Combahee River

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The Combahee River as seen from the Harriet Tubman bridge along U.S. Highway 17

The Combahee River (/kəmˈb/ kəm-BEE)[1] is a short blackwater river in the southern Lowcountry region of South Carolina formed at the confluence of the Salkehatchie and Little Salkehatchie rivers near the Islandton community of Colleton County, South Carolina. Part of its lower drainage basin combines with the Ashepoo River and the Edisto River to form the ACE Basin The Combahee empties into Saint Helena Sound near Beaufort, which in turn empties into the Atlantic Ocean.


Named for the Combahee Indians (pronounced Cumbee by locals) who formerly lived on this stream.

The Combahee area was first settled in the 1680s. Before the Yamasee War of 1715, land was set aside for the Yamasee along several rivers including the Combahee.[2]

The Combahee River bordered and supplied the water for some of the largest, most productive rice plantations prior to the Civil War. It was also the scene of skirmishes during the Yamasee War and the Revolutionary War. It was during the Revolutionary War that the British made an attempt at foraging which the Americans headed by General Gist and Colonel John Laurens opposed, causing the loss of Laurens' life.

On 27 August 1782, one of the last fights in the American Revolution between American and British forces took place along the Combahee River - with insignificant results (if one counts as insignificant the death of Colonel John Laurens, the son of Henry Laurens, a former president of the Continental Congress).

The Combahee River was made famous as the location of the Harriet Tubman Combahee River Raid, a Union raid into the interior of South Carolina June 2, 1863 which freed over 750 slaves. The bridge across the Combahee on US Highway 17 is the location today.


  1. ^ Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary, Third Edition (Merriam-Webster, 1997; ISBN 0877795460), p. 272.
  2. ^ South Carolina Tribes: The Yamasee Indians, MCAS Beaufort

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°30′31″N 80°30′34″W / 32.50861°N 80.50944°W / 32.50861; -80.50944

See also[edit]

Combahee River Collective