Revolutionary War History!
Trip Start Mar 04, 2005
253Trip End Dec 31, 2014
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Where I stayed
Lake Greenwood Motorcoach Resort
Knowing that South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union we made the leap that the park in Ninety Six must have something to do with the Civil War. A quick check of NPS.gov proved us completely wrong!
The Ninety Six National Historic Site preserves a pathway originally used by the Cherokee for trade. With the arrival of European settlers it became the site of a bustling trading post. In fact it is thought that the towns name is derived from the fact that it was located ninety six miles from the next Cherokee town in Keowee. By 1751 a settler by the name of Robert Gouedy had opened a trading post that rivaled some businesses in Charleston. Not only did he grow grain and tobacco, he raised cattle, served as a banker, sold cloth, shoes, beads, gunpowder, tools and rum.
But, the main reason for Ninety Six being set aside is to preserve it's place in history during the Revolutionary War! In fact, on November 19, 1775 the first major land battle in the south occured here. 1,900 loyalist attacked 600 patriots gathered here. After days of fighting the two sides agreed to a truce. I don't know about you, but we had never heard about this battle. Also, it was interesting to learn that historians view the Revolutionary War as our first Civil War. The loyalists were citizens of the colonies who wished to stay 'loyal' under Britsh rule while the patriots wished to break away and form their own country!
Ninety Six would play one other major role in the Revolutionary War. By the 1780's the war in the Northern Colonies had pretty much ground to a stalemate. The decision was made by the British to bring the war to the Southern Colonies. In May of 1780 the Britsh captured Charleston - America's fourth largest city and the commercial capital of the South. By September 1780 loyalists held Georgia and most of South Carolina. The British army under General Lord Cornwallis was poised to carry the war north and the British seemed unstoppable.
But the Patriots had were not ready to give up and brought losses to Cornwallis in both Kings Mountain and Cowpens - more on these later! Loyalist troops under the command of Lt Col John Cruger were garrisoned in Ninety Six and had built a star fort with the help of slave labor. In May of 1781 a patriot army arrived. One look at the defenses set up by the loyalists troops and a quick direct assault was ruled out. The patriots realized only a seige could bring down Ninety Six.
And, so began the longest seige of the Revolutionary War. There would be a battle and the loyalist troops would flee the area after putting the town of Ninety Six to the torch. The town of Ninety Six would be rebuilt and would flourish for a short period of time as the county seat. But by the mid 1800's little was left of this once bustling crossroads. The National Park preserves not only the site of the town of Ninety Six but also the Star Fort and the seige lines. You can also still make out the colonial road which has been cut down by decades of travel that occured way back in the 1700's - pretty cool if I do say so!