Sometime in late 1777, the American army began construction on a barracks complex for soldiers at Haddrell’s Point. In 1780, the barracks were being used as a hospital when it was captured by the British on April 26. Uzal Johnson, a Loyalist surgeon with the British army, noted that they were “… very good Barracks if finished…”
On May 12, 1780, General Benjamin Lincoln surrendered the American army and Charles Town to British General Sir Henry Clinton. The American enlisted men totaling 2,861 were held as prisoners-of-war in barracks located on the Charleston Neck. The 274 American officers were all sent to be held as POWs, confined to the Haddrell’s Point barracks. As part of the surrender terms, officers were allowed to keep their swords, pistols, and baggage. One Hessian officer theorized that the officers were separated “to reduce the threat of a secret uprising.”
The brick barracks, located a mile from the harbor, were too small to accommodate the large number of officers. Some officers built small huts in the woods nearby for their quarters. Colonel William Moultrie and Colonel Charles Cotesworth Pinckney were allowed to confine themselves at Snee Farm, and Lt. Colonel Samuel Hopkins of Virginia was confined at Lempriere’s Point.
Officers were held on the honor system that they would not escape. However, after frequent escapes in May and June, Moultrie and other senior officers housed elsewhere were returned to Haddrell’s Point in hopes that they could maintain order per the conditions of surrender. Officers could move within the limits of Christ Church Parish, and some traveled to the harbor and other waterways to fish and collect shellfish.
Tensions did arise on July 4, 1780, when American officers gathered at the barracks “to celebrate the Anniversary of Independence.”
British Captain J. B. Roberts, commander of Fort Arbuthnot (formerly Fort Moultrie), complained “that the conduct of the rebels at the barracks at Haddrell’s-point, during the course of this night, has been very irregular and improper. Not contented to celebrate this day, of their supposed Independence, with music, illuminations, etc. they have presumed to discharge a number of small arms …”
Moultrie, writing British Brigadier General Pattison in Charles Town, offered, “I had the satisfaction of being there, and can assure you I saw no ‘indecent abuse, or gross outrage’ in any manner committed … some women danced for two or three hours. I am sorry to find that some pistols were fired, which, at the same time, I disapprove. I trust they will not take it in the light, they seem to have done; that they will not imagine any gross outrage was meant, where none was intended; but impute it to the warmth of a cause which the continental officers at Haddrell’s-point have embraced through principle; in which some of them bled; and for which all of them are now suffering.”
Even though conditions were already overcrowded, American officers captured at the Battle of Camden in August 1780 were also sent to the Haddrell’s Point barracks.
The three brick buildings of the barracks were arranged in a horseshoe at modern-day McCants, Pherigo, and Adulah streets.