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.

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