The American Revolution in South Carolina

Snow's Island

March 23, 1781

Patriot Cdr:

Col. Hugh Ervin
Loyalist Cdr:

Col. Welbore Ellis Doyle






Old District: 

Georgetown District
Present County:

Florence County/ Marion County

One source asserts that this engagement happened on March 29th, while another source asserts it happened on March 26th. Both are likely since the next related engagement occurred on April 3rd.

On March 23, while Brig. Gen. Francis Marion was dealing with Lt. Col. John Watson at Blakely's Plantation, Col. Welbore Ellis Doyle, with the New York Volunteers, was sent from Camden by Francis, Lord Rawdon as the second prong of the plan to catch Brig. Gen. Marion. The date Col. Doyle set out is not clear but sometime near the end of the month he attacked Brig. Gen. Marion's base at Snow's Island.

Snow's Island was located on the Pee Dee River. Col. Doyle managed to capture the island camp. The island's defenders, commanded by Col. Hugh Ervin, destroyed all the carefully hoarded supplies and ammunition before they abondoned their position, Of this force, seven were killed and fifteen were captured, most of these were reportedly too ill to flee, while a remainder escaped.

In the process Col. Doyle liberated some prisoners including the paroled Cornet Merrit of the Queen's Rangers and 25 other men, while suffering two wounded. Col. Ervin’s men did, however, have enough advanced notice to be able to throw many supplies and much ammunition into the river.

Col. Doyle quickly realized that he was in a terrible situation should Brig. Gen. Francis Marion actually appear. As soon as his men set fire to Goddard's house and barn on Snow's Island, he recrossed Clark's Creek and retreated as rapidly as he arrived. That afternoon, he recrossed Lynches Creek and encamped on the north side of Witherspoon's Ferry.

Several sources indicate that Col. Hugh Ervin was with Marion at this point in time. Many surviving participants (the few there were) later described the Patriot defenses led by Lt. Col. John Ervin instead. However, others assert that Lt. Col. John Ervin was with Marion instead of Col. Hugh Ervin. This Author leaves it to the reader to decide on this one.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants
Col. Hugh Ervin, with one (1) known company of the Lower Craven Couty Regiment of Militia, led by:
- Capt. Samuel Cooper

New York Volunteers led by Col. Welbore Ellis Doyle, with 300 men


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