These photographs of the Fishdam Ford battlefield are another in the series of Southern battlefield photos donated by Ron Stevenson.
On the night of November 8, 1780, General Thomas Sumter made camp on the banks of The Broad River, near present day Carlisle, SC. He was totally unaware that a detachment of British were in pursuit of him. They were led by Major James Wemyss and he had, in his ranks, some of Tarleton's dragoons, which he had asked the loan of from Lord Cornwallis in order to reinforce his ranks.
Here at Fish Dam Ford, General Sumter had not been as careless as he was at Fishing Creek. He had posted sentries and pickets, and just before dawn on November 9, 1780, Major Wemyss and his men rode unknowingly into their midst. Muskets cracked and the first volley wounded Wemyss badly. The musket fire alarmed the camp and the men of Sumter dashed out of their tents, out of the light of the campfires and into the darkness.
When the mounted British attacked the camp, their silhouettes made easy targets. General Sumter exited his tent, and not knowing who held the field, dived under a steep bank of the river and stayed, until he learned which side had won the day.
Major Wemyss was captured along with many of his men. The story goes here that a note was taken from Wemyss' pocket. It contained a list of the homes he had burned and the whigs he had hanged. Sumter knew that if his men learned of this list Major Wemyss would surely be executed, so he tossed the note into a fire and no further mention was made of it.
To reach Fish Dam Ford, from Chester, SC, go south on SC 72 until you reach the Broad River. Battlefield is on right, just before the bridge, and 1 1/2 miles north of the town of Carlisle, SC.
Click on the thumbnail photo to see an enlarged version.
Broad River Looking South.
Old Fish Dam.
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Fishdam Ford Battlefield, Collection #2
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