The American Revolution in South Carolina

Black River Bridge

March 14-15, 1781

Patriot Cdr:

Brigadier General
Francis Marion
British Cdr:

Lt. Col. John Watson Tadwell-Watson




included in above


Old District: 

Georgetown District
Present County:

Williamsburg County

aka Kingstree Lower Bridge. One source asserts these events took place on March 11th.

After a fairly extensive skirmish at Wyboo Swamp, Brigadier General Francis Marion retired down the Santee Road and deployed his men at Mount Hope Swamp where he destroyed the bridge over the stream there. Lt. Col. John Watson Tadwell-Watson again advanced and Brigadier General Marion’s riflemen under Lt. Col. Hugh Horry and Capt. William McCottry (might've been Robert McCottry) attempted to dispute the passage there. But Lt. Col. Watson Tadwell-Watson cleared the way with grapeshot from his small cannon and had his men wade through the stream. Brigadier General Marion withdrew in the direction of Georgetown expecting Lt. Col. Watson Tadwell-Watson to follow.

Lt. Col. Watson Tadwell-Watson, however, pursued him a short distance but then turned and headed in the direction of Kingstree, one of the main focal points of rebel activity in the region. Desiring then to cut him off, Brigadier General Marion sent ahead Major John James with seventy (70) men, including thirty (30) of Capt. McCottry’s riflemen, to seize the Lower Bridge at the Black River and on the road Lt. Col. Watson Tadwell-Watson and his army was taking to Kingstree.

Major James, taking a shortcut, reached the bridge before Lt. Col. Watson Tadwell-Watson, removed some planks from the bridge, then set his men in position. Brigadier General Francis Marion, meanwhile, also came up with the main body of his own army prior to Lt. Col. Watson Tadwell-Watson’s arrival. When Lt. Col. Watson Tadwell-Watson did approach he attempted to bring his cannon to bear on Brigadier General Marion’s men, but due to enemy sharpshooters and the unusual terrain there he was unable to do so, losing a captain and four men in the process.

Lt. Col. Watson Tadwell-Watson then tried crossing at a ford not far distant. Yet when he reached the spot he was again kept back by the Patriot riflemen. By the end of the day, Lt. Col. Watson Tadwell-Watson retreated to Witherspoon's Plantation, about a mile above the Black River Bridge, where he camped for the night, he himself in the Witherspoon's home. To his unwilling Patriot hostess he admitted, "I have never seen such shooting before in my life."

The next day (the 15th) Brigadier General Marion’s men under Captains Daniel Conyers and McCottry sniped at Lt. Col. Watson Tadwell-Watson’s camp from concealed positions. Lt. Col. Watson Tadwell-Watson then removed his force that same day to Blakely’s Plantation. Although not having as many trees and foliage as there were around Witherspoon’s Plantation, Brigadier General Marion’s sharpshooters followed him there and continued their sniping.

Despite his casualties and the difficult situation, Lt. Col. Watson Tadwell-Watson remained at Blakely’s Plantation until March 28th.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Brigadier General Francis Marion - Commanding Officer

Kingstree Regiment of Militia detachment led by Lt. Col. Archibald McDonald and Major John James with one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Thomas Potts, with 40 men

Berkeley County Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Robert McCottry, with 30 men


- Capt. William McCottry

Horry's Light Dragoons (Militia) led by Lt. Col. Peter Horry, with three (3) known companies, led by:
- Capt. John Baxter
- Capt. William Black
- Capt. Daniel Conyers

Georgetown District Regiment of Militia detachment led by Lt. Col. John Ervin, with unknown number of men.


Lt. Col. John Watson Tadwell-Watson - Commanding Officer of the 3rd Regiment of Guards.

Royal Regiment of Artillery - 2 field pieces

Provincials led by Major Thomas Barclay with the following units:

King's American Regiment, Light Infantry Company led by Capt. Thomas Cornwell

DeLancey's Brigade, 3rd Battalion, Capt. Gilbert Willett's Light Infantry Company led by Lt. Edmond Evans

NJ Volunteers, 1st Battalion, Light Infantry Company led by Capt. James Shaw

NJ Volunteers, 2nd Battalion, Light Infantry Company led by Capt. Norman McLeod

NJ Volunteers, 4th Battalion, Light Infantry Company led by Capt. Jacob Van Buskirk

SC Rangers - 80 men

Loyalist Militia led by Lt. Col. Henry Richbourg with Capt. John Brockington and 150 men

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