Database

Tar Bluff.

What: Skirmish, BG Mordecai Gist vs. *Maj William Brereton, 27 August 1782

Other names: Chehaw Point, Chehaw Neck, Combahee River, Page's Point (W.D. James only)

Where: 32.5849071, -80.5778828, Tar Bluff

Maps: [map notes]

Sources:

  • Combahee River
    Combahee R

  • Location is given for geographical feature of Tar Bluff. Battle was near here.

  • Mills Colleton District 1820: locale of Tar Bluff is marked, not necessarily site of skirmish. The account from the 64th Rgt says that the ambush occurred on the "road to Field Point". Such a road passes very near Tar Bluff, so that lends support to the using the GNIS coordinates for Tar Bluff. Basis for site location.

    Tar Bluff

  • JR "An Historical Sketch of the 64th Regiment":
    The next raid was up the Combahee River, which runs into St. Helen's Sound, about forty miles south west of Charleston. The fleet set sail sometime about the middle of August and arrived a few days after in the port of Beaufort, not far from the mouth of the Combahee; the object of the expedition was to procure provisions for the troops going to the West Indies. The force on board numbered about 800, and consisted of the 17th, 64th, and 84th Regiments, besides some Provincials, all under the command of Major Brereton, 64th Regiment. When General Greene heard that the foraging fleet had sailed southward, he suspected its destination, so on the 23rd August he instructed General Gist to proceed with the light brigade, and protect the country bordering on the Combahee River. The British moved up the river on the 24th August, and landed on the south bank, but found no rice there, and the arrival of General Gist prevented them from obtaining any on the north side of the river. It was known that a large body of militia and cavalry was advancing to join the American commander, so the troops were silently embarked on the night of the 26th August, and the fleet dropped down the river. On the same evening General Gist sent Colonel Laurens with some 60 men and a howitzer to throw up a work at Field's Point, twelve miles below Combahee Ferry [sic], in order to annoy the British on their passage down the river. But the latter had become aware of the enemy's intentions, and a party of 140 men was landed and placed in ambush in some tall grass on the road leading to the Point. Soon after three o'clock on the morning of the 27th the enemy approached unsuspicious of danger. When the British were discovered Colonel Laurens charged, and fell at the first fire, also a captain and several men. The howitzer was taken and the enemy retreated in confusion until they met General Gist, who was approaching. The latter advanced with the light brigade and attacked the British - who had taken post under cover of a wood near the river - but he was repulsed with some loss.

  • 1918 Topo map from University of Alabama. The road by Tar Bluff to Fields Point looks much as it did in 1820.

    Tar Bluff 1918

  • Barefoot: SC. p.104-105. Historical marker 15-2, located on US-17 at Combahee River, approximately 8 miles NW of Tar Bluff. Laurens was buried in the Stock cemetery with a marker placed in the Laurens cemetery. Follow road 15-161 to river to "where Laurens fell". Locally, skirmish is called "Battle of Chehaw Point".

  • Tar Bluff aerial map 1994 still clearly shows the old road. The ambush by the 64th would likely have been somewhere along the marked road.

    Aerial

  • Colleton County road map. Western marker is GNIS location of Tar Bluff. Eastern marker is end of road 15-161 (described by Barefoot). On the topo 1:250,000 map, a "loop road" extends from this point to pass near Tar Bluff. All maps of this area differ from each other, so this marked location should not be taken too seriously.

    Chehaw Point

  • Terry W. Lipscomb, "South Carolina Revolutionary Battles, Part Nine", Names in South Carolina, XXVIII, Pg 37, English Dept., Univ. of South Carolina, Winter 1981.

  • William D. James, A Sketch of the Life of Brig. Gen. Francis Marion, Chapter IV,
    On the 25th of August, in this year (1782), Lieut. Col. John Laurens was killed in a skirmish at Page's point, on Combahee river. He fell in the flower of his youth, and yet had long been the admiration of both the contending armies. In history the parallel to his character is perhaps to be found only in that of the Chevalier Bayard: the knight without fear and without reproach.

  • SC Hist. Hwy. Marker Guide. p.63. Historical marker 15-2, located on US-17 at Combahee River, approximately 8 miles NW of Tar Bluff. Laurens was buried temporarily at Stock cemetery (Barefoot: buried here with marker in Laurens cemetary).

  • NBBAS:Four. p. 81-85. Combahee River SC, Siege of Charleston.

  • Sherman, "Calendar..." . Search for tar bluff. Not found. To avoid long downloads, use option to "Save and view this PDF in Reader".

  • RevWar75 RevWar75   listing. 8-27-1782. Combahee River (Combahee Ferry, Tar Bluff, Chehaw Neck). Draw.

Related sites: Combahee Ferry

Submitted by: Charles Baxley.

Confidence level: 3

12-12-16