The Battle of Sullivan’s Island or the battle of Fort Sullivan was fought on June 28, 1776, during the American Revolutionary War. It took place near Charleston, South Carolina, during the first British attempt to capture the city from American forces. It is also sometimes referred to as the first siege of Charleston, owing to a more successful British siege in 1780.
The British organized an expedition in early 1776 for operations in the rebellious southern colonies of North America. Delayed by logistical concerns and bad weather, the expedition reached the coast of North Carolina in May 1776. Finding conditions unsuitable for their operations, General Henry Clinton and Admiral Sir Peter Parker decided instead to act against Charlestown. Arriving there in early June, troops were landed on Long Island (now called Isle of Palms), near Sullivan’s Island where Colonel William Moultrie commanded a partially constructed fort, in preparation for a naval bombardment and land assault. General Charles Lee, commanding the southern Continental theater of the war, would provide supervision.
The land assault was frustrated when the channel between the two islands was found to be too deep to wade, and the American defenses prevented an amphibious landing. The naval bombardment had little effect due to the sandy soil and the spongy nature of the fort’s palmetto log construction. Careful fire by the defenders wrought significant damage on the British fleet, which withdrew after an entire day’s bombardment. The British withdrew their expedition force to New York, and did not return to South Carolina until 1780