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In the weeks following the Battle of Kings Mountain, South Carolina remained in turmoil. The British still controlled the most strategic cities and settlements, but in the backcountry it was a different story.

Roadside historical marker that reads :"Battle of Blackstock's - this battle of the Revolution took place on William Blackstock's plantation 3 miles N. on the south side of the Tyger River November 20 1780. Gen. Thomas Sumter commanded American patriots who repulsed Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton's British forces. Sumter was wounded here and this prevented his taking an active part in the war for several months."
Historical Marker along Highway 49 not far from the Blackstock Battleground historic site.

Major Patrick Ferguson and his army of 900 men had been tasked with pacifying the backcountry, but now that man and his army were gone. Gone too were most of the men who had defeated him. The Overmountain Men had come together for a singular purpose, to defeat Patrick Ferguson. With that task completed, many dispersed and returned to their homes.

The power vacuum was filled by men like General Thomas Sumter. During the month of November 1780, Sumter was moving through the upper South Carolina backcountry raiding grist mills along the Enoree River. His plan was to make his way to the British stronghold at Ninety-Six and lay siege to the fortifications.

Portrait of a white man with pulled back white hair wearing 18th century clothing.
Portrait of General Thomas Sumter painted by Rembrandt Peale around 1795.

When General Charles Cornwallis heard of Sumter’s plans to attack Ninety-Six, he ordered Lt. Colonial Banastre Tarleton to abandon the search for the “Swamp Fox” Francis Marion and focus his attention of stopping the “Fighting Gamecock” Thomas Sumter.

Portrait of a uniformed man with a formal greenish blue coat, white pants standing in front of horses and a cannon
Portrait of Banastre Tarleton 1782 by Joshua Reynolds, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Tarleton’s forces included his British Legion of loyalist mounted dragoons as well as well as foot infantry and artillery units. Along the way he picked up the 63rd Regiment mounted infantry. The total number of men under Tarleton’s command is disputed but may have been as high as 530.

On the morning of November 18, 1780 two days before the battle at Blackstock’s Farm, Tarleton first encountered Sumter’s forces. As the British Legion and the 63rd Regiment watered their horses on the Broad River, a group of raiders opened fire on them from the opposite bank. That night the British crossed the river with Tarleton more determined to run the Patriots down than ever before. But General Sumter was warned of Lt. Colonel Tarleton’s movements by a deserter from the 63d Regiment.

Upon learning the Tarleton was close on his heels, Sumter began looking for a strong defensive position from which to face the British. Just as his counterpart Daniel Morgan would do in just two months time, Thomas Sumter would get choose the where he would face Banastre Tarleton.

A muddy river with a sandy bank seen through simi dense vegetation.
The Nature Trail leads to Tyger River. But this is the best view you’ll get of the river while the leaves are still on the trees.

Along the Tyger river he found the tobacco farm of William Blackstock and realized that it was the ideal spot to face his rival. Located on the hills above the Tyger river, Blackstock’s farm surrounded by mostly cleared land, so Sumter and his men would have a clear view of Tarleton’s approach. The barn and outbuildings were sturdy and provided great cover for Patriots to rain fire down on approaching British. Sill others were stationed along a fence line and the woods surrounding the house. In total, Sumter may have had up to 700 men under his command.

On the morning of the 20th, Banastre Tarleton followed a lead towards Blackstock’s Farm. Shortly after he crossed the Enoree River, he encountered Thomas Sumter’s rear guard. The rear guard was quickly overrun by the British forces. With this initial victory and the fear that he might loose the trail if Sumter was able to cross the Tyger River, Tarleton took his mounted troops on ahead. Without the foot infantry and artillery slowing his advance, they could close the gap and catch up to Sumter. True to form, Tarleton was confidant that his mounted troops could hold the line until the infantry and cannon could be brought into battle.

grove of trees on the right opening up on a field with trees on the far side on top of the hill.
Although no signs of the battle have lasted to today, you can still get a feel for the hilly terrain of the battle.

But for the first time in his career, that confidence that Lt. Colonial Banastre Tarleton was known for took a backseat to reality when he arrived at Blackstock’s farm on afternoon of November 20, 1780. Seeing that General Sumter controlled the high ground and the fortifications in place, Tarleton hesitated. Realizing that a full frontal attack would be foolhardy, he decided to wait for his artillery to soften up the Patriots, but the decision on when to fight would be taken from his hands.

A paved road on the lower right corner heading out of frame. Small grassy area on the left with a fenced off area with a opening large enough to walk through. A covered bulletin bored is also in the gap. Papers can be made out on the board.
The parking area at Blackstock Battlefield is small and there’s very little infrastructure here. However the Kiosk has information about the battle as well as bulletins from park rangers.

In am attempt to draw the British into battle, General Sumter ordered his men to open fire although the British were too far away for his men to land shots reliably. However, the 63rd Mounted Infantry under the command of Major John Money took the bait. Ordering his men to fix bayonets, he led a disastrous charge against the Patriot Militia. The 63rd soon found itself under heavy fire from Colonel Henry Hampton’s men stationed in the farm buildings. Ready or not, the battle had begun.

Partial view of a river through heavy vegetation. A sandy beach is on the far bank and forest beyond.
Following the nature trail down to the river gives a good idea of the position the British were in when attacking a Patriot force that controlled the higher ground.

As Patriot Mounted Infantry emerged from the woods fulling cutting off the 63rd, Tarleton made a vain attempt to rescue them. Twice he attempted to fight to their rescue and twice he was forced to withdraw. By nightfall, the British managed to withdraw. Tarleton moved two miles away and waited for his reinforcements. The next morning, the reasoned, he would be able to take the field.

But when he returned, the farm was abandoned. Tarleton declared victory and claimed the battlefield for Great Britain. Although this “victory” came at a high price. It’s estimated that the British lost up to 100 men killed and another 100 wounded. The Patriots only faced 3 deaths, 4 wounded, and about 50 captured.

On of those wounded was General Sumter himself. Wanting to watch the British withdrawal, he steeped out from behind cover only to be hit the shoulder when the remnants of the 63rd fired a volley in his direction. His most senior colonel, John Twiggs was left to lead the militia across the river and into the night along with his severely injured commanding officer.

Although both sides declared Blackstock’s Farm a victory, it’s hard to say with any certainty if there was a victory. To this day most claim that this was the first time Banastre Tarleton lost an engagement. Looking at the numbers of British killed and wounded, that’s an easy argument to make. Add to the fact that he failed to inflict similar casualties on the Colonials or kill Thomas Sumter, and it would be easy to see things this way.

But although General Sumter wasn’t killed or captured, he was out of the war for several months. He wouldn’t be fit for duty again until the bulk of the British Army had moved North chasing Nathanael Greene. With General Sumter out of action, many of the Patriot Militia members simply dispersed after escaping across the river. This General Sumter’s push to Ninety-Six had to be abandoned, and the British would hold that important outpost into the following year. While the British paid a heavy cost and failed to achieve a decisive victory, they did achieve the goals of sidelining Thomas Sumter and putting off the eventual siege on Ninety-Six.

For details on our visit check out our Blackstock’s Battlefield Field Report

Visiting Blackstock’s Battlefield

You can still visit the site of the Battle of Blackstock today, but there is unfortunately not much to see. Nothing remains of Blackstock’s farm and anything alluding to the battle fought here is burred deep underground for only professional historians to find.

Rural highway that is slightly curved to the left. Another road intersects to the the right of the highway and proceeds at a slight angle.
Traveling along Blackstock Road from Highway 49, the road to the battlefield will be on the right, but there aren’t any signs or any other indication that you need to turn here.

A historical marker sits on Highway 49 approximately 2000 feet from the site of the battle, and if you turn down the aptly named Blackstock Road and then take a right onto the unsigned Monument Road also called Battlefield Road and then veer of to the left at the sign, you’ll arrive at the historic site. It can be tricky to find because of the unsigned road, so best advice is to use the GPS on your phone. If coming from Highway 56, Blackstock Rd is about a mile from the Enoree River on the Spartanburg County side.

A country road running through a grove of trees. dried up pine needles litter the road. A brown sign reading "Blackstock Battlefield" with an arrow pointing to the left can be seen on the right side of the road.
A short distance down the unsigned road, and you’ll find yourself at the final turn to get to the battlefield. This time the road is signed. Just follow this road until you reach a gate, and you’ll be at the Blackstock Historical Site.

Infrastructure on site is limited to say the least, but what is here is well maintained. Rangers from the nearby Mosgrove Mill Historic Site also take care of this site. There’s a bulliton board type kiosk with a laminated history of the battle as well as park rules. A 1.3 mile trail loops down to the Tiger River and back from this kiosk, but unfortunately, there’s nothing along the trail pointing out where events of the battle took place. Essentially, it’s a nature trail. And that’s about it.

Covered wooden bulletin board with a number of page sized posts. Seen from a enough of a distance that no text can be read.
This kiosk at the parking area of the battlefield is the extent of the infrastructure on site. But be sure to check it out for info about guided tours and special events.

Because of this lack of infrastructure, Blackstock’s Battleground isn’t really worth a special trip. That being said, if you’re already visiting Musgrove Mill and have time, go ahead and have a look. At the very least, it’s a way to bookend Kings Mountain – Musgrove Mill before and Blackstock’s after. The one exception to the no special trips advice is the monthly guided hikes lead by a park ranger. Your guide can take you to historic the points of interest around the site – most of which aren’t along the trail. Reservations are required and there is a small fee. Find info about guided hikes at https://southcarolinaparks.com/battle-of-musgrove-mill/blackstocks-battlefield

Trail through the woods. A tree with an arrow and a red blaze is on the left side of the trail.
The nature trail at Blackstock Battlefield is only 1.3 miles long, but as it starts at the top of a hill, it can be challenging at time.

Fast Facts About Blackstock Battlefield

Type: Historic Site/Revolutionary War Battlefield
Admission: Free
Location: 200-566 Monument Rd, Enoree, SC 29335
Website: https://southcarolinaparks.com/battle-of-musgrove-mill/blackstocks-battlefield
Phone: (803) 771-0870
Jump to map

Things to do: Nature Trail

Map to Blackstock Battlefield