Sumter museum hosts Revolutionary War exhibit

Fort Motte - 'make no doubt we shall carry this post'

BY IVY MOORE
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 2/14/18

Special to The Sumter ItemFort Motte, a Revolutionary War British outpost, is in Calhoun County less than 40 miles from Sumter, yet its history is unknown to many. An exhibit on the fort at the Sumter County Museum through March 24 aims to change …

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Sumter museum hosts Revolutionary War exhibit

Fort Motte - 'make no doubt we shall carry this post'

Posted

Fort Motte, a Revolutionary War British outpost, is in Calhoun County less than 40 miles from Sumter, yet its history is unknown to many. An exhibit on the fort at the Sumter County Museum through March 24 aims to change that.

"The British found the area a good spot between Camden and Charleston," Sumter County Museum Director Annie Rivers said. It was an important point on the British military's supply route, as it was also on the Wateree and Congaree rivers.

The British commandeered the Calhoun County plantation of the widow Rebecca Motte, Rivers said, and occupied it as a fort until Gen. Francis "Swamp Fox" Marion and Col. Henry "Lighthorse Harry" Lee led American forces to retake it.

Rivers said Motte was instrumental in the American forces' success.

"She gave Marion permission to burn her house," Rivers said, "and she even provided the arrows to do it. She was a patriot."

The capture of the fort by the Americans after a seven-day battle in 1781 was especially significant in leading to the "beginning of the end of the British occupation during the American Revolution," according to the exhibit's guest curators, James B. Legg and Steven D. Smith.

Historical archaeologist Legg, with the S.C. Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology for 30 years, specializes in military sites. Smith is the director of the institute and a research associate professor at the University of South Carolina. They have been involved with the archaeological work at Fort Motte since 2004.

The exhibit, titled "' make no doubt we shall carry this post,' The History and Archaeology of Fort Motte," comprises more than a dozen panels and 12 reproductions of both American and British artifacts. Among the artifacts are fragments of weapons, ammunition, pottery, buttons, coins, arrowheads and more.

Maps and illustrations in the exhibit were "developed by the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum," Rivers said. Included among the other exhibits is an interactive one that allows children to "excavate" artifacts from Fort Motte, much as students, faculty and others have done since the 1960s through "work conducted by the S.C. Institute of Archaeology and Anthropology and USC," Legg said.

The Sumter County Museum obtained the Fort Motte exhibition through the S.C. State Museum. It can be viewed in the museum's Williams-Brice House, 122 N. Washington St., from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Admission is $3 for adults, $1 for those ages 6 through 17. First responders and their families with ID will be admitted free Feb. 15 through 24. For information, call (803) 775-0908.