Yesterday, January, 22, 2019, the APG Board of Directors voted to donate over $11,000 to the American Battlefield Trust for the purchase of 2.4 acres of core battlefield property at Hang Rock, SC. Total cost for the acreage was $16,561. The ABT already had a commitment of $5000 in matching funds. Our donation completed the purchase and made us the majority donor. Small as it is, it is a great addition to the existing preservation there.
Why Hanging Rock? A small battle in the backwoods of SC but one of many that kept the British off guard and unable to secure their lines of communication (LOC’s) to other parts of SC and unable to move into NC and VA. It is symbolic of the battles and skirmishes that also allowed the Patriot forces, both Continental and Militia, after the fall of Charleston and defeat at the Waxhaws, time to reorganize and re-equip. In just 2 weeks, Continental troops and militia, under Gen Gates would suffer another terrible defeat at the Battle of Camden not far to the south. Continental forces in the south were decimated and almost ceased to exist. The situation in the south was more than perilous.
The action at Hanging Rock and fights by partisan forces like those of Francis Marion, Andrew Pickens, Isaac Selby, and Elijah Clarke, kept the war alive and the British off balance during the critical time after that defeat. In just 13 months Cornwallis would be trapped at Yorktown and would surrender. Without their efforts things would most likely have ended differently.
From the American Battlefield Trust web site.
“In the summer of 1780, the Patriots became increasingly bold in their attacks in South Carolina, especially after guerrilla forces destroyed a British detachment commanded by Captain Christian Huck on July 12. On July 30, Patriot forces under the command of Colonel Thomas Sumter attacked the British outpost at Rocky Mount. Despite a determined effort, however, Sumter was unable to dislodge the enemy. Meanwhile, a detachment under the command of Major William Richardson Davie engaged a British force at the Hanging Rock outpost in order to draw attention away from Sumter’s mission. Although Davie’s attack was merely a diversion, he enjoyed more success than Sumter, inflicting a number of casualties and capturing valuable supplies.
After the failure at Rocky Mount, Sumter and Davie decided to launch a larger attack on Hanging Rock.
The British commander at Hanging Rock, Major John Carden, had roughly 1,400 men fit for duty. His forces consisted of a mixture of regular troops and Loyalist militiamen. On the morning of August 6, 1780, Sumter split his forces, numbering roughly 800 men, into three columns and began advancing against the British outpost. Losing their way, the columns fortuitously converged on the weakest part of the British line, held by Col. Morgan Bryan’s North Carolina Loyalists. Sumter and Davie soon gained the upper hand and drove the North Carolinians from the field and advanced toward the British camp. Upton their approach, the British Legion and Loyalists under John Hamilton engaged the Americans, however, the Patriots were able to maintain their momentum and the British line collapsed.
As Davie’s men entered the camp, Tories from Col. Thomas Brown’s Ranger unit counterrattacked. Brown’s men threatened to turn Davie’s flank but the Americans met the assault and sent the British reeling once again. In a last ditch effort, the surviving British companies formed a defensive square. Fortunately, the Crown force was aided by the fact that many of Sumter’s and Davie’s men were distracted from the fight by the opportunity for plunder. This gave Carden time to rally and prepare to reenter the fight. Davie, however, managed to maintain some discipline in his ranks and quickly dispersed the remainder of Carden’s force.
The British lost 200 men killed and wounded out of 1,400 men engaged. One British unit, the Prince of Wales Regiment, was essentially wiped out. The Patriots, on the other hand, lost 12 men killed and 41 wounded out of 800 engaged. The victory at Hanging Rock served to further embolden Patriot efforts to dislodge the British. The battle was also significant because it represented the first military experience for a young messenger serving Davie: Andrew Jackson.”
The battlefield is approximately 1.5 miles south of Heath Springs, SC on Flat Rock Road. (The Old Camden Road)
We are now accepting donations to help fund our commitment. Donation can be made by PayPal at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d prefer you can send a check to APG 2221 Hunters Rd SW Roanoke, VA 24015. We will also target any funds received from miniature or APG Store purchases through the end of April towards this project. Any amount will help.