The American Revolution in South Carolina

Brierley's Ferry

November 18, 1780


Patriot Cdr:

Brigadier General
Thomas Sumter
British Cdr:

Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton
Killed:

Unknown
Killed:

Unknown
Wounded:

Unknown
Wounded:

Unknown
Captured:

Unknown
Captured:

Unknown
Old District: 

Camden District
Present County:

Fairfield County

aka Brierly’s Ferry, aka Shirar's Ferry, aka Shirer's Ferry.


Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, with his British Legion Cavalry and mounted British Legion Infantry, and two 3-pounders, was sent from the Wateree River in pursuit of Brigadier General Thomas Sumter. On November 18th, he joined the 1st Battalion of the 71st Regiment of Foot and a mounted detachment of the 63rd Regiment of Foot who were already present at Brierley’s Ferry on the Broad River. The opposite side of the ferry, however, was occupied by a 150 of Brigadier General Sumter’s riflemen who had been sent to scout the 71st Regiment’s camp.

Lt. Col. Tarleton drove these men from their position with his cannon and infantry, at the same time taking care to conceal the green coats of his dragoons, thereby preventing Brigadier General Sumter of being apprised of the presence of himself and his Legion. Later in the evening, he crossed with his dragoons and the mounted Legion and 63rd Regiment of Foot at a ford a few miles downriver. He then reunited with the 71st Regiment of Foot and the artillery three miles from the ferry, and by 10 p.m. had camped several miles into the Dutch Fork, having received information of Brigadier General Sumter’s being not too distant with upwards of 1,000 Militia from South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia.

A soldier of the 63rd Regiment of Foot deserted during the march and alerted Brigadier General Sumter of the approaching British Legion. Brigadier General Sumter did not want to be caught in the open while retreating from Lt. Col. Tarleton, because this would place him in the same position as Virginia Col. Abraham Buford at the Waxhaws in May. Brigadier General Sumter instead decided to move to William Blackstock's farm on the Tyger River and set up a defensive position. Of course, Lt. Col. Tarleton followed him to Blackstocks.

To date, there are no decent accounts of all the various units - Patriot and British - at this engagement. There were certainly some, if not all, of the units described in the battle of Blackstocks, which took place two days later.



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