A Revolutionary War battleground where a group of Americans defeated regular British troops — helping turn the war’s tide in South Carolina — is now open to the public.
The exact site of the Battle of Huck’s Defeat was lost to history until 2006. Historians and locals knew it was somewhere in the vicinity of the present-day Historic Brattonsville, a 775-acre park that focuses on the Revolution and South Carolina frontier life. They just weren’t sure where, exactly.
That all changed in 2006, when a team of archaeologists led by York County Culture and Heritage Museums historian Michael Scoggins acted on years of research and discovered a homesite that was the center of the 1780 fight. The site, located roughly ten miles southwest of Rock Hill, is within easy walking distance of Historic Brattonsville.
“There was a lot of speculation. People had different ideas about where it was and some of those ideas were incorrect,” Scoggins said. “But it did serve one purpose, in that it kept the site protected from treasure hunters, relic hunters, and people who might have otherwise disturbed it.”
Now visitors can tour the grounds for the first time after York County officials opened a new trail on Saturday. The quarter-mile gravel trail loops around the small battlefield, featuring interpretive signs and a wooden frame showing the location of the Williamson family home.
The summer of 1780 was difficult period in the Revolution for South Carolina, A British force had taken the largest city of Charleston in May, capturing nearly the entire Continental Army in South Carolina. The British had no serious opposition as they created inland forts around the state, with the plan to eventually move northward into North Carolina and Virginia.
However, the plan began unraveling after “Loyalist” troops (American natives who opposed the revolution) took the opportunity to settle old scores with their rebel neighbors. Among the alleged worst was Capt. Christian Huck, whose men were accused of plundering property and harassing residents in present-day York County. The actions of Huck and others eventually drove many residents to join “Patriot” militias in a plan for eventual revenge.
On the morning of July 12, 1780, a group of roughly 250 Patriot militia ambushed 115 of Huck’s troops while they camped at the Williamson home, killing and capturing most of them. Huck was killed by a sharpshooter during the fight. It marked the first time that relatively green and untrained militia had defeated regular troops in battle since Charleston fell. The victory, when combined with other actions in the following weeks, eventually inspired hundreds of other South Carolinians to join the rebel militias.
“That was an important morale booster,” Scoggins said. “It kind of got the ball rolling for a number of other important battles in the summer and fall of 1780 that really helped turn the war around in the Americans’ favor.”