Battle of Sullivans Island and Breach Inlet – June 21-29, 1776

One of several great contemporaneous maps depicting the British loss of their first attempt to re-capture their colony of South Carolina.  The Royal Navy’s attack on the partially completed palmetto log and sand fort on Sullivan’s Island, led by Commodore Sir Peter Parker, failed after hours of bombardment.  The soft palmetto log revetments absorbed the damaging naval direct cannon fire, while the American gunners took their toll on the British men-of-war.  Difficult harbor navigation grounded one British ship, the HMS Acteon, and made her a “sitting duck” since they could not turn the ship to aim their cannon.

At the north end of the island approximately 900 Americans, mostly North Carolina and South Carolina Continentals, commanded by Col. William “Old Danger” Thomson, resisted the British Army, commanded by Sir Henry Clinton and Lord Charles Cornwallis, who had over 3,500 men on Long Island (now Isle of Palms).  The British plan to ford or make a marine landing across Breach Inlet was defeated by the stubborn American resistance.  Gens. Clinton and Cornwallis would return to Charlestown in 1780 to try again – this time successfully.

This June 28, 1776 victory assured that the Whig government in South Carolina retained control of this keystone southern colony during the critical years of 1776 to 1780.

Recently, a new interpretive park has been established near the modern bridge linking the north end of Sullivans Island with Isle of Palms.  SCAR Fellows offered project leader Doug MacIntyre assistance with the research and interpretation.  For more information on the new Thomson Park and extensive research which supports its intreprtataion, please visit their website at