America and West Indies: Original Correspondence: South Carolina (CO 5/397): 1780-1784

Call Number: HIL-MICL FC LPR .G7C6A4C6S6
Category: Great Britain
Creator: Great Britain. Colonial Office
Description: 1 microfilm textual records (1 volume) ; 35 mm.
            Colonial Office 5 is an artificial class which was created in the early years of the twentieth century with a reorganization of records in the Public Record Office, London. Following the first 285 volumes, which deal mainly with military and naval affairs, the records are arranged under the names of the colonies.

The Original Correspondence, or in-letters, are those sent from the colony to Great Britain, and are one of 6 groups of documents pertaining to a colony. The others are: Entry Books (letter books recording out-going letters from Britain), Acts, Sessional Papers (printed proceedings of local legislatures), Government Gazettes (official government newspapers), and Miscellanea. Apart from the first 285 volumes, the CO 5 records have been classified under the names of American colonies, for example; Carolina (Propriety) is volumes 286-292.

From 1768 to 1782 responsibility for the American colonies came under the care of the following colonial secretaries: the Earl of Hillsborough (1768-72), the Earl of Dartmouth (1772-75), Lord George Germain (1775-82), and Welbore Ellis (Feb.- 8 Mar. 1782). The secretaries of state were assisted by under-secretaries of state.

South Carolina was one of the original thirteen American colonies; it had become a Crown colony in 1719. Under Crown rule, South Carolina prospered, and exports of rice and indigo contributed to its growing wealth. The colony was a slave society and cotton plantations along the low country and islands became central to the economy by the time of the American Revolutionary War. The Colonial governor, William Campbell, was forced to flee Charleston in September 1775. In March 1776, South Carolina statesmen adopted a temporary system of provincial government, a precursor to the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. The British occupied Charleston after the successful siege in 1780. The British officially recognized the United States in 1783, and in 1788 South Carolina became the eighth state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton was the Commander-in-Chief, America during the American Revolution, arriving in May 1778 and departing in May 1782. In this role he directed the disposition of military troops along the frontiers from West Florida to Newfoundland (excludes Quebec). He conducted the successful Siege of Charleston, South Carolina in 1780 before leaving Major General Earl Cornwallis in command of the south. Miscommunication and disagreement between Clinton and both Cornwallis and Admiral Marriot Arbuthnot contributed to British failures that culminated in the 1781 Siege of Yorktown in which Cornwallis surrendered his army.

            Volume 397 contains correspondence and other relevant papers found in the files of the colonial secretary of state, 1780-1784, with the bulk from 1780-1782, with extracts and copies of documents going back to 1779. These documents came from the military commander-in-chief in America, mostly from Sir Henry Clinton, in his role leading the British campaign in North America during the American Revolution in the final years of the war when Britain's efforts were focused on the south, specifically South Carolina.  Other types of documents include: petitions from individuals at Charles Town [Charleston] and from merchants and inhabitants; agreement or compact outlaying terms of withdrawal by the British at Charleston (1782); articles of capitulation (West Florida - Fort Charlotte near present-day Mobile, Alabama, also Baton Rouge, present-day Louisiana, and Americans at Charleston); address of inhabitants of Natchez (1779); military return of prisoners, killed and wounded (Baton Rouge and Charleston); and military instructions to officers. Subject matter includes Anglo-Spanish War (1779-1783); American Revolution (1775-1783), Britain's Southern Campaign (1780-1781) and Siege and occupation of Charleston (1780-1782).

Other correspondents include Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Dickson of the 16th Regiment of Foot, Governor Patrick Tonyn of East Florida, Major General John Campbell at Pensacola, Admiral Sir Peter Parker, Major General W. Phillips, General Charles 2nd Earl Cornwallis, Major General Alexander Leslie (replaced Cornwallis in command of the south), Lieutenant Colonel Nisbet Balfour (commander at Charleston after siege), Major General B. Lincoln (American commanding at Charleston) and Governor John Mathews of South Carolina.

Regiments listed in the the Return of Killed and Wounded Troops under General Clinton from debarkation in South Carolina 1 February to surrender 12 May include following: Royal Artillery; Grenadiers; Regiments of Foot - 7th, 23rd, 33rd, 42nd, 63rd, 64th, 74th; New York Volunteers; British Legion; South Carolina Royalists; and Ferguson's Corps. Also includes German units. Provides numbers of killed, wounded and killed for each regiment, broken down by rank. 

There is also a Return of Prisoners taken in the Garrison of Charles Town, May 12, 1780, listing the regiments and giving the numbers by rank, and separate list by units: civil list, general hospital, militia hospital, commissary general department, and quarter master general department.

Originals are located at The National Archives in England (TNA).

Archival Ref. No.:

TNA CO 5/397

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