Michael C. Scoggins, York County Culture and Heritage Commission, June 2003


Friday, 12 May: After a siege of about two weeks, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Lincoln surrenders the entire Southern Continental Army in Charleston to the British expeditionary force under Sir Henry Clinton. Under the terms of the surrender, the Patriot militia “were to be permitted to return to their respective homes, as prisoners on parole; and while they adhered to their parole, were not to be molested by the British troops in person or property.” (Tarleton, 22; Lipscomb, Names, 21:26; Boatner, 212-3)


Col. Abraham Buford and about 350 Virginia Continentals are camped at Lenud’s Ferry on the Santee River on their way to reinforce Charleston when they learn of Lincoln ’s surrender. Buford is ordered by Brig. Gen. Isaac Huger to withdraw to Hillsboro , North Carolina in order to avoid capture by the British. (Boatner, 616)


Capt. John McClure, a veteran of the 3rd South Carolina Regiment, is at Monck’s Corner with a company of militia from Chester County when he learns of Charleston ’s surrender. He breaks camp and returns home with his men. (Gaston, Southern Presbyterian)


Thursday, 18 May: Having received intelligence of that Buford is retreating back to North Carolina, along with fugitive Gov. John Rutledge of South Carolina, Clinton dispatches his second-in-command, Lt. Gen. Charles, Earl Cornwallis, with a corps of some 2500 infantry, cavalry and artillery, to follow Buford and apprehend his force. Maj. Patrick Ferguson of the 71st Highlanders leads a provincial corps into the western part of the state, heading for Ninety Six. (Tarleton, 26-7; Draper, King’s Mountain, 68)



Monday, 22 May: Clinton issues a proclamation promising protection to faithful supporters of the Crown and threatening severe penalties for anyone who takes up arms against British authority in the future. (Tarleton, 71-2; Draper, King’s Mountain, 46; Lambert, 97)


Friday, 26 May: Buford leaves Rugeley’s Mills above Camden and heads for Charlotte , NC . (Tarleton, 28)


Saturday, 27 May: Seeing that his main army is advancing too slowly to catch Buford, Cornwallis detaches Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, commander of the British Legion, with 130 Legion cavalry, 100 Legion infantry and 40 troopers of the 17th Dragoon Regiment to intercept Buford. (Tarleton, 27)


Monday, 29 May: Tarleton catches up to Buford at the Waxhaws in Lancaster County and routs the Continentals in what becomes known as “Buford’s Massacre.” Reports that Buford’s men were cut down by Tarleton’s dragoons after they had surrendered causes “Tarleton’s Quarter” to become the battle cry of the backcountry Whigs, and earns Tarleton the nickname “Bloody Ban.” (Tarleton, 28-32; Draper, King’s Mountain, 45-6; Lipscomb, Names, 21:27; Boatner, 1173-5)


Wednesday, 31 May: McClure arrives at the home of his uncle Justice John Gaston in Chester County and learns the news of Buford’s Defeat. He and his men resolve to continue the fight against the British. (Gaston, Southern Presbyterian)


Thursday, 1 June: Clinton issues a second proclamation that paroles all the militia taken prisoner at Charleston . They are offered complete pardons if they promptly profess their allegiance to the king. (Tarleton, 74-5; Draper, King’s Mountain, 46; Lambert, 97)


Cornwallis arrives in Camden and takes charge of the upstate. He establishes forward outposts at Rocky Mount, Fairfield County; Hanging Rock, Lancaster County; and in  Cheraw on the Peedee River. Rocky Mount is placed under the command of Col. Houseman, a Loyalist officer possibly from the Orangeburgh District. (Tarleton, 31-2; Davie, 5-6; Lambert 113-5; Boatner, 486, 941; Draper MSS, 9VV37)


Saturday, 3 June: Clinton’s third proclamation revokes the militia paroles of 1 June and orders the militia to declare their allegiance by 20 June or be considered enemies of the Crown. (Tarleton, 73-4; Draper, King’s Mountain, 46; Lambert, 97)


Sunday, 4 June: Cols. John Thomas Sr., Thomas Brandon and Lt. Col. James Lisle (or Lysle) hold a meeting and agree to concentrate their troops and form a camp near Fair Forest Creek about four miles from the present site of Union, SC. (O’Neall, 33; Saye, 11)


John Harrison of Sparrow Swamp on Lynches Creek is commissioned major and authorized to recruit up to 500 men for a Loyalist regiment called the South Carolina Rangers. This regiment is based at Camden and operates between Camden and the Pee Dee River from June 1780 until summer 1781. (Tarleton, 117; Lambert, 115-6; Clark, 1:97-108)


Houseman summons the inhabitants of the Fishing Creek and Rocky Creek communities in Chester County to an assembly at Alexander’s Old Field (now Beckamville) on Rocky Creek. Handbills are circulated notifying the inhabitants of the area that they are required to assemble at the old field, “give in their names as loyal subjects of King George, and receive British protection.” (Ellet, Women, 3:159) 


Monday, 5 June: Clinton departs Charleston for New York aboard the HMS Romulus and leaves Cornwallis in command of the British Army in the South. (Tarleton, 32)


Brig. Gen. Andrew Williamson, commander of the Ninety Six District Patriot militia brigade, assembles his officers and men, reads Clinton’s capitulation terms, and makes arrangements to surrender his command and take parole from a Loyalist officer named Capt. Richard Pearis. (Lambert, 106-7)


Houseman visits the home of Justice Gaston on upper Fishing Creek and asks Gaston to persuade the local rebel militia to turn in their arms and sign the oath of allegiance at Alexander’s Old Field the next day. Gaston refuses and informs his nephew John McClure, who along with his brother Lt. Hugh McClure, Lt. John Steele, and Justice Gaston’s sons, spends the night recruiting volunteers in the Fishing Creek, Rocky Creek and Sandy River communities of Chester County in order to launch a surprise attack on Houseman the next day. (Gaston, Southern Presbyterian)


Tuesday, 6 June: About 200 men assemble at Alexander’s Old Field in the morning to sign the oath of allegiance and “take protection” from Col. Houseman. McClure and 32 Whigs launch a surprise attack on Houseman’s troops and disperse the assembly. Four Tories are killed and several are wounded, while two of McClure’s men are wounded in the skirmish. (Craig, Chester Standard; Gaston, Southern Presbyterian; Ellet, Women, 3:159-60, 176-7, 217; Draper MSS, 9VV12, 15, 19, 37, 177, 159-60; Lipscomb, Names, 22:33)


(Date approximate): The New Acquisition (York County) militia meet at Bullock’s Creek Presbyterian Church in York County. The regiment commanders, Col. Samuel Watson and Lt. Col. William Bratton, have been informed of Buford’s Massacre and Gen. Williamson’s capitulation to Pearis. They state their belief that any further opposition to the British is useless, then resign their commands and advise each of the men “to do the best they can for themselves.” (Hill, 6)


Wednesday, 7 June: Richard Winn, a former Continental officer from Fairfield County, learns of a Tory assembly at Mobley’s Meeting House (also known as Gibson’s Meeting House) on the Broad River near Winnsboro. Unable to recruit any militia to oppose them in his own community, he travels to Chester and York County and enlists Capt. McClure and Col. Bratton to help him disperse the Tories. (Winn, 1)



Thursday, 8 June: Winn leads militia under McClure and Bratton in a successful attack on Tory militia commanded by Col. Charles Coleman at Mobley’s Meeting House. The Tories are dispersed with some casualties, and the Whigs capture their provisions and arms. (Winn, 1; Lipscomb, Names, 22:33; Ellet, Women, 1:240, 3:177; Ellet, Domestic History, 182-3)


Cornwallis turns over command of the upstate to Lt. Col. Francis Lord Rawdon at Camden, leaves him with about 700 men, and returns to Charleston. Rawdon garrisons Camden with his own regiment, the Volunteers of Ireland, along with the 23rd and 33rd Regiments of Foot, the British Legion infantry, and several regiments of Loyalist militia. He supplies Rocky Mount with about 150 New York Volunteers commanded by Lt. Col. George Turnbull and a troop of British Legion dragoons under Capt. Christian Huck. Hanging Rock is garrisoned by Maj. John Carden and the Prince of Wales Regiment along with a detachment of British Legion infantry under Capt. Kenneth McCulloch. (Tarleton, 85-7, 92; Boatner, 486, 919, 941, 1036)


Ninety-Six District Loyalist militia under Maj. William “Bloody Bill” Cunningham attack Brandon’s Camp in Union County. Brandon is defeated and retreats across the Broad River into York County. Maj. Joseph McJunkin of Union, who was in the battle, states that it occurred on the 8th or 10th of June. (O’Neall, 33; Saye, 11; Draper, 14VV169; Craig, Chester Standard; Lipscomb, Names, 22:35)


Saturday, 10 June: Rawdon arrives in the Waxhaw settlement in Lancaster County, sets up camp at Leslie’s House, and issues an address to the local inhabitants urging them to return to their plantations and accept British protection. (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/123-5; Tarleton, 86)


Gen. Williamson disbands the Ninety Six District militia brigade; he, Col. Andrew Pickens, Col John Thomas Sr., and the other militia officers give their paroles to Capt. Pearis. (Tarleton, 85; Lambert, 106-7)


Turnbull learns that McClure and Bratton, in command of the rebels in the upper Fishing Creek area of Chester and York Counties, are using Rev. John Simpson’s meeting house (Upper Fishing Creek Presbyterian Church) as a base of operations. He dispatches Capt. Huck with the Legion dragoons and a detachment of Tory militia under Lt. Col. James Ferguson (from the lower Fishing Creek and Rocky Creek area) to attack the rebel camp. Huck probably camps for the night at Philip Walker’s Mill (now Lando) in Chester County. The rebel militia under McClure and Bratton, who have been using Fishing Creek Church as a base, learn of Huck’s approach and retreat back into northern York County. (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/158-9; Draper MSS, 9VV10-12)


Col. Ferguson visits his brother Samuel and sister-in-law Isabella on Rocky Creek and unsuccessfully attempts to persuade Samuel to join the Loyalist militia. (Ellet, Women, 3:198-201)


Cols. Thomas and Lisle, learning of Brandon’s Defeat, make plans to relocate their camps to safer areas and to continue the fight against the British and Tories. (Saye, 11)


Sunday, 11 June: Huck arrives at Fishing Creek Church early Sunday morning, expecting to find Rev. Simpson and his congregation attending worship service. Huck finds the church empty because Simpson and most of the men in his congregation have joined McClure and Bratton’s militia company. Huck burns Simpson’s home, library and the meeting house. Ferguson’s Tories kill William Strong, a young rebel militiaman, and wound another during a raid on the neighboring home of Mrs. Janet Strong, a sister of Justice Gaston. (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/158-9; Winn, 28; Draper MSS, 9VV12; Moore, 3-4)


Rawdon issues a proclamation to the people of Charlotte, advising them to keep the peace and harvest their crops. He warns them of the consequences of armed resistance to the British. He writes Cornwallis and states that the Catawba Indians, fearing an attack by British troops and Cherokee Indians, have fled to NC with everything they could carry, and states that “the neighborhood is totally destitute of grain or any kind of dry forage.” (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/2/11/123-5, 127-8)


Rev. William Martin, a Covenanter minister, preaches a sermon at the Covenanter Church on Rocky Creek, Chester County. He denounces the massacre at the Waxhaws and encourages his congregation to take up arms against the British. (Ellet, Women, 3:164; Ellet, Domestic History, 177-81)


Monday, 12 June: A group of Martin’s Covenanters assemble seven miles above Rocky Mount under Capt. Ben Land. They are attacked by British dragoons from Rocky Mount and dispersed; Land is killed in a sword fight with the dragoons. Another party, assembled at a nearby blacksmith shop two miles away, are also attacked by the dragoons, and one Covenanter is killed. The dragoons proceeded to Martin’s home, arrest him, and take him to Rocky Mount where he is jailed. (Ellet, Women, 3:164-5; Ellet, Domestic History, 182)


The New Acquisition Regiment assembles at Hill’s Iron Works on Allison Creek, York County. One of Rawdon’s officers meets them there and attempts to persuade them to take British protection; instead, the men decide to continue their opposition to the British. They elect William Hill as colonel and Andrew Neal as lieutenant colonel to replace Watson and Bratton. (Hill, 6-7)


Fair Forest and Spartan militia regiments hold a convention at Bullock’s Creek Church in York County, and vow to continue their resistance against the British, under the command of Cols. Brandon and John Thomas Jr. (O’Neall, 33; Saye, 12)


Turnbull acknowledges receipt of a proposal from Lord Cornwallis to join “three Carolina independent companies” of SC Loyalist militia to the New York Volunteers. Turnbull agrees to command the militia and train them but is reluctant to enlist them in the Volunteers. These three companies are most likely the militia from the Rocky Creek and Rocky Mount area commanded by Lt. Col. Ferguson and Maj. John Owens. (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/147-8; Winn, 4-7; Moore, 6-7, 22; Clark, 1:152)


Wednesday, 14 June: Huck and Ferguson return to Rocky Mount after destroying Rev. Simpson’s meeting house. (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/158-9)


Lt. Col. Neal and the New Acquisition Regiment set out from Hill’s Iron Works to attack Tory settlements on the Broad River in eastern Union County, leaving only a small garrison of 12 to 15 men at the iron works under Col. Hill. (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/162-3; Hill, 8)


A Loyalist militia regiment is established at Camden and placed under the command of Col. Henry Rugeley, a wealthy Camden merchant who owns Rugeley’s Mills. (Clark, 1:147-8; Lambert, 117)


(Date approximate): Whig militia under Col. Brandon and Capt. Andrew Love of the New Acquisition attack and defeat a Loyalist company at the plantation of John Stallings (Stallions) on upper Fishing Creek in York County. Stallings’ wife, who is Capt. Love’s sister, is accidentally killed in the battle. (Young, Union Times; Draper MSS, 13VV144-5, 13VV184-7, 14VV169, 14VV177-8; Saye, 13)


Thursday, 15 June: Turnbull writes Cornwallis and reports that Colonels Bratton, Patton, Winn, and others have abandoned their plantations and “gone amongst the Catawba Indians.” He reports that corn is becoming scarce but that there is an Irish settlement on Turkey Creek and Bullock’s Creek (in western Chester and York Counties) with abundant provisions. He observes that these people have become “very violent” and proposes sending troops to “settle” them. He also proposes the destruction of Hill’s Iron Works in York County, which is producing ordnance for the rebels and serving as the New Acquisition Regiment’s base. (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/158-9)


Col. Matthew Floyd and 30 Loyalist militiamen from the Broad River area arrive at Rocky Mount, complaining of their treatment by local Whigs. Turnbull appoints Floyd commander of the Upper District Loyalist militia, and appoints his son Abraham Floyd as captain. Turnbull receives several expresses informing him that rebel militia from Hill’s Iron Works are attacking Tory settlements in Floyd’s neighborhood. (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/162-3; Tarleton, 93; Lambert, 119; Ellet, Women, 3:179)


(Date approximate): Neal is joined by Lt. Col. James Lisle and a battalion of militia from the lower Broad River, Enoree River and Tyger River areas of Union and Newberry Counties. Tarleton notes that after the fall of Charleston, Lisle had taken advantage of Clinton’s proclamation and “exchanged his parole for a certificate of his being a good citizen.” He was then made second-in-command of Matthew Floyd’s Loyalist miltia regiment, but “as soon as the battalion was completed with arms and ammuntion, he carried it off to Colonel Neale.” (Tarleton, 93)


Friday, 16 June: Huck sets out early in the morning from Rocky Mount with his Legion dragoons and 60 militia under Capt. Floyd, with the goal of destroying the iron works and dispersing the rebels camped there. Once again he uses Walker’s Mill as his forward camp. Turnbull writes Cornwallis informing him of the situation, reiterates that he is running low on provisions, and asks for more proclamations. (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/162-3; Moore, 3)


(Date approximate): Lt. Alexander Chesney, a Loyalist officer from the Pacolet River area, commands a group of Tory militia in a skirmish on Bullock’s Creek, “where the rebel Party was defeated in attempting to cross the ford.” This is probably a reference to Bullock’s Fork, a branch of Thicketty Creek, Cherokee County. (Moss, Chesney, 18-9)


Sunday, 18 June: Huck attacks Hill’s Iron Works while Neal is still in the Broad River area with most the New Acquisition Regiment. The garrison under William Hill puts up a fight but is driven back by Huck’s superior force and retreats into NC. Huck destroys the forge and all the buildings, including Hill’s home and all of the Negro houses, and confiscates all of Hill’s slaves. Huck them moves down to uppper Fishing Creek and camps at Walker’s Crossroads, where he sends out word that the locals should take protection and swear allegiance to the king. (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/171-2; Tarleton, 117; Hill, 8; Collins, 24-5; Draper MSS, 9VV289; Moore, 4)


Monday, 19 June: Spartan, Fair Forest and New Acquisition militia rendezvous at Tucaseegee Ford on the Catawba River in NC, where they meet Col. Thomas Sumter, former commander of the 6th South Carolina Regiment. They hold a convention, elect Sumter to be their leader, and commission him brigadier general. (O’Neall, 34; Hill, 8; Winn, 2)


Huck holds his meeting at Walker’s Crossroads and attempts to get the locals to take the oath of allegiance and accept British protection. Most of the attendees are older men who are not already in arms against the British; for the most part they refuse to sign the oath. Huck harangues and threatens the locals and confiscates all of the horses fit for military service. The majority of the men are forced to walk home. (Hill, 9; Collins, 24; Draper MSS, 9VV289)


Tuesday, 20 June: Rowan County, NC militia under Brig. Gen. William Lee Davidson and Col. Francis Locke attack and defeat Loyalists under Lt. Col. John Moore at Ramsour’s Mill, Lincoln County, NC. Sumter’s men learn of the attack and head to Ramsour’s to assist the North Carolinians; they arrive too late for the battle but obtain much-needed provisions and supplies captured by the NC militia. (Tarleton, 91, 118; Davie, 7; O’Neall, 34; Hill, 8; Moss, Johnson, 41; Moore, 8; Boatner, 913-4)


Maj. Gen. Johann de Kalb, sent south by Gen. George Washington with a brigade of Maryland and Delaware Continentals, learns of Charleston’s surrender and camps at Parson’s Plantation, 35 northeast of Hillsboro, NC. (Tarleton, 91-2, 119; Boatner, 1036-7)


Thursday, 22 June: DeKalb reaches Hillsboro and then advances to Buffalo Ford on the Deep River, where he camps for two weeks. (Boatner, 1037)


Maj. Patrick Ferguson, in command of Ninety Six District Loyalists, and Maj. George Hanger of the British Legion, arrive at Fort Ninety Six. (Draper, King’s Mountain, 68)


c. Friday, 23 June: Moore’s Defeat at Ramsour’s Mill prompts Turnbull to march into York County and camp at Maj. Brown’s Crossroads (now Edgemoor) with Huck’s dragoons, some New York Volunteers and the Tory militia under Capt. Floyd. He offers protection and paroles to locals, only a few of whom “submit and embody.” (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/250-1)


Huck and Ferguson make an excursion into western York County looking for rebels in the Bullock’s Creek-Turkey Creek community. The Loyalists kill one man at Bullock’s Creek ford and a mile above the ford they kill “good old Mr. Fleming, a man of 70.” (Draper MSS, 4VV120)


c. Sunday, 25 June: Capt. David Kinlock of the British Legion brings a reinforcement of dragoons to Turnbull at Brown’s Crossroads.  (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/250-1)


Friday, 30 June: Cornwallis sends a letter to Clinton in New York reporting the submission of Gen. Williamson at Ninety Six and the dispersion of the rebels at Hill’s Iron Works, which “put an end to all resistance in South Carolina.” He also mentions Moore’s Defeat at Ramsour’s Mills. (Tarleton, 117)


Saturday, 1 July: Georgetown surrenders to the British.


(Date approximate): Lord Rawdon begins sending emissaries into the rebel settlements, offering gold or “secret service money” in exchange for loyalty and information on rebel movements. (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/252-5; Moore, 2)


Sunday, 2 July: Kinlock rides twelve miles on reconnaissance and returns to Brown’s Crossroads complaining of the heat and fatigue. Turnbull sends him back to Rocky Mount and sends the Tory militia home to harvest their wheat. (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/250-1)


Tuesday, 4 July: Sumter’s rebels camp on the east side of the Catawba River four miles from Old Nation Ford at Clem’s Branch. Turnbull reports that they number “600 strong,” although their actual numbers are probably less than half that figure. (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/250-1; Winn, 4; Bass, 57)


Rawdon sends Major Thomas Mecan and the 23rd Regiment of Foot from Camden up to the Waxhaws to reinforce that area. (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/250-1)


Wednesday, 5 July: Sumter sends a detachment to threaten Rocky Mount and force Turnbull to retreat back to his post there. The rebels advance as far as George Wade’s Mill on the east side of the Catawba River, about ten miles above Rocky Mount. (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/250-1)


Thursday, 6 July: Fearing an attack from Sumter, Turnbull returns to Rocky Mount. (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/250-1)


Friday, 7 July: Sumter receives intelligence that the British are at the Waxhaws; he moves down to that area, but finds that Mecan has left. (Winn, 4)


Rawdon complains to Cornwallis about the bad effects of Clinton’s June 3 proclamation. He reports that he has transferred Kinlock and Mecan to Hanging Rock and has attached Rugeley’s Camden militia regiment to Kinlock’s cavalry troop. He also notes that Turner’s militia (probably Col. W. T. Turner’s Rocky Mount militia) are “mostly with the rebels.” One of Rawdon’s “emissaries” named Lacey returns to Rawdon and gives him information on rebel activities. This “Lacey” is Edward Lacey Sr., a noted Loyalist and father of Capt. (later Col.) Edward Lacey, a prominent Patriot from Chester County. (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/252-5; Moore, 2; Clark, 1:152)


(Date approximate): Maj. William Richardson Davie, commanding a troop of Rowan County, NC mounted militia, establishes a post on the north side of Waxhaw Creek, Lancaster County. He is reinforced by some SC militia under Maj. Robert Crawford, NC militia under Lt. Col. William Haggins, and a company of Catawba Indians under their chief, General Newriver. (Davie, 8)


(Date approximate): Lt. John Adamson, a Loyalist officer from Camden, takes a company of Rugeley’s regiment to reinforce Turnbull at Rocky Mount.


Sunday, 9 July: Kinlock pursues some rebels (possibly Davie) “partly up the Waxhaws” but is unable to overtake them. Sumter returns to Clem’s Branch and sends his men home for a few days to recruit and obtain provisions. (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/285-6; Winn, 4; Hill, 8-9)


Monday, 10 July: Turnbull receives intelligence that John McClure has returned home to harvest his wheat and that William Bratton is “publishing proclamations and pardons to who should return to their duty.” Hoping to capture both men at home, that evening Turnbull dispatches Huck and Lt. Benjamin Hunt with a troop of about 35 Legion dragoons; 20 mounted New York Volunteers under Lt. John McGregor and Ens. Allan Cameron; and 50 mounted militia under Col. Floyd, Lt. Col. Ferguson, Maj. Owens, Lt. Lewis, and Lt. Adamson of the Camden regiment. Huck spends the night at the plantation of Nicholas Bishop, a rebel militiaman who lives near Beckhamville and who is in Sumter’s camp. (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/285-6; Tarleton, 92-3; Draper MSS, 15VV280-5; Joseph Kerr, FPA S13967)


Sumter’s men, having returned to their homes in York and Chester County, learn from several sources that Huck has set out from Rocky Mount on another excursion. They resolve to ambush him and destroy his force. (Hill, 9; Winn, 4; Moore, 4)


Tuesday, 11 July: Huck stops off at Walker’s Mill in the morning to grind some grain and then pushes on to the McClure home in northeastern Chester County (now Rodman). Upon arriving, he finds James McClure (younger brother of John) and his brother-in-law Edward Martin casting bullets. Huck arrests the two young men, sentences them to be hanged the next day, and sets fire to the house. Mrs. McClure sends her daughter Mary to Sumter’s camp to warn the Whigs of Huck’s presence in the area. Huck’s force moves on towards Bratton’s, stopping at the homes of William Adair, John Price and Edward Lacey Sr. to pick up more provisions. Huck’s force arrives at the Bratton home late that afternoon. Huck interrogates Martha Bratton, then moves on to the nearby plantation of James Williamson (who has a large field of oats) and camps for the night. Meanwhile, Whig militia from York and Chester under McClure, Bratton, Hill, Neal, Lacey, Winn and others, numbering about 133 men, arrive at Walker’s Mill and find Huck has left. They follow Huck’s trail into York County during the night. Maj. John Owens of Ferguson’s regiment is taken prisoner at the home of Edward Lacey Sr. and reveals that Huck is camped at Williamson’s. The Whigs arrive at Bratton’s before daylight and make plans to attack Huck’s force at dawn. (Tarleton, 92-3; Hill, 9; Winn, 4, 6, 8; Collins, 25-6; O’Neall, 34; William Bratton Jr.; Draper MSS, 5VV294-300; Moore, 4; Ellet, Women, 1: 243-4, 3:179-80)


Wednesday, 12 July: The Whig militia attack Huck at daybreak and defeat the Loyalists. Huck and Ferguson are killed and Adamson is seriously wounded. Loyalists losses number 21 killed with 29 wounded and/or taken prisoner. Many of the militia flee the battlefield on foot. Ens. Cameron, Lt. Lewis, twelve dragoons and twelve militia return to Rocky Mount that morning, where they report to Turnbull on Huck’s defeat. At 1:00 PM Turnbull sends a preliminary report to Lord Rawdon in Camden, stating that “this is a very unfortunate affair.” Later that afternoon nine Volunteers and one dragoon make their way back to Rocky Mount, and at 9:00 PM Turnbull sends a second report to Rawdon, giving an update on the battle and his losses. (Tarleton, 93; Hill, 9-11; Winn, 4-7; Collins, 26-7; Draper MSS, 5VV294-300; Moore, 4-7; Ellet, Women, 1:242-6)


An express rider brings the “disagreable news” of Huck’s Defeat “at Col. Braton’s on Fishing Creek” to the camp of Maj. Patrick Ferguson, commander of the Ninety Six District Loyalist militia brigade. Ferguson is camped at Capt. Frost’s plantation on Pagett’s Creek, Union County.  (Moss, Johnson, 43-4)


Mrs. Jane Thomas rides some 50 miles from Fort Ninety Six to inform her son, Col. John Thomas Jr., of a planned Loyalist attack on his camp at Cedar Spring south of present-day Spartanburg. Thomas with about 60 men prepares an ambush for the Tories, who attack during the night with about 150 men and are driven off with several casualties. (Draper, King’s Mountain, 73-5; Lipscomb, Names, 22:35; Hope, 16)


Thursday, 13 July: Lt. Hunt of Huck’s dragoons arrives at Ferguson’s camp on Pagett’s Creek, and gives his own “imperfect account” of Huck’s Defeat. (Moss, Johnson, 44)


Col. Thomas leads the Spartan Regiment north and joins Col. Charles McDowell of NC. McDowell has about 300-400 militia camped at Earle’s Ford on the North Pacolet River in northern Spartanburg County, near the NC line. A band of about 40 Tories from Cedar Spring pursue Thomas and halt at Gowen’s Old Fort on the South Pacolet River near the Spartanburg-Greenville County line. Col. John Jones of Burke County, NC, leading a detachment of 35 Col. Elijah Clarke’s Georgia militia to join McDowell, surrounds and attacks the Tories during the night. The Tories surrender and are paroled, and Jones takes their horses and weapons. (Draper, King’s Mountain, 78-80; Lipscomb, Names, 22:35; Hope, 16-7)


The Continental Congress commissions Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates to command the Southern Department. (Boatner, 159)


Friday, 14 July: Col. Alexander Innes, commanding a Loyalist garrison at Fort Prince on the north fork of the Tyger River in western Spartanburg County, dispatches Maj. James Dunlap and Col. Ambrose Mills with 14 dragoons of the American Volunteers and 60 Loyalist militia to attack McDowell’s camp at Earle’s Ford. Dunlap reaches McDowell’s camp during the night and attacks, but finds himself badly outnumbered and beats a hasty retreat. (Draper, King’s Mountain, 80-2; Lipscomb, Names, 22:35; Moss, Johnson, 46; Hope, 18)


News of Huck’s Defeat brings fresh recruits pouring into Sumter’s camp on Clem’s Branch. (Hill, 10; O’Neall, 34; Moore, 7-8)


Rawdon writes Cornwallis informing him that DeKalb has rendezvoused with Maj. Gen. Richard Caswell, commander-in-chief of NC militia, at Coxe’s Settlement. (Cornwallis Papers, PRO 30/11/2/294-5)


Cornwallis writes to Clinton informing him that DeKalb is at Hillsboro with 2000 Continental troops and is advancing to Salisbury. (Tarleton, 118-20)


Saturday, 15 July: McDowell sends 52 mounted men under Capt. Edward Hampton in pursuit of Dunlap. Hampton overtakes Dunlap near the present site of Shiloh Church in Inman, Spartanburg County, and launches a surprise attack in which eight Loyalists are killed. A running fight ensues as Hampton pursues Dunlap back to Fort Prince. When Dunlap reaches the saftey of the fort Hampton withdraws. Fearing an attack by McDowell, Innes evacuates the fort. (Draper, King’s Mountain, 11; Lipscomb, Names, 22:35; Hope, 19)


Lord Cornwallis in Charleston sends a letter to Sir Henry Clinton in New York, reporting intelligence from Lord Rawdon that DeKalb is at Coxe’s plantation on the Deep River in NC, and states that Rawdon has posted Lt. Col. Webster at Hanging Rock. He also gives a report on Huck’s Defeat.


Monday, 17 July: Sumter sends DeKalb a letter reporting his success at Williamson’s Plantation and describing the scattered dispositions of Cornwallis’s troops in the upstate. He proposes to attack the British posts at Rocky Mount and Hanging Rock while DeKalb takes Camden with his army. (Draper MSS, 17VV16-8; Boatner, 159; Bass, 63)


Tuesday, 18 July: Cornwallis issues a proclamation forbiding the unauthorized requisitioning of cattle and other provisions except by field officers of the militia acting under his orders. (Tarleton, 122)


Thursday, 20 July: That evening, Maj. Davie leads a troop of Carolina dragoons south of Hanging Rock to intercept a British supply convoy heading from Camden to Hanging Rock. (Davie, 9; Lipscomb, Names, 22:35-6)


Friday, 21 July: DeKalb receives Sumter’s letter of the 17th, but knowing that Gates is  headed south to take command he delays taking any action. (Bass, 63)


Having marched all night, Davie reaches Flat Rock in Kershaw County in the morning and lays an ambush for the British supply convoy. That afternoon he attacks the convoy, destroys the provisions and captures the convoy escort. Fearing that he will in turn be ambushed, Davie heads back to his camp by an unfrequented route. (Davie, 9; Lipscomb, Names, 22:35-6)


Saturday, 22 July: Davie is ambushed on his way back to camp early in the morning by some Loyalist troops at Beaver Creek Ford. The British gunfire kills or wounds most of Davie’s Tory prisoners while inflicting only light casualties on Davie’s men. Davie returns to his camp on Waxhaw Creek later that morning. (Davie, 9-10; Lipscomb, Names, 22:35-6)


c. Monday, 24 July: Sumter receives intelligence that “Bloody Bill” Cunningham has crossed the Broad River into western York County. He sends John McClure with a company of mounted militia to drive Cunningham from the area. McClure chases Cunningham across Union County back to Ninety Six, and captures four of Cunningham’s men in the process. (Ellet, 3:185-6)


Tuesday, 25 July: Gates reaches DeKalb’s headquarters at Coxe’s Mill, NC, and takes command of the southern Continental army, consisting of 1200 Maryland and Delaware Continentals, three artillery companies and 120 dragoons of Armand’s (formerly Pulaski’s) Legion. (Tarleton, 120; Boatner, 159)


Thursday, 27 July: Gates begins marching south from NC with his “grand army” to attack Camden. (Boatner, 161)


McClure returns to Sumter’s camp in the evening with four of Cunningham’s men as prisoners. (Ellet, 3:185-6)


Friday, 28 July: Sumter moves his brigade from Clem’s Branch to Land’s Ford on the Catawba River in Chester County, in preparation for operations against Rocky Mount and Hanging Rock. John McClure is elected colonel and John Nixon is elected lieutenant colonel of the Chester County regiment. By this time Sumter has about 600 men under his command. (O’Neall, 34; Hill, 12; Lossing, 98; Johnson, 344; Bass, 63)


Sunday, 30 July: Sumter sends Davie to make a diversionary attack on the British fort at Hanging Rock while he attacks Rocky Mount. Davie attacks the camp of Col. Samuel Bryan’s North Carolina Royalists, inflicts heavy casualties, and captures Bryan’s supplies and 60 horses. Meanwhile, Sumter’s Brigade attacks Rocky Mount. During the initial attack, Col. Andrew Neal and 7 privates are killed. Sumter realizes that the fort is more heavily fortified than he was originally informed. After several more unsuccessful attempts to take the fort, Sumter is forced to break off operations when a torrential downpour of rain begins to fall. (Hill, 11-12; Winn, 8-10; Johnson, 344; Moss, Johnson, 50-1)


Col. McDowell, having moved his camp to Cherokee Ford on the Broad River, detaches a party under Cols. Isaac Shelby, Elijah Clarke, Andrew Hampton, and Maj. Charles Robertson to attack a Loyalist post called Thicketty Fort or Fort Anderson on Thicketty Creek, Cherokee County, commanded by Capt. Patrick Moore. The Whigs surround the fort and Moore surrenders 93 men and a large supply of arms without firing a shot. ((Draper, King’s Mountain, 87-8; Lipscomb, Names, 22:36; Moss, Johnson, 51; Hope, 20-1)


Col. Thomas Sumter decided to attack the British outpost at Rocky Mount on July 30, 1780. He sent North Carolina militia Maj. William R. Davie with his Mecklenburg cavalry on a diversionary raid on the British post at Hanging Rock, about 20 miles away, and concentrated his force against Col. George Turnbull and his provincial regiment, the New York Volunteers, and the local Loyalist militia embodied under Capt. Matthew Floyd. Their attack and siege against the redoubt and fortified houses was unsuccessful. Rocky Mount is in the far northeast corner of Fairfield County, SC and is on private property; however there is a granite marker on Catawba Road and you can get close to the actual site of the British post.


The Battle of Hill's Ironworks 2

Part 2: A Center of Resistance

Previous: Strategic Overview

Next: Huck Attacks


The British Post at Rocky Mount:

Lieutenant-Colonel George Turnbull commanded the British outpost at Rocky Mount, South Carolina, with his New York Volunteers and Captain Christian Huck‘s company of British Legion dragoons [see Note 1]. The South Carolina Backcountry was a patchwork of different communities, some predominately aligned with the “American“ cause, or “Whigs,” while others were loyal to the Crown, or “Tories.” Within a given community could be found persons that preferred to stay out of the conflict or that supported (secretly perhaps) a different cause than their neighbors. It was Turnbull's responsibility to organize and support the Loyalists in his area and to suppress rebellion. Turnbull largely remained in Rocky Mount, relying chiefly on Captain Huck and the Loyalist militia (who, like the dragoons, were mounted) to control the countryside.

Turnbull had several bands of Loyalist militia at his disposal in early June, including companies commanded by Henry Houseman, James Ferguson, and John Owens. On June 15, Matthew Floyd joined the Rocky Mount garrison with around 30 men. Floyd was the rare man that was clearly committed to the Crown, influential among his neighbors, and experienced in war. Turnbull promptly gave him a colonel’s commission.

Soon after Floyd reached Rocky Mount, word arrived that the Americans were destroying the homes and property of Floyd and his men. Turnbull promptly dispatched Huck’s troop and all the Loyalists on hand (a mere 60 men) “to give these fellows [the Americans] a Check.” Either because of exhaustion or other pressing business, the newly-appointed Colonel Floyd did not participate in this mission. Instead, command of the Loyalists devolved on his son, Captain Abraham Floyd. Captains Huck and Floyd set off on the morning of June 16. They would "Check" the Americans by destroying Hill’s Ironworks, the chief center of American resistance in the area.

Hill’s Ironworks:

William Hill’s Ironworks was a well-known locale that included sawmills, a gristmill, and a blast furnace. The ironworks was the most productive in the state, supplying Backcountry settlers with plows, kitchen wares, and other implements. Once the war began, the ironworks were used to manufacture cannon, cannonballs, rifles, and other materials of war for the American army. As the British overran the Backcountry, proprietor William Hill turned the ironworks into an important center of resistance. On June 12, Hill spoke out against a British officer sent to the ironworks to take the submission of the area settlers, raising the spirits of his neighbors. Hill then encouraged them to reactivate the New Acquisition militia regiment, which had disbanded after the British advanced into the Backcountry. The men of this regiment then elected Andrew Neal as their colonel and William Hill as their lieutenant colonel [see Note 2].

American Forces at the Ironworks:

It is uncertain which American commanded the forces at the ironworks when Huck attack and what units were present. According to William Hill, Andrew Neal, colonel of the New Acquisition militia regiment, departed the ironworks to attack Floyd shortly before the battle, leaving 12-15 men behind. These men may have belonged to Captain Joseph Howe's company, to judge from the pension applications filed by Samuel Gordon and James Clinton. Two sources link John Thomas’ 1st Spartan militia regiment (see pension applications of Samuel Gordon and James McIlhenny) and Captain John Moffett’s company of militia (see James Collins’ autobiography and Robert Patteson’s pension application) to the battle.

William Hill did not indicate, in his memoir, either that he accompanied Neal's mission to stop Floyd's Loyalists, or that he was at the ironworks at the time of the battle. Michael Scoggins observed that a statement he wrote on behalf of Captain John Henderson implicitly places him at the battle. If Hill was present, he was arguably in command; Colonel John Thomas also could have held that position.

Christian Huck told George Turnbull that the Americans had 150 men when he made his attack. This number could be close to correct, but it's doubtful that he had either the opportunity to count the Americans for himself or that he would have obtained accurate information from the men he captured. Michael Scoggins conservatively accepted as present only the 12-15 men mentioned by Hill; Patrick O'Kelley estimated the total as 50 men.


1: “Huck” is the anglicized spelling of a German surname, most likely Houck or Hauck. Early writers sometimes called him Hook, or used other spellings; Huck is the spelling most often given, and it is the spelling that Huck chose for himself (for more, see this discussion on Marg Baskin’s Banastre Tarleton website; a longer biography appears in Michael Scoggins’ book on Huck‘s Defeat).

2. Neal was chosen colonel because he was experienced in war; Hill was not.


Michael C. Scoggins. (2005). The Day It Rained Militia: Huck's Defeat and the Revolution in the South Carolina Backcountry, May-July 1780. (link to

Patrick O'Kelley. Hill's Iron Works, South Carolina: The Presbyterian Rebellion -- 18 June 1780 (or June 9th or 11th) (.pdf file). Article in Volume 2, Number 6 of the Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution magazine.

Michael C. Scoggins. More on the Battle of Hill's Ironworks (.pdf file). Article in Volume 2, Number 7 of the Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution magazine.

Keith Krawczynski. Aera Ironworks (.pdf file). Article in Volume 2, Number 7 of the Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution magazine.

James Collins. (1859). Autobiography of a Revolutionary Soldier.

Robert S. Lambert. (1987). South Carolina Loyalists in the American Revolution. (link to

Will Graves transcribed the pension application of Samuel Gordon (.pdf file).