The American Revolution in South Carolina

Fort Dorchester

December 1, 1781


Patriot Cdr:

Major General
Nathanael Greene
British Cdr:

Unknown
Killed:

0
Killed:

10
Wounded:

Unknown
Wounded:

20
Captured:

0
Captured:

0
Old District: 

Charles Town District
Present County:

Dorchester County

Major General Nathanael Greene attacked the defending British force even though he was outnumbered 2 to 1. He forced the British to withdraw to Charlestown.


After the battle of Eutaw Springs, Major General Nathanael Greene made camp at Round O in present-day Colleton County, and the camp soon became a hospital camp. There were over 350 Patriots and 250 British soldiers recouperating from the wounds inflicted at Eutaw Springs, and from Malaria.

With the approach of new Continental reinforcements, Major General Greene broke camp and drove the British into Charlestown.

British Lt. Col. Alexander Stewart was recovering from his wounds at Eutaw Springs and his command was turned over to Major John Doyles. Major Doyles was ordered to fall back to Goose Creek Bridge, which left Fort Dorchester exposed. It contained a garrison of 350 men, and its commander prepared for attack.

Major General Greene approached the fort with a "flying party" made up of Col. Wade Hampton, the Legion Infantry, and the Maryland and Virginia Continentals. A reconnaissance party of fifty SC Royalists from the fort ran into Col. Hampton, which drove them back across the bridge with ten killed and twenty wounded.

The fort's commander saw Major General Greene and thought that this was the entire Patriot army. He ordered the stores destroyed and the guns thrown into the Ashley River, then made his escape under the cover of darkness. The Patriots entered the abandoned fort and found two iron artillery pieces left behind.

Lt. Col. Stewart returned and met the fort's garrison at the Quarter House, then prepared the combined force to do battle with Major General Greene.

However, on December 7th, Major General Greene withdrew his army and returned to Round O. His men had no cloaks or blankets and all the ammunition he received for that month was sent to Brigadier General Francis Marion. Marion had stayed on the Cooper River watching the enemy's right flank.

Col. William Harden and Wilkinson (?) watched the British movements between Charlestown and Savannah. Brigadier General Thomas Sumter had taken Orangeburgh and the bridge at Four Holes, and Col. Wade Hampton and a troop of fifty dragoons kept the lines of communications open between Major General Greene and Brigadier General Marion.

Lt. Col. Henry Lee with a light detachment kept any British reconnaissance parties from finding out how weak Major General Greene's army really was. Not known to the British was that Major General Greene only had about 800 men with just four rounds of ammunition per man.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Major General Nathanael Greene - Commanding Officer

MD Continentals, with unknown number of men

VA Continentals, with unknown number of men

Lee's Legion of Infantry (VA), with unknown number of men

SC 1st Regiment of State Dragoons (SC State Troops) led by Col. Wade Hampton, with unknown number of men

Polk's Regiment of Light Dragoons (SC State Troops) detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Nathaniel Marshall Martin

SC Militia:

Lower Ninety-Six District Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. William Butler

Kershaw Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Luke Petty


Total Patriot Force - ~300 men 

Fort Dorchester Garrison led by "Unknown," with 350 men

SC Royalists detachment of 50 men

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