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Today In Charleston History: March 30

 1780 – The Seige of Charlestown.

John Laurens, 1780 (by Charles Willson Peale)

John Laurens, 1780 (by Charles Willson Peale)

First action that morning was led by Col. John Laurens’ unit against the advancing British light infantry. After several hours of scattered battle, Lauren’s men retreated back behind the city’s fortifications at dark. Laurens described it as “a frolicking skirmish for our young soldiers.” It was the first engagement fought within sight of the city, or as one officer noted, “in view of … many ladies.”

The British set up camp at Gibbes Landing (present-day Lownde’s Grove), which was a perfect staging area from which to lay siege to Charlestown.

Three principal types of artillery used during the Revolution: field guns, howitzers and mortars.

  • Field Guns: mounted on large-wheeled carriages and fixed to fire at low angles. Varied in size from three-pound (weight of solid shot fired) to forty-two pounds. Larger guns weighed appx. 5000 pounds (2½ tons).
  • Howizters: Similar to field guns, but with shorter and stockier barrels. Could be fired at a low or high angle. Range: 1300-2000 yards.
  • Mortars: a useful weapon because of its small size and ease of movement.  It usually had a fixed trajectory (around 45 degrees), and the distance the shot traveled was adjusted by varying the powder charge.  Just like the howitzer, the use of the exploding shell was popular to reach troops inside fortifications. Range: 2000 yards.

 1843 – Marriage.

Susan Petigru King Bowen, in later life

Susan Petigru King Bowen, in later life

Susan Petigru, 19, married Henry Campbell King, “short, stout, and physically unattractive.” Henry was the son of a prominent Charleston lawyer, Mitchell King, and friend of Susan’s father.  

Susan, the daughter of another prominent Charleston lawyer, James Petigru, was something of a rebel so the marriage to King was considered the best the Petigrus could do for her. Susan herself wrote that she would “probably get no better offer.” She had been a rambunctious child who grew to be a quick-tempered woman who never bothered to conform to the role of a society belle. She moved into her husband’s family mansion at 24 George Street.

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