After receiving reinforcements on this day in 1781, Major General Nathanael Greene of the Continental Army resumes offensive action against Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Stewart and the British soldiers at Eutaw Springs, located on the banks of the Santee River in South Carolina. The Patriots approached in the early morning, forcing the British soldiers to abandon their uneaten breakfasts in order to fight.
Greene commanded approximately 2,200 men compared to the less than 2,000 British soldiers commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Stewart. Unbeknownst to most of the Patriots, however, British Major John Majoribanks had managed to secure his unit in a stone house, impervious to Patriot Lieutenant Colonel William Washington’s cavalry attack. When Patriot soldiers took over the British camp and began to devour the abandoned breakfast, Majoribanks set his men upon them. A four-hour inconclusive bloodbath in the burning sun ensued, ending in both sides retreating from the battlefield. More than 500 Americans were killed or wounded in the action. British losses were even greater and the greatest sustained by any army in a single battle during the entire Revolutionary War. By the end of the battle, 700 of their soldiers were killed, wounded or missing. Because of the high number of casualties the British sustained, Stewart subsequently ordered his men to withdraw to Charleston, South Carolina, to regroup.
The Battle of Eutaw Springs was one of the hardest fought and bloodiest battles of the Revolution and proved to be the last major engagement of the war to take place in the South. The Patriots’ partial victory cemented their near-complete control of the southern section of the country.