The American Revolution in South Carolina

Bass's Mill

August 1781


Patriot Cdr:

Lt. Col. Maurice Murphy
Loyalist Cdr:

Major Jesse Barefield
Killed:

2
Killed:

Unknown
Wounded:

Unknown
Wounded:

Unknown
Captured:

Unknown
Captured:

Unknown
Old District: 

Georgetown District
Present County:

Marion County/
Dillon County

aka Murphy's Defeat. One source asserts these events happened on November 8, 1780. This Author thinks August is more accurate, but I could be wrong.


This mill is NOT the same as Hulin's Mill, also in Marion County.
Skirmish, Lt. Col. Maurice Murphy vs. Major Jesse Barefield.
Not more than twelve miles down river from Cashua Ferry was Bass's Mill, site of an engagement in August of 1781. Moses Bass was the proprietor of a well-known tavern situated on an island in Naked Creek near his mill. His establishment became the scene of a violent gunfight after a party of Loyalists discovered that a party of Patriots had made advance dinner reservations at the tavern. When Lt. Col. Maurice Murphy and his detachment arrived on the appointed day and hour, an ambush was sprung just as some of the unsuspecting Patriots were sitting down to their food and cider, while others were relaxing on the front porch.

Although the enemy had the advantage of surprise the Patriots had the advantage of the cover provided by the public house. Major Jesse Barefield and his Loyalists were retreating toward the entrance causeway in defeat, when they heard one of the Patriot soldiers call out in a loud voice, "Good Heavens! What shall we do? The powder is out!" Barefield's men promptly resumed their attack, and Lt. Col. Murphy's Patriots were forced to escape down the steep embankment behind the tavern and seek refuge in the thick woods across the creek.

Despite its comic-opera overtones, this skirmish had its serious aspects. Two Patriots and an unspecified number of Loyalists were killed, and Lt. Col. Murphy's men appear to have lost their horses, a serious setback for a mounted militia unit. Several veterans considered this battle important enough for a mention in their pension statements years afterward. Naked Creek was later known as Mill Creek and is today labeled on maps as Marsh Creek. It forms the boundary line between Marion and Dillon counties.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants
Upper Craven County Regiment of Militia detachment led by Lt. Col. Maurice Murphy, with two (2) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Malachi Murphy, Jr. (killed)
- Capt. Claudius Pegues, Jr. (Cheraws District Regiment) 

Major Jesse Barefield, with unknown number of Loyalists

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