The American Revolution in South Carolina

Great Savannah

August 25, 1780


Patriot Cdr:

Col. Francis Marion
British Cdr:

Capt. Jonathan Roberts
Killed:

0
Killed:

24
Wounded:

2
Wounded:

included in above
Captured:

0
Captured:

included in above
Old District: 

Camden District
Present County:

Clarendon County

aka Sumter's Plantation.

One source asserts that this engagement happened on August 25th. Another source asserts it happened on August 20th. Another source claims it happened on August 21st at Nelson's Ferry, which is very near.

Col. Francis Marion with his Patriot force captured a small British detail escorting Patriot prisoners that had been seized at the battle of Camden on August 16th.


Benson J. Lossing in his Pictorial Field-Book of the Revolution asserts - Patriots had one killed, one wounded (Capt. Benson); British had 22 regulars killed/wounded, 2 Loyalists killed/wounded, and 2 captured (a captain and a subaltern).

Lossing also states that Lt. Col. Hugh Horry had a total of 16 men with him - and they retook 150 Continentals of the Maryland line.


The stage for this battle was set when Lt. General Charles, Lord Cornwallis, Col. Francis, Lord Rawdon and Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton defeated Major General Horatio Gates and Major General Baron Johann DeKalb with the Virginia and Maryland troops in the battle near Camden on August 16th. Major General DeKalb was killed and the Patriots were badly defeated. About 150 Marylanders were taken prisoner taken by the British, among others.

Col. Francis Marion was ordered to roam the Santee River area burning boats so as to isolate Camden from Charlestown. He was successfully engaged in this task when he learned of the defeat at Camden. He withheld this information from his sixty troops and continued to burn boats. He learned from a deserter that the British had just burned his own home, Pond Bluff.

Capt. Jonathan Roberts with an escort of ninety troops was holding the 150 Maryland prisoners at Col. Thomas Sumter’s home, on the north savannah of the Santee River very near Nelson’s Ferry. Col. Marion attacked after dark and killed or captured twenty-three of the escorts and released all the prisoners. This is thought to be the first time Lord Cornwallis heard of Col. Francis Marion.


Col. Francis Marion learned that Major General Horatio Gates and his Continentals had been severely defeated at Camden on August 16th, but fearing that his men would disperse he kept this news to himself as long as he could. He also learned that Capt. Jonathan Roberts and a detachment of the 63rd Regiment of Foot were holding 150 Continental prisoners of Camden at Thomas Sumter's abandoned plantation at Great Savannah. Lt. General Charles, Lord Cornwallis had been sending the Continental prisoners from Camden down the Santee Road to Charlestown, one hundred and fifty at a time. Col. Marion decided to free this group of about 150.

He sent Lt. Col. Lemuel Benton with sixteen men to seize the pass over Horse Creek. Lt. Col. Hugh Horry's men stumbled over a sentry who fired a shot, and they quickly rushed Sumter's home with Col. Marion's remaining 134 men closely behind them. In a brief fight, they killed or captured twenty-two (22) British Regulars and two (2) Loyalists. One of the Continental prisoners, Capt. Perry Benson of the 5th MD Regiment, was wounded as well.

Col. Marion released 147 Continentals captured at the battle of Camden. 75 were from the Maryland line, and 72 were of the Delaware line. 85 of the freed prisoners refused to obey Col. Marion's commands or to follow him. They did not want to follow such a miserable looking group and insisted that they be allowed to go on to Charlestown to a British prison ship. After all attempts to get them to change their minds failed, Col. Marion took his British prisoners and the few Continentals who would follow him to Port's Ferry in the swamps, near Snow's Island. By the time he reached his destination, all but three of the Continentals he had freed deserted him.

Col. Marion also captured two field pieces, and after returning to Port's Ferry, he created a redoubt on the east bank of the Pee Dee River. He placed a few men there to guard the position. He did not really want the artillery pieces, but he knew that by placing them there it would impress local Loyalists and perhaps lure the British into a trap.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Col. Francis Marion - Commanding Officer

Cheraws District Regiment of Militia detachment led by Lt. Col. Lemuel Benton with 16 men

Kingstree Regiment of Militia detachment led by Lt. Col. Hugh Horry, Major John James, with four (4) known companies, led by:
- Capt. John James, Jr.
- Capt. John McCauley
- Capt. Robert McCottry
- Capt. William McCottry

Berkeley County Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. William Dukes

Lower Craven County Regiment of Militia detachment of one known (1) company, led by:
- Capt. Henry Mouzon

63rd Regiment of Foot detachment led by Capt. Jonathan Roberts with 22 men

Prince of Wales American Regiment detachment led by Capt. "Unknown" with 14 men

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-



© 2011 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved