The American Revolution in South Carolina

Blakely's Plantation

March 15-16, 1781

Patriot Cdr:

Brigadier General
Francis Marion
British Cdr:

Lt. Col. John Watson Tadwell-Watson






Old District: 

Georgetown District
Present County:

Williamsburg County

The following comes from Robert D. Bass and his 1959 book, entitled, "Swamp Fox:"

After being harassed at Witherspoon's Plantation, Lt. Col. John Watson Tadwell-Watson moved his army over to Blakely's Plantation, about a half-mile further upriver. However, this location had fewer trees to impede the view of the many Patriot snipers that soon found them. Thus besieged, with his wounded suffering from lack of medical attention, Lt. Col. Watson Tadwell-Watson shelved his pride and wrote a hasty note to Brigadier General Francis Marion:

"Blakeley's, March 15th, 1781


The very extraordinary method you took of sending the letter I received from you, makes it rather difficult to guess in what way you mean to carry on this war, and therefore induces me to take the mode of addressing you through a neutral person. The bearer is a little boy of John Witherspoon's. We have an officer and some men wounded, whom I should be glad to send where they could be better taken care of. I wish therefore to know if they will be permitted to pass without interruption from any of your parties to Charles Town.

I am, sir, your very humble servant.

John Watson"

Brigadier General Marion was throroughly angry over the recent Capt. John Postell affair in Georgetown. He also resented Watson's "in what way you mean to carry on this war." But he still believed in being humane. He scribbled a reply and sent it back to Blakely's by the young Witherspoon:


Yours of this day's date I received. In answer, I wish to carry on this war as usual, with all civilized nations. The violation of my flag is a good reason to believe it may a second time done, and obliges me to act as I did; when my flag is released, I will have faith, and act in the usual way. If Capt. Postell was a prisoner, it was no reason for the violation of my flag, especially when it was sent to exchange prisoners agreed to by Capt. Saunders; but this matter I expect Lord Rawdon will set to rights. The enclosed letter gives me reason to believe it, and you may be assured that I will not act in any other way, than what I find is done by the British Troops. If you will send me the number of wounded you wish to send to Charles Town, I will send you a pass for them.

I am, sir your obedient servant.

Francis Marion"

Lt. Col. John Watson Tadwell-Watson answered immediately, sending the name of Lt. Torriano, "... wounded, 3 soldiers, and a Negro servant to attend the Lieutenant; 6 soldiers wounded, and 2 soldiers to attend to the wounded soldiers." He, too, was angry, and he detailed some of the atrocities committed by members of Marion's Brigade. In his renewal of the epistolary war, he complained that one Maynard and several companions had whipped a number of Loyalists. He said that Capt. Daniel Conyers had whipped Thomas Wise and John Stillwell almost to death.

The next morning, Brigadier General Marion issued a pass, saying:

"One officer and six wounded men with six attendants of the British troops, are permitted to pass to Nelson's Ferry, from thence to Charles Town unmolested."

In his letter of transmittal, he launched into his favorite themes - the barbarity of British house-burning and the villainy of Loyalist plundering.

"Your mentioning that you wished to carry on the war as usual with civilized nations led me to mention the circumstances I did," replied Lt. Col. Watson Tadwell-Watson. "The burning of houses and the property of the inhabitants who are our enemy is thought right and is customary in all countries."

(includes minor edits by this Author)

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

 Brigadier General Francis Marion - Commanding Officer

Cheraw District Regiment of Militia led by Col. Abel Kolb, Lt. Col. Lemuel Benton, and Major Tristram Thomas, with seven (7) known companies, led by:
- Capt. John Butler
- Capt. Guthridge Lyons
- Capt. Alexander McIntosh
- Capt. Moses Pearson
- Capt. Daniel Sparks
- Capt. William Standard
- Capt. Daniel Williams

Kingstree Regiment of Militia detachment led by Col. Archibald McDonald and Major John James, with four (4) known companies, led by:
- Capt. James McCauley
- Capt. John Postell
- Capt. Samuel Price
- Capt. Thomas Waties

Berkeley County Regiment of Militia detachment led by Col. Richard Richardson, Jr. and Lt. Col. Hugh Horry, with five (5) known companies, led by:
- Capt. William Capers
- Capt. John Gamble
- Capt. Robert McCottry
- Capt. William McCottry
- Capt. Gavin Witherspoon

Horry's Light Dragoons (Militia) led by Lt. Col. Peter Horry, with four (4) known companies, led by:
- Capt. William Allston
- Capt. John Baxter
- Capt. William Black
- Capt. Daniel Conyers

Georgetown District Regiment of Militia detachment led by Lt. Col. Alexander Swinton, with one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. William Gordon

Kershaw Regiment of Militia detachment led by Col. James Postell and Lt. Col. John Marshall, with one (1) known company, led by:
- Major Frederick Kimball

Lower Craven County Regiment of Militia detachment led by Col. Hugh Giles and Lt. Col. John Ervin with unknown number of men

Total Patriot Forces - 500

Lt. Col. John Watson Tadwell-Watson - Commanding Officer of the 3rd Regiment of Guards.

Royal Regiment of Artillery - 2 field pieces

Provincials led by Major Thomas Barclay with the following units:

King's American Regiment, Light Infantry Company led by Capt. Thomas Cornwell

DeLancey's Brigade, 3rd Battalion, Capt. Gilbert Willett's Light Infantry Company led by Lt. Edmond Evans

NJ Volunteers, 1st Battalion, Light Infantry Company led by Capt. James Shaw

NJ Volunteers, 2nd Battalion, Light Infantry Company led by Capt. Norman McLeod

NJ Volunteers, 4th Battalion, Light Infantry Company led by Capt. Jacob Van Buskirk

SC Rangers - 80 men

Loyalist Militia led by Lt. Col. Henry Richbourg with Capt. John Brockington and 150 men 

Total British/Loyalist Forces - 425















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