|A non-contemporary image, from the perspective of the siege lines|
Today, we have an extract from the journal of Staff Captain Johann Hinrichs of the Hessen-Kassel Feld-Jäger Corps at the Siege of Charleston in 1780. Hinrichs gives an account of the entire siege, but it lasts for 50 pages, so I will only detain you will the final days here. Hinrichs' account is available in certain libraries via Microform, and is highly readable. He was a keen observer of siege tactics.
Today 1 Captain [Ewald] & company went towards no. 1 (a redoubt) by another road, that lay close to the Ashly and skirted the trench. Our batteries in the 3rd parallel were still all masked, and did not fire a shot. The enemy enfiladed them in the rear and partly on the flank, and they suffered a great deal. The mistake lay in the 2nd parallel, [His emphasis] As the enemy had got to know that the workmen were relieved at 3 o'clock in the morning by means of deserters from our side, and therefore kept up a steady cross ricochet fire along the road until daylight. I went there this afternoon and marked out another road to the right of the existing one, on which only 3 embrasures could play. This night the battery in the 2nd parallel that had been commenced the preceding night was completed, and the batter en barbette on the highroad, 160 paces behind the 2nd parallel, was provided with 3 embrasures, repaired and strengthened.
|Hessian Jägers, Don Troiani|
This morning I marched along the new road with the detachment, and only one ball came near us. I went to the left and Lt. Schaeffer to the right. Our workers had been diligent, they had got a good deal done... We fired 3 6-pounders into the midst of the enemy's works. Our 3rd parallel ran towards the centre of the enemy's section in oblique lines. Not a single cannon in the enemy's advance redoubts on both wings had been silenced. Consequently their left wing enfiladed our left en revers, and their right our right. And our side had not attempted to rectify this mistake either by means of sufficient traverses or re-entering and salient angles. The rebels tried to avail themselves of every advantage and kept up a brisk fire. However, the Jägers always kept them in check, so that they dared not open their embrasures much during the day, and could only fire a shot now and then by one or other gun by stealth. But they fired all the more during the night, and razed our new batteries that were built of such light materials, so that there was enough to repair next morning.
A few bombs were thrown on our side, and the Jägers kept up a steady fire. I had 300 sandbags fetched during the day, and had proper embrasures made on the parapet for the rifles in a line with the rebels' embrasures. At 5 o'clock int the afternoon, whilst we were constructing these embrasures, they enemy fired a salvo of 13 guns at us, that hit below the sandbags, threw them in to the air,a nd then into the ditch. Fortunately, none of the Jägers were wounded, although they were all occupied either in aiming at the enemy or arranging the sandbags. The blast and debris knocked us all down, and some rifles were smashed. Almost all our batteries were completed during the night and supplied with ammunition. The enemy kept up a brisker fire than they had ever done before. At o'clock an alarm was sounded in the town. The noise never ceased, and it seemed to be seized with a panic.
[The entry for May 7th contains details for the surrender of outling forts]
As our breaching battery was now ready, the embrasures were opened last night, and another summons was sent to the town and garrison at daybreak. The whole of the opposite bank of the river was in our hands, from Cain Hoy to Fort Multrie, consequently, all the communications the enemy might have were cut off, their cavalry routed, no chance of succour, all their forces concentrated in the town, our works quite near their ditch, about 100 paces of this ditch was already dry and becoming drier every moment, and Fort Multrie and the whole of the harbour in our hands. They were given two hours respite, which was prolonged from time to time, this went on until 6 o'clocl in the evening. Various points had already been settled, and then suddenly the negotiations were broken off.
At o'clock in the evening, the armistice was at an end, the enemy had all the bells in the town rung, and after 8 hurrahs had been given they kept up such a terrible fire the whole night as never before. It was a fire kept up by drunkards, for I believe the whole garrison was drunk...
|Hessian Jäger, Don Troiani|
In the Morning our batteries and bombs began to play, and kept up a galling fire. The enemy's front redoubt on the left wing demlished our one 24-pounder that had played on it straightway in the first salvo, but another was brought in in no time, which silenced all the 4 gun batteries of the front redoubt on the left wing, smashed 2 of the guns and destroyed all the 4 embrasures, so that nothing more was to be seen of them. The enemy had provided all their embrasures with mantelets, but some bar-shots cleared the embrasures and gave the Jägers a chance of shooting.
The firing was kept up all day, and a number of bombs were thrown during the night. Th enemy had thrown very few for the last fortnight. The 10-inch howitzer that had been captured at Fort Moultrie was brought up the river Ashley during the night, and taken into the 3rd parallel to the right.
The enemy bore up against the fire and returned it until noon, when another flag was sent out. The fire was so fierce that we did not see them come, and they had to retire again. At 2 o'clock they hoisted a large white flag on the horn-work and sent a second flag, and offered to surrender the town, etc, on the conditions we had already offered to them. An armistice was granted and a message dispatched to the admiral... and at 11 o'clock the same vening the main capitulation was in order.
As regards the rebel fortifications and their defence as well as our attack I will keep the account until I have finished the plan of the town, as it has been quite impossible for me to do it as yet. Their artillery was better than our, but they have confessed themselves that our rifles had cost them...killed and wounded since our 3rd parallel was commenced, and they could never open their embrasures without loss. The reason why they threw so few bombs during the latter part of the seige was because their best bombardier, a major in the artillery, had been shot on April 31, and they had nobody who could make good fuses, of which they stood in need."
Thanks for Reading,