The American Revolution in South Carolina

Wadboo Swamp

August 29, 1782

Patriot Cdr:

Brigadier General
Francis Marion
Loyalist Cdr:

Major Thomas Fraser






Old District: 

Charles Town District
Present County:

Berkeley County

aka Fair Lawn Plantation, aka Avenue of Cedars.

Near Moncks Corner, Provincial Major Thomas Fraser with more than one hundred cavalry and dragoons confidently charged a mixed infantry and cavalry force under Brigadier General Francis Marion's command. The Provincials lost one captain killed, three enlisted killed, several wounded, and one captured by Brigadier General Marion's men. Patriot losses were nil. This was Brigadier General Francis Marion's last engagement against the Royal Dragoons under Major Thomas Fraser.
Major General Alexander Leslie needed fresh meat for his hospital in Charlestown, so he sent out Major Thomas Fraser and his Royalists. Major Fraser crossed the Cooper River and set out to surprise the Patriot guards at Biggin Bridge and Strawberry Ferry. He thought that Brigadier General Francis Marion was supervising the defenses of Georgetown, but he was wrong.

Brigadier General Marion had finished with Georgetown and had returned to his post near the Cooper River, at the old house of Sir John Colleton, known as Fair Lawn Plantation, on the south side of the Wadboo River.

When Brigadier General Marion learned of the approaching foraging party his cavalry was patrolling down the Wadboo River looking for British galleys. He organized a small force under Capt. Gavin Witherspoon and sent him to find Major Thomas Fraser's foraging party. Then, he put his infantry into a line of battle. Part was assigned to the side of a cedar lined road in an ambush position. The rest was placed in and around the slave cabins on a nearby plantation.

Brigadier General Marion did not totally trust all of his men. Joining him for the first time was Major Micajah Gainey and forty of his men, all who had recently "converted" from Loyalist to Patriot due to a recent agreement at Bowling Green.

Major Fraser approached Marion's position and was able to capture some of Marion's pickets. He then detected Capt. Witherspoon in the woods and immediately charged. Capt. Witherspoon and his men turned back toward Fair Lawn Plantation at a full gallop. As Capt. Witherspoon and his mounted men neared the plantation, they fell behind in the ambush kill zone to let the Loyalist cavalry catch up. As he waited, a Loyalist dragoon darted forward prepared to strike Capt. Witherspoon with his sword. Capt. Witherspoon calmly brought up his carbine and fired buckshot into the man's chest.

As Major Fraser's dragoons came within thirty yards of the ambush site, Marion's hidden men shouted a cheer and fired a volley. Major Fraser tried to rally his men but they were being cut down on both sides of the road. The Provincials lingered around the plantation for an hour looking for an advantage, but Brigadier General Marion had planned too well. During the skirmish, a wagon full of ammunition was lost and Marion's men were low on ammo. He gave the order to retreat to the Santee River. This would be Brigadier General Francis Marion's last fight.

Marion was later asked to strike at British foraging parties coming out of Charlestown, but he guarded the British instead as they looked for food. He said:

"My Brigade is composed of citizens, enough of whose blood has been shed already. If ordered to attack the enemy, I shall obey; but with my consent, not another life shall be lost, though the event that the enemy are on the eve of departure, so far from offering to molest, I would rather send a party to protect them."

Known Patriot Forces

Known British/Loyalist Forces

Brigadier General Francis Marion - Commanding Officer

Lt. Col. Alexander Swinton of the Georgetown District Regiment of Militia, with three known detached Patriot companies:

Berkeley County Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Gavin Witherspoon

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

Lower Craven County Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. John Rogers

Major Micajah Gainey with 40 men

Major Thomas Fraser - Commanding Officer

SC Royalists led by Major Thomas Fraser with 100 men, including Capt. George Dawkins (wounded)

Campbell's Troop of Light Dragoons led by Lt. Stephen Jarvis

NC Independent Dragoons led by Capt. Robert Gillies (killed) with 60 men, including Lt. Dougald Cockburg

Independent Troop of Black Dragoons led by Capt. March




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