The American Revolution in South Carolina

McGill's Plantation

September 15, 1780


Patriot Cdr:

Capt. John James, Jr.
British Cdr:

Major James Wemyss
Killed:

1
Killed:

0
Wounded:

Unknown
Wounded:

0
Captured:

Unknown
Captured:

0
Old District: 

Georgetown District
Present County:

Williamsburg County

Major James Wemyss was under orders from Lt. General Charles, Lord Cornwalls to disarm "in the most rigid manner" all those who opposed British rule. His force included 200 British Regulars of the 63rd Regiment of Foot and 100 Provincials of the Royal North Carolina Regiment and the SC Rangers.

Major Wemyss had his men to break spinning looms and burn any mills in their path. They were instructed to shoot milk cows and to bayonet sheep - this was to deprive the locals of clothing and food. Major Wemyss and his men laid waste to over 50 plantations, carried off their slaves as slave labor for the British army, and hanged several men who opposed these actions. Fortunately for the lowcountry citizens the corn was not housed yet and was able to be salvaged, for the most part.

There was some opposition to these invaders. Capt. John James, Jr. fired upon Majir Wemyss's men at McGill's Plantation, but this only enraged the enemy even more. Adam Cusack shot at a Loyalist officer, but missed and killed the officer's black servant instead. Cusack's wife and children threw themselves in front of Major Wemyss's horse, begging for mercy for her husband. Major Wemyss would have rode over the kneeling woman if it hadn't been for his own officers stopping him. Therefore, he hanged Cusack in front of his wife and children. Dr. James Wilson tried to stop the hanging, but he had his home burned for interfering.

Dr. Wilson then rode to North Carolina with many others from the area and joined Col. Francis Marion's brigade. Major James Wemyss became the second most hated man in the Carolinas after Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, and one of Col. Marion's best recruiters. Once he learned of the carnage, Col. Francis Marion returned to the South Carolina lowcountry.


Major James Wemyss began his destruction by burning the home of Nathan Savage on September 8th. He burned the homes of Jordan Gibson, Adam Cusack, Jesse Wiggins, Moses Murphy, and Major John James on September 10th. Adam Cusack was hanged on September 13th. Dr. James Wilson's home and Capt. William DeWitt's home was burned on September 13th. Major Wemyss then moved northward and continued his destruction.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Kingstree Regiment of Militia detachment, led by Capt. John James, Jr., with an unknown number of men

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Major James Wemyss - Commanding Officer

63rd Regiment of Foot, with 200 British Regulars

Royal North Carolina Regiment, with unknown number of Loyalists

South Carolina Rangers, with unknown number of Loyalists

Total - 300 Men



© 2014 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved