Captain Christian Huck of the British Legion, July 1780. Original painting © 2018 by Thomas Kelly Pauley.
(?-1780) Christian Huck, a Loyalist under Banastre Tarleton, gained notoriety in South Carolina during the Revolutionary War for his vicious acts and excessive use of profanity. Huck was known for his intense hatred of all patriots, especially Scots-Irish Presbyterians, whom he considered the most sympathetic to the rebels. After joining the ranks of the British in New York, he commanded British outposts around Camden, South Carolina, and participated in other actions involving Tarleton’s Legion.
In June 1780 Huck and a portion of his command were sent from Rocky Mount toward the vicinity of Fishing Creek to disperse the rebels in that area. Along the way Huck recruited three hundred Loyalists and burned the houses and plantations of known patriots. At Fishing Creek, Huck turned his force toward the local church in hopes of capturing Presbyterian pastor and patriot John Simpson. Not finding Simpson, the Tories burned his home to the ground. Huck’s command continued its rampage in the New Acquisition District (York County) by destroying White’s Mills on Fishing Creek and William Hill’s Iron Works, a strategic source of cannon and ordinance for the patriots.
While Huck was wreaking havoc throughout the countryside, five hundred loosely organized patriots set out to find and destroy Huck. One patriot, John McClure, had his home destroyed by Huck, and his family was treated savagely and held as prisoners. One of his daughters managed to elude the captors and brought word to the American camp about the outrages that had occurred. With advance warning of the approach of the Tories and the knowledge of their whereabouts, the patriots went searching for Huck.
Before dawn on July 12, 1780, a force of 250 patriots commanded by Colonel William Bratton tracked Huck down at Williamson’s Plantation, located a little more than fifty miles northeast of Camden in the New Acquisition District. Huck had camped his men on poor ground and failed to put out patrols or pickets. Although he had posted sentries on the road in front of the plantation house, they did not hear the approach of the rebels. As a result the Tories, many of whom were still asleep, were taken completely by surprise and easily defeated. When he tried to escape on horse bareback, Huck was shot in the neck and fell from his horse. The wound proved mortal, and Huck died later that day. The majority of his command were either captured or killed.
“Huck’s Defeat”– the battle at Williamson’s Plantation came to be known–proved to the patriots that they could measure up to British regulars and that Tarleton’s feared legion was not as imposing as they had once thought. After Huck’s defeat the patriot ranks swelled with new recruits.