The American Revolution in South Carolina

Black Mingo

September 28-29, 1780

Patriot Cdr:

Col. Francis Marion
Loyalist Cdr:

Col. John Coming Ball






Old District: 

Georgetown District
Present County:

Williamsburg County

aka Dollard's Tavern, aka Shepherd's Ferry.

Col. Francis Marion and his Patriots surprised a camp of Loyalist militia under the command of Col. John Coming Ball killing many and driving the rest off. Col. Marion took possession of Col. Ball's horse which he renamed Ball and rode throughout the remainder of the war.
On September 24th, Col. Francis Marion and his men finally rode out of the White Marsh in Bladen County, NC, where they had been since around September 8th. They reached Kingston (now Conway) on the evening of September 25th and encamped along the Waccamaw River. The next morning (9/26), they remounted and slowly entered the Little Pee Dee Swamp, then crossed the Little Pee Dee River. On September 28th, late in the afternoon, they reached Port's Ferry and crossed the Great Pee Dee River in flatboats and rode on to Witherspoon's Ferry. As the sun set they crossed Lynches Creek, where they were met by Capt. John James, Jr. and Capt. Henry Mouzon and about twenty more militiamen.

Capt. John James, Jr. relayed exciting news - Col. John Coming Ball and a small contingent of Loyalists were still encamped near Shepherd's Ferry on the west side of Black Mingo Creek at Red House, a tavern run by Patrick Dollard.

As Col. Marion's horsemen crossed the Willtown Bridge just before midnight on the 28th, a mile from the Loyalist camp, the planks began to rumble. The noise carried down Black Mingo Creek, and one of Col. Ball's sentries fired an alarm gun. Col. Marion heard the gunshot and rode hard towards Dollard's Tavern on Black Mingo Creek, where Col. Ball and most of his Loyalist Militia were gathered for a tankard of ale.

Col. Marion's men dismounted at 300 yards and decided to launch a frontal assault into the tavern. Col. Marion sent his cavalry to the left of Dollard's Red House and Lt. Col. Hugh Horry with some of the infantry to the right flank.

Col. John Coming Ball roused his men at the sound of the gunshot and rushed them out into the open field west of the tavern. This was unexpected by Col. Marion, as he guessed that Col. Ball would fight from within the tavern. As Lt. Col. Horry's infantry charged through the field, Col. Ball commanded his men to fire, and Lt. Col. Horry's men were now only thirty yards away when the volley hit them. Three of his officers fell, Capt. George Logan killed, and Capt. Henry Mouzon and Lt. John Scott severely wounded.

Capt. John James, Jr. rallied the rest of the men and stopped the onslaught. The rest of Col. Marion's men crept forward, loading and firing at every moving shadow. When Capt. John Waties moved up on the right with his men and skirted Red House, the Loyalists broke and ran into the Black Mingo Swamp. The battle only lasted fifteen minutes. Col. Marion captured the enemy's guns, ammunition, baggage, and horses, including Col. Ball's own horse, which Col. Marion chose for himself and renamed Ball.

Another version, which asserts this skirmish took place on September 14th (kinda hard to happen since Marion and his men were in Bladen County, NC on that date), has a slightly different story and a much higher casualty number:

In August of 1780, the British began constructing a small fortification at Black Mingo and placed a large number of troops there. Col. Francis Marion knew all about the small fort and the garrison. On September 14, 1780, he assembled his troops at Snow's Island and proceeded in the night to Willtown, the only place where he could ford the Black River since Shepherd's Ferry was too near the new British stronghold.

Col. Marion crossed the bridge over the Black Mingo at Willtown in the night and the noise his cavalry made warned the British at the Red House, and they came out to meet his forces. A sharp engagement ensued in which 71 Patriots under Col. Marion were killed and 74 British were killed, including Col. Ball. Half of each side were probably wounded within a few hours.

At daybreak, the British retreated into their fortification and remained. Col Marion held his ground and kept up almost a continuous fire on the entrenched British for two days, when they embarked in their boats and proceeded for Georgetown, taking away their wounded but leaving their dead.

Col Marion buried his 71 dead in the field on the left side of the road about 500 yards going south from Shepherd's Ferry. He interred the British dead at the Red House about one mile further south on the same side of the road.

The defeat at Black Mingo ended the British plans for a string of fortifications in the Georgetown District at that point in time, and was another small, but important turning point for the South Carolinians.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Col. Francis Marion - Commanding Officer

Lower Craven County Regiment of Militiadetachment, led by Col. Hugh Giles and Major George King, with the following five (5) known companies, led by:
- Capt. John Huggins
- Capt. George Logan (killed)
- Capt. John Melton
- Capt. Henry Mouzon (wounded)
- Capt. John Waties

Kingstree Regiment of Militia detachment led by Lt. Col. Hugh Horry, with two (2) known companies, led by:
- Capt. John James, Jr.
- Capt. John McCauley

Col. John Coming Ball - Commanding Officer

Craven & Berkeley County Regiment of Loyalist Militia with 46 men

Jacob Bartell (POW)
Silvester Bartell (POW)





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