Friday, October 30, 2009

Sumter's Continentals

Thomas Sumter's militia brigade was composed primarily of BackCountry South Carolina militia regiments, but it also contained North Carolina militia units, Catawba Indians, and even a few odd Continentals. The main American army in the South was captured at Charleston in May, 1780, but that does not mean that every Continental was captured or remained in captivity. Francis Marion famously missed the siege of Charleston due to an injury, and so could take the field after the American surrender and lead resistance in eastern South Carolina. Some of the rank and file also claimed, in pension applications filed after the war, to have subsequently taken up arms against the British.

As argued in a recent post, some skepticism is in order when assessing pension applications. The pension application of Absalom Baker is a case in point: He claimed to have been, in 1780, captured at Charleston, exchanged 30 days later, and than served at the battles of Waxhaws, Ramsour's Mill, Hanging Rock, Camden (where he was allegedly wounded), and King's Mountain. (Waxhaws, notably, was fought 2-and-a-half weeks after Charleston fell). However, friends vouched for Baker's presence at Charleston, Hanging Rock, Camden, and King's Mountain).

William McMurry, of the 6th South Carolina Regiment, claimed to have been a Continental from about 1779 to 1782, yet stated he fought at Rocky Mount, Hanging Rock, and Camden. No explanation was given for why he was not in captivity after Charleston fell.

Jesse Harrison, of the 10th (and later 1st) North Carolina Regiment, was one to provide some account of how he escaped captivity. He claimed to have served as a North Carolina Continental "untill the fall of Charleston, at which place he escaped, being taken out with the waggons." Subsequently he served at Hanging Rock and Camden.

James Courson, of the 6th South Carolina Regiment, stated that he “was at the siege of Charleston & was taken prisoner then. Most of my comrades were put on board prison ships but there were a great many of the prisoners inoculated on account of the small pox I having had the small pox in my childhood was removed for the purpose of nursing the sick from which place I escaped after about a month. I joined Sumpter the day after the battle of Rocky mount & the next Sunday after we fought the battle of the Hanging rock.”

Robert Wilson, of the 3rd South Carolina Regiment, claimed that he served "until the capture of Charleston in May 1780 when he was surrendered a prisoner of war with General Lincoln's Army – was under a limited parole, on Haddrell's Point near Charleston, a few days before his parole was out, he made his escape, and came home.” However, he didn't remain free for very long: “a few days after his Return was taken prisoner by a party of Tories." After escaping a second time, he "immediately joined General Sumpter upon Clem's Branch in the State of North Carolina, and served until the British left Charleston, That during his Service under General Sumter he was in the Battle at Rocky Mountain, & Hanging Rock.”

A statement by Captain James Jamieson in Wilson's application vouches for this history: “although this deponent never belonged to the Continental establishment himself, yet he has no doubt from many circumstances, that Robert Wilson was captured at Charleston, South Carolina, and made his escape from the British at Haddrell's point, where he was confined on parole, not to go beyond a certain limit: that this was in the month of June, a sickly season of the year, when his life would have been lost by remaining in so unhealthy a place: that said Wilson escaped by breaking his parole, and returning home to Chester District where he was taken prisoner by a gang of Tories from whom he again made his escape, and fled to general Sumter, whose Army said Wilson joined at Haggler's branch, where said Wilson and this deponent served together under Sumter, until this deponent was disabled from further service, by wounds received at the battle of 'Hanging Rock.'"


Will Graves transcribed the pension application of Absalom Baker. (.pdf file).

Will Graves transcribed the pension application of William McMurry. (.pdf file).

Will Graves transcribed the pension application of Robert Wilson. (.pdf file).

C. Leon Harris transcribed and annotated the pension application of James Courson. (.pdf file).

C. Leon Harris transcribed and annotated the pension application of Jesse Harrison. (.pdf file).

Friday, October 23, 2009

American Riflemen

The autobiography of James Collins contains a succinct description of the dress of the American militiamen fighting in the South Carolina BackCountry:

"It will be, perhaps, proper here to mention, that we were a set of men acting entirely on our own footing, without the promise or expectation of any pay. There was nothing furnished us from the public; we furnished our own clothes, composed of course materials, and all home spun; our over dress was a hunting shirt, of what was called linsey woolsey, well belted around us. We furnished our own horses, saddles, bridles, guns, swords, butcher knives, and our own spurs."

He also described wearing a helmet which was designed to protect the head against the sword blows of mounted opponents (more on this in a future post). Sometimes, however, his dress amounted to a simple “hunting shirt and hat.”

Esteemed artist Don Troiani has painted a number of depictions of American riflemen. These works are consistent with Collins' description and numerous other sources of information.

Links to Troiani paintings:
Morgan's Rifle Corps, 1775
North Carolina militiaman, 1776
Carolina militiaman, 1780

A number of manufacturers of 15mm miniatures have versions of the American rifleman. I have painted to date miniature riflemen produced by Essex Miniatures, Freikorps Miniatures, Musket Miniatures, and Minifigs. Below I show the ones I've painted to date and comment on the relative strengths of each manufacturers' models.

The pack of Essex riflemen I purchased included men in three well-selected poses: kneeling at ready, running, and standing and firing. The Essex riflemen have the longest barrel of the four manufacturers, and their clothing and gear seems historically accurate. These miniatures are robustly 3-dimensional and their facial features have excellent definition.

Essex Miniatures American Revolution riflemen (click to enlarge).

Freikorps riflemen come in four well-selected poses: kneeling and firing, standing and firing, ramming, and standing at ready (or perhaps cocking the gun). Of concern is that the miniatures seem to be based on popular depictions of the American mountainman: the miniatures appear to be wearing fringed buckskin, two of the poses have bearded faces, and one (not shown) is wearing a Davy-Crockett style fur hat. This dress is not a good fit for the average riflemen in American army. Fortunately, the beards can be filed down, and the clothes painted in a way that looks like cloth, not leather. The soldier standing at ready is wearing a decorative sash around the waist that can be painted to look like an officer's sash (and given the large number of officers in some units, this is useful).

Freikorps Miniatures American Revolution Riflemen (click to enlarge).

Musket Miniatures riflemen come in one "ready" pose, as is typical of this line. I like that there is some ambiguity in this pose -- it's easy to imagine the soldier is advancing, or raising the rifle to fire. The barrels on the rifles are relatively short, which is unfortunate. A strength of the line is that there are a number of small variations within each pack in terms of the hat and hair style.

Musket Miniatures American Revolution Riflemen (click to enlarge).

Minifigs riflemen come in one "running" pose. Packs include two officers, who are waving their rifle in one arm. The privates cannot be easily modified; one of the officers' arms can be bent without great difficultly. Overall, this is a good action pose, and the figure resembles Troiani's handsome painting of one of Morgan's riflemen. Like the Essex riflemen, these miniatures have well-selected gear and are robustly 3-dimensional. The lack of variety within a pack is the chief downside.

Minifigs American Revolution Riflemen (click to enlarge).

Perhaps the best way to create historically-realistic variety in a unit is to mix miniatures from several lines. The miniatures from these four manufacturers are all approximately same height, however, the Musket Miniatures riflemen seem small compared to those by Minifigs. Because of the small bases on the Essex and Musket Miniature riflemen, I mounted them on thin Litko bases (in most cases, cut in half). This makes the Musket Miniatures figures seem tall and gangly look when they are placed alongside the others.

The Combined Riflemen (click to enlarge).


James Collins. (1859). Autobiography of a Revolutionary Soldier.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Reassessing Estimates with Pension Applications

This blog is devoted to exploring battles of the American Revolution. One of the most vexing problems in examining a given battle is determining exactly who were the participants and in what numbers they were present. Precise counts were not always made or preserved, and the estimates made by commanders or other participants may have been subject to any number of errors and biases. For this reason I am interested in the possibility that some other, more "objective" means of estimating troop totals might be possible. I read with great interest the methods described by Lawrence Babits in his history of Cowpens (Devil of a Whipping), in which he relied upon, among other things, the number of pension applications filed by survivors as a means of estimating the numbers of American militia that were present. However, I ended up strongly criticizing the estimates produced by these methods for Cowpens, as well for a second battle, Williamson's Plantation.

To reiterate a point I've made before, the logic behind the methods is sound. Babits reasoned that something like 1 in every 3 or 4 survivors of the battle would have lived long enough to file a pension application. Thus, the number of pension applications filed for a given unit multiplied by 3.5 should provide a reasonably good estimate of the number of participants in that unit. The problem, however, is that the resulting estimates seem to be too high. For example, in the case of Williamson's Plantation, this method yields an estimate that is approximately 50% greater than the likely historical total.

My feeling is that there are two basic reasons why estimates derived from pension applications are too high: 1) some pension applications contain intentionally false information about participation in a given battle, and 2) some pension applications contain inadvertently false information about participation in a given battle.

In regards to the first possibility, it can be noted that every era has its "bad apples," and it would be surprising if some false claims were not filed. Indeed, the incentives to file a false claim were likely considerable during the first part of the 19th Century (a relative dearth of social support for older and disabled adults), while the likelihood that a false statement would be detected was low (claims were often filed far from the place of original service; records for some forms of service were not well preserved).

Even today, when the incentives for making false claims presumably are less and the odds of discovery are better, false claims about military service nevertheless are not uncommon. Consider the following excerpt from a New York Times article published earlier this year:

August 2, 2009
In Ranks of Heroes, Finding the Fakes
By Ian Urbina

Last August, the Texas Department of Transportation started asking applicants for more documentation after discovering that at least 11 of the 67 Legion of Merit license plates on the roads had been issued to people who never earned the medal.

Last September, the House of Representatives passed a bill naming a post office in Las Vegas after a World War II veteran who, it later turned out, had lied when he claimed he had been awarded a Silver Star. The legislation was rescinded.

In May, one of the most prominent veterans’ advocates in Colorado was detained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation after it was discovered that his story about heroic service in Iraq and severe injuries from a roadside bomb was an elaborate hoax.

Military imposters are nothing new. But the problem has grown or at least become more obvious as charlatans are easily able to find fake military documents, medals and uniforms on auction Web sites.

At the same time, the Internet has also stepped up the cat-and-mouse game, allowing watchdogs to uncover fraudulent claims much faster and mobilize a more effective response.

“Public opinion of the military went up after the Sept. 11 attacks,” said Thomas A. Cottone Jr., who from 1995 to 2007 ran the F.B.I. unit that investigates cases of military service fraud, “and as more people joined the military and were being publicized winning medals, more phonies were getting ideas.”

Mr. Cottone said that in 2007 he received about 40 to 50 tips per week, roughly triple the number before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Nonetheless, verifying claims of military service and awards remains difficult because no official and comprehensive database exists. The problem has recently led to a number of embarrassing and potentially costly blunders by organizations with much at stake in policing the issue.

In April, The Associated Press found that the Department of Veterans Affairs was paying disability benefits to 286 supposed prisoners of war from the Persian Gulf war of 1991 and to 966 supposed prisoners of the Vietnam War. But Defense Department records show that only 21 prisoners of war returned from the gulf war, and that fewer than 600 are alive from the Vietnam War.

Last month, The Marine Corps Times found 40 erroneous profiles in this year’s Marine Corps Association Directory, including false claims of 16 Medals of Honor, 16 Navy Crosses and 8 Silver Stars.

In response, some members of Congress are calling for an investigation of the veterans department. Katie Roberts, a spokeswoman for Veterans Affairs, said the agency was working with the Defense Department “to analyze and verify the accuracy of the data.”

In regards to the second possibility, it can be noted that pension applications were often filed 50 years or more after the war. A lot can happen to memory in that time. Even memories that seem to be remembered vividly can change over time.

For example, consider the application filed by Anthony Shoto, who claimed to have been present at the battle of Rocky Mount, South Carolina (July 30, 1780):

"One Captain Middleton Asbel then took command of the company of Capt Land a few days after they made an attack, one Sunday morning on Rocky Mount about sunrise, and after a warm contest compelled the enemy to retreat and took the fort. Not many killed or wounded. the enemy retired to Camden and the Americans followed on to the Big Wateree creek, where they halted and remained a short time."

In this case, it's possible to detect a problem, because the applicant didn't simply claim to have been in the battle, but he also provided a few details. The battle of Rocky Mount was fought on a Sunday, and the attack did occur at sunrise, but the fort was not taken. It sounds instead like he conflated the action at Rocky Mount with Sumter's capture of Carey’s Fort in mid-August. So what does this mean – was Shoto actually at Rocky Mount? Possibly yes – it could be that his memory for the action at Rocky Mount became intermixed with his memory for the action at Carey’s Fort, with the result that the two memories became blurred into one.

Alternatively, maybe Shoto was only at Carey’s Fort, but he misremembered the details because of information he was exposed to in later years. Imagine, for a moment, that long after the war he is reminiscing with another old timer and he asks “What was the name of that fort General Sumter attacked?” “Why that was Rocky Mount,” his companion declares. “And when did that occur?” “I don’t reckon I know the exact date, but I do know it was on a Sunday morning.” And so when the time came to submit a pension application, the veteran provided this muddle of information.

I don't know of course which pension applications (beyond individual exceptions) are accurate descriptions of service during the war and which are not. I believe that most pension applications are basically correct and for this reason I cite them often. However, that some proportion of applications may be unreliable certainly complicates efforts to use pension applications to determine troop totals.


Lawrence Babits. (1998). A Devil of a Whipping: The Battle of Cowpens.

C. Leon Harris transcribed and annotated the pension application of Anthony Shoto. (.pdf file).

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Battle of Williamson's Plantation 5

Part 5: Aftermath
Previous: Huck's Defeat

The British force at Williamson's Plantation was surprised by the early morning American attack and utterly routed. American losses were perhaps limited to one man and certainly did not exceed several men (see Scoggins' history for details). By all accounts, British losses exceeded those of the Americans. However, there is some uncertainty as to the exact numbers.

Estimates of British losses in pension applications filed long after the war express considerable differences in opinion on this subject. Some claimed only that "Capt. Hook a British officer was killed. Several of the enemy were killed & some taken prisoners" (Gaston), or that the British lost "Capt. Hook and Col. Furguson with several others" (Neely). Others, however, claimed that "Huck was killed and many others" (Morrow) or that "a considerable number" were "killed & wounded," plus "near thirty prisoners" were taken (Patton).

Perhaps the most trustworthy American estimates come not from participants but rather from other American officers that wrote about the battle not long after the event. Major Thomas Blount wrote that "Ferguson, Hook, a Lieut. and 11 others were killed on the ground, and a major, 2 Lieuts. & 27 taken, many of whom are since dead of their wounds; the remainder are dispersed.... Our loss was only one man wounded." Colonel Thomas Sumter wrote that "The enemy's loss, Kild upon the Spot, was one Col., one Capt. & Twelve others; one Majr., one Lt. & Twenty-Seven others taken prisoners, Since Which the Number found Dead a Mounts to Twenty-one; the Loss very considerable among the Dragoons."

These statements indicate that 13-14 men were killed outright, and another 7 men later succumbed to their wounds. Approximately another 23 men were captured. Of those captured, some were undoubtedly wounded during the fighting; however, at least several Loyalists were taken before the battle (cf. Winn's memoir), and perhaps some were taken afterwards as well.

A final source of information is two letters that Lieutenant-Colonel George Turnbull wrote to Colonel Francis Rawdon some hours after the battle.

In one he wrote that "Capt. Huck... is killed. Cornet Hunt is wounded and supposed to be prisoner. Lt. Adamson and Lt. McGrigor of the New York Volunteers, and all our Twenty [here and below, 'our' refers to the New York Volunteers] are Missing. Ens. Cameron of the New York Volunteers, Lt. Lewis of the Militia and Twelve Dragoons and Twelve Militia are Returned." In the second letter he reported that “Nine of our missing men have come in, and one Dragoon... Lt. Adamson Fell of[f] his horse Being much bruised is taken prisoner... seven of ours and a sergt. And two of the Dragoons are Likewise wounded and taken Prisoners. Lt. McGregor and Cornet Hunt we suppose have made their Escape But have not yet arrived--Capt. Huik is the only Person who was killed Dead on the Spot.”

British and American statements, taken in conjunction with Lieutenant Hunt's statements about British strength, suggests that British losses were as follows:

British Legion: Captain Huck killed, Lieutenant Hunt wounded and captured, 2 dragoons wounded and captured, 3 dragoons missing in action. (Twelve dragoons escaped).

New York Volunteers: 1 sergeant and 7 rank and file wounded and captured, 1 rank and file missing in action. (Lieutenant McGrigor, Ensign Cameron, and 9 rank and file escaped). Turnbull claimed that Lieutenant Adamson of the Volunteers was wounded and captured, but according to Michael Scoggins, Adamson was in fact serving with the Loyalist militia.

Loyalist militia: "Colonel" James Ferguson killed; between 3 and 23 men of other ranks were killed or wounded & captured. A number of militia (at least 12 and possibly considerably more) escaped capture and returned to Rocky Mount.

The representation of the battle in miniature is consistent with these totals. With 1 miniature representing 5 participants, 1 casualty was shown for the British Legion, 2 for the New York Volunteers, and 3 for the Loyalist militia.


Thomas Blount. Letter to Abner Nash, July 23, 1780. Colonial and State Records of North Carolina.

Will Graves transcribed the pension application of Hugh Gaston. (.pdf file).

Will Graves transcribed the pension application of Joseph Morrow (.pdf file).

Will Graves transcribed the pension application of George Neely (.pdf file).

Will Graves transcribed the pension application of John Patton (.pdf file).

Will Graves transcribed General Richard Winn's Notes -- 1780. (.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 Turnbull's letters to Rawdon).

Thomas Sumter. Letter to Johann De Kalb, July 17, 1780. Colonial and State Records of North Carolina.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Battle of Williamson's Plantation 4

Part 4: Huck's Defeat
Next: Aftermath

The American force spent the night of July 11-12, 1780 searching for Captain Christian Huck's British force. It wasn't until the early hours of the morning that they learned that Huck was encamped near Colonel William Bratton's plantation. By this time the Americans were doubtlessly exhausted, but they remained committed to the attack.

Although virtually every high ranking officer with the Americans would be credited by at least one source with holding the overall command, it seems more likely that decisions were made by committee. Colonel Richard Winn (who claimed to have been the American commander in his memoir), described the Americans' approach in some detail. The Americans, on horseback, were travelling along a road on or near the path of today's Brattonsville Road. He wrote that "it was then about one hour to day brake here Colo Winn Ordered the party to file off to the Left of the Road & Dismount and immediately had the whole paraded then Capt. Read a bold daring Officer was Ordered to pick Out twenty five Men and file off to the left of Col. Brattons plantation and as soon as the Action begun in front he was to attack the rear of the Enemy & take all Straggling parties..." The Americans were as of yet unfamiliar with how Huck and his men were deployed, but sent Read's group off into the woods to attempt to surround the Bratton house.

According to Winn, "at the same time Capt Read received his Orders the Remaining part of the Men Commenced their march to bring on the Action." The main part of the American force expected to encounter the British at any moment. However, "on coming to the fork of the Road was informed by two Tories in Search of their Horses that Colo. Ferguson with his party lay in the Edge of a field which was in advance of the British Horse about three Hundred yards." In other words, when the Americans reached the point where Williamson's Lane began, they learned that the British were not at Bratton's plantation, but at Williamson's neighboring plantation. There, "Capt. Hook who Commanded posted himself in a Strong log House around him prepared to Mount in a moment if Required."

The Americans paused and worked out a new plan of attack. Again, the tactical plan was to send a detachment in rear of the British position. Winn wrote, "you must Understand when I took the two Tories I halted for a short time and sent Capt. McClure with his Company Round Williams plantation to attack the Enemy as soon as he heard the first firing." Not mentioned by Winn is whether an effort was made to recall Read or redirect his movements [see Note 1].

The Americans approached the plantation from the west. Evidently, visibility was poor. Although the Loyalists and provincials were awake and their equipage packed, they did not see the Americans before they had closed to within rifle range. Winn wrote, "the Sun was about to rise and notwithstanding I marched in 10 or 15 Steps for at least 200 yards of Colo Fergusons party [i.e., Loyalist militia] I was not discovered until they were fired on Colo Ferguson and some of his Men was killed the first onset the rest ran and Chiefly left their Horses tho saddled and ready to Mount." John Craig likewise remembered Ferguson as being among the first to fall. He "stood at the end of the lane and was shot down, and his clothing was blackened with the gun powder." This description suggests that the Americans very quickly closed with the Loyalists. This rapid headlong rush sent first the Loyalist militia and then the New York Volunteers into headlong flight.

The Americans Attack (click to enlarge). Here and below, 1 miniature represents 5 participants in the battle.

John Craig remembered that "We heard the words, 'boys take over the fence,'" "and our men rushed after the Tories and British as they fled before us." Lieutenant-Colonel William Hill wrote that "there were many of their carcasses found in the woods some days after." Hill's statement implies that the fleeing soldiers did not rush down the lane en masse (which would have made them easy targets), but many instead fled through the fields and into the woods with a number of the Americans in pursuit.

"Take Over the Fence" (click to enlarge). Loyalists and Provincials flee before the American surprise attack.

At the same time that British resistance collapsed on the west end of the plantation, a second American force emerged from the woods behind the Williamson house. Militiaman James Collins, a 16-year-old armed with an obsolete shotgun, was with this force.

Collins wrote, "Not long after sunrise, we came in sight of their headquarters, which were in a log building. In the rear of the building was a large peach orchard; at some distance behind the peach orchard we all dismounted and tied our horses [see Note 2]; we then proceeded on foot through the orchard, thinking the peach trees would be a good safeguard, against the charge of the horsemen. We had not proceeded far until the sentinels discovered us--fired on us and fled. The troops were soon mounted and paraded. This, I confess, was a very imposing sight, at least to me, for I had never seen a troop of British horse before, and thought they differed vastly in appearance from us--poor hunting-shirt fellows. The leader drew his sword, mounted his horse, and began to storm and rave, and advanced on us; but we kept close to the peach orchard. When they had got pretty near the peach trees, their leader called out, “disperse you d--d rebels, or I will put every man of you to the sword.”

"We Did Not Stop One Minute" (two views; click to enlarge). The main American force advances from the west while a detachment approaches the Williamson house through the orchard.

Under ordinary conditions, this American detachment would have been overwhelmed by the British Legion dragoons. However, the dragoons didn't have the opportunity to mount a charge. At the same time that Huck responded to the danger in his rear, the main American force pressed towards the Williamson house. Winn wrote that "here we did not stop one Minute [after driving off the Loyalists and Provincials] but went on to commence our Attack on the British horse in a clear open old field we was paraded in About one Hundred yards from them." Collins, in the peach orchard, watched as "Our rifle balls began to whistle among them." John Craig, who was with the main American force claimed that "John Carroll led the way, I was next to him, and Charles Miles next." Huck was doomed. "We halted to fire and both Miles and Carroll fired at the same time, and brought down the Captain of the British Dragoons."

Collins saw that "Hook was shot off his horse and fell at full length; his sword flew out of his hand as he fell and lay at some distance, and both lay till some of his men gathered about him and around him two or three times. At length one halted and pointed his sword downward, seemed to pause a moment, then raising his sword, wheeled off and all started at full gallop. We then moved on to the house without opposition, but all had disappeared. There Collins saw two more dragoons that had been struck. "In the yard sat two good looking fellows bleeding pretty freely, their horses standing at no great distance: one of whom was shot through the thigh."

Huck's End. Huck lies in the yard of the Williamson house, his command scattered.

With that, the battle of Williamson's Plantation was over [see Note 3].

Winn reflected that "we was in full possession of the field in five Minutes without the loss of a Single Man Either Kild or Wounded, as I am well convinced the Enemy during the Action Never fired a Single gun or pistol." Another participant, Hugh Gaston, likewise believed that "The action continued but a few minutes."


1. Given the small size of the companies and regiments it seems surprising that Captains Read and McClure would be charged with commanding these important detachments and not one of the higher-ranking officers that were present. It may be that each of the senior officers regarded himself as the rightful commander of the main force and so chose to remain with it (Sumter was not present and he seemingly had not designated a second in command). Perhaps the several colonels eschewed command of a secondary force because it would serve as tacit acknowledgment of one's subordinate position. Alternatively, rank was sometimes determined by political considerations rather than by military ability (such was the case with Lieutenant-Colonel William Hill); perhaps Read and McClure were given these commands because they were recognized as especially active and able.

2. On this detail, accounts differ. According to Winn, the Americans had all dismounted some time earlier.

3. Or perhaps not. Winn described the the British fleeing eastward and wrote that "as they ran by Capt. McClure he gave them a fire but was not near enough to do them much damage he had the misfortune to lose one Man being a little advanced before the rest was I was inform kild by One of his Own party." Winn believed there were two groups of Americans on the battlefield: the main body, with which he served, and McClure's party. Winn wrote ruefully, "I do believe had I have not lost the Service of Capt. Read but few of the British or Tories would have been able to have Escaped." If Winn's account is accurate, then the group of Americans in the peach orchard must have been commanded by Captain McClure. The representation in miniature shows how Winn's account can be connected to Collins': the fleeing Loyalist militia and New York Volunteers cross the path of the Americans in rear of the house, allowing the Americans to have given them a fire before approaching Huck and the British Legion dragoons. Collins wrote that "For my own part, I fired my old shot gun only twice in the action. I suppose I did no more harm than burning so much powder." He did not mention seeing a group of retreating British infantry -- only some sentries and the British Legion dragoons. Rather than conclude that Collins omitted an important detail, Michael Scoggins concluded that Winn was mistaken about Read's absence. Scoggins placed Read's group (including Collins) behind the Williamson house, and McClure's group further to the east. The representation in miniature is consistent with this interpretation as well -- it just doesn't show such a third group, because it would have encountered the fleeing British outside the area I modeled.

William Hill's account of the battle touches somewhat on this issue. He wrote: "The plan was to attack both ends of the Lane at the same time, but unfortunately the party sent to make the attack on the east end of the lane met with some embarrassments, by fences, brush, briars &c. that they could not get to the end of the lane until the firing commenced at the west end." His account places two forces of Americans in the battle, which is consistent with the view that Collins was with McClure. However, he places the second group near the road, rather than behind the house, which is consistent with the view that Collins was with Read.


James Collins. (1859). Autobiography of a Revolutionary Soldier.

Will Graves transcribed the pension application of Hugh Gaston. (.pdf file).

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

Will Graves transcribed General Richard Winn's Notes -- 1780. (.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 statements by many participants).