Mission Of This Blog

The overall mission statement of this blog is to share many unique topics of this blogger's interest; promoting though education the uniquely positive values of Southern history, heritage, and cultural identity. Topics include (but are not limited to):
Southern Cultural History & Confederate Heritage Awareness, Symbols Of Southern-American Identity & Their Moral Defense, Nature & Wildlife Preservation, Science & Science Fiction, Astronomy & Planetary Photography, Literacy & Writing, Travel & Local Places Of Interest, Southern Cuisine, South Carolina Upstate History, Popular Culture & Philosophy, Local History of the South Carolina Upstate ....as well as various other topics explained from the blogger's point of view. The following website contains the UNCENSORED thoughts and opinions of a Southern-born country writer from upstate South Carolina - the living, beating heart of the great American Southland! Please enjoy and feel free to post comments, or contribute to this blog in any meaningful way.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Burning Of Justice Gaston's Home - The Loyalists Strike Back - June 11, 1780

The Burning Of Justice Gaston's Home 
The Loyalists Strike Back
Sunday, June 11, 1780 

By: C.W. Roden 

In the space of three days, those upcountry Patriots who were content to sit out the rest of the war following the fall of Charleston the month before struck back against their oppressive Loyalist neighbors and their British allies in two short, but important battles. These acts of defiance alone were not enough to completely erase the fear of the British occupiers. Yet they were enough to send a clear message to the British commander at the Rocky Mount outpost, Lt. Colonel George Turnbull, that the upstate was not completely in British control. That many of the Patriots in the New Aquisition and the upper District between the Broad and the Catawba Rivers still had not submitted to the Crown's authority, nor would they lay down their arms without a fight.

Since taking the post at Rocky Mount days earlier, Turnbull, in keeping with the overall British Southern strategy, had been actively organizing a Loyalist militia regiment to reinforce his own New York Volunteers and detachment of British Legion dragoons. But the incidents at Alexander's and Mobley's had demonstrated the Loyalist militia's lack of fortitude in the face of the more experienced Whig partisans. Turnbull had little confidence at that point in the royal militia's abilities.

Loyalist spies informed Turnbull that Patriot colonels William Bratton and John McClure were camped at Reverend Simpson's meeting house and were rallying men to their cause, both men winning support with their recent successes at Beckhamville and Mobley's Meeting House.  

Turnbull realized that a show of force was going to be necessary to keep the rebels in the Piedmont area in check. 

On Saturday, June 10th, Turnbull dispatched his detachment of British Legion dragoons under the command of Captain Christian Huck and mounted militia under Loyalist Captain James Ferguson with orders to kill, or capture, McClure, Bratton, Simpson and other Patriot leaders; as well as commandeer any supplies of wheat, corn and horses in the area. 

"The Swearing Captian" 

Christian Huck, an officer of the British Legion cavalry, was born in one of the German principalities of Europe about 1748 and immigrated to Pennsylvania sometime before the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War where he became a successful lawyer in Philadelphia. Because of his outspoken Loyalist views, the State of Pennsylvania branded Huck a "traitor" and confiscated his property in 1778. That same year Huck formed a company of Loyalist militia and joined the British Army in New York where he was commissioned a captain. 

By 1780, Huck and his men were a part of Lt. Colonel Banastre Tarleton's British Legion cavalry and took part in the Siege of Charleston. Huck was also among Tarleton's cavalrymen at the Battle of the Waxhaws the month before where Virginian Continentals under Abraham Buford were all but slaughtered in what many in the South Carolina backcountry saw as a massacre. 

Huck was a loudly profane man who hated the South Carolina Upcountry and had a special dislike of the largely Scotch-Irish Presbyterians. He was arrogant, short-tempered, profane, and blasphemous to those he considered rebels and traitors to the Crown. His tendency to use such colorful language earned him the nickname "the Swearing Captain." 

He considered the Ulster Scots people who lived in South Carolina's upstate and their Christian faith to be beneath him. During his raids on the local farms, Huck and his men would be known to burn the homes of those found with Presbyterian Bibles, swearing blasphemous insults at those he rendered homeless. 

On one occasion, after stealing the horses of a local group of Whigs, Huck mocked them and the Patriot militias in the backcountry declaring: "Even if the rebels were thick as the trees, and Jesus Christ would come down and lead them, he could defeat them!" Such statements, matched by his brutal contempt for the local population and their faith, would make Huck's name an anathema across the upper districts. Even to this day, the name Christian Huck is remembered infamously in Chester and York Counties in the same breath as his infamous commanding officer, "Bloody Ban" Tarleton. 

Huck's Raid On Fishing Creek 

On Sunday, June 11th, Captain Huck arrived in the upper Fishing Creek settlement with his dragoons and Ferguson's Loyalist militia riding hard toward the Fishing Creek Meeting House (Fishing Creek Church), where intelligence put McClure, Bratton, and most of their Patriot militia, along with a number of Simpson's Presbyterian congregation attending morning worship service. Huck planned to catch them by surprise. 

Huck's forces then stopped at the neighboring home of Janet "Jenny" Strong, a widow and sister of Justice John Gaston. Her family were known to be staunch Patriots. Her eldest son, Christopher, was 20 and had served in the local militia for years. Her younger son, William, was 17 and had joined the local Patriot militia earlier that year. 

Huck's men entered the Strong home and plundered it of anything valuable, with emphasis on corn and wheat. When some of his men entered the barn where her youngest son, William, was hiding and reading his family Bible. The Loyalists shot him dead and dragged his body from the barn into the yard. There several of the Legion soldiers began to hack at the body until the grieving Mrs. Strong rushed from the house and covered her dead son's body with her own to stop the mutilation. 

According to one local account, a tame pigeon landed in the yard drawn by some of the accidentally scattered wheat, and was cut in half by Huck's saber. He then said in mockery to Mrs. Strong: "Madam, I have cut the head off of the Holy Ghost." The grieving woman reportedly responded by saying, "You will never die in your bed, nor will your death be that of the righteous!"

Huck then ordered the Strong home and barn burned, leaving Mrs. Strong homeless in the yard with her dead son. The Loyalists then marched on towards the Fishing Creek Meeting House. 

As they approached the Loyalists surrounded the building and went inside, finding the place empty with no Rebel militia in sight. From local Tories, they learned that the Whig militia -- tipped off that the Loyalists were on their way -- had already left the day before headed towards the New Acquisitions District (York County). Furious at missing his chance to capture the Patriot leaders, Huck ordered his dragoons and Ferguson's men to sack and burn the meeting house.

Huck then ordered his men to remount and proceed to the Simpson's home where they hoped to capture the Whig minister. Several of Reverend Simpson's slaves were standing nearby and overhead Huck's declaration to "burn the rascal out." They hastened to the Simpson home. 

Monument dedicated to the memory of Reverend John Simpson
(1740 - 1808) at Fishing Creek Presbyterian Church.
Fishing Creek Presbyterian Church is located on SC Highway 32
(Fishing Creek Church Rd.) near the Town of Edgemoor, SC
in Chester County.

A quarter mile away at the Simpson home, the pastor's wife, Mary Simpson, was having breakfast with her children when she heard the sound of gunfire. The slaves arrived just ahead of Huck's Loyalists and alerted Mrs. Simpson of the destruction of the meeting house and Huck's imminent arrival. She directed them to take the children and hide in the woods nearby.

The Loyalists arrived moments later, demanding that Simpson surrender himself. Mrs. Simpson informed them that he was gone, sending Huck into another blasphemous rage. He ordered the home plundered and burned to the ground. 

The Loyalists stole clothes, family silver, and anything of value they could find; even tearing open the feather beds with their bayonets and scattered the feathers in the yard. Huck himself threw the Reverend Simpson's Bible into the fireplace, intending to burn it. Mrs. Simpson quickly saved it, further enraging Huck. Once the house was aflame, Huck's men also set fire to the barns and an outbuilding that the Reverend Simpson used as a study. 

As the British soldiers departed, Mrs. Simpson ran into the burning study at great risk to her life -- she did in fact suffer terrible burns -- and saved two aprons full of the books. She and her children were now homeless and had to stay with a neighbor. 

Huck and his forces then returned to Rocky Mount, having failed in their mission to capture Simpson, McClure and Bratton, but having inflicted some degree of punishment to the rebellious Scotch-Irish Whigs. 


Huck's raid on the Fishing Creek community, and the subsequent cruelties he and his British Legion detachment and Loyalist militia subjected the local population to over the next month, would add to the reputation of the British Legion and continued to strike both fear and a great deal of resentment to much of the South Carolina Upcountry's population.

As bad as his destruction of the Fishing Creek Church and the Reverend Simpson's home would be, Huck's next act of terror would have long-lasting repercussions to the people of the Chester and York County areas. 

For more information about Huck's Raid on Chester County please consult the following sources that were used to help with this blog post:
The Chester County Historical Society: http://www.chestercohistorical.org/
The outstanding books: The Day It Rained Militia by Michael C. Scoggins (2005) ISBN 1-59629-015-3
 Partisans & Redcoats: The Southern Conflict That Turned The Tide of the American Revolution by Walter Edgar (2001) ISBN 0-308-97760-5

Saturday, June 10, 2017

RIP Adam West (1928-2017)

RIP William West Anderson (aka Adam West)
Sept. 19, 1928 - June 9, 2017.

American Actor Adam West, best known for his iconic role as Batman, passed away peacefully in his sleep Friday night after a brief fight with leukemia. He was 88 years old.   

Born William West Anderson, the actor began his career as the host of a children’s TV show in Hawaii in the 1950s. He went on to appear as a guest star in several ABC TV shows in the early ’60s, including Westerns like: Sugarfoot, Colt .45, and Lawman, as well as an episode of the ABC Outer Limits series titled "The Invisible Enemy". West also co-starred in films such as the science-fiction cult classic Robinson Crusoe On Mars (1964) and Western comedy film, The Outlaws Is Coming (1965) the last feature film starring The Three Stooges

Adam West as Batman.
Mr. West is perhaps best known for his iconic leading role as the DC Comics superhero Batman in the 1966 TV Series Batman produced by the legendary William Dozier. West would appear as the Caped Crusader alongside his co-star, actor Burt Ward as Robin the Boy Wonder, as well as a number of guest villains for 120 episodes over a series run of three seasons, as well as a 1966 campy feature film based on the TV series.

He would go on to reprise his role as the character in various animated TV shows, including: The New Adventures of Batman, The Batman/Tarzan Adventure Hour, Tarzan and the Super 7, Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show, and The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians. In addition, he would lend his voice in and episode of the popular 90s cartoon series Batman: The Animated Series called "Beware The Gray Ghost" portraying a childhood hero that inspired by the equally iconic fan-favorite Batman in the animated series voiced by Kevin Conroy. West’s signature voice would also appear in two other Batman series, The Batman and Batman: The Brave and the Bold where he would voice Batman's father Thomas Wayne.

Following his first turn as Batman, West would go on to appear in a number of other TV shows, including playing a version of himself as the mayor of the fictional town of Quahog in the animated series Family Guy.

West is survived by his wife, Marcelle Tagand Lear, and his six children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Thank you for all the fond memories, Mr. West.
God Rest Your Soul.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Planetary Photography -- 06-09-2017 -- Luna & Saturn

Well the skies were clear and I got a really beautiful shot of the Full Strawberry Moon and the distant wanderer Saturn rising over the trees in the southeastern sky. 
As I mentioned in my previous blog post, the Full Strawberry Moon is the farthest (smallest) full moon of the year because Luna has reached it's lunar apogee -- the farthest point in its monthly orbit. This is also known as the micro-moon, or mini-moon.

Every year, the micro-moon often returns about one month and 18 days later with each passing year, meaning that, in 2018, the year’s smallest full moon will come on July 27. 

I hope you enjoyed my night sky photography, and as always keep your eyes on the night skies, y'all. 

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Planetary Photography -- 06-08-2017 -- The Full Strawberry Moon

This evening I had to travel to town for pet food and a few last minute items to completely my late supper. It was sundown by the time I was on my way back and saw this Luna rising in all of her full glory in the east through my windshield. 

I pulled over and got my camera out to get this magnificent shot just before the cloud cover could obstruct the view. 

The June full moon is known in the Northern Hemisphere as the Full Strawberry Moon. It is also the smallest full moon of the year as it occurs less than one day after reaching lunar apogee -- the moon’s farthest point in its monthly orbit. The near alignment of full moon and lunar apogee team up to give us the farthest and smallest full moon of the year. 

Luna will reach her apogee on the evening of Friday, June 9th when she will team up in the night sky with the faint wanderer, Saturn in the east after sunset.  

God willing if there are clear skies, I will get a couple of shots of the small Strawberry Full Moon and Saturn as they rise over the treetops.

Hope you enjoyed my photo, and as always keep your eyes to the night skies, y'all.

The Raid On Mobley's Meeting House - The Loyalists Routed - June 8, 1780

The Raid On Mobley's Meeting House 
The Loyalists Routed  
Thursday, June 8, 1780

By: C.W. Roden

As I mentioned in my previous blog post, following the Fall of Charleston to the British Army on May 12, 1780, the British army established outposts across South Carolina in an attempt to reestablish the Crown's rule of the independent State and to recruit Southern Loyalists to join the fight against the rebellious Continentals. The British military presence in the Upstate at Rocky Mount in modern-day Chester County was enough to embolden the local Loyalist population to strike out against their Whig (Patriot) neighbors. 

In the Fairfiled District -- modern-day Fairfield County -- a group of Loyalists, largely commanded by a local Tory militia leader Colonel Robert Coleman, established a camp at Mobley's Meeting House (also known as Gibson's Meeting House) located next to a high embankment on a branch of the Little River near a place called Shirer's Ferry. 

From their outpost these Loyalists, encouraged by General Sir Henry Clinton's June 3rd Proclamation, informed the inhabitants of the region to take the oath of allegiance to the Crown, or be regarded as rebels and traitors. Emboldened they soon began to raid and plunder the homes and properties of their Patriot neighbors. Some of these acts were said to be revenge for similar plundering done by local Whigs following the Snow Campaign five years before where the Loyalists were soundly defeated. 

Among the homes plundered were the plantations of Captains John and Henry Hampton, who were arrested and sent to British General Cornwallis's headquarters at Camden under guard. 

Gathering Of Upcountry Patriots 

A former Patriot captain of the 3rd South Carolina Regiment and prominent landowner in the district named Richard Winn started to organize a militia to fight back against the Loyalists. Such was the fear of the British authority by this time -- largely due to the presence of the infamous British Legion nearby at Camden -- that Winn was unable to find anyone in the district willing to oppose them. 

Undaunted, Winn himself set out north to the New Acquisitions District -- modern-day York County -- and sought the help of local Patriot leaders he was well acquainted with there for assistance in raising a force to fight back. 

Among the men Winn met with were Patriot militia leaders such as Colonel William Bratton who had been leading local Patriot militia since 1775, Colonel William "Billy" Hill (grandfather of future Confederate General Daniel Harvey Hill) who ran the local iron works making weapons for the Continental Army, Colonel Edward Lacey, and Captain John McClure who arrived along with most of the 33 men who led the successful surprise attack at Alexander's Old Field the day before.

With their help, Winn was able to raise a force of about 200 Upcountry Patriots from York and Chester Counties. Colonel Bratton was elected the overall field commander for the engagement. With this strong force of militiamen, all well-mounted on good horses, Bratton, Winn and the other Patriot leaders set out for Mobley's Meeting House. 

Surprise Attack 

On the early morning hours of Thursday, June 8th, the Patriots arrived in the vicinity of Mobley's Meeting House and scouted the area. As with the previous engagement at Alexander's Old Field, some of the people gathered at the site were armed Loyalist militia, while others were local citizens complying with Clinton's proclamation to take protection and join the Loyalist militia. 

The Loyalist stronghold had both a fortified blockhouse and the sturdy-built log meetinghouse itself. Coleman's Loyalists were posted both inside and outside the meeting house. Coleman and his men were not particularly alert against the possibility of attack, despite the news of the recent events near Beckhamville several days earlier. 

The strategy the Patriot militia agreed upon was virtually the same as the one McClure's men used at Alexander's Old Field: attack without warning and surprise the enemy. They fanned out through the woods and surrounded the fortified meeting house on three sides -- the fourth side faced the high embankment overlooking the little river that was both hazardous to climb, or descend in a retreat. The Whigs were certain that the Tories inside would not attempt to escape that way. 

As the sun rose, Winn's party began the attack, catching Coleman and his Loyalists completely by surprise. So panicked were the Loyalists that many of them did in fact jump from the steep embankment in an attempt to escape. This accounted for most of the casualties in the battle, rather than deaths or wounds from musket and rifle fire. 

The fight lasted for several minutes before the remaining Loyalists either escaped down the embankment, or surrendered to Bratton and Winn's Patriots. Several of the Loyalists were killed and wounded (the exact number is unknown) with no casualties among the Patriots. 

Following the battle, the Patriots recovered from the captured blockhouse much of the loot that the Tories took from Whig plantations, including some 30 slaves, several wagons and teams, 30 horses, and the household furniture plundered from John and Henry Hampton. The plunder was later restored to their owners, and the Patriot militia commanded by Colonel Bratton and Captain's McClure and Lacey retired with their prisoners to the Upper Fishing Creek Presbyterian Meeting House in modern-day Chester County. The prisoners would be transferred to North Carolina, while most the Patriot militiamen would return to their neighborhoods until needed again. 


Captain Richard Winn would immediately suffer the wrath of Loyalist reprisal. Knowing that Winn was one of the planners of the raid at Mobley's, and that he was still in the field with the Whig partisans; Loyalists from the Little River area visited his plantation, sacking it and then put all of his possessions to the torch. 

British Lt. Colonel Turnbull, commander of the Rocky Mount outpost, alarmed by the the two attacks at Beckhamville and Mobley's Meeting House, knew that a show of force was going to be necessary to keep the Rebels in check. 

In reprisal, Turnbull would send out the detachment of British Legion Cavalry under the command of Captain Christian Huck to punish the local Rebel population. His first target would be the home of Justice John Gaston, which will be discussed in the next chapter of this series.

The SC historical marker is located in Fairfield County, SC
on SSR 18 (Ashford Ferry Rd.) three miles north of the intersection with SC 215.
The site of the battle is about 1.5 miles west of the marker next to
the Little River on private land.

For more information about The Battle of Mobley's Meeting House please consult the following sources that were used to help with this blog post: 
The outstanding books: The Day It Rained Militia by Michael C. Scoggins (2005) ISBN 1-59629-015-3
 Partisans & Redcoats: The Southern Conflict That Turned The Tide of the American Revolution by Walter Edgar (2001) ISBN 0-308-97760-5

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Defiance At Alexander's Old Field - The Backcountry Resist The Crown - June 6, 1780

Defiance At Alexander's Old Field 
The Backcountry Resists The Crown 
Tuesday, June 6, 1780

By: C.W. Roden 

After a hot and exhausting journey of over two weeks on foot, Captain John McClure and his Patriot militia men finally reached their homes in the District Between the Broad and Catawba Rivers -- now modern-day Chester County -- about midday on Wednesday, May 31, 1780.

If you remember from the previous blog post, McClure and his men decided to return home after the surrender of Charleston. McClure, a young man in his mid-20s, arrived at the home of Justice John Gaston, a resident of Fishing Creek and well known local Patriot leader in the community.

It was there that McClure learned of the shocking massacre of Buford's Continentals at the Waxhaws two days before by Tarleton's British Legion. McClure and three of Justice Gaston's sons who were present along with another militia officer named Steel made an oath declaring that they would never submit nor surrender to the enemies of their country; that liberty or death, from that time forth, should be their motto. Each of these men had at one time served three years in the company of Captain Eli Kershaw of the 3rd Regiment of South Carolina Militia, with the motto "Liberty or Death" inscribed upon their caps. 

This small core group of upcountry Patriots voted that night to continue the fight against the British forces at the cost of their lives if necessary. They were about to go on the offensive. It was just a question of when and where. 

The British Establish Their Rule In The Upstate

The area around Rocky Mount and the Great Falls of the Catawba bustled with activity in the late spring of and early summer of 1780. After the fall of Charleston and the surrender of the Southern Continental Army on May 12, 1780, the British forces began to focus more activities inland establishing outposts and subjugating the State. 

In the upcountry the Crown's forces established a Royal Post of three log fort-like houses at Rocky Mount under the command of British Lt. Colonel George Turnbull. The garrison at Rocky Mount would eventually come to include 150 men of the New York Volunteers Provincial Regiment and a troop of some 40 dragoons of the now infamous green-coated British Legion commanded by Captain Christian Huck, a name that would in due course become almost as hated in the upcountry as that of his commander "Bloody Ban" Tarleton. This force was to begin the process of recruiting local Loyalists to the main British forces to help establish control among the local population.  

The reaction of local Loyalists was one of undisguised glee. Many of them were still bitter over their defeat during the Snow Campaign in November of 1775 and other petty humiliations inflicted since then by their Whig neighbors. The Loyalists in South Carolina were ready to avenge themselves against their "traitorous" neighbors. Many family feuds and old scores between bitter neighbors -- some dating back at least a generation -- or simply would be "settled" with robbery and murder under the guise of patriotism and loyalty to respective causes.

In some cases Loyalist fathers and brothers fought Patriot sons and brothers and brother-in-laws in the bitter, ugly civil war that would rise from British occupation of the State, and subsequent resistance to the Crown's authority. Neither those loyal to the British Empire nor those loyal to the State of South Carolina and her declared independence  would be entirely clean from the ugliness and horror that would soon follow. 

Clinton's Proclamation

On Saturday, June 3rd, British Commander In Chief Sir Henry Clinton issued a proclamation to the people of South Carolina that was destined to undermine any efforts at pacifying the State. The proclamation encourage the local population to swear an oath of loyalty to the British Crown and to formally enlist in the new Loyalist forces being formed to fight for the Empire. 

The proclamation reads:

"Whereas after the arrival of His Majesty's forces under my command in this province, in February last, numbers of persons were made prisoners by the (British) army, or voluntarily surrendered themselves as such, and such persons were afterwards dismissed on their respective paroles; and whereas the surrender of Charles town (Charleston), and the defeats and dispersion of the rebel forces, it is become necessary that such paroles should be any longer observed; and proper that all persons should take an active part in settling and securing His Majesty's government, and delivering the country from that anarchy which for some time past hath prevailed; I so hereby issue this my proclamation, to declare, that all the inhabitants of this province, who are not prisoners upon parole, and were not in the military line, (those who were in fort Moultrie and Charles town at the times of their capitulation and surrender, or were then in actual confinement exempted) that from and after the twentieth day of June instant, they are freed and exempted from all such paroles, and may hold themselves as restored to all the rights and duties belonging to citizens and inhabitants. 
"And all persons under the description before mentioned, who shall afterwards neglect to return to their allegiances, and to His Majesty's government, will be considered as enemies and rebels to the same, and treated accordingly." 

This proclamation enraged the local Patriots. 

In one short document, Clinton not only revoked the paroles of the Carolina militia who signed oaths in Charleston, but also required them to take an active part in restoring British control to the State and to take up arms against their friends, family, and neighbors still in arms against the British Empire, or risk being considered enemies of the Crown and suffer the consequences. The proclamation offered no middle ground and forced many who were neutral in the war up till that time to pick a side. 

The settlers of the South Carolina Upcountry were mainly Scotch-Irish Protestants, many descended from Ulster-Scots, who traveled from Pennsylvania and Virginia via the Great Wagon Road and settled in the Carolinas and Appalachia. These people grew up on their parent's stories of English cruelty in the old country. Now having seen firsthand the brutality of the British Legion at the Waxhaws, and incidents like the burning of Colonel Sumter's home after the fall of Charleston, these people were being forced to choose between loyalty to the Empire, or being branded outlaws. 

Many of those in the backcountry would not stand to be bullied.

On Sunday, June 4th General Clinton would leave South Carolina with much of the British forces to return to New York City and rejoin the main British and Hessian forces there still locked in the stalemate with Washington's Continental Army. He would leave behind General Cornwallis and a corps of about 5,000 British soldiers. Clinton was confident that the small number of British regulars were enough to pacify the rebellious former colony long enough for new recruits of Loyalists to take over control and join Cornwallis as they would march north later that year into North Carolina and then to Virginia, repeating the same process and catching Washington between two British armies. 

His strategy was beginning to take shape and Clinton left South Carolina confident that his final proclamation would be the final nail in the coffin of resistance in the Southern State. 

First Act Of Defiance In The Upcountry  

From his newly established base at Rocky Mount, one of Turnbull's first acts was to send soldiers to distribute handbills among the people calling upon them to meet him at Alexander's Old Field near the community of Bechamville the next day on Tuesday, June 6th and to enroll their names as loyal subjects of King George III and receive British protection. 

Soon after doing this, a Loyalist militia captain named Henry Houseman visited the home of Justice John Gaston, who was known to be a prominent Patriot in the area with a great deal of influence. Houseman believed that the old justice could and would bring many of his neighbors around to his way of thinking. 

After treating his guest with proper Southern courtesy, Justice Gaston listened to Houseman's request and firmly rejected it. Houseman warned Gaston against causing any trouble for his sake before he departed. Justice Gaston sent his sons to various places in the community for men to meet at his house that same night. By midnight 33 men arrived, including Captain McClure. They were clad in hunting-shirts and moccasins, wool hates and deer-skin caps, each armed with a hunting knife and a rifle. 

The historic marker for the site of Justice John Gaston's home is
located on SC Highway 9 just west of Fishing Creek Bridge
between the Town of Richburg and Fort Lawn, SC.

The group were just as outraged as Gaston that Housemen was trying to force their loyalties and understood exactly what needed to be done. Captain John McClure led the group early the next morning as they set out down the Old Indian Trail running from upper Fishing Creek to lower Rocky Creek  coming upon Alexander's Old Fields before daybreak. 

The term "Old Fields" refers to large prairies, or open fields, that already existed when European settlers first arrived. It is presumed that these field were created by the local Native American tribes when they burned large areas of firests when hunting herds of wild game. The field was named for an area settler.

Captain Houseman and a group of armed Loyalists and others from the surrounding neighborhood were gathered at the field, some 200 in number. Many of the latter had no real desire to take British protection, but believed that they had no choice. 

The armed Patriot militia, seeing their neighbors and friends present on the field took extra careful aim at the armed Tories. Many of the locals had already taken the oath of allegiance when McClure's men opened fire from the trees, dropping several of the armed Loyalists.

The attack took the Loyalists completely by surprise. A general stampede of men took place as the group scattered. Some dropped to the ground to play dead as the Patriot militia continued to fire at Houseman's Loyalist militia in the open field. The Loyalists managed to return fire only once before withdrawing from the field and retreating to their outpost at Rocky Mount. 

The small battle took only a few minutes, resulting in 4 Loyalists killed and several more wounded. McClure's Patriots suffered only two wounded and none killed. Nine of the people who took the British oath were taken prisoner and ultimately paroled, or renounced their oaths and joined McClure's militia. A few of these men would pay later that summer when captured and hanged by the Loyalists for violating their oaths to the Crown. 

The First Act Of Defiance

The actions of Justice Gaston and Captain McClure's men would be the very first act of resistance to British rule in South Carolina's Upcountry. The victory, though small, came just after the Fall of Charleston and Buford's Massacre and greatly raised the morale of the upcountry Patriots. It was the linchpin of resistance in South Carolina. The battle and routing of Houseman's Loyalists would spur even greater resistance throughout the Upstate. 

Another equally important act of defiance against the British and their Loyalist allies would take place two days later at a place called Mobley's Meeting House, which we will talk more about in the next blog post in this series. 

Marker at the site of the Battle of Beckhamville
(Alexander's Old Fields) on June 6, 1780.
Historical marker at the site of the battle is located in
Chester County, SC near the intersection of SC 97 and SC 99
near the Town of Great Falls.

For more information about The Battle of Beckhamville please consult the following sources that were used to help with this blog post: 
The outstanding book: The Day It Rained Militia by Michael C. Scoggins (2005) ISBN 1-59629-015-3
and the Chester County Historical Society at their website: http://www.chestercohistorical.org/