Eutaw Springs, Battle of

September 8, 1781

British forces were at Eutaw Springs on September 7, encamped near a sturdy two-story brick home with palisaded garden, when Greene completed the consolidation of his forces at Burdell’s plantation about seven miles away.

(September 8, 1781). The Battle of Eutaw Springs was the last major engagement in South Carolina between American and British forces during the Revolutionary War. In the bloody encounter, some two thousand Continental and militia soldiers commanded by General Nathanael Greene clashed with 2,300 British regulars and Loyalists under Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Stewart. Although Greene was forced to leave the field, the British were equally mauled and retreated to Charleston, abandoning the South Carolina upcountry. The battle site is located in Orangeburg County near Eutawville, and a portion of the battlefield is a state historic site.

British forces were at Eutaw Springs on September 7, encamped near a sturdy two-story brick home with palisaded garden, when Greene completed the consolidation of his forces at Burdell’s plantation about seven miles away. Early the following morning, Greene put his army on the march. Stewart was not aware that the Americans were so close, and he had that morning sent out foragers to collect sweet potatoes. Four miles from Eutaw Springs, the vanguard of the American army ran into the British escort protecting the rooting party. Many of the unarmed foragers were captured. Reacting quickly, Stewart sent forward additional troops to delay the Americans and formed his main army in a single line about two hundred yards west of his Eutaw Springs campgrounds. He anchored his right flank on Eutaw Creek with the brick house, occupied by a covering force, behind the line. Greene used a formation that had seen success at the Battle of Cowpens. The militiamen were placed in the front line, with the battle-hardened Continentals behind them in the second line. Advancing, the Americans pushed back the British skirmishers until they met the main body, at which point there began a bloody back-and-forth duel. Eventually the center of the American line began to buckle under the intense action, and Stewart directed an advance. But his forces became disorderly and Greene saw his opportunity. He ordered the Continentals forward in a bayonet attack that forced the British left flank to fall back and retreat through their campsite. On the verge of a major victory, many of the American troops thought the battle won and left the fighting to loot the British camp. This action cost Greene his victory, for the British right flank had not retreated and those secure in the house began a heavy fire, which threw the Americans into confusion and allowed Stewart to rally his troops for a counterattack. Greene got control of his troops before disaster struck, and behind a covering force they retreated back to Burdell’s, leaving the field and two artillery pieces to the British. Losses on both sides were high: the British admitted to 683 killed, wounded, and missing; and the Americans reported 517. Among the American unit commanders were many notable patriots, including Francis Marion; Otho Williams; William Washington, who was captured; Henry Lee; Andrew Pickens, who was wounded; and Wade Hampton.

McCrady, Edward. The History of South Carolina in the Revolution. 2 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1901–1902.

Pancake, John S. This Destructive War: The British Campaign in the Carolinas, 1780–1782. University: University of Alabama Press, 1985.

Citation Information

The following information is provided for citations.

  • Title Eutaw Springs, Battle of
  • Coverage September 8, 1781
  • Author
  • Keywords (September 8, 1781), General Nathanael Greene, Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Stewart, Eutawville, Burdell’s plantation, bloody back-and-forth duel,
  • Website Name South Carolina Encyclopedia
  • Publisher University of South Carolina, Institute for Southern Studies
  • URL
  • Access Date April 13, 2021
  • Original Published Date
  • Date of Last Update September 30, 2016
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