The American Revolution in South Carolina

Beattie's Mill

March 23, 1781

Patriot Cdr:

Col. Elijah Clarke (GA)
Loyalist Cdr:

Major James Dunlap






Old District: 

Ninety-Six District
Present County:

Abbeville County

Georgian Col. Elijah Clarke (who had only recently recovered from the wounds he had received in December 1780) was retreating from Long Canes, where he had again apparently had been trying to enlist recruits. Col. Clarke had learned that a Loyalist dragoon force, commanded by Major James Dunlap, had left Fort Ninety-Six and was in the Little River District on a foraging expedition. Col. Clarke gathered his 180-man force and headed out to find the Loyalists. The Patriots discovered the 90 Loyalists, under Major James Dunlap, who were out foraging at Beattie's Mill. Both sides were mounted, and Major Dunlap had some regular cavalry. Although Col. Clarke’s force was twice as large as Major Dunlap’s, many of his men were without arms.

Col. Elijah Clarke sent a small party, commanded by SC Lt. Col. James McCall, to seize the bridge behind Major Dunlap. Once his force was in place, Col. Clarke gave the order to charge. Part of the Loyalist force fled after the first shots. The battle lasted for several hours.

After Majoor Dunlap lost 34 men killed, he surrendered his force.

Brigadier General Andrew Pickens, who subsequently met up with Col. Elijah Clarke, reported the casualties to Major General Nathanael Greene as 34 killed and 42 captured. A few days later, while being held prisoner in Gilbert Town in North Carolina, Major James Dunlap was murdered by a guard or someone connected with the person(s) guarding him. Infuriated, Brigadier General Andrew Pickens offered a reward for the apprehension of the perpetrator, but the slayer was never found.


“Pickens very soon succeeded in breaking up the Tory settlements so effectually, that they were obliged to take refuge under the guns of Ninety-Six, and embody themselves for mutual protection under the command of [Brig.] General [Robert] Cunningham. Even here they were not permitted to rest, but were pursued and attacked by night; and but for the unfortunate mistake of a guide, would have been destroyed in the midst of fancied security. M’Call [Lieut. Col. James McCall], who possessed greatly the confidence of the Georgians, was joined by many of the Whigs from that state, and falling upon a party commanded by a Major Dunlap, a tory officer, who had rendered himself infamous by his barbarity, succeeded in capturing the whole party. Clark, Twiggs, Jackson and a number of distinguished Georgians, now returned into action, and such a change was produced in the face of things, as to extort from Major [actually Lieut. Col. John Harris] Cruger the commander at Ninety-Six, in a letter to Colonel Balfour which was intercepted, the following exclamation : -- "the exertions of the rebels have been very great -- they have stolen most of our new-made subjects in Long-Cane, and many to the southward of us, whose treachery exceeds every idea I ever had of the most faithless men. It will soon be a matter of little consequence who has this part of the country, as nothing is likely to be planted this season, every man being either in arms or hid in the swamps, and a great consumption of last year's crops."

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Wilkes County Regiment of Militia (GA) detachment led by Col. Elijah Clarke, with unknown number of men

Upper Ninety-Six District Regiment of Militia detachment led by Lt. Col. James McCall, with unknown number of men

Roebuck's Battalion of Spartan Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Major Parson

Total Patriot Forces - 180

Dunlap's Corps of Provincial Cavalry led by Major James Dunlap

NJ Volunteers, 3rd Battalion, Light Infantry Company led by Capt. Daniel Cozens

SC Light Dragoons Loyalist Militia led by Capt. Edward Fenwick

Total British/Loyalist Forces - 90


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