The American Revolution in South Carolina

Little Lynches Creek

August 11, 1780


Patriot Cdr:

Major General
Horatio Gates
Loyalist Cdr:

Col. Francis,
Lord Rawdon
Killed:

0
Killed:

0
Wounded:

Unknown
Wounded:

Unknown
Captured:

0
Captured:

0
Old District: 

Camden District
Present County:

Kershaw County

British troops successfully defend the ford from Patriot troops marching toward Camden.


Major General Horatio Gates marched his newly-formed army out of North Carolina into South Carolina and was looking for Major General Richard Caswell's North Carolina Militia, which was supposed to meet him at Mask's Ferry in Anson County (NC), but Major General Caswell had moved his men to be in position to attack the British post at Lynches Ferry. Major General Gates moved his force in that direction, hoping to save the Patriot Militia from themselves.

Meanwhile, Col. Francis, Lord Rawdon learned of Major General Gates's entry into South Carolina and he marched his men to occupy the bridge across the western branch of Lynches Creek, known as Little Lynches Creek. The British outpost at Lynches Ferry withdrew and joined Lord Rawdon's army.

Major General Gates and his Continentals, now reinforced with NC militia, moved towards Lord Rawdon and actually succeeded in flanking Lord Rawdon's force, which was much smaller than Major General Gates's army. The Patriots engaged British sentries with long-range rifles, but never hit any of them. After a two-day delay, Major General Gates moved up the creek and crossed over.

Lord Rawdon did not want to risk a major fight at this location since he knew that Lt. General Charles, Lord Cornwallis was on his way to rendezvous at Camden, so Lord Rawdon withdrew back to Camden and established a camp at Log Town. He ordered the Loyalist militia to harass the Patriots and lead them away from his retreat, which they succeeded in accomplishing, taking Major General Gates 35 miles out of his way - buying Lord Rawdon time for the upcoming Battle of Camden.


While most of the Continental Army's Southern Command was beseiged at Charlestown, Major General Baron Johann DeKalb took control of what remained of the Southern Department's troops. On April 16th, he marched from Morristown, NJ with 1,400 men. These were six Maryland and Delaware Continental regiments and the 1st Continental Artillery regiment. With this large group of men were their wives, children, laundresses, and other camp followers, which was typical of the times.

Major General DeKalb had hoped to be reinforced by state authorities along the way, but little help was provided to him. His army was in Granville County, North Carolina when news arrived that Charlestown had fallen on May 12th. DeKalb's army had no horses or wagons and his men had to carry everything on their backs. Sick, tired, and hungry, his men marched on to Buffalo Ford on the Deep River in North Carolina and made camp there - 125 miles northeast of Camden, SC.

The state of North Carolina did not welcome Major General DeKalb nor his army. Former governor Richard Caswell was the Major General of all NC Militia and he refused to join, cooperate, or communicate regularly with DeKalb. The Maryland and Delaware Continentals were left to starve by the people they were sent to help - the Carolinians. Slight hope came when the news arrived that this army would soon be under the command of Major General Horatio Gates.

The Continental Congress appointed Major General Horatio Gates to the Southern Department on June 13, 1780, hoping that militias would rally to him, as the New England militia had in 1777. Previous Southern Department leader, Major General Charles Lee warned him upon his departure, "Beware lest you exchange your Northern laurels for Southern willows." A tad prophetic.

When Major General Gates arrived in Hillsborough, North Carolina on July 13th, he wrote a letter informing Major General Baron DeKalb that he was relieved of command - not bothering to tell the man to his face. Major General Gates was unhappy about the condition in which he found his army and he sent letters to North Carolina, Deleware, and Maryland legislators, and to the Continental Congress. He was astounded that there were no supply depots set up for his troops.

On July 25th, he finally linked up with his army of 1,500 hungry and anxious men with DeKalb on Deep River. However, he ignored their pathetic condition and "ordered that the troops to hold themselves in readiness to march at a moment's warning." He assured them that rations were on the way, yet within 72 hours they were marching south to go after the British. This confused the officers and even appeared to some to be treasonous.

Major General Gates decided to head directly for Camden, South Carolina - to take the fight directly to the British as quickly as possible. His senior leaders advised him to take a different path, but he ignored them all. None of his officers openly questioned his orders, but he finally explained his actions to one of his assistants, Lt. Col. Otho Williams. Major General Gates knew that Major General Richard Caswell and his NC Militia were out in northeastern South Carolina and that they would never come to him - so, he was going to them. He felt that if this NC Militia were defeated in a battle before he could unite their forces he would not be able to muster them again.

In the meantime, Major General Richard Caswell had moved his Militia in order to attack a smaller British post at Lynches Ferry. Major General Gates alterered his course accordingly, hoping to save Caswell from himself. At that time, Lt. Col. Charles Armand and his cavalry found Major General Gates on his way to Lynches Creek.

In Major Genenral Gates' military career he had not had much experience using cavalry. In the battles around Saratoga he had defeated the British without cavalry. What he didn't know was that in South Carolina every man rode whenever possible - the terrain simply made infantry fighting almost obsolete. Every Continental dragoon regiment that would serve in the Carolinas and most Patriot militias in the Carolinas were mounted. The only way to out-maneuver the British was to put the cavalry to full use. Gates did not know this, and apparently he did not care to learn. In one instance he had the cavalry horses pull the wagons though the marshes along his route.

At the end of July, Col. Charles Porterfield and his Light Infantry of Virginia joined up with Major General Gates. Virginians and North Carolinians who had escaped Charlestown and the Waxhaws arrived next. Crossing into South Carolina, Major General Gates and his army found fields of green corn flourishing along the banks of the Pee Dee River and the men ate their fill - their first full stomachs in months.

On August 4th, Col. Francis Marion rode into camp. Maryland Col. Otho Williams wrote:

"Colonel Marion, a gentleman of South Carolina, had been with the army a few days, attended to by a very few followers, distinguished by small black leather caps and the wretchedness of their attire; their number did not exceed twenty men and boys, some white, some black, and all mounted, but most of them miserably equipped; their appearance was in fact so burlesque that it was with much difficulty the diversion of the regular soldiery was restrained by the officers; and the general himself was glad of an opportunity of detaching Colonel Marion, at his own instance, towards the interior of South Carolina, with orders to watch the motions of the enemy and furnish intelligence."

Major General Gates had decided that Col. Marion's comical army was of no use to him in the swamps of South Carolina, and sent them out to gather intelligence and deliver a proclamation to the citizents that he would protect them from "acts of barbarity and devastation." He also ordered them to seize all the boats along the Santee River to deny their use by the British when Gates defeated them.

Meanwhile, Col. Francis, Lord Rawdon had learned of the battle at Hanging Rock and thought that Col. Thomas Sumter had captured the post. He knew that Major General Horatio Gates was approaching Camden but he felt that Col. Sumter's mounted force was a larger threat to his post. Lord Rawdon called upon all male inhabitants in and around Camden to take up arms. Some did, but 160 of the town's residents refused - and they were promptly tossed into the small Camden jail. Twenty men of the highest standing were manacled to the walls.

Lord Rawdon marched his army to the west branch of Lynches Creek towards Granny's Quarter. The next morning he learned that Col. Sumter had not taken Hanging Rock and the post was still in British hands. Lord Rawdon immediately moved to occupy the bridge across the western branch of Lynches Creek.

On August 7th, Major General Gates rendezvoused with 1,800 North Carolinians under Major General Richard Caswell. Both commanders were cordial. Col. Otho Williams wrote:

"The reception was gracious, and the general and his suite were regaled with wine and other novelties, exquisitely grateful and pleasingly exhilirating; but, a man must have been intoxicated, not to perceive the confusion which prevailed in the camp - tables, chairs, bedsteads, benches, and many other articles of heavy and cumbrous household stuff, were scattered before the tent doors in great disorder."

The combined army marched towards Lynches Creek the next day. Major Dean was ordered to escort the women and children back to Charlotte, but most remained because there were no wagons to take them back. Meanwhile, the enemy fell back to Little Lynches Creek where they met up with reinforcements from Camden.

Lord Rawdon posted the Volunteers of Ireland, the 33rd Regiment, the 23rd Regiment of Welsh Fusiliers, and the 71st Regiment (Highlanders) at the creek. He wanted to delay the approach of Major General Gates while he waited for British cavalry from Charlestown and light infantry from Ninety-Six. Lord Rawdon was outnumbered four-to-one and if he attacked then the Patriots would have easily defeated him. He did not wish to retreat to defend Camden since Major General Gates would be able to capture many British stores there.

Major General Gates made a move as if to flank the British defenses located there. A skirmish followed when Lt. Col. Armand's Legion drove in some of the British sentries, but the creek banks were too steep, muddy, and slippery, and the swamp was too wide. A cornet of Lt. Col. Armand's Legion was captured. Major General Gates did not want to make a frontal attack and remarked that to do so would be "taking the bull by the horns." The Patriots did engage the British with long-range rifle fire, but to no effect. After a two day wait, Major General Gates moved up the creek and crossed.

Since he had been flanked, and not wanting to risk a major fight, Lord Rawdon withdrew back to Camden and set up camp once again in Log Town. He later wrote that his main objective had been to slow down Major General Gates so that Lord Cornwallis would have time to bring reinforcements from Charlestown.

Neither army could see each other across the river due to thick woods. Major General Gates could not move across the river so he moved his army to Rugeley's Mill by way of Hanging Rock. This took him 35 miles from Camden, where he had been only 15 miles away beforehand. Major General Gates arrived at his desired location on August 15th and waited for the arrival of Col. Thomas Sumter and his militia - which never arrived.

Next would be the Battle of Camden.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Major General Horatio Gates - Commanding Officer

Continental Forces led by Major General Johann-Alexandre von Robaii, Baron DeKalb in the following units:

MD 1st Brigade led by Brigadier General William Smallwood with 400 men in the following units:

MD 1st Regiment led by Lt. Col. Peter Adams, with Major Levin Winder, Capt. George Anderson, and Capt. William Bruce

MD 3rd Regiment led by Major Archibald Anderson, with Capt. Jacob Brice, Capt. John Smith, and Capt. Lilburn Williams

MD 5th Regiment led by Col. William Richardson, with Capt. Perry Benson, Capt. Richard Bird, Capt. James Bruff, and Capt. Adam Hoops

MD 7th Regiment led by Col. John Gunby, with Capt. Jonathan Morris

MD 2nd Brigade led by Brigadier General Mordecai Gist with 500 men in the following units:

MD 2nd Regiment led by Lt. Col. John Eager Howard, with Capt-Lt. John Hardman, Capt. Edward Duvall, and Capt. John Gassaway

MD 4th Regiment led by Col. Josiah Carvel Hall, with Capt. Edward Oldham

MD 6th Regiment led by Lt. Col. Benjamin Ford, with Capt-Lt. Nathan Williams and Capt. James Somervell

The DE Regiment led by Lt. Col. Joseph Vaughan with 280 men in the following units:
- 1st Company - Major John Patton
- 2nd Company - Capt. Robert Kirkwood
- 3rd Company - Capt. John Rhodes
- 6th Company - Capt. John Learmonth
- 8th Company - Capt. Peter Jacquett
- Additional Company - Capt. George Purvis

Armand's Legion of Horse & Foot led by Lt. Col. Charles Tuffin Armand with the following units:

Cavalry led by Count Nicholas Dietrick, Baron von Ottendorff with 60 men
- 1st Troop of Dragoons - Lt. Richard Heard
- 2nd Troop of Dragoons - Capt. Henry Bedkin
- 3rd Troop of Dragoons - Capt. Jerome Le Brun de Bellecour
- Corps of German Volunteers - Capt. Jost Driesbach with 40 men
- Chasseur Company - Capt. Jacob Baner with 20 men

Major Nelson's Regiment of VA State Cavalry led by Capt. Edmund Read, with 62 men in the following units:
- 1st Troop - Capt. Edmund Read
- 2nd Troop - Capt. Martin Armand Vogluson
- 3rd Troop - Capt. Charles Fierer

Continental Artillery led by Col. Charles Harrison with 100 men in the following units:

1st Continental Artillery Regiment of VA - Capt. William Meredith, with Capt.-Lt. John Blair, Capt. William L. Pierce, with 2 guns

1st MD Continental Artillery Company led by Capt. Richard Dorsey, with Capt.-Lt. Ambrose Bohannon, with 2 guns

2nd MD & 3rd MD Continental Artillery led by Capt. Anthony Singleton, with Capt.-Lt. Lewis Booker and Capt.-Lt. Richard Waters, with 4 guns

VA State Artillery Regiment led by Lt. Col. Elias Edmunds, with Capt. John Watlington

VA State Troops, Light Infantry led by Lt. Col. Charles Porterfield, with six (6) known companies:
- Capt. Thomas H. Drew
- Capt. Thomas Upshaw
- Capt. John Holliday
- Capt. Thomas Downing
- Capt. Thomas Minor
- Capt. Edmund Curd

NC Light Infantry (a temporary unit of NC Troops) led by Major John Armstrong with 68 men

NC State Militia led by Major General Richard Caswell, Col. Thomas Blount (Adjutant General), Col. John Sitgreaves (Staff), Col. Benjamin Williams (Staff), Col. John Pugh Williams (Staff), Lt. Col. William Polk (Aide-de-Camp), and Adjutant William Haily, with 1,800 men in the following units:

Hillsborough District Brigade of Militia led by Brigadier General John Butler, with the following two (2) known regiments:

Orange County Regiment of Militia detachment, led by Col. John Collier, Lt. Col. Drury Ledbetter, Major William McCauley, and Major Joseph Sharpe, with the following eight (8) known companies, led by:
- Capt. William Chambers (Wake County)
- Capt. John Graves (Caswell County)
- Capt. Joseph Johnson (Chatham County)
- Capt. David McFarland (Caswell County)
- Capt. George Oldham (Caswell County)
- Capt. John Rains (Orange County)
- Capt. Ambrose Ramsey (Chatham County)
- Capt. James Trice (Orange County)

Caswell County Regiment of Militia detachment, led by Lt. Col. Henry "Hal" Dixon, Lt. Col. Stephen Moore, Major Micajah Lewis, and Major John Nall with five (5) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Joshua Hadley (1st NC Regiment)
- Capt. Daniel Odom (Caswell County Regiment)
- Capt. James Ray (Orange County Regiment)
- Capt. Philip Taylor (Granville County Regiment)
- Capt. Edward Yarborough (3rd NC Regiment)

Salisbury District Brigade of Militia led by Brigadier General Griffith Rutherford, Lt. Col. David Love, and Major Thomas Harris (Aide-de-Camp), with the following four (4) known regiments:

Surry County Regiment of Militia detachment, led by Col. Martin Armstrong, with the following two (2) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Absalom Bostick
- Capt. William Meredith

Lincoln County Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. William Armstrong

Mecklenburg County Regiment of Militia detachment led by Col. George Alexander, with the following one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Samuel Givens

Rowan County Regiment of Militia detachment, led by Col. Francis Locke, with three (3) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Richmond Pearson
- Capt. James Peavine
- Capt. Samuel Reid

Halifax District Brigade of Militia detachment, led by Col. Jeptha Eatherton, with three (3) known regiments:

Franklin County Regiment of Militia detachment, led by Lt. Col. William Brickell, with two (2) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Julius Alford
- Capt. Harrison Macon

Warren County Regiment of Militia detachment led by Major Agrippa Nichols, with of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. John Macon

Northampton County Regiment of Militia detachment, led by Major Robert Peoples, with one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Samuel Lockhart

New Bern District Brigade of Militia, led by Col. Benjamin Exum and Major John Nall, with two (2) known regiments:

Craven County Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. David Roach

Pitt County Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) known company, led by
- Capt. Nathaniel Moore

Wilmington District Brigade of Militia detachment led by Col. Thomas Owen (Bladen County) with one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. James Love (New Hanover County)

VA Militia Brigade led by Brigadier General Edward Stevens and the following units:

Louisa County Militia (VA) - Col. George Stubblefield, with Lt. Col. Joseph Spencer, Major William Moseley, and Capt. John Byers

Pittsylvania County Militia (VA) - Capt. Thomas Roberts

Culpepper County Militia (VA) - Capt. William Stanton

Fauquier County Militia (VA) - Capt. Elias Edmuncs

Amelia County Militia (VA) - Lt. Col. Holt Richardson, with Major John Bias, Capt. William Craddock

Caroline County Militia (VA) - Capt. James Johnson

Hanover County Militia (VA) - Capt. John Price

Bedford County Militia (VA) - Capt. Nathaniel Tate and Capt. Thomas Leftwich

Chesterfield County Militia (VA) - Lt. Col. Ralph Faulkner, with Capt. Archibald Walthal and Capt. Booker

Lunenburg County Militia (VA) - Capt. Walker

Dinwiddie County Militia (VA) - Capt. George Pegram

Mecklenburgh County Militia (VA) - Col. James Lucas

Amherst County Militia (VA) - Capt. Azariah Martin

Halifax County Militia (VA) - Col. Lawson, with Capt. Paul Wattington

Charlotte County Militia (VA) - Col. Downman, with Maj. Henry Conway and Capt. Thomas Williams

Pittsylvania County Militia (VA) - Capt. Isaac Clement, Capt. William Dix, and Capt. Peter Perkins

Henry County Militia (VA) - Capt. Cunningham and Capt. George Waller

Powhatan County Militia (VA) - Col. William May

Col. Francis, Lord Rawdon - Commanding Officer

Volunteers of Ireland led by Col. Francis, Lord Rawdon

33rd Regiment of Foot led by Major William Dancey

23rd Regiment of Foot (Royal Welsh Fusiliers) led by Lt. Col. Nesbit Balfour

71st Regiment of Foot (Fraser's Highlanders) led by Lt. Col. Alexander McDonald

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

 

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-
-



© 2011 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved