Other names:

1775- Council of Safety sent McCall and 30 men to arrest Cameron, which led to a skirmish with four soldiers and several warriors killed. 31 Jul 1776, Skirmish, Cherokee victory. 1 Aug 1776, Skirmish, Col. Wm. Thomson vs. Alexander Cameron (CPI: Americans burned both towns and 6000 bushels of corn.)

34.66279 -82.857230 Esseneca (west side)
34.66279 -82.85167 Esseneca (east side)

Maps: [map notes]


  • From "A Map Showing the Marches of Gen. Andrew Williamson in 1776...". Note large town on west side of the river and the smaller town on east side.


  • Sophie Lee Foster, Revolutionary Reader: Reminiscences and Indian Legends, 1913, Byrd Print. Co., p.69
    An Extract from another report gives further particulars:
    "The Indian spies had observed the Major's march and alarmed their camp; upon which about thirty Indians and as many white men went to Seneca and placed themselves in ambush. The Indians had one killed and three wounded. Seneca, four miles long on each side of the river with six thousand bushels of corn, &c, burned August 1st. Sugar Town and Keowee, Aug. 4th. [1776]"

  • Edward McCrady, The History of South Carolina in the Revolution, 1775-1780, 1901 Macmillan & Co., Ltd., p.195ff

    Accordingly, about six o'clock in the evening of the 31st of July [1776], taking with him two prisoners as guides, under threats of instant death in case of misbehavior, he put himself in motion with a detachment of 330 men on horseback, hoping to surprise the enemy by daybreak. The river Keowee running between Williamson's forces and Cameron's party, and being only fordable at Essenecca, Williamson was obliged, though much against his inclination, to take the road to that ford. Unfortunately he proceeded without scouts or guard sufficiently advanced to be of any service in warning his main body of danger. He was ambushed about two o'clock on the morning of the 1st of August in Essenecca town. The Indians, suffering the guides and advanced guard to pass, poured a heavy fire into the Williamson men, and they were thrown into confusion. Major Williamson's horse was shot under him ; Mr. Francis Salvador, who had brought to Williamson the first news of the Indian uprising, was shot down by his side, and unfortunately immediately discovered by the Indians. He was scalped alive before he was found by his friends in the dark. What added to this misfortune was that after the action it appeared that Captain Smith, son of the Captain Aaron Smith who had been murdered with his family, saw the Indians while in the act of taking off the scalp ; but supposing it was Mr. Salvador's servant assisting his master, did not interfere to save his, frieffd. Mr. Salvador died without being sensible of the savage cruelty which had been inflicted upon him.1

    Major Williamson's forces, completely surprised, broke away and fled in the greatest confusion. The enemy kept up a constant fire, which the retreating militia returned at random as dangerous to their friends who were willing to advance against the enemy as it was to the enemy themselves. Fortunately Lieutenant Colonel Hammond rallied a party of about twenty men, and, making an unexpected charge, repulsed the savage foe and escaped. The Indians lost but one man killed and three wounded; of Major Williamson's party three died from their wounds and fourteen were badly injured. When daylight arrived he burnt that part of Essenecca town which was on the eastern side of the Keowee River, and later Colonel Hammond crossed the river, burnt that on the western side as well, and destroyed all the provisions, computed at six thousand bushels of Indian corn, besides peas and other articles.

    1 For an interesting sketch of this gentleman, see Memoirs of the Revolution (Drayton), vol. II, 247, 248.

  • Gibbes, R.W., Documentary history of the American Revolution, 1853-1857, p.125-126
    Col. Thomson To W. H. Drayton. [Original.] Camp Two Miles Below Keowee, Aug. 4, 1775.

    SIR: I received your Excellency s favors of the 26th and 27th ult. by express. In my last letter to your Excellency of the 31st ult., I in formed you of my spies, being returned with two white persons, who gave an account of Cameron s being arrived from over the Hills with twelve white men, and that he with the Seneca and other Indians, were encamped at Oconee Creek, about thirty miles distant from Twenty- three Mile Creek, where I then lay encamped ; this intelligence induced me to march immediately to attack their camp before they could receive any information of my being so far advanced, I accordingly marched about six o clock in the evening, with thirty-three men on horseback, (taking the two prisoners with me to show where the enemy were en camped, and told them before I set out if they deceived me, I would order them instantly to be put to death) intending to surround their camp by day-break, and to leave our horses about two miles behind with a party of men to guard them ; the river Keowee lying on the route, and only passable at a ford at Seneca, obliged me (though much against my inclination) to take that road ; the enemy either having discovered my march or laid themselves in ambush with a design to cut off any spies or party I had sent out, had taken possession of the first houses in Seneca, and posted themselves behind a long fence on an eminence close to the road where we were to march, and to prevent being discovered had filled up the openings betwixt the rails, with of and corn blades ; they suffered the guides and advance guard to pass, when a gun from the house was discharged (meant as I suppose, for a signal for those placed behind the fence, who a few seconds after poured in a heavy fire upon my men), which, being unexpected, staggered my advanced party. Here Mr. Salvador received three wounds, and fell by my side my horse was shot down under me, but I received no hurt. Lieut. Farar, of Captain Prince's Company, immediately supplied me with his. I desired him to take care of Mr. Salvador, but before he could find him in the dark, the enemy unfortunately got his scalp, which was the only one taken. Capt. Smith, son of the late Capt. Aaron Smith saw the Indian, but thought it was his servant taking care of his master, or could have prevented it. He died about half after two o clock, in the morning, forty-five minutes after he received the wounds, sensible to the last. When I came up to him after dislodging the enemy, and speaking to him, he asked whether I had beat the enemy, I told him yes, he said he was glad of it, and shook me by the hand, and bade me farewell and said he would die in a few minutes. Two men died in the morning, and six more who were badly wounded I have since sent down to the settlements, and given directions to Dr. DeLaHowe and Russell to attend them. I remained on the ground till day break and burnt the houses on this side the river and afterwards crossed the river ; the same day reduced Seneca entirely to ashes. Knowing that the Indians would carry immediate intelligence of my strength to the place where Cameron lay encamped, who would directly move from thence, and having ordered the detachment from Col. Neil's and Thomas Regi ment to attack and destroy Estatoe and Taxaway and join me at this day at Sugar Town obliged me to march that way, which this day a strong detachment consisting of four hundred men has totally reduced to ashes, only one Indian was found there, who said the enemy had deserted the town four days ago, on hearing by a white man, that an army was advancing against them.

  • Terry W. Lipscomb, Names in South Carolina, XX, "South Carolina Revolutionary Battles: Part I". pp. XX:16, Univ. of South Carolina, Engilish Dept., Winter 1973, p.16,
    At the same time the British attack was being repelled at Charleston, agents of the Crow were instigating an Indian uprising on the frontier. To give the British their due, massacre was not exactly what they had in mind, but it proved impossible to control the Indians once they had been induced to take up the war club. At dawn on July 1, they descended on the settlements of the Carolina back country.24 By this time a skirmish had already taken place in the Cherokee Nation, when a small band of Patriots sent to arrest Alexander Cameron, the British Deputy Indian Superintendent, were ambushed near the Indian town of Seneca.25

    Andrew Williamson began mounting an expedition to oppose the Cherokees, and moved at a gradual pace into the Indian country, while the Patriot commanders of the up country joined him with their detachments. On the morning of July 15, a group of settlers who had taken refuge in Lindley's or Lyndley's Fort, near Rabon Creek in Laurens County, were attacked by a force of Indians and Tories, some of whom were disguised as Indians. Unluckily for the aggressors, a party of one hundred and fifty soldiers on their way to join Williamson happened to be in the fort at this time, and the Tory assault ended in a rout. The Patriot commander in this instance was Major Downes. Lyndley's was one of many old forts in this area dating from before the Revolution.26

    Hearing that Cameron was encamped on Oconore Creek with a force of Indians and Tories, Williamson decided tp march against them on the evening of July 31. The only place where the Patriot army could cross the Seneca River to get at Cameron was at the Indian village of Seneca, and as they approached the outskirts of that settlement in the early morning hours of August 1, they rode into an ambush. The Indians and Tories concealed themselves behind a fence paral1eling the road and fired into the flank of Williamson's column. The Patriots were thrown into confusion, and the outcome of the battle was in some doubt until Colonel Leroy Hammond saved the situation by rallying a group of men and charging the fence. One of the most regrettable casualties of this battle was the young Jewish Patriot, Francis Salvador. The Indian town of Seneca was located some miles east of the mo.dern town of Seneca, on both banks of the . Seneca River. The battle took place near the present site of Clemson University.27

    Williamson destroyed Seneca, and advanced into present Oconee County, destroying Indian towns along the route of his march.

    25 McCall, pp. 311-312; Drayton, Vol. 2, pp. 338-3: note.
    26 Drayton, Vol. 2, pp. 342-343, 368.
    27 A. L. Pickens, Skyagunsta, pp. 20-22; State Hitorical Society of Wisconsin, Draper Manuscript 3VV136-138; Drayton, Vol. 2, pp. 345-349

  • Terry Lipscomb, Battles, Skirmishes and Actions of the American Revolution in South Carolina, 1991, SC Dept of Archives and History, p.12.
    Action Date County Reference
    16. Seneca 1 Aug Pickens NSC 20: 22

    archiveCherokee Prayer Initiative:

      archive Cherokee Prayer Site Guide. Also found here. See sites 28 and 29.
      X 28. Battle of Essenaca 1776
      Clemson Practice Fields

      X 29. Seneca, or Esseneca
      Clemson Botanical Gardens and Practice Fields
      New town, built after war of 1760, settled by Lower and Middle Town Refugees
      1775- Population 500, houses on both sides of river; town house and Chief's house on western shore
      1775- Council of Safety sent McCall and 30 men to arrest Cameron, which led to a skirmish with four soldiers and several warriors killed
      7/31/1776- Williamson's men were ambushed there by warriors and loyalists. Cherokees were driven back across the river.
      8/1/1776- Williamson's men crossed the river and burned the town along with six thousand bushels of corn.
      11/18/1785- Treaty of Hopewell signed at Picken's Hopewell plantation, near the town

      archive Historical Notes on the Cherokee People, Linda Fulmer. Also see here.
      Sources (Bibliography).
      Search for seneca.

  • NBBAS:One p.39, 157-160
    Revlist post Seneca, South Carolina, 1 August 1776

  • RevWar75 RevWar75  
  • Aug 1775 listing 8/1/1775 Senaca Town. American victory. Per O'Kelley.
  • Aug 1776 listing 8/1/1776 Seneca (Oconore Creek, Essenecca Ford). British (allied) victory). Per Heitman, Peckham, O'Kelley, Widmer.

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