The Church of the Epiphany

Eutawville, South Carolina

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Eutaw Springs Battlefield

Just a few miles east of the town of Eutawville were natural springs which fed a small creek called Eutaw Creek, that ran into the Santee River. Known alternately as The Springs and nearby Blue Hole, this was a very popular recreation area. Many picnics were held here during the summer and the young people spent many happy afternoons swimming in the small lake formed by waters from the springs.

The Santee-Cooper Project ended that as the waters rose to create Lake Marion and cover the bubbling springs. What does remain is a park, maintained by the South Carolina State Parks, commemorating the Revolutionary War battle at Eutaw Springs.

In midsummer of 1781, the British forces under Colonel Stewart united at Orangeburg and began their march to Charleston. Early in September, tired and hot from the summer heat, they set up camp in the cool shade beside the gushing springs of Eutaw, little dreaming that the Continentals were close upon their heels.

The Americans, under General Nathaniel Green, were camped just about seven miles away. Strategy for the ensuing attack is accredited to the genius of the dreaded "Swamp Fox", General Francis Marion, who knew every foot of the Santee Swamp and River.

Greene’s army met the British, under Colonel Stewart, early on September 8, 1871 (Walter Edgar and McCrady say September 5), and initially carried the day. Greene’s army formed for attack in the three-line "Cowpens" formation: with SC and NC militia in front; next MD, VA and NC Continentals; artillery in the middle and then the cavalry and DE infantry reserves. Stewart sent skirmish infantry one mile out to delay and ordered his army in a single line in the pine woods. Behind them was the cleared field with the British camp tents; across the field was the two-story, brick house surrounded by outbuildings and a fenced garden near the Springs. The artillery barrage began at 9:00 A.M. and the massive conflict was fully engaged.

At first, the Patriot center line caved in while opposing flanks fought separate battles; then it was restored. The Patriots finally broke the left and center British line with the left collapsing in disorder. Stewart fell back to the open field under cover of British riflemen housed in the second floor of the brick house. Major Majoribanks repulsed a Patriot cavalry charge and held the British right.

Then, according to Dr. Edgar, the hungry and poorly-clad Patriots (some had placed Spanish moss between their skin and their equipment to prevent chafing) broke into the main British camp and became a drunken, disorderly mob. The British repulsed a Patriot cavalry charge and at the end of the day drove the confused Americans back. The British were too crippled to venture forth far from the house.

Greene collected his wounded, arranged for burying the dead, left a strong picket under Colonel Hampton and withdrew seven miles to water at Burdell’s Plantation. Stewart’s forces remained the night, but the army hastily retreated the following day to Fort Fairlawn at Moncks Corner, leaving severely wounded to be captured that day.

It was a bloody, indecisive battle with no clear victor, but once again, the British had suffered irreplaceable losses. There were other battles after Eutaw springs, but none of any strategic significance. In April 1781 the British had controlled all of the state, but by the end of the year they had withdrawn all their forces to a small perimeter around Charleston. Six weeks later, the American victory at Yorktown assured independence. Although Green never won a tactical battle in South Carolina, he achieved his goals of destroying the British army and winning the war.

Several markers have been brought out of the flooded area and placed on this site. One of these is the gravestone of British Major John Majoribanks who is thought to have been wounded in the battle of Eutaw Springs and died on Wantoot Plantation on his way to Moncks Corner.

 

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