The American Revolution in South Carolina

Matthews Ferry

March 5, 1780


Patriot Cdr:

Major Chevalier Pierre-François Vernier
British Cdr:

Capt. Johann Ewald
Killed:

Unknown
Killed:

Unknown
Wounded:

Unknown
Wounded:

Unknown
Captured:

Unknown
Captured:

Unknown
Old District: 

Charles Town District
Present County:

Charleston County

Late in the afternoon of March 4th elements of Pulaski’s Legion scouted the British redoubt at Matthew’s Ferry. At 11 o’clock the next day they returned to test the defenses of the works. The British fired upon the reconnaissance patrol, and Major Vernier’s men suffered the loss of several men and horses.

Captain Ewald commanded the position that Major Vernier had tested, and he expected the Americans to return. Ewald placed six Highlanders and six Jäegers in two ambush positions along the main road. Two other Jäegers were placed in a sentry position in the open, as a decoy, in front of the works. Around 7 o’clock that night Pulaski’s Legion cavalry appeared and circled the sentries to cut them off from the works. When Major Vernier’s men got in the kill zone of the ambush, the sentries fired, signaling the hidden soldiers to fire on the cavalry. Nearly all of the Major Vernier’s cavalry was shot or bayoneted. A few were able to escape into the night.

The next day Captain Ewald was ordered to abandon the Matthew’s Ferry works. He pulled down the earthworks, set the abatis on fire and crossed the Stono River. After crossing he destroyed the boats he had used. General Clinton’s entire army, except for a small detachment, had moved over from Johns Island to James Island.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British Participants
Pulaski's Legion detachment led by Major Chevalier Pierre-François Vernier, with unknown number of men. 42nd Regiment of Foot (Royal Highland Regiment) led by Capt. Johann Ewald of the Jäegers.
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