The Charleston Museum
360 Meeting Street
Charleston, SC 29403
(843) 722-2996 ext. 235
presents a
MAJOR NEW EXHIBIT

Redcoats, Hessians & Tories:
The British Siege & Occupation of Charleston, 1780-1782

 

From June 4 to January 21, 2004 The Charleston Museum presents a special exhibition entitled "Redcoats, Hessians and Tories: The British Siege and Occupation of Charleston, 1780-1782"

Carl Borick, the assistant director and curator for this exhibition, is author of the recently-published "A Gallant Defense: The British Siege of Charleston, 1780" (University of South Carolina Press, 2003).

The result of 4 years' preparation, this exhibition assembles for the first time, from repositories in the United Kingdom and the United States, objects which were utilized here by British forces during the Revolution. These range from logbooks of British warships (including that of the flagship, "Roebuck") to the original Articles of Capitulation, via which Americans surrendered the city, to the Ferguson Rifle. The last, belonging to Major Patrick Ferguson (who served here and died at King's Mountain), is the very first breech-loading rifle, designed by Ferguson and demonstrated before King George III.

"Redcoats" is accompanied by various educational programs including a 4-part lecture series, whose participants are:

Mr. Mark Murray-Flutter (Senior Curator of Arms, The Royal Armouries Museum, Leeds, England), June 3, 2003;

Dr. Donald Higginbotham (Professor of History, University of North Carolina), September 8;

Dr. Ira Gruber (Professor of History, Rice University), October 13;

and Dr. Clive Wilkinson (Research Officer, CLIWOC Project, University of Sunderland/National Maritime Museum, England), November 17.

Charleston, SC: As part of a series of original and exclusive Charleston Museum exhibitions presented in association with museums outside the United States, The Charleston Museum will present Redcoats, Hessians and Tories: The British Siege & Occupation of Charleston, 1780-1782. The exhibit, focusing on one of the great sieges of the Revolutionary War and the ensuing occupation of one of the era's most important cities, will run from June 4 through December 14, 2003. To tell this story, Redcoats, Hessians & Tories will feature a rich array of artifacts and images from museums and archives in England, Scotland, Canada, Germany and the United States. Many of the objects and documents on display were used by British forces in the Charleston area and are returning here for the first time.

Carl Borick, exhibit curator and Museum Assistant Director, enumerates some of the artifact highlights from Redcoats, Hessians & Tories: "Visitors will see rare maps of British generals and the original articles of capitulation for the surrender of Charleston, 'Brown Bess' muskets from the Royal Armouries Museum in England, and logbooks of Royal Navy warships which participated in the siege." Also of special interest will be camp equipment and a drum employed by Loyalist forces, accoutrements and tools from archaeological excavations of British encampment sites throughout South Carolina, and the original breech-loading rifle, invented and owned by Major Patrick Ferguson who served in Charleston and throughout the state. Visitors will be introduced to the British, Hessian, and Loyalist soldiers who made up the King's army, and they will learn what eighteenth century life was like for both combatants and noncombatants. "They will also see how Charlestonians adapted to occupation by a 'foreign' power," says Borick.

"Appearances in this province are certainly very favourable," wrote Lord Charles Earl Cornwallis to his commander, Lieutenant General Sir Henry Clinton, on June 2, 1780. Just three weeks earlier, the British army had forced the surrender of Charleston after a siege of six weeks. The victory was the largest of the war for the British in America. Cornwallis, poised to begin operations in the South Carolina backcountry, was optimistic about subjugating the remainder of the rebellious colony. Clinton anticipated that the capture of Charleston would result in the defeat of both Carolinas. Their success here, however, set in motion a chain of events that eventually led them to Yorktown and total defeat in America. Departing Charleston in December 1782 after an occupation of nineteen months, the British left not as conquerors, but as a vanquished army. Redcoats, Hessians and Tories seeks to explore this exciting chapter in South Carolina and Charleston history.

The Charleston Museum will offer a wide variety of programs to accompany Redcoats, Hessians & Tories. The Redcoats Lecture Series will feature top American and British military historians, including Mr. Mark Murray-Flutter (June 3, 2003), Dr. Don Higginbotham (September 8, 2003), Dr. Ira Gruber (October 13, 2003), and Dr. Clive Wilkinson (November 17, 2003). Carl Borick will lead a South Carolina Revolutionary Battlefield Trip on the weekend of November 7-9, 2003. Children from elementary to high school will enjoy many programs during the exhibit ranging from a Life During the Revolutionary War class to learning about pivotal characters in Charleston's history, as well as the opportunity to see a play based on the exhibit (co-produced with the College of Charleston). Families will also be invited to the play, and in addition to Second Saturdays and American Girl Doll parties with colonial themes, they will have many after school programs to choose from based on life in the late 1700s.

The Charleston Museum, founded in 1773, is America's first museum. It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Holding the most extensive collection of South Carolina cultural and scientific collections in the nation, it also owns two National Historic Landmark houses, the Heyward-Washington House (1772) and the Joseph Manigault House (1803), as well as the Dill Sanctuary, a 580-acre wildlife preserve. Museum hours are Monday-Saturday 9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m. Museum admission is $9 for adults and $4 for children.

Digital images available upon request. Full press kit available upon request.
All press releases are available online in the "Press Room" at www.charlestonmuseum.org