Cohera Swamp, North Carolina
11 May 1781
As Cornwallis marched to Virginia many of the Loyalists in the coastal area began to take some courage and reform. In the western part of Duplin County some Loyalists formed a camp in the Cohera Swamp. They thought that this was a secret place, and they declared their allegiance for the King of England there. The Loyalists had taken some young Whigs prisoner and compelled them to take paroles from them. These Loyalists had not chosen a leader and had no organization.
Colonel James Kenan of the Duplin County Militia learned of their camp and quickly collected twelve or fifteen men, then went in search of the Loyalists in the swamp. Kenanís plan was to disperse them before they became too powerful. His men scouted the camp and were surprised by a hidden picket post. Both sides fired and the Loyalists killed Owen Kenan, the brother of Colonel Kenan. Both sides were unsure of the other sideís abilities and they both retreated.
The Loyalists had not lost any men and claimed themselves victorious. The word went out that they had defeated Colonel Kenanís force, and 120 more Loyalists came into their camp. They chose Middleton Mobley and his brother, Biggars, to be their leaders. Biggars Mobley was able to bring in fifty men. Some came from as far away as Onslow County. Mobley moved their camp from the Cohera Swamp to the west side of the swamp, at the bridge on the road to Cross Creek.[ii]
Kenan had kept watch on the progress of the Loyalists while he waited for reinforcements. His reinforcements arrived in the form of the Light Horse of Captain James C. Williams. Williamsí company had three sections. One section of about thirty men was mounted; the second section doubled up with the first section on the few horses they had, and the third section was on foot.
Kenan moved his force to Captain Richard Clintonís Plantation and camped about three miles from the Loyalist camp. When Middleton Mobley discovered that Kenan was nearby he retreated in the night towards the Black River. Kenanís forces withdrew and shadowed the Loyalists for several days. Kenan had lost his brother to those Tories and he didnít want to lose the track of them. A minister who witnessed Kenanís pursuit of Mobleyís men wrote, "The Loyals were neat and groomed, but the pursuers were unkempt and fiercely chin-whiskered."
[i] The community around Captain Richard Clintonís Plantation became known as Clintonís Crossroads in 1775. This skirmish happened in present-day Clinton, near the 12th green of the Coharie Country Club
[ii] This road is the present day Highway 24