On Sunday, December 17, 2023, the Revolutionary War Victory Day reenactment, remembrance, and celebration will take place at Marion Square from 12:30 - 2:45 pm. The speakers part of the program will feature nationally recognized historians and dignitaries. Interested residents and tourists are invited to attend this 241st Anniversary of Revolutionary War Victory Day (British named "Evacuation Day") to witness and learn about the British surrender of Charlestown, the lynchpin for Parliament to grant the 13 American colonies their collective, sovereign independence.
British troops (Cornwallis's own 33rd Regiment of Foot) will be retiring the King's Colours, and the 2nd Regiment South Carolina Continental Line will install the Betsy Ross and Liberty flags to commemorate the new, independent government of the United States. This reenactment ceremony will be followed by the Honorable Mayor John Tecklenburg and a program of distinguished Revolutionary War speakers and scholars. There will be a presentation of the wreaths and an honor guard volley and cannon salute to honor our first fallen Patriots. Colonial singers will also be singing "Spirit of '76" and Colonial Christmas carols.
This year's distinguished speakers include Dr. Vernon Burton (Judge Perry Jr. Distinguished Chair of History and Global Black Studies, Clemson University), Dr. Mary Stockwell (Chair Emeritus of Lourdes University History Department, General Anthony Wayne author), Ms. Carin Bloom (Historic Charleston Foundation, Director of Educational Programs), Commander Erick Nason (2nd South Continentals speaking as General William Moultrie), Washington Light Infantry Commander, General Dale Theiling, The Honorable Mayor John Tecklenburg, and other accomplished guests. Family-friendly. Outdoor seating will be available. Event will move to adjacent indoor area in the event of poor weather. There will be opportunities for photographs and interactions with reenactors and speakers.
In previous years, such notables as Mrs. Molly Fortune, Director of SC America 250, and Mr. Doug Bostic of the South Carolina Battlefield Trust have been featured. The famed US Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps has performed brilliantly previously. Esteemed historians Dr. Nic Butler (Charleston's Historian), Katherine Pemberton (Powder Magazine Director) and Stuart Bennett (Revolutionary Novelist) have delivered compelling presentations. Last year, Major General Henry Siegling (WLI), Dr. Woody Holton (USC Professor of History and distinguished award-winning RevWar author), Jeff Neale (Curator & Historian Middleton Place), Ms. Katie Hyman (Regent, Rebecca Motte DAR), Dr. Holton Siegling (First Scots Presbyterian), and Mr. Gray Bobo (President- Children of the AR) mesmerized the crowd.
Victory Day is an essential component of the national America 250 remembrances of people, places, and events that resulted in America's independence. As the esteemed Governor Henry McMaster commented: "Today's [Victory Day] event, a reenactment of the British withdrawal and installation of the Betsy Ross and Liberty flags marking the birth of the United States, is a source of pride and patriotism for all Americans". The United States Congress has designated Charleston as one of the four showcase cities of America's 250th Anniversary commemorations ending in 2033.
Victory Day 2023 is dedicated to the great Patriot who brought back the observance of Charleston's Revolutionary War Victory Day commemoration and celebration:
Major General Henry Siegling.
On December 13, 1782, the besieged British garrison on the Charlestown peninsula requested a cease-fire to march out of Charlestown, unmolested, to their awaiting fleets in the harbor the next day. Their forced evacuation involved more people than those surrendering at Yorktown and was covered by a British armada exceeding ten heavy warships and 140 armed evacuation ships. After 31 months of occupation, the last British Army, south of New York City and north of Saint Augustine, Florida, was escorted to their evacuation ships by General Anthony Wayne's Continental Regiment of light dragoons.
Later in the day, the Southern Continental Army and elected government officials paraded into the city, formally reclaiming South Carolina and the Lower South for the United States. Continental General Nathanael Greene, William Moultrie, and Governor Matthews led the liberation parade. At the conclusion, the duly elected state government, confederated with the United States, was formally installed near Broad and State Streets. After 14 months under siege on the Charlestown peninsula, attrited British occupation forces surrendered their Southern Army Headquarters and left America to their self-rule. A cataclysmic battle and the destruction of Charleston were narrowly avoided. The British withdrawal from Charlestown (British named "Evacuation Day") marked the end of British hostilities in America and the end of the War for American Independence.
Less than two months later, on February 3, 1783, after learning of the final withdrawal of British Forces in the Southern American States, King George III appeared before the British Parliament and agreed to recognize the political Independence of all 13 states of the "United States". After much heated debate, Parliament narrowly approved the peace resolution put before it by a slim 16 votes (9 vote margin). The resolution included granting the United States sovereign independence in exchange for peace with France, Spain, and the Netherlands, while also receiving favorable trade rights. King George shortly thereafter sent a letter to the Continental Congress declaring an end to British hostilities against America that formalized the cease-fire agreement reached in Charlestown between opposing Generals on December 13, 1782.
Victory Day marks the end and the winning of the Revolutionary War. Just as Boston commemorates the beginning of the Revolutionary War and the forced evacuation of British Troops from Boston in 1776 with their annual Patriots' Day marathon and events, Revolutionary Charleston envisions Revolutionary War Victory Day becoming the annual national celebration of the War's successful conclusion. On December 14, 1782, American Independence from Great Britain militarily became an uncontested reality. All regular British occupation forces south of New York City had been driven out of America. The world was turned right side up!
For detailed information about Charleston's and South Carolina's role in the War for American Independence, read "Victory Day - Winning American Independence, The Defeat of the British Southern Strategy" to conquer America available at The Old Exchange, Historic Charleston Foundation, Charleston's Visitors Center, fine bookstores, and Amazon Books on line.
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(Professional photography courtesy of Jack Franklin, No part of this website text or photographs may be reproduced without written consent.)
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