Ninety Six: End Game | The Southern Campaign

[YELLING] [GUNSHOTS] At the Star Fort, in the back
country township of Ninety Six, a band of loyalists held
their ground waiting to see what would happen. The British army was far
away in North Carolina, marching to Wilmington
from Beaufort courthouse. General Nathaniel
Green’s patriot army had entered South
Carolina with plans to take control of
the back country. Reinforcements to help
the loyalists hold onto this strategic
position were on their way from Charles town. Or were they? Long march. [MUSIC] NARRATOR: Ninety Six was a small
frontier town near Greenwood, South Carolina,
and a central part of the geography of British
strongholds designed to seal off Charles
Town and the low country from French, Spanish,
and Indian attack. Native Americans
in the upcountry were divided in their loyalties. Catawba Indians were,
for the most part, loyal to the Patriot cause. The Catawba’s were known
as the Patriot Indians. They sided with the
Patriots primarily because of their friendship, their ties
with the surrounding settlers here. The Patriots agreed to pay
Catawba warriors to serve alongside of the
Patriots soldiers because they were good
scouts, they knew the area, they knew the terrain, but they
were also excellent warriors. NARRATOR: But the larger
Cherokee tribe to the west supported the British. DR. BROOK BAUER: They thought
the British were more powerful and they wanted to protect
their land from further settler encroachment. NARRATOR: Native Americans
were interested in protecting their land base,
protecting their families, and maintaining
good relationships with the settlers. Freedom and
independence were terms that didn’t have the
same meaning for them as they did for the Patriots. DR. BROOK BAUER: It’s survival. Their motivation to
be involved in the war was not exactly to
take sides, but just to survive as a people. That was their
primary motivation. NARRATOR: In 1775
loyalists and rebels faced off against each
other at Ninety Six. DR. WALTER EDGAR
(VOICEOVER): South Carolina was well on the
road to revolution. Ninety Six, the Star
Fort, was considered key to controlling
the back country. The Americans start tracking
down loyalist militia in December 1775 called
the great Snow Campaign. Literally the snow stayed on
the ground for almost a month, and the first blood
of the revolution was shed in South Carolina
in the back country. NARRATOR: By 1780,
Ninety Six had become a military
post, or Garrison, of British provincials
and Loyalist militia. They built a star fort
adjacent to the town to provide an effective
defensive position. SARAH CUNNINGHAM: May
21st, 1781, General Greene and approximately
1,000 troops marched South towards Ninety Six to
lay siege to the Star Fort. It is the longest field siege
of the American Revolution, it lasted 28 days. “The approaches have
gone on exceeding slow. The British fortifications
are so strong, and the garrisons
so large and so well furnished, that our
success is very doubtful.” –General Nathanael Greene. NARRATOR: The Patriots dug
approach trenches closing in on the Star Fort day by day. They built a rifle tower to
shoot down into the Fort. They even attempted to tunnel
under the Fort to blow it up. SARAH CUNNINGHAM: General
Greene and Tadeusz Kosciuszko devised a plan to dig
the shaft underground, towards the Star Fort, and
pack it with black powder. It would be ignited and blow a
massive hole in the Star Fort walls. NARRATOR: Progress on
the tunnel was slow. “The nature of the
ground was very hard. The approaches could not
be so fast advanced.” A last ditch effort to
charge the Fort failed. But it was feared that
the British reinforcements would arrive in Ninety Six,
before the tunnel was ready. The Loyalists held
their position. The tunnel was left unfinished. General Greene withdrew
to fight other battles in South Carolina. General Cornwallis
marched up the coast from Wilmington, North
Carolina, to Yorktown, Virginia. And in October, 1781,
he found himself pinned between
George Washington’s army and the French fleet. He surrendered, and the
war effectively ended. But the war didn’t
end in South Carolina. Camden, Ninety Six,
Georgetown, and Charles Town remained in British hands. General Greene led the
Patriots in several battles, including the battle of Utah
Springs in September of 1781. Finally, the shooting stopped
Charles Town was liberated, the Treaty of Paris was
signed between England and the new country
which would be called the United States of America. In the final
analysis, more battles of the Revolutionary War
took place in South Carolina than in any other colony. The British thought they could
overwhelm the Southern colonies and restore them
to subservience. But they underestimated
their foe. The Southern Patriots
bravely fought back. In the end, they proved they
were too much for the British, and the southern
campaign effectively brought the whole American
Revolutionary War to a close. Huzzah! Huzzah! Huzzah! [MUSIC]

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