Military Situation in South Carolina in November 1780
In the early part of November, 1780, the following was about the state of things in South Carolina:
Lord Cornwallis, with the flower of the British force at the South, had his headquarters at Winnsboro. On his right a strong garrison was maintained at Camden, another at Georgetown, while his left had the posts at Ninety Six and Augusta. Another chain of posts extended across the state, including Granby and Orangeburg, in the rear of his position. Charleston, with other places on the sea coast, was strongly garrisoned. In front of His Lordship's most advanced posts strong bands of Tories were engaged in hunting the scattered Whigs, collecting provisions, plundering and burning houses. In these enterprises they were assisted by foraging parties from the garrisons above mentioned. To oppress these formidable demonstrations a remnant of the army recently led by Gen. Gates lay at Hillsboro, N.C. Some bodies of militia in different parts of the state were preparing to take the field. Gen. Marion, at the head of some two hundred followers, often darted on parties of the enemy and cut them off in the region of the Peedee.
Gen. Sumter was also again at the head of a considerable force immediately in front of the position occupied by Cornwallis. Sumter marched and counter‑marched through the region lying between the Catawba and Enoree Rivers with a view of collecting his friends and checking the ferocity of his foes. Marion, however, at this time seems to have engrossed most of His Lordship's notice.
Marion a Thorn In the Flesh
This daring partisan had proved an exceedingly troublesome customer for four months past. Pouncing like a lion on his enemies when in his power, and running like a fox when pursued by superior force. Every stratagem heretofore employed for his capture had proved abortive. His pursuers, instead of entrapping, found themselves drawn into the snare, and withdrew in a rage because he would not fight like a Christian. The notions of his barbarism had risen to such a height in the British Army that his capture was one of prime importance. To affect this purpose Cornwallis detached Col. Tarleton with the main body of his cavalry and a select portion of his light infantry to rush into the Peedee country. Apprised of this movement, Sumter took a position at the Fishdam Ford on Broad River, within less than thirty miles of Winnsboro. In the absence of the British cavalry he felt safe in his position, thinking that he could elude any force which Cornwallis could send against him. The latter determined to drive him from his quarters or punish his audacity. For this he sent Major Wemyss with a force considered adequate to rout that under Sumter.