Save 40 Acres of the American Revolution Southern Theater | American Battlefield Trust
Great Bridge, Virginia
Melissa Sadler

Save 40 Acres of the American Revolution Southern Theater

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Nearly 245 years after the first of these battles, we have the chance to save 40 acres of Revolutionary War battlegrounds that tell little-known, but crucial stories of the American fight for Independence. 

Your help is needed to preserve forever a key acre at Great Bridge in Virginia, eight acres at Port Royal Island in South Carolina, and 31 acres at Parker’s Ferry, South Carolina. Join us to protect this sacred hallowed ground for future generations!

The Opportunity

If we act now, we can save these three tracts — a total transaction value of $2,335,630 — for only $30,630! With your help, we need to raise the final 1.3% of the total transaction to save priceless pieces of American history for all time. 

Thanks to a never-before-dreamed-of fusion of federal, state, county, and local grants, as well as a grant from the U.S. military, support from our great partners at the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust and the Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways History Foundation, and a landowner donation, we have an $80-to-$1 match on every dollar!

This means that you can help save an acre of land for just $765.

The Background

Nearly 245 years after the first of these American Revolution battles, we have the chance to preserve forever a key acre at Great Bridge in Virginia, eight acres at Port Royal Island in South Carolina, and 31 acres at Parker’s Ferry, also in South Carolina.

Battle of Great Bridge, Virginia

Late in 1775, just a few months after the “shot heard ‘round the world” was fired in Lexington, Massachusetts, Virginia saw one of its first notable battles, described by Patriot Colonel William Woodford as “a second Bunker’s Hill affair, in miniature, with this difference, that we kept our post.” 

In April, the Royal Governor of Virginia, John Murray, the Earl of Dunmore, ordered Royal Marines of the H.M.S. Magdalen to seize the gunpowder that was being stored in the colonial capital of Williamsburg. 

Soon, Dunmore began gathering an army in nearby Norfolk. He recruited former slaves and organized them into the Ethiopian Regiment. Knowing that his forces would not be enough to defend Norfolk if the Patriot troops forded the Elizabeth River at the Great Bridge crossing, Dunmore sent the 14th Foot Regiment to fend off the Patriot troops led by Colonel William Woodford that had positioned themselves there.

The opposing forces skirmished over the marshes and swamps near the bridge for several days before the fighting came to a head on December 9. After receiving orders from Dunmore to drive off the Patriots, Captain Samuel Leslie directed the 14th Regiment of Foot, supported by soldiers of the Ethiopian Regiment, to attack Woodford. Led by Captain Charles Fordyce, the British advanced while the Patriots held their fire. When the British had nearly reached them, and then unleashed a withering volley of fire that ultimately left more than 70 British killed, wounded or captured. Among the Patriot ranks was William Flora, an African American. Great Bridge marked the first time during the Revolution that African Americans opposed one another on the battlefield. 

The British regulars retreated to Fort Murray (which you can see on this historic map), and abandoned it later that night. 

This early Revolutionary War battle in Virginia proved that the Patriots were a force to be reckoned with, and the tract we can save today adds to what has already been preserved there, prevents future development, and tells an important piece of that tale. 

 

 

Port Royal Island

Port Royal Island, just north of Savannah, Georgia, provided access to the interior and thus was coveted by the British. On February 3, 1779, British regulars led by Major James Gardiner, attempted to take the Island and establish a base to support His Majesty’s Royal Navy. 

Gardiner was met by General William Moultrie and his band of Patriot militia. The troops exchanged fierce fire with the British Regulars for three quarters of an hour before both sides ran out of ammunition. The British were forced to return to Savannah, destined to fight for control of the important port on another day. 

This band of Continental regulars and militia — which also included a number of Black Patriots, like Jim Capers, who had enlisted in 1775, as well a company recruited from the City’s Jewish population — proved that the diverse coalition of South Carolina’s militia could stand up to and even defeat British regulars.

Parker’s Ferry

Located 33 miles west of Charleston, Parker’s Ferry hosted a major thoroughfare and crossing over the Pon Pon River. 

Throughout the summer of 1781, British and Loyalist troops regularly patrolled the areas surrounding the city, endeavoring to put down bands of Patriot militia. In what Doug Bostick, historian and Executive Director of the South Carolina Battleground Preservation Trust, dubbed a “Quintessential ambush site,” the Swamp Fox and his Patriots laid a perfect trap for the British. 

On August 30, Marion positioned 445 troops in the woods around the causeway leading to Parker’s Ferry. He then sent several dragoons out to attract the attention of more than 600 British, Loyalist, and German troops, drawing them onto the causeway and into a Patriot trap. The plan worked just as Marion intended, and by the end of the engagement the British suffered 125 killed and 80 wounded, while the Patriots lost one man and three wounded. 

The outcome of Marion’s “Ambuscade” also had a major impact on the Battle of Eutaw Springs a few days later: it reduced the number of British horses that could be used in that battle and made the Swamp Fox available to join the fight for American Independence on that key piece of the Liberty Trail, the innovative driving tour we are developing to connect key battlefields of the Southern Campaign.

Please consider taking advantage of this remarkable $80-to-$1 match to help save these 40 important acres of Revolutionary War battlegrounds, which helped pave the way for American Independence.

...from 20+ years of experience that there just haven’t been very many deals with this many partners working together to save our nation’s history, or where you and I can put in pennies on the dollar to save some of our nation’s most important Revolutionary War hallowed ground.
David N. Duncan, American Battlefield Trust President
Save 3 Sites of the Southern Campaign
40
ACRES TARGETED

DONATION MATCH

$80-to-$1

OUR GOAL

$30,630
Great Bridge Square
Rev War
Battle Map
BATTLE MAP | American Battlefield Trust’s map of the Revolutionary War Battle of Great Bridge,...
Port Royal Island
Rev War
Battle Map
BATTLE MAP | American Battlefield Trust’s map of the Revolutionary War Battle of Port Royal, South...
Parkers Ferry Square
Rev War
Battle Map
BATTLE MAP | American Battlefield Trust’s map of the Revolutionary War Battle of Parker's Ferry,...