Sunday, July 12, 2015

Today In History - The Battle of Huck's Defeat

In the sixth year of the revolt against England (numerically not actually time wise), the war was not going as well for the American Colonists as one among them might have hoped. The American Army in South Carolina had been defeated and captured by the British. The Americans needed something to boost morale, something to show that they had in them what was needed to kick the Brits arses and on July 12, 1860, in York County SC, they got it. 

On July 11th, a detachment of British Legion, NY Loyalist Volunteers and SC Loyalist militia forces, under the command of Captain Christian Huck, raided the farm of Patriot commander Captain John McClure. McClure's brother and brother-in-law were arrested for having freshly made bullets and were sentenced to hang at sunrise the next day. Huck, was a German who had lost property when the Brits fled Philadelphia; he then joined the English army in New York. He was assigned a command in SC. Once so assigned, his hatred of the Whigs (Patriots) was apparent. He commenced a ruthless vendetta against them during which his forces killed at least one child as he read a bible, manhandled women, and stole or destroyed what they could including carrying out the destruction of the home of a minister and an ironworks. Huck had so enraged the colonists that one was quoted as having said: "I have come home determined to take my gun and when I lay it down, I lay down my life with it" (source).   

After raiding McClure's farm, the Brits then moved on to the farm of William Bratton, another Patriot leader. Bratton was then out on raids against Tories. Once at Bratton's home, Huck's men terrorized Bratton's wife in a failed attempt to get her to divulge the whereabouts of Patriot forces. She did not give any information to them. The Loyalists then moved to neighboring farms and arrested three more patriots, including Bratton's elderly brother. They too were to be executed the morning of July 12th at sunrise. Sometime while all this was happening, a man named Watt notified Bratton of the events taking place. It is notable that Watt was one of Bratton's slaves.

Units of militiamen rushed to engage Huck's forces. During the night and dark early hours of July 11th and 12th, about 150 South Carolina Militiamen under the command of William Bratton, surrounded the British / Loyalist force of about 130 under Huck's command, at Williamson's Plantation near Bratton's own land. At dawn, on the morning of July 12th, they launched a surprise attack. They soundly defeated Huck's forces with only one rebel life lost and only a handful of the English who were not either dead or wounded. The five Whig prisoners were all rescued. The tyrannical Huck was delivered a fatal shot to his head, by John Carroll, as Huck attempted to rally his troops from horseback. 

The victory of these Patriot militiamen was but a small one in  numbers but was huge in that it had a resounding effect. Patriots enthusiastically joined the militia once they had seen that the militia could defeat British forces even where the American army had failed. It was the first such victory in SC in 1780 with many Patriot militia victories to follow that year and the next. America finally had a victory it sorely needed in the south. More here:

All the best,
Glenn B

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