The Battle of Hanging Rock was a significant setback for British forces in the backcountry.
(August 6, 1780). After the capitulation of Charleston in May 1780, the British moved quickly to gain a foothold in the South Carolina backcountry. Hanging Rock, so named for a large boulder perched on a knob, was one of several outposts situated to protect the main British base at Camden. The stronghold was nothing more than an open field encampment protected by a makeshift earthen berm. Major William Richardson Davie led a successful partisan raid on the outpost on July 30, 1780. Colonel Thomas Sumter planned to follow up with a full assault on Hanging Rock for the morning of August 6. In avoiding an enemy sentry, the patriots’ line of march took them too far right for a frontal attack. However, they struck a concentrated blow on the vulnerable British left, where the surprised North Carolinian Volunteers fell back in disorder. Pressing the attack, Sumter’s men pushed through to the center of the line. At the height of the battle, the Prince of Wales’ American Regiment rallied and regrouped, unperceived under the protection of the woods, and poured a deadly fire on the Americans. The Americans returned the fire so effectively that the Loyalist regiment was almost obliterated. This action allowed the detachment of the British Legion on the British right to form a hollow square defense. Moreover, many partisan soldiers stopped fighting to loot the British camp. Sumter learned of the approach of forty dragoons from Rocky Mount and ordered a withdrawal with minimal losses, leaving behind not quite two hundred British killed and wounded. The Battle of Hanging Rock, though not a complete victory, was a significant setback for British forces in the backcountry.
Davie, William R. The Revolutionary War Sketches of William R. Davie. Edited by Blackwell P. Robinson. Raleigh: North Carolina Department of Cul- tural Resources, Division of Archives and History, 1976.
Edgar, Walter. Partisans and Redcoats: The Southern Conflict That Turned the Tide of the American Revolution. New York: Morrow, 2001.
Lumpkin, Henry. From Savannah to Yorktown: The American Revolution in the South. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1981.