The Surrender of Orangeburg

May 10-11, 1781, Orangeburg, South Carolina

Facts about the Surrender of Orangeburg

  • Armies - American Forces was commanded by Col. Thomas Sumter and consisted of 350 Soldiers. British Forces was commanded by Col. John Fisher and consisted of 89 Soldiers.
  • Casualties - American casualties were unknown. British casualties were 89 captured.
  • Outcome - The result of the surrender was an American victory.

Battle Begins

Colonel Thomas Sumter commanded a group of about 350 partisans and tried to take Fort Granby. After finding the fort too strong for his force to successfully attack, he decided to move to Orangeburg and attack this settlement. Orangeburg is on the North Edisto River, some 50 miles south of Fort Granby, and was a British post. Earlier, Lieutenant Colonel Francis Rawdon had sent orders to the post for the soldiers to abandon it, but the garrison never received this order.

On May 10, during the night, Orangeburg was placed under siege by Sumter’s advanced forces, under Colonel Wade Hampton, during the night. When by next morning, Sumter with his six-pounder arrived, the garrison under loyalist Colonel John Fisher surrendered by 7:00 AM. Around 6 officers and 83 men (28 of them provincials), and many military stores and provisions, were captured as a result, and neither side apparently suffered any casualties. Sumter found Orangeburg well stock with supplies and after examining the fortifications wrote that he considered them extremely strong, adding that he believed the post could have put up a stout defense, had the garrison been so inclined.

On May 12, the prisoners were sent to Greene, but militia guards reportedly murdered a number of them along the way. After taking Orangeburg, Sumter moved up toward Fort Motte, which he found Brigadier General Francis Marion and Lieutenant Colonel Henry Lee had already taken, he turned to putting loyalist in awe, and seizing horses and other means of transportation, and generally taking or moving supplies out of the region from Wassamasaw to Dorchester, and thereby hinder Rawdon's retreat.

After doing this for two days he returned to Orangeburg, and following this moved back up to the Congaree.

Thomas Young: “Soon after this I joined a detachment of Whigs under Col. Brandon, and scouted through the country till we reached the siege at Fort Motte. There I remained for several days, when we joined a detachment under command of Col. Hampton, to take Orangeburg. The state troops, under Col. Hampton, outmarched us, for we had a piece of artillery to manage. We arrived the morning after them. The Tories were lodged in a brick house, and kept up a monstrous shouting and firing to very little purpose. As soon as the piece of artillery was brought to bear upon the house, a breach was made through the gable end; then another, a little lower; then about the center, and they surrendered.”

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