The American Revolution in South Carolina

The Battle of Williamson's Plantation

July 12, 1780


Patriot Cdr:

Col. Andrew Neel
Loyalist Cdr:

Capt. Christian Huck
Killed:

1
Killed:

35
Wounded:

1
Wounded:

50
Captured:

1
Captured:

29
Old District: 

Camden District
Present County:

York County

This battle is also known as Huck's Defeat and as Brattonsville.

The Battle of Williamson's Plantation was a significant turning point for the backcountry during the American Revolution. Early on the morning of July 12, 1780, a battle was fought near the home of Lt. Col. William Bratton in York County, South Carolina, which was to have far-reaching consequences for the Patriot cause. This engagement is known as the Battle of Williamson's Plantation or, more popularly, simply as "Huck's Defeat."

The day before the battle, a detachment of about 115 British Loyalists under the command of Capt. Christian Huck had arrived at the Bratton plantation looking for Lt. Col. Bratton and other local leaders of the Patriot militia. Huck's force consisted of elements of Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton's hated British Legion (the Green Dragoons), the New York Volunteers, and a large body of Loyalist militia. For over a month these troops, based at Rocky Mount in Fairfield County, had roamed the upstate, destroying homes and terrorizing the area's Patriots.

Capt. Huck arrived at Brattonsville on the evening of July 11, threatened Bratton's wife, Martha, with her life, and was informed that her husband was not at home. Capt. Huck encamped his men in a field surrounding the house of James Williamson, a neighbor of the Brattons. Unknown to Capt. Huck, several companies of the local Patriot militia were proceeding from Gen. Thomas Sumter's camp in northern Lancaster County for the purpose of intercepting and halting the British advance. The Patriots were commanded by several well-known militia officers from York, Chester, and Fairfield Counties, including Lt. Col. Bratton, Lt. Col. William Hill, Col. Andrew Neel, Col. Edward Lacey, Col. Richard Winn, Capt. John McClure, and Capt. John Moffett.

The combined Patriot force, consisting of about 250 mounted soldiers, rode through the night and arrived at the Williamson home before daylight on the 12th and made plans for a dawn attack. Dividing their force in two, the Patriots placed one group to the north of the house while the other circled around to the east. At daybreak, as the British were just climbing out of their bedrolls, the attack began. Surprised by the suddenness of the attack, the British were thrown into chaos. Twice, the British tried unsuccessfully to mount a counterattack. Dashing from the Williamson house, Capt. Huck swung up onto his horse and waving his sword attempted to rally his force to meet the rebel threat. Thomas Carroll, sighting Capt. Huck, took aim and shot the Loyalist leader in the head. The British now lost what organized resistance they had and the fight became a running battle back to the south toward the Bratton house where some of the last fighting took place.

The battle lasted a little over an hour and cost the British 25 to 50 killed, several times that number wounded, and 29 captured. As was custom for both sides during the war in the backcountry, mercy was not freely given upon successful completion of a battle. Several of those captured were later hung. The only Patriot casualty reported was a man by the name of Campbell. On July 15, Lord Cornwallis reported to his superior, Lord Clinton, "the Captain is killed, and only twelve of the legion and as many of the militia escaped."

This brief engagement had the two-fold effect of rallying support for the Patriot cause in the upstate, and demonstrating to the British that South Carolina was not a "conquered province," as they had often boasted after the surrender of Charleston in May 1780. The Battle of Huck's Defeat galvanized the Patriots in South Carolina and helped pave the way for the larger victories at Kings Mountain and Cowpens, and ultimately the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

New Acquisiton District Regiment detachment led by Col. Andrew Neel, Lt. Col. William Bratton, Lt. Col. William Hill, with the following seven (7) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Thomas Brown
- Capt. Walter Carson
- Capt. Joseph Howe
- Capt. Thomas Jenkins
- Capt. James Martin
- Capt. Robert Thomson
- Capt. Thomas Woods, Sr.

Turkey Creek Regiment detachment led by Col. Edward Lacey, with the following seven (7) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Henry Bishop
- Capt. James Johnson
- Capt. John McClure
- Capt. John Moffett
- Capt. John Nixon
- Capt. Alexander Pagan
- Capt. Elijah Steele

Fairfield Regiment detachment led by Col. Richard Winn, with the following four (4) known companies, led by:
- Capt. John McCool
- Capt. James Mitchell
- Capt. George Reed
- Capt. John Adam Summer (captured)

2nd Spartan Regiment detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Robert Montgomery

British Legion detachment led by Capt. Christian Huck, with 19 men

NY Volunteers, Capt. Bernard Kane's Company led by Lt. John McGregor and 19 men

Camden District Loyalist Militia led by Col. James Ferguson in the following units:

Col. Henry Rugeley's Regiment - Lt. John Adamson with 60 men

Rocky Mount Regiment led by Capt. Abraham Floyd, with Lt. John Lisle and 20 men

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