“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Mt. Carmel in McCormick County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)

Fort Charlotte

Fort Charlotte Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brian Scott, February 28, 2003
1. Fort Charlotte Marker
6.6 miles southwest are the ruins of Fort Charlotte, built of local stone, 1765-1767, to protect the French, British, and German settlements near Long Canes. Maj. James Mayson's seizure of it, defended by Capt. George Whitfield and Lieut. St. Pierre, July 12, 1775, in the name of the Council of Safety, was the first overt act of the Revolutionary War in South Carolina
Erected 1941 by The American Legion of South Carolina. (Marker Number 33-1.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Colonial EraForts and CastlesWar, French and IndianWar, US Revolutionary. A significant historical date for this entry is July 12, 1752.
Location. 34° 0.353′ N, 82° 30.432′ W. Marker is in Mt. Carmel, South Carolina, in McCormick County. Marker is at the intersection of Main Street (State Highway 81) and State Highway 33-91 on Main Street. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Mount Carmel SC 29840, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Mt. Carmel Historical District (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); Willington
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(approx. 3.3 miles away); Willington Academy (approx. 3.3 miles away); Cherry Hill / Noble Cemetery (approx. 3.3 miles away); Site of Willington Academy (approx. 3.8 miles away); Site of Willington Presbyterian Church (approx. 3.8 miles away); Capture of Fort Charlotte (approx. 4.1 miles away); Bobby Brown State Park Monument (approx. 4.8 miles away in Georgia); USS Scorpion (SS-278) (approx. 4.8 miles away in Georgia); Birthplace of Calhoun (approx. 5 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Mt. Carmel.
More about this marker. Despite the impression you receive from the sign, the "ruins" of Fort Charlotte are no longer visible (they were at the time of the marker's dedication). They lay under the waters of Lake Russell. However, a short drive down the road past the sign (SC-S-33-91) will take you to a gate of the Mt Carmel Park where the guide can give you directions to the Fort Charlotte Memorial on the lake's shores. The small dedication gives you an idea of what the fort may have looked like. The park is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Also see . . .
1. Fort Charlotte (South Carolina). Fort Charlotte was a colonial era fort located in McCormick County, South Carolina, near present day Mount Carmel. (Submitted on November 26, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

2. Fort Charlotte SC. 12 July 1775. *Major James Mason vs. Capt. George Whitfield. Fort Charlotte captured. (Submitted on November 26, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

3. 3rd South Carolina Regiment. The 3rd South Carolina Regiment was raised on June
Mt. Carmel Presbyterian Chruch -<br>Located South of Fort Charlotte Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brian Scott, September 20, 2008
2. Mt. Carmel Presbyterian Chruch -
Located South of Fort Charlotte Marker
6, 1775, at Ninety-Six Court House, South Carolina, for service with the Continental Army. (Submitted on November 26, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 

4. Biographical Sketch of Moses Kirkland By Phil Norfleet. Moses Kirkland (1730-1787) was probably born about 1730, the son of Richard and Mary Kirkland of Prince William County, Virginia. (Submitted on December 6, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.) 
Additional commentary.
1. Fort Charlotte
The last fort erected during the colonial period was built, 1765-66, on the Savannah river about forty-five miles above Augusta, opposite the rnouth of the Broad river, in the lower part of what is now Abbeville county. It was constructed of stone at a cost of £1,000 sterling and was called Fort Charlotte in honor of Her Majesty, the queen. (Source: South Carolina as a Royal Province, 1719-1776 by William Roy Smith, pg 212.)
    — Submitted November 26, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

2. Summary of the Battle
July 12, 1775 at Fort Charlotte, South Carolina - In June, the Council of Safety in Charlestown ordered Maj. James Mayson, commander of Fort Ninety-Six,
Fort Charlotte on the Savannah River image. Click for full size.
The Making of McCormick County by Bobby F. Edmonds, December 6, 2009
3. Fort Charlotte on the Savannah River
to capture Fort Charlotte. Fort Charlotte was located just west of Ninety-Six and was on the Savannah River. On July 12, the American force of Ranger companies captured the fort without any bloodshed or opposition. The only occupants of the fort were Capt. George Whitefield, his family, and a few men of the garrison. The Rangers also managed to capture 1,050 lbs. of gunpowder, 18 cannon, 15 muskets, 83 casks of musket cartridges, 2,521 musket balls, and 343 iron cannonballs. Mayson and the 3rd South Carolina Regiment would be stationed at Fort Charlotte to command the interior. (Source:
    — Submitted November 26, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

3. Seizure of Fort Charlotte, July 12, 1775
Fort Charlotte, a frontier outpost left over from the last round of Indian troubles, contained a ton or more of gunpowder, plus artillery pieces and ammunition. Its other appeal was that it was guarded only by a single captain of the province's handful of full-time military personnel and his family -- more caretakers than garrison.

The fort itself was situated on the upper Savannah River and located so as to guard a ford (now under the waters of Clark's Hill Reservoir) frequently crossed by Creek warriors given to
Fort Charlotte Memorial<br>Lake Thurmond in the Background. image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brian Scott, March 1, 2003
4. Fort Charlotte Memorial
Lake Thurmond in the Background.
crossing from Georgia and raiding into frontier settlements just beyond. The principle one of these, the village of Ninety Six, was distant some thirty miles to the north and east. Constructed of stone, the fort was initially occupied by British regulars, now long since withdrawn.

Late in June the Council of safety ordered Major James Mayson, a resident of the Ninety Six area, to seize the fort and its munitions. Mayson was given two companies of mounted rangers recently raised. The colony had a long history of using troops of this sort, and indeed a substantial number of Mayson's men apparently were veterans of ranger service. The two companies were themselves respectively commanded by captains James Caldwell and Moses Kirkland. Kirkland had been prominent in the Regulator movement of eights years before and was a leader in his community. He now supposedly harbored a grudge, however, since Mayson, rather than himself, had been the choice for this new field-officer's command.

Kirkland's supposed grudge did not, however, prevent the column's marching, with Mayson in the lead, unhindered into the fort. Mayson seized it in the name of the Provincial Congress and, leaving Caldwell and his rangers in charge, decided to proceed for Ninety Six with some of the gunpowder. Mayson was accompanied by Kirkland and his company as escort. By then, news of the fort's seizure
Detail of Fort Charlotte Vicinity image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Mill's Atlas of 1825, 1825
5. Detail of Fort Charlotte Vicinity
had had time to reach those elements in the backcountry inclined towards loyalty to the British Crown -- or outright animosity towards the lowcountry Whigs controlling the Council of Safety. This sudden move -- taking the fort and its powder -- was in their eyes provocative to the point of outrage.

It was at this juncture that Kirkland formally decided to change sides. He took the step of urging his neighbors who were loyalists to seize the gunpowder taken by Mayson and now stored in the courthouse at Ninety Six. When the loyalists arrived there, they gained both the gunpowder and Mayson, most of whose troops were members of Kirkland's company and had already decided to leave before a fight could develop. Mayson was arrested by the loyalists, charged by his fellow Americans with stealing Crown property, and locked up -- only to gain release a few days later. For the moment the various elements of the backcountry -- those pro-Whig in outlook, those who were out-and-out loyalists, and those just plain neutral -- continued to either press their case or to sit back and see what happened next. But a point of departure had been reached. In fact, this seizure of the fort marked the first expansion of the war into the backcountry region -- as opposed to Charleston and the coast -- of South Carolina, and it revealed clearly the fault lines of a divided populace.

Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz<br>(1744–1818) image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Allan Ramsay, 1762
6. Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz
Wife of George III & Namesake of Fort Charlotte
representatives of South Carolina's political elite -- and indeed, precisely those most inclined to oppose the new British policies -- were taken steps in concert with those of the other colonies to help shape both a system of government and an overall military response. In the wake of Lexington and Concord, and as New England militia gathered against the British in Boston, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia. It assumed general direction of what was becoming a war effort and would be the means of government until adoption of the Articles of Confederation some five and a half years later.

South Carolina's representatives were Christopher Gadsden, Thomas Lynch, Arthur Middleton, and Edward and John Rutledge. Few among this or any other colony's delegation were ready as yet to take the plung of declaring independence from Britain. For the moment, their cause remained that of restoration of historic rights within the imperial context. They made it clear that even though all the colonies, including South Carolina, stood to forfeit lucrative economic benefits as a result of trouble with Britain, they would stand by New England. Their support took specific military form. They voted to support the militia units investing Boston and to create a force of regular troops eventually to be termed the Continental Army, whose "Continental Line" would be made up of regiments
The Shores of Lake Thurmond<br>Georgia in the Distance image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Brian Scott, March 1, 2003
7. The Shores of Lake Thurmond
Georgia in the Distance
provided from each colony. As important as these measures were, however, they were not more important than the naming of George Washington to be commander in chief of the army. Washington was a Virginia planter schooled by service in the House of Burgesses, his colony's lower house and the oldest such body in North America, and by active campaigning in the war just past. Finally, he represented the South. He thus helped tie that region's fortunes irrevocably to those of Massachusetts and New England. The South Carolina representatives played a crucial role in his appointment and they could not have been, in the words of historian John Richard Alden, displeased to see a man of "their kind and country" appointed to command a military effort to be made by all the colonies.

In South Carolina, though, only gradually did the war turn form arms and ammunition seizures into a shootig one. Rather, a sort of slow dance prevailed as the two groups -- those acting in the name of colonial rights on the one hand, Britain's loyal adherents on the other -- maneuvered for position. The loyalists were called by their opponents Tories because that name denoed in their minds the party of support for the king and the policies of control from Whitehall. The other side called themselves the Whigs after the king's opposition in Parliament. A particular favorite of the Americans was William Pitt,
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the "Great Commoner" now raised to the peerage as the Earl of Chatham. The British already spoke of the Whig group as rebels but the rebels saw themselves as patriots, a term thereafter to be enshrined in triumphalist, nationalistic accounts of the struggle. (Source South Carolina and the American Revolution by John W. Gordon, pgs 22-25.)
    — Submitted November 26, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

4. New Bordeaux and Louis de Mesnil de St. Pierre
A third organized migration of Huguenots to South Carolina did make a determined effort to establish vineyards there. This was the community called New Bordeaux, whose origins may be traced to 1763, when some of the many Huguenots still living in London petitioned the board of trade for lands along the Savannah River, where they proposed "to apply themselves principally to the cultivation of vines and of silk." The petition was favorably received, and in 1764 some 132 French Protestants were sent to land lying near the Savannah River on Long Cane Creek, many miles above the Purrysburgh settlement. There, amidst the 26,000 acres of their grant, the french laid out there town of New Bordeaux; as the still-surviving map of the original survey shows, of the 800 acres of the town tract, 175 acres were reserved, "to be divided into 4-acre lots for vineyards and olive gardens." It may have been of these settlers' early efforts at winemaking that William Stork spoke in his Description of East Florida (1769), saying: "I have drank a red of the growth of that province [South Carolina] little inferior to Burgundy."

Whatever effort they made towards developing their vineyards was powerfully reinforced in 1768, when the community was joined by another migration of French Protestants under the leadership of Louis de Mesnil de St. Pierre. St. Pierre's original intention had been to take his people to Nov Scotia, but accident brought them to South Carolina instead. They could not have had viticulture in mind from the beginning: Nova Scotia was no place for the vine (though there are now vineyards and several small wineries there), and St. Pierre, a Norman, did not belong to the wine regions of France. Once in New Bordeaux, however, he devoted himself to viticulture with a determined zeal. The land, he wrote enthusiastically, "rose into gentle declivities, interspersed with delightful vales of small extent"; soil, water, climate, all were perfect for growing wine grapes, so that -- the conclusion is painfully familiar -- "we may venture to pronounce the success infallible."

When William Bartram travelled through South Carolina in June 1775, he was entertained at St. Pierre's residence, Orange Hill, which stood on a hill looking out over the Savannah River and into Georgia, where winegrowing had been tried years before" Bartram found St. Pierre tending "a very thriving vineyard consisting of about five acres" at new Bordeaux. Since St. Pierre had been there since 1768, he was one of the very few of colonial vineyardists who actually persisted lone enough to have produced anything. Whether he was as hopeful in 1775 as he had been at the beginning of the decade we do not know. Bartram says nothing about St. Pierre's wine, if there was any. In any case, the Revolution put an end to the enterprise. St. Pierre joined the South Carolinian patriots in the war and was, according to a contemporary note, made "Lieutenant to a Small Fort in the back County where he lives upon his pay of 30 pounds a year." St. Pierre was killed on an expedition against the Indians and that 'untimely end," as a later memorialist wrote, "overturned the establishment in its infancy." New Bordeaux itself, never very flourishing, dwindled to the crossroads that it now is, where a marker records the site of the old Huguenot church. (Source: A History of Wine in America, Volume 1: From the Beginnings to Prohibition by Thomas Pinney (2007), pgs 95-100.)
    — Submitted November 27, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.

5. Captain Moses Kirkland
Moses Kirkland was a prosperous planter in the fertile district of Ninety-Six in South Carolina. In 1774 he was chosen a member of the Provincial Congress, and was regarded as a warm supporter of the American cause. According to his memorial, however, he maintains that he spoke strongly in the House of Assembly at Charleston in January, 1775, against the proceedings of the Continental Congress at Philadelphia, but that his side was defeated by vote, and after protesting he returned home.

In June following, he was appointed by the Assembly to command a company of rangers, and his commission was sent to him in a letter which he refused to accept.

Kirkland's next step was to assemble the inhabitants of his district and by his influence, combined with the assistance of Colonels Thomas Fletchall and Thomas Brown, he opposed Congress so effectually that he had raised over 5,000 signatures to a resolution to support the king's Government. In consultation with some of his leading neighbors it was now decided that, in view of the improbability of immediate military support from the governor and from the want of arms and ammunition, he should leave the Province and join the British army at Boston. In this scheme Kirkland was supported by his friends and he forthwith left his home in disguise, accompanied by his only son, a boy of twelve summers, and eventually reached the house of Governor Lord William Campbell, at Charleston, thence going on board H.M.S. Tamar. From Charleston he proceeded to St. Augustine in East Florida, armed with letters of recommendation from Lord William Campbell to Governor Tonyn and others, and after a brief stay departed for Boston, where he arrived in September, 1775. Kirkland's sojourn at Boston was of brief duration, for he is next seen in Virginia, serving under the governor, Lord Dunmore. Returning again to Boston, his ship was captured, 10 December, near that port by the American schooner, Lee, commanded by Captain Manly who was probably the American officer of that name who was in command of the American privateer, Hancock, described by Sir George Collier as the second officer of rank in the American navy, "a man of talent and intrepidity" and more capable of doing mischief than General Lee," whom it was "a piece of good fortune" to have captured in June, 1777, with the Hancock.

Kirkland was sent to Washington's headquarters at Cambridge, where he was detained for 22 days, and then removed to Philadelphia. Here he was a prisoner until June, 1776, when he escaped, and by traveling in disguise succeeded in getting to Lord Dunmore's vessels in Chesapeake Bay at the end of July. Kirkland afterwards joined General Sir William Howe on Staten Island, and was present at the capture of Long Island, New York, White Plains, and Fort Washington. At the end of March, 1777, Howe requested Kirkland to carry dispatches to East and West Florida, and he accomplished his mission without mishap, arriving, 1 May, at St. Augustine. Proceeding overland, he reached Pensacola, a journey of twenty days, and delivered the dispatches to Governor Chester and to General John Stuart, superintendent of the Indians, who appointed him deputy superintendent of Indians, by command of General Howe, 22 May, 1777. He remained in West Florida until January, 1778, when he went among the Indian tribes, distributing presents and endeavoring to persuade them to be loyal and to act in concert with the British. Returning to St. Augustine on 1 March, Kirkland prepared a plan for an expedition composed of loyalist refugees and Indians, against Georgia, which he submitted for the approval of the governor and the general, presumably Prevost. The consent of the commander-in-chief was, however, necessary before the scheme could be put into force, and with this object in view, the indefatigable Kirkland set sail for Philadelphia, which he reached in May, only to find that Howe had resigned and was about to return to England. He succeeded, however, in submitting his plan to Howe and Sir Henry Clinton, both of whom approved of it. Kirkland remained at Philadelphia until the evacuation of the city by the British in June, when he accompanied Clinton to New York. Here he was on duty until requested in October by Clinton to accompany Colonel Archibald Campbell's expedition to Georgia, and there to render every assistance in his power. His first taste of war here was at the capture of Savannah by the British. At the action of Brier creek, 60 miles from Savannah, Kirkland commanded part of the Georgia militia and a party of loyalist refugees. Later he accompanied Prevost on the expedition to Charleston.

Kirkland appears to have returned to Georgia, for on 9 October, 1779, he was captured with about 100 other loyalists under Captain French at Ogeechie, 15 miles from Savannah, and he and his son, were bound in irons and put on board a galley. Happily, this vessel was captured by the British, and he re-joined the British forces at Savannah.

Lord Cornwallis, it will be remembered, appointed Robert Cunningham to command a brigade of loyal militia in the district of Ninety-Six in 1780. One of the regiments was allotted to Moses Kirkland, the date of his commission being 6 July. He continued on active service in his own district until he joined Colonel John Harris Cruger on the expedition for the relief of the gallant Colonel Thomas Brown and his force at Augusta in the middle of September.

Major Kirkland's memorial adds but few details of his subsequent career, beyond mentioning that he was put in command of the garrison at Augusta after the relief of Brown, and that he would seem later to have settled near Savannah.

After the evacuation of South Carolina by the British, Moses Kirkland sought refuge in Jamaica, where he settled in St. George's parish and married Catherine Bruce. His life was ended by drowning while on a voyage from the West Indies to England in December, 1787. Richard Bruce Kirkland, his only son, was born in 1786 and became a planter in Jamaica.

Drayton gives a different version of the reasons for Kirkland's departure from South Carolina, alleging that after his (Drayton's) manifesto of 30 August, 1775, warning all persons who should without lawful authority assemble in arms with, or by the instigation of Kirkland, that they would be regarded as public enemies, to be suppressed by the sword, and that Kirkland was confounded and his exertions paralyzed. Offering to surrender on a promise of pardon, Drayton demanded his surrender at discretion, but Kirkland fled in disguise, with two trusty friends.

Kirkland conceals one important event in his career, namely, that he was concerned with Major James Mayson and Captain John Caldwell in the seizure of Fort Charlotte and its stores of ammunition, which was the first overt act in the Revolutionary war in South Carolina. It was after the re-capture of the fort by the loyalists that Kirkland turned over to the other side.

Major Moses Kirkland's prosperous position as a planter may be gauged from the extent of his award of £4,000 from his claim of £12,160 for the loss of his property in South Carolina. This property was sold by the State of South Carolina and realized £1,972. (Source: Contributions in History and Political Science, Issue 7 by Ohio State University (1921), by pgs 105-108.)
    — Submitted December 6, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on May 26, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. This page has been viewed 4,840 times since then and 236 times this year. Last updated on July 15, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. Photos:   1. submitted on May 26, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.   2, 3. submitted on December 6, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.   4. submitted on May 26, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.   5, 6. submitted on December 6, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.   7. submitted on May 26, 2008, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.

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Oct. 4, 2023