Historic Battles

Revolutionary War Battles

Battle of Nelson’s Ferry [Great Savannah] - (August 25, 1780)

Capt. Joseph Roberts and his soldiers were camped at Gen. Thomas Sumter’s home near Nelson’s Ferry. Gen. Francis Marion and his men, after Gates’ defeat at Camden, were burning boats up and down the Santee in order to cut off connections between Camden and Charleston. From a deserter, Gen. Marion learned of Robert’s Camp. He, along with Major Hugh Harry, attacked the house. In a brief struggle, they killed or captured 23 of the British escort and Tory guides. They rescued the 150 Maryland prisoners. This was the first time Gen. Cornwallis had heard of Francis Marion.

Battle of Tearcoat Swamp - (October 25, 1780)

Gen. Francis Marion heard that Col. Samuel Lynes had moved his men from Nelson’s Ferry to Tearcoat Swamp near the site of Victory Plains, the Joseph S. DuRant home. Fearing that spies were in his camp, Marion did not enlighten his men of his plans. On Oct. 24, 1780, he scouted the Tory camp and found it in casual disarray. He attacked at midnight Oct. 25, with a 3 pronged approach. It was a complete rout with 3 killed, 14 wounded, 23 captured. They also captured precious arms, supplies and equipment.

Battle at Ox Swamp - (November 8, 1780)

After a 26 mile race from Richbourg’s Mill Dam, Tarleton halted at Ox Swamp Crossing. Finding that Marion and his 400 horsemen had left the road here to go into the swamp, he decided to give up the chase. Marion had eluded him, and it is said that he exclaimed “Come on Boys! Let’s go back and fight the gamecock. But as for the old fox, the devil himself could not catch him.” The natives seized on Tarleton’s epithet and turned it into “Swamp Fox” and fastened that nickname forever on their hero.

Battle at Richbourg’s Mill - (November 8, 1780)

On November 5, Gen. Francis Marion camped at Jack’s Creek, 10 miles above Nelson’s Ferry with 500 horsemen. A spy reported that camp to Gen. Tarleton who was camped at “Big Home”. Tarleton lit a large fire, hoping Gen. Marion would think “Big Home” was on fire. However, the Richardsons warned Gen. Marion, who skirted the bogs and never checked the pace of his horse "Ball", until he had ridden across Richbourg’s Mill Dam. A Tory prisoner escaped and reported this to Gen. Tarleton, who chased Gen. Marion and his men down what is now U.S. Hwy. 15, to Pocotaligo Swamp, then down the Georgetown Road and on to Ox Swamp, a distance of 26 miles.

Battle of Half Way Swamp - (December 17, 1780)

New recruits from the British left Charleston on their way to Winnsboro. Gen. Francis Marion heard through a spy of the movement of these men up the Santee River Road. He also learned that they were to be joined by the Highland Regiment under Major McLeroth. Approximately 700 men, mostly from Williamsburg, were commanded by Marion who charged up the road. When the opposing forces met just beyond Half Way Swamp, it was agreed that each side would select 20 men to decide the battle by dueling. At the last moment, the British decided to retreat from the battlefie proceeding to Singleton’s Mill. After a brief skirmish, both the Americans and the British fled when they found the Singleton family had come down with smallpox.

The Battle of Wright's Bluff - (February 24, 1781)

General Thomas Sumter tried unsuccessfully to overpower the British fort at Wright's Bluff. Sumter had captured 66 prisoners and badly needed stores. He was supposed to receive some stores at a point on the river bank, just above Wright's Bluff, but a turncoat river pilot landed the stores within the reach of the British, who or course seized them. After unsuccessfully attacking the British encampment, Sumter took his men off to the High Hills of the Santee.

Battle of Wyboo Swamp - (March 6, 1781)

Before Lake Marion was formed, there was a swamp at Wyboo with several wooden bridges on the Santee River Road. Lord Francis Rowdon, Field Commander of the King’s Forces in SC, decided that the time was ripe to crush Marion. With a double pronged pincher, he ordered Col. Watson to attack the front and Col. Doyle to cut off their retreat. Gen. Marion was ambushed at Wyboo Swamp. A bloody battle followed which was actually a draw. Marion retreated down the River road about 3 miles to Capt. John Cantey’s Plantation.

Battle of Fort Watson [Santee Indian Mound] - (April 1781)

Fort Watson was constructed in 1780 by British Colonel John Watson in Clarendon County, South Carolina. It was constructed on a site originally built by local Santee Indians as a burial mound for one of their more renowned chiefs. Because of its strategic location, the site was used by the British during the Revolution to control movement on the Santee River as well as the main road between Charleston and Camden. This was the first post in S.C. retaken from the British. On April 15, 1781, General Francis Marion and Lt. Col. Henry “Lighthorse Harry” Lee encircled the fort and after 8 days of futile small arms fire, Major Hezekiah Maham constructed a pine tower of sufficient height to overlook the defenders’ stockade. On April 23, 1781, the Americans mounted an attack from the tower and from the ground which lasted only a short time. Lt. McKay surrendered the fort, its garrison and its supplies to General Marion.

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Sculpture of Gen. Francis Marion

Gen. Francis Marion - "Swamp Fox"

Francis Marion (1732 – 1795) was a military officer who served in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. He was a persistent adversary of the British during their occupation of South Carolina. Due to his irregular methods of warfare, he is considered one of the fathers of modern guerrilla warfare.

Marion showed himself to be a singularly able leader of irregular militiamen and ruthless in his terrorising of British Loyalists. 'Marion's Men', as his militia troops were known, served without pay, supplied their own horses, arms and often their food. Marion rarely committed his men to frontal warfare, but repeatedly surprised larger bodies of Loyalists and British regulars with quick surprise attacks and equally quick withdrawal from the battle field.

Colonel Tarleton was sent to capture or kill Gen. Marion in November 1780. After unsuccessfully pursuing Marion's troops for over 26 miles through a swamp, it was Tarleton who gave Marion his nom de guerre, the "Swamp Fox". He is quoted as saying, "as for this damned old fox, the Devil himself could not catch him." Read about the Historic Battles of Clarendon County.

After the British defeat at Yorktown in October 1781, the British Parliament suspended offensive operations in America. In December 1782, the British withdrew their garrison from Charleston. The war was brought to an official end by the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783.

After the war, Gen. Marion returned to his plantation to find it had been burnt during the fighting. He had to borrow money to rebuild his plantation. He also married his cousin, Mary Esther Videau, after the war. Marion served several terms in the South Carolina State Senate. He died on his estate in 1795, at the age of 63.

*For more detail on Gen. Francis Marion and the battles that took place in Clarendon county, go to The Francis Marion Trail or The American Revolution in South Carolina.

**Visit the Clarendon County Veterans Memorial - Dedicated to the Memory of all members of the U.S. Armed Services who gave their lives in service of their county and to all members of the Armed Services who served their country in time of need.

Confederate States of America

Formed in February 1861, the Confederate States of America was a republic composed of eleven Southern states that seceded from the Union in order to preserve slavery, states’ rights, and political liberty for whites. Its conservative government, with Mississippian Jefferson Davis as president, sought a peaceful separation, but the United States refused to acquiesce in the secession. The war that ensued started at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861, and lasted four years. It cost the South nearly 500,000 men killed or wounded out of a population of 9 million… See History.com

Civil War Battles

Potter's Raid - April 1865

Gen. William T. Sherman and Union forces ravaged much of South Carolina in the months before the end of the Civil War in April 1865. As Sherman's forces departed Columbia S.C., he ordered his troops to begin marching towards North Carolina.

As Sherman marched northward, Gen. Potter and 2,700 Union troops were ordered to move inland from Georgetown to destroy rail lines and military stores in Sumter and Clarendon counties. Potter and his troops engaged Confederate troops and local militia in various skirmishes between April 10-21, 1865. A large portion of the town of Manning was destroyed during "Potter's Raid".