Ninety Six National Historic Site

Center for the State of the Parks: Park Assessments

Published June 2010


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South Carolina’s backcountry was the scene of several pivotal Revolutionary War battles, including two sieges at Ninety Six, a place presumably named for the distance in miles from the area to the Cherokee town of Keowee. The first siege on Fort Ninety Six took place in November 1775. This fighting marked the first major land battle of the Revolutionary War south of New England and ended with a Loyalist victory. The second siege began on the evening of May 21, 1781, and lasted for 28 days—the longest siege of the American Revolution. While Patriot forces were not able to completely defeat the British, they exhausted their opponent’s supplies and forced the British to abandon Ninety Six.

Today, Ninety Six National Historic Site draws more than 50,000 visitors each year who come to the park to learn about the Revolutionary War, the men and women involved in the sieges, and life in South Carolina’s backcountry during the colonial era. The park’s cultural resources include the Revolutionary War battlefield, several 18th-century historic structures, and a museum collection and archives that boast more than 39,000 items. Ninety Six harbors an array of natural resources as well―rare plant and tree species, more than 130 resident bird species, and three fish species that are listed as South Carolina conservation priority species.

NPCA’s Center for State of the Parks recently completed a review of Ninety Six National Historic Site’s cultural and natural resources.This assessment determined that cultural resources are in “fair” condition overall; natural resource conditions were not rated due to a lack of information. Challenges facing the park’s cultural resources include invasive non-native species that have altered the Revolutionary War-era appearance of the battlefield, as well as erosion that is damaging the park’s historic road traces and earthworks. Invasive non-native plant species, lack of regular fire, and the near disappearance of certain park habitats (e.g., floodplain canebrakes) are problems for the park’s natural resources.

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