Last updated: August 19, 2016
Star Fort: Whose side are you on anyway?
- Grade Level:
- Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade
- Social Studies
- Lesson Duration:
- 90 Minutes
- State Standards:
- South Carolina 3rd Grade Standards
South Carolina 4th Grade Standards
Note: While these standards do not specifically list Ninety Six this activity will lead to further understanding of this standard.
At the end of this activity, the student will be able to list the reasons for fighting for both the British and the Americans.
(The teacher can also read this to the students at the Star Fort.)
The village of Ninety Six was very important to the British. They wanted to keep it in British hands, many of the settlers were loyal to the king and supported the British. These were the loyalists or provincials. The commander of the loyalist forces was Lt. Col. Cruger, a man from New York. Cruger decided on a star fort “which allowed defenders to catch attackers in a crossfire, no matter what direction they came from.” (Dunkerly and Williams, 2006) The fort was is the best example of earthworks from the Revolution era in the country. The walls were 14 ft high and a ditch was built around it. In front of the ditch would have been an abatis, which is sharpened tree branches facing outward towards attackers. The loyalists attempted to dig a well but when they reached 25 feet they gave up. The only way they could get water was through the communication trench. The communication trench was dug from the fort to the village, past the village to the branch and continued to the stockade fort. This trench was used for communication as well as to smuggle in water. Cruger had built a very defendable fort.
General Nathaniel Green was the commander for the patriot forces. He enlisted the help of a polish engineer named Kosciuszko. Together they came up with a plan to lay siege to the fort. Kosciuszko recommended digging trenches in a zigzag pattern to get close to the fort in order to attack. In addition to the trenches, they also built a rifle tower. The rifle tower was 30 feet high, from here the patriots could shoot into the fort. In response, the loyalists increased the height by adding sandbags. In addition, Kosciuszko began digging a mine. His idea was to tunnel under the fort and then blow it up. Because the digging was very difficult, the mine was never finished. Gen. Greene heard that British reinforcements were on the way. He decided to attack the fort. He called for volunteers warning them of the danger. Fifty men volunteered, they were called the Forlorn Hope. The men attacked the fort at noon. They traveled through the trench and began climbing the walls. They used hooks to pull down the sandbags to gain entry. The loyalists came out of the fort and caught them in the trench. The battle was over in 30 minutes. Gen. Green called off the attack.
While the attack was going on, Col. Henry “Lighthorse Harry” Lee gained control of the stockade fort. He fired on the western wall of the star fort. After hearing that the attack failed, Lee retreated from the stockade fort.
When the battle was over, it was decided that Ninety Six would be abandoned by the British. Cruger was ordered to burn everything before leaving.
6 quotes for students to read at the Star Fort
Teacher will give a brief history of the fort. The teacher will have 2 students hold a patriot flag and a British flag. The teacher will read aloud the quotes and clarify meaning if necessary. The students will go to the flag of the side they believe said the quote.
Teacher: Remember that one of the ways we know what happens in history is through letters and journals that were written by people. I am going to read quotes from the commanding officers during the siege of this Star Fort. I also want you to remember that a siege is a battle strategy where one side surrounds the other side cutting them off from supplies and help. Ok, now who is inside the fort? (The purpose of this question is for students to understand who built the fort and who is defending the fort.) Now who is attacking the fort or putting a siege on the Star Fort? (The purpose of this question is for students to understand who is attacking the fort.) Two students will be holding flags (teacher will pass out flags). Which group does this flag represent? Now this flag? (Teacher will have students identify the flags.) When I read the quote, I want you to decide which side said the quote and then line up in front of the correct flag. Do you have any questions? (Wait for a response then begin.)
Quote 1: “You must keep possession of the backcountry. It is very important, indeed the success of the war in the south depends totally upon it.” (Loyalist)
Quote 2: “I have ordered the trees for the defenses cut, but the work is slow. The poor slaves and soldiers can do little in this cold.” (Loyalist)
Quote 3: “We have laid seige to this place, but the fort is so strong, that our success is very doubtful.” (Patriots)
Quote 4: “I see little hope of winning, I order the attack to be pushed no farther.” (Patriots)
Quote 5: “I offer to send out immediately all the prisoners of yours in our hands in trade for the British soldiers you have captured.” (Loyalist)
Quote 6: “We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again” (Patriot)
Teacher: Now who can tell me who won this battle? (The purpose of this question is for students to understand that the patriots did not win.) That’s right. Now the commanding officer of the Star Fort left Ninety Six soon after this battle. As he was leaving he burnt the forts and the village completely down to the ground.
Siege: a military operation in which the enemy forces surround a town or fort cutting off supplies to force the enemy to surrender or give up.
Abatis: a defense fortification in which sharpened tree branches are placed in the ground pointing outward to discourage attack.
Engineer: a person who designs structures, in this case military forts.
Assessment MaterialsPost-site activity
Who controlled the fort and why?
What is significant about this battle?
Name an interesting fact about this battle.