Garden’s Plantation, South Carolina
20 December 1781
Captain Armstrong of Lee’s Legion was supposed to make contact with a spy from Charlestown at the plantation of Dr. Alexander Garden. While waiting for the spy Armstrong spotted Major John Coffin and his New York Volunteers. Lee’s troop gave chase to the Loyalists.
Major Coffin was not alone; he had his dragoons, plus a company of the South Carolina Royalists. Coffin had been ordered to find the Patriot cavalry that captured Captain Kienan the day before. Coffin and his New York Volunteers had been a decoy for a trap, and Armstrong rode into an ambush.
Armstrong was able to cut his way out of the kill zone by making a bold charge, but most of his men were killed or captured. Armstrong was captured when his horse went down due to a rock in the road.
Loyalist Stephen Jarvis said to him, "Give me your hand Captain Armstrong, I'll protect you" and he took him back to the rear.
Jarvis wrote "Some of our men made a blow at him, and one came near taking off his scalp. I drew my pistol and said, If you touch the prisoner I'll blow your brains out."
He was the first of Lee’s officers to be captured during the war. On the same day that Armstrong was captured the British abandoned their fortified post at Stono Ferry and joined the troops at John’s Island. Armstrong was soon exchanged for Captain Kienen, who had been captured a few days earlier.