Blackstock's Plantation

  • <p>The Battle of Blackstock marker at Battle of Blackstock's Historic Site.</p> <p>The Battle of Blackstock marker at Battle of Blackstock's Historic Site.</p>

Blackstock's Plantation


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As the war in the South raged on in the fall of 1780, with the British occupying the port city of Charleston, Patriot Colonel Thomas Sumter’s defeat of British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton on this ground raised the morale of Sumter’s militia, revealed the vulnerabilities of their elite foe, and gave those battling for independence the confidence to continue the fight.

On the road leading to the remote Blackstock’s Plantation battlefield, you can almost feel the centuries peel away. There are no historic structures left from the Revolutionary War-era farm that stood here, but the landscape — rugged and silent — is timeless.

Thomas Sumter’s victory at Fish Dam Ford just 10 days before the engagement here, made the Patriot officer’s militia a sudden threat to the key British post at Ninety Six, South Carolina, and prompted British commander Lord Cornwallis to send Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton to chase after “the Carolina Gamecock.” In his relentless pursuit of Sumter, Tarleton left his infantry and artillery units behind so he could increase his pace. Tipped off to Tarleton’s whereabouts and the lack of his full Legion, Sumter made a bold decision to confront Tarleton’s forces here at Blackstock’s Plantation rather than risk a difficult retreat across the nearby Tyger River.

Outnumbering Tarleton almost two to one, Sumter led his men in an attack. The dismounted British troops immediately responded, charging laboriously up the steep hill with their bayonets out. They advanced too far, however, and came under precision fire from Patriot sharpshooters in the log outbuildings. Tarleton then led his dragoons in a wild, second charge toward the log buildings of the plantation, from which riflemen continued to fire. But there were too many obstacles in his path — fences and dense trees — and as men and horses squeezed between them, they were cut down by Patriot bullets.

Late in the battle, as he felt sure of victory, Sumter recklessly rode out to the center line to view the action and was wounded by a shot from a British musket. Sumter survived, and he had reason to be proud. This was Tarleton’s first defeat, and for the first time in the war’s Southern Campaign, partisan militiamen — fighting alone, with no help from the Continental regulars — managed to repulse British redcoats. Of Tarleton’s 270 men, 92 were killed and 100 were wounded. The Patriots recorded seven casualties: three killed and four wounded.

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