Wambaw Creek Br
Wambaw, Wamboo Creek
Skirmish, Col. Lemuel Benton vs. *Maj. John Doyle, 24 Feb 1782 (JCP)
33.20729 -79.468750 Wambaw Creek Br, start
33.208181 -79.46858 Wambaw Creek Br, end
Maps: [map notes]
- Mills 1820 Charleston District map. Wambaw Bridge is shown, and Tidyman's Plantation appears.
- Thomas Broughton (Braughton) W897 pension statement, transcribed by Will Graves, describes the surprise of Marion's forces (in Marion's absence) by the British, 24 Feb 1782.
meeting of the Legislature of South Carolina after the fall of Charleston, Genl Marion and Col Maham
were elected members and both went. Marion left his brigade under the command of Colonel Horry
[Peter Horry], of the light horse; the whole Regiment and light horse were surprised at Wambaw –
Colonel Maham's Regiment was left under the command of Captain John Carraway Smith – we lay
about 25 miles above Marion's Brigade and Horry's horse on the Santee, at James Sinclair's plantation –
on receiving the news of the surprise, Captain Smith marched off to cover to retreat of those who might
be squandered – but as soon as we got to the ground where Marion's brigade lay, we also were
- Terry W. Lipscomb, Names is South Carolina, "South Carolina Revolutionary Battles, Part Eight", University of South Carolina, English Dept., Winter, 1980, XXVII: p.18-19
Francis Marion had been elected a senator for the Parish of St. John Berkeley, and so about the middle of January he placed his brigade under the command of Colonel Peter Horry and traveled to Jacksonboro to take his seat in the Assembly. Shortly afterward, Horry, acting on Marion's advice, moved the brigade to Wambaw Creek near.the Santee River, where forage was available and the troops would be more secure from harassment by the British. About the third week in February, the Americans received intelligence from their network of informers in Charleston that a major British expedition was being launched in the direction of the Cooper River. Marion occupied his seat in the legislature as long as he could, but finally he was compelled by military considerations to take his leave and return to his command with all possible speed.15
On the morning of February 24. Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Thompson set out from Daniels Island with a British expedition consisting of the cavalry. Cunningham's and Young's troops of mounted militia, the yagers, the Volunteers of Ireland, a detachment from the 30th Regiment, and one three-pounder. This force was soon detected by Horry's scouts in St. Thomas's Parish, and Captain William Bennett hurried north to warn the main camp. At this time, Horry had gone across the river and left the brigade under the command of Colonel Archibald McDonald.16 The militia under McDonald were posted on the right, towards Echaw Creek, while Horry's Continental dragoons were posted on the left at Durand's plantation on Wambaw Creek. under the command of Major William Benison. When Captain Bennett arrived, he was unable to get either Benison or McDonald to take his report seriously, and so the Patriots were largely taken by surprise when the mounted troops of Thompson's force arrived late in the afternoon of the 24th and commenced their attack. The fighting began at Benison's position near Wambaw Bridge. The Patriot dragoons retreated across the bridge and causeway and drew up on a rise about one hundred yards on the north side of the creek. The Loyalist militia had followed them over the bridge. Anticipating that the Continentals would charge at any moment, Major John
Doyle did not wait for the rest of the British force to arrive, but gave the signal for an attack by a blast on his whistle. The Loyalists charged, whereupon the Patriot dragoons fired their pistols, then broke in confusion and fled. The British pursuit was impeded when Wambaw Bridge broke down as their cavalry was attempting to cross, but the militia succeeded in dispersing both Benison's cavalry and McDonald's militia, the latter being under the immediate command of Major John James. British accounts stated that thirty or forty Americans were killed; among them was Major William Benison, who was killed by Major Young of the Loyalist militia, as he was about to cut down Lieutenant Jones, Thompson's adjutant, in single combat.
15 According to the journals of the Assembly. February 20 was the last
day on which Marion was present. A.S. Salley. Jr.. ed.. Journal of the
Senate South Carolina. February 26, 1782, p. 106.
16 For many years. historians have been erroneously identifying this
officer as Adam McDonald. Major 'Adam McDonald of the First Regiment.
South Carolina C,ontinentals. died in Decemher 1778 at his plantation.
Colonel Archibald McDonald of the South Carolina Milita was captured
and paroled by the British at the fall of Charleston. and resumed his
command after he was exchanged on May 21, 1781. SCHM. Vol. 17. p.
152; .James. p. 92: Audited Accounts of Adam McDonald (AA5007-A) and
Archibald McDonald (AA5008). South Carolina Archives.
- William Dobein James, A Sketch of the Life of Brig. Gen. Francis Marion, "Chapter IV, Campaign Of 1782",
In the mean time Horry, by orders of Gen. Marion, took a position on the north side of Wambaw, a large creek emptying into the Santee. He
lay in the angle formed by the two roads which pass from Lenud's ferry road to Mr. Horry's, about a quarter of a mile from the bridge. In his rear there was a wood. His new raised regiment, scarcely yet half completed, lay at Durant's plantation about a mile above, under the immediate command of Maj. Benson. On the 23d of February, Horry had out patroles upon the Christ Church road, and scouts down in St. Thomas'. Thinking himself secure, and being sick, on the 24th he went over the river to his plantation, and left the brigade under the command of Col. M`Donald, contrary to Gen. Marion's order, which was to leave it in such case under Maham. While Benson was at dinner, Capt. Bennett, who commanded the scouts in St. Thomas', came in with intelligence that the British were approaching, but at that time of day he was an unwelcome messenger. Bennett proceeded down to head quarters at Mr. Horry's, where M`Donald was also at dinner. He likewise would not believe the intelligence, because he said he had been down into Christ Church the day before; but he desired Maj. James who had just arrived in camp, and came for orders, to take command of his regiment. In less than half an hour after a firing commenced at Durant's. M`Donald's regiment was on the right towards Echaw, and two regiments of six months men on the left towards Wambaw. Maj. James immediately formed M`Donald's regiment in the wood in the rear, and rode to the left
for orders from the commanding officer present, Col. Screven; but when he arrived, Screven's men had broke, and he was in the act of rallying them, but the attempt was vain. They ran over the bridge and threw off the planks. Maj. James returned to his own men, and as fugitives were now passing in numbers from Horry's corps, he ordered a retreat to the bridge. As he brought up the rear and was on horseback, two British dragoons attempted in succession to cut him down, but he kept them in check with his pistols, and finally leaped a chasm in the bridge, supposed to be twenty feet in width. He by this means gained time to rally his men, and checked the British.
Thus Gen. Marion had not left his brigade more than six weeks, before it had dwindled away and had been defeated. On the part of Horry's cavalry it was a complete surprise. Major Benson was killed, and what number of men cannot be ascertained, but he lost thirty-five horses.
- NBBAS:Four. p.31-34.
- Feb 1782 listing 2/24/1782 Wambaw Creek Bridge (Strawberry Ferry). British victory.
Benjamin Thompson's (Count Rumford) grave
Confidence level:: 5