The American Revolution in South Carolina

Rantowles Bridge

March 27, 1780

Patriot Cdr:

Lt. Col. William Washington
British Cdr:

Lt. Col. John Hamilton (NC), Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton






Old District: 

Charles Town District
Present County:

Charleston County

aka Rantol’s Bridge, aka Rutledge’s Plantation.

Three hundred American cavalry, consisting of Lt. Col. William Washington's 3rd Continental Light Dragoons, the 1st Continental Light Dragoons under Lt. Col. Anthony White, Pulaski's Legion Cavalry under Major Pierre-François Vernier, and probably as well Col. Daniel Horry’s South Carolina Light Horse Regiment, conducted a twelve-mile ride towards the British lines.

Once there, these Patriots defeated the British Legion and the 17th Light Dragoons, with 200 to 300 men, in a skirmish in which the Americans captured Loyalist Lt. Col. John Hamilton of the Royal North Carolina Regiment along with six other prisoners. As they were returning back to Bacon's Bridge, Lt. Col. Washington learned that a British force, commanded by Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, was approaching their rear. The Patriots turned around and charged the British. As the fighting started, Lt. Col. Tarleton realized that this would become a disaster for the British. He ordered his troops to retreat back across the causeway, but he lost eight dragoons captured.

Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton:

“This affair [at Bee’s Plantation] was nearly counter-balanced in the neighbourhood of Rantol's bridge, where a body of the continental cavalry, consisting of Washington's and Bland's light horse, and Pulaski's hussars, carried off Lieutenant-Colonel Hamilton, of the North-Carolina provincial regiment, with some other prisoners; and owing to the imprudence of the officer who commanded the advance guard of the British dragoons, sent in pursuit, was on the point of gaining advantage over that corps.”

Lt. Anthony Allaire:

"Monday, 27th. Two companies of Light Infantry, American Volunteers, and one company of Dragoons, crossed at Rantowle's in scows; the rest of the army crossed yesterday. Col. Hamilton, of the North Carolinians, and Dr. Smith, of the Hospital, proceeding about a mile in front of the army, to Gov. Rutledge's house, were immediately surrounded by three hundred Continental Light Horse, and they consequently made prisoners. The British Dragoons fell in with them soon after, and had a skirmish; the Rebels soon gave way, and showed them the road, as is customary for them to do. Qr. Master Sergeant Mcintosh, of the Georgia Dragoons, badly wounded in the face by a broadsword. Several Dragoons of the Legion were wounded. How many of the Rebels got hurt we can't learn; but they did not keep up the combat long enough for many to receive damage. This morning, Capt. Saunders, that came in with the flag on the 24th, was sent out; his attendant, Capt. Wilkinson, not being mentioned in the body of the flag, is detained as a prisoner of war. We took up our ground on Gov. Rutledge's plantation, about one mile from his house, where we remained all night."

William Dobein James:

“On the 27th, near Rantowle's bridge, he [Tarleton] had a rencounter with Col. Washington, at the head of his legion of 300 men; Tarleton was worsted in this affair, and lost seven men, prisoners."

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

3rd Regiment of Continental Light Dragoons (VA) led by Lt. Col. William Washington

1st Continental Light Dragoons (VA) led by Lt. Col. Anthony White

Pulaski's Legion led by Major Pierre-François Vernier

SC Light Dragoons Regiment led by Col. Daniel Horry

Total American Forces - Approximately 300 Cavalry

British Legion Cavalry led by Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton

17th Light Dragoons led by "Unknown"

Royal NC Regiment led by Lt. Col. John Hamilton

Georgia Light Dragoons with one company led by,
-Capt. Archibald Campbell

Total British Forces - Approximately 200-300 men


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