South Carolina: A Short History, 1520-1948

By David Duncan Wallace | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXXIV
INDEPENDENCE ACHIEVED, 1781-1783

MARCHING FROM Ninety Six to the low country, Rawdon united with Stewart at Orangeburg on July 8 and awaited reinforcements. Greene accordingly withdrew his infantry north of the Santee and turned over his cavalry and the mounted State infantry to Sumter for a daring raid conceived by the latter on the British posts near Charlestown.

Sumter's Campaign toward Charlestown.-- Sumter's plan was to attack the garrison at Monck's Corner 30 miles north of Charlestown, Dorchester 19 miles north of Charlestown, and the Quarter House five miles from the city. It was the most extensive operation that Sumter had ever attempted and included, besides Lee's Continental cavalry, all the State troops except Pickens' brigade and a small party with Harden. Lee took Dorchester, and Captain Read, under Colonel Wade Hampton, brought away 20 prisoners from the Quarter House.

Sumter moved toward the main object, Colonel Coates at Monck's Corner. The first slip was that Marion's men so imperfectly destroyed Wadboo Bridge in the face of Coates's attack for saving it that it was easily repaired. The second was that they abandoned their picket posts there and so deprived Sumter of knowledge of the route Coates had taken. The third was that Sumter allowed Coates to conceal his flight.

Coates considered that such boldness as Lee's and Hampton's indicated the presence of Greene's whole army below him. As he fled from Charlestown he was overtaken by Lee's cavalry on July 18 at Quinby Creek. Sumter arrived in the afternoon and found Coates strongly placed in and around the Shubrick plantation houses. Marion considered the place impregnable but was overruled by Sumter, the prudence of the one and the impetuosity of the other being illustrated as usual. The American losses were heavy and the dissatisfaction of Sumter's leading officers extreme. The ammunition was exhausted; British reinforcements were coming. Sumter sought safety north of the Santee.

But despite Sumter's failure, the British had suffered, too. The important post at Monck's Corner was temporarily abandoned, enormous stores and about 150 men were lost, and their prestige was flouted at the very gates of the capital. Sumter had displayed his characteristic failings as well as his virtues as a leader, but he had accomplished a large

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