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For all the talk of the American Revolution’s origins in Massachusetts with Lexington and Concord in 1775, the war was largely won in the South. Indeed, Cornwallis’s forces surrendered to Washington at Yorktown, Virginia, in 1781. Washington was able to trap Cornwallis at Yorktown, however, due to earlier victories in South Carolina and North Carolina.
One of the earliest such victories was mere days before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Battle of Sullivan’s Island. Fought on 28 June 1776, the battle is well-known to South Carolinians, as spongy palmetto logs were used to construct the fort. British cannonballs harmlessly socked into the logs, and the treacherous sandbars forced some British ships aground.
This battle secured South Carolina against British invasion until 1780. The victory routed the British naval assault, leading the British to move their fleet northward, to New York.
The battle also immortalized the palmetto tree as a symbol of South Carolina, which joined the liberty crescent on the Moultrie Flag.
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