Benbow's Ferry

Other names:

What:   Marion defensive position, before 8 Nov 1780 (Ox Swamp #1), Col. Marion vs. Lt.Col.Tarleton

Where: 33.72497 -79.95762 Benbow's Ferry

Maps: [map notes]


  • Will Graves:
    In transcribing the pension application of Thomas Davis (W8655) ... , I came across a reference in it which I think was a reference to Benbow's Ferry on Black River. I found a reference to it on the web which purports to locate it as follows: Directions: East of Manning on SC 261. Left, north, onto S-55 [SC-35?] at Martine Crossroads. The ferry was located just east of where the bridge crosses the Black River. See, Revolutionary History in Clarendon County, SC [Use Control-F and search for "benbow's"]

  • Several references may be found to Benbow's Ferry (crossing) using the search engine at Southern Campaign Revolutionary War Pension Statements. Use Adobe search for benbow.

  • William Dobien James,     A Sketch of the Life of Brig. Gen. Francis Marion, ...     1821,     Chapter II [Search for benbow],     Downloadable from in several formats, including PDF.
    The next morning Marion, knowing the vigilance of his foe, decamped betimes; and pursuing his route down Black river, for thirty-five miles, through woods, and swamps and bogs, where there was no road, encamped the following night on advantageous ground, at Benbow's ferry, now Lowry's bridge, about ten miles above Kingstree [1821], on the east side of Black river. In a partisan warfare this position was the best that could have been taken. He could now defend himself, first at Black river itself; and after that at three difficult passes, of swamps, in his rear; all within ten miles, on that side of the river, before he reached Kingstree; but on the direct road to that place, on the west, there was but the one defile at the river; besides the possibility of being overtaken before he reached it. Here then Marion determined to make a stand, and felled trees across the road to impede the enemy. On the morning after the retreat, Tarleton found Marion's trail across the Woodyard, but went round it, and pursued, as he says, "for seven hours, through swamps and defiles." In fact he pursued about twenty-five miles, when arriving at Ox swamp,** which was wide and miry, and without a road to pass it, he desisted, saying to his men, "Come my boys! let us go back, and we will soon find the game cock, (meaning Sumter) but as for this d----d ~old fox~, the devil himself could not catch him."

    * Darkness visible.
    ** This Ox swamp is twenty-three miles above Kingstree, another mentioned hereafter, is thirteen miles below. --

  • Mills Williamsburg District [1820]. Note two bridges in the vicinity described by James (above). Also note that the distance shown from that across the Black River is shown as 9.8 miles to Kingstree. James' description of the site as being "east side of Black River" poses a problem since the Black River flows generally west-to-east in this area. This would suggest that Marion's position was east of the ferry, perhaps just east of the horseshoe bend in river.


  • Claude Henry Neuffer and Irene Neuffer,     Names in South Carolina,     XVI: p.40, Winter, 1969, English Department, University of South Carolina,    

    Archive Volume 16, page 40

    Bethow's Ferry (Lowry's Bridge) was ten miles above Kingstree on Black River. A skirmish with the British occurred here. Given in index as:
    Benbow's (ferry)-XVI:40

    Archive Volume 23, page 32

    Cornwallis was now sufficiently concerned about Marion's activities, that he sent Tarleton's Legion across the Wateree to put down the in- surrection in eastern South Carolina. For several days, Marion and Tarleton rņade cautious moves toward each other, until the morning of Novem- ber 8 found Marion approaching Tarleton's en- campment at Mrs. Richard Richardson's house. Her plantation was located on the Santee Road a few miles south of the modern village of Rimini. Before daylight, Marion discovered that the en- emy's force greatly outnumbered his own troops, and he reversed his line of march in time to escape through the swamps. He first traversed a large swamp called the Woodyard, then crossed Richbourg's Mill Dam on Jack's Creek and headed in the direction of Black River. As soon as Tarleiton found that Marion was retreating, he immediately started a pursuit through difficult terrain, which, lasted for seven hours. Finally, he found his way obstructed by Ox Swamp, and seeing no obvious route through the morass, he turned to his men and said, "Come my boys! Let us go back, and we will soon find the Game- cock (meaning Sumter), but as for this damned old fox, the devil himself could not catch him." This remark is supposed to have been the origin of Marion's nickname, the "Swamp Fox".G The route of the pursuit was northeast across the middle of present Clarendon County. Ox Swamp, where Tarleton abandoned his chase, was almost exactly on the site where Manning was later established. Had Tarleton continued his pursuit for only twelve more miles, to Benbow's Ferry on Black River just inside the present Williamsburg County line, he would have ridden directly into an ambush laid for him by the Swamp Fox. Tarleton reported to Cornwallis that he had dispersed Marion's Brigade, but only a few days later Marion was again threatening Georgetown with his entire force.

  • NBBAS:One thru Three Not found. Also not found in Unwaried Patience and Fortitude, Marion's orderly book, transcribed and annotated by O'Kelley.

  • Sherman's Calendar.... Search for benbow. 7 returns, all relevant. To avoid long downloads, use option to "Save and view this PDF in Reader".

  • RevWar75 RevWar75   Not found.

Related locations:
Ox Swamp #1

Confidence level:: See above.