In 1779, Colonel John Boyd and his Patriot forces unexpectedly attacked Loyalists led by Colonel Andrew Pickens near Kettle Creek and defeated them despite their numerical superiority and more advantageous positions.


The Battle of Kettle Creek is a minor encounter between Loyalists (Tories) and Patriots that happened on February 14, 1779, during the American Revolutionary War.

At that time, the American society has been split into the supporters of independence and those who have remained faithful to the British crown. When the forces of Patriots were on their way to Augusta, Georgia, the city controlled by Britain, the Loyalists tried to oppose them yet failed.

In 1779, Colonel John Boyd, who headed 700 Tories, was assigned with a goal of uniting with General Archibald Campbell in Augusta. During their relocation, about 100 casualties occurred due to the need to pursue Patriot partisans. The militia of the latter (about 350 persons) was led by Colonel Andrew Pickens, who established the presence near the Broad River.

In this period, almost the entire South was under the control of the British Empire, which seemingly was a critical factor in the battle of Kettle Creek. However, the sudden attack of Colonel Boyd’s forces played a decisive role in the outcome of this encounter.

When Boyd decided to allow his people to rest after crossing Savannah River, he was unaware that the opponents were so close and prepared to assault. At 10 PM, Pickens divided his militia into three columns and attacked the camp of Loyalists, which left them without the opportunity to arrange for the battle.

The first response action that was taken by Boyd is to send his main forces to take the defensive position. At the same time, he presumably attempted to prepare 100 men and seize the breastwork of Patriots, which was complicated by the swampy conditions. In spite of the numerical preeminence and bravery, Tories were outflanked. Having been detached from the key forces, Boyd was wounded and fell mortally in the battlefield, and Major William Augustus took the command.

Furthermore, the two columns that were led by Elijah Clarke and John Dooly attacked the main forces of Loyalists on the right and left respectively. In spite of the higher ground and numerical advantage, Tories began to give away while leaving their supplies and horses, and their regiment was destroyed. The battle of the Kettle Creek lasted for four hours from the start of the strike to the full defeat of Loyalists, the remaining forces of which fleet across the creek.

In general, the militia of Tories had about 200 casualties, of which 40-70 men were killed. In turn, Patriots had 7-9 men, who were killed, and about 30 were missed or wounded in the battle. Some soldiers were imprisoned, others joined the army of Campbell, while the fate of others remained unidentified. In the prisons of Loyalists, about 20 men survived, some of whom were hanged as an example of South Carolina’s power.

The reaction of Britain on the outcome of the Battle of the Kettle Creek was to prompt the arrival of General John Ashe and his 1,200 Tories to Savannah, Georgia. The victory of Patriots in this battle showed that British forces could not control the interior of the state and protect their people except their immediate area.