The American Revolution in South Carolina

Edisto River

December 20, 1781


Patriot Cdr:

Brigadier General
Andrew Pickens
Loyalist Cdr:

Major William Cunningham
Killed:

Unknown
Killed:

20
Wounded:

Unknown
Wounded:

Unknown
Captured:

0
Captured:

Unknown
Old District: 

Orangeburgh District
Present County:

Orangeburg County

aka Battle of the Tory Camps, possibly aka Edisto Swamps.


Meanwhile, the various Patriot leaders chasing Major William "Bloody Bill" Cunningham came together at Bull Swamp, where Brigadier General Andrew Pickens assumed personal command of the expedition.

Bull Swamp flows into the north fork of the Edisto River not far below the town of North.

Major Cunningham was known to be hiding out in the Edisto River swamps within ten miles of Orangeburgh.

Sometime around December 20, 1781, Brigadier General Andrew Pickens led his troops across the Edisto River and attacked the Loyalist camps one morning at sunrise. In this engagement, the Patriots were again outmaneuvered by their wily opponent. Majir Cunningham had stationed his troops in scattered camps all along the river, instead of herding them together into one location.

Brigadier General Pickens' men took the first camp completely by surprise and killed nearly every Loyalist in it, leaving a total of twenty enemy dead. This spread the alarm to the rest of the camps, allowing most of the enemy to escape. Major Cunningham got away by swimming his horse across the Edisto River and making his way down the country to Charlestown.

This was the end of "The Bloody Scout" of Major William Cunningham and Col. Hezekiah Williams. A short time later, William Cunningham reached the safety of Charlestown, and his horse Ringtail died of fatigue due to the long pursuit. It was said that Cunningham displayed more grief for his horse than for all the widows and orphans he left in the Ninety-Six District. Ringtail was given a funeral with full military honors.

This engagement near Orangeburgh is mentioned only in the accounts of veterans; it has completely escaped the notice of historians. The participants in this affair referred to it as the battle of the Edisto River or the battle of the Tory Camps.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

SC 3rd Brigade of Militia/State Troops led by Brigadier General Andrew Pickens with the following known units:

Little River District Regiment of Militia detachment led by Col. James Dillard, with unknown number of men

Roebuck's Battalion of Spartan Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Thomas Farrow

Fairfield Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. John McCool

Major William Cunningham, with unknown number of Loyalists

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