Samuel Rosamond fought the forces of Lt. Gen. Charles Lord Cornwallis who believed Ninety-Six would be crucial to control of the backcountry once the British Army moved northward out of South Carolina.
I have been called a “parasite” for lounging about at my computer recovering lost family history all day. Surely I am redeemable – even though I am defending the President of the United States from political Liars and Traitors For Jesus, a pack of nobodies who borrow my history so they will be noticed – for doing nothing but lie all day!
Above is the marker for the Battle of Kettle Creek against those loyal to Cornwallis and his king – whose kinsfolk were devout Christians who fought as Protestants the Papal army at White Mountain – and lost! This caused the Huguenots to flee to all parts of the world. Surely Jesus was on the side of these brave men who fought for religious freedom long before Samuel Rosamond helped found MY Democracy! Mine – not Jesus’!
Jon the True Patriot
The American Revolution in South Carolina
The Seige of Ninety-Six
May 21 – June 19, 1781
Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene Loyalist Cdr:
Lt. Col. John Harris Cruger
Ninety-Six District Present County:
Historical documentation stated that this 1780 fort was located on the hill above Ninety-Six Village, was stockaded, had a formal fortification ditch and parapet protecting two blockhouses inside, and would have evidence of Lt. Col. Henry Lee’s parallel approach trenches present. The town of Ninety-Six had thirteen structures besides the jail and courthouse. An embankment is visible on each side of the county access road leading to the Star Fort, which was built by the British.
Loyalist Lt. Col. John Harris Cruger’s original town palisade encompassed an area 220 by 400 feet. The north blockhouse was located in the northwestern corner of the palisade, and there was a bastion on the northeast corner. A palisade wall was on the south side. To the north and west, a ditch was located inside the palisade, but on the east side an interior ditch was lacking. This ditch may have been dug outside the palisade. The dirt would then have been thrown up against the stockade to give added protection.
Excavations showed that the Star Fort and siegeworks varied in magnitude from specifications in the eighteenth century military manuals, but the basic placement and configurations conform to specifications.
The British had secured Ninety-Six as a base of operations in the backcountry in June of 1780, and Lt. Gen. Charles Lord Cornwallis believed Ninety-Six would be crucial to control of the backcountry once the British Army moved northward out of South Carolina. Lord Cornwallis left Lt. Colonel John Harris Cruger, a loyalist from New York, in charge of Ninety-Six. Lt. Col. Cruger’s instructions were to be “vigorous” in punishing rebels and maintaining order in the area. Lt. Col. Cruger used the fortified town of Ninety-Six as his base of operations to send forth numerous raids and skirmishes against the local Patriots.
A series of events, beginning in autumn of 1780, put the success of the British Southern Campaign in doubt. In October of 1780, a Patriot militia force defeated Maj. Patrick Ferguson and his corps of loyalists at Kings Mountain. Brig. Gen. Francis Marion was campaigning against British Loyalists in the lowcountry of South Carolina, and Brig. Gen. Thomas Sumter maneuvered his Patriot forces against Loyalists targets in the South Carolina upcountry. In addition, Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene, the new commander of the Continental Army in the south, had split his army to move more widely through the Carolinas.
Lord Cornwallls, fearing for Ninety-Six and overall British control of South Carolina, sent units to remove the Patriot threat. The British lost many of the ensuing encounters including a significant defeat at the battle of Cowpens in January of 1781. Lord Cornwallis and Maj. Gen. Greene met each other in March of 1781 at Guilford Court House in North Carolina; the British won this encounter but lost nearly a third of its force including some of the best officers. Lord Cornwallis then moved his army to Wilmington, North Carolina, and Maj. Gen. Greene turned his attention back to South Carolina and sacking Ninety-Six. Maj. Gen. Greene hoped to loosen the British hold on the backcountry by taking Ninety-Six and forcing the enemy back to Charlestown.
Maj. Gen. Greene set siege to Ninety-Six in May of 1781, but never took the fort. He was forced to lift the siege a month later as British reinforcements advanced toward Ninety-Six. The British abandoned Ninety-Six in July and moved back to the coast, just as the Patriots had wanted. This signaled the end of British control of the interior. The Southern Campaign was over. British forces surrendered at Yorktown four months later, effectively ending the war.
The last Patriot attack was led by Lt. Samuel Seldon of Virginia with Lt. Isaac Duval of Maryland. Capt. Joseph Pickens, brother of Gen. Andrew Pickens was killed in this seige.
HQ & Staff
Since the early April, the British had lost Fort Balfour (Harden), Fort Watson (Marion/Lee), Orangeburgh (Sumter), Friday’s Ferry (Hampton), Fort Motte (Marion), Fort Granby (Lee), Fort Galphin (Lee/Hammond), and had evacuated from Camden – the only three significant British outposts outside of Charlestown were now Augusta (GA), Georgetown, and the large British contingent at Ninety-Six.
When the British gained control of Ninety-Six after the Fall of Charleston in May of 1780, they then surrounded the town with a stockade and rebuilt Fort Williamson. Beyond the town was another redoubt known as the Star Fort. It was two hundred feet in diameter and had ten salients or star points. A ditch and an abatis surrounded the Star Fort, which would become the principle British position during this final siege.
Lt. Col. John Harris Cruger knew that the Star Fort was the key to British defenses here and he prepared quite well for the inevitable siege that was now upon him. Additionally, the town of Ninety-Six was surrounded by tall walls built upon an elevated site that provided a clearing of one mile around the exterior.
Before leaving the outpost to its own devices, Lt. Gen. Charles Lord Cornwallis dispatched Lt. Henry Haldane of the engineers to assess the fort and to improve its defenses. Lord Cornwallis also sent a brass 3-pounder along with a wagonload of entrenching tools.
Lt. Haldane constructed an additiona fortification west of the town, a hornwork built upon Fort Williamson known as Holme’s Fort. A covered runway extended from the jailhouse and down a slope into a ravine, where a small stream flowed – the fort’s water source.
An earth bank, in which an abatis had been constructed, reinforced the exterior of the stockade walls. The abatis would slow down an assaulting force so that cannon and small arms fire could eliminate them. Within the fort several blockhouses had been built. A portable gun platform had been built on which the British placed their three brass 3-pounders.
When Francis, Lord Rawdon abandoned Camden, he sent messages to Lt. Col. Cruger ordering him to evacuate Ninety-Six and to join Brown in Savannah. Brig. Gen. Andrew Pickens’s men intercepted these orders and kindly informed Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene, who moved his force towards Cruger – arriving at Ninety-Six on May 21st.
Maj. Gen. Green had his men to throw up earthwords for his own 3-gun battery before the sun came up on May 22nd. His guns were about 130 yards from the Star Fort. Continental engineer Thaddeus Kosciuszko laid out the siege lines in the typical European pattern. Throughout this first day, the Patriot artillery fired round after round into the Star Fort. Maj. Gen. Greene knew it would be a waste of time to ask for the fort to surrender, so he jumped right into the foray. By not asking was considered an insult according to the customs of the day. To hell with the British and their customs.
By midday, Lt. Col. Cruger “stung with indignity” moved his portable artillery platfor on the wall of the redoubt and that night his battery opened fire on the Patriots. This firing was merely a ruse, and was a covering fire for a detachment of 30 Loyalists from DeLancey’s Brigade led by Lt. John Roney.
The Loyalists sallied out of the fort and killed several of a nearby trench working party. They filled the trench back up, captured a few slaves carrying loads of entrenching tools, and marched them back into the fort. Lt. Roney died of wounds he received on this mission.
Kosciuszko began a new parallel farther back, about 1,200 yards from the fort. Digging was slow and tedious due to the rocky soil and the heat. Construction was periodically impeded at night with more Loyalist sallies out of the fort firing upon the work parties.
On June 3rd, the second parallel was completed and the Patriots’ were within 180 yards from the Star Fort. Maj. Gen. Greene now sent in Col. Otho Williams with a surrender proposal, but Lt. Col. Cruger refused, as expected. Maj. Gen. Green then attempted the “old fire arrow trick.” Lt. Col. Cruger responded by tearing off all roofs from the buildings and exposing those within to the elements each night.
Then, the Patriots attempted a mine underneath the walls of the fort, but the mouth of the mine was discovered. There was an intense fight for it. One casualty was Kosciuszko with a bayonet wound. Another was Capt. Joseph Pickens – Brig. Gen. Andrew Pickens’s brother – who was killed.
Next, Maj. Gen. Greene ereceted a forty-foot Maham Tower on June 6th. This forced the Loyalists to put up sandbags with loopholes between them. Greene reported, “Not a Man could shew his Head but he was immediately shot down.” Lt. Col. Cruger attempted to destroy the Maham Tower with heated cannon balls, but since the logs were green the tower would not ignite.
On June 8th, Lt. Col. Henry Lee and his Legion joined the seige. Then, Brig. Gen. Andrew Pickens came forth and marched his prisoners taken at Augusta in front of the defenders of Ninety-Six. This infuriated the Loyalists. Lt. Col. Lee recommended that Maj. Gen. Greene focus his efforts on Fort Holmes, which guarded the enemy’s water supply. A second parallel was begun to keep the spring under fire.
Squire William Kennedy of the 2nd Spartan Regiment and another sharpshooter (Maj. Thomas Young*-see below) shot two men at the spring from 200 yards, causing all within the Star Fort to look around for where the killers were located. This significantly slowed down those going after water. The Loyalists then sent naked slaves out at night with a single pail to get water for the garrison.
On a dark and cloudy day, Lt. Col. Lee decided to make a second attempt at burning the fort. Sgt. Whaling and ten men from the Legion were supposed to carry bundles of incendiary materials and set the garrison on fire. Sgt. Whaling knew that this was a suicide mission. He dressed himself neatly, told his friends goodbye, and slipped into the enemy’s ditch. An alarm was sounded, and the Loyalists attacked with a vengeance. Four of Lee’s men returned, only one not wounded. Sgt. Whaling was killed – he only had two days until his enlistment expired.
On June 11th, Maj. Gen. Greene learned that a relief column of 2,000 soldiers under Francis, Lord Rawdon were on the way from Charlestown. Many were fresh recruits from Ireland and were not accustomed to the heat of South Carolina in the Summertime. Maj. Gen. Greene immediately dispatched orders to Brig. Gen. Sumter and Brig. Gen. Marion to gather their militias, get in front of Lord Rawdon, and do everything possible to delay his arrival to Ninety-Six. He also ordered Lt. Col. William Washington and Brig. Gen. Andrew Pickens to go help Brig. Gen. Marion in any way they could.
Sumter’s partisans did strike Lord Rawdon’s column, but he didn’t have many men supporting him at that point in time. Worse, Brig. Gen. Marion could not get his men up to speed quickly enough to even find Lord Rawdon, much less to slow him down. Maj. Gen. Greene then decided to take the fort by force – time was quickly running out for the Patriots.
On June 17th, a heavy artillery barrage was aimed at Fort Holmes to soften it up for the upcoming attack. The fire was so heavy that the Loyalists abandoned Fort Holmes – and their only water supply. In a two-pronged attack, one fource was commanded by Lt. Col. Richard Campbell with a detachment of VA and MD Continentals going after the Star Fort. The other force was made up of Lt. Col. Henry Lee’s Legion Infantry and the NC and DE Continentals led by Maj. Michael Rudolph going after Fort Holmes.
At noon on June 18th, the Patriots opened up with another intense artillery fire. Maj. Rudolph led his troops across the moat and after an hour of fighting was able to force his way into Fort Holmes. This he finally held, now waiting for Lt. Col. Campbell’s attack on the Star Fort. Campbell’s men raced into the the ditch around the Star Fort armed with long poles with hooks on one end. The men attempted to pull down the sandbags from the parapets and expose the defenders to fire from the Maham Tower. The enemy could not fire down upon the attackers without exposing themselves to the riflemen in the tower. Axe men cut down the abatis, and fascines were thrown into the ditch to fill it in.
When Lt. Col. Cruger saw the sandbags falling into the ditch, he took immediate action. He sent out two elements of Delancey’s Loyalists with bayonets affixed to take out the hookmen. There was a brief and bloody encounter in the ditch, with the Patriots getting the worst of it. Lt. Col. Campbell’s men were driven back with heavy losses. The attack was a failure.
Maj. Gen. Greene requested a cease fire to exchange prisoners and bury the dead, but Lt. Col. Cruger refused. He knew that whomever won would be allowed to bury the dead. The next morning, Green lifted his siege and marched away. He stopped his army about twenty miles away and learned that Lord Rawdon marched into Ninety-Six in the afternoon of June 21st.
Brig. Gen. Andrew Pickens was sent to take the sick and wounded to Fish Dam Ford. He quickly turned around and led his men back to Long Canes to show the people that Greene’s army was not retreating.
Lord Rawdon initially considered chasing Maj. Gen. Greene, but when he learned that the baggage train was within twenty miles he changed his mind. He replaced his sick and wounded with fresh ones from the garrison at Ninety-Six. He ordered his men to leave all gear that was not needed, including the knapsacks and blankets, and he marched back out of Ninety-Six on June 23rd.
After a forty mile march, Lord Rawdon caught up with Greene’s rear guard, consisting of Lee’s Legion and Kirkwood’s Delawars, but the British were no longer able to fight. More than fifty of his men had died of heat exhaustion – all wearing heavy woolen uniforms in the 100 degree heat. To make things worse, Greene had dismantled all mills along the way so there would be no provisions for the enemy.
Lord Rawdon then returned once again to Ninety-Six and immediately realized that he could not hold the town much longer. He marched out on June 29th with 800 men and 60 horses. He was expecting to meet up with Lt. Col. Alexander Stewart, but Stewart had received incorrect orders and had returned to Dorchester.
Maj. Gen. Greene then ordered Lt. Col. Lee, Kirkland, and 100 militia under Maj. Alexander Ross (?) to continue to harrass Lord Rawdon’s retreat. Lt. Col. Cruger remained at Ninety-Six to protect the Loyalists who were gathering all their belongings. On July 8th, Lt. Col. Cruger destroyed the fort and escorted all who wanted to go to Charlestown to remain under British protection.
Ninety-Six was now back in Patriot hands. The only remaining British outposts were Dorchester, Moncks Corner, and perhaps a small garrison at Nelson’s Ferry on the Santee River. These would not last much longer either. The Patriots wanted the British back in Charlestown where they could be easily watched in one location and not spread out all over their lands.
*”As we every day got our parallels nearer the garrison, we could see them very plain when they went out to a brook or spring for water. The Americans had constructed a sort of moving battery, but as the cannon of the fort were brought to bear upon it, they were forced to abandon the use of it. It had not been used for some time, when an idea struck old Squire Kennedy (who was an excellent marksman) that he could pick off a man now and then as they went to the spring. He and I took our rifles and went into the woods to practice at 200 yards. We were arrested and taken before an officer, to whom we gave our excuse and design. He laughed, and told us to practice no more, but to try our luck from the battery if we wanted to, so we took our position, and as a fellow came down to the spring Kennedy fired and he fell. Several ran out and gathered around him and among them I noticed a man raise his head and look round as if he wondered where that shot could have come from. I touched my trigger and he fell, and we made off for fear it might be our time to fall next.”
The above comes from the memoirs of Maj. Thomas Young, and provided by Ken Green (a gggg-nephew) in January of 2011.
Known Patriot Participants
Known British/Loyalist Participants
Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene – Commanding Officer
VA Continental Brigade led by Brig. Gen. Isaac Huger with 421 men in two regiments:
VA 1st Regiment led by Lt. Col. Richard Campbell with Capt.-Lt. Samuel Selden
VA 2nd Regiment led by Col. Samuel Hawes with Capt. John Marks
MD Continental Brigade led by Col. Otho H. Williams with 427 men in two regiments:
MD 1st Regiment led by Col. John E. Howard with the following four (4) known companies, led by:
– Capt. Edward Oldham
– Capt. George Anderson
– Capt. John Sprigg Belt
– Capt. Peter Jacquett – 2nd DE Company
MD 2nd Regiment led by Maj. Henry Hardman with the following two (2) known companies, led by:
– Capt. Samuel Handy
– Capt. Perry Benson
DE Regiment Detachment led by Capt. Robert Kirkwood with 60 men
Lee’s Legion – Lt. Col. Henry Lee with 150 men in the following known units:
– 1st Mounted Troop – Capt. James Armstrong
– 2nd Mounted Troop – Maj. Joseph Eggleston
– 3rd Mounted Troop – Maj. Michael Rudolph
– 4th Dismounted Troop – Capt. Allen McClane
– 5th Dismounted Troop – Capt. Henry Archer
– 6th Dismounted Troop – Lt. Edward Manning
1st NC Regiment of Continentals detachment led by Maj. Pinketham Eaton with 66 men in the following four (4) known companies, led by:
– Capt. Alexander Brevard
– Capt. Thomas Donoho
– Capt. Joshua Hadley
– Capt. William Lytle
Engineers led by Col. Count Thaddeus Kosciuszko
1st Continental Artillery Regiment of VA, 1st Battalion led by Col. Charles Harrison with 100 men, including Capt. Samuel Finley and Capt. Samuel Otterson and four 6-pounders
VA Militia Detachment led by Capt. Jeremiah Pate with 100 men
SC 3rd Brigade of Militia/State Troops led by Brig. Gen. Andrew Pickens with 400 men in the following units:
Upper Ninety-Six District Regiment led by Col. Robert Anderson, Lt. Col. William Farr, Lt. Col. James McCall, Maj. Andrew Hamilton, Sr., with seventeen (17) known companies, led by:
– Capt. Joseph Bouchillon
– Capt. Robert Bryant
– Capt. Francis Carlisle
– Capt. Samuel Earle
– Capt. Armstrong Herd
– Capt. John Irwin
– Capt. David Maxwell
– Capt. Robert Maxwell
– Capt. John McGaw
– Capt. James Pettigrew
– Capt. Joseph Pickens (killed)
– Capt. Samuel Rosamond
– Capt. William Strain
– Capt. John Wallace
– Capt. Hugh Wardlaw
– Capt. John Wilson
– Capt. Thomas Winn
Little River District Regiment led by Col. Joseph Hayes, Lt. Col. Levi Casey, Maj. James Dillard, with eight (8) known companies, led by:
– Capt. James Cunningham
– Capt. Josiah Greer
– Capt. William Mulwee
– Capt. Lewis Saxon
– Capt. James Starke
– Capt. John Verdin
– Capt. Richard Watts
– Capt. Daniel Williams
New Acquistion District Regiment detachment led by Lt. Col. William Henderson, with five (5) known companies, led by:
– Capt. John Diamond
– Capt. Obediah Holloway
– Capt. Benjamin Rainey
– Capt. Thomas Starke
– Capt. James Venable
Turkey Creek Regiment detachment led by Col. Edward Lacey, with five (5) known companies, led by:
– Capt. Pendleton Isbell
– Capt. Henry Lisle
– Capt. Andrew Lord
– Capt. John McKinney
– Capt. John Steel
Lower Ninety-Six District Regiment detachment of three (3) known companie,s led by:
– Capt. James Butler, Sr.
– Capt. William Butler
– Capt. Solomon Pope
Hammond’s Regiment of Light Dragoons detachment led by Lt. Col. Samuel Hammond, with two (2) known companies, led by:
– Capt. Moses Liddell
– Capt. James McIlhenny
Lower District Regiment detachment led by Col. David Glynn, with one (1) known company, led by:
– Capt. Robin Pollard
Smith’s Independent Company of SC State Troops led by Maj. William Smith with Capt. Hugh Bratton and unknown number of men
SC 1st Brigade of Militia/State Troops led by “Unknown,” with the following units:
Roebuck’s Battalion of Spartan Regiment detachment led by “Unknown,” with seven (7) known companies, led by:
– Capt. John Barry
– Capt. Peter Brooks
– Capt. Thomas Farrow
– Capt. Samuel Nisbett
– Capt. Thomas Parsons
– Capt. George Taylor
– Capt. Joseph Wofford
2nd Spartan Regiment detachment led by Col. Thomas Brandon, Maj. Benjamin Jolly, Maj. Thomas Young, with six (6) known companies, led by:
– Capt. George Aubrey
– Capt. Lewis Duvall
– Capt. William Grant
– Capt. John Lindsay
– Capt. Samuel Otterson
– Capt. William Young
SC 1st Regiment of State Dragoons detachment led by Col. Wade Hampton, with three (3) known companies, led by:
– Capt. William Alexander
– Capt. Robert Caruthers
– Capt. Joseph Culpeper
1st Spartan Regiment detachment led by Maj. Josiah Culbertson, with two (2) known companies, led by:
– Capt. William Harris
– Capt. John Roebuck
Fairfield Regiment detachment of two (2) known companies, led by:
– Capt. Amos Davis
– Capt. Edward Martin
Orangeburgh District Regiment detachment led by Maj. Peter Oliver with unknown number of men
Hampton’s Regiment of Light Dragoons detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
– Capt. Joseph Robins
SC 2nd Brigade of Militia/State Troops led by “Unknown,” with the following units:
Berkeley County Regiment detachment led by Maj. Benjamin Smith with unknown number of men
NC Militia led by “Unknown,” with the following known units:
Rutherford County Regiment of Militia (NC) detachment led by Lt. Col. James Miller and Maj. Richard Lewis, with three (3) known companies, led by:
– Capt. Adam Hampton
– Capt. John McClain
– Capt. James McDonald
Wilkes County Regiment of Militia (NC) detachment led by Lt. Col. James Miller and Maj. Richard Lewis with three (3) known companies, led by:
– Capt. Alexander Gordon
– Capt. Charles Gordon
– Capt. James Harrison
Lincoln County Regiment of Militia (NC) detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
– Capt. John Culbertson
Burke County Regiment of Militia (NC) detachment of three (3) known companies, led by:
– Capt Joshua Inman
– Capt. David Vance
– Capt. Welch
Rowan County Regiment of Militia (NC) detachment of two (2) known companies, led by:
– Capt. Daniel Bryson
– Capt. Francis Cunningham
Guilford County Regiment of Militia (NC) detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
– Capt. Robert Bell
Granville County Regiment of Militia (NC) detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
– Capt. William Bennett
Caswell County Regiment of Militia (NC) detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
– Capt. Russell
Nash County Regiment of Militia (NC) detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
– Capt. William Williams
Total Patriot Forces – 1,624