Fort Motte



Fort Motte (Fort Motte Station) was a plantation commandeered by the British as a temporary military outpost in what is now South Carolina during the American Revolutionary War. Later, it was considered as a possible location for the capitol for the newly formed state of South Carolina (before Columbia was chosen).

British forces occupied and converted into a stockade the recently built Mt. Joseph plantation home of Miles Brewton, whose business was located in Charleston, South Carolina. The site is near a strategic river crossing of the Congaree River that would allow the British an important chain of transport from Charleston to points north and west.

By May 1781 Fort Motte was a small but imposing wood and earth fortification of palisades (9′ tall), ramparts (10-11′ wide), with a 6′ deep ditch in front; and 20-30′ from the ditch a row of abatis. Defending the fort were 184 British regulars, Hessians, and Provincials under the command of Capt. Lt. Donald McPherson. Later that month, General Francis “Swamp Fox” Marion captured the location after the Siege of Fort Motte.

Mt. Joseph became known as Fort Motte after General Marion’s siege due to Rebecca Brewton Motte, sister of Miles Brewton. Rebecca was living at Mt. Joseph with her children at the time of the British occupation. During General Marion’s siege, Rebecca famously helped in shooting flaming arrows into her family home in order to drive the British from it.

The Cherokee Path is nearby. It is also roughly in the area of an early town (1735) known as Amelia Town, South Carolina. There were several other less well-known forts in the area. Before the forts were established, there were sites which served as trading posts.

The South Carolina Department of Archives and History, the South Caroliniana Library, and the University of South Carolina have the earliest extant maps for this area.