The British, in complete control of both South Carolina and Georgia, established outposts in the interior of both states to recruit Loyalists and to suppress Patriot dissent. One of these outposts was established at Hanging Rock, in present-day Lancaster County south of Heath Springs.
On August 1, 1780, Sumter launched an attack on the British outpost at Rocky Mount, west of Hanging Rock on the Catawba River. As part of this attack Sumter detached Major Davie on a diversionary attack on Hanging Rock. Davie attacked a fortified house, and captured 60 horses and a number of weapons, while also inflicting casualties on the British. This, however, did not prevent the British from sending troops from Hanging Rock to reinforce the garrison there. After his assault on Rocky Mount failed, Sumter decided to make an attack on the weakened Hanging Rock outpost. In the heat of the battle, Major Carden lost his nerve and surrendered his command to one of his junior officers. This was a major turning point for the Americans. At one point, Capt. Rousselet of the Legion infantry led a charge and forced many Sumter's men back. Lack of ammunition made it impossible for Sumter to completely knock out the British. The battle raged for 3 hours without pause, causing many men to faint from the heat and thirst.