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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from John Fauchereaud Grimke to John Kean
Grimke, John Fauchereaud, 1752-1819
June 21, 1779
Volume 14, Pages 311-313

[Reprinted from Moultrie's Memoirs of the American Revolution, Vol. 1, pages 495 & 499, inclusive.]

Camp at Sommers, June 21st, 1779.

The enemy having established themselves at Stono ferry, on the Main, maintained a garrison in their works of about 500 or 600 men. It was of the utmost consequence that it should be in their possession, as it secured the navigation of the Stono river,

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and facilitated their retreat to Georgia, towards which place all their movements pointed; they had already withdrawn their cavalry to John's Island, where the main body of their army was encamped; their transports had arrived from Savannah, and the baggage was embarking. The season of action was almost exhausted, and the heat of the weather, or the attendant disorders of our summer, would very shortly have put an end to the contention of the two armies, and compelled them to retire into Summer quarters.

The campaign had as yet for us been unfortunate, for, after the retreat of the army out of Georgia, a feeble and fruitless attempt was made on the enemy's gallies in the river Savannah; a detachment of Georgia continental troops, and North Carolina militia, amounting to 700 or 800 men, had been surprised and totally routed at Brier creek; and the march of Gen. Lincoln to Augusta, 120 miles from the town of Savannah, to cross the river there, into the State of Georgia, had left the State of South Carolina open to the irruptions of the enemy, who had appeared before and summoned Charlestown to surrender, spreading ruin and devastation from Savannah to the Ashley river. A proper and well concerted attack upon the enemy at Wappoo, whilst they were divided in their force, was countermanded almost at the very moment of the assault on their works, in consequence of which Gen. Pulaski had withdrawn his legionary corps from the service in disgust. Our army now encamped at Sommers, mouldering away; the South Carolina militia, under Gen. Williamson, were retiring home privately and individually, and the time of the Virginia and North Carolina militia would expire in a few days. This was the situation of the two armies, when Gen. Lincoln called a council of war, on the evening of the 19th of June, wherein it was determined to attack the enemy's post at Stono ferry on the next morning; the army was in motion at midnight, and having joined the battalion of light infantry, under Lieut. Col Henderson, which had been advanced towards the enemy's works, we arrived about an hour after daybreak before the works. The front of the enemy was covered by two square redoubts and a battery between them of three pieces of ordnance, which pointed down the road leading from the ferry, over Wallis' bridge, to Charlestown; their right was secured by a

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marsh and a deep creek, over which lead a very narrow causeway that was defended by a round redoubt, and one piece of artillery posted on the outside of this work; a small breast work on the bank of, and at right angles with the river, sufficient to cover about 80 or 100, with 2 field-pieces, protected the landing; and between this work and their left square redoubt, mentioned before, was almost equidistantly placed a small flank; the river covered their rear, and an abattis surrounded the whole of their works. Our flanks were covered by the two battalions of light infantry; the left of our line was composed of continental troops, under Gen. Huger, with 4 field-pieces, and the brigade of North and South Carolina militia with 2 field-pieces, under Gen. Sumner, formed our left. In the rear of this body was posted the Virginia militia, with 2 field-pieces, in reserve and the cavalry was posted up on the right of the reserve, and rather more retired. The position of the enemy was nearly in the center of an old field, (extending about a mile along the river,) and was advanced about 200 yards from the margin.

Unfortunately for us, by the misinformation of our guides, we formed our line at the distance of three-quarters of a mile from the enemy's works, which retarded the progress of the right of our army very much, as the ground over which they had to pass was very fully wooded with a vast number of pine saplings. The left advanced with more facility, as the ground over which they passed had never been cleared, and was wooded only with fullgrown, tall and stately pines. Our light troops soon drove in their piquets, who made little or no resistance, and the battalion commanded by Lieut. Col. Henderson on our left, in endeavoring to gain this position fell in with two companies of the 71st regiment, which had been posted in the woods, with a design of checking those daily attacks which our light troops had been accustomed to make upon them every morning. Lieut. Col. Henderson, who was in column when he first perceived the Highlanders, formed under their fire very deliberately, and returned it, then ordering a charge with bayonets, drove the enemy with great precipitation into their works, leaving nearly half of their men killed or wounded on the field.