I recently took a quick road trip to visit friends in North Carolina and Virgina. I broke the first leg of the 13 hour drive roughly in half with an overnight stop in Santee, South Carolina.
I spent the following morning exploring Santee National Wildlife Refuge located on the north bank of Lake Marion. After the crowded beaches of sunny Florida, having the entire place to myself was incredibly pleasant.
Not only does the refuge preserve acreage for wildlife but, I was surprised to learn, it also protects two important historic sites. The Santee Indian Mound remains the largest ceremonial and burial site yet discovered in the region.
Something that tall on the coastal plain obviously afforded a good viewpoint, a fact the British Army did not overlook. In 1780 they established Fort Watson atop the mound in an effort to control South Carolina.
Continental Army troops attacked the fort on April 5, 1781 but were repulsed by the well-positioned British cannons and sharpshooters. You could say the Brits had the upper hand. But never, ever doubt American ingenuity.
Determined to overtake the fort, Major Hezikiah Maham designed a thirty-foot tall log tower. The structure was built nearby, placed on wheels, and moved into firing range of the fort during the night of April 22nd.
With their height advantage gone, the British could no longer protect the sides of the mound and they surrendered by the end of April 23rd. The success of the tower was replicated several other times by the Continental Army and is part of the reason we don’t speak the Queen’s English in this country.