The American Revolution in South Carolina

Allston's Plantation

November 15, 1780

Patriot Cdr:

Capt. John Melton
Loyalist Cdr:

Capt. Jesse Barefield






Old District: 

Georgetown District
Present County:

Georgetown County

Location where Col. Francis Marion's nephew, Gabriel Marion, was inhumanely killed by the Loyalists.

Col. Francis Marion wanted to take Georgetown because he needed supplies of salt, clothing, and ammunition for his men. The capture of Georgetown would also be a great blow to British morale in the lowcountry.

Col. Marion moved his partisans across the swamp to "White's Bay," north of the Black River and the Sampit River. He sent out Lt. Col. Peter Horry with two companies on a reconnaissance mission towards Black River, where they skirmished at White's Plantation. He also sent out Capt. John Melton with Capt. John Milton (of GA) to the Sampit Road to search in that direction.

Capt. John Melton's patrol was moving down the Sampit Road when he learned of a Loyalist party camping at "The Pens," the plantation of colonial Col. William Allston. Riding with Capt. Melton was Lt. Gabriel Marion, Col. Francis Marion's nephew.

As the small group of Patriots were passing through a dense swamp, they stumbled across Capt. Jesse Barefield and his Loyalists. Both sides fired at the same time. The Loyalists seized Lt. Gabriel Marion and began clubbing him with their muskets until he was knocked senseless. A mulatto named Sweat recognized who he was and he fired a load of buckshot into his heart, killing him instantly.

The next day, Col. Marion's men captured Sweat. As they were crossing the swamps that night, an officer rode up to Sweat and put a pistol to his head and shot him dead. Col. Marion was furious and publicly reprimanded the officer. Col. Marion did not condone any acts that were against the rules of war, and demanded that his men adhere to strict discipline of the regular army.

Col. Francis Marion later reported that Barefield was wounded. On the 17th, Col. Marion wrote to Brigadier General (Pro Tempore) Henry William Harrington, at Cheraw, from Black Mingo:

"The day I got (to Georgetown) they received a reinforcement of 200 Tories under Captains Barefield and Lewis from Pee Dee. The next day the Tories came out and we scummaged with them. Part (of them) I cut off from the town, and drove the rest in, except the two men killed, and twelve taken prisoners, our loss was Lt. Gabriel Marion…Capt. Barefield was wounded in his head and body, but got off. Captain James Lewis, commonly called `otter skin Lewis' was one killed. I stayed two days within 3 miles of the town, in which time most of the Tories left their friends and went home.”

In his report to Major General Horatio Gates of the 20th, Col. Francis Marion stated that in his recent encounter outside Georgetown he had lost Lt. Gabriel Marion, one private also killed, and three wounded, while killing three loyalists and taking 12 prisoners. He went on to say "Many of my people has left me & gone over to the Enemy, for they think we have no army coming in & have been Deceived, as we hear nothing from you in a great while, I hope to have a line from you in what manner to act & some assurance to the people of support."

The combined Loyalist force in the area at the time then numbered some 200, though prior to his attack Col. Marion had understood there were only 50. While in the area, Col. Marion learned that the garrison at Georgetown contained 80 regulars, "with swivels and cohorns on the parapets."

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants
Lower Craven County Regiment detachment of two (2) known companies, led by:
- Capt. John Melton (SC)
- Capt. John Milton (GA) 

Capt. Jesse Barefield - Commanding Officer

Unknown number of Loyalists

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