The American Revolution in South Carolina

Waccamaw Neck

January 6th or 13th, 1781

Patriot Cdr:

Lt. Col. Peter Horry
British Cdr:

Lt. Col. George Campbell






Old District: 

Georgetown District
Present County:

Georgetown County

aka Brookgreen Plantation. aka Alston's Plantation. aka Lynches Creek Swamp. One source claimed this happened on January 6th, one says January 13th, and one source asserts it happened on January 14th. If it happened on January 6th, then it is most likely the same event as Georgetown #5.

Recently-commissioned Brigadier General Francis Marion sent Lt. Col. Peter Horry and 80 mounted militia to attack some Loyalists butchering cattle to the north of Georgetown. The Loyalists captured a six-man advance guard but these Patriots managed to escape. At the same time, Lt. Col. Horry heard the commotion and led his men forward and opened fire on the Loyalists. The Loyalists quickly left the area, leaving the Patriots in possesion of the field. The Loyalists soon re-appeared, charging towards the Patriots. Lt. Col. Horry ordered his men into a nearby swamp. The British did not pursue them, fearing an ambush.

Another larger group of Loyalists (totaling 60) in Georgetown, under Lt. Col. George Campbell, hearing the shots sallied out to protect their friends. Lt. Col. Horry's force was dispersed, and thus began a series of minor skirmishes of small parties (sometimes as small as two or three men), back and forth, taking place through much of the large "V" between the Sampit and Black River roads, the latter approximating the route of State Highway 51.

Another source described the Waccamaw Neck event this way:

Lt. Col. George Campbell with a detachment of mounted Kings American Regiment and a troop of Queens Rangers, under Lt. John Wilson, skirmished with a larger sized force of Lt. Col. Peter Horry's mounted men near the Wacccamaw River outside of Georgetown, and Lt. Col. Horry was beaten back.

According to Brigadier Genera Francis Marion, in his letter to Major General Nathanael Greene of 14 January, the British lost three men and three horses killed, and two prisoners, Lt. Col. Horry lost 2 men wounded, two horses killed, and Capt. John Clarke was captured and paroled. British sources speak of Campbell losing one killed and two captured.

Capt. John Saunders, of the Queen’s Rangers, quoted in Simcoe:

“On the 6th January following, Lt. Col. [George] Campbell having marched some distance into the country, saw about a dozen mounted men on the road: he order Lt. [John] Wilson with his party to charge them. They instantly went to the right about, and retreated with precipitation within a corps and taken a strong and advantageous post in a swampy thick wood on each side of the road. Lt. Wilson and his party received a heavy and unexpected fire from this ambuscade, but impelled by their wonted spirit and intrepidity, and unaccustomed to defeat, they continued the charge and obliged the rebels to betake themselves to their horses, and to flight. Serjeants Burt and Hudgins, having charged through them, were carried off by them; Corporal Hudgins was killed, covered with wounds; two or three of the men were wounded, and three horses killed.”

Robert D. Bass described in greater detail in his 1959 book entitled, "Swamp Fox:"

Lt. Col. Peter Horry was ordered to help fill the larders of Marion's camp. He and his men crossed the Little Pee Dee River at Potato Bed Ferry. Before noon they crossed the Waccamaw River below Kingston (now Conway) and cantered down Waccamaw Neck. As they were passing the Socastee Swamp, Sgt. McDonald spotted a splendid charger hidden in the swamp. Surrounding the horse with his squadron, he seized him. Presenting him to Lt. Col. Peter Horry, he begged him to spare his own Janus.

As the detachment rode down Waccamaw Neck, whooping and halloing, and frightening the Tories, the advance patrol captured a runaway slave from the plantation of Capt. William Allston. After questioning him, Horry placed him under guard. Soon afterward the party bivouacked near the Allston Plantation. During the night Capt. John Clarke, who knew the slave, cut his bond and sent him home. "Behold a militia captain releasing a prisoner confined by his colonel commandant," exclaimed Peter Horry wrathfully later, "and see the consequences!"

Unknown to Lt. Col. Horry, there was a troop of enemy horsemen on Waccamaw Neck. Angered at the recent salt raid, Lt. Col. George Campbell had sent sixty-five (65) of the Queen's Rangers across Winyah Bay. As the released slave was slipping back to Allston's around sunrise, these Rangers picked him up. Frightened by their threats, the captive betrayed the presence of Horry and his men. Lt. Col. Campbell immediately headed for their camp. But Lt. Col. Horry was vigilant. He was already moving forward and had sent Capt. Clarke and five troopers ahead as advance guard. Spotting them, Lt. Col. Campbell blew his horn.

"Stop!" cried Clarke to his men. "Wait and you will see the deer, dogs, and huntsmen as they cross the road!"

Before the hapless militia captain recovered from his dream of chasing deer, some twenty of Cornet Thomas Merritt's veterans had put his party to flight and were hacking at his head. Capt. John Clarke surrendered. Lt. Col. Campbell treated him with great courtesy and took his parole, only to see him take to his heels and disappear behind the brambles and jessamine vines of the Waccamaw Swamp.

Alarmed by the noise of the scuffle, the rest of Lt. Col. Horry's troops dashed up. They gave the Queen's Rangers a scattering blast of swan shot. At the sound, the captured horse bolted and threw Lt. Col. Horry. Before he could run, a British sergeant bore down upon him with drawn sword. Fortunately, Horry's Continental uniform looked so much like that of a British lieutenant colonel (?) that the Ranger gave him a puzzled look, lowered his sabre, and left him unscathed. The green-coated Rangers then galloped away, and Horry supposed himself master of the field.

Quickly he sent a detachment off with his prisoners. But, to the colonel's surprise, Lt. Col. Campbell dashed up with his entire command. Before Horry could catch his new horse and mount it, his men had scampered. Sgt. McDonald, seeing his commanding officer unhorsed, gave him his steed and then sprang into the somber morass of the Socastee Swamp.

"The Enemy had three men and four horses killed, and we took two prisoners which proved to be the Queen's Rangers, we had one man slightly wounded and two horses killed," Marion reported to Major General Nathanael Greene on January 14th. "I have sent reinforcements to Lt. Col. Horry."

Lt. Col. Campbell, who had planned to establish a post near Bull Island in order to control the Waccamaw and the lower Pee Dee, returned to Georgetown. Lt. Col. Peter Horry followed him to Sand Hill Plantation. Finding himself among many wealthy Patriots with ample provisions, he paused and threw up a small redoubt. But, Brigadier General Francis Marion called him back to Snow Island.

"He wrote me," said Horry, "that the open field was our play, that the enemy knew better how to defend forts and entrenched places than we did, and that if we attempted it, we should soon fall into their hands."

(includes minor edits by this Author)

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Lt. Col. Peter Horry - Commanding Officer

Kingstree Regiment of Militia detachment of four (4) known companies with 80 men, led by:
- Capt. John Clarke (captured/paroled)
- Capt. Daniel Conyers
- Capt. Samuel Price
- Capt. Henry Sparkes

Lt. Col. George Campbell - Commanding Officer

King's American Regiment

Queen's Rangers, Capt. John Saunder's Troop of Cavalry led by Lt. John Wilson with Cornet Thomas Merritt

SC Rangers led by Capt. "Unknown"

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