Battle of Blackstock's (20 November 1780)
No sooner was the news of this disaster carried to Cornwallis than he ordered Tarleton from the pursuit of Marion to fall upon Sumter. Soon after the action at Fishdam, Sumter took up the line of march toward Ninety Six. At this time Capt. Joseph McJunkin, feeling sufficiently recruited to take the field once again, assembled as many of his command as possible and joined Sumter at Padget's Creek, between the Tyger and Enoree Rivers. At the same time a number of the militia from Georgia effected a junction with Sumter. McJunkin was then appointed Major and received a commission as such. This was probably to fill a vacancy occasioned by the death of Lieut. Col. James Steen. Major William Farr subsequent to this is called Lieutenant Colonel in Major McJunkin's written narrative. Hence the writer concludes that Farr succeeded Steen, and McJunkin ranked next to Farr in Brandon's regiment. Steen was killed some time previous to this in Rowan County, N. C., in an attempt to arrest some Tories.
Sumter's march toward Ninety Six was arrested by the intelligence that Col. Tarleton was following him by forced marches with the manifest intention of falling upon him. He turned to the north, which placed the Enoree River in his front. He had barely passed this stream with his main body when Tarleton's advance obstructed the passage of his rear guard. Sumter, however, pushed on and was gaining ground on his pursuer. Tarleton, apprehensive that his flying foe would succeed in passing the Tyger without hindrance, which was only a few miles in advance, left his artillery and such of his infantry as he was unable to put on horseback, and pressed forward with double diligence. Sumter having reached the margin of that stream, took a strong position with a view of allowing his troops to take refreshments. His main body occupied the hill on which Blackstock's house was situated. The rear guard was left some distance behind on the road. The men composing it set about getting their dinner ‑‑ fires were built and dough rolled around sticks and set before the fire to bake. Just at this stage of the preparations Tarleton's force came in sight.
Major McJunkin, who was Officer of the Day, immediately sent a messenger to Sumter to let him know that the enemy were in sight. Orders were returned to come up to the house. Tarleton having viewed Sumter's position, concluded to guard his opponent and hold him there until the balance of his force should come up. Sumter was not of the metal to submit to such bondage. He drew up his force and called for volunteers to sally out and commence an action.
Col. Farr and McJunkin were the first to step out. When a number deemed sufficient were out, Gen. Sumter gave orders to advance, commence the attack and, if necessary, fall back. The action was commenced with great spirit, the assailing party gradually yielding to superior numbers until Tarleton made a general charge with a view of pushing his adversary from his advantageous position. He was repulsed in the first onset with a heavy loss. A second was tried with no better success, when he drew off his whole force and left the field of conflict. The numbers of the respective parties are variously estimated. Tarleton's is thought to have been 400, and Sumter's perhaps about equal. It is thought 150 Georgians were present under Col. Twiggs. There was a great disparity in the loss of the two parties. The British loss in killed and wounded amounted to near 200; that of the Americans about one‑sixth of that number. Among the wounded was Gen. Sumter, who received a bullet in the breast, by which he was disabled for service for several months. The command now devolved on Col. Twiggs.
It was thought expedient to retreat that night, though it was near sun down when the enemy quit the field. According, a bier was constructed, upon which Gen. Sumter was carried between two horses. Not a few of the militia lodged that night among the Storys and McIllwaines, twelve miles distant from the scene of action. The retreat was continued the next day toward King's Mountain in York District. On the way thither a part of the Whigs encamped on Gilkie's Creek. A pet Tory lived near where they lay, and some of them told him they would press him into service and take him along with them in the morning. To escape that disaster he took a chisel that night and cut off one of his toes.
In the morning after the battle Tarleton returned to the battle ground and, finding his opponent gone, hung John Johnson, a Whig who had been captured the day before. Mr. Johnson had taken protection some time in the summer, as many others had done, and when forced to fight had chosen to fight for liberty. His residence was on Tyger River in the vicinity of Hamilton's Ford, where some of his descendants may still be found. After the necessary arrangements were made, Tarleton renewed the pursuit and followed as far as Grindal Shoals on Pacolet River. Here he spent a night. William Hodge, a peaceable citizen, resided two miles above the shoals. The next morning a little after sunrise Tarleton with his whole army came to the house of Mr. Hodge, took him prisoner, seized provisions and provender, killed up his stock, burned his fence and house, and carried him off, telling his wife as they started that he should be hung on the first crooked tree on the road. He was carried to Camden and put in jail. Some time in ensuing April he made his escape by cutting the grating out of the window, with some others.