The Battle of Hayes Station
November 19, 1781 at Hayes Station, South Carolina
Facts about the Battle of Hayes Station
- Armies - American Forces was commanded by Col. Joseph Hayes and consisted of about 16 Soldiers. British Forces was commanded by Maj. William Cunningham and consisted of about 299 Soldiers.
- Casualties - American casualties were 16 killed. British casualties were 1 killed and 5 wounded.
- Outcome - The result of the battle was a British victory.
Major William “Bloody Bill” Cunningham and a large force of Loyalist militia attacked a group of Patriot militia that were resting in the home of their commander, Colonel Joseph Hayes. The Patriots surrendered when the home was set on fire. "Bloody Bill" then lived up to his name by personally killing every prisoner in cold blood.
On November 19, Cunningham crossed the Saluda River and headed to Hayes Station. The station was at Edgehill Plantation and was commanded by Col. Joseph Hayes. Hayes had been warned of the presence of Cunningham's force, but after a scouting expedition returned with no evidence of Loyalist activity, he refused to heed any warning.
Joseph Hayes owned a tavern adjacent to Edgehill Station, a stop along the local stage coach line. He and about two dozen of his men were sitting down to a nice meal when a colleague, Captain John Owens, rode up and informed the men that smoke was coming out of the nearby plantation house of the late Brigadier General James Williams' widow.
Hayes and his men jumped up from their meal and followed Owens out of the tavern and up a small hill to gather at an old Cherokee War Block House - to see what was going on at the neighbor's home. They were instantly surrounded by Cunningham with about 300 Loyalists. Hayes and his men ran into the small block house, but it was soon torched, so they threw down their arms and surrendered.
Cunningham warned Hayes that if any shots were fired at his men that all of the station's defenders would be killed. As the Loyalists approached the station, several shots were fired at them. Cunningham sent in a flag of truce and stated that if the post surrendered, he would spare the defenders. Hayes refused to surrender, thinking that reinforcements would be arriving soon. The fight continued for several hours until the post's roof was set on fire by flaming arrows. Choking from the fire's smoke, Hayes surrendered.
Only 2 of the 16 Patriots were killed during the fight. Each man was forced to back out of the small block house to have their hands tied behind them then affixed to a long rope, ostensibly to be marched to another location. However, as soon as the last man was attached to the long rope, Cunningham strarted hanging them, and then his men dismembered fourteen of them, with Cunningham killing 4 Patriots with his sword. Cunningham then rode off, leaving the body parts scattered.