Sunday, September 25, 2011

Hanging Rock (and other) Maps

One of the topics I've enjoyed reading and writing about is Thomas Sumter's 1780 campaign against British forces occupying South Carolina.

When I started researching Sumter's August 6, 1780, battle at Hanging Rock, South Carolina, I quickly noticed that the place that has been officially designated as the Hanging Rock battlefield (some hills on the western bank of Hanging Rock Creek, opposite the eponymous rock formation) was unlikely to have been the actual site of the battle to judge from statements in the source material (as explained here and here). I took this as carte blanche to determine where, in this area, the actual fighting took place. Eventually, I concluded that the battle most likely took place over a stretch of ground ranging from a plateau south of Hanging Rock Creek to a hill the northeast (as explained here).

I didn't regard this attribution as definitive because I didn't have access to all sources of information (noted here). And indeed, this year I've come across electronic copies of three old maps of the Hanging Rock battlefield that I wish I had earlier.

One map is attributed to Richard Winn, who was a participant in the battle of Hanging Rock. It can be found here.

The other two appear are in the Draper map collection, and were rendered in the late 19th Century (based, I believe, on local lore). They can be found here and here. (On the first link, north is at right; on the second, north is at top;

The maps partially confirm, and partially disconfirm, my interpretation of the Hanging Rock battlefield site.

All three maps appear to show that I was right about the placement of the main British camp on a plateau south of the creek.

All three maps appear to show that I was wrong about the hill on which British Loyalists were encamped. I concluded the hill was northeast of the main camp; these maps show the Loyalists on a hill northwest of the main camp.

I use the term "appear" because it's unclear how much confidence should be placed in these maps. The Draper maps are of a very late date, and the Winn map is wrong in at least one respect: it appears to show Hanging Rock Creek flowing west into the Catawba River, when it actually flows east into the Lynche's Creek.


This map is from one of last year's posts on Hanging Rock. The three red squares show places that I suspected to be part of the British encampment. #1 is Hanging Rock, #2 approximately corresponds with the Loyalist camp according to the Winn and Draper maps, #3 and #4 is a flat plateau bisected by the Camden Road; the Draper maps show the main British camp in this area.


The online Winn and Draper maps also provide insight into two of Sumter's later engagements. See the links listed below.

Battle of Fishdam Ford (November 9, 1780)

Battle of Blackstock's Plantation (November 20, 1780)

For more on the Draper Manuscripts, see here and here

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