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 battlefield 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.
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.
The Battle of Wright's Bluff - (February 24, 1781)
General Thomas Sumter tried unsuccessfully to overpower the British fort at Wright's Bluff (aka Fort Watson). 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.
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.
Confederate States of America & the Civil War
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 nearby town of Manning was destroyed during "Potter's Raid".