Database:   Brown Marsh  

Brown Marsh

Skirmish, BG Butler vs. Maj. Manson, ?? Sep 1781

Other names:

Where: 34.461216 -78.643803 (NAD83/WGS84) Brown Marsh

Maps: [map notes]


  • NBBAS:Vol. Three p.368-370.
    Brown Marsh, North Carolina
    September 1781

    General Butler had missed the chance to rescue Governor Burke and he also missed the chance to capture Major Craig and his forces at Livingstonís Creek. He knew that the Loyalists would be coming back to the Upper Cape Fear River to return to their area of operations, so he planned to retaliate on the men who had committed the raid on Hillsborough.

    Craig received intelligence that Butler and his army were gathered near Brown Marsh in Bladen County. Craig sent Major Daniel Manson and 180 Provincials from Wilmington to escort Colonel Ray as far as Brown Marsh.

    Manson marched to Brown Marsh then divided the forces, and placed guides with each element. The three British groups were to strike at Butlerís camp from different angles. The three elements were the Royal North Carolina Regiment, Duncan Rayís Anson County Militia, and Fanningís Regiment under the command of Captain Stephen Holloway.

    This plan soon fell apart when the guides became lost in Brown Swamp. Manson and Holloway were able to move out of the swamp and get into position, but Rayís Loyalists were lost. The lost men could be heard moving through the swamp, breaking brush and getting tangled in the vines and bushes. Butlerís men heard all this and set up a defensive position facing the swamp. Manson did not know any of this and ordered the attack to begin in the early morning darkness.

    Butler was facing the swamp where they heard the noise, and did not expect an attack from his flanks. When Manson fired the first volley Butler assumed that the British had field pieces and ordered a retreat.

    Colonel Robert Mebane did not retreat and did the same thing he had done at Cane Creek. He disobeyed Butlerís order and continued to fight. Colonel Thomas Owenís Bladen County militia joined Mebane and fought until they were overpowered and had to retreat.

    One of the men who was in the fight wrote in his pension "if it had not been for old Col. Mebane of the Orange Regt., we would have all been taken prisoner ... and a brave officer he was."

    In less than an hour the Loyalists were in possession of the camp. They had lost two killed and five wounded. The Patriots wrote that they lost three killed and two wounded, but Manson wrote to Craig that "The Rebels were completely dispersíd, leaving twenty dead & five & twenty prisoners. They had also a number of wounded who in the darkness of the night got off. We took between 30 & 40 horses but the militia the next day got upwards of a hundred more who were running loose in the woods."

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  • RevWar75   listing. 9/1781, undetermined. Brown Marsh.

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Submitted by: Patrick O'Kelley

Confidence level: 1