In March 1776, William Moultrie, a wealthy planter with experience as a militia captain, took command of the Continental Army’s fort on Sullivan’s Island in Charles Town Harbor. Renamed in his honor following the Revolutionary War, the fort is visible in the background of this portrait.

In advance of the takeover, Moultrie deployed his soldiers to attack British Army encampments on Sullivan’s Island and slaughter or capture formerly enslaved people who had been promised their
freedom in exchange for fighting for the king. These raids were specifically designed to instill fear in the Low Country’s Black population and to dissuade them from deserting their enslavers. Such efforts were familiar to Moultrie, who owned over two hundred people, making him the second-largest holder of enslaved people in the Continental Army after General George Washington.


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