History & Culture

A Brief History of Ninety Six

Ninety Six National Historic Site is an area of unique historical and archeological significance. The unusual name was given by Charleston traders in the early 1700's because they thought it was the estimated remaining number of miles from here to the Cherokee village of Keowee in the upper South Carolina foothills.

By the mid-1700's, European colonists found it a favorable place to settle. During Ninety Six's early days, troubles with local Indians increased.In 1760, Cherokees twice attacked Fort Ninety Six, built for the settlers' protection. Located at the crossroads of twelve roads and paths, Ninety Six village reached its peak in the 1770's.This important backcountry town boasted a growing population, 12 houses, taverns and shops.At the newly constructed courthouse and jail, court cases were heard twice each year in April and November.

Ninety Six proved to be a strategic location in the Revolutionary War.The first land battle south of New England was fought here in 1775.Later in the war, Ninety Six figured prominently in the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution.In 1780, the British fortified the strategically important frontier town. From May 22 - June 18, 1781 Major General Nathanael Greene with 1,000 patriot troops staged the longest field siege of the Revolutionary War against 550 loyalists who were defending Ninety Six. The earthen Star Fort remains as one of the best preserved examples of an original 18th century fortification.


Researching Ninety Six or the Southern Campaign of the Revolution?

  • Agniel, Lucien. The Late Affair Has Almost Broken My Heart: The American Revolution in the South, 1780-81. Riverside, Conn.: Chatham Press, 1972.
  • Allaire, Lt Anthony. Diary of 1780-. http://www.loyalamericanregiment.org/allaire.htm
  • Bass, Robert D. Ninety Six: The Struggle for the South Carolina Backcountry. Lexington, SC: Sandlapper Store, 1978.
  • Bass, Robert D. Gamecock: The Life and Campaigns of General Thomas Sumter. Orangeburg, South Carolina: Sandlapper Publishing Co. Inc., 1961.
  • Bass, Robert D. Swamp Fox: The Life and Campaigns of General Francis Marion. Orangeburg, South Carolina: Sandlapper Publishing Co. Inc., 1959.
  • Buchanan, John. The Road to Charleston: Nathanael Greene and the American Revoluion. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2019
  • Buchanan, John. The Road to Guilford Courthouse: The American Revolution in the Carolinas. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1997.
  • Cann, Marvin L. “Prelude to War: The First Battle of Ninety Six, November 19-21, 1775.” South Carolina Historical Magazine 76 (1975): 197-214.
  • Cann, Marvin L. “War in the Backcountry: The Siege of Ninety Six, May 22- June 19, 1781.” South Carolina Historical Magazine 72 (1971): 1-14.
  • Cann, Marvin L. Old Ninety Six in the South Carolina Backcountry—1700-1781. Troy, South Carolina. Sleepy Creek Publishing, 2000.
  • Chidsey, Donald Barr. The War in the South: The Carolinas and Georgia in the American Revolution, An Informal History. New York: Crown Publishers, 1969.
  • Conrad, Dennis M. “Nathanael Greene and the Southern Campaigns, 1780-83.” PhD Dissertation, Duke University. April 30, 1979.
  • Edgar, Walter B. South Carolina: A History. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 1998.
  • Edgar, Walter B. Partisans and Redcoats: The Southern Conflict That Turned the tide of the American Revolution. New York: William Morrow, 2001.
  • Farley, M. Foster. “Ninety Six in the American Revolution.” Daughters of the American Magazine 112 (1978): 92-7.
  • Greene, Jerome A. Ninety Six: A Historical Narrative. Denver, Colorado: US Department of the Interior, 1998.
  • Hibbert, Christopher. Redcoats and Rebels. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2002.
  • Higgins, W. Robert, ed. The Revolutionary War in the South—Power, Conflict and Leadship. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1979.
  • Kyte, George W. “Victory in the South: An Appraisal of General Greene’s Strategy in the Carolinas.” North Carolina Historical Review 37 (1960): 321-47.
  • Lumpkin, Henry. From Savannah to Yorktown: The American Revolution in the South. Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, 1981.
  • Moss, Bobby Gilmer, ed. Uzal Johnson, Loyalist Surgeon: A Revolutionary War Diary. Blacksburg, South Carolina: Scotia Hibernia Press, 2000.
  • Pula, James S. Thaddeus Kosciuszko: The Purest Son of Liberty. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1999.
  • Revolutionary War Letters, Diaries, and Orders: South Carolina. South Carolina Historical Society. Found at: https://schistory.org/archives/
  • Russell, David Lee. The American Revolution in the Southern Colonies. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., 2000.
  • Scheer, George F. and Hugh Rankin, eds. Rebels and Recoats: The American Revolution Through the Eyes of Those Who Fought and Lived It. Cleveland, Ohio: World Publishing, 1957.
  • Storozynski. The Peasant Prince: Thaddeus Kosciuszko and the Age of Rvolution. New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2009
  • Treacy, M. F. Prelude to Yorktown: The Southern Campaign of Nathanael Greene, 1780-81. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1963.
  • Watson, Louise M. Old Ninety Six, Star Fort, and Cambridge: Historical Sketch of a Focal Point of Importance and Interest in the Early Development of the South Carolina Backcountry. Greenwood, SC: Greenwood County Historical Society, 1960.

Many of the books are available for purchase from the park's bookstore.

Last updated: January 13, 2021

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Mailing Address:

Ninety Six National Historic Site
1103 Hwy 248

Ninety Six, SC 29666


864 543-4068

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