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Revolutionary War
Marion County
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Francis Marion and his men fought a number of skirmishes and battles in and around old Marion County, and Snow's Island, at Johnsonville, Florence County, S.C., near where the Pee Dee and Lynches Rivers converge, was the home of Marion's hide-out. These are mentioned below and the map, at left (click on map for larger version), shows the approximate locations of Bear Swamp, Blue Savannah, Bowling Green, Durham's Bluff, Hulon's Mill, Port's Ferry, and Snow's Island.

Durham's Bluff - Site of fortification built by Marion to protect the Pee Dee River and his camp on Snow's Island.

1780

12 Aug 1780 - Port's Ferry - An early ferry on the Great Peedee River and site of Revolutionary fortifications. It was near Port's Ferry that General Francis Marion fought his first skirmish with Tory calvary under Major Ganey.

From Bishop Gregg's History of the Old Cheraws, p. 595:
On August 10, 1780, Marion arrived at the post of Lynches Creek and took command of the party there. He was soon on the move. On the second day after his arrival--that is the 12th of August 1780--placing white cockades upon his men to distinguish them from the Tories, he crossed the Pedee at Port's Ferry to disperse a large body under Major Gainey, stationed on Britton's Neck, between the Great and Little Pedee Rivers. He surprised them at dawn, killed one of their captains and several privates, and had two men wounded. Major James was detached at the head of a volunteer troop to attack the Tory horse. He came up with them, charged, and drove them before him. On this affair he singled out Major Gainey as the object of his attack. At his approach, Gainey fled and James pursued him closely, nearly within the reach of his sword, for half a mile, when behind a thicket he came upon a part of Tories who had rallied. Not at all intimidated, but with great presence of mind, Major James called out: "Come on boys; here they are! Here they are!" and the whole body of Tories broke again and rushed into the swamp. [Gregg's sources included McCrady's History, Vol. III, p. 651 and Simm's Life of Marion (See Simms' account).--vp]

1780 - Battle of Blue Savannah - It was here that Patriots, under Francis Marion and Colonel Giles defeated Tories led by Major Ganey and Captain Barfield. N.B. the dates for this battle range from mid-August 1780, immediately following Port's Ferry (See Simm's Life of Marion below, and Bishop Gregg's History of the Old Cheraws, p. 595) to 4 Sept 1780 (Terry W. Lipscomb, Battles, Skirmishes, and Actions of the American Revolution in South Carolina, SCDAH, 1991).

Bishop Gregg's account:
After the fight at Port's Ferry, Marion did not suffer the courage of his men to cool. In twenty-four hours he was again in motion. Hearing of the proximity of another body of Tories under Captain Barfield, he advanced against him with as much celerity and caution as before. But he found Barfield strongly posted in greater force than he expected, warned of his approach and waiting for him. It was no part of Marion's practice to expose his men unnecessarily. He had too few to risk the loss of any precious lives, where this was to be avoided. He determined upon a different mode of managing his army, and resorted to stratagem, which subsequently he frequently made use of. Putting a select part of his men in ambush near the Blue Savannah, just below Arial, Marion County, he feigned retreat with another, and thus beguiled his enemy from his strong position.

The result accorded with his wishes. Barfield followed and fell into the snare. The defeat was equally complete with that of Gainey.

Among the recent captures of Marion were two old fieldpieces. Returning to Port's Ferry, he threw up a redoubt on the east side of the river, at what is now called Durham's Bluff. He mounted his cannon and left an officer and men in charge. There is no record how long they remained.

Sept 1780 - Rouse's Ferry, (in modern Dillon County)

Oct 1780 - Bear Swamp, (in modern Dillon County)

Nov 1780 - Battle of Murphey's Defeat, Marion County?

1781

March 1781 Battle of Snow's Island - Site of Francis Marion's camp and bivouac. Located in modern Florence County, east of Johnsonville.

March 1781 - Witherspoon's Ferry, on Lynch's Creek in modern Florence County. General Francis Marion and his men attacked the British forces at Witherspoon's Ferry with little success. The British were on the other side of Lynch's Creek, and had scuttled the ferryboat by the time the Americans had arrived. The troops could only trade rifle fire across the water. The British retreated, and Marion's men were forced to travel five miles up the rain-swollen creek before finding a fordable crossing. By that time, the British were beyond hope of pursuit.

April 1781 - McPherson's Plantation east side of Pee Dee River

April 1781 - Hulin's Mill / Bass's Mill, 1781 - Stokes, in his "History of Dillon County" states that this battle took place at the site of what was later known as Bass's Mill near Latta (Bass's Mill Road). Hulin's (Hulon's) Mill, now named Bass's Mill) is located on Hwy 301 in Dillon County, just a little below the town of Latta, right where 301 crosses Catfish.

1782 - (battles and skirmishes cont'd)

DOCUMENTS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

1781, June 17 - Articles of Agreement between Col. Horry, acting for Gen. Marion, and Maj. Ganey, concerning inhabitants living between the Great Pee Dee River and North Carolina.
(See also Bug Hill Township.)
1781, August 1 - Col. Marion to Col. Peter Horry
Request for clothing for Sgt. Davis
1781, August 25 - Major Ganey to Gen. Marion
regarding an extension of the truce
1781, September 20 - Major John James to Gen. Marion
regarding Tory activity in Brittons Neck

1782 June 8 - Treaty between Gen. Francis Marion and Major Ganey
Tory leader Major Micajah Ganey and 500 of his men had surrendered to Marion and pledged their allegiance to the United States at Bowling Green. The treaty was signed at Burch's Mill.
1782, June 29 - Col. P. Horry to Gen. Marion
regarding clothing and supplies
1782, August 29 - Col. Benton to Gen. Marion

RECOLLECTIONS:

From Simms, A Sketch of the Life of Brigadier General Francis Marion:

"On the second or third day after his arrival, General Marion ordered his men to mount white cockades, to distinguish themselves from the tories, and crossed the Pedee, at Port's ferry, to disperse a large body of tories, under Major Ganey, stationed on Britton's neck, between great and little Pedee. He surprised them at dawn in the morning, killed one of their captains and several privates, and had two men wounded. Major James was detached at the head of a volunteer troop of horse, to attack their horse; he came up with them, charged, and drove them before him. In this affair, Major James singled out Major Ganey, (as he supposed) as the object of his single attack. At his approach Ganey fled, and he pursued him closely, and nearly within the reach of his sword, for half a mile; when behind a thicket, he came upon a party of tories, who had rallied. Not at all intimidated, but with great presence of mind, Major James called out, "Come on my boys! -- Here they are! -- Here they are!" And the whole body of tories broke again, and rushed into little Pedee swamp. Another party of tories lay higher up the river, under the command of Capt. Barefield; who had been a soldier in one of the South Carolina regiments. These stood to their ranks, so well, and appeared to be so resolute, that Gen. Marion did not wish to expose his men, by an attack on equal terms; he therefore feigned a retreat, and led them into an ambuscade, near the Blue Savannah, where they were defeated. This was the first manoeuvre of the kind, for which he afterwards became so conspicuous.

"Thus Gen. Marion, at once, fell upon employment, as the true way to encourage and to command militia; and their spirits began to revive. He returned to Port's ferry, and threw up a redoubt on the east bank of the Pedee, on which he mounted two old iron field pieces, to awe the tories. On the 17th of August, he detached Col. Peter Horry, with orders to take command of four companies, Bonneau's, Mitchell's, Benson's, and Lenud's, near Georgetown, and on the Santee; to destroy all the boats and canoes on the river, from the lower ferry to Lenud's; to post guards, so as to prevent all communication with Charleston, and to procure him twenty-five weight of gunpowder, ball or buck shot, and flints in proportion. This order was made in pursuance of a plan he afterwards carried into effect; to leave no approach for the enemy into the district of which he had taken the command."


BUG HILL TOWNSHIP (township in southern Columbus Co., NC)

In June, 1781, the area now known as Bug Hill Township was included in a truce land set apart "as a refuge for non-combatants during the Revolutionary War by an agreement between Colonel Gainey and General Francis Marion. The area was under rigid military rule. Toward the end of the war the section became a refuge for robbers and renegades" (Federal Writers' Project, North Carolina, A Guide to the Old North State [Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1939], p. 337). The papers of General Joseph Graham speak of soldiers under his command marching from Lockwoods Folly to Seven Creeks. (Seven Creeks is located near Pireway.) In October, 1781, after fighting at Seven Creeks, the group marched to Marsh Castle.

REFERENCE: James Rogers, Columbus County (Whiteville: News Reporter, 1946).

RECOMMENDED READING FOR MARION COUNTY:

  • Bass, Dr. Robert D.
    Swamp Fox, the Life and Campaigns of General Francis Marion.
    published 1959; 1974 by Sandlapper

  • Rankin, Hugh F.
    Francis Marion: The Swamp Fox.
    1973

    The two books listed above are, according to historians, the most historically accurate, and they trace Francis Marion's movements through the Pee Dee area, pinpointing his location every three to four days. These books include information on many residents of the Pee Dee and include a great number of local names, detailing how the soldiers would live off the land as they passed through.

Graphics by Victoria

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