The American Revolution in South Carolina

Witherspoon's Ferry

April 3, 1781

Patriot Cdr:

Brig. Gen. Francis Marion
Loyalist Cdr:

Col. Welbore Ellis Doyle






Old District: 

Georgetown District
Present County:

Florence County

One source asserts this happened on March 27th, which is entirely possible.

After the raid on Snow’s Island, Col. Welbore Ellis Doyle retraced his steps six or seven miles to Witherspoon's Ferry, where he camped on the north bank of Lynches Creek.

Around the same time, Brig. Gen. Francis Marion camped at Indiantown, at which time his force had quickly evaporated to about seventy men thanks to planting season.

Even so, on April 3, Brig. Gen. Francis Marion ordered Lt. Col. Hugh Horry to take his mounted infantry and travel to find Col. Doyle. At Witherspoon's plantation, Col. Doyle had some foragers there collecting food for his troops. When Lt. Col. Horry arrived at the plantation, they engaged the British, killing nine men and capturing sixteen. Some call this a separate engagement known as "British Foragers Attacked."

The Patriots quickly pursued the fleeing British to Witherspoon's Ferry.

There, they caught the British rear guard scuttling the ferryboat. The Patriots fired on the Loyalists. Col. Doyle quickly formed his men along the bank of Lynches Creek and delivered a volley of musketfire on the Patriots. After this firing, the British gathered up their belongings and headed towards the Pee Dee River.

Col. Doyle is said to have lost nine killed or wounded, and 15 or 16 taken prisoner in the encounter. Either just before or after this event, Brig. Gen. Marion was joined by a reinforcement under Col. Abel Kolb to assist against Col. Doyle. Col. Doyle, however, made haste to withdraw, destroyed his heavy baggage, and retired to Camden.

Casualties: American: unknown; British: 9 killed, 2 wounded, 16 captured.

That night Marion's men were demoralized because since they had become partisans many of them had been killed and wounded. The homes of nearly 100 of them had been burned. The Loyalist Micajah Gainey had recently recovered from his wounds of the past year and had vowed revenge upon all Patriots. The final straw was that Snow's Island was now destroyed along with all the supplies and food stores.

Marion called them together and tried to raise their spirits. When he was finished he had them cheering to be in his brigade. He then called a council of war as to whether this group should pursue Lt. Col. John Watson again or retreat back into the swamps. His men were for retreating, but a messenger just then arrived with news that Lt. Col. Henry Lee was returning from North Carolina with his Legion and supplies.

Lt. Col. Lee soon arrived and explained that Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene had ordered them to jointly work together again and to go take Fort Watson.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Brig. Gen. Francis Marion - Commanding Officer

Berkeley County Regiment detachment led by Lt. Col. Hugh Horry, with three (3) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Robert McCottry
- Capt. William McCottry
- Capt. Gavin Witherspoon

Kingstree Regiment detachment of three (3) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Thomas Potts
- Capt. Samuel Price
- Capt. Thomas Waties

Lower Craven County Regiment detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Henry Mouzon

Kershaw Regiment detachment led by Col. James Postell, Lt. Col. John Marshall, Maj. Frederick Kimball, with unknown number of men

Total Patriot Forces ~ 100

Col. Welbore Ellis Doyle - Commanding Officer

Volunteers of Ireland led by Maj. John Doyle with 300 men in the following known companies:
- Lt. Col. Doyle's Company - Lt. Hugh Gillespie
- Col. Francis Lord Rawdon's Company - Capt. Charles Bingham
- Capt. William Barry's Company - Lt. Harmon Black
- Capt. John McMahon's Company - Lt. Thomas Proctor
- Grenadier Company - Maj. John Campbell
- Capt. Henry Munro
- Capt. Charles Vallancy

Total British/Loyalist Forces - 300





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