After Francis Marion's initial victories in August and early September 1780, British military authorities in South Carolina moved to eliminate the threat of an insurgency in Williamsburg District. Lord Cornwallis ordered Maj. James Wemyss to sweep through the area with a large force of British regulars and Loyalist militiamen and "disarm in the most rigid manner, all Persons who cannot be depended on" to support the King. Faced with a much larger force on his trail, Col. Marion had little choice but to retreat into the swamps of eastern North Carolina, but his decision left Williamsburg undefended.
On September 20, Maj. Wemyss reported to Cornwallis that he had "burnt and laid waste about 50 houses and Plantations, mostly belonging to People who ? are now in arms against us."
According to local lore, Weymss also ordered the burning of Indiantown Presbyterian Church, calling it a "sedition shop." Founded in 1757 and the heart of community identity for the rebellious Ulster Scots (or "Scots-Irish") families of the area, it probably was a center of Whig activity in Williamsburg. The church, a simple log structure on the site of the present building, was rebuilt after the Revolutionary War and again in 1830.