Explore the History of the Santee Indian Mound

By:Marie McAden

Date:5/14/2013


In an area as flat as the Atlantic Coastal Plain, a 30-foot hill will catch most people’s attention. The fact that it was once an Indian ceremonial and burial site and later a British fort makes it a must-see attraction in the Santee N​ational Wildlife Refuge. 

Located in the preserve’s Bluff Unit, the Santee Indian Mound dates back a thousand years to a native culture that flourished on the coastal plain in the centuries before the founding of Char​leston.

Aside from being the site of various religious rites, it also was used for burials by the local Santee Indians, part of the Mississippian culture that lived in this area for thousands of years. Archeologists have excavated at least 16 graves from the mound.

By the beginning of the American Revolution, the site had been abandoned by the Indians, many of whom were shipped to the West Indies as slaves during the Yemassee War. The British made use of the high ground to build an outpost. Fort Watson provided an elevated vantage point that overlooked the Santee Riv​er and the road to Charleston.

The mound was incorporated into a stockade with vertical logs around the summit and a surrounding ditch with three rows of pointed stakes aimed outward. An attempt by the Patriots to take the post in February 1781 failed miserably. In April, General Francis Marion, known as the “Swamp Fox”, and Lt. Colonel Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee initiated a siege that consisted of scattered small arms duels.

But the course of the battle changed when the Patriots built a tower that could be used to fire into the stockade, neutralizing the British troop’s advantage of elevation. Once Marion had overtaken Fort Watson, he demolished the works to ensure the British would not return to occupy it.

Although the action lasted only eight days, it was an important American victory — one of several skirmishes that forced the British to abandon the back country of South Carolina.

No remnants of the fort remain, but visitors can climb to an observation platform at the top of the mound to read about the siege and its prehistoric past. You’ll also enjoy a fantastic view of the lake and Sant​ee Cooper country

For directions or information on the Santee National Wildlife Refuge, click ​here or call (803) 478-2217.

Related Content

Birding at Santee National Wildlife Refuge
Each year, avian visitors fly into the Santee National Wildlife Refuge to enjoy its 13,000 acres of mixed hardwood and pine forests, freshwater marshes and forested wetlands. The activity and variety of these visitors is a bird-watcher’s dream.
Ten Places Every Bird Lover Should Visit
Pack up your spotting scope and field guide because South Carolina has ten bird watching spots you don't want to miss. From the mountains to the coast, there's no shortage of rich preservations teeming with hundreds of species of birds.
Native American Culture in South Carolina
South Carolina at one time was home to dozens of Indian tribes and tribal groups. Along the coast near Hilton Head Island are shell rings – remnants of the earliest people to call the area home. Now, South Carolina is home to the Catawbas tribe.

Featured Products

Santee National Wildlife Refuge
Midlands

Summerton

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
The Santee National Wildlife Refuge is located in Clarendon County, South Carolina. The refuge was established in 1941 to compensate for the loss of habitat by the creati ...
City of Charleston
Coast

Charleston

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
Known as the "Holy City", for its long tolerance for religions of all types, Charleston is the state's most beautiful and historic treasure. Charleston has had a starring ...
Santee Cooper Country Club
Midlands

Santee

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
Designed by architect George Cobb in 1967, Santee Cooper Country Club has been challenging golfers with its beautiful layout for nearly 30 years. At more than 6,500 yard ...

Featured products and attractions in "Explore the History of the Santee Indian Mound"

Nearby Attractions

  • {{item.name}}

You might also like:

Coastal Expeditions, Inc.
Coast

Mount Pleasant

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
This outfitter offers half, full- and multi-day kayaking tours, rentals, sales and instruction. Explore a variety of ecosystems from coastal barrier islands and salt-mars ...
Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge
Coast

Awendaw

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
A stretch of barrier islands and salt marshes that make up one of the nation's most outstanding wildlife refuges. The 66,287-acre refuge is a true wilderness experience. ...
Carolina Sandhills National Wildlife Refuge
Midlands

McBee

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
The endangered red-cockaded woodpecker is among the many animals and plants found on this 46,000-acre national wildlife refuge. An observation tower, a photography blind ...
Cheraw Fish Hatchery
Midlands

Cheraw

Midlands

Midlands

The
Midlands Region

Learn More
Over 3 million sport fish are produced annually for release into South Carolina's public lakes and rivers. Species produced include striped bass, largemouth bass, smallmo ...
Rover Tours Inc.
Coast

Georgetown

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
The Carolina Rover will take you, your family and friends out on a 3 - 4 hour Eco-tourism cruise that is guaranteed to be unlike any other attraction along the Grand Stra ...
Santee Coastal Reserve
Coast

McClellanville

Coast

Coast

The
Coast Region

Learn More
This 24,000-acre reserve is a Wildlife Management Area that includes two barrier islands accessible only by boat, several marked trails and a boardwalk into a freshwater ...