Database

Ratcliff's Bridge.

What: Skirmish 6 March 1781: BG Sumter vs Maj. Thomas Fraser

Other names: Stirrup Branch, Lynches River, Radcliff's Bridge

Where:
34.27111 -80.256518, start of skirmish, Stirrup Branch (Bells Branch) (JCP)
34.171388 -80.169722, Ratcliff's Bridge, "Field's Bridge" (JCP)

Maps: [map notes]

  • 34.27111,-80.256518, start of skirmish, Stirrup Branch (Bells Branch) (JCP)
  • ACME Mapper.
  • National Map
  • Google.
  • Confidence: 4

  • 34.171388,-80.169722, Ratcliff's Bridge, "Field's Bridge" (JCP)
  • ACME Mapper.
  • National Map
  • Google.
  • Confidence: 3

    34.21808,-80.24841, Ratcliff's Bridge, historical marker (JCP)

  • ACME Mapper.
  • National Map
  • Google.
  • Confidence: 5

    Sources:

    • Lynches River
      Lynches R
      Lynches R lgd

    • Terry Lipscomb, Names in South Carolina, Archive(XXIV), "South Carolina Revolutionary Battles, Part Five", pg 17.
      Sumter now began a gradual retreat toward the Waxhaws, traveling by way of Black River and Lynches River. Fearing that the Gamecock would form a junction with Francis Marion, Lord Rawdon sent Major Thomas Fraser's South Carolina Provincials to intercept him. On March 6, Sumter was marching north along the road that follows the west side of Lynches River, when he discovered Fraser's infantry ahead of him. The mounted Patriot militia were driven back at the first fire, but they dismounted and advanced again. Fraser's South Carolina Royalists eventually repelled their attack and pursued them for some distance in a running fight. 24 At the end of a seven-mile pursuit, Sumter reached Ratcliff's Bridge, got his troops safely across, and then burned the bridge to block the enemy's passage. The main battlefield, where. the two armies initially met, is in modern Lee County about one mile southwest of a stream known as Stirrup Branch. In the 1870s, Lyman Draper was informed by old residents of the community, that the name originated from a broken stirrup found in the branch after General Sumter's battle. The stream now flows directly into Lynches River, although it was formerly a tributary of Mill Creek. Modern cartographers label Stirrup Branch as Bellís Branch, a practice which historically- minded citizens might well consider deplorable. The branch is located about four miles north of Bishopville. Ratcliff's Bridge, the "Burnt Bridge," was located on Lynches River about four miles southeast of Bishopville. Mouzon's 1775 map shows a Ratcliff house in this vicinity. The bridge probably crossed into land that is now part of Lee State Park. In the course of their running battle, Sumter and Fraser went directly through the city limits of modern Bishopville.25

      24. Gregorie. 142; Draper MSS. 7VV202-8; Cornwallis Papers. PRO 30/11/69. Rawdon to Cornwallis. March 7. 1781.,
      25. Draper MSS. 6VV97-144.

    • NBBAS:Three p. 112-114
      Revlist post

    • South Carolina Highway Historical Marker Guide. P.144. "on Lynches River, 3 miles southeast."

    • Sherman, "Calendar...". P.293. Given as "Radcliff's". To avoid long downloads, use option to "Save and view this PDF in Reader".

    • RevWar75 RevWar75   listing. 3/6/1781, shown as draw.

    • Richard Ratcliff Genealogical Society Bulletin, p.57.

    • "Lee County SC History". "Battle of Ratcliff's Bridge ... On 7 March 1781, General Thomas Sumter along with a force of 250 men was attacked by a British detachment from Camden commanded by Major Fraser about three miles northeast of Bishopville at the head of Stirrup Branch. In a running fight the Gamecock general retreated along a road through Bishopville to Ratcliff's Bridge on Lynches River, three miles southeast of town. By burning the bridge, Sumter escaped into the swamp which in now part of the Lee County State Park."

    • Touring South Carolina's Revolutionary War Sites p.257-8. Describes the battle as being "just south" of bridge where US-19/SC-34 crosses Lynches River. That is the approximate area where the battle began and is approximately 4 miles from Ratcliff's Bridge. If the battle followed the road through Bishopville (as described above), the road distance is about 6 miles.

    Related sites: Escaped Whore Swamp

    Confidence level: See above.