The American Revolution in South Carolina

Snipes's Plantation

June 3, 1781


Patriot Cdr:

Major William Clay Snipes
British Cdr:

Capt. John Saunders
Killed:

18+
Killed:

Unknown
Wounded:

Unknown
Wounded:

Unknown
Captured:

Unknown
Captured:

0
Old District: 

Charles Town District
Present County:

Colleton County

Skirmish, Major William Clay Snipes vs. Capt. John Saunders.


The British began sending out patrols into this area from their base at Dorchester, where various mounted detachments were routinely stationed. Early in June, Capt. John Saunders of the Queen's Rangers led a party of horse, including some units of Col. Robert Ballingall's Colleton County Loyalist Militia, in pursuit of a Patriot force under Major William Clay Snipes of Brigadier General Thomas Sumter's state troops. Major Snipes was encamped on his own plantation, at the Horse Shoe.

Capt. John Saunders' men swam their horses across the Edisto River at Parker's Ferry, and surprised Major Snipes and his men at daybreak on June 3, 1781. The Patriots were totally routed; only Major Snipes and three of his men escaped. Eighteen Americans were put to the sword, and some others may have been killed when Snipes's mill house was set on fire.


William Clay Snipes had been a captain under Lt. Col. Peter Horry in Marion's Brigade, yet he was not satisfied being a mere captain. He consulted with Brigadier General Thomas Sumter and Lt. Col. William Polk who agreed to promote him to major and allowed him to raise his own company of State Troops under Lt. Col. Polk.

Major Snipes recruited men from Marion's Brigade, and this irritated both Marion and Horry, who did not accept Snipes's promotion as being legitimate. They felt that Sumter was meddling in their own territory and had no business offering promotions to their men, so Marion took it up with Continental Major General Nathanael Greene. Greene had no power over the militias, so the matter went no further - there is no documentation to suggest that Marion went to Governor John Rutledge about this matter.


Capt. John Saunders of the Queen's Rangers had recently been the occupying commandant at Georgetown, which he left on May 28, 1781, less than a week ago.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Polk's Regiment of Light Dragoons (State Troops) detachment of one (1) known company - Snipes's Company of Light Horse led by Major William Clay Snipes with 25 men

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Queen's Rangers led by Capt. John Saunders with Cornet Thomas Merritt

SC Royalists Light Dragoons led by Lt. Stephen Jarvis

Colleton County Regiment of Loyalist Militia led by "Unknown"

Independent Horse Loyalist Militia led by Capt. Alexander Chesney



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