Bass's Mill

Other names:
Not to be confused with Hulin's Mill aka Bass's Mill

Skirmish, Col. Morris Murphey vs. *Maj. Jesse Barfield, ? Aug 1781

Where: 34.24749 -79.54330 Bass's Mill

Maps: [map notes]


  • JP:
    The creek is now known as Marsh Creek and it is on the boundary line between Dillon and Marion Counties as Lipscomb States. There is an Island on Marsh Creek about 5 miles from east side of the mouth of Black Creek and 12.5 miles or so from Cashua Ferry measured down the river turn for turn and is on the border between the two counties. This location fits with both Lipscomb's and Gregg's text below.

  • Terry W. Lipscomb, "South Carolina Revolutionary Battles - Part Ten (MS H-2-2)", unpublished, p24-25
    Not more than twelve miles down river from Cashua Ferry was Bass's Mill, site of an engagement in August 1781. Moses Bass was the proprietor of a well-known tavern situated on an island in Naked Creek near his mill. His establishment became the scene of a violent gunfight after a party of Tories discovered that a party of Whigs had made advance dinner reservations at the tavern. When Colonel Morris Murphey 32 and his detachment arrived on the appointed day and hour, an ambush was sprung just as some of the unsuspecting Patriots were sitting down to their food and cider and others were relaxing on the front porch.

    Although the enemy had the advantage of surprise the Whigs had the advantage of the cover provided by the public house. Major Jesse Barfield and his Tories were retreating toward the entrance causeway in defeat, when they heard one of the Patriot soldiers call out in a loud voice, "Good Heavens! What shall we do? The powder is out!" Barfield's men promptly resumed their attack, and Murphey's Patriots were forced to escape down the steep embankment behind the tavern and seek refuge in the thick woods across the creek. Despite its comic-opera overtones, this skirmish had its serious aspects. Two Patriots and an unspecified number of Loyalists were killed, and Murphey's men appear to have lost their horses, a serious setback for a mounted militia unit. Several veterans considered this battle important enough for a mention in their pension statements years afterward. Naked Creek was later known as Mill Creek and is today labeled on maps as Marsh Creek. It forms the boundary line between Marion and Dillon counties.33

    32. Maurice Murphy is the spelling favored by Gregg, who also states that the original spelling was Murfee. Archival documents contain a number of fine signatures by this Revolutionary War officer, indicating that he spelled his own name Morris Murphey. See Audited Accounts of Joseph Alison (AA85) and Morris Murphey (AA5407), South Carolina Archives.
    33. Gregg, Old Cheraws, pp. 372-73; Pension Accounts of Robert Coleman and Azariah David, National Archives; Durward T. Stokes, The History of Dillon County, pp. 41-42. An interesting 1770 plat shows the existence of a mill on the northeast side of Pee Dee River adjacent to property of Moses Bass. Colonial Plats, vol. 16, p. 211, South Carolina Archives.

  • Alexander Gregg, History of the Old Cheraws, Richardson And Company, 1867, p.372-373
    In August of this year, Colonel Murphy was stationed, with a small force, near the mouth of Black Creek. He sent word to old Moses Bass, who kept a noted public-house at the mill on Naked Creek, across the river and about four miles distant, that he would be there with his men on a certain day, and to have a good dinner, with plenty of cider, in readiness. By some means, the Tories in the neighbourhood were informed of the expected visit, and made preparations for attacking Murphy at Bass's. The house stood on a small island, made by a sudden bend of the creek, forming almost a circle, and a canal cut across the neck of land leading out to the main road near by. On the appointed day, Murphy and his party went over, suspecting no danger. While at dinner, they were suddenly surprised by the enemy's approach. Two men came rapidly up on horseback, and were in the act of crossing the creek by a causeway when first discovered. They were followed by the main body, under Major Barfield. Some of the Whigs, who happened to be on the piazza, were fired upon, and for a moment all was confusion. By this time, the Tories had approached within fighting distance, and the conflict began. The Whigs having the benefit of a cover, soon gained a decided advantage, killing several of the enemy, with the loss, however, of two of their own number, Harper and Mixon. Giving way under the effective fire from the house, the Tories were in the act of retreating, when one of Murphy's men, named Daniel, who had a stentorian voice, cried out, " Good Heavens! what shall we do ? the powder is out." Upon hearing this, the Tories returned to the fight ; and the Whigs, no longer able to keep up an equal fire, were forced to escape in every direction across the creek, to the cover of the thick timber beyond. It ran but a short distance in the rear of the dwelling. Reaching it by a few bounds, they tumbled down the steep bank, and got off without further loss. One of their number, a man named Thompson, from the Poke Swamp settlement, on the west side of the river, as he jumped the fence near the creek, found a large and powerful mulatto, Shoemake by name, pressing closely upon him, with his rifle aimed and in the act of firing. Happily for Thompson, the rifle missed fire, and before it could be readjusted, he made his escape. Twenty years after, Thompson heard of Shoemakers going to Camden, caught him on his return, and inflicted severe punishment. Peter Bozeman, a valiant soldier of liberty, who afterwards settled and died in Darlington District, was one of Murphy's party. Malachi Murphy was another, and received a wound in the shoulder as he reached the creek, which disabled him for the time. He fell down the bank, and crawling under a large log, remained there undiscovered, though the Tories several times passed near him. Daniel, whose unfortunate exclamation led to the disaster, was a man of powerful frame, and carried Murphy on his shoulders to Black Creek, making some amends thereby for his untimely blunder. Thus ended their day's frolic for the Whigs, teaching them the lesson which so many have learned too late, that vigilance is the price of liberty.

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  • NBBAS:Three Not found.

  • Sherman's Calendar.... Search for bass' mill. (3 locations). To avoid long downloads, use option to "Save and view this PDF in Reader".

  • RevWar75 RevWar75  
  • Aug 1781 listing   Not found.

Related locations:
[Can you provide names of other actions related by proximity or other?]
Black Creek 1,   Hulin's Mill,   Killing of Courtney,   _________________

Confidence level:: 5