The American Revolution in South Carolina

Tullifinny Hill

May 4, 1779


Patriot Cdr:

Brigadier General
William Moultrie
British Cdr:

Unknown
Killed:

Unknown
Killed:

Unknown
Wounded:

Unknown
Wounded:

Unknown
Captured:

Unknown
Captured:

Unknown
Old District: 

Beaufort District
Present County:

Jasper County

Major General Benjamin Lincoln sent 1,000 men to Brigadier General William Moultrie at Black Swamp to delay British Brigadier General Augustine Prevost from crossing the Savannah River. As soon as Brigadier General Prevost crossed the river with 2,000 troops, Brigadier General Moultrie abandoned Black Swamp, leaving only 100 men of the SC 5th Regiment to delay the British. British General Moultrie requested artillery from Governor John Rutledge, but none arrived. Neither Major General Lincoln nor Governor Rutledge thought that Brigadier General Prevost would make an attempt to capture Charlestown.

At the Coosawhatchie River, the remainder of the SC 5th Regiment rendezvoused with Brigadier General William Moultrie. Brigadier General Moultrie decided to make a stand at Tullifinny Hill, a small hill overlooking the Coosawhatchie River, that he considered being more defendable. Brigadier General Moultrie had guards at all possible crossing points, and placed 100 men at the primary crossing point. He requested an additional 100 cavalrymen from Governor Rutledge, but they did not arrive.

Major General Lincoln did send 250 hand-picked men under the command of Lt. Col. John Laurens. These men were mostly North Carolinian Continental Troops, known as the North Carolina Light Infantry. On May 3rd, Brigadier General Moultrie sent Lt. Col. Laurens’ Light Infantry, and 150 hand-picked men of various Militia companies, to bring back the rear guard before it was cut off. Lt. Col. Laurens was supposed to escort the rear guard back to Tullifinny Hill. Lt. Col. Laurens did not withdraw the rear guard, but instead formed his 400 men and the rear guard for battle on the west bank of the Coosawhatchie River - now known as the battle of Coosawhatchie, where he was badly wounded.

When the wounded Lt. Col. Laurens returned to Brigadier General Moultrie's position on Tullifinny Hill, he told the general that the Patriots could not adequately defend their position based upon Brigadier General Prevost's strength. Brigadier General Moultrie suppressed his anger and ordered the bridge over the Tullifinny River destroyed. He retreated with his demoralized army towards Charlestown, burning bridges as he went.



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