A Visit to the Ninety Six National Historic Site on the Anniversary of the First Siege of Ninety Six

Ninety Six, SC – This past weekend, I traveled to Augusta, GA with the intention of taking the canal boat tour on Saturday morning that it was too hot to take when I visited Augusta in August. Unfortunately, it was cold and raining, so the boat tour was once again out of the question. While searching around for something else to do, I discovered via Google Maps that the Ninety Six National Historic Site in Ninety Six, SC was only about an hour up the road. Back in January, I had planned to visit Ninety Six during my vacation, but a government shutdown had it closed, so I pointed myself toward Ninety Six with the idea of filling in a gap from January’s trip. It turned out to be a good decision; when I arrived at Ninety Six, the weather was a bit better and I discovered that they were having a reenactor encampment for the anniversary of the First Siege of Ninety Six in November 1775.

There were two sieges at Ninety Six during the American Revolution. The first (and the one that was being recognized during this event) took place on 19-21 November 1775. During this first siege, American militia constructed and occupied a stockade near the village of Ninety Six with around 560 men while attempting to recover munitions that had been seized by Loyalists. They were surrounded by approximately 1900 Loyalist militia the next day, so negotiations began. After some skirmishing and an attempt by the Loyalists to burn down the stockade, the Americans decided to leave the stockade that night, but the Loyalists offered to withdraw if the Americans destroyed the stockade. The release of prisoners and promises of non-interference in communications were included.

Reenactor Encampment at Ninety Six National Historic Site
Reenactor Encampment at Ninety Six National Historic Site
Reenactor Encampment at Ninety Six National Historic Site
The Logan Log House at Ninety Six Historic Site; in use as the “Black Swan Tavern” for living history demonstrations
Reenactor inside the Logan Log House/Black Swan Tavern preparing a meal
A reenactor portraying a Loyalist Militiaman talking with visitors about how Revolutionary War-era soldiers and militia cast their bullets and made cartridges for their weapons

The second Siege of Ninety Six took place from 22 May to 18 June 1781 and was an unsuccessful attempt by the Americans to take the town of Ninety Six. By 1781, the only sizeable British forces in South Carolina were at Charleston and Ninety Six. 1000 Americans under General Nathaniel Greene besieged 550 Loyalist Provincial troops in a Stockade Fort and an earthen Star Fort. The Americans used trenches and saps along with artillery and a wooden rifle tower during the siege operations, but the Loyalists were able to hold off long enough for reinforcements to be en route from Charleston. When the reinforcements arrived, Greene’s forces would have been outnumbered, so he decided to try to assault the two positions. The Stockade was successfully taken, but the attempt against the Star Fort failed and Greene was forced to retreat as a result.

The Ninety Six battlefield, looking over the American trenches toward the Star Fort
A cannon and recreated rifle tower overlooking American trenches and saps leading toward the Star Fort at the Ninety Six National Historic Site
The remains of trenches and saps used by the Americans during the second Siege of Ninety Six in 1781
Looking up the hill on the Ninety Six battlefield toward a recreation of the Stockade Fort that was near the Star Fort and also assaulted during the siege in 1781

Categories: History, Military History, Ninety Six, Photos, Revolutionary War, South Carolina

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