New Carolina Backwoods Battlefield site is Brattonsville’s largest addition in years

Historic Brattonsville will add its largest attraction in more than a decade Saturday, when it opens the site of the Revolutionary War skirmish known as Huck’s Defeat.

An opening ceremony for the battlefield and a ribbon-cutting for a new interpretive trail will be part of a weekend of events surrounding the annual re-enactment of the Battle of Huck’s Defeat.

Events are planned from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

“It’s a big deal for us, and it’s a big deal for the county,” said Brattonsville site manager Kevin Lynch. “This is the end of a long process.”

Lynch said the July 12, 1780, Patriot battle victory, also known as the Battle of Williamson’s Plantation, was a turning point in the war, and set the stage for larger, more significant Patriot victories.

Capt. Christian Huck was a British Loyalist officer noted for his “particular dislike for the Scotch-Irish Presbyterians in the South Carolina backcountry or ‘rebels’ as the British called them.” James Williamson’s 18th century plantation is part of the 775 acres that comprises Historic Brattonsville.

The destruction of Huck’s force during the battle also helped revive the morale of people in South Carolina just when British victory seemed inevitable.

But for more than 100 years, the exact location of the battle had been a mystery. Lynch said the Culture & Heritage Museums staff conducted archaeological research beginning in 2006 that now precisely maps the site of the battle.

The new quarter-mile gravel trail, which is part of the attraction, features a series of interpretive kiosks that illustrate the details of the battle and tell the story of the Williamson and Bratton families.

Lynch said the CHM staff knew from historical accounts how the battle played out near the Williamson house, which no longer exists.

During the archaeological research, he said, they found musket balls and other materials around the site where the house once stood.

Lynch said a wood frame has been erected at the site where the Williamson home stood. Painted cutouts of soldiers representing the British and American forces have been placed on the battle field to illustrate what happened, he said.

The CHM also commissioned Charlotte painters Don Troiani and Dan Nance to visually capture the story of the Battle of Huck’s Defeat.

Seven original paintings will be on display in Brattonsville’s Visitors Center during the opening weekend festivities. Prints of the artwork will be sold year-round. Nance will be on hand to sign prints both days, Lynch said.

Lynch said the Visitors Center will also feature a new 14-minute documentary that will help visitors understand the events that played out during Huck’s Defeat.

“It enriches the experience,” Lynch said. “You have the battlefield trail and the video you can watch to augment the experience.”

In addition, artifacts collected during the new battlefield’s archeological surveys will be on exhibition in the Visitors Center. The collection of artifacts includes rifle balls, uniform buttons, and horse gear, as well as domestic artifacts such as earthenware and colonoware.

Lynch said plans are in the works to add tours that would be guided by an electronic tablet device that the site would provide visitors to create “a more interactive experience.” That feature is not yet ready, he said.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the battlefield site will be at 1 p.m. Saturday. Visitors will be invited for self-guided tours along the new interpretive trail.

CHM historian Michael Scoggins will lead a guided tour of the new site at 3 p.m. Saturday.

Taking the field for the first time for Saturday’s battle re-enactment will be Historic Brattonsville’s first loyalist garrison and the New York Volunteers, who were participants in the battle.

The re-enactment will begin at 10:30 a.m. as units form for Huck’s Raid on the Bratton’s House. In addition to the Battle of Huck’s Defeat, the Battle of Musgrove Mill will be re-enacted on Saturday afternoon.

On Sunday, the re-enactment of the Battle of Hanging Rock, which was the first military engagement for Andrew Jackson, will take place.

Other activities include 18th century music and dancing, cavalry weapons demonstrations, a uniform lecture, children’s militia drill, a memorial wreath-laying ceremony led by the Col. William Bratton Chapter S.C. of the Sons of the American Revolution, and an 18th century worship service at 11 a.m. Sunday in the Oak Grove.

Food and refreshments will be sold by the Friends of Historic Brattonsville. Funding for the project was provided in part by the York County hospitality tax program and the National Park Service.