The Revolutionary War broke out in New England in 1775, but after four years of war, the British focused their strategy on the Southern colonies, Georgia and South Carolina. Savannah was captured by the British on December 29, 1778, a force of 3,000; including British Regulars, German Hessians and New York Loyalists surprised an American force of 900.
With the American victory at Saratoga in October 1777, the French and Spanish governments recognized the rebelling American colonies. They pledged their support; troops, weapons, uniforms, monies and the use of their navies. It took almost a year, before the French support arrived.
It was decided by the French and American military to recapture Savannah, this operation commenced in August of 1779. The French fleet was available for operations in the area because of hurricane season in the Caribbean. The fleet took up a position between Daufuskie and Tybee Islands in effort to cut off British access to the Atlantic Ocean. Meanwhile, American guerrilla raids in the South Carolina Low Country, cut off of British supplies and outposts.
The British high command decided to consolidate all of their forces, for a American and French army numbering of about 7,000 landed east of Savannah on September 1, 1779. The British force in Savannah numbered around 2,500. British troops in South Carolina, numbering 800, from Johns and Edisto Islands were ordered to join the force in Savannah.
This force traveled with their equipment in long boats towards Savannah, they were caught in the high surf at Tybee Roads, located between Tybee and Daufuskie Islands, plus the French fleet that was moving up to intercept. The British force retired to Calibogue Sound while battling tides, wind and the French fleet. The British troops were forced to abandon their equipment near the present day site of the Bloody Point Cemetery on Daufuskie Island. These troops armed with their muskets made their way to Savannah by rowing and marching along the many creeks towards Screven's Ferry, on the South Carolina side of the present day Talmadge Bridge. This was regarded as the greatest forced march of the American Revolution. These troops were able to join the defenders in Savannah.
The Americans and French, surrounded Savannah on three sides and were not able to completely cut them off after 40 days of siege. The Allies attacked the British on October 9, 1779 with heavy losses and were unable to recapture Savannah. Savannah was retained by the British until 1782 and is considered to be one of the bloodiest battles of the Revolution.
Daufuskie would see more action in 1781, Philip Martinangel, a Daufuskie Island loyalist, burned a plantation and ambushed a rebel force on Hilton Head Island. The site of the ambush is near my Hilton Head Real Estate office, the intersection of Matthews Drive and US 278. Loyalist and rebels had been fighting amongst each other in South Carolina since the Revolution began. The motion picture, The Patriot, scratches the surface of this civil war that tested the loyalties of the South Carolina colonists during the war.
The Patriots from Hilton Head vowed revenge, they formed the Bloody Legion. This unit soon landed on Daufuskie Island and burned loyalist plantations. They soon captured and executed Martinangel. This final action was one the last battles of the American Revolution.