Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Battle of Williamson's Plantation 2

Part 2: The British Encampment
Previous: Huck Rides Again

The location of Williamson's Plantation is generally known, although the original structures vanished long ago. Several sketches were made of the battlefield in the mid-to-late 19th Century based on local family traditions. Unfortunately, these sketches differ in terms of some of the most basic details. However, these, in combination with participant accounts, suggests that the Williamson house was about 500 yards from Colonel William Bratton's plantation. The Bratton house is now part of Historic Brattonsville.

The William Bratton house today, as seen using Google Maps (click to enlarge). Google Maps is now set up much like Google Earth (see this post) and includes the same "street view" function and links to Panoramio pictures.

Various sources also provide some details about what this plantation would have looked like in 1780. The Williamson house was probably a sturdy, two-story house, built of logs, on the north side of a road running east by southeast from the vicinity of the Bratton house. The land along the road was cleared to the west all the way to the Bratton house. The road itself was a lane lined by "a strong fence" in William Hill's words. To the north and south was forested country. The Williamson house was in old field, with various outbuildings nearby. An orchard was in the rear of the house. There was at least one large oat field west of the house. A corn crib was mentioned in some descriptions of the battle; wheat is another likely crop. The land was clear west of the plantation, all the way to the Bratton house.

Williamson's Plantation (click to enlarge). A satellite view (left) of Historic Brattonsville and the site of Williamson's Plantation The Williamson house was located within or near to the red circle. The street view on the right is from Percival Road looking in the direction of the site of the Williamson house. The area is covered by second-growth forest.

Below is the miniature version of the Williamson Plantation that I assembled. Some compromise is necessary between a realistic looking farm and one that is correctly scaled. The representation will be at a 1:5 scale, rather than the 1:20 I plan to follow generally, but even so, a single building has a "footprint" equivalent to 25 buildings (because it is both 5 times too long and 5 times too wide). Therefore, the farmhouse and the various outbuildings is represented by a single resin building that I had handy. The small clump of trees behind the house represents the orchard. Several farm fields are also represented. Distances are not to a set scale. The result is a far cry from a realistic portrayal of an 18th-Century Backcountry plantation, but it's more attractive and practical than many alternatives.

Williamson's Plantation in miniature.

When the British encamped, Huck stayed in the Williamson house, perhaps with Hunt and some other dragoons. The rest of the dragoons were nearby. The New York Volunteers appear to have encamped in the lane. The Loyalist militia were at the western end of the plantation, either in the lane or in a field. When the Americans attacked, the men were up and preparing for the day. Their gear had been stowed on their horses, and, were it not for the attack, they would have departed before long.


Will Graves transcribed William Hill's memoir. (.pdf file).

Michael C. Scoggins. (2005). The Day It Rained Militia: Huck's Defeat and the Revolution in the South Carolina Backcountry, May-July 1780. (Includes transcriptions of British correspondence, and statements by many participants).

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