South Carolina | Sep 8, 1781
On September 8, 1781, an American force under the command of Nathanael Greene attacked a British force under the command of Alexander Stewart in the Battle of Eutaw Springs. Despite the initial success, Greene eventually retreated from the field. The engagement was one of the final battles in South Carolina.
How It Ended
British Victory. After staving off repeated American attacks, Stewart realized that his force needed to fall back towards Charleston, South Carolina.
From 1779 to 1781, a bitter war raged across the Carolinas. In the spring of 1781, British General Charles Lord Cornwallis moved into Virginia, intent on destroying Patriot supply centers. He left the Carolinas with a garrison of roughly 2,500 men. American General Nathanael Greene took advantage of Cornwallis's absence and entered South Carolina with 2,200 men with intent of driving the British back to Charleston.
Despite suffering setbacks at Hobkirk Hill and Ninety Six, Patriot General Nathanael Greene continued to drive the British from the South Carolina Backcountry. Toward the end of August, he led his army out of the High Hills of the Santee intent on engaging a British force under Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Stewart.
The armies collided on September 8, 1781. Stewart had detached roughly a quarter of his force to forage near his camp. Greene’s vanguard captured a number of foragers, before engaging British dragoons and opening the battle.
Greene deployed his infantry in three lines, militia in front of regulars, and advanced towards the camp. Greene steadily drove the British back to their camp where Stewart made a stand at a brick mansion and adjacent palisaded garden. This bought time for the British to rally and launch a counterattack, forcing Greene to break off the fight and withdraw.
After camping on the battlefield, Stewart withdrew toward Monck’s Corner and eventually towards the protection of Charleston.
William Washington was a second cousin to George Washington through his father’s side. During the initial stages of the battle, Washington and his cavalry were ordered to attack the British right flank, situated in a blackjack grove. Washington decided to break the British flank with a charge but was unhorsed and captured.While in Charleston, he met his bride, Jane Reily Elliot. Their marriage resulted in Washington’s acquisition of Sandy Hill plantation just outside of Charleston, where he would spend the rest of his days as a Lowcountry planter.
Once the American force broke the British lines in the second phase of the fight, the British withdrew to a two story brick mansion. Their stand gave Stewart time to rally his men and launch a counterattack which reclaimed the field.
Eutaw Springs: Featured Resources
All battles of the Southern Theater 1780 - 1783 Campaign