford Courthouse (Mar. 15, 1781) won a Pyrrhic victory over Greene; the British had technically won but had to retreat to British-held Wilmington, N.C., and then to Virginia. Greene then joined the guerrilla leaders in freeing South Carolina. Again the Americans were defeated—by Lord Rawdon at Hobkirks Hill (Apr. 25, 1781) and by Col. Alexander Stewart at Eutaw Springs (Sept. 8, 1781)—and again the British had to retreat, returning to Charleston. The campaign was a British failure and was, moreover, a triumph for the patriots because it set the stage for the Yorktown campaign.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Carolina campaign." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . 15 Mar. 2019 <>.

"Carolina campaign." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . (March 15, 2019).

"Carolina campaign." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved March 15, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.