As early as 1751, a trading post was established at the crossroads site of Ninety Six, South Carolina, so named because of its location on the Cherokee Path. Over the next twenty-five years, a community grew as traders and settlers moved through and into the "back country" along the old trails. In 1759 a stockade fort was built around the trading post; in 1769 a courthouse and jail became the nucleus for a village boasting twelve houses. By 1780 this crossroads community became the westernmost and most important Loyalist outpost in South Carolina.
Colonel John Harris Cruger assumed command in mid August 1780. His garrison was made up of 550 Loyalist militia, seasoned veterans of the Southern Campaign - the III Bn, de Lancey's, II Bn. New Jersey Volunteers and the South Carolina Militia (Royalists). The duties of the garrison were to prepare the stockaded village to be the bastion of safety for the many Tory (Loyalist) families in the area.
Ninety Six, Oct. 13, 1780
... I have been very busey for three days past, securing this post, against a superior number, or rather force: Wh from the intelligence I got, I have reason very soon to expect; I have palisaded ye Court House and the principal houses in, about one hundred yards square, with Block House flankers; I have provided and got in a quanity of Indn Corn, Wh in case of siege must be our principle support...1
Ninety Six, Nov. 27, 1780
... signifying upon your Lordship's wish to have the District of 96 cleared as soon as possible of the Rebels, ...Col. Allen with an hundred men march'd accordingly yesterday morning...2
Ninety Six, Dec. 3, 1780
... [on] Thursday night last I received from Colonel Balfour: 150 Blankets, 200 Jackets, 200 Overalls, 200 Hats, 200 pr. shoes, 191 french Musquets, 2 Casks Cartridges, 1 of flint and 83 Bushells of salt...3
So, when Col. Nathaniel Greene arrived at Ninety Six, the Loyalist garrison was prepared for a siege.
31 May 1781
... Greene came here 22 Inst with about nine hundred men and three six-pounders: He had been busy ever since building Batteries and drawing Lines around us - They appear to be advancing by regular approaches ...we begin tomarrow on our Salt Provisions, which will last a month with good management... He is within One Hundred and fifty Yards of our Star Redoubt; the principal work...4
3 June 1781
... They are within less than sixty yards of our Star Redouby, at which distance they put up a Log Battery and fired from it this morning... Our loss as yet is only one officer killed and eight soldiers wounded. We get no intelligence. No Creature come in to us... I had two hundred militia pretty good and armed, and about an hundred old and helpless with their families. We were this day summoned to surrender, and trust to the Generosity of the American Arms, which being rejected a furious cannonading began from [our] three one-gun batteries...5
Ninety Six was authorized an historic site in 1976 "to preserve and commemorate ...an area of unique historical significance associated with the settlement and development of the English Colonies in America and with the southern campaign of the American Revolutionary War..."6 (Public Law 94-393)
On the occasion of its Bicentennial, Robert Armstrong, Superintendent of the Ninety Six National Historic Site, has made plans to observe the siege of Ninety Six during June of 1981. He has said that plans will probably include an encampment of Revolutionary War Units.
If you are a descendant of a Loyalist soldier who took part in the siege of Ninety Six, you may be interested in participating in this bicentennial commemoration. Superintendent Robert Armstrong assures us a warn welcome.
1 Letter written by J. H. Cruger, Lt. Col. Commang 96 to Earl Cornwallis, 13 Oct 1780
2 Ibid. 27 Nov 1780
3 Ibid. 3 Dec 1780
4 Letter written by J. H. Cruger, Lt. Col Commandg 96 to Lord Rawdon, 31 May 1781
5 Ibid. 3 Jun 1781
6 Ninety Six, General Management Plan, Jun 1980, p. 5
Boatner, W., Encyclopaedia of the American Revolution
Britt, Kent, "The Loyalist", National Geographic, April 1975, p. 534
Roberts, Kenneth, Oliver Wiswell
Wright, Louis B., South Carolina, A Bicentennial History