In early 1781, Major General Nathanael Greene commander of the Southern army in the Continental Army began a campaign to end British control over the South Carolina backcountry. His first major objective was the capture of the British controlled village of Ninety Six. On May 22, 1781, Greene laid siege to the fortified village. After nearly a month Greene became aware that reinforcements under Lord Rawdon were approaching from Charleston. Forces under Greene's command assaulted Ninety Six on June 18, but were repelled. To avoid facing the force commanded by Rawdon, Greene retreated toward Charlotte, North Carolina. Rawdon pursued Greene for several days, but was compelled to abandon the pursuit because his men were exhausted by days of forced marching and he lacked sufficient supplies to continue. In spite of the fact that Ninety Six was the only remaining inland British outpost after the fall of Augusta, Georgia, Rawdon decided to burn and abandon it, and withdrew the garrison to Charleston. In poor health, Rawdon sailed for England in late August, leaving Charleston under the command of Colonel Alexander Stewart.
On 16 July, Greene moved his army, exhausted by many days of marching and combat, to a campsite on the High Hills of Santee, allowing his main force to rest while awaiting reinforcements. Marion and Sumter continued to harass the British in a "war of posts". On August 23, his force moved towards Camden to cross the Wateree River, and then Howell's Ferry to cross the Congaree River. By 4 Sept., they were camped at Fort Motte, then Stoudenmyer's Plantation on 5-6 Sept.
On 13 Aug., Colonel Stewart had led a force of 2,000-2,300 men from Orangeburg to Thompson's Plantation, south of the Congaree River. He then fell back to Eutaw Springs on 27 Aug., about 2 miles east of present-day Eutawville, then in Charleston District (but both now in Orangeburg County).