On February 27, at 1:00 A.M., the loyalists set out on their march, with a party of 75 picked broadswordsmen under Capt. John Campbell in the lead. By now MacDonald had fallen ill, and Donald McLeod was in command. The going was slow, for the route lay through thickets and swampy ground. During the night Caswell abandoned the camp and withdrew across the creek. Once on the other side, Caswell's men removed the planks and greased the girders. Posting artillery to cover the bridge, they waited in darkness for the advancing Scots.
An hour before dawn, the loyalists came upon Caswell's deserted camp and found the fires burning low. Moving on to nearly woods, McLeod regrouped his men and passed the rallying cry - "King George and Broad Swords" - along the line. There, they waited for daybreak. Suddenly gunfire sounded near the bridge. Though it was not yet light, McLeod couldn't wait any longer. Three cheers rang out - the signal for the attack - and the loyalists rushed the partly demolished bridge with broadswords out and bagpipes skirling. Picking their way over the bridge and onto the opposite bank, they got within 30 paces of the American earthworks before they were met by a withering fire of musketry and artillery. Nearly all the advance party were cut down, and the whole force soon retreated. It was all over in a few minutes. Pursuit turned the repulse into a rout.
Within weeks, the Americans had captured "all suspected person" and disarmed them. The spoils included 1,500 rifles, 350 "guns and shot-bags," 150 swords and dirks, and £15,000 sterling. Some 850 "common Soldiers" and most of the loyalists were captured. The leaders were imprisoned or banished from the colony. The soldiers were paroled to their homes.
Though the battle was a small one, the implications were large. The American victory demonstrated the surprising strength in the countryside, discouraged the growth of loyalist sentiment in the Carolinas, and spurred revolutionary feeling thro...