The American Revolution in South Carolina

Tearcoat Swamp

October 25, 1780

Patriot Cdr:

Col. Francis Marion
Loyalist Cdr:

Lt. Col. Samuel Tynes






Old District: 

Camden District
Present County:

Clarendon County

aka Tarcote Swamp. One source asserts that this engagement happened in late September of 1780.

Lt. Col. Samuel Tynes, operating in the vicinity of the High Hills area between Salem and Nelson's Ferry, had been able to call up about 200 men whom he armed with stores coming from Camden.

When Col. Francis Marion, at Britton's Neck, learned of Lt. Col. Tynes encampment he was able to call together 150 men (or up to 400 according to one source). Col. Marion crossed the Pee Dee at Port's Ferry, then crossed Lynches Creek (now named Lynches River) at Witherspoon's Ferry and thus made his way to Kingstree. From there he tracked Lt. Col. Tynes to Tearcoat Swamp “in the fork of Black river,” where he surprised the Loyalists.

Lt. Col. Tynes and his men were scattered, and a few days later Lt. Col. Tynes and a few of his officers were captured by a detachment of Col. Marion’s commanded by Capt. William Clay Snipes. Lt. Col. Tynes lost six (6) killed, fourteen (14) wounded, and twenty-three (23) taken prisoner. As well, he lost eighty (80) horses and saddles and as many muskets. Lt. Col. Tynes himself and a few of his officers were captured in the couple of days following the action, though they subsequently escaped.

Col. Marion’s own losses were anywhere from three (3) to twenty-six (26) killed and wounded. Many of Lt. Col. Tynes men actually came in and enlisted with Col. Marion, who sent his prisoners to North Carolina Brigadier General (Pro Tempore) Henry William Harrington at Cheraw, and proceeded to set up his camp at Snow Island for the first time.

Following Lt. Col. Tynes’ defeat, Lt. General Charles, Lord Cornwallis had fifty men sent from Charlestown to Moncks Corner, while maintaining patrols covering his line of communication along the Santee River.

Although Lt. Col. Samuel Tynes had been able to escape, Col. Francis Marion sent Capt. William Clay Snipes to the High Hills of Santee to recapture him. Capt. Snipes did so, along with other Loyalist officers and some Justices of the Peace.

Lt. Col. Turnbull was outraged that Col. Marion had the ability to pull this off in an area under his own command, and he asked Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton to go out and get Marion. Col. Marion learned of this and tried to surprise Lt. Col. Tarleton, but Tarleton had set up a trap of his own to ensnare Col. Marion at Woodyard Swamp. Somehow, Col. Marion also learned of this and avoided the trap quite deftly.

Enraged that Col. Marion had detected his ambush, Lt. Col. Tarleton burned thirty plantations and houses, from Jack's Creek to the High Hills. He punished the widow Richardson for warning the Patriots by digging up her husband, Brigadier General Richard Richardson and by plundering her home. After Lt. Col. Tarleton forced her to feed him dinner, he ordered his troops to drive all the cattle, hogs, and poultry into the barn and set it on fire.

Col. Marion tried every trick he knew to lure Lt. Col. Tarleton into an ambush but the men were evenly matched, neither falling for the other's traps. The chase soon ended when Lt. Col. Tarleton was ordered back to go after Col. Thomas Sumter again.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Col. Francis Marion - Commanding Officer

Kingstree Regiment of Militia detachment led by Lt. Col. Hugh Horry, Lt. Col. Peter Horry, and Major John James, with seven (7) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Abram Lenud
- Capt. John McCauley
- Capt. Robert McCottry
- Capt. William McCottry
- Capt. Thomas Mitchell
- Capt. William Clay Snipes

Cheraws District Regiment of Militia detachment led by Lt. Col. Lemuel Benton, with one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Peter DuBose

Berkeley County Regiment of Militia detachment of two (2) known companies, led by:
- Capt. William Dukes
- Capt. Gavin Witherspoon

Camden District Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Joseph Hill

New Acquisition District Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. William Hillhouse

Total Patriot Forces - 150

Lt. Col. Samuel Tynes - Commanding Officer

Lt. Col. Samuel Tynes Regiment of Loyalist Militia with the following officers:
- Capt. Amos Gaskens (killed)
- Capt. William Rees
- Capt. Benjamin Rees

Total Loyalist Forces - 80













© 2011 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved