The American Revolution in South Carolina

  Cherokee Ford

  February 14, 1779

Patriot Cdr:

Capt. Robert Anderson
Loyalist Cdr:

Col. John Boyd




included in above


Old District: 

Ninety-Six District
Present County:

Abbeville County

aka McGowan's Blockhouse. One source claims this happened on February 10th in concert with a nearby Georgia skirmish known as Vann's Creek, while another source claims it happened on February 12th.

Before leaving Carr's Fort for South Carolina, Col. Andrew Pickens and Col. John Dooly called for reinforcements under Capt. Robert Anderson to patrol the Savannah River in order to hold back the Loyalist forces whenever they should attempt a crossing. Loyalist leader, Col. John Boyd changed his course of march, failed to encounter Col. Pickens, and attempted to cross into Wilkes County, Georgia at Cherokee Ford, which he found protected by McGowan's Blockhouse garrisoned by Lt. Thomas Shanklin and eight men.

Col. Boyd sent a message to Lt. Shanklin letting him know that if he let them cross the river he would not attack the Blockhouse, but Lt. Shanklin refused and was prepared to defend the fort. While Col. Boyd was deciding whether to attack, Capt. James Little arrived with 40 men of the Wilkes County (GA) militia, and Capt. Little again reiterated that the Loyalists could not pass. Capt. Little sent a messenger to Capt. Robert Anderson for assistance.

Col. Boyd did not want to take any unnecessary casualties, so he consequently went five miles up the river and effected a crossing by dividing his men into small groups and sending them across on rafts. Capt. Anderson with 80 men arrived and Col. Boyd's passage was hotly contested by a small force of a hundred and twenty (120) Patriots.

The Loyalist pickets fired and then retreated into camp. Col. Boyd rallied his men who fought on for over an hour before finally being defeated. Col. Boyd would die that evening from his wounds. All the captured Loyalists were convicted of treason and five (5) were hanged. Pickens' victory destroyed Loyalist morale in South Carolina, while bolstering the numbers of the Patriot militia. Col. John Boyd lost a hundred men, killed, wounded, and missing. One American was killed and eighteen were taken prisoners.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Upper Ninety-Six District Regiment detachment led by Capt. Robert Anderson with 80 men, including Lt. Thomas Shanklin

Wilkes County Militia (GA) detachment led by Capt. James Little with 40 men

SC Loyalist Militia led by Col. James Boyd with about 500 men.



© 2008 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved