“Near the site of Mobley’s Meeting house and site of John H. Means House….”
City Directories and History: The historic Means family cemetery is one of R&R’s favorites and we were so fortunate to visit the site in the winter of 2017 when the graveyard was awash in blooms and heritage plantings.
A LOOK AT MOBLEY’S MEETING HOUSE – A few days later McClure’s band joined with Richard Winn and William Bratton in an attack on Mobley’s Meeting House twelve miles northwest of Winnsboro. There they drove off a force of Tories posted at a strong blockhouse, and recovered a quantity of plunder. The Loyalist commander was Colonel Charles Coleman.
According to Richard Winn’s memoirs, the action took place at “Gipson’s Meeting House in Moberley’s settlement,” a description that provides some grounds for confusion, since Robert Mills’s atlas shows both a Gibson’s Meeting House and a Mobley’s Meeting House on Little River in 1825. Local tradition places the affair at Mobley’s Meeting House, which was located on the west fork of Little River not far from modern secondary road S-20-18, and Winn confirms this location by his statement that “Gipson’s” was twelve miles above Shirer’s Ferry. (See more at the bottom of the page).
Yorkville Enquirer, Thursday, April 24, 1862
Letter from 17th Reg via the Charleston Mercury
“Occasional” published a letter (n.d.) from the 17th Regt. addressed to the Charleston Mercury (n.d.). The writer paid a visit to the regiment and commended its disciple and “tone.” The correspondent witnessed a drill and was much impressed with the order maintained in a charge. “The moral tone of this regiment, too, is striking. The stillness of the evening air was never disturbed by any sounds while I was with them, save the songs of praise and prayer which rightly ascends from many pious hearts, or the pleasant strains of music from the excellent band of the regiment, formed from their own members, or the innocent gayety and mirth of men whose hearts are in their country’s cause, and determined to maintain it to the end.”
“I have seen nowhere else an intermingling of discipline, with a courtesy and kindness of manner to the men, that approaches paternal tenderness.” The writer attributes the condition of the regiment to “the antecedents of the Commander, Col. John H. Means. . . .” Means was pictured as somewhat unique in his contacts with his men: kind greetings, water and civility for couriers, because Means knew that “many couriers and private soldiers occupy in private life a social position superior to may high officers, who affect to look down upon them as if they were hirelings at eleven dollars a month.” Means was seen as a consummate drill officer who never made a mistake.
Means’ staff was praised: Lt. Col. “F. W. McMaster, distinguished as a lawyer, has added the experience of Manassas and Port Royal and Charleston Harbor to his other accomplishments.” The writer predicted these two commanding officers would fit together like two joints of an arch. Major Julius Mills appeared to the writer as a natural officer with an “erect and motionless posture, his keen eye and rapid and accurate movement when in drill. . . .” He went through the State Military Academy. The writer listed the captains: Culp (Chester), Meacham (York), Wilson (York), Casky (Lancaster), Sadler (York), Coleman (Fairfield), Witherspoon (York), Kearse (Barnwell), Beaty (Chester), Rice (Barnwell).
Adjutant R. Stark Means, the Colonel’s son, had experience in VA with the 6th Regt. and was a Citadel graduate. Other officers were excellent and the mules and horses in the best shape of any the write ever saw in service. Generally, the writer had found horses and mules in service of poor quality. “The array of broken down horse for sale by the brokers in Broad street, admonish us to be ore careful of our stock, in the cavalry, artillery and infantry, for the supply is not equal to the demand, and unless there is an improvement, it will not be long before the carriage and saddle horses of the town and country will have to be impressed into service.”
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A CONTINUATION – Bratton, Winn, and McClure then moved north to join other determined Patriots who had fled to North Carolina. On June 15, an important convention was held, either at Tuckasegee Ford on the Catawba River due west of Charlotte, or at Hagler’s Branch in the vicinity of Fort Mill, depending on whose reminiscences are correct. The members of this assembly elected Thomas Sumter as their general and agreed to serve under him until the end of the war. His title of general was later made legal by the Governor John Rutledge, in October 1780. Sumter had formerly been commander of the Sixth South Carolina Continental Regiment, and his reputation as a brave and capable leader was well-known to his companions. Hagler’s Branch, which according to modern usage would be Haiglar’s Branch, derived its name from a famous chief of the Catawba Indians.
When intelligence of the affairs at Alexander’s Old Fields and Mobley’s Meeting House reached the British post at Rocky Mount, Lieutenant Colonel Turnbull sent out Captain Christian Huck with a detachment of the Legion, the New York Volunteers, and some militia. Huck pillaged the countryside and burned Hill’s Iron Works, in present York County. At that place, on June 18, 1780, his troops fought a small skirmish with one hundred and fifty Patriots, killing seven and capturing four. These iron works were owned by Colonel William Hill, and they were located on Allison Creek, near the spot where S. C. 274 presently crosses it. On July 12, Huck was encamped at Williamson’s Plantation, the residence of James Williamson, in the community now known as Brattonsville. Here, in the early morning, his force was encircled and ambushed by a Whig force from Sumter’s camp under the command of Colonels William Bratton, William Hill, and Edward Lacey.
South Carolina militia defeated trained regular troops of the British occupation force, and it probably convinced many an undecided upcountry- man to take up arms on the American side. Brattonsville is located a short distance due east of McConnells. While Bratton and his companions were occupied with Huck, other Patriots were active on the west side of Broad River. About one month earlier, Colonel Thomas Brandon had established a camp five miles south of the present town of Union, in order to gather his forces and keep a watch on the Tories. An escaped prisoner warned the enemy of Brandon’s position, and the Tories made a surprise attack on his camp at night, completely routing his men. This engagement, which occurred about June 8 or 10, is known as Brandon’s Defeat. Major William (Bloody Bill) Cunningham commanded the Loyalists on this occasion.
The first ferry operating on the Fairfield side of the Broad River was that of Martin Shirer’s. In 1770 Shirer applied to the General Assembly for a charter to operate a ferry across the river above the mouth of Wilkinson’s Creek, now Free’s Creek, two miles above the V.C. Summer nuclear power plant. The charter was granted. Shirer operated the ferry until 1785, when it was leased to Minor Winn for three years, becoming Winn’s Ferry. In 1789, the ferry property was sold to Richard Strother of Newberry County and rechartered by the legislature in Strother’s name as Strother’s Ferry. After Richard Strother’s death, the charter for the ferry was vested in Joseph McMorries, guardian of Nancy Rochelle Strother, who had inherited the ferry from her father. The ferry was known as McMorries’ Ferry from 1807 to 1814. Following Nancy Strother’s marriage to George Ruff, the ferry was rechartered in her husband’s name. Ruff died in 1821, but the ferry continued as Ruffs Ferry until his widow’s marriage to Daniel Hughey. Ruff’s Ferry became Hughey’s Ferry and remained so until it ceased to operate in the early 1900’s. Although no community developed around the ferry site, and today no public roads provide access to the landing, the old ferry site was one of the busiest crossing points along the Broad River from Fairfield County to Newberry County for almost a century and a half.
(Information from: Names in South Carolina by C.H. Neuffer, Published by the S.C. Dept. of English, USC)
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