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Battle of Stono Ferry

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol II. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

June 20.—This day the South Carolina troops attempted to force the British lines at Stono Ferry. The numbers within and without were rather too nearly equal for the enterprise. The Americans attacked boldly, fought gallantly, and retired in soldierly order. It had been preconcerted that seven hundred men should be detached from Charleston to James’ Island, where a show should be made of a design to land on John’s Island, in order to attract the enemy’s attention, while General Lincoln should attack their redoubts and trenches. By some unlucky accident the appointment was not kept, and the seven hundred did not reach James’ Island till afternoon. This failure enabled the British to draw a large reinforcement from John’s Island to the main, and brought their number to be nearly equal to that of General Lincoln’s troops. Maugre this balk or blunder, the general, at half-past seven in the morning, began to assault. The order of the battle was as follows: General Huger, with the two Continental brigades, and 2d battalion of light infantry, commanded by Colonel Henderson, on the left, where the most strenuous efforts were to be made, opposed to the Highlanders; General Sumter, with the North and South Carolina brigades of militia, and 1st battalion of light infantry, commanded by Colonel Malmadie, on the right; the Virginia brigades of militia formed a corps of reserve.

Colonel Malmadie began the action. On the extension of General Huger’s division to the left, two hundred Highlanders sallied out, and his warm discharge of musketry was exchanged, but on our light infantry’s quick advance to the charge, the Highlanders shrunk into the works, leaving twenty-seven dead, and several wounded on the ground, among the latter a Captain Bennet. The action continued with great warmth fifty-six minutes. The enemy’s works being found much stronger than was expected, the American field-pieces making no impression on them, and intelligence being likewise received that the enemy had drawn in a reinforcement of five hundred men from John’s Island, General Lincoln gave orders for retreating, which the troops performed in good order, carrying off their dead and wounded. The light infantry covered the rear, and maintained so good a countenance, that the enemy did not attempt to follow more than four hundred yards, and at a respectable distance.1


1 New Hampshire Gazette, August 10.