March 30, This day during the American Revolution

March 30, 1780 – at Charleston County, South Carolina – On March 29-30, the British force, commanded by Lt. Gen. Charles Cornwallis, was approaching Gibbes Plantation. A combination of several Patriot units were put together, commanded by Lt. Col. John Laurens, to stop the British advance. He posted his troops in an advanced redoubt on the King Street Road, about a mile from Charlestown. Another 1 1/2 miles from them, he placed a detachment of riflemen who set up an ambush in a wooded area along the road. Around 12:00 P.M., the Patriots fired on the British as they entered the ambush area. Quickly, the Patriots realized that they were outnumbered and began a withdrawal. The running battle continued until the Patriots reached the redoubt and took cover inside. Laurens was ordered to fall back to the American lines, with the British occupying the abandoned positions. Laurens decided to attack the abandoned positions, forcing the British back. The British counterattacked, forcing the Americans to fall back again. De Brahm: [Entry for the 30th] “The advanced guard of the enemy came within two miles of Charlestown, when a party of two hundred men, under Colonel John Laurens and a little while after two field-pieces), went out against them, who, after a skirmish of some hours, returned towards sun-set. The fortifications of Charlestown were, even at this time, very incomplete. All the negroes in town were impressed, who, together with the parties detailed from the garrison, were henceforth employed upon the works.” Letter from South Carolina printed in the Pennsylvania Packet, April 25: “March 30.—Yesterday, a large body of British grenadiers and infantry crossed the Ashley River, and to-day they appeared before the American line, where they are now camped. As the enemy approached, Colonel John Laurens, with a small party, had a brush with the advance body, in which Captain Bowman of the North Carolina forces, fell, much lamented; Major Herne [Edmund Hyrne] and two privates were wounded. The enemies loss is reported to be from twelve to sixteen killed. A French gentlemen, who was a volunteer in the action, says he counted eight and a Highland deserter says Col. St. Clair was mortally wounded.”

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