Image above: Wayside depicting the Loyalist Star Fort and the approach of Greene's trenches in the background and the loyalist trenches to the town at the bottom left, 2022, America's Best History.
Spotlight on Lesser Known History
Battle of Ninety-Six, South Carolina
America's Best History Spotlight
On this page we're going to Spotlight the lesser known historic sites and attractions that dot the history landscape across the USA and are worth a visit if you're in their area. And while they may be lesser known, some are very unique, and will be that rare find. You'll be, at times, on the ground floor, or maybe even know something others don't. It'll be fun. Visit them.
Ninety-Six National Historic Site, South Carolina
There were patriots in South Carolina and there were loyalists. When the British headed the American Revolution south, they thought there was more of the latter. That might not have been true. However, after a small battle at Ninety-Six in 1775, the British built an earthen star fort there to protect the loyalists and their troops in 1780. Despite that fortication and another on the hill above the town, Major General Nathaniel Greene would rally one thousand Continental Soldiers and other patriot militia troops against the star fort. Five hundred and fifty loyalists would outlast the twenty-eight day siege from May 22 to June 18, 1781, and actually force Greene's forces back through his own fortications. Image above: Wayside exhibit outside the Visitor Center of the Siege of Ninety-Six, 2022, America's Best History.
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Info, What's There Now, History Nearby
Ninenty-Six NHS, South Carolina
The second battle at Ninety-Six may have been a Continental defeat in the end, but it showed the tenacity of the fighting patriots in the area, which would come to better outcomes a bit later in the war at the Battles of Cowpens and King's Mountain.
As far as the site, it is extremely well maintained, one thousand and twenty-two acres large, and interpreted well along the one mile trail, in the forts, Visitor Center, and elsewhere. If you can plan a visit around the time of the somewhat infrequent ranger guided battle walks, that would be great. Call ahead for their dates. Whether self-guided or with a guide, this was one of our favorite lesser known Revolutionary War sites we've visited and deserves more attention and visitation.
Minute Walk in History - Ninety-Six
Take a walk around the park with us on a self-guided tour of the approach to the star fort that Greene's troops made, and elsewhere. It will give you a good idea of what you'll visit when you go there. And you should go there whether you're an American history fan or just a casual history fan. It's that good!
Image above: The interior of the earthern star fort protected by the loyalists fighting Greene's siege, 2022, America's Best History.
Where Is It
Ninety-Six National Historical Site is located at 1103 Highway 248, S, Ninety Six, SC 29666. It is located off Highway 26, several miles depending on the exit you take, in central/west South Carolina. It is west of Columbia. Your GPS is a good idea here.
What is There Now
Ninety-six National Historic Site includes a wonderful film in its Visitor Center with exhibits and orientation. Its public bathrooms are right next door in park headquarters. There are picnic tables near the parking lot and a wonderful one mile interpretive walking trail through the forest to the site of the Continental Army and patriots battle approach to the earthen star fort, plus remnants of the town of Ninety-Six, and an additional fort stockade on the hill. Add in other historic structures, i.e. log house, on a predominantly wooded site, except the battleford, and you've got yourself a great history day.
When Open and How Much
The Visitor Center is currently open Wednesday to Saturday, grounds every day of the week dawn to dusk, and is free of charge to visit. Log house is only open on special occasions.
Fees and hours are subject to change.
Ninety-Six National Historic Site
Greenwood Regional Tourism and Visitors Bureau
For many people, it's a surprise that South Carolina is really a Revolutionary War state (Ninety-Six, Cowpens, and King's Mountain, and more) than its more famous start of the Civil War one, but there's both, plus lots of natural treasures like Congaree.
Kings Mountain NMP
National Historic Site
Great Book for the History Fan with Fifty Short Essays Telling the Story of American History.
Photos, History, and More Spotlights
The town of Ninety-Six, see name controversy below, was established in 1730 by Jewish families from London, who had bought two hundred thousand acres there. It is said the founder's name was founder Robert Goudey, unknown whether he was Welsh, English, Scottish, or German. When the Ninety-Six District was established in 1769, in became its capital. They were loyal to King George III, and withstood the first land battle of the Revolution outside the north on November 19-21, 1775, which did not waver their loyalty.
The Cherokee were loyal to the British as well in the area and had harrassed the patriotic movement throughout these years. The town itself, now destroyed except for some remnants and an outline the park has established, had five hundred and fifty residents at the time of the battle. They left afterwards, moving to Nova Scotia.
Photo above: Wayside along trail depicting the town of Ninety-Six prior to the battle, 2022, America's Best History. Info source: National Park Service; America's Best History; Wikipedia Commons.
The Battle of Ninety-Six
As stated above, the town was a loyalist stronghold and Greene was put in command of the southern theater to take it to the loyalists and create doubt in the British regulars minds that attacking from the south would be easy. His men approached the earthern star fort from the end of the long field away from the town. They started to build trenches under Greene's chief engineer, Colonel Tadeusz Kosciuszko, a Polish officer. It was haphazard in design, drawing closer and closer to the fort as the twenty-eight days stretched.
They would shell the fort with cannon fire and duel with the loyalists from the trenches, then once close enough, from a rifle stantion built by the patriots in the middle of the field that could fire directly inside. However, Greene made one serious mistake. As the town would also build trenches to the fort from their position behind it in order to resupply it, Greene built more and more trenches closer to the fort, some in front of the rifle loft. A mine tunnel was also being constructed. However, the tunnel never came into action, because Greene's trenches, too close to the enemy, suddenly became infiltrated by the loyalists, who rushed through them to force a retreat.
Photo above: Major General Nathaniel Greene, 1792, John Trumball. Courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
Why Named Ninety-Six?
It is said in the lore of the area that the village was called Ninety-Six because traders incorrectly thought that it was ninety-six miles between the nearest Cherokee settlement of Keowee. Actually is was seventy-eight miles. There was some credence given to the fact that there were ninety-six creeks between Lexington to there or that there were ninety-six chains in an English parish. Nobody really knows which, if any, are accurate.
Photo above: Cutout of man and his horse, a resident of the Ninety-Six area, along the one mile interpretive trail, 2022. America's Best History.
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