The American Revolution in South Carolina

Sampit Bridge

March 20, 1781


Patriot Cdr:

Brigadier General
Francis Marion
British Cdr:

Lt. Col. John Watson Tadwell-Watson
Killed:

Unknown
Killed:

20
Wounded:

Unknown
Wounded:

Unknown
Captured:

0
Captured:

Unknown
Old District: 

Georgetown District
Present County:

Georgetown County

Brigadier General Francis Marion and his Patriots once again attacked the British force which they had fought at the Black River Bridge six days earlier, killing several and again forcing the British to fall back.


As the British approached the Sampit River, nine miles from Georgetown, they found all the planks removed by Lt. Col. Peter Horry's men and the opposite bank lined with Lt. John Scott and his riflemen. However, Lt. Col. John Watson Tadwell-Watson's army never slowed down - they knew they were in trouble. As the advance guard approached the destroyed bridge they formed in a close column and plunged across.

Frightened by the long British bayonets, Lt. Scott inexplicably ordered his men to hold their fire. Lt. Col. Peter Horry later wrote, "Infamous poltroon," as he reached the dumbfounded lieutenant. "Where is that hetacombe of robbers and muderers due to the vengeance of your injured country?" [?]

While the advance guard of the British army was forcing its way across the Sampit River, Brigadier General Francis Marion fell upon the rear guard with fury. There was heavy firing. Lt. Col. Watson Tadwell-Watson rallied his men, but a Patriot sharpshooter felled his horse. Quickly mounting another, he ordered his artillery to open with grapeshot.

When Brigadier General Marion's men wheeled back from the cannon fire, Lt. Col. Watson Tadwell-Watson loaded his wounded into two wagons, left twenty dead upon the field, and plunged across the ford, the blood on the wagon floors tinging with red. Late that evening, he encamped at the Trapier Plantation.

He was very bitter. "They will not sleep and fight like gentlemen," he complained of Marion and his men, "but like savages are eternally firing and whooping around us by night, and by day waylaying and popping at us from behind every tree!"

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Brigadier General Francis Marion - Commanding Officer

Cheraw District Regiment of Militia led by Col. Abel Kolb, Lt. Col. Lemuel Benton, and Major Tristram Thomas, with seven (7) known companies, led by:
- Capt. John Butler
- Capt. Guthridge Lyons
- Capt. Alexander McIntosh
- Capt. Moses Pearson
- Capt. Daniel Sparks
- Capt. William Standard
- Capt. Daniel Williams

Kingstree Regiment of Militia detachment led by Col. Archibald McDonald and Major John James, with four (4) known companies, led by:
- Capt. James McCauley
- Capt. John Postell
- Capt. Samuel Price
- Capt. Thomas Waties

Berkeley County Regiment of Militia detachment led by Col. Richard Richardson, Jr. and Lt. Col. Hugh Horry, with five (5) known companies, led by:
- Capt. William Capers
- Capt. John Gamble
- Capt. Robert McCottry
- Capt. William McCottry
- Capt. Gavin Witherspoon

Horry's Light Dragoons (Militia) led by Lt. Col. Peter Horry, with four (4) known companies, led by:
- Capt. William Allston
- Capt. John Baxter
- Capt. William Black
- Capt. Daniel Conyers

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

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

Lower Craven County Regiment of Militia detachment led by Col. Hugh Giles and Lt. Col. John Ervin with unknown number of men


Total Patriot Forces - 500

Lt. Col. John Watson Tadwell-Watson - Commanding Officer of the 3rd Regiment of Guards.

Royal Regiment of Artillery - 2 field pieces

Provincials led by Major Thomas Barclay with the following units:

King's American Regiment, Light Infantry Company led by Capt. Thomas Cornwell

DeLancey's Brigade, 3rd Battalion, Capt. Gilbert Willett's Light Infantry Company led by Lt. Edmond Evans

NJ Volunteers, 1st Battalion, Light Infantry Company led by Capt. James Shaw

NJ Volunteers, 2nd Battalion, Light Infantry Company led by Capt. Norman McLeod

NJ Volunteers, 4th Battalion, Light Infantry Company led by Capt. Jacob Van Buskirk

SC Rangers - 80 men

Loyalist Militia led by Lt. Col. Henry Richbourg with Capt. John Brockington and 150 men


Total British/Loyalist Forces - 425

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