The American Revolution in North Carolina

Cohera Swamp

May 11, 1781


Patriot Cdr:

Col. James Kenan
Loyalist Cdr:

Unknown
Killed:

1
Killed:

0
Wounded:

Unk
Wounded:

0
Captured:

0
Captured:

0
Original County: 

Duplin County
Present County:

Sampson County

A small community sprang up around Capt. Richard Clinton's Plantation and this became known as Clinton's Crossroads in 1775. This skirmish occurred in what is present-day Clinton, near the 12th green of the Coharie Country Club.


During Lord Cornwallis's march to Virginia, many Loyalists in the area began to gather their courage. In the western section of what was then Duplin County some Loyalists formed a camp in the Cohera Swamp. They believed that their location was a secret. This group had not yet chosen a leader and they were not really very organized.

Col. James Kenan of the Duplin County Regiment of Militia learned about their camp and quickly gathered 12-15 men to go after the Loyalists in the swamp. His plan was to disperse them before they became too well organized. His men scouted the camp and were surprised by a hidden sentry. Both sides fired and the Loyalists killed Owen Kenan, the colonel's brother. Since neither side was too sure of the other side's numbers, they both retreated.

The Loyalists had not lost a man and they claimed victory. Word went out that they had defeated Col. Kenan's force, and 120 more Loyalists came to their camp. This larger group selected Middleton Mobley and his brother, Biggars, to be their leaders. Biggars Mobley brought in fifty men himself. Some came as far away as Onslow County on the coast.

Mobley moved their camp from the Cohera Swamp to the west side of the swamp, at the bridge on the road to Cross Creek.

Col. Kenan remained watchful on their progress while he waited for reinforcements. These arrived in the form of the Light Horse company led by Capt. James C. "Shay" Williams. Col. Kenan moved his larger group to Capt. Richard Clinton's plantation and camped about three miles from the Loyalist's new camp.

When Middleton Mobley learned that Col. Kenan was nearby, he retreated in the night towards the Black River. Col. Kenan shadowed the Loyalists for several days. He had lost his brother to these Loyalists and he did not want to lose track of them.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Col. James Kenan - Commanding Officer

Duplin County Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Robert Merritt - 12-15 men

Unknown number of Loyalists, led by Unknown

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