Ashley River

Other names: Galley HMS Alligator,

What: Skirmish, *Capt. Michael Rudulph vs. Galley Alligator 3 Mar 1782

Where: 32.844073 -80.037186 Galley HMS Alligator

Maps: [map notes]


  • Ashley R

    Terry Lipscomb, "South Carolina Revolutionary Battles, Names in South Carolina, Winter 1981, XXVIII, Pg 33, 2nd column, paragraphs 2 & 3.

    At this time, the British sphere of influence extended north of Charleston as far as the Quarter House (Names in South Carolina XXV:31), which was their forward position. To protect the left flank of their line, they had stationed the galley Alligator at a point high up the Ashley River. This vessel was manned by forty-three seamen, and its armament consisted of two 12-pounders, six 4-pounders, two 3-pounders, and a number of swivels. The ship interfered with American reconnaissance by its presence in the river, and General Greene requested his partisan corps to devise a plan for removing it. This task was entrusted to Captain Michael Rudulph, an infantry officer in Lee's Legion. Aided by Lieutenant Smith of the Virginia line, Rudulph planned and carried out a commando raid. On the night of March 18, an American party of fourteen men dropped down the Ashley River under cover of a boat carrying provisions to market in Charleston. Nine of the soldiers were concealed under the cargo, four went disguised as slaves, and Rudulph himself wore the clothes of a countryman. When the sentry on the British ship challenged the approaching vessel, the Americans duped him by answering in Gullah. Rudulph's party succeeded in boarding the galley and captured it along with the captain, two lieutenants, and twenty-seven of the crew. Some of the British sailors escaped by jumping overboard and swimming; several, including the sentry, were killed. The Americans then set fire to the Alligator and blew her up. This incident occurred between three and four in the morning of March 19.4 The exact location is not known, but the British vessel was probably anchored somewhere in the stretch of Ashley River north of the modern S.C. 7 bridge and south of Drayton Hall.

    Footnote 4: Henry Lee, Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United States (Arno reprint of 1869 edition), pp. 537, 545-46; British Headquarters Papers (Carleton Papers), document 4221; William Moultrie, Memoirs of the American Revolution, Vol. 2, p. 297; "Extracts from the Journal of Lieutenant John Bell Tilden," The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography (hereinafter cited as PMHB), vol. 19, p. 223; Alexander Garden, Anecdotes of the Revolutionary War [in America], p. 129, p. 129.

  • NBBAS:Four P.43-44.

  • Sherman's Calendar.... Too late for this work. To avoid long downloads, use option to "Save and view this PDF in Reader".

  • RevWar75 RevWar75  
  • Mar 1782 listing. 3/19/1782 Ashley River, Charlestown. Shown as American victory.

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Confidence level:: 3