Skirmish, Cap. William Butler vs. Col. William -Bloody Bill- Cunningham, ? Sep 1782
Where: 34.1473601 -81.6512178 Lorickís Ferry
Maps: [map notes]
- 34.1473601 -81.6512178 Lorickís Ferry
- ACME Mapper.
- National Map
- GNIS record for Bauknight's Ferry.
Note mapping options.
- It may be seen that this ferry is immediately west of Beaverdam Creek. See Mills Newberry snippet, following.
- Confidence: 5 (for Lorick's Ferry)
- From Mills 1825 Newberry District map:
- NBBAS:Four P.95-96:
Lorickís Ferry, South Carolina
Colonel William "Bloody Bill" Cunningham decided to take advantage of
Andrew Pickensí expedition against the Indians and he raided into the
area of the Saluda River. Pickens planned for the possibility of such a
raid and left some troops behind to counter Cunningham. Whenever
Cunningham would do a raid he would always split up his large force into
smaller groups to infiltrate into enemy territory. These forces would
then rendezvous and conduct their raids. Captain William Butler was the
son of James Butler who had been killed at Clouds Creek by Bloody Bill.
He found out that Cunningham was in the area and set out on a raid for
With Butler were men who had lost brothers, fathers and neighbors to
Cunningham during his "Bloody Scout". Butler needed to find out exactly
where Cunningham was, so he sent his brother Thomas to the house of
Joseph Cunningham, a relative of Bloody Bill. In the dark Thomas
identified himself as one of Bloody Billís men and asked where the
raider's camp was. Joseph Cunninghamís wife fell for the trick and told
him where the Loyalists were. Butler then appeared, put a pistol to
Joseph Cunninghamís head and forced him to lead the Patriots there.
Butler ordered his thirty men to surround the camp and attempt to take
Cunningham alive. At daylight the twenty Loyalists were drying their
blankets around the fire and saw Butler approach. They mistook Butler
for Bloody Bill, since they looked so similar. When Butler got close
enough he charged the Tory camp.
The Loyalists all had a prearranged plan of escape and took off in every
direction. Bloody Bill leapt on his horse Silver Heels and raced for the
Saluda. Butler pursued Cunningham on his horse Ranter. Cunningham tried
to fire his pistols, but the powder was damp. He continued to snap his
pistol over and over, trying to get them to fire. One pistol did fire,
but only as Cunningham pointed it over his shoulder.
Cunningham pulled his sword, but it was torn from his hands by the
bushes. Butler was only armed with a sword and he couldnít narrow the
distance to kill him. Cunninghamís mount pulled far ahead and then
plunged in the Saluda swimming to safety. Cunningham taunted "I am
safe!" when he reached the other side and then rode away. Butler went
back and found Cunninghamís sword and kept it.
When Butler returned to camp he found one of the captured Loyalists had
been murdered. This act was considered justified since the dead Loyalist
had whipped the mother of one of Butlerís men. Butlerís men pursued
Cunninghamís band overtaking some of them at the Saluda River. The
Patriots fired on the Loyalists in the water, but Butler ordered his men
to cease the slaughter. One of Butlerís men snapped his pistol at the
Loyalists, but it wouldnít discharge. He reprimed it and then fired on a
Loyalist named Davis, killing him on the riverbank. Cunningham was able
to make his way to Charlestown, but was never able to raise another band
- Terry Lipscomb, Names in South Carolina, (XXVIII),
"South Carolina Revolutionary Battles: Part Five". pg 38-39.
Cunningham had probably timed this foray to coincide
with Andrew Pickens' latest expedition against the Indians.
From September 10 until October 22, Pickens was away on
this duty with a large detachment of his militia, but he had
cautioned the troops left behind to be on guard against a
surprise raid by Cunningham. Captain William Butler
hardly needed this reminder; Butler and most of the men in
his troop of mounted rangers had lost brothers, fathers, or
neighbors in the Cloud's Creek massacre of November 1781
(NSC XXVI:36). When it was reported that Cunningham
had actually returned to the district, Butler and his company
wasted no time in picking up his trail, which they followed
all night through a rainstorm. The path of the Loyalists led
from the Mount Willing neighborhood to the forks of the
Saluda and Little Saluda, thence upstream and across the
Saluda River into what is now Newberry County. The next
day the Patriots tracked their enemies to a camp deep in the
woods, where they found Cunningham and fifteen of his
most desperate followers. Butler ordered his troops to
surround the camp and attempt to take Cunningbam alive.
The surprise was almost complete, but the Tories were all
experienced woodsmen with a prearranged plan for eluding
pursuers. They scattered in all directions, and the action
developed into a series of individual encounters and exciting
chases. The incident more vividly remembered than any
other was Butler's own pursuit of Cunningham. Since the
guns of these two archenemies were misfiring because of wet
powder from the previous night's rain, the outcome of this
chase depended on the swiftness of their horses. Butler was
riding a well-trained horse named Ranter, but Cumiingham's
mount was a recently-acquired thoroughbred race horse
named Silver Heels. When the two antagonists made their
way out of the thickets and into fairly open country,
Cunningham easily outran his pursuer and escaped.29
The date of this encounter is unknown, but it is very likely
that it occurred in late September or early October. The
location of Cunningham's camp was so far off the beaten
track even by eighteenth century standards that there is
probably little likelihood of finding it on a modern map.
points. Shortly before the Patriots reached Cunningham's
camp, they stopped near the house of John Griffith, which
seems to have been in Newherry County near Bauknight's
Ferry. When Cunningham escaped from Butler, he is said
to have recrossed the Saluda River near the crossing that was
later known as Lorick's Ferry. This was about two miles
upstream from the modern S.C. 395 highway bridge.
This action resulted in the deaths of at least two Loyalists
and the dispersal of Cunningham's famous band as a unified
military force. Although members of his gang continued to
reappear from time to time, either alone or in small groups,
the new regime in Charleston regarded them as outlaws and
acted accordingly. The state of South Carolina posted
rewards and maintained companies of rangers well into 1783
to deal with "such Ringleaders and Common disturbers of
mankind as Cunningham and others." Cunningham returned
to South Carolina that year, but be was never captured, and
he eventually made his way from Florida to the West Indies.
He died in Nassau on January 18, 1787, after a short
- Listing for Sep 1782 9/1782 Lorick's Ferry. Draw. Per O'Kelley.
Confidence level:: 5