Robert Kirkwood: "With a Determination of Fighting the British Army"

A Revolutionary War Experience Primary Source
This is a sketch of three soldiers operating a cannon.

Robert Kirkwood commanded the Delaware Regiment, and he kept a diary for parts of the Revolutionary War. This selection from his diary is from January through October 1781, detailing his notes on some of the battles in the Southern Campaign and hearing about the British surrender at Yorktown. The spelling is original and does vary from entry to entry; the numbers at the end of the entries are the estimated miles Kirkwood and his unit marched that day.


Jan. 1st [1781]

11th. March'd—10 [miles]

16th. March'd to Cowpens—12

17th. Defeated Tarlton

18th. March'd for the Catawba River and arrived the 23rd—100


1st. March'd to Col. Locke—30

2nd. Marched and crossed the Yadkin River—12

4th. March'd this Night—13

5th. March'd this Day—16

6th. March'd to Guilford—18

8th. March'd this Night—5

14th. Crossed the Dan River at Ewings Ferry—80

15th. March'd and crossed the Banisster River—7

17th. March'd and Recrossed—6

20th. Crossed the Dan River—9

21st. Marched—5

22nd. Marched to Dobbins—12

23rd. March'd—12

24th. March'd—12

25th. March'd to Hilsborough and Returned; in all—21


4th. We came up with the Enemy at the Allamance—60

5th. Marched this Night to the old Regulation ground and attack'd the advanc'd picquet. Brought off one of their Centinells [sentinels] & returned to Camp by morning—24

6th. This Day we arrived near the South Branch of Haw River—36

7th. This Day the Enemy made  movement and were within a mile of our Camp before they were Discovered. We Crossed the Rough branch of Haw River Leaving a Party of militia on the other Side to oppose the Enemy; A brisk fire Shortly commenced in which the militia were obliged to give way. Marched this Day—21

8th. Marched this Day to Troublesome Creek—12

9th. Marched this Day & encamped on the Ground where the British Lay, having crossed Troublesome & Haw River—10

10th. This Day my Company & one from Virginia were ordered to remain with Col. Washington to Act as a Legion. the rest of the Infantry joined their respective Regiments, marched—7

11th. Marched this Day towards Guilford Courthouse—5

12th. Col. Lee's Light Horse took 30 prisoners and brought them to the Gen'l on our march—5

13th. Marched this Day—87

14th. Marched within 3 miles West of G. Court house—8

15th. This day commenced the Action at Guilford Court House between Genls. Green & Cornwallis in which many were Killed & wounded on both sides, Genl. Green Drew off his Army with the loss of his artillery. Marched this Day—16

16th. Marched to James Saunders Farm, near to the Iron works, where our Army Lay, on Troublesome Creek—3

19th. Marched to Simmon's Farm—6

20th. Marched this Day about—7

21st. Marched towards Deep River—21

22nd. Marched near the Little Allamance River—3

23rd. Marched—4

24th. [Marched]—7

25th. This Day was Executed by hanging a Certain Solomon Slocum being a Spy from the Enemy Likewise a Deserter from the 2nd. M. Regt. Marched—17

26th. Marched to Brooks Farm, near Wilcoxs Iron works—10

27th. Marched this Day—10

28th. Marched and Crossed Deep River at Ramseys Mill, on the bridge the British made for themselves. This Day we expected a Genl. Action to have commenced but his Lordship thought it most prudent to decline it, by a speedy march to Cross Creek—14

29th. Marched—3

30th. Marched towards the Gulph Mill on Deep River—4

31st. Marched this Day—14


1st. Marched—3

3rd. Marched up the River—9

7th. Marched towards the Buffaloe Ford and encamped on Brush Creek—18

8th. Marched to Spinks Farm—16

9th. Marched to Cottons Farm—15

10th. Marched & Crossed Little River about 2 miles—20

11th. This day Crossed the River Pee Dee at Colston's Ferry—15

13th. This day Crossed Rocky River—3 [probably 3, part of this page not visible in the document scan used for transcription]

14th. Marched Near Mays Saw Mill—18

15th. Marched this day about—2 [could have another number, part of this page not visible in the document scan used for transcription]

16th. This Day marched near Andersons Cross Roads—17

17th. Marched to Big Lynches Creek—16

18th. Marched to Little Lynches Creek—12

19th. Marched within 4 miles of Camden, took Eleven of the Enemy prisoners—15

This evening Genl. Green gave me orders if possible to take possession of Logtown, which was in full view of Camden & if I could take it, to mentain [maintain] it untill further orders. Leaving Camp about 8 at night, arrived before the town between 9 & 10 and about 12 OClock got full possession of the place. A scattering firing was kept up all night. And at sun rise next morning, had a smart schirmage, Beat in the Enemy, About two hours afterwards had the Very agreeable Sight of the advance of the Army—3 [could have another number, part of this page not visible in the scan used for transcription

20th. This day Col. Washington with my Infantry went Westerly round Camden, Burnt a House in one of the Enemys Redoubts on the Wateree River; took 40 horses & 50 Head of cattle & returned to Camp—4 [unclear if there are more numbers]

22nd. Moved Southerly Round the town—10

23rd. Marched back to our old ground—6

25th. The enemy sallyed out and drove us back—7

27th. Marched to Ridgley's Mill—10

29th. Marched this Night—6

30th. Moved our Encampment—1


1st. This day there was five Desserters Hanged that was taken in the Action of the 25th of April. 

3rd. Marched and crossed the Wateree—11

4th. March'd to the Ferry and took the Redoubt, and burn'd the Block House on the South side of the Wateree, then Return'd to the Army at the 25 mile Creek—16

7th. Marched this day—9

8th. The Enemy moved over the River and was within two miles of us before we knew of them being out when our Vadet Came in and inform'd us. We then Drew up in order of battle and lay their [there] in Sight of other untill Evening when both Armys Drew off and we marched—4

10th. At Night was sent out with a party of the Horse to Surprise a party of Tories and Marched 18 miles, but not Coming up with, we altered our Rout and March'd for Camden hearing that it was Evacuated, and Reached there the next Day being in all—29

12th. March'd to Mr. Randels Mill—12

13th. March'd to Mr. Westons—18

15th. March'd this day—18

16th. March'd this day—6

18th. Marched and Crossed the Broad River—15

19th. This day was executed three Deserters from our Army, who were taken at Fort Granby near Fridays Ferry, on the Congree. Marched—25

20th. Marched this Day—17

21st. Was ordered with Col. Washington's Horse to Surprise a party of tories under command of Col. Young; Coming up to the place found it evacuated, the Horse left me, with expectation to Coe up with them, while I moved on at Leisure. The Tories taking us for some of them selves come out of a Swamp in our Rear, & being undeceived took one of my men prisoners; upon which A firing Commenced, but they being on horse back pushed off with the Loss of one man Killed & one Horse taken, A Short time Afterwards the Horse joined me, and before Dark killed 4 more taking 6 Prisoners; Marched this Day—23

22nd. This Day Cross the River Saluda. Surprised a party of Tories within sight of Ninety Six, Killed four, Spent the Day in reconoitering the Garrison, which was commanded by Col. Cruger. Marched—9

At Night were employed in raising a three Gun Battery, about 130 yards from their works and under a Scattering Fire from the Enemy all night.

24th. This Day opened our first Battery on the Enemys Star Redoubt

26th. Received express from Col. Lee that he had taken two redoubts at Augusta in Georgia; making 70 of them prisoners & Killed about 40; ting a Quantity of stores, Rum etc.


5th. This Day Augusta was Captured by Col. Lee making all the Garrison prisoners of war consisting of 165 British & the like Number of Tories, the whole being under the Command of Col. Brown.

18th. This Day the Garrison of 96 was attacked on two Quarters Viz: the Star Redoubt by the main army, and Homes's by Col. Lee's Infantry, with mine, with the assistance of three 6 pounders Commanded by Col. Harrison. Our Redoubt held out about an hour, then left it in our full possession; the other being so verry strong, & the officers who commanded in their Ditch being wounded with the greatest part of the men Killed and wounded, were obliged to give over the attempt.

20th. Raised the siege from Ninety Six; Lord Rodden being within 25 miles of us, with 2000 men this Day. Marched towards Charlotte—14

25th. Marched this Day—8 [it is unclear if this was intentionally added at the 25th or if it should the 21st]

22nd. Marched this Day—16

23rd. Marched this Night and Crossed the Innoree River—15

24th. Marched this Day Crossed the Tiger and Broad River—21

25th. Recrossed the Broad River and Marched—6

26th. Marched this Day to the Tiger River—7

28th. Marched and Cross the Inoree River—12

29th. Marched this Day—9

30th. Marched this Day—20


1st. Marched this Day—6

2nd. Marched this Day and Cross'd the Broad River—17

3rd. Marched this Day and encamped at Capt. Howells—16

4th. Marched this Day—9

5th. Marched this Day and Cross'd the Congree at McCord's Ferry—32

6th. Marched this Day down the Santee River—13

7th. Marched this day and Cross'd the Conagree and was ordered back toward Orangebourgh—25

8th. Marched this Day and encamped at Doughey's Farm—25

9th. Marched this Day to Col. Middleton—10

10th. Marched this day and join'd the Army at Beaver Creek—7

11th. Marched this day towards Orangebourgh—10

12th. Marched to the Enemys Lines, and within 4 miles of Orangebourgh sent out parties to draw them out; but all to no purpose, Col. Cruger being within one days march of Lord Rodden, Genl. Green thought it prduent to withdraw his army, and march towards McCords Ferry—15

13th. Marched this day near Brown's Mill—11

14th. This day crossed the Congaree River at McCords Ferry & encamped on Mr. Simmons Farm 7 miles from ye River—20

23rd. Marched with Col. Washington's Cavelry to the Fork of Wateree & Congaree Rivers encamped on Mr. Dawson's Farm (very sickly place)—8

27th. Marched on McCords Ferry on ye Congaree—1

29th. Marched to Mr. Lightwood's Farm, up ye Congaree—6


3rd. This day the Enemy's Horse took possession of McCord's Ferry with one Large Boat and Negro, on the News of which our Horse, and foot, marched down to the Ferry, and remained there untill Evening; and marched back to the ground we left in the morning—12

4th. Marched crossed the Wateree, encamped on Lambert's Farm—13

6th. Marched and encamped at Mr. Yore's Farm—4

7th. Marched and encamped on Capt. Ritcheson's Farm—8

24th. Marched this morning towards Camden up the river—20

25th. Marched this day to Camden—18

26th. Crossed the Wateree River passed the Army and Halted and Colonel's Creek—18

27th. This Day arrived at Capt. Howells on ye Conagree—18

28th. This day joined Col. Washington's Horse—5

At Mr. Culpeper's on ye Bank of the River; about Evening were informed the Enemy this morning left Col. Thompson's on their way towards Charles Town.

31st. Marched to Howell's Ferry on the River where the Army had crossed. This Day the Genl. received information the Enemy had marched from the Center Swamp on their rout for Town, which Occasioned the Horse and my Infantry to return to the place we left in the morning—12


4th. Crossed the Congree River at Culpeper's Ferry, and Encamped on Mr. Johnstown's Farm—15

5th. Marched and Encaped with the main Army at Everrett's Creek 6 miles Below Col. Thompson's—14

6th. Marched to Midway Swamp—6

7th. Marched this Day within seven miles of the Eutaw Springs, where Lay Col. Stewart with the British Army Consisting of 2,000 men—20

8th. This morning our Army was in motion before Daybreak, with a determination of Fighting the British Army. 

We marched in the following order of Battle Viz. The South & North Carolina Militia in front, Commanded by Genl. Marion & Pickens, having Col. Lees horse, & Infantry on their right Flank, and the State Horse, and mounted Infantry on their left. The Second line was Composed of North Carolina regulars, Virginians, & Marylanders, having two three Pounders, between the N. Carolinians & Virginians, and two six Pounders, between the Virginians & Marylanders. Col. Washington's Horse, with my Infantry were the Corps De Reserve[.] In this order we marched Down to Action, Coming within 3 miles of the Enemy's Encampment, we overtook a Rooting Party of 30 men Coming in with Potatoes, most of whom were either Killed, wounded or taken. We met with no further opposition, untill we arrived within one mile of their Encampment, where we met their front line, which soon brought the Action general, we Drove their first and Second Lines, took upwards of 500 prisoners. The Enemy took shelter in a large Brick House, and a hollowway in rear of the House. At this time our men were so far spent for want of water, and our Continental Officers suffering much in the Action, rendered it advisable to Genl. Green to Draw off his Army, with the Loss of two 6 pounders, Majr. Edmund of the Virginians, with a Small party of men joined me in the British Encampment, keeping up the fire for A small space of time. Found our Army had withdrawn from the Field, made it necessary for us Likwise to withdrawn. We brought off one of the Enemys three Pounders, which with much difficulty was performed through a thick wood for near four miles, without the assistance of but one Horse, We got to the Encamping Ground which we left in the morning about two in the evening—14

[diary has a page listing the casualties from the Battle of Eutaw Springs]

10th. Received information that the Enemy had left the Eutaw Springs the Evening before, on the Road to Monks Corner, the Genl. persued them to Mr. Martins, within 12 miles of the Corner—20

12th. Return'd as far back as Whistleing George's—6

13th. Marched to the Widow Floods, on ye Santee River—14

14th. Marched with the Army to the road leading to Lawrence's Ferry on the Santee, and Separated from them; they being bound for the High hills of Santee, and we for the Congaree[.] Encamped on Mr. Caldwells Farm at the half way Swamp—19

15th. Marched up the Congaree to Mr. Kelly's Farm—20

16th. Marched to Mr. Patrick's Farm—13

17th. Cross the Congaree at Mr. Patricks & marched up to Mr. Culpepers and from thence to Col. Gooden's Farm—10

19th. Marched this morning a little after sun rise joined Col. Washingtons Horse, & Encamped one mile below them on Mr. Pierce's Farm—11

27th. Went to Head Quarters (on the High Hills of Santee) for Docts. Medicine for my men

And returned the 30th Inst.—40


5th. Took the Ague and fever.

6th. Marched to Mr. Simmons Farm on the Wateree—10

9th. By invitation from Mr. Danl. Huger, went in Compy with Lnt. Vaughen to his house—6

27th. Received Intilligence of the Surrender of Lord Cornwallaces whole Army to this Excellency Genl. Washington In York Town Virginia on the 17th Inst.


[Diary continues with more marching and military movements through 1782]



The journal and order book of Captain Robert Kirkwood of the Delaware regiment of the Continental Line by Robert Kirkwood, edited by Joseph Brown Turner (Wilmington: The Historical Society of Delaware, 1910).

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Related Battles

South Carolina | September 8, 1781
Result: British Victory
Estimated Casualties