On This Day in History -
Clinton arrived off the coast of Cape Fear on March 12. He quickly realized his plan would not work when he learned of the defeat of Governor Martin's Loyalist army at the Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge. In addition, Parker's fleet, which was supposed to have left Ireland in December, had not yet arrived. Clinton was forced to wait off the coast until the first of the fleet arrived on April 18. The rest of the fleet, which had been battered by a rough crossing and scattered, was not fully present until May 31.
Clinton met with the governors of North and South Carolina and Captain Parker. Due to the loss of the Loyalist army, they decided that disembarking in North Carolina at this time would be unwise. Instead, Parker suggested a direct assault from the sea on Charleston. His scouts had learned that the fort at the opening of Charleston's harbor was only partially complete and he believed it would be easily taken, giving them complete control of the harbor.
When Clinton and Parker sailed from North Carolina, with Governor Martin on board, royal rule in North Carolina was essentially over. General Cornwallis would not make another attempt to re-establish British rule there until 1780 during the southern campaign, which ultimately failed as well.
When Clinton and Parker reached Charleston and attacked Fort Sullivan, Colonel William Moultrie successfully repelled the attack from the unfinished fort. The stunned and humiliated Clinton and Parker were forced to abandon their attempt to retake the south. Instead, they sailed north and joined General William Howe's invasion of New York. The British would not return to the south until 1778, when they began a new southern campaign with the capture of Savannah in December of that year.
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