71st Fraser’s Highlanders in the Cheraws – Summer 1780

At the start of the American Revolutionary War, the 71st Regiment of (Highland) Foot, commonly referred to as the “Fraser’s Highlanders,” was raised in Scotland in late 1775 early 1776 by Maj. Gen. Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, to serve in the army of King George, III.  The Regiment arrived in North America during June and July 1776, joining Lord Howe’s British Army in August, fighting in the Northern Campaign in the battles of New York, Brandywine and Wilmington. In December 1778, with their Officer Commanding, Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell, the Fraser’s Highlanders sailed south to Georgia, where they captured Savannah, followed by Augusta; and fighting in the British victory at Briar Creek in Georgia.  In March 1779 Lt. Col. Campbell returned to Britain (see footnote).  The Highlanders then served under Lt. Col. John Maitland as the British invaded South Carolina in April 1779 marching from Savannah to Charleston.  The Regiment fought at Stono Ferry in South Carolina successfully defending the rear of the slowly withdrawing British expeditionary force.  Maitland and his Highlanders occupied Beaufort, SC and fought in the fall of 1779 in the British successful defense of Savannah.  Upon the death of Col. Maitland from disease, they served under Lt. Col. Alex McDonald.  In 1780, they again marched to Charleston where the Royal Navy and British Army, under the command of Adm. Mariot Arbuthnot, Gen. Henry Clinton and his deputy Lord Charles Cornwallis, laid siege for a second time to the city until it finally surrendered on 12 May 1780.  The Highlanders, though bloodied, were undefeated in the South.

With America almost three thousand miles away, ships took six weeks or more on the journey from Great Britain, the army’s home base and its main source of supply.  Even from within America, replacements of rations, clothing and armaments, by mid 1780, were intermittent at best.  Lord Cornwallis, now commanding the British in the South, wrote “notwithstanding our utmost exertions a great part of the rum, salt, clothing, necessaries and ammunition are not very far advanced on their way to Camden”.

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Shared by Stephanie Briggs


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