The Battle of Myhand's Bridge

May 13, 1781 in Sampson County, North Carolina

Facts about the Battle of Myhand's Bridge

  • Armies - American Forces was commanded by Gen. George Washington and consisted of 75 Soldiers. British Forces was commanded by Gen. William Howe and consisted of unknown number of Soldiers.
  • Casualties - American casualties were unknown. British casualties was approximately 3 killed, 2 wounded, and 10 captured.
  • Outcome - The result of the battle was an American victory.

Battle Begins

Colonel James Kenan had shadowed the movements of Middleton Mobley and his Loyalists through Duplin County. Kenan was awaiting the assistance of a dozen men with a swivel gun from the "old Ferry" at Helltown Ford. A small stockade at the old ferry protected the ford across the South Branch of the Black River.

Kenan decided that the swivel gun would not arrive before Mobley’s force increased their ranks and outnumbered his two cavalry troops. What Kenan didn’t know was that Mobley already outnumbered him. Mobley had 120 Loyalists, while Kenan had fifteen of his men and sixty of Captain James "Shay" Williams’ men.

On May 13, in the morning, Kenan had his men ride near Myhand’s Bridge to draw Mobley’s Loyalists out of their fortified camp. Mobley took the bait. He had his men cross a narrow causeway leading to two bridges crossing the swamp. The first bridge had been stripped of its planks by the Loyalists to build their defensive works.

As the Loyalists came across the causeway "Shay" William’s militia opened fire on their flank. When the Patriots began to envelope the rear of the Loyalists they began to panic. They received fire from every corner. Mobley was able to push through on their left and break out of the encirclement. The Loyalists fled down the Little Coharie, leaving three dead, two seriously wounded, and about ten men captured.

Kenan’s men pursued the Loyalists, but Mobley had the advantage of fighting a defensive action from a tangled, irregular and deep swamp with only a small, horse-wide path leading down the side of the Little Coharie Creek.

Kenan had several men wounded and Captain Williams lost a man from one of his mounted detachments when a "serpent which attacked from a Tree" and frightened his horse. The man was bitten about the face and shoulders. Kenan’s men pulled back and pillaged the Tory camp, drinking a large quantity of rum.

The dismounted detachment of Williams’ Company followed the Loyalists to Boykins Plantation without orders to do so or even telling Captain Williams. They used canoes, dugouts or small boats to cross the creek. When Williams’ infantry arrived at the plantation they found themselves badly outnumbered. They withdrew while the Loyalists pillaged Boykins' home.

Mobley’s men smashed the blacksmith shop and threw a large anvil in the Coharie River. They took two of the Boykins’ cows and slaughtered them in the front yard. By nightfall the Loyalists had stolen the boats from Boykins Plantation and made their way downstream. Several of them were on foot, unable to secure a mount.

After the Loyalists left Williams’ foot detachment took up positions around the Boykin house and attempted to help repair some of the damage. They sent a slave to inform the commander of their position. It is not known what happened to the slave, since he never arrived. Mobley and his men fled down the Coharie River, moving towards Wilmington to join Major Craig.

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