ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Ninety Six National Historic Site, South Carolina
ExploreSouthernHistory.com - Ninety Six National Historic Site, South Carolina
Ninety Six National Historic Site
The Stockade Fort at Ninety Six was captured by the
American force of "Lighthorse Harry" Lee during the
second Battle of Ninety Six.
Ninety Six, South Carolina
An American cannon aims out
at the earthworks of Star Fort
at Ninety Six National Historic
Site in South Carolina.
First South Carolinian Killed
A monument at Ninety Six
honors James Birmingham,
who was killed in the 1775
battle. He was the first South
Carolinian to give his life in
the American Revolution.
Star Fort at Ninety Six
The earthworks of the strong
British fort still stand guard
over the battlefield at Ninety
Six National Historic Site.
Ninety Six National Historic Site - Ninety Six, South Carolina
South Carolina in the Revolution
Log Tavern at Ninety Six
A restored log tavern helps
visitors look back through
time to the daily life of the
people of Ninety Six.
The scene of two important battles of the
American Revolution, Ninety Six National
Historic Site is a landmark of Southern

The unique name originated because the
crossroads settlement was 96 miles down
the famed Cherokee Path from the important
Cherokee town of Keowee. The path
connected the Cherokee villages with the
new English settlement of Charles Towne
(Charleston) on the South Carolina coast.

A rough and tumble frontier settlement,
Ninety Six was the site of a trading post run
by Robert Gouedy, who settled there in
around 1751. On the eve of the American
Revolution, it was also home to a blacksmith
shop, courthouse, jail, houses and a log fort
built around Robert Gouedy's barn as a
defense against Indian raids.

The storm clouds of the American Revolution
loomed over the little settlement by 1775. In
April of that year, Patriot militia battled British
troops at Lexington and Concord in
Massachusetts and war quickly spread
across the Eastern seaboard.

At Ninety Six, loyalties were divided as they
were through much of the South. Many of the
community's 100 or so residents favored the
Patriot movement, while perhaps as many
others remained loyal to King George III. It
was as the citizens debated the turmoil that
the first major land battle of the American
Revolution in the South was fought at Ninety
Six beginning on November 18, 1775.

The first Battle of Ninety Six pitted an army of
around 1,900 Loyalists against 562 Patriots.
The latter force, led by Major Andrew
Williamson, threw up a hasty log stockade
and held off Loyalist attacks for two days. The
battle finally ended when Williamson and his
men agreed to dismantle their fort and give
up their swivel guns (small cannon) for three

It was in this first battle that James
Birmingham was killed. He was the first
South Carolinian to give his life in the
American Revolution and a monument at the
park notes his sacrifice.

The event that most historians focus on at
Ninety Six began on May 22, 1781, more than
five and one-half years after the first battle.

It was on that date that the famed Patriot,
General Nathaniel Greene arrived at Ninety
Six with an army of 974 men. The village had
been strongly fortified during the intervening
years and was an important British outpost.

Moving his men into position around the
British post, Greene launched what would
become the longest siege of the American
Revolution. It is this Battle of Ninety Six that is
heavily commemorated at the park.

Under the guidance of his noted military
engineer, Colonel Thaddeus Kosciuszko,
Greene began regular siege operations
against Ninety Six. The Patriots focused their
attention on the Star Fort, a strong earthwork
that protected one flank of the settlement.
Their parallels, trenches, battery sites and
zigzag approaches can still be seen today.

The firing grew intense as the Americans
slowly dug their way towards the walls of the
British fort. Kosciuszko directed the building
of a log tower from which Greene's riflemen
could direct fire down into the Star Fort. The
engineer also had his men dig a tunnel that
he hoped to fill with gunpowder and explode
under the British ramparts. Although it is not
accessible to the public, the tunnel remains
intact and is thought to be the last surviving
siege tunnel of the American Revolution.

The Battle of Ninety Six intensified on June 8,
1781, when Colonel Henry "Lighthorse Harry"
Lee arrived on the field following his capture
of Augusta, Georgia. Lee's men joined in the
siege operations, using their cannon to block
British access to the branch from which they
obtained water.
Unfortunately for American hopes, however, a
relief column of 2,000 British troops left
Charleston on June 7, 1781, and after a few
days word reached General Greene of their
approach. He decided to launch a desperate
assault in hopes that he might take Ninety
Six before reinforcements could reach his
British foes.

On June 18, 1781, Greene ordered his men
to storm both the Star Fort and the nearby
Stockade Fort (also called Holmes Fort). In a
mad rush the American soldiers went
forward. Smoke and fire covered the
battlefield and the cries of battle erupted
across the landscape. Lighthorse Harry Lee
and his men succeeded in taking the
Stockade Fort, but Star Fort was too strong
and the American attacks against its walls
were driven back.

With the British relief force now just two or
three days away, Greene ended his siege
and withdrew into the South Carolina back
country. The Siege and Battle of Ninety Six
had cost the British 85 men killed or
wounded. The Americans lost around 185
killed, wounded or missing (including militia).

The British victory was short-lived. Rather
than try to hold Ninety Six, they evacuated the
post and burned the village to the ground.
Greene continued his Carolina Campaign
and the soldiers faced each other again and
again in the final days of the war.

In the years after the American Revolution,
the settlement of Cambridge grew adjacent
to the site of the Stockade or Holmes Fort.
Old Ninety Six faded away. Cambridge
eventually did as well, both replaced by the
modern town of Ninety Six two miles away.

The battlefields and fortifications are now
preserved at Ninety Six National Historic Site.
The park is located at 1103 Highway 48 in
Ninety Six, South Carolina. The Visitor Center
is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., while the
grounds are open daily from daylight until
dark. There is no charge to visit the park.
Click here to visit the official website.

The Southeast Archaeology Center has an
outstanding website on the history and
archaeology of Ninety Six.
Visit it by clicking

The park is an outstanding place to learn
about the American Revolution in the South.
The Visitor Center features a museum and
video, there are paved walking trails leading
through the site and excellent interpretive
panels point out key sites associated with
the battle.
Stockade Fort
Also called Holmes Fort, the
Stockade Fort was a focal
point of the American attack
on June 18, 1781.
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Copyright 2012 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Update: July 8, 2012
The Revolution in the South