Moultrie decided to make a stand at Tullifinny Hill, a small hill overlooking the river of the same name, that he considered being more defendable. Moultrie had guards at all possible crossing points, and placed 100 men at the main crossing point. He requested an additional 100 cavalrymen from Rutledge, but they did not arrive. Lincoln did send 250 hand picked men under the command of Colonel John Laurens. These men were North Carolinian State Troops, known as the North Carolina Light Infantry.
On May 3rd Moultrie sent Laurensí Light Infantry, and 150 hand picked men of Captain John Jamesí Rifle Company, to bring back the rear guard before it was cut off. Laurens was supposed to escort the rear guard back to Tullifinny Hill. Laurens did not withdraw the rear guard, but instead formed his 400 men and the rear guard for battle on the west bank of the Coosawhatchie River.