Francis Mallory's Last Stand At Waters Creek

Francis Mallory's Last Stand At Waters Creek

Little documentation is available regarding the early life of Francis Mallory. In researching this man, I was unable to determine his profession or exact date of birth.

The background information I was able to find mostly comes from The Virginia Historical Register and claims he ‘was tall and well made, and altogether remarkably handsome.’

Additionally, in 1781, he was ‘about forty years old when killed.’

Colonel Francis Mallory

Colonel Francis Mallory had signed up with the Elizabeth City County (now Hampton, VA) Militia at the onset of the American Revolutionary War.

Mallory’s experience remained fairly quiet until close to the end of the war, when the British began sending soldiers to Virginia. Francis then began participating in several small skirmishes throughout the area.

In 1780, Mallory was captured by the enemy. He spent several weeks in harsh conditions on a British Prison Ship.

Back With the Militia

Upon his release in a prisoner exchange, Mallory was warned not to fight against the Redcoats again. Next time, he was told, he would not be taken alive.

Patriot that he was, Francis immediately returned and assumed command of his Militia.

During this time, the British were refraining from engaging in large battles, but would send out little raiding parties to gather supplies and intelligence. The Elizabeth City County Militia was responsible for keeping track of these soldiers, preventing them from obtaining provisions if possible.

Tompkin’s Bridge

In March of 1781 word came back to Mallory that the Brits would be crossing Tompkin’s Bridge. This coincided with information he heard while on the prison ship.

The Colonel sent two scouts on horseback to locate the enemy’s position. He then began marching the rest of the soldiers to the bridge.

Mallory’s plan was to destroy the bridge and wait in hiding for the British to arrive. When they discovered the crossing was gone, the Americans would ambush them from all sides.

Unfortunately, the two scouts ran into a large British force and were chased away. This left Francis without very important information…they did not have time to make it to the bridge.

The Skirmish at Waters Creek

As the Militia marched toward their destination, the small group (reports vary between 40 and 60 men) were bombarded by a superior British force (about 400 men).

In short order, many of the Americans scattered into a sloppy retreat. The few who stood their ground soon realized there was no hope for victory.

It was at this point that Jacob Wray, a friend of Mallory’s who’d been hunting in the area, arrived on horseback. He had heard the gunfire and, when he arrived, attempted to convince Francis to hop on his steed and escape.

Mallory refused Wray’s kindness and sent him away.

This would be Francis Mallory’s last stand.

The Last Stand

As his men began filtering away, Francis Mallory continued the fight.

Two British officers had been killed and two more had been wounded. They greatly outnumbered the Americans and this situation made them very unhappy.

That is when Mallory was noticed as a prisoner who was freed on the condition he would no longer participate in the war. He became the focus of their attention.

Francis was shot.

Not willing to take a chance on this man, the remaining British officers trampled his body with their horses.

They stabbed him with their sabers and bayonets.

The vest he was wearing, an heirloom which had passed through the family for generations, was found to have eleven stab wounds through it.

If you’d like to learn about other smaller skirmishes of the American Revolution, check out my articles on Jeremiah O’Brien and Caleb Brewster.

Although not directly related to today’s article, ‘Southern Gambit’ is about the British’s decision to go to Yorktown, and pick up fighting in Virginia. If you want to learn more about the end of the American Revolution I highly recommend it. Pick up a copy through the affiliate link below.

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