The Revolutionary War
Battle of Wofford's Iron Works
The South Carolina Upcountry was the site of
many battles and skirmishes during the Revolutionary War.
One of these took place in and around the site of the Iron Works
in August of 1780. It is known as the Battle of Wofford’s Iron Works
or sometimes as The Second Battle of Cedar Springs. The following
account is based on the books Battleground - South
Carolina in the Revolution by Warren Ripley published by the Charleston
Post Courier and Spartanburg - Facts, Reminiscences, Folklore by
Vernon Foster published by the Reprint Company Publishers.
The Battle has gone by a variety of names, including
Wofford's Iron Works, Cedar Springs No.2, the Peach Orchard, the
Old Iron Works, and Buffington. It was largely a running engagement
along the road between present-day Camp Croft and Glendale. It started
about a mile from Cedar Spring near Wofford's Iron Works, also called
the Old Iron Works and, occasionally, Buffington for a previous owner.
Part of the action was in a peach orchard, hence the confusion. Regardless
of name, it was a bit more extensive and bloody than the first Battle
of Cedar Springs.
Following the fall of Charleston on May 12,
1780, the British had moved inland and one of the main leaders
in pacifying rebellious elements of the Upcountry was Maj. Patrick
Ferguson. Later in the year he would die at King's Mountain. But
in August 1780, he was a terror to the Whigs. Ferguson had about 1,800
men. Opposing him was a Patriot force of 1,000 or so that was trying
to keep watch on the British major without letting itself become engaged
in a major battle until it had grown to more equal size.
To accomplish its mission, 400 men were left to consolidate
a base camp and the remainder, a mounted force of some 600 under
Cols. Isaac Shelby, Elijah Clarke and William Graham, was sent into nearby
Union County to shadow Ferguson and, when possible, cut off his foraging
However, the Whigs found themselves badly
outnumbered and fell back to the Spartanburg area, where Aug. 7
found them encamped for the night about two miles west of Cedar
Spring. This was near the crossroads where Foster's Tavern (at Highways
56 and 295) would be erected in 1807. Scouts brought word shortly
before dawn Aug. 8 that the enemy was within half a mile and the Patriots
hastily broke camp and moved via the existing road from Camp Croft to
Glendale to a an advantageous position
near the old Iron Works. Here, they were attacked by a large detachment
of British dragoons and mounted militia riflemen from Ferguson's command
under Maj. James Dunlap. The first skirmish lasted about half an hour.
Dunlap's mounted riflemen received the initial fire and fell back. After
considerable difficulty, Dunlap managed to rally them and, putting himself
at the head of the dragoons, initiated a second assault.
The dragoons charged into the Patriot line, where the
fighting raged hand-to-hand. But the British riflemen were reluctant
to close and before long the badly outnumbered dragoons were thrown
back and, together with the riflemen, were pursued for about a mile
back along the present road to Camp Croft from Glendale by the victorious
Americans before action was broken off and the Patriots returned
to their line near the iron works.
Dunlap continued his retreat another mile towards the
direction of Camp Croft and met Ferguson with the entire Loyalist
force. Ferguson and several hundred of his troops were heading towards
the Iron Works. The combined units now moved back towards the Iron
Works, where the Americans took one look at the British, decided they
were too badly outnumbered to fight, and began a hasty, but organized,
withdrawal. The Americans retreated across Lawson's Fork Creek
and along much of what is now the Clifton Glendale Road. At the time this
route was part of the Old Georgia Road. There was a running battle to
the site of present day Clifton. Ferguson was hoping to attack and rescue
the British prisoners, but the American leaders took advantage of every favorable
position to form their men for battle. This delayed close pursuit until
the prisoners could be hurried beyond hope of recapture. Ferguson broke
off the battle after the Americans crossed the Pacolet River at what is
Casualty estimates vary widely. Depending
on which source you prefer, American losses ran from three killed
and 21 wounded to 50 killed, and the British from eight to 34 killed.
Based on the type action, probably the lower American figure is more
accurate and somewhere between the two extremes for the British. Graves
of the dead could be seen at the site of the Iron Works until recent
In addition, both sides likely had a number of wounded
and Dunlap left quite a few prisoners in American hands, many of
them probably also wounded.
Both sides claimed victory and probably the honors
should be shared. The Americans certainly won the hand-to-hand
contest, probably had fewer casualties and captured more prisoners.
The British, on the other hand, held possession of the field and
were advancing against a retreating foe when the fighting ended.
(Click on cover for larger view)
Press has a new book that gives a fresh insight about the importance of the
Iron Works and the atmosphere around it during the Revolutionary War. The
book is "Spirit Up the People - Four Days to the Cowpens". This book details
the events of the battle and the days leading up to it. The Iron Works plays
a prominent part in the book. Col. William Washington and 80 of his American
cavalrymen were at the Iron Works the day before the battle having their
horses reshod. With the approach of Tarleton and the British army, Washington
and his men had to flee to rejoin Morgan and his army.
One of the main characters of the book lives closeby the Iron Works.
Her name is Mary Corn and her grandfather Johnathan Corn is a blacksmith
and works at the Iron Works. When Washington and his men had to leave suddenly
to join Morgan, he asked Johnathan to go with him to
finish shoeing the horses. Johnathan took Mary with
him to operate the bellows for his forge. Mary and Johnathan
wind up being eye witnesses to the Battle of Cowpens.
More information about the book, including sample pages and ordering
details can be found on the Junior History Press web site at http://juniorhistory.com.
This web site has been started as a public service
to share the story of Glendale. The web master and person to contact about
putting information on the web site is Mary McKinney Teaster. Contact
or by telephone at (843) 873-8117. See more information
about Mary and her Glendale connection at Mary