MCCONNELLS — Check yer flints, boys! screamed Brig. Gen. Thomas Sumter, as the first musket shots rang out from the trees.
A group of redcoats came marching out, with flintlocks blazing, and no longer was it history in a book. It was here in York County, where America was given a push toward its birth.
Get em! screamed little boys Taylor Heller, 8, and Tripp Heller, 10, whose parents brought them from Clemson to watch and these boys were spoiling for a fight. They got one, too, as the British dropped from musket balls. The Heller boys held their sticks like flintlock muskets and almost jumped into the battle.
Throngs of visitors from several states came to watch the re-enactment of the Battle of Hucks Defeat and the Battle of Blackstocks Plantation as part of the annual July events that mark the anniversary of one of the battles that changed the course of American history.
The Hucks Defeat, named after British Col. Christian Huck, took place in what is now McConnells on July 12, 1780 An old-fashioned Scots-Irish ambush and butt-whippin as one re-enactor called it Saturday. It helped swing the American Revolution from the British to the Patriots.
The Blackstock battle was at York Countys western edge with Union County at the Broad River, but both battles were staged Saturday so that the huge crowd could enjoy them.
People did love it, hollerin and cheerin as the Patriots cut through the Brits led by hated General Banastre Tarleton like a mule through cornstalks.
Re-enactors came from as far as Florida and Virginia to be a part of the battles. Henry Brown, a dental hygienist and retired teacher from Roanoke Rapids, N.C., portrayed Sumter the Patriot general and he played the part to the hilt. He led the charge and he got shot and he fell in a heap.
But not before commanding his ragtag group with: Send em off, boys!
For re-enactors, the battles are the culmination of a weekend of living, acting, eating, and smelling like 1780 Patriots. Imagine a July without showers wearing heavy wool clothes and thats what the re-enactors smelled like.
The whole idea is to make it real, make it come alive, said Jim Strong of Charlotte, a veteran re-enactor.
Throughout the day, people from Historic Brattonsville, site of the battlefield and part of the Culture and Heritage Museums of York County, talked to the audiences about the history and importance of the battles.
At the end of the battle of Blackstock, the British were whipped - again - and one of the Patriots called out: We just give it to Tarleton, Boys, and the Patriots whooped and the crowd whooped.
America, the land of the free and home of the brave, was soon to be born.
Andrew Dys • 803-329-4065