James Island  

James Island

Other names:
Dill's Bluff

What:
26 Feb 1780 *Maj. Vernier vs. ?? Oohey (Ashley) River, Wallace's Road, James Island.
? July 1782 ?? vs. ?? James Island
bef 14 Nov 1782 *?? vs. ?? James Island
14 Nov 1782, Skirmish, Col. Thaddeus Kosciusko, Capt. William Wilmot , and Lt. John Markland vs. *British (or allied) commander,James Island (Dill's Bluff)

Where:
32.7471219 -79.9473120 Dill's Bluff, James Island (GNIS)
32.74759 -79.946510 Dill's Bluff (JP)
32.7276779 -79.95564550 James Island (GNIS)

Maps: [map notes]

  • 32.7471219 -79.9473120 Dill's Bluff
  • GNIS record for Dill's Bluff
  • Confidence: 5 (for bluff), 3 (for Dills Bluff skirmish)

  • 32.74759,-79.946510 Dill's Bluff (JP)
  • ACME Mapper.
  • National Map
  • Google
  • Confidence: 3 (for Dills Bluff skirmish)

  • 32.7276779 -79.95564550 James Island
  • GNIS record for James Island
  • Confidence: 1 (for other James Island skirmishes)

Sources:

  • Terry W. Lipscomb, Names in South Carolina, XXVIII, "South Carolina Revolutionary Battles, Part Nine", English Dept., Univ. of South Carolina, Winter 1981, Pages: 39-40.
    October 23 marked the beginning of a chain of events that was to lead to the last bloodshed of the Revolution in South Carolina. On that day, Captain William Wilmot of the Maryland line returned from a reconnaissance expedition to James Island, having discovered that a party of fifty to one hundred British sailors was landing at Dill's Bluff every morning about sunrise for the purpose of cutting wood. Kosciusko and Wilmot crossed to the island that night and lay in ambush for the enemy until late the following morning, but the woodcutters, departing from their usual routine, failed to appear. The British evidently learned of this fruitless enterprise, because the military escort covering the sailors was increased from a subaltern and twenty men to a substantial force of infantry and cavalry. These troops were based at Fort Johnson, which was under the command of Major William Dansey of the 33rd Regiment.

    Three weeks later, the Americans were persuaded to make a second attempt on the British party. Relying on a false intelligence report, [Colonel Thaddeus] Kosciusko, [Captain William] Wilmot, and Lieutenant John Markland crossed over to the island with a force of fifty or sixty soldiers of the Maryland and Pennsylvania Continentals. On the morning of November 14 they engaged the covering force upon its arrival, but soon discovered that the British were far better prepared than they had anticipated. Enemy reinforcements were rapidly advanced to the scene of action until the Patriots were confronted by at least three hundred men and one field piece. The American commander withdrew after a hard-fought action, leaving a number of casualties on the field. Wilmot was killed and Lieutenant Moore of the Maryland line was mortally wounded; Moore died in Charleston after the departure of the British. Another American casualty was a mulatto slave named William Smith, who was wounded and taken prisoner by the enemy. Kosciusko was unharmed, although four musket balls pierced his coat, a spontoon was shattered in his hand, and he narrowly escaped being cut down by a British dragoon. In the latter incident his life was saved by a young volunteer named William Fuller.32 When news of this battle was reported through the American army, some officers seem to have felt that Kosciusko had made an error of judgment in committing his troops to so risky a venture at such a late stage of the war.33

    Although this engagement is sometimes erroneously listed under the name of Johns Island, there is no doubt whatever that it took place on James Island. Dill's Bluff was located on the south side of James Island Creek, or New Town Cut as it was formerly known, at the sharp bend just east of its junction with Simpson Creek. The property in this vicinity was owned in the l780s by John Dill, and at that period it was heavily wooded. Today the battle site is occupied by an extensive residential development.34

    In writing of this battle, one contemporary remarked, "Some believed that this was the last action, and that in it was the last gun fired in the war for Independence."35 Whether or not this claim can he substantiated, there is every reason to believe that it was the last battle of the Revolution in South Carolna. No further conflict, as far as can be determined, took place in this last principal theater of war in the state, and any further disorders in the back country after this date can be classified for purposes of definition as civil insurrections or homicides.

    Footnotes:
    32. Johnson, Life of Greene. vol. 2, pp. 344-45, and postscript. pp. 9-11; "Revolutionary Services of Captain John Markland," PMHB. vol. 9, pp. 110-11; Garden. Anecdotes, pp. 91-93; Leslie to Carleton, November 18, 1782, British Headquarters Papers, document 6199; Dansey to Kosciusko, Novemher 25, 1782, SCHM vol. 17. pp. 53-54; Wilmot to Greene, October 23, 1782, Kosciusko to Greene. Novemher 28. 1782 (enclosing a draft of a letter to General Leslie), Greene Papers, Library of Congress. For identification of Major Dansey, see Continental Congress Papers, Item 52, p. 78.
    33. Francis Marion seems to have held this opinion. See the letter of Keating Simons in James, Life of Marion, appendix, pp. 8-9. William Johnson attempted to "discredit this anecdote in the postscript to his Life of Greene, but his lengthy argument merely tends to indicate that Marion was too discreet to mention in official documents the sentiments that he had privately expressed to Major Simons. Nevertheless, some of the criticism that Kosciusko has received in relation to this action has been neither fair nor warranted.
    34. John McCrady Plats. Roll C3183, Plat No. 2379. S.C. Archives; James Island quadrangle topographic map.
    35. Markland Memoir, PMHB," vol. 9, p. 111.

  • South Carolina General Assembly, Journal of the Senate, 16 Feb 2007:
    Program
    Members Of The South Carolina General Assembly

    Commemorating The Fourth Session
    Of The South Carolina General Assembly
    In Jacksonborough
    In January And February Of 1782

    Convening A Statewide Legislative Day
    By Meeting In Joint Session

    Friday, February 16, 2007

    At The Pon Pon Chapel Of Ease
    Jacksonboro, South Carolina

    The last battle of the American Revolution was fought on November 14, 1781 [sic] at Dill's Bluff on John's Island. It was the last of 137 battles here. South Carolina's patriots fought more skirmishes than did men in all in the other colonies combined*. Noted South Carolina historian, Dr. Walter Edgar notes "[The British] strategy backfired. Cornwallis' grand plan of rolling up the Carolinas to Virginia began to unravel in the backcountry of South Carolina.
    *JR note: SC may well have had more skirmishes than any other colony, but did not have more than all other colonies combined.

  • AmericanRevolution.com site gives the Oohey River as an alternate name for Ashley River.

  • The Oohey River, Wallace's Road action was probably in the vicinity of Fort Johnson.

  • NBBAS:Two 26 Feb 1780. p.30-31. Oohey (Ashley) River, Wallace's Road, James Island.
  • NBBAS:Four ? July 1780. Not found.
  • NBBAS:Four Before 14 Nov 1782. Not found.
  • NBBAS:Four 14 Nov 1782. James Island (Dill's Bluff) p.97-99.
    James Island, South Carolina
    Siege of Charlestown
    14 November 1782

    On October 23rd Captain Wilmot of the Maryland Line had conducted a reconnaissance of James Island. He discovered that fifty to one hundred British sailors arrived at Dill’s Bluff every morning at the same time to cut wood. When Kosciusko learned of the routine he led Wilmot and his Marylanders onto James Island that night and laid in ambush until late the next morning. Unfortunately the woodcutters failed to appear because the British had learned of the attempted ambush and had altered the schedule of the woodcutters. They also increased their escort from twenty men to a force of infantry and cavalry from the command of Major Dansey at Fort Johnson.

    Three weeks later Kosciusko decided to make a second attempt on the woodcutters. He was confident due to his successful raid to capture horses on James Island. Kosciusko’s force consisted of Wilmot’s Marylanders and Markland’s Pennsylvanians. Prior to the departure Wilmot borrowed a “shift of clothes” from his friend John Gibbes. Wilmot told him, “I have not my baggage at hand, you must loan me a shift of clothes. If I fall, which is not unlikely, it would be a satisfaction to me that the enemy should find me in clean linens.”

    On the morning of November 14th Kosciusko’s men engaged the escort of the woodcutting party only to find the British better prepared than they had anticipated. British reinforcements were quickly brought to the action. Kosciuszko faced at least three hundred men and a field piece. After an intense fight that wounded Lieutenant Markland and killed Captain Wilmot, the Patriots withdrew, leaving a number of casualties on the field.

    One of those casualties was a slave named William Smith who was wounded in the shoulder and taken prisoner but he later died. Kosciusko was unharmed, but he had four musket balls pierce his coat and a spontoon had been shattered in his hand by a musket ball. He narrowly escaped being cut down by a British dragoon, but William Fuller, a young Volunteer, killed the dragoon.

    Captain Wilmot was the last to Continental soldier be killed in the Carolinas. Lieutenant Markland wrote in his memoirs that this was the last battle in the War for Independence. Depending on the definition of what is a battle this may or may not be true, but the James Island battle was the last action of the Continental army in the Carolinas.

  • Sherman's Calendar.... Search for james island. 25 returns, most relevant. To avoid long downloads, use option to "Save and view this PDF in Reader".

  • RevWar75 RevWar75  
  • Feb 1780 listing: 2/26/1780 Oohey (Ashley) River, Wallace's Road, James Island. American victory.
  • Jul 1782 listing: 7/1782 James Island. Insufficient data.
  • Nov 1782 listing: before 11/14/1782 James Island. American victory.
  • Nov 1782 listing: 11/14/1782 James Island (Dill's Bluff). Draw.

Related locations:
Fort Johnson, Matthew's Plantation

Confidence level:: See above.

12-20-16