Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Gen. William Moultrie (1730-1805)

Until 1760 William Moultrie had a fairly undistinguished career as a member of South Carolina's provincial assembly. But after playing a central role in putting down a Cherokee uprising, he became a leader in his colony's military affairs. Early in the Revolution his expertise won him command of the Continental army's Second Regiment. Moultrie commanded the fort on Sullivan's Island on June 28, 1776, and he was successful in repulsing the British fleet when they tried to enter Charleston harbor. It is said that during the bombardment of Fort Sullivan, General Charles Lee continuously tried to micromanage Moultrie's situation from a distance. While the battle raged, Lee sent a letter to Moultrie by an aide, saying, "If you should unfortunately expend your ammunition without beating off the enemy or driving them on the ground, spike your guns and retreat with all order possible; but I know you will be careful not to throw away your ammunition." Moultrie, instead, asked for more gunpowder. In appreciation of his efforts the fort was subsequently renamed after him. He was promoted to brigadier general in the Continental service, and thereafter operated independently. After the fall of Savannah (1778), he decisively defeated the British forces at Beaufort in February of 1779. Moultrie was captured by the British after the fall of Charleston in 1780 and sent as prisoner to St. Augustine. Exchanged in 1782, he was then promoted to major general.
Following the war, William Moultrie was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1783. In 1784, he served as Lieutenant Governor. He was then elected governor for a two-year term in 1785. While governor, Moultrie created the county court system, and relocated the South Carolina capital from Charleston to Columbia in 1786. He was elected to the State Senate in 1787. He was elected to his second two-year term as governor in 1792, and retired from public office in 1794. In 1802 his Memoirs of the American Revolution were published in two volumes. William Moultrie died in Charleston on 27 September 1805 and was interred at Windsor Hill Plantation.