228th Anniversary of the Battle at Eutaw Springs
Eutawville, SC – September 5, 2009
This is the "Forgotten War", the battle that has for too long gone unheralded in the annals of American History. Yet it was the bloodiest conflict of the Revolutionary War and marked the capture of one our most talented cavalry commanders, Lieutenant Colonel William Washington. For years it has been rumored that the battlefield at Eutaw Springs had been covered by the waters of Lake Marion, but recent archeological investigations have proven otherwise.
The Battle of Eutaw Springs occurred on September 8, 1781, some 5 weeks before the Victory at Yorktown. Major General Nathanael Greene was aware of George Washington’s movements to Virginia with his French allies, and determined to engage the British Forces in South Carolina under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Stewart to prevent them from augmenting Lord Cornwallis. Intelligence told him that the Crown Forces were moving towards Charleston on the banks of Eutaw Creek in the Santee Swamp, so he maneuvered his army to confront them. In a sustained battle that lasted several hours, the advantage on the battlefield passed back and forth several times between the two armies. This battle devolved to hand-to-hand combat between the opposing forces, and the Americans used their bayonets as well as did their more seasoned foes. One of the more fanciful histories written about the event purported that the “blood ran ankle deep that day/” Probably the deciding advantage for the British was that they were able to take position in a two-story brick house and fire down on the unprotected Patriots. While Greene eventually withdrew his troops from the battlefield, within 2 days, all remnants of the British Army had retreated to the relative safety of Charleston.
The SAR has joined forces with a number of groups that seek to preserve and promote the Eutaw Springs Battlefield as a Revolutionary War site of great historical significance. Among these are the Palmetto Conservancy, the Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution and the American Revolution Association. Already there has been a noted improvement in the number and quality of the state-provided signage placed throughout the battlefield to inform the public of the events that occurred there So too, a review of first-hand accounts written by the Battle Commanders themselves has uncovered new details on what actually happened that day, most of which have cast the Patriot forces in a more favorable light.
On September 5, 2009, 228 years after the signal event, a group of Patriotic Organizations met to honor the memory of the brave soldiers who fought here and vied so mightily in the swamplands of South Carolina. In his keynote address "Liberty Lives Here", David Reuwer, Editor of the American Revolution Magazine, exhorted the attendees to continue the defense of the principles which were established by our Patriot Ancestors. He later conducted a field tour, pointing out on battle maps where certain events would have occurred.
A complete Photo Gallery of this event can be viewed at:
Photographs were taken by LCDR Bob Yankle, Staff Photographer, American Revolution Association, and member of the NSSAR Historic Sites and Celebrat