The American Revolution in South Carolina

  Fort Independence

  February 1779


Patriot Cdr:

Unknown
Loyalist Cdr:

Col. James Boyd
Killed:

Unknown
Killed:

Unknown
Wounded:

Unknown
Wounded:

Unknown
Captured:

Unknown
Captured:

Unknown
Old District: 

Ninety-Six District
Present County:

Abbeville County

Patriot Militia vs. Col. James Boyd, fort captured and burned.


Initially a frontier plantation, Fort Independence was purchased by South Carolina in 1777 and garrisoned with an independent company. Functioning primarily as a deterrent to the restive Cherokees and Creeks, Fort Independence was important in maintaining South Carolina's frontier at a critical time. The fort was burned by Loyalists in early 1779.

The leader of this expedition, James Boyd, an Irishman from Raeburn Creek, South Carolina, had traveled to Georgia with a British invasion force from New York. He carried an open commission (as a Colonel) to recruit Loyalists for the British military from settlements behind the rebel lines.

Col. Boyd left Savannah sometime after January 20, 1779, and reached Wrightsborough, deep within the Georgia backcountry, by the 24th, looking for guides into the South Carolina frontier. Within a week, he established a camp near present-day Spartanburg, South Carolina. With 350 recruits, he set out for Augusta on February 5th. During their march south along the Indian frontier, Col. Boyd and his followers were joined by 250 North Carolinians under the command of John Moore.

The Loyalists were ineffectively pursued by small groups of Patriot militiamen. Col. Boyd's command captured Fort Independence and the outpost at Broad Mouth Creek in South Carolina, but they declined to attack the garrison of McGowan's Blockhouse on the Cherokee Ford of the Savannah River.

The Loyalists crossed the river further north at Vann's Creek on February 11th. The garrison of Cherokee Ford, with reinforcements, attacked Col. Boyd's men at the crossing but were repulsed. As Col. Boyd and his men camped at Kettle Creek on February 14th, he dispatched his prisoners to Augusta. He could not know that the British troops sent there to rendezvous with him had that morning begun a withdrawal toward Savannah.



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