The Battle of Mobley's Meeting House
June 10, 1780 near Winnsboro, Fairfied District, South Carolina
The Battle of Mobley's Meeting House (also sometimes called Gibson's Meeting House) was an engagement that occurred in the Mobley Settlement, Fairfield County, South Carolina during the Southern campaign of Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis.
On June 8, a small body of Whig militia led by Colonel William Bratton surprised a gathering point of Tory militia at Mobley's Meeting House, about 6 miles west of present-day Winnsboro. Many of the Tories tried to escape by descending a steep embankment; this attempt led to more casualties than were caused by the actual firefight. A few Tories holed up in a blockhouse but were flushed out and defeated.
The battle was one a string of small victories by Whig militia that raised morale and support for their cause after the Continental Army suffered major defeats at Charleston and Waxhaws in May 1780, and preceded more organized resistance led by militia leaders like Thomas Sumter and Francis Marion.
Facts about the Battle of Mobley's Meeting House
- Armies - American Forces was commanded by Col. William Bratton and consisted of about 100-200 Soldiers. British Forces was commanded by Col. Charles Coleman and consisted of about 200 Soldiers.
- Casualties - American casualties were unknown. British casualties were unknown. .
- Outcome - The result of the battle was an American victory. The battle was part of the Southern Theater 1775-82.
Tories in the area began raiding and plundering Whig properties, and in early June 1780 established a camp at Mobley's Meeting House, about 12 miles north of Shirer's Ferry, located on a high embankment on a branch of the Little River in Fairfield District. They were under the general command of Colonel Robert Coleman of Fairfield District, Colonel Joseph Fleuquinyan and Capt. William Nichols.
This group had plundered many of the possessions of Whigs in the area, in particular members of the Hampton family, and had sent John and Henry Hampton as prisoners to Lord Cornwallis at Camden. Thus laden down with booty, they awaited British assistance. Richard Winn, a prominent Whig leader in the area, began to rally supporter to his side.
By June 7, Winn had rallied a force of between one and two hundred men in the New Acquisition District (roughly York County, South Carolina). Its principal commanders were Colonel William Bratton, who had been leading Whig militia since the war began in 1775, as well as Cols. Edward Lacey, John McClure, Samuel Watson, Cooper, and William Hill. This group was composed in large part of the Whig forces that had just the day before routed and scattered a Tory gathering at Beckhamville, South Carolina.
Bratton was elected overall field commander for the engagement, which rode for Mobley's that day, arriving in the early morning hours. They found that the camp, although it had a fortified blockhouse and the meetinghouse itself was of sturdy construction, was not particularly alert against possible attack, and planned a surprise attack.
The Tories had formed at a well-known rendezvous location called Mobley’s Meeting House in the Mobley Settlement, located on a high embankment on a branch of the Little River in Fairfield District. They were under the general command of Tory Colonel Robert Coleman of Fairfield District, Tory Colonel Joseph Fleuquinyan and Tory Capt. William Nichols.
This group had plundered many of the possessions of Whigs in the area, in particular members of the Hampton family and had sent John and Henry Hampton prisoner to Cornwallis at Camden. Laden down with booty and awaiting British assistance, the Tories were hit by the combined Whig force more or less by surprise and, like at Beckhamville, scattered in retreat in short order. The attack occurred at daybreak with an assault on the Church and a nearby strong/block house or fortified building.
The Whig forces attacked from three sides, leaving the fourth uncovered as it was thought that the embankment was too hazardous to climb for an attack or to descend in a retreat. However, during the confusion and panic, a number of Tories attempted just that and were injured in the process. Few casualties were noted on either side other than those resulting from falls down the embankment. Much of the plunder was recovered and restored to the owners, and a significant number of prisoners were taken and sent to North Carolina. After the battle, some of the Whigs immediately left for North Carolina while others stayed on.
In the immediate aftermath, Col. Turnbull, the regional British commander at Rocky Mount, sent the New York Provincials (the Green Coats Tories) under Captain Christian Huck in reprisal. They in turn destroyed the home and parsonage of the Reverend John Simpson and attacked the remaining Whigs at the Iron Works of Colonel William Hill. After the destruction of the Iron Works, the remaining Whigs were forced to withdraw into North Carolina and assist in Sumter’s rise and their vengeance on Huck in July.
While minor in scope, this engagement and others like it represented important symbolic victories for the Whigs. Mobley’s Meeting House and the Battle of Beckhamville were the first two Whig successes against a string of defeats at Monck’s Corner, the Waxhaws, Lenud’s Ferry, and the demoralizing fall of Charleston.
Other setbacks at Brandon’s Defeat and Hill’s Iron Works after the Beckhamville and Mobley’s Meeting House successes continued to press the Whigs, but rallies at Huck’s Defeat (Williamson’s Plantation) and Ramsour’s Mill continued to provide strategically small, but much needed morale and spiritual, victories to keep the Patriots going through these dark days, especially after the whippings delivered on them by the British at Camden and Fishing Creek only two months later.
It wasn’t until October 7, that deliverance came, with the decisive Whig victory at King’s Mountain that was the turning point of Cornwallis’ Southern Campaign.