Database:   Matthews Bluff  

Matthews Bluff.

What: Ambush/Massacre, *Captain James McKay vs. Lt. Kemp, 22 Jan 1781

Other names:

32.8296083 -81.4206616 Matthews Bluff

Maps: [map notes]


  • NBBAS:Three. p. 54-55

    Mathew’s Bluff, South Carolina, 22 January 1781

    Captain James McKay had been conducting raids along the swamps of the Savannah River to plundering boats bound for Augusta. This was in retaliation for McGirth’s raid on the Brier Creek Settlements. Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Brown ordered Captain Alexander Wylly, of the King’s Rangers, to mount an expedition down the South Carolina side of the river, and eliminate the threat to the shipping. Lieutenant Kemp preceded the force, with a detachment of twenty-five King’s Rangers and twenty Loyalist militia.

    Kemp hired a guide named Willie to take him to McKay’s camp on Mathew's Bluff. Willie did not care for the Loyalists, and had alerted McKay, who set up an ambush. Kemp’s troopers rode into the ambush site and at the first shot the British militia all fled without firing a shot. The Rangers surrendered. McKay asked Kemp to join him, but Kemp refused. McKay’s men were still seeking retribution for the Brier Creek massacre, and shot Kemp dead. The same fate happened to every other Ranger except one. The last Ranger pretended to join McKay, and then escaped at the first chance to tell Brown what had happened.

  • Other links:

  • Sherman, "Calendar...". P.323. Shows date as April 1781 (possibly Jan.). Shows McKay's name as possibly McCoy. To avoid long downloads, use option to "Save and view this PDF in Reader".

  • RevWar75   listing.
    1/22/1781 Mathew's Bluff. Shown as American Victory.

Related sites: Brier Creek

Submitted by: Patrick O'Kelley

Confidence level: See above.