The American Revolution in South Carolina

Wambaw Bridge

February 24, 1782

Patriot Cdr:

Col. Archibald McDonald
Loyalist Cdr:

Col. Benjamin Thompson






Old District: 

Charles Town District
Present County:

Berkeley County

One source claims this event happened on February 23rd.

Marion's Brigade under Col. Archibald McDonald with about 500 men were defeated by Loyalist Col. Benjamin Thompson (of Massachusetts) with about 700 men and a 3-pound cannon. Col. McDonald lost about forty men killed. Col. Thompson lost one dragoon wounded.

Brigadier General Francis Marion was serving as a SC Senator at Jacksonborough at this point in time.

Brigadier General Francis Marion and Lt. Col. Hezekiah Maham were elected to serve in the SC General Assembly meeting at Jacksonborough, so they had to turn over command of their troops while they took care of State business. Marion turned over command of the entire brigade to Lt. Col. Peter Horry, and this really angered Lt. Col. Hezekiah Maham. He refused to take orders from Horry and he stayed away from the gathering legislature to get his new regiment in order. In mid-February, he turned over command of his regiment to Capt. John Carraway Smith. Soon, Lt. Col. Peter Horry became quite ill and he too was forced to turn over command of Marion's Brigade to Col. Archibald McDonald, and Horry went to his home on the other side of the Santee River.

Col. Benjamin Thompson somehow learned that there was a breakdown in the communications between Lt. Col. Hezekiah Maham and Lt. Col. Peter Horry, and that Marion and Maham were in Jacksonborough. He used this opportunity to attack while the Patriots' guard was down. He assembled a cavalry force that consisted of all the mounted units within the entire Charlestown area.

On the morning of February 24th, Col. Benjamin Thompson set out from Daniel's Island and rode towards the location of Marion's Brigade. Col. Lemuel Benton camped at Durant's Plantation (?) with two regiments of "six months men" and were made up of "reformed Tories." These men had come in under Governor John Rutledge's recent amnesty proposal.

Lt. Col. Peter Horry's second, Major William Benison* spotted the moving British forces and alerted Col. Lemuel Benton, who in turn proceeded to Col. Archibald McDonald's headquarters to relay the news. Many of the officers there were eating dinner and simply did not believe that the British could be so bold. But, Col. Benton did believe the reports and rode to Durant's Plantation (?) only to encounter the advance of Col. Thompson's British army.

Provincial Major John Doyle did not wait for the rest to catch up and he charged at Wambaw Bridge. Major William Young wounded Col. Lemuel Benton as he was about to cut down Lt. Simon Jones, Col. Thompson's adjutant. Col. Benton's dragoons raced across the Wambaw Bridge.

The weight of all the men and horses was too much for the old bridge, which broke and fell into the creek. Many of Col. Benton's men tried swimming across and a few drowned. Those who did not make it across hid in nearby thickets. Patriot Major John James charged the broken bridge with two pistols blazing and his horse leapt the 20-foot chasm and he rode on to safety.

The remainder of the Patriots withdrew to Tidyman's Plantation.

[Note - Durant's Plantation is most likely an error. Probably should be Douxsaint's Plantation.]

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Col. Archibald McDonald - Commanding Officer

Kingstree Regiment of Militia detachment led by Col. Archibald McDonald and Major John James, with one (1) known company led by:
- Capt. Daniel Morrall

Cheraws District Regiment of Militia detachment led by Col. Lemuel Benton (wounded), with unknown number of men

SC 3rd Regiment of State Dragoons (State Troops) detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. John Carraway Smith

SC 4th Regiment of State Dragoons (State Troops) led by Major William Benison (killed)*, or Major Thomas Benison (killed)*, or Major John Benson* (killed), with two (2) known companies, led by:
- Capt. William Allston,
- Capt. Henry Lenud

Total Patriot Forces - 500 (not all made it in time for this brief engagement)





*Pensioners later named this man as William, Thomas, and John. Most current historians agree that this man was actually William Benison (killed).

Col. Benjamin Thompson - Commanding Officer

30th Regiment of Foot - Capt. "Unknown"

Royal Regiment of Artillery, 3rd Battalion - Capt. "Unknown with two 3-pounders

Hesse-Kassel Feld Jaeger Korps - Capt. "Unknown"

Volunteers of Ireland led by Major John Doyle

SC Royalists led by Major Thomas Fraser, with Capt. George Dawkins and 22 men

Queen's Rangers, Capt. Saunder's Troop of Light Dragoons led by Capt. John Saunders with 23 men

British Legion, Capt. Sanford's Troop led by Capt. Thomas Sanford with 25 men

NY Volunteers, Major Coffin's Troop of Mounted Infantry led by Major John Coffin with 40 men

NC Independent Dragoons led by Capt. Robert Gillies

SC Light Dragoons (Loyalist Militia) led by Capt. Edward Fenwick with 31 men

Major Young's Mounted Militia (Rifle Hussars) led by Major William Young with 45 men

Cunningham's Troop of Dragoons (Loyalist Militia) led by Major William Cunningham

Independent Troop of Black Dragoons led by Capt. March with 36 men

Total British/Loyalist Forces - 700

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