Online Tour Stop 16 - Stockade Fort

Williamson's Fort 1775
The Battle of Ninety Six (1775) at Williamson's Fort.

NPS | Steven Patricia

Two forts stood at the same location - one in 1775 known as Williamson's Fort and the other was called the Stockade (Holmes') Fort in 1781.

Wiliamson's Fort, 1775
In 1775 Loyalists precipitated the battle by seizing a shipment of gunpowder intended as a gift of friendship to the Cherokee. In response to this hostile act, Patriot Major Andrew Williamson mustered 500 troops at Ninety Six. His men built a makeshift fort on the high ground, just west of the jail. The simple square structure was made of fence rails, baled hay, and beef hides and enclosed a barn and outbuildings.

On November 19, 1775, loyalist commanders Captain Patrick Cunningham and Major Joseph Robinson arrived with 2,000 men. Though greatly outnumbered, the Patriots in the fort would not surrender. Several days of fighting followed leaving several wounded on both sides. Patriot James Birmingham was the first patriot killed in the South in the American Revolution. A Loyalist officer, Captain Luper, also died. Days later a truce was arranged.

This was the first southern land battled of the Revolutionary War and all the men fighting here were Americans.

Stockade Fort
Partial Reconstruction of the Stockade Fort / Holmes' Fort (1781)

Will Caldwell, Upper Broad Regiment

Stockade Fort, 1781
The Stockade Fort, also known as Holmes' Fort, was the third Loyalist garrison at Ninety Six. It guarded the western approach and access to the Spring Branch, the area's main water source.

While General Greene's troops laid siege to the Star Fort on the north side of town, Patriot Lt. Colonel Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee's Legion arrived after the successful capture of August with 150 troops on June 11. Lee and Brigadier General Andrew Pickens, commanding 400 South Carolina militiamen, arrived on the west side of Ninety Six to lend support. Lee's mission was to capture this stronghold but the initial attempt did not succeed.

On June 18, 1781, during the final assault on the Star Fort, Lee attacked the Stockade again. This time, they easily breached the stockade walls, but their success was short-lived. Greene's failure to take the Star Fort forced all Patriot troops to make a swift exit from Ninety Six before the British reinforcements arrived.

Last updated: April 14, 2015

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Ninety Six National Historic Site
1103 Hwy 248

Ninety Six, SC 29666


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