American Revolutionary War Battles

The Battle of Black Mingo Creek

September 29, 1780 at Black Mingo Creek, Georgetown and Williamsburg County border, South Carolina

Battle Summary

The Battle of Black Mingo was also known as the Skirmish at Shepherd's Ferry. It was a skirmish in the vicinity of Dollard's Tavern near Black Mingo Creek near Hemingway, South Carolina. Brigadier General Francis Marion attacked and scattered a contingent of Loyalist troops that had been left to secure the region by Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton after his destructive march through the area.

The Loyalists, under Colonel John Coming Ball, were driven into the nearby swamp after suffering significant casualties.

Facts about the Black Mingo Creek

  • Armies - American Forces was commanded by Gen. Francis Marion and consisted of over 50 Soldiers. British Forces was commanded by Col. John C. Baal and consisted of over 50 Soldiers.
  • Casualties - American casualties were estimated to 2 killed and 8 wounded. British casualties were estimated to be 3 killed and 13 wounded/missing/captured.
  • Outcome - The result of the battle was an American victory. The battle was part of the Southern Theater 1775-82.
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Prelude

A company of militia was placed under the command of Marion in the wake of the Battle of Ramsour's Mill. Marion then engaged in a series of guerrilla actions to harry elements of the British force and its Loyalist supporters. Following their victory at Camden, the British sent out contingents to secure the countryside and capture prominent Revolutionary leaders like Marion. These activities reduced company morale, and the hunt for Marion caused men to leave his company, until he only had about 60 left and was forced to retreat into hiding in the swamps of the border between North and South Carolina.

The British then traveled across South Carolina, plundering and destroying Revolutionary properties. This prompted Marion to move into South Carolina, where Revolutionaries angered by the British action signed up in large numbers. He was alerted to the presence of a large number of Loyalists near Black Mingo Creek, then 15 miles away. While the reports indicated that the Loyalist numbers were larger than his own, the enthusiasm of his men prompted him to agree to an attack.

The British had completed a base at Georgetown in September and decided to establish an outpost nearby. They sent Colonel John C. Ball with over 150 loyalist militia to a position near Shepard's Ferry, which was around 20 miles from Georgetown. Their mission was to serve as an advance outpost and to discourage any Americans around Williamsburg from trying anything.

After discovering this British outpost, Marion led a group of Americans for a surprise attack. There they camped around Shepherd's Ferry on the south side of Black Mingo Creek.

Battle Begins

On September 29, Marion left Kingston and rode with his men to Port's Ferry. From there they moved to Witherspoon's Ferry on Lynches, and, after a 30 mile ride, were joined by Major John James, and 10 men, and some additional militia. According to some authorities, he had about 150 total men with him.

That evening, just before midnight, having gone another 12 miles, he stealthily approached Colonel John Coming Ball's camp at Black Mingo. A Tory sentinel heard Marion's horses crossing Willtown Bridge, which was a mile north of the outpost. Ball deployed his force in anticipation of the American attack, who was ready with a volley that wounded or killed a number of Marion's officers and men, who, just prior to the attack had dismounted.

Marion discovered that the elememt of surprise was lost and decided to go ahead with his attack. He ordered a dismounted attack, commanded by Major Hugh Horrey, on the Tory right flank. Marion also sent a small group of his men, commanded by Captain Thomas Waites, to attack the Tory center located at Dollard's Tavern. Finally, Marion sent a small mounted group to move east of the tavern. The rest of the Americans were held in reserve with Marion.

Ball's force formed up in the adjacent field adjacent to the tavern. Marion had expected Horry's force to use the tavern to fight from, but instead, Horrey advanced his force across the field straight towards Ball's position. The Tories opened up on the Americans when they were within 30 yards from them.

Soon, the Tories began a retreat back towards the tavern. When Waites group had skirted the tavern and turned the Tory right flank, the Tories broke formation and scattered. Marion and his men had completed the route of the Tory force. The entire fight only lasted about 15 minutes. Compared to other battles, this was more of a small skirmish than a battle.

Aftermath

The two opposing force combined did not number much over 100 men. Marion had two men killed, one them a Captain George Logan, and six wounded. Ball lost three dead and thirteen wounded or prisoners, and the rest of his force was effectively dispersed.

Marion captured a supply of horses, gun, ammunition and other baggage, and five of the prisoners joined Marion's force. One of the horse’s taken was Ball’s own, which Marion took for himself and named “Ball.”

Many of Marion's force dispersed after the engagement to see to business at home. Marion and a group of 17 men made their way later that morning of September 29 to Amis' Mill, where they remained camped for about two weeks.