July 12, 1775
— South Carolina Cradle of Democracy Project —
Less than a mile from this point, close to the Georgia shoreline of Lake Thurmond, lays the remains of Fort Charlotte now 50 feet under water. Named after the wife of King George III, Fort Charlotte was a British fort built in 1766. It was located on the South Carolina side of the Savannah River about one and one-half miles below the mount of the Broad River and the settlement of Vienna, where the river was shallow and about 660 feet wide.
Originally garrisoned by British troops, the fort was abandoned in 1768 and turned over to the Colonial administration. Discussion ensured as to dismantle the fort or convert it for other public use. Another, fort, however, (Fort Prince George) was found to be unsafe and ordered to be abandoned with its ordinance stores, arms and ammunition sent to Fort Charlotte. This greatly increased the importance of Fort Charlotte, which was commanded by Capt. George Whitefield with 15 troops under his command. Consequently, the Council of Safety created by the Provincial Congress on June 1, ordered Major James Mayson to lead a Patriot force of two companies of Rangers, dispatched from Ninety Six, consisting of 53 men (Capt. John Caldwell and his company of 28 men, and Capt. Moses Kirkland and his company of 23 men) to seize the munitions at Fort Charlotte. Upon his arrival on July 12, 1775, the fort and all its possessions were peacefully surrendered to him by Capt. Whitefield, and subsequently placed under the command of Capt. John Caldwell and a company of 15 men. The seizure of Charlotte was the first overt act of the American Revolution in South Carolina.
Third South Carolina Regiment (Rangers) 1775-1780
The regiment was established by the South Carolina Provincial Congress in June 1775, as mounted riflemen who used horses for transportation but dismounted to fight on foot. It consisted of a lieutenant colonel commandant, a major, 9 captains, 18 lieutenants, a surgeon, paymaster, an adjutant and a quartermaster, and with each of its 9 companies having 2 sergeants, a drummer, and 50 privates. The regiment was placed on the Continental Establishment in September 1776 as mounted riflemen, and in October its complement increased to 600 men in 12 companies, with the commanding officer, the major, and the senior captain all being promoted one grade.
The regiment was recruited in the backcountry and on the frontiers, and normally served in multi-company detachments, one of which took over Fort Charlotte in July 1775. Another detachment was bloodied in the fighting at Ninety Six in November 1775 and in the "Snow Campaign" that followed. In June 1776 the whole regiment defended the eastern end of Sullivan's Island when the British attempted an amphibious assault during the naval attack on the fort, which was later named Fort Moultrie.