July 12

This Day in History

American Revolution

Jul 12, 1780:

The Battle of Huck's Defeat

On this day in 1780, Philadelphia lawyer Captain Christian Huck and 130 Loyalist cavalry, belonging to British Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton's legion, suffer defeat at the hands of 500 Patriot militiamen at Williamson's Plantation in South Carolina. The plantation was in South Carolina's New Acquisition District along the border with North Carolina.

Huck and his Loyalists arrived at the Bratton plantation on the evening of July 11 to find only Martha Bratton at home, while her husband, Patriot William Bratton, was leading raids against Tory gatherings with his militia. While Martha was questioned by the Loyalists, a slave named Watt, notified Bratton of Huck's presence near his home. Bratton, in turn, brought his Patriot militia back to the plantation and launched a surprise attack at dawn on July 12 on the Loyalist encampment at neighboring Williamson's plantation. The Patriots surrounded Huck's camp under cover of darkness and then opened fire as the soldiers emerged from their blankets at dawn, scoring a total defeat of the Loyalist forces, and killing Huck. The British lost between 25 and 50 men killed, including Huck, at least twice as many wounded and 29 captured. Only one Patriot died, and Continental morale received a significant a boost.

In the aftermath of the Patriot success, Martha earned recognition for her refusal to divulge her husband's whereabouts under extreme duress. In addition, Watt's endeavor to notify Bratton that Huck was in the area won him a place in local history. Both have markers in their honor. Historic Brattonsville is now a living history museum, which reenacts the battle for two days each July. Its historic buildings appear in the film The Patriot (2000), starting Mel Gibson.

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