Database

Fair Lawn.

Other names: Fair Lawn Barony, Colleton House, "below Monck's Corner"

What: 17 Nov 1781 Skirmish, Hezekiah Maham & Isaac Shelby capture Brit. hospital & stores, 80 prisoners

Where: 33.1929073, -79.9876186

Maps: [map notes]

Sources:

  • CBB. : Subject: Fairlawn Barony/Colleton Mansion/Shelby's hospital burning
    "Colleton Mansion on Fairlawn Barony ruins are in woods near highway -79.98623, 33.19174 about 150 yards SW of dual lane subdivision entry road." Basis of site location..

  • William Dobien James, Life of Brig. Gen. Francis Marion, Pp.53. Implies an earlier date. [16 October 1781]
    Col. Maham having now raised and equipped part of his cavalry, passed the Santee, burnt some British stores in the house of Sir John Colleton, at Fairlawn, and took some prisoners. On the 16th of October, Gen. Greene writes to Marion, "Col. Maham's success is highly honourable to himself and corps, and I hope will be followed by future strokes of good fortune." This hope was not realized. A letter from Col. Doyle, of the British, shows strongly what different views, men engaged on opposite sides, will take of the same transaction. It is to Gen. Marion: "Sir, I am directed by Brigadier Gen. Stewart, to represent to you an outrage that has been committed by a party of your corps, under the command of Col. Maham, upon a parcel of sick, helpless soldiers in an hospital at Colleton house, on the morning of the 17th inst. The burning an hospital, and dragging away a number of dying people to expire in swamps, is a species of barbarity hitherto unknown in civilized warfare. The general expects that those unhappy sufferers will be sent immediately as prisoners upon parole. Attacks on hospitals are, among your own continental army, unprecedented. The hospital at Camden was by Gen. Greene's order protected, although it had an armed guard for its internal police." Gen. Greene, who ere this, the reader must have perceived, was polite to his friends, and humane to his enemies, for even they are obliged to confess it, immediately instituted an inquiry into this complaint;* but how it was accommodated cannot now be ascertained.

    -- * Greene's letter, 24th Nov. --

    [JR note: James gives the date of Fairlawn as 16 October 1781 (or before). Doyle is quoted as giving it as 17 October 1781. Lipscomb, below, confirms that original of Doyle's letter in SC Archives clearly shows 17 November.

  • David Ramsay, Ramsay's History of South Carolina: From Its First Settlement in 1670 to the ..., 1858 W. J. Duffie, p.249
    After the action at the Eutaws, the Americans retired to their former position on the high hills of Santee, and the British took post in the vicinity of Monk's Corner. While they lay there, a small party of American cavalry, commanded by Colonel Maham,took upwards of eighty prisoners, within sight of their main army. The British no more acted with their usual vigor. On the slightest appearance of danger, they discovered a disposition to flee scarcely inferior to what was exhibited the year before by the American militia.

    [This is followed immediately by the following section]
    SECTION XI.
    Campaign of 1782.

    [JR note. Implied: After Eutaw Springs (8 Sep 1781), while Brits were still camped near Monck's Corner (Wantoot), but before end of 1781.]

  • NBBAS:Three, p.391-4.
    Date given as 17 November 1781. Footnotes 696, 697 and 698 found on page 548. Gibbes, Vol.3 should read Vol.2, an error possibly inherited from Lipscomb, below.

  • NBBAS:Four p.97
    Monck’s Corner, South Carolina
    Siege of Charlestown
    16 October 1782
    This incident is mentioned in the pension account of William McIntosh. He wrote that he was "with Col. Maham when he took upwards of eighty prisoners in the sight of the British army below Monck’s Corner on the 16th of October in the year 1782. He served in Captain James McCauley’s troop of militia horse."

  • Pension Application Of William McIntosh S9424, Transcribed by Will Graves
    . . . 30th day of October 1832 . . .

    [W]as at the Battle of Eutaw Springs on the 8th of September.
    [W]as with Colonel Maham when he took upwards of eighty prisoners in sight of the British Army below Monk’s [sic, Moncks] Corner on the 16th of October.
    In the year 1782 he served in Captain James McColley’s [sic, James McCauley's ?] Troop of Militia horse.

    [JR note: "16th of October" logically follows "8th of September" immediately preceding. Eutaw Springs occurred in 1781. James book (following, shown to be in error) had been published approximately 12 years before this affidavit was given and likely influenced this statement. Note sentence break between "16th of October" and "In the year 1782".]

  • Sherman's Calendar...
    p.462
    16 October [1781]. [skirmish] Monck’s Corner (Berkeley County) Boatner[p.711]: "According to [Newton A.] Strait, a Col. Malone (not identified in Heitman) attacked the British camp and took 80 prisoners."2785

    2785 Newton A. Strait, Alphabetical List of Battles, 1754-1900, Washington, 1900, BEA [(Boatner) Encyclopedia of the American Revolution] p. 711.

    p.464

    24 October. Col. John Sevier, and Col. Isaac Shelby, riding in two separate groups, moved to assist Greene’s army with about 700 of their mounted frontier militia. By October 24th Sevier arrived to join Greene, while Shelby reached Marion, with whom he was assigned to cooperate, by November 2nd.2796

    2796 NGP [Nathanael Greene Papers] vol. IX, pp. 277n, 521-522.

    p.464. Last dated entry in book, 28 October 1781.
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  • John Wesley Wells. Compiled by Newton A. Strait, An Alphabetical List of the Battles of the War of the Rebellion, with Dates ..., 1878, J. H. Soulé, p.81
    1781 October 16. Monk's Corner. British army encamped near this place. Col. Malone attacked a detachment, taking 80 prisoners.

    [Note: the 16 October date in above 2 entries by Strait is believed erroneous, and first (so far) appeared in James. Shelby joined Marion 2 November 1781]

  • Edward McCrady, South Carolina in the Revolution, 1780-1783, Macmillan & Co., ltd., 1902, p.488-489
    On approaching Fair Lawn on the morning of the 27th of November, everything within the abatis indicated resistance; and the loss of time, with the fort in view and the enemy in his rear, must have resulted in disappointment. A party of riflemen were at once ordered to dismount and to move as infantry, while the remainder of the corps, headed by the cavalry, advanced boldly into the field and demanded a surrender. No resistance was made and the place surrendered at discretion. In it were found three hundred stands of arms, many stores of value, some sick, and eighty convalescents. The medical men were paroled, and the convalescents carried off on horseback behind Maham's men. But the house with its contents and the abatis were committed to flames.1

    1 Johnson's Life of Greene, vol. II, 260-262.

    [Note: per Lipscomb (below], Gibbes (below) incorrectly transcribed Doyle's letter (27th vice 17th). This explains McCrady's error. What explains James' error?]

  • William Johnson, Sketches of the Correspondence and Life of Nathanael Greene, Vol.II, p.260-262:
    McCrady is mistaken in quoting Johnson as providing the date 27 November. All Johnson said regarding a date was that the attack occurred while Stewart was still at Wantoot, and that all the "mountaineers" had left by 25 November.
    The mountaineers under Seviere and Shelby, constituted the re-enforcement upon which he had ventured into the field. And this force to his astonishment, deserted him. ... To his disppointment and surprise, they all abandoned Marion by the 25th of November. It is, most probably, attributable to Shelby's having obtained leave of absence, as we find no other cause or excuse for their retiring after three weeks' service. ...With numbers decidely superior to the Americans, it was with chagrin that Marion found it impossible to induce him [Stewart] to take the field. And it was until Stewart decamped from Wantoot, and retired near to Goose Creek Bridge, that Marion discovered the cause. Colonel ...Stewart's orderly sergeant fell into the hands of Marion, and on him was found a return, from which it appeared , that out of two thousand two hundred and seventy-two men, the enemy had nine hundred and twenty-eight on the sick-list. ... If, on the 25th of November, so near one half of the British troops were still sick or convalescent, those who are acquainted with the climate, will readily judge of the affliction and mortality that must have prevailed among them at an earlier period. ...

    ...But the attack on Fairlawn was made while the enemy lay at Wantoot...

    ...This exploit was made the subject of very heavy complaints at the time, by ... Stewart. ...

    A correspondence ensued, in which the American commander exhibits as accurate a knowledge of the laws of arms as of their practical uses. ...

    General Greene received, with astonishment, the intelligence of the intended return of his mountaineers. ...

  • Comment: Shelby had reported to Marion on 2 Nov 1781 (WTS < Greene Papers), was with Maham at Fair Lawn, and had departed by 25 November. This is evidence supporting the November date for Fair Lawn, in direct contradiction of the James account (supposedly based on letters by Greene and Doyle) and the pension application of William McIntosh (which may well have been based on James). Lipscomb validates the 17 Nov 1781 date, below.

  • Terry Lipscomb, Names in South Carolina, "South Carolina Revolutionary Battles, Part Eight", XXVII: Winter 1980, p.16
    About the end of October a contingent of six hundred over-mountain men arrived under the command of Colonels Isaac Shelby and John Sevier of Kings Mountain fame. Greene placed these troops at the disposal of Francis Marion, and they served under him until November 25, when they departed for home. In the interim, the moutaineers took part in only one significant military action, which was the expedition against the British post at Fair Lawn. Marion dispatched about two hundred troops under Hezekiah Maham and Isaac Shelby to get behind the main British army and strike at this post, where the garrison had lately been reduced, according to intelligence reports. The large and imposing Fair Lawn mansion house was being used by the British as a hospital for troops afflicted with fever, while the nearby Cooper River landing was guarded by a redoubt about half a mile from the house. This fort was garrisoned by fifty troops of the 84th Regiment under Captain McLean.

    Maham and Shelby arrived at Fair Lawn before sunrise on November 17 and directed their operations against the mansion. The occupants were given the choice of either surrendering or having their works stormed by Shelby's tomahawk-wielding mountaineers. McLean's garrison watched the entire proceedings from the redoubt but did not attempt to interfere because the Americans had the advantage of superior numbers. About one hundred and fifty British soldiers, together with their doctors and officers, surrendered to Maham, and about eighty or ninety of these prisoners were found able to stand the march to Marion's camp; the rest were paroled. The house was then destroyed by fire.2 The Fair Lawn mansion stood not far east of the modern city limits of Moncks Corner. The site is located between U.S. 52 and the east branch of the Cooper River.

    2 Johnson. Life of Greene, vol. 2. pp. 258, 260-62: Samuel Cole Williams "Tennessee during the Revolutionary War, pp. 220-23; British Headquarters Papers (Carleton Papers), document 9945; R. W. Gibbes. Documentary History of the American Revolution. vol. 3 (1781-1782). pp. 213, 215; James, pp.145-46; Greene to Thomas McKean. President of Congress, November 21, 1781. Continental Congress Papers, Item 172. It should be noted that R. W. Gibbes has erroneously transcribed the date of the action in Doyle’s letter to Marion, printed on page 213. The manuscript copy that Gibbes used is still extant in the South Carolina Archives, and it clearly shows the date as the 17tth, not the 27th

  • Terry Lipscomb, Battles, Skirmishes and Actions of the American Revolution in South Carolina, 1991, SC Dept of Archives and History, p.20.
    Action Date County Reference
    1781
    166. Fair Lawn 17 Nov Berkeley NSC 27: 16

  • R. W. Gibbes. Documentary History of the American Revolution vol. 2(1781-1782), publ. 1853-1857, New York, Appleton, pp. 213
    [No. 217. \ J. Doyle, (of the British) Deputy Adjutant General, to General Marion.

    HEAD QUARTERS, CAMP AT RAVENELS, )

    November 20, 1781. ]
    Sir :

    I am directed by Brig. Gen. Stewart to represent to you an out rage that has been committed by a party of your corps, under the command of Col. Maham, upon a parcel of sick, helpless soldiers, in an Hospital at Colleton s House, on the morning of the 27th [sic, 17th, see Lipscomb comment, above)] inst. The burning an Hospital and dragging away a number of dying people to expire in swamps, is a species of barbarity hith erto unknown in civilized nations especially when that hospital has been left without a guard for its defence that could justify an at tack upon its defenceless inhabitants. For the sake of humanity, sir, the General is unwilling to believe that such unmanly proceed ings could meet your countenance, and he therefore expects that those unhappy sufferers may be sent immediately as prisoners on parole, to prevent their perishing for want of necessaries and medi cines. The sick and helpless seem not proper objects for military prowess, and attacks on Hospitals are among your own Continental army hitherto unprecedented. The Hospital at Camden was by Gen. Greene s order, protected, although it had an armed guard for its internal police.

    I have the honor to be, sir,

    Your most obedient humble servant,

    J. DOYLE, Dep. Adj. Gen.

    pp.215:

    [No. 220. j Gen. Greene to Gen. Marion.

    HEAD QUARTERS, BUCKHEAD, Nov. 24, 1781.
    Dear Sir :

    Your letters of the 18th and 21st of this month I have received. The enemy complains of Col. Maham in attacking and dragging off a number of their distressed sick from their Hospital. I shall bo obliged to Col. Maham to give me a particular report of the condition of the prisoners he made as well as the manner of making them, also of the special reasons which induced him to burn the Hospital. I have not the least doubt but that their charges are groundless as to inhumanity, and that burning the Hospital was to destroy the stores, which could not be effected any other way; but I wish to have materials to contradict their charges with.

    ...

    [Note that the date of these letters is given as November 20 and 24. In Doyle's text, the date is quoted here as 27th inst. ("in this same month"), an obvious error since that date would not have occurred when either letter was written.]

  • SC Historical Highway Marker 8-16, 1 mi. s.w. of Moncks Corner describes Little Landing there as part of Fairlawn Barony.

  • RevWar75  
  • Oct 1781 listing 10/16/1781 Monck's Corner, American victory [Boatner < Strait < James]
  • Nov 1781 listing Fairlawn 17 Nov 1781 [per Widmer, O'Kelley. < Lipscomb < Doyle]
    Boatner, shown as ref. gives date as 27 Nov 1781 [< McCrady < Gibbes < Doyle].

Related sites: Biggin Church,   Monck's Corner,   Wadboo Bridge,   Wadboo,   Fort Fairlawn,   Biggin Bridge,   Wantoot

Confidence level: 5