By early 1780, the British and British Loyalists had control over most of the South Carolina back country. The general attitude of the people was that the British were going to win the Revolutionary War, so many just accepted the fate of remaining under British rule and stopped fighting.
British troops and Loyalists occupied much of what is today York and Chester Counties in South Carolina. They captured Charleston in May, 1780. They established a fortified post at Rocky Mount where it overlooked where Rocky Creek flows into the Catawba River. The fort was commanded by British Lieutenant Colonel George Turnbull and home to about 150 soldiers.
Under Turnbull’s command was Captain Christian Huck who led Loyalist New York volunteers and some British dragoons and light cavalry. Huck was a German lawyer from Philadelphia who hated the Scottish-Irish Presbyterians who made up much of the population of the South Carolina back country.
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Yet, not everyone in the back country had succumbed to British rule and continued to resist the tyranny of the Crown. Two of the Patriot rebel leaders were Colonel William Bratton and Captain John McClure.
On July 10, 1780, Huck set out from Rocky Mount with about 115 Loyalist troops. Their goal was capturing Bratton and McClure.
On July 11, 1780, Huck and his troops arrived at Bratton’s plantation. He threatened the life of Bratton’s wife, trying to force her to reveal the location of her husband, but she remained steadfast and never divulged her husband’s whereabouts. Someone loyal to Bratton managed to slip away and inform Bratton of what was going on.
As Huck and his troops camped for the night at the Bratton plantation, now known as Brattonsville, and neighboring plantation of James Williamson, Bratton and his Patriots rode through the night and arrived early the next morning.
On this day July 12, 1780, Bratton and his troops launched a surprise attack at dawn, against Huck’s forces. Reports vary on the number of troops Bratton had, but their victory was swift and decisive. The Patriots suffered 1 dead, 1 wounded and 1 captured while Huck’s Loyalists suffered 35 killed including Captain Huck, 30-50 wounded and nearly 30 captured.
The small South Carolina skirmish proved to be an important battle in the Revolutionary War. The Patriot victory restored hope and morale among many South Carolina back country Patriots. Many of them rallied around the Patriot leaders and helped to defeat Loyalists and British troops at the battles of King’s Mountain in October 1780 and Cowpens in January 1781. The tide of the war in the south was turned away from the British and helped to lead to the ultimate Patriot victory and America’s independence.
Sources for the above includes: Battle of Huck’s Defeat; The Battle of Williamson’s Plantation; The Battle of Huck’s Defeat; Battle of Huck’s Defeat; The Battle of Huck’s Defeat; The Battle of Williamson’s Plantation (Huck’s Defeat)