The American Revolution in South Carolina

Witherspoon's Ferry

April 3, 1781

Patriot Cdr:

Brigadier General
Francis Marion
Loyalist Cdr:

Lt. 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, Lt. 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 (now known as Lynches River).

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

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

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

There, they caught the British rear guard scuttling the ferryboat. The Patriots fired on the Provincials. Lt. 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 Provincials gathered up their belongings and headed towards the Pee Dee River.

Lt. 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, Brigadier General Marion was joined by a reinforcement under Col. Abel Kolb to assist against Lt. Col. Doyle. Lt. Col. Doyle, however, made haste to withdraw, destroyed his heavy baggage, and retired to the safety of Camden.

Casualties: Patriots: unknown; Provincials: 9 killed, 2 wounded, 16 captured.

That night Brigadier General Francis Marion's men were demoralized because since they had become partisans many of their brethren and friends had been killed and wounded. The homes of nearly 100 of them had been burned. The Loyalist Major 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 recently 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 Tadwell-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 "Light Horse Harry" Lee was returning from North Carolina with his Legion and supplies.

Lt. Col. Henry Lee soon arrived and explained that Major General Nathanael Greene had ordered them to jointly work together again and to go take all the British posts possible.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Brigadier General Francis Marion - Commanding Officer

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

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

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

Total Patriot Forces ~ 100

Lt. Col. Welbore Ellis Doyle - Commanding Officer

Volunteers of Ireland led by Major 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 - Major John Campbell
- Capt. Henry Munro
- Capt. Charles Vallancy

Total British/Loyalist Forces - 300






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