The American Revolution in South Carolina

Quinby's Bridge

July 17, 1781


Patriot Cdr:

Brigadier General
Thomas Sumter
British Cdr:

Lt. Col. John Coates
Killed:

30*
Killed:

6*
Wounded:

30*
Wounded:

38*
Captured:

0*
Captured:

100*
Old District: 

Charles Town District
Present County:

Berkeley County

aka Quinby's Plantation.


A force of British troops, while falling back on Charlestown after abandoning their positions at Moncks Corner, beat off an attack by Patriot cavalry at the bridge. Patriots included Sumter, Marion, and Lee. British 19th Regiment of Foot, led by Lt. Col. John Coates.
Major General Nathanael Greene encouraged collaboration among the various South Carolina Militia and State Troops, but none really wanted any change to the status quo. Some were willing to work with Major General Greene, but some were not even willing to go that far. Being the most senior brigadier general among the existing three, Thomas Sumter was a bit of an arrogant leader that many could not stomach. Over the past ten months or more, several key officers, including several regimental leaders had refused to ever follow him into battle again. After the two engagements at Quinby's Bridge and Shubrick's Plantation, several more would say the same.
Soon after midnight of July 17th, Lt. Col. John Coates left the burning Biggin Church and headed down the Cooper River to Quinby's Bridge, soon followed by Brigadier General Thomas Sumter, Brigadier General Francis Marion, and Lt. Col. Henry Lee with a total of about 550 men. Brigadier General Sumter left his artillery behind with Capt. Singleton so it would not slow him down.

Lt. Col. Henry Lee (VA) and Col. Wade Hampton (SC) led the pursuit until they came to a fork in the road at the Wadboo River. Col. Hampton followed the SC Royalists, which had taken the right-hand route, but his ride was in vain because the Royalist had already crossed the river and secured many boats on the other side.

About a mile north of Quinby's Bridge, a hundred men of the British 19th Regiment of Foot, led by Capt. Colin Campbell, were overtaken by Lt. Col. Lee's Legion. Capt. Campbell deployed his men in line with his left on the road and his right in the woods. Lt. Col. Lee sent Major Joseph Eggleston's 2nd Mounted Troop into the woods to come around the left flank, while the rest of the cavalry formed in close order on the road.

Lt. Col. Lee's trumpeter sounded "charge" and the cavalry came on at a gallop with their sabers flashing. Capt. Campbell's order to fire a volley was clearly heard by Lt. Col. Lee's men, but the order was not obeyed by his own men. The new recruits of the 19th Regiment of Foot threw down their arms without firing a shot. Nearly all the baggage was captured. Lt. Col. Lee did not tarry, but rode towards the bridge a half a mile away.

Since Lt. Col. John Coates arrived at Quinby's Bridge first, he began loosening the planks to remove them. When he saw his rear guard approaching, he left the planks in place so his men could cross. Once across the river, many of his soldiers began cooking breakfast. His cavalry even unbridled their horses.

Lt. Col. Henry Lee's cavalry soon appeared and Lt. Col. Coates placed his men into a defensive position and put the howitzer at the end of the bridge. However, some of his men were still removing planks from the bridge, therefore using the howitzer was impractical.

Lt. Col. Hezekiah Maham's dragoons charged right on through the men removing the planks and into the howitzer, driving artillerymen from the gun. This charge pushed off most of the loose planks, and those behind them had to attempt to cross the bridge on the stringers. Lt. Col. Maham's horse was shot from under him. Some of the plank removers picked up their muskets, fired a single volley, and then quickly fled across the bridge.

Capt. James McCauley did not stop to fight on the bridge, but charged on and carried the fight onto the causeway on the other side - the British side. Capt. James Amstrong followed and attacked Lt. Col. Coates and some of his officers around a wagon, while the 19th Regiment of Foot attempted to form into a line of battle, many without their coats on. For the British, it was total chaos.

Lt. Col. Henry Lee and the rest of his Legion arrived and began repairing the bridge, but they were only armed with swords and were no match for the muskets of the British regulars. Capt. McCauley and Capt. Armstrong soon realized that they were the only two on this side of the river and they rode to the rear of the British, thinking they would be safer there. These two commanderd wheeled their men into the woods on the side of the causeway.

The British were so crowded that they could not form a line of battle. Col. Thomas Taylor "had a superior rifleman with a long range gun who would pick off the British at the bridge." Col. Taylor and his men fought over the possession of a flatboat, and then had his men go across. The only thing that saved the cavalry was that the 19th Regiment of Foot was not battle-hardened veterans, but untested recruits, unsure of what to do in a fierce battle.

Lt. Col. John Coates decided to move his men into the concealment of nearby cornfields and to try to find some shelter in the nearby Shubrick's Plantation (aka Quinby Plantation) outbuildings. These were owned by Capt. Thomas Shubrick, who had been captured at the fall of Charleston over a year ago.

* Casualty numbers include the battle at Quinby's Bridge and the battle at Shubrick's Plantation.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Brigadier General Thomas Sumter - Commanding Officer

Lee's Legion (VA) led by Lt. Col. Henry Lee with 300 men in the following known units:
- 1st Mounted Troop - Capt. James Armstrong
- 2nd Mounted Troop - Major Joseph Eggleston with Capt. Ferdinand O'Neal
- 3rd Mounted Troop - Major Michael Rudolph
- 4th Dismounted Troop - Capt. Allen McClane
- 5th Dismounted Troop - Capt. Henry Archer
- 6th Dismounted Troop - Lt. Edward Manning

SC 1st Brigade of Militia/State Troops led by Brigadier General Thomas Sumter with 225 men in the following known units:

SC 1st Regiment of State Dragoons (State Troops) led by Col. Wade Hampton with four (4) known companies, led by:
- Capt. William Alexander
- Capt. Peter Burns
- Capt. James Giles
- Capt. John Reed

SC 2nd Regiment of State Dragoons (State Troops) led by Col. Charles S. Myddleton with four (4) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Godfrey Adams
- Capt. Francis Moore
- Capt. William Reid
- Capt. Isaac Ross

Hampton's Regiment of Light Dragoons (Militia) led by Lt. Col. Henry Hampton and Major Andrew Baxter (wounded), with three (3) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Jacob Barnett
- Capt. John Mills
- Capt. Robert Tate

Polk's Regiment of Light Dragoons (State Troops) led by Lt. Col. William Polk with two (2) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Nathaniel Marshall Martin
- Capt. Samuel Martin

1st Spartan Regiment of Militia detachment led by Col. John Thomas, Jr.and Major William Smith, with one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Philip Waters

Hill's Regiment of Light Dragoons (State Troops) detachment led by Col. William Hill, with one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. William McKinzie

SC 2nd Brigade of Militia/State Troops led by Brigadier General Francis Marion with 180 men in the following known units:

Berkeley County Regiment of Militia led by Col. Richard Richardson, Jr., Lt. Col. Hugh Horry, and Major John Gamble, with seven (7) known companies, led by:
- Capt. John Armstrong
- Capt. William Capers
- Capt. John Malone
- Capt. Robert McCottry
- Capt. William McCottry
- Capt. John Neilson
- Capt. Gavin Witherspoon

Horry's Light Dragoons (Militia) led by Lt. Col. Peter Horry, with five (5) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Garner Bachelor
- Capt. William Black
- Capt. Daniel Conyers
- Capt. James McCauley
- Capt. John Postell

Maham's Light Dragoons (Militia) detachment led by Lt. Col. Hezekiah Maham, with two (2) known companies, led by:
- Capt. John Simons (possibly killed)
- Capt. Jervais Henry Stevens

Georgetown District Regiment of Militia detachment led by Lt. Col. Alexander Swinton, with one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. John Perry

Lower Craven County Regiment of Militia detachment led by Col. John Ervin, with one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. William Gordon

Cheraws District Regiment of Militia detachment led by Col. Lemuel Benton and Major Tristram Thomas, with one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Thomas Ellerbee

Kershaw Regiment of Militia detachment led by Col. James Postell and Lt. Col. Frederick Kimball with one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. John Brown

Kingstree Regiment of Militia detachment led by Col. Archibald McDonald and Major John James, with unknown number of men

Upper Craven County Regiment of Militia detachment led by Lt. Col. Maurice Murphy and Major John Baxter, with unknown number of men

SC 3rd Brigade of Militia/State Troops detachments led by "Unknown" with the following units:

Camden District Regiment of Militia detachment led by Col. Thomas Taylor with unknown number of men

Turkey Creek Regiment of Militia detachment led by Col. Edward Lacey, with three (3) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Samuel Adams
- Capt. Thomas Gill
- Capt. Philip Walker


Total Patriot Forces - 555

Lt. Col. John Coates - Commanding Officer

19th Regiment of Foot with 600 men and the following known officers:
- Capt. Colin Campbell
- Capt. John Skerret

Royal Regiment of Artillery - 2 Field Howitzers

SC Royalists detachment led by Major Thomas Fraser.

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