The American Revolution in South Carolina

Fort Granby

February 19-21, 1781


Patriot Cdr:

Brig. Gen. Thomas Sumter
British Cdr:

Maj. Andrew Maxwell
Killed:

Unk
Killed:

Unk
Wounded:

Unk
Wounded:

Unk
Captured:

0
Captured:

0
Old District: 

Orangeburgh District
Present County:

Lexington County

aka Congaree Fort or Fort Congaree.

With the men he had collected earlier in the month, Brig. Gen. Sumter moved forward to attack Fort Granby below the Congaree River. The fort was a British post that protected a landing at Friday's Ferry on the Congaree River. It was garrisoned by a company of 300 local militia, with the overall command by Maj. Andrew Maxwell.

Wade Hampton, who owned a store in the area had earlier been contracted to supply Fort Granby with provisions. Hampton had, until this time, taken British protection, but he kindly informed Brig. Gen. Sumter that the British fort was running low on stores at this point in time.

On the basis of this information, Brig. Gen. Sumter on February 16th, with 280 men left his camp on the Catawba River and moved toward Fort Granby, where Maj. Andrew Maxwell lay with his garrison of 300. He reached the fort and briefly laid siege to it on February19th by having his men build some "Quaker" cannons, then demanded the surrender of the fort. He threatened to blow the fort to splinters.

Maj. Maxwell knew that the cannons were fake and declined to surrender his fort. Brig. Gen. Sumter tried to assault the fort but was easily repulsed. He then surrounded the fort and laid down a slow continous rifle fire to harass the fort's garrison, at the same time he wrote Brig. Gen. Marion requesting reinforcements. Though Gen. Marion did reply, he would not, or else could not help Brig. Gen. Sumter in the siege or his subsequent movements.

Johnson says this siege was the first occasion where the Maham Tower was actually used. Bass qualifies this by implying it was of a more primitive sort than that later proposed by Maj. Hezekiah Maham.

Francis, Lord Rawdon, learning that Fort Granby was in danger, dispatched Lt. Col. Welbore Ellis Doyle from Camden with the Volunteers of Ireland, a relief force of 600 infantry, 200 cavalry, and two artillery pieces to attack Brig. Gen. Sumter. Lt. Col. Doyle crossed the river eight miles above Fort Granby, seized the fords above Friday's Ferry (apparently to cut off Brig. Gen. Sumter's retreat) before bearing down on him.

Receiving word of Lt. Col. Doyle’s approach, Brig. Gen. Sumter, on the night of February 20th, destroyed nearby provisions and other articles that would be of use to the British, then lifted his siege. By the morning of February 21st, after Lt. Col. Doyle had crossed the river and arrived at the fort, Brig. Gen. Sumter had departed to attack Thomson’s Plantation downriver two days hence.

On the 1st of March, Col. Thomas Polk, in Salisbury, reported to Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene that Brig. Gen. Sumter "had moved to the Congaree [Ft. Granby] & had taken a small Number of British that lay there With about 500 Negroes and a deal of stores. It is Reported the Militia all turn out Wherever he Goes."

Brig. Gen. Sumter abandoned his siege of Fort Granby only after Lord Rawdon marched out of Camden with most of its garrison to relieve the fort.

Known Patriot Participants 

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Brig. Gen. Thomas Sumter - Commanding Officer

SC 1st Brigade of Militia with 280 men in the following known units:

Turkey Creek Regiment led by Col. Edward Lacey, with nine (9) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Samuel Adams
- Capt. Frederick Gray
- Capt. Hugh Knox
- Capt. Henry Lisle
- Capt. Hugh McClure
- Capt. William Morris
- Capt. George Neely
- Capt. Thomas Robins
- Capt. John Steel

Camden District Regiment detachment led by Col. Thomas Taylor, with six (6) known companies, led by:
- Capt. James Craig
- Capt. Andrew Leter
- Capt. John Miles
- Capt. John Robertson
- Capt. Thomas Starke
- Capt. Kemp T. Strother

New Acquisition District Regiment detachment of five (5) known companies, led by:
- Capt. William Carr
- Capt. William Hanna
- Capt. William Hillhouse
- Capt. James Venable
- Capt. James Wallace

Fairfield Regiment detachment led by Col. Richard Winn, with four (4) known companies, led by:
- Capt. John Hollis
- Capt. Samuel Lacey
- Capt. Edward Martin
- Capt. John Turner

Hill's Regiment of Light Dragoons detachment of two (2) known companies, led by:
- Capt. James Giles
- Capt. Thomas Gill

Polk's Regiment of Light Dragoons detachment led by Lt. Col. William Polk, with one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Samuel Martin

1st Spartan Regiment detachment of one (1) known company led by:
- Maj. William Smith

Hampton's Regiment of Light Dragoons detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Joseph Robins

Maj. Andrew Maxwell - Commanding Officer

Prince of Wales American Volunteers, Grenadier Company with 78 men, including Lt. James Shanks

Orangeburgh District Loyalist Militia, Col. Fisher's Regiment with 122 men, including Capt. Samuel Tolles, standing garrison at Ft. Granby

Reinforced by other members of the Orangeburgh District Loyalist Militia with 100 men

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