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Troops charging at Eutaw Springs

Eutaw Springs

South Carolina  |  Sep 8, 1781

From 1779 to 1781, a bitter war raged across the Carolinas. Both sides suffered severe casualties but stayed in the field. American Loyalists and Patriots took up arms against each other. Brother fought against brother. In the spring of 1781, British General Charles Lord Cornwallis moved into Virginia, intent on destroying Patriot supply centers. He left the Carolinas garrisoned with roughly 2,500 men.

American General Nathanael Greene took advantage of Cornwallis's absence and entered the Carolinas with 2,200 regulars and militia. Despite suffering violent setbacks at Hobkirk's Hill and Ninety Six, Greene won other minor victories and led his army on towards Charleston. British Colonel Alexander Stewart came out to do battle on a patch of hills along the Santee River near the city. His men were low on supplies, but Stewart could not pass up a chance to smash the Patriots’ best hope in the South.

The armies collided on September 8, 1781. Stewart had detached roughly a quarter of his force to forage near the Wantoot Plantation. This lightly armed detail was surprised when American cavalrymen, Greene’s vanguard, thundered out of the Wantoot Woods. The Americans drew the British guards into an ambush back in the forest and then returned for the foragers, capturing more than 400 men.

Greene deployed his infantry in two lines, militia in front of regulars, and advanced towards the sound of the guns. Hearing of the ambush, Colonel Stewart launched a disorganized counterattack of his own. A see-saw battle ensued. The American line was briefly fractured by a British bayonet charge before being restored. The American line fractured again but rallied to drive the British back into their camps.

As the pursuing Americans paused to loot their enemy’s camps, the British fortified the brick Wantoot mansion. Refusing to be dislodged, they shot several American attacks to pieces, giving their comrades time to reform in the open field. By the time darkness ended the fighting, the Americans were falling back.

Both sides stayed in the field the next day, but a storm dampened their gunpowder and prevented further combat. When Colonel Stewart withdrew, the Americans kept up constant pressure on his rear as he returned to Charleston. During the battle, 579 Americans and 882 British and loyalists were killed, wounded, or captured.

Greene's army remained a force to be reckoned with. Even the American militia had turned in a creditable performance at Eutaw Springs. The battle demonstrated that the Americans continued to contest British control of the Carolinas. While the British held the field at the end of the engagement, they eventually abandoned their position and withdrew to Charleston.

All battles of the Southern Theater 1780 - 1783 Campaign

Rev War  |  Battle
Charleston
South Carolina  |  Feb 11 - May 12, 1780
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 5,764
American: 5,506
British: 258
Rev War  |  Battle
Lenud's Ferry
Berkeley County, SC  |  May 6, 1780
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 41
American: 41
Rev War  |  Battle
Waxhaws
South Carolina  |  May 29, 1780
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 333
American: 316
British: 17
Rev War  |  Battle
Williamson's Plantation
South Carolina  |  Jul 12, 1780
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 96
American: 1
British: 95
Rev War  |  Battle
Rocky Mount
Fairfield County, South Carolina  |  Jul 30, 1780
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 32
American: 12
British: 20
Rev War  |  Battle
Camden
South Carolina  |  Aug 16, 1780
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 2,224
American: 1,900
British: 324
Rev War  |  Battle
Musgrove Mill
South Carolina  |  Aug 19, 1780
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 149
American: 16
British: 133
Rev War  |  Battle
Kings Mountain
South Carolina  |  Oct 7, 1780
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 1,211
American: 90
British: 1,121
Rev War  |  Battle
Blackstock's Plantation
Union, SC  |  Nov 20, 1780
Result: American Victory
American: 7
British: 192
Rev War  |  Battle
Rugeley's Mill
South Carolina  |  Dec 4, 1780
Result: American Victory
Rev War  |  Battle
Hammond's Store
Laurens County, South Carolina  |  Dec 30, 1780
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 150
British: 150
Rev War  |  Battle
Cowpens
South Carolina  |  Jan 17, 1781
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 1,017
American: 149
British: 868
Rev War  |  Battle
Guilford Courthouse
North Carolina  |  Mar 15, 1781
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 1,842
American: 1,310
British: 532
Rev War  |  Battle
Siege of Fort Watson
Summerton, South Carolina  |  Apr 15 - 23, 1781
Result: Inconclusive
Est. Casualties: 116
American: 2
British: 114
Rev War  |  Battle
Hobkirk's Hill
South Carolina  |  Apr 25, 1781
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 532
American: 271
British: 261
Rev War  |  Battle
Ninety Six
South Carolina  |  May 22 - Jun 19, 1781
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 232
American: 147
British: 85
Rev War  |  Battle
Parker's Ferry
Colleton County, SC  |  Aug 30, 1781
Result: American Victory
Est. Casualties: 209
American: 4
British: 205
Rev War  |  Battle
Eutaw Springs
South Carolina  |  Sep 8, 1781
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 1,461
American: 579
British: 882
Rev War  |  Battle
Dills Bluff
James Island, SC  |  Nov 14, 1782
Result: British Victory
Est. Casualties: 15
American: 10
British: 5

Related Battles

Eutawville, SC | September 8, 1781
Result: British Victory
Commanders
Forces Engaged
4,200
American
2,200
British
2,000
Estimated Casualties
1,461
American
579
British
882