American Revolution Lesson Seven
Fighting the War; British Strategy Lessons 7a (war in the north) & 7b (war in the south)
The War in the South:
After the disaster at Saratoga the British decided to implement the next part of their strategy. Cut the Southern colonies off from the rest. If they could take Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Part of Virginia out of the war, they still might be able to win.
This map is from the United States Military Academy and is public domain. Have students find on the map the following places
Charleston, South Carolina
Kings Mountain, South Carolina
Cowpens, South Carolina
Charlotte, North Carolina
The British started their attempt to conquer the Southern Colonies by sending one of their best generals with an army of about 2,000 men to attack Charleston, South Carolina. At the 1st Battle of Charleston, they were soundly beaten. They departed back to New York to return later.
In 1779 they came back. This time they landed and captured the port of Savannah Georgia, the southernmost of the colonies (geography note have students find out who owned Florida at this time.)
Once in Savannah, the British quickly captured all of Georgia. The British General Clinton then moved into South Carolina. He surrounded the colonial army in Charleston and started a siege (new vocabulary word) The British navy stopped all colonial ships from entering Charleston (This is called a blockade another new vocabulary word) and the colonials soon ran out of food and ammunition. The Colonials surrendered (About 8,000 colonial soldiers and militia). The entire southern colonial army had surrendered. Clinton then proceeded inland and captured most of South Carolina. Look at the map and see how the British built a line of forts to protect what they had captured. With these forts to protect his rear areas, General Clinton turned his army over to General Cornwallis and returned to New York. It looked like the British strategy might work.
Cornwallis moved into North Carolina. This is where things started to go wrong for the British. They seemed to win all the battles, yet couldn't quite seem to ever really beat the colonists. Think back to colonial advantages during the revolution. One of these was the fact that Cornwallis couldn't get reinforcements very quickly. Another was that the colonists were defending their own towns and farms. Wherever Cornwallis went there was a whole new bunch of Militia waiting for him. A third reason was the British did something really bad.
When a group of Colonial Militia was fighting a detachment of British soldiers under the command of Major Tarleton they were being defeated and asked for Quarter. (This is a great vocabulary word see if your students can find a meaning from the 20 or so definitions that matches here). He refused and his troops massacred the colonists. This gave the colonists a rallying (another vocabulary word) call. It also gave them a very good reason not to surrender.
Discussion Question: What would you do if you might get shot if you try to surrender? Well the colonists felt the same and fought that much harder. Finally General Washington sent some of the Continental Army down south under the command of one of his best generals, Nathaniel Greene.
The British were defeated and had to retreat north towards New York. Another colonial Group under the command of the Marquise de Lafayette cut the British off from New York. General Cornwallis was looking for a place for the British Navy to pick him up. He chose YORKTOWN.