Historic Markers Across South Carolina

The Forlorn Hope

Marker ID: NPS 
Location: At the Ninety Six National Historic Site on South Cambridge Street (State Highway 248), Ninety Six, SC
County: Greenwood
Coordinates: N 34° 8.764    W 082° 1.129
  34.14606666    -82.01881666


The Forlorn Hope
June 18, 1781

Having established the third parallel and dug a mine, the Patriot troops were exhausted. Promised reinforcements from the Virginia militia failed to arrive. A frustrated Greene wrote to Congress: "...our poor Fellows are worne out with fatigue, being constantly on duty every other Day and sometimes every Day."

Circumstances forced Greene to make a difficult choice. News arrived that Lord Rawdon's 2,000 troops were headed to Ninety Six to relieve Cruger. The construction of the siegeworks did not go as quickly as Greene had hoped. He was not yet in a position to breach the Star Fort and his tired troops would be no match for Rawdon's. Spurred by his officers and men to storm the fort before Rawdon's arrival rather than give up the siege, a reluctant Greene agreed to an assault. Fifty men volunteered to lead the charge. This brave group -- called the Forlorn Hope -- surged from the trenches at noon on June 18, 1781.

Armed with axes these Patriots tried to cut through the outer defenses along the fort perimeter so that soldiers following with hooks could pull down the sandbags and breach the walls. They were quickly pinned in the ditch around the Loyalist earthwork, caught in the crossfire of marksmen in the star-shaped fort and surprised by 60 Loyalists, who ran out the fort entrance and came at them from each side. Of the 50 Patriots assaulting the Star Fort, 30 were killed or wounded.

Erected 2009 by National Park Service.


More information:
NPS - Ninety Six National Historic Site
Wikipedia - Ninety Six National Historic Site
The American Revolution in South Carolina - The Seige of Ninety-Six, May 21 - June 19, 1781
Wikipedia - Nathanael Greene
Wikipedia - American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)
SCIWAY - American Revolutionary War in SC
Wikipedia - Star fort
Wikipedia - Siege
Wikipedia - Continental Army
Wikipedia - British Army during the American War of Independence
Wikipedia - Ninety Six, South Carolina