The American Revolution in South Carolina

Lorick's Ferry

May 1, 1782

Patriot Cdr:

Capt. William Butler
Loyalist Cdr:

Major William Cunningham






Old District: 

Ninety-Six District
Present County:

Newberry County/
Saluda County

Patriot Capt. William Butler vs. Major William "Bloody Bill' Cunningham. A detachment of Brigadier General Andrew Pickens' Patriots made a surprise attack on and routed a group of Loyalists camped in the area near Lorick's Ferry.

Capt. William Butler was the son of Capt. James Butler, Sr. who had been killed at Cloud's Creek by Major William "Bloody Bill" Cunningham on November 17, 1781. He found out that Major Cunningham was in the area and set out on a raid for pure revenge.

With Capt. Butler were men who had lost brothers, fathers, and neighbors to Major Cunningham during his "Bloody Scout." He needed to find out exactly where Major Cunningham was so he sent his brother Thomas to the house of Joseph Cunningham, a relative of Major Cunningham. In the dark, Thomas identified himself as one of Major Cunningham's men and asked where the raider's camp was located. Joseph Cunningham's wife fell for the trick and told him. Capt. William Butler appeared, put a pistol to Joseph Cunningham's head, and forced him to lead his Patriots to the camp.

Capt. Butler ordered his thirty (30) men to surround the camp and to attempt to take Major Cunningham alive. At daylight, twenty (20) Loyalists started drying their blankets around a fire and saw Capt. Butler approach. They mistook him for Major Cunningham, since the two men apparently looked a lot alike. When Capt. Butler was close enough he charged.

The Loyalists had a pre-arranged plan of escape and took off in every direction. Major Cunningham leapt to his horse and raced for the Saluda River. Capt. Butler pursued, with Major Cunningham tried to fire his pistol, then tried to use his sword, but it was yanked from him by a passing bush. Capt. Butler only had a sword and could not narrow the gap between him and his prey. Major Cunningham reached the Saluda River and his horse swam to safety.

Capt. Butler's men pursued the other Loyalists and caught up with them at the Saluda River. The Patriots fired on them and killed a few, but Capt. Butler ordered his men to cease the slaughter.

Major William Cunningham made his way to Charlestown, but he was never able to raise another band of militia for the Loyalists.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants
Lower Ninety-Six District Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. William Butler
Major William Cunningham, with unknown number of Loyalists

© 2009 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved