Carolina Day is the day set aside to commemorate the first decisive victory of the American Revolutionary War.
On June 28, 1776, a small band of Palmetto State patriots defeated the mighty British navy in the Battle of Sullivan's Island. Patriots stationed at an unfinished palmetto log and sand fort near what is today Fort Moultrie defeated a British naval force of nine warships as it attempted to invade Charleston. The victory put off a British occupation for four years.
The fort was unnamed and not yet complete when Admiral Sir Peter Parker and nine British warships attacked it on June 28, 1776, near the beginning of the American Revolutionary War.The soft palmetto logs did not crack under bombardment but rather absorbed the shot; there were even reports of cannon balls actually bouncing off of the walls of the structure. Charleston was saved from capture, and the fort was named for the commander in the battle, William Moultrie. Charleston locals celebrate 'Carolina Day' to commemorate the bravery of the defenders of the fort, the 2nd South Carolina Regiment. The fort was eventually captured by the British in the siege of Charleston.
In 1776, William Moultrie was second-in-command of Charleston, South Carolina's defenses. He was charged with construction of Fort Sullivan, which had been planned out in January 1776. Moultrie did not have stone available to construct the walls, so he used palmetto logs to build two parallel walls sixteen feet apart and filled in the gap with sand. At the time of the British arrival on June 2nd, only the south and east walls were complete. The new Southern Department Commander, Maj. General Charles Lee arrived a couple of days later on June 4th.
General Lee inspected the incomplete fort and felt that it should not be defended, but South Carolina Governor John Rutledge overruled him. Moultrie himself was also confident in the fort's capability. Meanwhile, Maj. General Henry Clinton landed on the adjacent Long Island, planning to ford the two islands and attack Fort Sullivan from that direction, but he was having difficulty crossing over. Moultrie ordered fortifications built there, so that even sending troops across by the few boats he had was now out of the question.
At 11:00 A.M., on June 28, 1776, Commodore Peter Parker began his bombardment of the fort with around 100 guns and the Battle of Fort Sullivan had begun. When three ships attempted to move into the harbor west of the fort, they got stuck on a shoal. Moultrie began a steady reply with his guns. The fort itself withstood the assault thanks to the spongy palmetto logs and the sand, which absorbed the cannon balls. Under his command that day were Lieutenant Thomas Sumter and Major Francis Marion. When General Lee visited the fort during the action, he was pleasantly surprised with how well the fort was withstanding the assault. The action ended at 9:30 P.M. and the beaten British ships slipped away at 11:00 P.M.