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American Revolutionary War Battles

The Bombardment of Georgetown

August 2, 1781 at Georgetown, South Carolina

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Facts about the Bombardment of Georgetown

  • Armies - American Forces was commanded by Capt. William Ransom Davis and consisted of unknown number of Soldiers. British Forces was commanded by Capt. Manson and consisted of unknown number of Sailors.
  • Casualties - American casualties were unknown. British casualties were unknown.
  • Outcome - The result of the battle was a British victory.

Battle Begins

After the battle at Shubrick's Plantation, Captain William Ransom Davis was ordered by Colonel Thomas Sumter to go to Georgetown and seize the slaves, horses, indigo, salt and medical supplies of the Loyalist civilians. The British in Charlestown had become worried that the town was becoming a harbor where privateers and naval vessels could deliver supplies to Major General Nathanael Greene's army. When Sumter threatened the Loyalists the British decided to retaliate.

Captain Manson commanded the Loyalist Privateer schooner Peggy and was ordered by Colonel Balfour to destroy Georgetown as a supply depot. Manson sailed the schooner over the Winyah Harbor Bar and demanded permission to land his men. Davis denied the request. In response, Manson brought up a galley from the Winyah Harbor bar and bombarded Georgetown.

After the shelling had frightened everyone from the streets Manson sent his sailors ashore to set fire to the stores and warehouses. In the process they also burned down forty-two houses. As the town burned, Manson shelled the streets to prevent fire fighters from putting out the flames. The town of Georgetown did not fully recover from this attack until 1830, almost 50 years later.

After the Georgetown raid, Governor Rutledge outlawed the practice of retaliations and reprisals on the Loyalists. Sumter felt that this was aimed directly at him and he relinquished the command of his Brigade to Colonel William Henderson. Upon Sumter's retirement, Francis Marion became the Brigadier General of Militia in South Carolina.