The American Revolution in South Carolina

Dean's Swamp

May 24, 1782

Patriot Cdr:

Capt. Michael Watson & Capt. William Butler
Loyalist Cdr:







Old District: 

Orangeburgh District
Present County:

Aiken County

aka John Town, aka Rocky Swamp.

A detachment from Brigadier General Andrew Pickens' brigade made a surprise attack on a group of Loyalists who managed to escape into the nearby Dean's Swamp. This took place near the present-day town of Salley in Aiken County.

Capt. Michael Watson and Capt. William Butler learned of a bunch of Loyalists in Dean's Swamp near Orangeburgh. Capt. Watson's men were mounted militia, armed with rifles and muskets; Capt. Butler's men were cavalry, armed with pistols and cutlasses. In order to surprise the Loyalists, they rode forward at sunset with great speed, captured a disaffected man and hurried him along with them under guard.

As they approached the Loyalist camp, the captured man escaped and yelled to warn his compadres. The Patriots paraded into an ambush. Two men hiding behind trees were decoys, with many more awaiting the Patriots. The Loyalists brought down Capt. Watson, Sgt. Varney and several others. Capt. Butler retrieved the wounded only to discover that his men were almost out of ammunition.

Capt. William Butler ordered Lt. John Corley to unexpectedly charge the Loyalists to throw them into confusion. He pressed the enemy so hotly, mingling in their disordered ranks and hewing them down with his broad swords, that they had not time to rally, and could only take refuge in the nearby swamp. Many Loyalists were killed.

Sgt. Varney died on site, but Capt. Michael Watson survived until they returned to the village of Orangeburgh, where he promptly died. Another source asserts that Capt. Watson returned to his home in Abbeville District, prepared his will, then died on May 26th.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants
Lower Ninety-Six District Regiment of Militia detachment of two (2) known companies, led by:
- Capt. William Butler
- Capt. Michael Watson (mortally wounded)

Unknown Number of Loyalists - Unknown Commanding Officer


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