The American Revolution in South Carolina

Fort Watson

February 24, 1781

Patriot Cdr:

Brigadier General
Thomas Sumter
British Cdr:

Lt. Col. John Watson Tadwell-Watson






Old District: 

Camden District
Present County:

Clarendon County

aka Wright's Bluff. One source asserts that this engagement happened on February 27th, while another source asserts it happened on March 1st.

Over the past few days, Brigadier General Thomas Sumter attempted to take two other British posts - at Fort Granby and at Thomson's Plantation, both without success. In the meantime, the British came and retook the booty he had taken along his way south and while he was resting at Manigault's Ferry. Brigadier General Sumter rested his men a day and set his sights on a third British Post - Fort Watson, on the other side of the Santee River.

After crossing the Santee River, Brigadier General Thomas Sumter made for Fort Watson where he attempted to take the post by storm, with a mind to recapturing the lost stores and boats. The fort had been recently reinforced with a reported 400 men, and Brigadier General Sumter was soundly beaten back with some losses. The British reported Brigadier General Sumter lost 18 killed, and a number of men and horses taken. Brigadier General Sumter thereafter retired with his force to Farr's Plantation on Great Savannah, not far from his own home where he fed his men and camped until March 2nd. Here many of his North Carolina militiamen, unhappy with how things were turning out, returned home.

This was now three significant British posts attacked by Brigadier General Thomas Sumter and three resounding failures. Not only was the North Carolina militia unhappy with him.

From the pension statement of Thomas Reagan of Newberry County, SC:

“(T)he next engagement was at Belleville [Thomson's Plantation] from thence hearing of a reinforcement we marched to meet them. It turned out to be a small detachment of British guarding some British wagons loaded with clothing and money for the soldiers these surrendered and the loading was put on a barge and soon after retaken at Wrights Bluff [Fort Waatson] with some of our men and we [text missing] Sumter for the purpose of retaking this prize from the British and were met by the British near said Bluff and defeated and dispursed in this engagement the applicant got a wound in his right arm which disabled this applicant a few weeks.”


"Sumpter then sought shelter in the swamps of the north bank of the Santee, resolved to wait some opportunity of indemnity or service. But, it required all his firmness to prevent his North Carolina troops from deserting him. At the point of the bayonet they were detained a few days, and he then issued forth from his covert, made for the banks of the Black River, and availing himself of the friendly settlements on that route, once more moved up to the neighborhood of Charlotte."

Interestingly, several sources clearly state that Brigadier General Thomas Sumter now had North Carolina militia units with him, but no later pensioners in North Carolina mention being with him at this engagement. That's why no NC Militia units are listed below - this Author cannot confirm any, even though other sources assert some were there.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Brigadier General Thomas Sumter - Commanding Officer

Camden District Regiment of Militia detachment led by Col. Thomas Taylor with unknown number of men

New Acquisition District Regiment of Militia detachment of three (3) known companies, led by:
- Capt. John Henderson
- Capt. William Hillhouse
- Capt. Thomas Woods, Sr

Hill's Regiment of Light Dragoons led by Lt. Col. James Hawthorn (wounded), with two (2) known companies, led by:
- Capt. William Carr
- Capt. Thomas Gill

Roebuck's Battalion of Spartan Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Major Parson

1st Spartan Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Hugh Bratton

Turkey Creek Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Thomas Robins

Total Patriot Forces - 200

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

64th Regiment of Foot led by unknown.

Royal Regiment of Artillery led by "Unknown," with 2 field pieces

Provincials led by Major Thomas Barclay with 400 men in 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 led by Major John Harrison with 150 men, including Capt. Samuel Harrison



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