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War in the South

Turning their attention from stalled operations in the North, the British in late 1778 looked to the South. They seized Savannah, Georgia, late in the year and held it against a later counterattack. In early 1780, an assault was launched against Charleston, South Carolina, which resulted in the capture of more than 5,000 American soldiers. Following this victory, the British extended their control over the remainder of South Carolina and Georgia. In the fall of 1780, a British advance into North Carolina under Lord Cornwallis was halted by an American victory at Kings Mountain, South Carolina (near the North Carolina border). Further American gains took place at Cowpens, South Carolina (formerly the site of a cattle yard) in January 1781. Here Daniel Morgan, leading a portion of Nathanael Greene's larger force, inflicted heavy losses on the British and captured vast quantities of supplies. Both the British and the American armies headed north and on March 15, Greene attacked Cornwallis at Guilford Court House, North Carolina, a battle fought largely to a draw and at best a strategic victory for the Americans. The British withdrew temporarily into North Carolina, but soon returned to Virginia. Meanwhile, Greene began a drive through areas formerly occupied by the British and eventually forced them back into the port cities of Savannah, Charleston and Wilmington, North Carolina.