The American Revolution in South Carolina

Salkehatchie Bridge

April 5, 1781

Patriot Cdr:

Col. William Harden
British Cdr:

Capt. Edward Fenwick






Old District: 

Charles Town District/ Beaufort District
Present County:

Colleton County/
Hampton County

Col. William Harden, with Brigadier General Francis Marion's consent, began operating between Charlestown and Savannah to disrupt British lines in this area that was virtually a sanctuary for the enemy. He led his force of about 100 men down the Pocotaligo Road and ran into Capt. Edward Fenwick with thirty-five SC Dragoons near the Salkehatchie Bridge on April 5th.

Though outnumbered, the Loyalist cavalry quickly dispersed Col. Harden's men when they became disoriented in the dark.

One of Col. Harden's men, Paul Hamilton, later wrote:

"At midnight encountered a body of British cavalry near Saltketcher Bridge. The onset was in our favor, but, Harden being an indifferent commander, we were defeated and in the rout I suffered a hard pursuit....Our whole party was dispersed, and about 15 severely wounded with the sabre."

Col. William Harden originally joined Marion's partisans soon after the fall of Charlestown, but it took him quite a few months to assemble a somewhat useful force of men. In early 1781, Col. Harden proposed to Brigadier General Francis Marion that he should take his men and conduct operations in the southern lowcountry, between Charlestown and Savannah.

In mid-March of 1781, Marion finally agreed. This area was a virtual British sanctuary, and Marion himself had no men to spare from his current sphere of influence along the Pee Dee River.

Col. William Harden's plan was to augment his 100 men with other locals, but his recruiting again proved futile. However, he did not let this bother his plans. His first attempt - at Parker's Ferry - was quite a setback. This second engagement went no better.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants
Upper Granville County Regiment of Militia detachment led by Col. William Harden, with one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. John Fitts

SC Dragoons detachment led by Capt. Edward Fenwick, with 35 men


© 2009 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved