Susan F. Craft
Historical Fiction Author
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Battle of Wyboo Swamp (Tuesday, March 6, 1781)

Directions: I-95 Exit 115. Take Historic US 301 north. Turn south (right) onto SC 260. Turn right on Patriot Road (SR 410). The site is at the end of the road.

Lt. Col. John Watson Tadwell Watson and Colonel Welbore Ellis Doyle were sent to encircle and crush General Marion. Early on March 5, Watson and his Buffs marched from Fort Watson down the Santee Path and bivouacked near Nelson's Ferry. Marion heard their location from his spy, Capt. Zach Cantey.

His men knew they must fight to prevent the enemy from continuing to overrun their homes and farms. Marion ordered his troops to advance and set up an ambush, at Wyboo Swamp, a difficult pass on the Santee Road. The British marched into view and out rode Watson to survey the scene. Out rode Marion to face his opponent. The quarter mile causeway spanned the muck and morass of Wyboo swamp. Watson, towering and majestically uniformed, sitting a splendid charger and backed by Britain's finest soldiers, opposite the small Huguenot, sitting a sorrel gelding and backed by farmers in homespun.

Watson opened the battle. He sent Col. H Richborg and his Loyalist horsemen thundering over the causeway. Anticipating this, Marion sent Peter Horry and his horsemen to meet them. After a brief skirmish on the narrow roadway, both sides recoiled. Marion again ordered Horry to charge. Watson's regulars held. A fusillade of grapeshot sent Horry's cavalry reeling backward. Watson threw in the Troy dragoons. Battle of Wyboo Swamp Mural (3 panels), Manning.

Gavin James, powerful of frame and fierce of courage, turned back to dispute Harrison's passage. Mounted on a gray horse and armed only with musket and bayonet, he threw himself directly in the path of the dragoons. Their foremost man he dropped with buckshot. Before he could reload, a dragoon rushed him with his saber. James slew him with his bayonet, and a second with the same bayonet. In falling he seized the barrel of James' gun and for 50 yards in his retreat Gavin James dragged the dying Tory.

As the dragoons crossed the causeway, Marion's militia charged, driving the Tories back across Wyboo. Watson ordered his Guards to clear the passage. Marion knew his men could not stop the veterans and called them to mount and retreat. Marion withdrew to a position near the Cantey Plantation.

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