Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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MOULTRIE, William, patriot, born in England in 1731; died in Charleston, South Carolina, 27 September, 1805. His father, Dr. John Moultrie, came to this country from Scotland about 1733 and practised with reputation in Charleston until his death in 1773. William in 1761 was appointed a captain of foot in a militia regiment that was raised to defend the South Carolina frontier against the incursions of the Cherokees. He thus gained a knowledge of military affairs that proved of value to him in the subsequent war of independence. At the beginning of the Revolutionary war Moultrie at once espoused the patriot cause, although several of his family remained loyal to the crown. He was appointed to the command of the 2d colonial regiment, and also represented the parish of St. Helena in the Continental congress of 1775. Early in June, 1776, on the approach of a British land and naval force under Sir Henry Clinton and Admiral Sir Peter Parker to invest Charleston, Moultrie was ordered to complete a fortress on Sullivan's island, at the mouth of the harbor, which he had been engaged in building since the previous March, and he was still busy at the work when the enemy made his appearance. On the morning of the 28th five of the fleet began to cannonade the unfinished fortification ; but the repeated broadsides produced little or no effect, owing to the soft, spongy character of the palmetto-wood of which it was constructed. Colonel Moultrie, on the other hand, having but a limited supply of ammunition, discharged his guns with such deliberation that every shot told upon the hulls or rigging of the enemy. So great was the slaughter on board the admiral's ship, the " Bristol," that at one time only Sir Peter Parker remained on the quarter-deck. At sunset, after a nine hours' engagement, only one of the guns on the fort having been dismounted, the enemy's fire began to slacken, the "Bristol" and "Experiment " being so riddled as almost to have become wrecks. At half-past nine in the evening the attack was abandoned, and several weeks after the discomfited squadron returned to the north. In commemoration of Moultrie's bravery in defending the fort it was subsequently called by his name. He was soon afterward commissioned brigadier-general in the Continental army, and had charge of the military interests of Georgia and South Carolina. In February, 1779, he defeated a superior British force under Colonel Gardiner near Beaufort, . In the latter part of April, General Augustine Prevost, taking advantage of the absence of General Benjamin Lincoln with most of the Continental troops in Georgia, advanced upon Charleston with a large force of British regulars and Tories. Mouitrie, who was stationed on the north side of Savannah river with 1,000 or 1,200 militia, hastened to throw himself in Prevost's path, and by retarding the progress of the enemy enabled the people of Charleston to place themselves in a condition of defence. The return of Lincoln from Georgia subsequently compelled Prevost to fall back on Savannah. Again in the spring of 1780 Charleston was attacked by a strong land and sea force, and Moultrie, who was second in command, shared in the capitulation of the American troops. During his imprisonment, which lasted nearly two years, he was several times approached by British officers with offers of pecuniary compensation and the command of a regiment in Jamaica if he would leave the American service. " Not the fee-simple of all Jamaica," was his reply, "should induce me to part with my integrity." After his release in 1782 congress made him a major-general, but too late to enable him to render his country any further service. In 1785 he was elected governor of South Carolina, and again in 1794. Retiring shortly afterward to private life, he devoted his remaining years to the preparation of his "Memoirs of the American Revolution so far as it Related to the States of North and South Carolina and Georgia" (2 vols., New York, 1802).--His elder brother, John, received the degree of M. D. at Edinburgh university, rose to eminence in his profession, and during the Revolution, espousing the royal cause, was governor of East Florida.--His cousin, James, physician, born in Charleston, South Carolina, 27 March, 1793; died there in April, 1869. He was graduated at the medical department of the University of Pennsylvania in 1812, and succeeded his father as port physician of Charleston, South Carolina, and physician to the jail and the Magazine guards. In 1820 he was president of the State medical society, and on the organization of the Medical college of South Carolina in 1824 he was elected professor of anatomy, but declined. In 1833 he was elected to the chair of physiology and accepted, retaining it until 1867. On the formation of the American medical association in Philadelphia in 1847 he was chosen vice-president, and he was made president at the annual meeting at Charleston in 1851. He was devoted to the study of natural history, and in the intervals of his professional duties made large contributions to the different, departments of zoology. He was also a thorough musician, and pursued his investigations into the more recondite laws of acoustics governing musical sounds.
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