Almost 1,400 markers are included in the Guide to North Carolina Historical Highway Markers. Published in a handy pocket-sized format, it provides users with text descriptions and locations of North Carolina's distinctive silver and black markers, photographs of sites, a map, and a helpful index.
The State Department of Archives and History, which issues this guide, also offers a special listing of markers approved since 1990. This was also the year of the most recent edition of the guidebook. These post-1990 markers are viewable on the department's website. Guidebooks can be ordered through their website, by telephone (919-733-7442), or by mailing a request to the State Department of Archives and History, 4622 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-4622.
General tourist literature, some of which pertains to the state's colonial history, is mailed out by the Department of Conservation and Development, Travel and Promotion Division. The easiest way to access and/or order the information is via its website, www.visitnc.com, or by calling (919) 733-8372. There is another department within the tourism division that offers better detail, and in addition to the 2005 Official North Carolina Travel Guide, a variety of other useful publications. Online it is accessible at www.NCCommerce.com (go to the tourism page) and by phone: (919) 733-8302.
Those with a personal or official interest in state and local history programs will find much in North Carolina to inspire them. Land and historic site preservation is a stated priority for the state, and there appears to be a tremendous effort by the state to communicate its extensive historic past. Another important source is the State Historic Preservation Office under the auspices of the Department of Cultural Resources, a division of the Archives and History. Phone: (919) 733-4763.
Some worthy literature is available through the private nonprofit, Historic Preservation Foundation of North Carolina, Incorporated. It offers many books and other publications for sale that lend more than a casual glance at North Carolina's Revolutionary War Landmarks. Website: www.presnc.org; phone: (919) 832-3652. Incidentally, this organization was formed in 1939 and was previously called, until 1974, the North Carolina Society for the Preservation of Antiquities.
Daniel W. Barefoot's Touring North Carolina's Revolutionary War Sites (Blair Publishing, 1998) is also a helpful source, especially for anyone planning a backwoods driving tour of the state's eighteenth-century landmarks.
Alamance Battleground State Historic Site
Alamance Battleground State Historic Site, on N.C. 62 South, take Exit 143, 6 miles southwest of Burlington, Alamance County. There is more on the subject of protest and revolution at this site than meets the uninformed eye. Here, the coastal militia under Governor Tryon crushed a backwoods insurgency demanding a more efficient court system and equal recognition before the law.
The Regulators of North Carolina resented a government dominated by and responsive mainly to the desires of the coastal elite. Of particular concern was the Regulators' constituents' lack of representation in the provincial assembly, and the elite's manipulation of the court system to further impoverish those living inland (generally called the "piedmont"). The Regulators' name originated from their goal "to assemble ourselves for conference for regulating public grievances and abuses of power…." They Page 248 | Top of Articlegained ever more popular support and essentially coopted government in the west of the province between 1768 and 1770, becoming more aggressive as the assembly persisted in ignoring their protests. Things came to a head in September 1770 when the Regulators moved into Hillsborough and confronted superior court judge Richard Henderson, demanding that he hear cases without benefit of attorneys. Henderson agreed, adjourning the court after five lawyerless hours, whereupon the Regulators "conducted me with great parade to my lodgings." They assaulted a future signer of the Declaration of Independence, William Hooper, and paraded him through the streets. They brutally whipped Edmund Fanning, a local official, and destroyed his home in Hillsborough.
Governor Tryon called out the coastal militia in March 1771 and prepared to send two columns into Regulator country to demand allegiance to the government. He personally commanded the 1,100 who marched from New Bern to Hillsborough, and General Hugh Waddell led 250 troops from the Cape Fear region to Salisbury. Waddell was moving from the latter place to join Tryon in Hillsborough when he met a small force of rebels at the Yadkin, so he returned to Salisbury. Tryon marched toward Salisbury and found a large body of about two thousand Regulators near Alamance Creek.
Lack of leadership had characterized the Regulator movement from the start. Hermon Husband, a pacifist, was the most prominent but not sole leader of the Regulators. Many Regulators sought to confront Tryon's army in battle, confident that their greater numbers would carry the field. The well-known teacher, preacher, and physician David Caldwell tried to mediate between the two armed forces, but he was unsuccessful.
Governor Tryon had a professional military background and a simple military mind when it came to dealing with armed rebellion. Although his force was outnumbered two to one and was forced to attack rather than defend, it was far better armed than the frontier Regulators. When Tryon sent the rebels the final warning that they must disperse or be fired on, their reply came back: "Fire and be damned."
The royal governor had a little trouble getting his militia to attack, but once the battle started it was more difficult to get them to stop. The Regulators had no artillery, no overall commander to coordinate the efforts of the individual companies of "infantry," and a good many of their men were unarmed. The first command that many Regulators gave themselves when Tryon's artillery dropped in their midst was "Let's get out of here!" When the coastal militia charged, the Regulators broke and ran. Tryon's men then set fire to the woods. The eastern militia suffered nine deaths, the Regulators somewhere between ten and twenty killed and many wounded. Twelve were captured, and one of the prisoners was executed on the field to prove that Governor Tryon was prepared to act forcefully in dealing with armed rebellion. The Regulator movement collapsed.
Tryon issued a proclamation offering pardons for Regulators who would swear allegiance, excluding only a few leaders outlawed under an emergency act. He then marched unopposed through Regulator territory administering the oath of allegiance with great success. The Alamance prisoners were tried at Hillsborough; six were hanged there and the rest were pardoned. At the outbreak of the Revolution all of the outlawed leaders except Hermon Husband were pardoned, but many Regulators had been forced to emigrate in 1772 to the wilder settlements of Tennessee and Kentucky, and others had followed as soon as they could sell their property.
Many former Regulators supported the patriot cause in North Carolina, James Hunter being a member of the legislature during the years 1777 to 1782. Husband, meanwhile, was long gone. With a large price on his head, he abandoned his fine plantation on Sandy Creek in the northeast portion of modern Randolph County. Under an assumed name he lived several years in the wilds of western Pennsylvania at Coffee Springs Farm near modern Somerset. Husband was a leader in the Whiskey Rebellion (1794), and was condemned to death but pardoned. (A highway marker on U.S. 219 east of Somerset says he was the region's first settler. The village of Husband is about 3 miles north-northwest of Somerset, Pennsylvania. In North Carolina is a highway marker on U.S. 421 just south of Siler City, Chatham County, saying Husband's farm was here; presumably this was one he owned before moving to Sandy Creek.)
The 40-acre Alamance Battleground State Historic Site, one of sixteen historic sites administered by the Department of Archives and History, is open throughout the year. It includes the central portion of the battlefield, where there are monuments, markers, a visitors center, field exhibits, an audiovisual program (including a twenty-five minute film, The War of the Regulation), and a picnic area. In 1967 the Allen House was opened to the public here after being donated by descendents of the Allen family and moved from Snow Camp, where the interesting log house was built sometime between 1780 and 1782 by John Allen. Husband married John's sister in 1776.
The site of Tryon's Camp on Alamance Creek, 13 to 19 May 1771, is marked on N.C. 62 at the village of Alamance, just north of the battleground. In May, Alamance Battleground Historic Site celebrates the anniversary of the battle. The site is open from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. every day except Sunday. Phone: (336) 227-4785.
Albemarle, Museum of the, just south of Elizabeth City on at 1116 U.S. 17 South, Pasquotank County. Phone: Page 249
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(252) 335-1453. This regional museum interprets the history of the ten counties bordering Albemarle Sound. Opened in 1967, it is a remarkable example of how people with an intelligent interest in their history can go about organizing a modern regional museum, and it will appeal primarily to those from other parts of the country who have this concern in their own community. Exhibits are devoted to the geography and culture of the Albemarle area, site of the state's earliest settlements. A museum shop sells work of local craftsmen and publications relating to the exhibits.
Alston House. See HOUSE IN THE HORSESHOE.
Balfour Cemetery, near Asheboro Municipal Airport, Randolph County. Colonel Andrew Balfour is remembered primarily as one of David Fanning's most prominent victims. He was killed on 10 March 1782 when about twenty-five Loyalists raided his plantation; Fanning cold-bloodedly put a bullet in Balfour's head as his sister and daughter watched in horror. Balfour's widow became the first woman postmaster in the United States, appointed by Washington to that position in Salisbury.
Andrew Balfour had come to America from Edinburgh in 1772, and in 1779 he acquired a 2,000-acre plantation in newly formed Randolph County. He was a colonel of militia, justice of the peace, member of the General Assembly, and a particularly outspoken enemy of the Loyalists. When David Fanning offered to cease operations if his followers were not required to oppose the British, Balfour went on record as saying: "There is no resting place for a Tory's foot upon the earth." Fanning reacted as we have seen.
Balfour's homesite and the family cemetery are about half a mile off the southern end of the municipal airport runway. On the prosperous hog farm of the Rush family, which acquired the property in the 1840s from the estate of Andrew Balfour, Jr., the neglected Balfour Cemetery of half a dozen headstones survives on a hillside between County Roads 1142 and 1199 (dead end). (The Balfour Cemetery is shown on the Army Map Service topographic map "Asheboro," 1: 50,000, 1964.) In 1997 the Colonel Andrew Balfour Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution placed a monument in front of the colonel's headstone.
The site of "Fort Balfour," the fortified farm house from which Colonel Balfour was taken and murdered by Fanning, is near the cemetery on County Road 1142. It may be identified by evergreen trees and metal feed tanks surrounding a house subsequently erected on the spot.
Bettie McGees Creek, which forms the northern boundary of Uwharrie National Forest a few hundred feet from the Balfour Cemetery, is named for a heroine Page 250 | Top of Articleof the Revolution. County Road 1142, the northeastern boundary of the national forest, corresponds generally with the old Salisbury Road, along which lived many prominent Patriot militiamen and which was Fanning's route to Balfour's plantation from his base on Deep River.
Bath Historic Site
Bath Historic Site, Pamlico River. The visitors center is on N.C. Route 92 (Carteret Street) in the town of Bath, Beaufort County. Settled about 1696 and the state's oldest incorporated town (1705), Bath had no important role in the Revolution and is now a quiet little place where several important historical structures fit harmoniously into a modern residential neighborhood. The town should be of particular interest to conservationists as an example of good historic preservation and restoration. In the portion administered by the State Department of Archives and History are a well-designed visitors center (1970), the handsome, architecturally interesting Palmer-Marsh House (1751), the Van Der Veer House (1790s), and the Bonner House (1830s). The Historic Bath Commission has played the key role in acquiring and furnishing these houses in cooperation with the state. The state site is open every day except Monday throughout the year. Phone: (252) 923-3971.
Beattie's Ford (lost site), Catawba River, 4 miles north of Cowan's Ford Dam on Lake Norman. A dramatic moment occurred here shortly after 2 P.M. on Wednesday, 31 January 1781. Dan Morgan's column had beat a retreat from Cowpens, South Carolina, hotly pursued by the main British force under Lord Cornwallis. General Greene had just reached this point after a hurried ride with a small escort from Cheraw, South Carolina, and General William L. Davidson rode up at the head of his North Carolina militia. As the three American generals and Colonel William Washington talked, they saw redcoats of the British advance guard approach the opposite side of the swollen Catawba River. Greene decided to take advantage of the river barrier to make a stand, particularly because this would be a way to use his newly joined militia under Davidson. Cornwallis showed his finest qualities of generalship on the Catawba by making his main crossing at Cowan's Ford, virtually destroying Greene's militia support. The site of Beattie's Ford is flooded by Lake Norman, about where old N.C. 73 used to cross the Catawba River.
Beaufort. One of the state's earliest seaports (surveyed in 1713), the town survives as a picturesque place of narrow, tree-bordered streets and charming architecture in the style of the Bahamas. Beaufort was held by pirates for two days in 1749, and the event is commemorated annually. The place was of little significance during the Revolution but figured in the War of 1812, and a hero of that period, Otway Burns, lies beneath a cannon of his privateer in the Old Burial Ground. A restoration program has helped retain Beaufort's unique character while the modern port of Morehead City and the vacation center of Atlantic Beach—both a few minutes' drive from Beaufort—keep pace with contemporary America. Since 1960 the Beaufort Historic Site has given tours of the historic buildings and burial grounds. Its website, www.beauforthistoricalsite.org, is chocked full of information on what the organization's three tours offer. It is headquartered at 130 Turner Street, just across the street from what is now named the John C. Manson House but was formerly named the Joseph Bell House. The Bell House was thought to be from 1767, but the Beaufort Historical Preservation Commission recently discovered, after some careful scrutiny of the house's infrastructure, that it was actually built around 1825. Phone: (252) 728-5225.
(The pronunciation here, incidentally, is "Bowfurt," whereas in South Carolina it's the Old English "Bew-furt.")
Bell's Mill, Muddy Creek, near its junction with Deep River, about 2 miles northwest of Randleman, Randolph County. This site figures prominently in contemporary accounts of the campaign of Guilford Courthouse. Cornwallis camped near here a few days before the battle and sent his baggage back to this area when he stripped for action on the evening of 14 March 1781. In a region of large-scale dairy farms today, you can see why Cornwallis found this location particularly well suited for a camp. In addition to a mill and other structures, it had several wide stretches of bottomland that furnished his horses excellent grazing and protection. (The mill itself was known after the Revolution by the names of the Walker and Welborn families, and the structure survived until it was demolished about 1967 in connection with development of the Randleman dam and reservoir.) After remaining for two days on the battlefield of Guilford, Cornwallis spent two days marching back to Bell's Mill, where he spent another two days resting and supplying his troops before continuing to Ramsey's Mill.
The plantation and grist mill were the property of William Bell. In 1779 he became the first sheriff of newly formed Randolph County, and the same year married the richest widow in the region, Martha McFarlane McGee. With the reputation of being "a little haughty," perhaps because of her affluence and the many disappointed suitors during the four years of her widowhood, Martha Bell became a heroine during the British occupation of the region. Standing up to Lord Cornwallis, she demanded protection of her property as a condition for its use, threatening otherwise to burn it down herself. Under the pretext of having to see Cornwallis about a grievance against his troops or of having to travel the roads at night Page 251
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on urgent business as a midwife, Martha Bell was a valuable intelligence agent for General Nathanael Greene's army. (Sheriff Bell was off with Greene all this time.) A monument to the heroine was unveiled in 1929 in Guilford Courthouse National Military Park.
The site has been of little interest to modern historians of the region, although Benson Lossing thought it of sufficient importance to locate it on the ground in 1849 (Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution, II, pp. 606-14 passim). In 2005 a proposal for a Randolph County Historical Park that would include Bell's Mill was put forth by the North Carolina Office of Archaeology. The site is just south of the Muddy Creek bridge of County Road 1939. Proceed west 0.8 mile, continue on County Road 1943 for 0.7 mile to Number 1944, and almost immediately turn south (left) on 1941 to the Bell-Welborn cemetery. It is visible from the road at about 100 yards to your left and can be reached in dry weather by a dirt road. Martha and her husband are buried there.
Bethabara, northwest of Winston-Salem on Bethabara Road about where Oldtown Road joins the latter from S.C. 67. Known during colonial days and during the Revolution as Dutch Fort or Old Town as well as Bethabara, this place was established in 1753 as the first of the "Moravian settlements" in the state. Nothing remains standing but the church built in 1788 (restored 1971) and a few houses, only two of which are older. But excavations in 1964 to 1966 revealed foundations, cellars, and several wells of the original settlement, yielding many important artifacts. The palisade of 1756 has been reconstructed on its original trace, ruins have been stabilized, and interpretive markers placed.
The state has many reminders of the Moravians and their Wachovia Colony, founded by Bishop Augustus Gottlieb Spangenberg (1704–1792) from a purchase of 100,000 acres in Lord Granville's grant. Fifteen unmarried Moravian men went from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and founded Bethabara in 1753. Bethania was established Page 252 | Top of Articlesix years later (it was called New Town), and Salem followed seven years later (1766).
The Moravians, who had left Europe to get away from war, were not having much luck. After surviving the Seven Years' War they went through the War of the Regulation and the Revolutionary War. Governor Tryon marched his army through the Moravian settlements after his victory at Alamance (see ALAMANCE BATTLEGROUND STATE HISTORICAL SITE). Loyalist prisoners from Kings Mountain, South Carolina were brought to Bethabara. Cornwallis passed through Bethania and Salem in 1781.
By 1770 Bethabara had lost its preeminence, overshadowed by Salem (see SALEM RESTORATION). Historic Bethabara Park is an interesting archaeological site dating from a conservation project started in 1964. In addition to the features mentioned above, this National Historic Landmark is a 175-acre wildlife preserve that includes many varieties of birds, a well-marked nature trail, and a vestige of the Old Plank Road. In addition to the restored church, the park's museum displays colonial exhibits, offers tours with costumed guides, and has a reconstructed village, fort, and Moravian gardens. The visitors center shows a video and houses exhibits from some of the recent archeology work done here. Phone: (336) 924-8191.
Bethania. On N.C. 65 between N.C. 67 and U.S. 52, a few miles northwest of Winston-Salem. The first of the Moravian settlements in this region, Bethabara, was known as Old Town after Bethania was settled as the "new town." Both were quickly overshadowed by Salem (see SALEM RESTORATION). The latter place also has eclipsed its two elder sister settlements in drawing funds for restoration, and little of colonial interest remains at Bethania other than its name.
Blue Ridge Parkway
Blue Ridge Parkway. This scenic highway generally follows the Proclamation Line of 1763, established in a vain attempt by British colonial authorities to limit the westward expansion of white settlements into Indian lands. There are numerous overlooks with magnificent panoramas of what once was America's western frontier. The parkway is administered by the National Park Service, and in addition to the scenic overlooks there are campgrounds, trails, picnic areas, interpretive markers, and recreation areas with special exhibits. In 1997 the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation was initiated primarily to find funding for special projects along the scenic byway. Its website, www.blueridgeparkway.org, offers a wealth of information on the parkway, which turned seventy years old in 2005.
Boone. Now the seat of Watauga County, the site's first white visitor probably was Bishop Spangenberg (see BETHABARA) in 1752. An 18-foot stone monument at Faculty and Newland Streets marks the site of the cabin that Daniel Boone may have used occasionally during the period 1760 to 1769 while he explored the valleys of the New, Watauga, and Holston Rivers. Many of Boone's descendants remain in the area. Each summer the Daniel Boone Wagon Train follows state roads from North Wilkesboro to Boone along the trail blazed by the pioneer hero in 1773 when he led a party of settlers across the mountains. From late June through August a cast of 140 actors, including natives of the area, presents "Horn in the West," an outdoor drama by the late Dr. Kermit Hunter on the contribution of North Carolina's mountaineers to American history. Central characters in addition to Dan Boone are John Sevier, James Robertson, Governor Tryon, and "Butcher" Tarleton. "Horn" has been running since 1952. From 1956 until 1996 actor Glenn Causey played the role of Daniel Boone and never missed a performance in forty-one consecutive years.
Boone Graves, Mocksville, Davie County. The parents of Daniel Boone are buried in old Joppa Cemetery, surrounded by business and industrial development. A historical marker is on N.C. 601 about a mile northwest of the latter town. The graves are marked by a monument that encases the original headstones. Squire and Sarah Boone had established the Boone Homestead in Pennsylvania, where their famous son lived the first sixteen years of his life before the family moved to North Carolina.
Braun House (or Old Stone House)
Braun House (or Old Stone House). About 4 miles southeast of Salisbury, off U.S. 52 near Granite Quarry, Rowan County.
One of the few remaining Pennsylvania German stone houses in the state and of considerable architectural importance, this structure has a mysterious inscription on the front wall:
michael braun—mrichreda—brau io-pe-me-be-mi-ch-da-1766
Patriot prisoners were once held in the house, and an American officer is said to have escaped pursuers by galloping his horse through the open front door and out the back. The British dragoons were frustrated when the lady of the house slammed the door in their horses' faces.
Quite in addition to these and other charms, the Braun House is a monument to old-fashioned American craftsmanship. Its stone walls are 2 feet thick and rise two stories from a foundation that is 15 feet deep in places. Although most of its mahogany paneling has been stripped off and its beautifully plastered walls defaced by subsequent generations less appreciative of high living standards, the foot-wide floorboards and hand-carved wooden trim of the interior have survived.
On a hill, surrounded by old trees and with the family cemetery nearby, the house has been restored (1966) and furnished. Rowan Museum Incorporated originally purchased it in 1959, and 22 acres of surrounding land was subsequently purchased to protect the area from development. The house is open for tours on most weekends. Phone: (704) 638-3021.
(Rowan Museum, 114 South Jackson Street, Salisbury, N.C. 28144.)
Bruce's Crossroads. See SUMMERFIELD.
Brunswick Town Ruins
Brunswick Town Ruins, Cape Fear River below Wilmington. The plan for Brunswick Town (fortunately preserved) was drawn up by 1726, and until overshadowed by Wilmington a decade later, it was probably the most important town in North Carolina. At the start of the Revolution it still was shipping more naval stores than any other colonial town in the British Empire. Meanwhile, Brunswick Town had been the center of Stamp Act resistance in 1766. Two royal governors, Arthur Dobbs and William Tryon, resided at nearby Russellborough ("Old Palace"), and the latter was kept under virtual house arrest there by mobs under the leadership of John Ashe and Hugh Waddell during the Stamp Act disturbances.
In March 1776 British troops started arriving off Cape Fear after the Loyalist defeat at Moores Creek Bridge (see MOORES CREEK BRIDGE NATIONAL MILITARY PARK), the strategy being for expeditionary forces from New York and Ireland to link up and restore royal government in the province. On 12 May Sir Henry Clinton, frustrated by Patriot resistance, declared North Carolina to be in a state of rebellion, shelled Brunswick Town, and sent Lord Cornwallis ashore with nine hundred troops to ravage Rebel property. A principal objective was the plantation of Robert Howe, 2 miles from the town, and it was virtually destroyed. The raiders were stopped when they moved toward Orton's Mill. (Landmarks are now within the restricted area of Sunny Point Army Terminal, which adjoins the ruins of Old Brunswick on the south.) But the British destroyed Russellborough, which had become the home of the well-known Patriot William Dry.
Brunswick Town was so thoroughly wrecked and so vulnerable to further amphibious raids that not more than four families returned after 1776. By 1830 the site was completely abandoned. During the Civil War the Confederates built a huge earthwork, named Fort Anderson, over the northern portion of the old townsite, and in February 1865 it was captured after a heavy bombardment.
Brunswick Town State Historic Site is now a picturesque and exceptionally interesting area of stabilized ruins, nature trails, and the huge earthworks of the Civil War fort. The foundation walls of Russellborough are within the reservation, and the 33-inch-thick brick walls of St. Philips Church (built 1754–1768) still stand in defiance of destruction. Among the old tombs in its shadow are that of Governor Arthur Dobbs, who held office from 1754 until his death at Russellborough in 1765.
The site is about 15 miles by road from Wilmington. From U.S. 17 west of Wilmington, take N.C. 133 south along the Brunswick and Cape Fear Rivers, bearing left after a little more than 12 miles onto Route 1529 past Orton Plantation Gardens. It is open from 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. on Tuesday through Saturday. Phone: (910) 371-6613.
Buffalo Ford, Deep River, Randolph County, just north of County Highway 2628 bridge; about 2.25 miles straight-line distance above Coleridge. As the name implies, Buffalo Ford was a well-worn passage across Deep River long before the Revolution. General Kalb reached this point in late June or early July 1780 with the two Maryland brigades, the Delaware Regiment, and the First Continental Artillery (eighteen guns). He was joined by 120 survivors of Pulaski's Legion (now commanded by "Colonel Armand"). During the two weeks he was camped here Kalb learned that General Gates had been appointed to succeed him. He moved to Spink's Farm, where Gates arrived to assume command on 25 July. (Some authorities say this occurred at Cox's Mill, only about a mile north of Buffalo Ford.) The present highway bridge affords a good view of Deep River and the rocks of the ford about 100 yards upstream.
Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores
Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout National Seashores. The influence of geography on the history of North Carolina has been summed up by William T. Polk in an introductory essay to The North Carolina Guide: "The State was not settled from the sea as Virginia and South Carolina were," but by pioneers who came overland. "Its Outer Banks fended off immigration from Britain and Europe," and this same formidable barrier was protection from British amphibious operations to which other colonies were so vulnerable during the Revolution.
These historic Outer Banksare being preserved as well over 100 miles of ocean beach, much of it accessible today only by water or air. The Cape Lookout area is one of the few remaining undeveloped beaches in America. The National Park Service now maintains its 56 miles of beach. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore has 76 miles of ocean beach, campgrounds, nature trails, visitors centers, and museums all linked by a hard surface highway (N.C. 12). A free ferry extends this road to Ocracoke Island. The phone number to the National Park Service headquarters that administers this entire zone is (252) 473-2111.
Carolina Charter (1663)
Carolina Charter (1663), North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh. The original charter granted by King Charles II on 24 March 1663 was purchased by the state in 1949 after its discovery in England. Now displayed to the public, it is one of eight in the possession of modern American states. (The other charters are those for Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island.) As defined in this charter, eight lords proprietors were granted all the land from the Atlantic to the Pacific (the "south seas") lying between the thirty-first and thirty-sixth parallels. This wide swath of the present United States includes all or major portions of thirteen present states and slivers of four others. (At the request of the proprietors, Charles II in 1665 granted another charter, this one extending the boundaries one-half degree north and two degrees south.)
Charlotte. County seat of Mecklenburg County, Charlotte was a center of backcountry dissatisfaction with royal authority from the time the town was chartered in 1768. One particular grievance was royal disallowance of the charter for establishing Queens College for Boys in 1771 (the first college south of Virginia). On 31 May 1775 a committee met at Charlotte and drew up twenty resolutions for the state delegation to present to the Continental Congress. Although adopted, the resolutions were never presented to Congress. For many years the story that a "Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence" passed on 20 May 1775 circulated, but it was later found to be a nineteenth-century fabrication. The dates of these two documents, the real Resolves of 31 May and the contrived "Declaration of Independence" of 20 May, are often confused. The state of North Carolina still features the date of the dubious document in its seal and flag.
Now the largest city in the Carolinas, Charlotte was a village of about twenty homes and a courthouse when Cornwallis approached it on his invasion of North Carolina in 1780. A marker on N.C. 49 indicates the location of a skirmish that took place on 26 September of that year near the courthouse, where a small Rebel force under Colonel William Davie successfully repulsed two charges by Tarleton's legion before being forced to withdraw.
Tarleton had come down with yellow fever, and his legion was temporarily commanded by Major George Hanger. It would be hard to imagine two more similar men than these two, but Hanger had only recently suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of Davie, who had surprised his bivouac at Wahab's (or Wauchope's) Plantation on 21 September. When Hanger saw Davie's little force of about one hundred men deployed to bar the British advance into Charlotte, the British officer ordered a charge. Hanger personally led the attack against the stone wall near the courthouse where twenty dismounted dragoons were posted. Repulsed, he charged again and was again unsuccessful.
This sort of work was not to the liking of Tarleton's troopers, who preferred their lighter cavalry duties, and Hanger was having trouble organizing a third attack when Cornwallis himself rode up to encourage the van. More significantly, however, the remarkable Lieutenant Colonel James Webster had reached the scene to direct the efforts of the light infantry against the Americans who were defending the fences along the road leading to the courthouse. Having fought off the earlier attacks directed by Hanger, these troops were now forced to fall back on the courthouse, and Davie ordered a withdrawal when Hanger and Webster launched their final assault. The British legion pursued vigorously for several miles, and at Sugaw Creek Presbyterian Church, 13 miles from Charlotte, there is a marker to Captain Joseph Graham (1759–1836), who was wounded in a skirmish at this place. American casualties in all these actions around Charlotte were thirty killed, wounded, and captured; the British lost about half that number.
Cornwallis called the region a "damned hornet's nest," his stay of less than a month in Charlotte being plagued by Rebel forces that chopped up his foragers and intercepted his messengers. Taking advantage of the concentration of grist mills in the area, however, he intended to continue his advance north when news of the Patriot victory at Kings Mountain, South Carolina on 7 October forced Cornwallis to abandon his plans and to march back into South Carolina.
Early in December 1780 Greene reached Charlotte to take command of the Southern army from Horatio Gates. A few days before Christmas the American army left Charlotte, Greene leading one column southeast to Cheraw, South Carolina and Morgan leading another southwest in the operations that ended with his triumph at the Cowpens, South Carolina. When Cornwallis invaded North Carolina in pursuit of Morgan and Greene early in 1781 he passed to the west of Charlotte, so the town was spared a second occupation by the British.
The Hezekiah Alexander House in Charlotte dates from 1774. (Alexander was a member of the Provincial Congress and helped draft the first state constitution in 1776.) Of piedmont stone, it typifies the two-story-and-central-passage plan that later appeared in many variations throughout the state. The house was restored in 1976 and serves as the home for the Charlotte Museum of History. It is located at 3420 Shamrock Drive and is open every day except Monday. Phone: (704) 568-1774.
Cherokee Indian (Qualla) Reservation
Cherokee Indian (Qualla) Reservation, in the western tip of the state on U.S. 19 and 441, adjoining Great Smoky Mountains National Park; phone: (800) 438-1601. About forty highway markers in North Carolina identify sites Page 255 | Top of Articleassociated with the Cherokee. Major expeditions against these Indians took place in 1761 and 1776, and defiant Cherokee established new towns on Chickamauga Creek in modern Tennessee to continue their resistance to the white invaders of their land until well after the Revolution. The nearly 57,000 acres of today's Qualla Reservation, commonly known as the Cherokee Indian Reservation, were the hideout for those who refused to leave their ancestral homeland during the forced removals of 1838, and these lands eventually were given to the Cherokee as a small recompense for all that had been stolen from them. Several hundred Indians here in the Eastern Band of the Cherokee are under tribal jurisdiction. Today there are twelve thousand Cherokee living on this reservation. The Oconaluftee Indian Village in the town of Cherokee is a recreation of Cherokee culture. Ancient crafts are demonstrated by modern Cherokee Indians in woven cane and clay structures of the type they built before the arrival of white settlers and in the log cabins they subsequently adopted.
"Unto These Hills" is an open-air drama presented nightly (except Monday) from mid-June through 1 August. Fourteen scenes highlight the history of the Cherokee from De Soto's visit in 1540 to the forced removal of their nation in 1838. The Indian Museum in Cherokee (at Highway 441 and Drama Road) holds the largest collection of Cherokee artifacts. The museum opens every day at 9 A.M. Phone: (828) 497-3481.
Clapps Mill, Beaver Creek, Alamance County. A skirmish here on 2 March 1781 was the first contact between the armies of Greene and Cornwallis in their maneuvers before the Battle of Guilford Courthouse. Tarleton rode into a well-planned ambuscade near Clapps Mill, where Colonel William Campbell's riflemen were deployed behind a rail fence and Lee's mounted troops covered the flanks. The British recovered from the effects of the surprise fire, rallied, and forced Lee to retreat, but they had an officer and twenty men killed and wounded, whereas the Patriots suffered eight casualties.
The site is on Beaver Creek, just 200 feet from the stream's confluence with Big Alamance Creek. In 1992 a marker that commemorates the battle was placed at Huffman Mill Road inside Lake Macintosh Park and Marina.
Cleveland (Benjamin) Homesite
Cleveland (Benjamin) Homesite, near Ronda, Wilkes County. Before the Revolution Wilkesboro was called Mulberry Fields. In 1779 Benjamin Cleveland was granted 3,400 acres in the horseshoe bend of the Yadkin River about a mile southwest of today's Ronda (N.C. 268). His tract was called Roundabout.
Cleveland had come to this region from Virginia around 1760 as an uneducated man in his early twenties, and he developed into an outstanding frontiersman. After service as a junior officer in the Second North Carolina Continentals for two years he resigned in the summer of 1777 and became a militia colonel, justice of the peace, chairman of the county committee of safety, and (1778) member of the House of Commons. In the fall of 1780 he gained credit as a major hero of Kings Mountain, South Carolina. "Cleveland's Bull Dogs" were the ruthless force of Whig domination in this northwest region of the state, unexcelled in their brutality by David Fanning's Loyalists in the central portion of the state (see DEEP RIVER). On the courthouse lawn in Wilkesboro is a very large tree known locally as the Tory Oak, and tradition has it that Cleveland hanged five men here, including a Loyalist who had previously spared Cleveland's life.
After losing Roundabout in a title dispute, Benjamin Cleveland moved to the portion of South Carolina that is now Oconee County. The site of his house is in open farmland about a quarter of a mile from a brick house built shortly before the Civil War and also called Roundabout. The original house disappeared before 1878.
Cowan's Ford (lost site), Cowan's Ford Dam of Lake Norman, N.C. 73, north of Charlotte. Destroyed by the creation of 32,510-acre Lake Norman in 1963, this is where British valor triumphed over the bad fortune of having a treacherous (or timid) guide in troubled waters. It was 1 February 1781 and the swollen Catawba was a torrent almost 500 yards wide at this place when Lord Cornwallis pushed across after dark to turn General Greene's main defensive positions farther up the river. The principal ford, Beattie's Ford, was a few miles to the north, near the present Iredell-Mecklenburg county line. What the British did not know was that Cowan's Ford split around midstream, the wagon ford continuing straight ahead and the shallower horse ford forking south at a 45-degree angle to exit several hundred yards below the other. General William L. Davidson posted most of his militia at the horse exit. When the British were deserted in midstream by their guide, they floundered forward in the face of enemy fire and naturally took the wagon route. This was harder going insofar as the water was concerned, but it led to the more lightly defended exit, where they secured a foothold before Davidson could shift strength from the horse ford. Davidson was killed as his troops were pushed back. British Generals O'Hara and Leslie were thrown into the water when their horses fell, and Cornwallis's mount collapsed on reaching the bank. There is a memorial near the modern dam to General Davidson, who had been promoted for gallantry at Germantown, Pennsylvania (4 October 1777), and served with distinction in his native state of North Carolina, notably at Ramsour's Mill, before being promoted to general and joining the forces of General Greene.
Lake Norman extends nearly 34 miles up the Catawba and has more than 520 miles of shoreline when filled. A detailed map and other literature, including some historical information on the region, may be had from the Lake Norman State Park. Phone: (704) 528-6350.
Cox's Mill, Mill Creek near junction with Deep River, County Road 2657, between Ramseur and Coleridge, Randolph County. It was Cox's Mill during the Revolution, and today it is operated on about the same scale (but with modern power) by members of the Cox family. About 50 feet east of the elderly frame structure of the present feed mill is a depression about 10 feet deep where the original waterwheel was located. Foundation stones can be seen there. From the bridge near the mill you look upstream at the shoals over which the colonial ford passed. The site is in a narrow, wooded valley into which the road dips from well-tended open farmland.
Marching from Morristown, New Jersey, to the relief of Charleston in the summer of 1780, a tired and hungry column of Continentals under General Kalb reached nearby Buffalo Ford. During the next two weeks they spent some time around Cox's Mill and Spink's Farm. Colonel David Fanning and his Loyalist partisans used Cox's Mill as their principal base in 1781 to 1782 (see DEEP RIVER).
Cross Creek. See FAYETTEVILLE.
Deep River, Guilford, Randolph, Moore, Lee, and Chatham Counties. There is a history book to be written some day about all the things that happened along Deep River during the Revolution. Its name crops up repeatedly in three distinct phases of the war. Here we shall merely group Deep River landmarks within these phases and then outline the career of the notorious Loyalist partisan who dominated the last phase.
When Continental army troops were first sent south to challenge the British invaders, the remarkable march led by General Johann Kalb reached Deep River in late June 1780. He moved along an 8-mile stretch during the next month, spending time at Buffalo Ford, Cox's Mill, and Hollingsworth's, or Spink's Farm. At this last place General Horatio Gates assumed command from Kalb and marched his troops off to disaster in South Carolina at Camden.
In the Guilford Courthouse campaign the British had an important base near Deep River at Bell's Mill, and Cornwallis was never far from the river (creek that it is this far up) as he moved through the New Garden Meeting House to Guilford Courthouse. After this major engagement he retraced his steps, and pursuit by the main Patriot army under General Greene ended near the mouth of Deep River at Ramsey's Mill.
With the final departure of the British and the Continentals, Deep River entered its most terrible phase of the Revolution as the domain of David Fanning. Born in Virginia around 1755, he had become a trader among the Catawbas of South Carolina while still in his teens. He served as a scout to Patriot militia in 1779 to 1780, but with the restoration of British rule in South Carolina he joined the the Loyalist militia under William "Bloody Bill" Cunningham. In July 1781 he was given a colonel's commission by the British commandant in Wilmington, Major James H. Craig, and raised troops in North Carolina.
He proved to be shockingly good as a partisan leader. The ink was hardly dry on his commission when Fanning led a surprise attack on Chatham County Courthouse while a court-martial was in session, and many prominent Whigs were among the forty-four prisoners he took away. (The site is the present town of Pittsboro, Chatham County.) Next came his victory at the House in the Horseshoe. But these were merely preliminaries to his greatest coup, the raid on Hillsborough. He then showed his ability as a tactical commander in a real battle at Lindley's Mill. When efforts were initiated by the Whigs to restore peace, Fanning was more than willing to work toward this end, but Patriot leaders made the mistake of refusing to compromise. The Loyalist leader then proceeded to kill one of their most prominent spokesmen, Colonel Andrew Balfour (see BALFOUR CEMETERY).
Deep River is lined with rocks and caves associated with Fanning, one better-known spot being around the mouth of Brush Creek, west of Cheeks (which is on S.C. 22 and 42 in the southeast corner of Randolph County). His main base appears to have been Cox's Mill.
In the spring of 1782 the terrible David Fanning found a bride, sixteen-year-old Sarah Carr. Early in May he moved to a truce area on the lower Pee Dee River in South Carolina, going to East Florida when the British evacuated the South, and then settling in New Brunswick, where he became a leading member of the assembly.
Colonel Tom Presnell, my authority on historic sites in Randolph County, took me to six spots that I had given up for lost. Most of them are unmarked and on private property. There are a few old mill towns along Deep River and some new industrial development, but the region remains generally an attractive rural area of rolling hills.
Dismal Swamp Canal
Dismal Swamp Canal, northeast corner of state on U.S. 17 just 3 miles south of the Virginia-North Carolina border. If Washington could revisit the Dismal Swamp today, he would feel better about his unsuccessful land speculation here as a young man. It remains a wild area of some 750 square miles. The canal for which Washington initiated surveys in 1763 was not started until after the Revolution. U.S. 17 parallels the canal and there are quiet parking spots from which you occasionally spot a beaver Page 257 | Top of Articleand other wildlife. More remote sections of the swamp are accessible by other canals. Information is available through the Dismal Swamp Canal Welcome Center. Phone: (252) 771-8333.
Edenton, head of Albemarle Sound, Chowan County. The region was explored in 1622 by Virginians, who came from Jamestown and its vicinity by 1658 to settle. The Town on Queen Anne's Creek, as it was called for six or seven years before being named for the royal governor who had just died, was surveyed in 1712 and incorporated in 1722. Modern Edenton lacks the colonial charm of such contemporary settlements as Bath (see BATH HISTORIC SITE) and Beaufort, having been more favored by economic progress, but several outstanding architectural treasures have survived. Yet, Edenton is often referred to in state travel guides as "the South's prettiest town."
The Cupola House (1715), 408 South Broad Street, whose pictures do not do it justice, has been called "the best example of an existing wooden house in the Jacobean tradition in all America," the only surviving example in the South of the second-story overhang, and an outstanding example of the transition from colonial to Georgian style. In 1917 the woodwork of the lower hall and two rooms were sold to the Brooklyn Museum of Fine Arts. The Cupola House Association was hastily formed at this time to save the house from destruction, and for the next forty-five years it was the county library. It has since been restored (the lost woodwork reproduced), named a National Historic Landmark, and is open daily as a house museum and as the Edenton Public Library. One curiosity of this venerable structure is that its shoulder is turned to the vulgarity of modern Edenton's main street, South Broad, and the house faces what used to be the waterfront.
The Chowan County Courthouse, 117 East King Street, reopened for public use in 2004. Constructed in 1767, it is one of the most handsome Georgian public buildings in the country. It is a National Historic Landmark. Facing the vestige of the Green, the two-story brick structure is topped by a graceful white cupola, and the warm red of its facade is accented by trim white windows and a small pedimented pavilion at the main entrance. Edenton Green is crowded on both flanks by modern streets so that it is now much smaller than when it was a militia parade, although there is enough room remaining to reinstall the stocks, rack, and pillory that supported law and order in a less sophisticated era. On the waterfront are three French cannon salvaged from a shipment that went down in Albemarle Sound in 1778; others are corner markers in the town, and two are in Capitol Square in Raleigh. On the Green is a monument to a prominent Edentonian, Joseph Hewes, a delegate to the Continental Congress, the one who presented the Halifax Resolves, and chairman of the Committee of Marine. Hewes got John Paul Jones commissioned in the infant navy, signed the Declaration of Independence, and gained the unfortunate distinction of being the only signer to die in Philadelphia (1779). As if to balance such things out, it happened that a Pennsylvania signer, James Wilson, died in Edenton while living as a guest in the James Iredell House in 1798.
The James Iredell House (1751), 105 East Church Street, was bought in 1778 by James Iredell, a distinguished jurist and member of the first United States Supreme Court who lived there the last eleven years of his life. It was also the home of his son James, who became governor of North Carolina and who died in the house when it was occupied by his cousin, the Reverend Samuel I. Johnston, rector of St. Paul's (below). James Iredell, Jr. had been a friend of James Wilson. When the latter was beginning to break under the stress of financial difficulties and threat of impeachment as Supreme Court justice, he moved to the home of his friend in Edenton to recover his health, but he died several months later. Open April through October, Monday to Saturday, 9 A.M. to 5 P.M., and Sunday, l to 5 P.M.; November through March, Tuesday to Saturday, l0 A.M. to 4 P.M., and Sunday, l to 4 P.M.
The Barker House (1782), 509 South Broad Street, makes a good starting point for your tour. Historic Edenton, Incorporated has exhibits, an audiovisual program, and guidebooks. Moved in 1952 from its original site at 213 Broad Street, this large and impressive white frame house was built for Thomas and Penelope Barker. Thomas had a long career in law and government before becoming a highly successful agent for the colony in London before the Revolution. Penelope figured conspicuously in the mythology of the Edenton Tea Party.
As for the latter, an episode that must be faced by any visitor to Edenton, it is a matter of record that fifty-one women of the town signed and mailed to England a resolution supporting the actions and resolutions of the First Provincial Congress (1774). One part of all this had to do with banning the import and consumption of British tea. A London cartoonist satirized the event by depicting provincial matrons gathered at a tea party to sign the document, and gullible Patriots subsequently pretended that such a tea party, in the literal sense, occurred. They then went on to invent a site, the home of Mrs. Elizabeth King, and to mark this with a bronze teapot on a post. Penelope Barker was picked to pour at this purely conjectural tea party. Responsible historical authorities have long rejected the story of the Edenton Tea Party in the literal sense, but they also have stressed that this resolution signed by the women of Edenton indicates the political activism of American women during the Revolutionary period. At the Barker House are excellent exhibits pertaining to the episode, including wall-size enlargements of London press coverage and the famous cartoon.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church (1736), 100 West Church Street, is another historic structure that deserves special note in this brief sketch. The second-oldest church building in the state, and described as "an ideal in village churches, unrivaled in this country except perhaps by Christ Church, New Castle, Delaware," it has survived neglect and fire to be fully restored.
The five sites mentioned above are included in a tour organized by Historic Edenton Incorporated. Special events are featured throughout the year, along with the tour that includes forty houses or points of interest within walking distance of parking areas at the Barker and Iredell houses. About fifteen more are within a short drive of the town. Historic Edenton's phone: (252) 482-2637 or (800) 775-0111.
Etchoe (or Echoe)
Etchoe (or Echoe). Also known as Nikwasi, or Sacred Town, and now occupied by the town of Franklin, seat of Macon County, this was a Cherokee stronghold in the Indians' resolute efforts to stop the encroachment of white settlers. Twice destroyed and rebuilt, it was occupied by the Cherokee until 1819. A large map-marker at the courthouse touches on the highlights of the Cherokee Wars in this area.
The site of the most famous Indian battles in the area, generally called Etchoe Pass in the history books, is today known as Wayah Gap and is preserved in the Nanatahala Gap Campground. This is crossed by the Appalachian Trail, and less vigorous explorers can reach it by car. In this area, 10 miles straight west of Franklin, the Cherokee ambushed and badly mauled a force of British Highlanders and South Carolina militia in June 1760 before finally being defeated. Another expedition of the same general composition marched against the Cherokee the next year, and an untried lieutenant of South Carolina militia named Francis Marion distinguished himself at Etchoe Pass.
Fayetteville, Cumberland County. The colonial village and trading center of Cross Creek merged in 1778 with the settlement of Highland Scots known as Campbeltown. In 1783 Cross Creek became Fayetteville, the first town in America named for Lafayette. The place was important for two different reasons. First, it was the center of Highlander support of the crown in the events leading to the great Patriot victory at Moores Creek Bridge (see MOORES CREEK BRIDGE NATIONAL MILITARY PARK) on 27 February 1776. Second, being at the head of navigation of the Cape Fear River, it could have provided an important inland base for British military operations. Cornwallis retreated to Cross Creek from Guilford Courthouse expecting to find much-needed supplies. But Rebel militia along the riverbanks succeeded in forcing the British supply boats from Wilmington to turn back. Cornwallis therefore had to march on to Wilmington in April 1781.
The Scottish heroine Flora MacDonald (see MOORES CREEK BRIDGE NATIONAL MILITARY PARK) may have lived a few months at the site of Fayetteville in 1774 to 1775, and there is a marker at Green and Bow Streets where her temporary residence supposedly was located. The Market House, erected in 1838, is on the site of the convention hall where Lafayette spoke in 1825.
Fort Johnston, mouth of Cape Fear River in Southport, Brunswick County. The old colonial fort, authorized in 1745 and built from 1748 to 1764 as a defense against privateers, was badly deteriorated when Royal Governor Josiah Martin took refuge here on 2 June 1775. He escaped to a British warship on 18 July just before Patriots Robert Howe, Cornelius Harnett, and John Ashe arrived with a mob to capture him. In burning the fort that day the Patriots performed the first overt act of defiance that brought the American Revolution to North Carolina. Ironically, an act of civil disobedience at the same site on 9 January 1861 is credited with initiating North Carolina into the Civil War.
The wooden fort of 1775 has disappeared. The federal government built a new Fort Johnston in 1794 to 1809 which was seized by the Confederates in 1862 and used during the Civil War. Only the officers' quarters of this later structure remain.
Gilbert Town (now Rutherfordton), Rutherford County. Major Patrick Ferguson of the British army and his Loyalist legion used Gilbert Town as a base of operations off and on from mid-August 1780 until their withdrawal on 27 September to Kings Mountain, South Carolina. On their way to eventual triumph at the latter place the Patriot militia camped at Gilbert Town, and here they later meted out drumhead justice to the vanquished. (Of the thirty Loyalist captives convicted, twelve were condemned to death, and nine were hanged.) Having been the principal settlement of the region before the Revolution, Gilbert Town was the county seat of newly created Rutherford County in 1781 to 1785. It has since disappeared, the highway marker on U.S. 221 just north of Rutherfordton saying it "stood hereabout," but historians generally give Rutherfordton as the site of old Gilbert Town.
Gillespie Gap, intersection of Blue Ridge Parkway with N.C. 226, McDowell-Mitchell county line. The Cherokee Expedition of 1761 moved through here (see ETCHOE), and being at the headwaters of the Catawba River, the pass became a critical point on the Proclamation Line of 1763 (see BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY). The Over Mountain Men came through this pass on 29 September 1780 en route to Quaker Meadows and Kings Mountain, South Carolina. A rock pyramid at Gillespie Pass near the parkway honors these rugged fighters.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The greatest expanse (521,752 acres) of wilderness left in the eastern United States, this 800-square-mile park provides a sense of what this country looked like to the pioneers, though eighteenth-century forests were very different in a number of ways. The main entrance on the North Carolina side is via U.S. 441 near the village of Cherokee at the southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway. In addition to scenic highways there are campgrounds, 650 miles of scenic trails for hiking and horseback riding, picnic areas, and pioneer exhibits. An observation tower is on top of Clingman's Dome, the highest peak (6,643 feet). The park headquarters is in Tennessee near Gatlinburg on U.S. 441. Phone: (865) 436-1200.
Guilford Courthouse, just north of Greensboro, off U.S. 220 (Battleground Avenue). Phone: (336) 288-1776. In his thirteen-volume History of the British Army, Sir John West Fortescue says of Cornwallis's victory over Greene at Guilford on 15 March 1781: "Never perhaps has the prowess of the British soldier been seen to greater advantage than in this obstinate and bloody combat." Yet it was a Pyrrhic victory, brought on by the strategic superiority of the self-taught Nathanael Greene over his professionally trained British opponent, and it can be argued that Cornwallis lost the American Revolution by winning the Battle of Guilford. When Charles Fox saw the casualty figures, he commented, "Another such victory would destroy the British Army." Little did Fox suspect when he said this that Cornwallis had meanwhile decided he would win the American Revolution elsewhere, which is how he got from Guilford to Yorktown.
The military tactics of General Nathanael Greene had succeeded in harassing Cornwallis until the latter was Page 260 | Top of Articlefrantic to attack Greene's army anywhere, anytime, and against any odds. The American general had selected the place six weeks earlier. He picked the time, refusing to fight until he maneuvered Cornwallis to this spot and got himself set. And Cornwallis did not consider the numerical odds a bar: although Greene actually had about 4,500 men defending against 2,000 British and Hessians, Cornwallis thought Greene had about 10,000. Of course, most of the Americans had never been in action, and all of the British and Hessians were veterans, but Cornwallis was willing to accept unfavorable odds for the chance to bring Greene to battle.
Having established his base at the place now known as Troublesome Iron Works, Greene marched his army to Guilford Courthouse and deployed to make the best use of the unusual battleground. The first line, consisting of 1,000 North Carolina militia flanked by 600 of Greene's finest troops, was astride the highway a few hundred yards from a defile through which the enemy would approach. Behind each flank were cavalry detachments from the legions of William Washington (on the right) and "Light Horse Harry" Lee.
The second line, manned by about 1,200 Virginia militiamen in the brigades of Robert Lawson and Edward Stevens, was about 300 yards behind the first, also astride the road.
The third line was on high ground about 550 yards to the right rear of the second. Here were the Continental troops, one green Maryland regiment, and the rest veterans from that state, Virginia, and Delaware. They numbered about 1,400. Two of Greene's four guns were posted here, the others being forward with the front line.
In the rich country of the Quaker settlements around the site of modern Greensboro on 14 March Cornwallis got the information he had long been waiting for: the American army was camped 12 miles north at Guilford Courthouse. The next morning, long before dawn and without letting his troops eat breakfast, Cornwallis started north.
He moved slowly, however, with patrols ranging far out on each flank and Tarleton's legion well in advance. "Light Horse Harry" Lee's legion had the mission of screening Greene's front, and had reported the British advance. At sunrise there was a brief but violent encounter between the dragoons of Lee and Tarleton, followed by a little skirmish about 3 miles west of Guilford at a Quaker meetinghouse. Here Lee's infantry reinforced the dragoons, and the British Guards came forward to support Tarleton. The action was inconclusive, but Tarleton received a bad wound that later required amputation of much of his right hand. (He stayed in the saddle and was wounded a second time while leading a charge at the end of the day.)
Cornwallis now was sure he would have his battle on this day, but he had no information about the terrain on which Greene was deployed, nor about the enemy dispositions. He continued his march along the highway until the head of his column came under artillery fire from the two six-pounders in Greene's front line. Cornwallis immediately deployed to attack.
Early in the afternoon the British infantry started advancing across the muddy clearing toward the first American line. The North Carolina militia delivered its first volley at 150 yards, dropping a few Redcoats, but the advance continued. Muskets were useless for accurate, aimed fire, demonstrating their utility in massed fire from a range of 100 feet or less. Such a barrage was generally followed by a bayonet charge, which tended to claim the greater degree of casualties. Cornwallis's troops followed this model as they were trained to do, and the American militia responded as they tended to: as the British charged with fixed bayonets, the North Carolina militia turned tail and ran without letting off another volley. On their flanks the veterans held their positions until driven back.
Cornwallis had to commit his reserves to clear this first line, even though the fleet-footed militia in the center had left him a huge gap.
The American second line performed creditably and conducted an orderly delaying action when forced to fall back. The nine regiments of the British force were now scattered in three groups. While four of them in the middle were dealing with the second American line, two regiments had fanned out to the right in their own private battle with the stubborn Rebel outfits that had originally been on that flank of the first American line. On the opposite side of the field, however, the three British regiments that had pushed back that flank of the first American line found their advance to the third American line unopposed.
At this critical time Lieutenant Colonel James Webster of the Royal Welch Fusiliers raced over to the left and found those three regiments that were sitting right in front of Greene's main position. He undertook to attack here without waiting for Cornwallis to tidy up the middle of the battlefield. Unfortunately for this gallant and resourceful leader, however, he hit two of the finest outfits in the Continental army, the First Maryland and the Delaware Company of Robert H. Kirkwood. These veterans, supported by two cannon, calmly watched Webster organize his attack and held their fire until he was within 40 yards. Then they delivered a devastating volley and counterattacked to drive the British back in disorder. (Webster was mortally wounded leading another attack in this sector.)
Had Greene known then what we know now of Cornwallis's temporary disorganization, and had Greene Page 261 | Top of Articlebeen a gambler, he might well have followed up on this advantage to win a more brilliant victory at Guilford than Morgan won at Cowpens. But he had previously decided never to risk destruction of his army, and he waited for the next move by Cornwallis.
It was not long in coming, and this time luck was on the other side. General Charles O'Hara commanded the spearhead of the attack on the third American line. The Second Guards Battalion under Lieutenant Colonel James Stewart (or Stuart) led the way, followed by the Grenadier Battalion and supported by the Royal Welch and the Seventy-first Highlanders. Opposite the Guards were the untested troops of the other regiment of Maryland Continentals, on the American left flank. When the latter turned and ran without firing a shot, the Guards rushed forward to exploit this advantage but were hit by two vicious counterattacks. Charging down on their exposed right flank came the dragoons of William Washington's legion, led by the gigantic Peter Francisco wielding the 5-foot sword presented to him by George Washington to match his 260-pound, 6-foot-6-inch frame. He is alleged to have killed eleven men that day, including the one who laid his thigh open with a bayonet when Francisco returned for a second charge. (See also FRANCISCO'S FIGHT under Virginia.)
But the Guards were in much more serious trouble when the First Maryland and Kirkwood's Delawares launched a real counterattack against their other exposed flank. Stewart was killed, and as his Guards fought to avoid annihilation Cornwallis made the cold-blooded decision to fire grapeshot over the heads of his own troops into the American ranks. Despite the protest of his officers that this would hit his own men, Cornwallis issued the order and broke up the American attack.
O'Hara rallied the survivors of the Guards Battalion, whose commander had been killed early in the action, and personally led the final attack although he was suffering from a dangerous wound. As this attack pushed the American main line back and other British units came forward to overlap the flanks, Greene gave the order to withdraw. About 3:30 P.M. he started skillfully extricating himself, and after an all-night march in the rain his army was safely back at Troublesome Creek.
Cornwallis camped on the battleground for the next two days, with his men suffering in the rain because tents had been left behind. Almost 100 of his officers and men had been killed in action, and another 50 died within a few hours of the battle.
The Americans lost about 80 killed and 180 wounded. Expecting Cornwallis to resume his offensive, they wasted no time digging in at Troublesome Creek, but on 18 March Cornwallis withdrew to Bell's Mill and then started his retreat to the coast. Greene caught up at Ramsey's Mill, but then turned the pursuit over to the militia. Finding that Patriot guerrillas had kept British supply boats from getting up the river to Cross Creek (now Fayetteville), Cornwallis led his bedraggled force into Wilmington.
Guilford Courthouse National Military Park comprises about 230 acres in which the main features of the battlefield have been preserved, thanks to local initiative. In 1886 Judge David Schenck of Greensboro, who for six years had studied the battlefield, then a tangled wilderness of old sedgefields, briars, and pines, decided to save the historic site. With friends he formed the Guilford Battleground Company, sold stock to raise funds for buying land piecemeal, and started development of the property. In 1917, after seven years of effort, the company succeeded in getting the federal government to accept the site as a national military park. It was administered until 1933 by the War Department, then taken over by the National Park Service (Interior Department).
Meanwhile, the Battleground Company had undertaken a program of erecting all sorts of "monuments, tombstones, or other memorials" to commemorate participants in this action. Memorials are there today to such deserving heroes as Lieutenant Colonel James Stewart (whose sword was found here in 1866), Peter Francisco, and Kerenhauppuch Turner, who rode from Maryland to care for her wounded son. The most imposing and appropriate monument, an equestrian statue near the center of the American second line, is to Nathanael Greene. (Had the general been there during the battle with better control over his too widely spaced lines he might well have won.) The Delaware and Maryland monuments commemorate the Continental troops who comprised the largest element of Greene's regulars, and a tall white cenotaph marks the center of the third American line.
The precise location of the courthouse itself has not yet been found. However, in 2004 the Battleground Company enlisted the help of a team of archaeologists from the College of William and Mary to determine the location of the courthouse. As of yet, its location remains a mystery. Established in 1771 for the new county of Guilford (named after the first earl of Guilford, father of Lord North), the courthouse became the center of a small settlement that saw much military activity during the Revolution. Guilford Court House, as the settlement was called, was a rallying point, muster ground, and supply depot. Before the Battle of Camden (16 August 1780) the troops of Brigadier Generals William Smallwood and Edward Stephens and those under Colonel William Campbell were assembled at Guilford Court House. Smallwood had twenty British and almost thirty Loyalist prisoners under guard here in late August, and here Brigadier General Isaac Huger's column from Cheraw, South Carolina, and "Light Horse Harry" Lee's legion rejoined Greene on 7 February 1781 in the "Race for the Dan."
At this time the village had only two to three hundred inhabitants. It did not become a town until 1785, when it was renamed Martinville. The courthouse was last used in 1809, after which its functions were moved to Greensboro, and Martinville started dying. The chimney of the dismantled courthouse survived as a landmark until the eve of the Civil War. By 1889 no trace of the settlement could be found except a well (which is still used). The park is north of Greensboro on New Garden Road. Take the Holden Road Exit on I-40 and follow the signs. The visitors center has a small museum and provides self-guided tours along a 2.5-mile walk. Open year-round, 8:30 A.M. to 5 P.M. Phone: (919) 288-1776.
Halifax, Roanoke River, Halifax County. An important political, social, and economic center from its settlement in the early 1720s until the General Assembly moved to Hillsborough in 1783, Halifax is now a small dot on the highway map (east of I-95, near the Virginia line). Extensive restoration of the colonial village has been under way for many years, and part of it is a State Historic Site.
Soon after the Loyalist defeat at Moores Creek Bridge, the Fourth Provincial Congress met and quickly adopted the historic Halifax Resolves (12 April 1776). Authorizing their delegates to the Continental Congress "to concur with the delegates of the other Colonies in declaring Independency," they bestowed on North Carolina this distinction of being the first province to come out officially for independence. The colonial courthouse where this event took place was replaced in 1847, but the site is marked.
Of particular architectural interest is the little Owens House, built by a prominent merchant in about 1760. On a raised brick cellar, the story-and-a-half frame structure had shed dormer windows on two sides of a gambrel roof. The other sides of the house are vertical to the roof line (that is, the structure is gable-ended), and there are small, simple porches front and rear.
The Clerk's Office (1833) and Jail (1838) were once believed to have been built in 1758, but this appears finally to have been disproved. Although post-Revolutionary, they both are interesting, and the former is used as the Historic Halifax Visitors Center. Guided tours begin from there. The visitors center also contains artifact exhibits and an audiovisual tour of the grounds and its history. Constitution-Burgess House, traditionally the place where the state constitution of 1776 was drafted (and proof may yet be discovered), is to be moved into the historic district. A simple frame structure typical of the region, it has a side hall and two very small rooms, each with its separate fireplace and chimney, and furnished as of 1776. Originally behind the Colonial Cemetery (which survives), the house was moved in 1920 to the vicinity of Willie Jones's homesite (see below).
Other landmarks in the historic district are the austere Masonic Lodge of the federal period (the Royal White Hart Lodge, number 2, was established in 1756; the present building is not open to the public); the site of Eagle Tavern (whose guests included Washington in 1791 and Lafayette in 1825; part of the building is incorporated in a private home four blocks south); and Magazine Spring.
The latter was the home of Willie (pronounced "Wylie") Jones, a prominent Patriot also noted for lavish hospitality. Tradition has it that around 1773 a guest was a Scottish sea captain named John Paul who had recently killed a mutinous crewman and been advised to get away from the West Indies until he could be sure of a fair trial. He did not return to the Caribbean, but was later given a lieutenant's commission in the newly established Continental navy thanks to the personal interest of Joseph Hewes (see EDENTON). Historians generally believe that he picked the new name John Paul Jones simply because Jones is so close to being anonymous, but the Jones family of Halifax spawned the legend that he picked it in gratitude for the hospitality extended by Willie and his elder brother, Allen, of nearby Mount Gallant. (The site of the latter place, across the Roanoke River, is indicated by a marker on U.S. 158 between Garysburg and Jackson.) Cornwallis occupied the Grove in May 1781 when passing through on his way to Virginia. Nothing remains of the house but a massive brick chimney. Historic Halifax is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 A.M. to 4 P.M., and on Sunday, 1 P.M. to 4 P.M. Phone: (252) 583-7191.
Hillsborough, Orange County, off I-85 west of Durham. Until after the Revolution this was the most important town in the western portion of North Carolina and the center of a large farming area. It was laid out on 400 acres of clay hills near the Eno River in 1754 on the site of an ancient Indian village.
In 1766 a name for the place was finally settled on after several others had been tried. Hillsborough comes not from the rolling terrain but from the Irish peer, Wills Hill, earl of Hillsborough, who was secretary of state for the colonies. The final "ugh" got dropped during the years, but was restored by a special act of the General Assembly in 1965.
Hillsborough was closely involved in the War of the Regulation, 1768 to 1771 (see ALAMANCE BATTLEGROUND STATE HISTORIC SITE). Markers on Churton Street (U.S. 70A) indicate the site of Edmund Fanning's house and point to the spot just east of town where the six Regulators were hanged. The Third Provincial Congress met in Hillsborough for three weeks starting on 20 August 1775.
One of the town's attractions was its favorable summer climate in comparison with that along the wealthier coastal region, and planters from the Cape Fear area would annually make the long trek here. This helps explain how this backcountry settlement got so many elegant trappings and why it was such a magnet for military forces during the Revolution. When Continental army forces came south in 1780, Generals Kalb and Gates established headquarters in Hillsborough. After the disaster at Camden, South Carolina, Horatio Gates set some sort of a military equestrian record in getting back to Hillsborough. "One hundred and eighty miles in three days and a half does admirable credit to a man of his time of life," commented Alexander Hamilton in mock admiration.
Cornwallis briefly occupied Hillsborough with his tired troops after his unsuccessful pursuit of General Greene into Virginia (following General Morgan's victory at Cowpens, South Carolina). Two days after his arrival, 22 February 1781, he raised the royal standard in front of the courthouse and pompously proclaimed mission accomplished in this part of North Carolina. But four days later he marched off again because his army had eaten itself out of the local supply of provisions.
When Thomas Burke of Hillsborough was made governor in June 1781 he undertook as his first order of business the suppression of Loyalist raiders in his home district. He had just established headquarters for his anti-guerrilla campaign in Hillsborough when his intelligence system informed him that the Whig outpost on the Haw River, some 15 miles southwest, was about to be attacked. It turned out that the enemy objective was Hillsborough, but Governor Burke did not know this until he was captured along with two hundred others including his council, several Continental officers, and about seventy soldiers. The notorious David Fanning with about 750 Loyalists had approached the town undetected, taken advantage of a dark, foggy night to infiltrate from all sides, and bagged all these prisoners with the loss of only one of his own men. About noon of the next day (12 September 1781) Fanning left Hillsborough with his prisoners and thirty Loyalists liberated from the jail. Despite the attempt to cut him off at Lindley's Mill, Fanning evacuated his captives to the British base at Wilmington. The government of the state collapsed and did not recover for another year.
The governor ended up on James Island, near Charleston, on parole. But when he felt he was not getting sufficient protection from Loyalists on the island who were threatening to kill him, Burke broke his parole and late in January 1782 was back home. He refused to stand for reelection in the spring, retired to his estate, Tyaquin, and died there in 1783. His grave is about 3 miles northeast of town (marker on N.C. 86 about a mile north of Hillsborough).
Five General Assemblies met at Hillsborough during and right after the Revolution, in 1778, 1780, 1782, 1783, and 1784. Agitation to make it the state capital continued until 1791, after which it started its decline to its present status of a small but very historic town. At least 116 structures of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century survive in and around Hillsborough. The courthouse clock has kept time since 1766. The Alliance for Historic Hillsborough, an organization comprised of seven local historical groups, oversees and interprets the town's past. They maintain guided and self-guided walking tours in addition to a bus tour of historic Hillsborough. The Alliance is located at 150 East King Street. Website: www.historichillsborough.org; phone: (919) 732-7741.
"Horn in the West"
"Horn in the West." See BOONE.
House in the Horseshoe (Alston House)
House in the Horseshoe (Alston House), 324 Alston House Road, Sanford, northeast corner of Moore County in a large horseshoe bend of Deep River. Indicated on official highway map; historical marker on N.C. 27 in Carthage about 10 miles south.
From July 1781 until May 1782 David Fanning consistently outclassed his Patriot opponents in central North Carolina, and one of his earliest successes was at the Alston House. In August he captured Colonel Philip Alston and twenty-five other men here after a spirited skirmish that ended when Alston sent his wife out as the peace emissary. (Alston had killed one of Fanning's close friends, Kenneth Black.)
The large frame house with a large brick chimney on each end and full shed porches front and back was built by Alston around 1772. Implicated in the 1787 murder of Dr. George Glascock, the Revolutionary War surgeon whose mother, Patty Ball, was kin to George Washington, Alston lost his seat in the General Assembly and was forced to leave the state around 1790, his fate remaining unknown. In 1798 Governor Benjamin Williams bought the property and developed it into a large and highly profitable cotton plantation.
The restored house features good woodwork. Bullet holes on the outside have been preserved. The state purchased the house in 1955 and developed it into a state historic site, open every day except Monday, April through October. Encampments and reenactments are staged, and guided tours of the historic grounds and buildings are made available. Phone: (910) 947-2051.
Lindley's Mill (Cane Creek)
Lindley's Mill (Cane Creek), Alamance County on N.C. 87 about 15 miles south of Burlington. Off Interstate 85/40 at Exit 147, go west on Greensboro-Chapel Hill Road to Lindley Mill Road, then south about a mile to Rock Drive beside Cane Creek Bridge. In a four-hour battle near Page 264 | Top of Articlehere on 12 September 1781 there were more than three hundred casualties; yet nothing more than a highway marker commemorates the event. Patriot forces under General John Butler had failed to stop David Fanning's brilliant raid on Hillsborough, but they came close to evening the score here by ambushing the Loyalists on their route of withdrawal. Fanning's second in command, Colonel Hector McNeil, had failed to take the proper military precautions in organizing the vanguard of the Loyalist withdrawal. He and seven other Loyalists were killed when they marched into the ambuscade.
Fanning quickly took control, got his 200 prisoners (including the governor) off the scene, and counterattacked. The action lasted four hours before the Patriots were driven back with the loss of 24 killed, 90 wounded, and 10 captured. Fanning lost 27 killed, 60 seriously wounded, and 30 walking wounded. The Loyalist commander lost so much blood from a ball in the arm that he had to fall behind with the other seriously wounded, but his subordinates successfully evacuated the Patriot prisoners.
Despite the importance and magnitude of this battle, it has generated little interest among historians of the region. The site is just west of Sutphin community with a state marker on the site.
Mocksville. Site of Boone Graves.
Moores Creek National Battlefield
Moores Creek National Battlefield near Currie, 20 miles northwest of Wilmington on N.C. 210 in Pender County.
The first battle of the Revolutionary War in North Carolina occurred here on 27 February 1776; through a combination of political and military miscalculations a gallant force of 1,000 Highland Scots and 500 other Loyalists was shattered. The dramatic and decisive Patriot victory killed British hopes of rallying Loyalist support for a conquest of the South. It was not until five years later that the British were able to make a major military effort on North Carolina soil.
Highlanders had started settling the upper stretches of the Cape Fear River soon after their defeat at Culloden Moor in 1746. Pushed out by the Highland Clearances and poverty, they were still arriving in large numbers when the Revolutionary War started in America. By mid-July 1775 Royal Governor Josiah Martin had been forced to seek safety aboard a warship in the Cape Fear River. But he knew there was a strong Loyalist element in the state, and for months he had urged the British authorities in the North and in London to send military forces south to take advantage of this great potential. He finally succeeded to a degree. General Gage ordered General Sir Henry Clinton to take a large expeditionary force south from New York and link up with another large force under General Cornwallis that was leaving from Ireland. Gage also sent two Scots officers to North Carolina to raise the king's standard at Cross Creek, the hub of Highland settlements in the province. Governor Martin, who was meeting all ships, gave these two emissaries promotions of two grades each in the Loyalist militia, so they went to Cross Creek as Brigadier General Donald McDonald and Lieutenant Colonel Donald McLeod. Other ships that the floating royal governor met off Cape Fear were loaded with land-hungry Highlanders, and he succeeded in getting hundreds of these new settlers to take an oath to support the king's cause in return for generous land grants.
The older settlers up at Cross Creek were not rushing to take sides in the third civil war the Highlanders had experienced in the eighteenth century. In the thirty years since Culloden many Highlanders had become genuinely reconciled to British rule, and they were not easily swayed by elaborate arguments about "the rights of Englishmen." Others were not so much for King George as they were against the Lowlanders and Ulstermen and coastal elites who dominated the Rebel element around them. But perhaps the most effective leadership in rallying many of them to the Loyalist camp was provided by the entourage of the legendary Flora MacDonald, who had come to North Carolina in 1774.
As a young woman in her mid-twenties MacDonald had played a key role in the dramatic escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie from Scotland. For five months after his defeat at Culloden, Prince Charles had been a hunted refugee with a price of £30,000 on his head. MacDonald had helped hide him before he was able to make good his escape, and the charming prince had successfully masqueraded as her serving maid. Caught and imprisoned in the Tower of London, MacDonald was released in 1747 as part of a general amnesty. In 1750 she married a distant cousin, Allan MacDonald, son of the laird of Kingsborough and an officer in the British army. Sometime later they emigrated to North Carolina, settling at Cheek's Creek, where Allan had bought 500 acres. A daughter married Alexander McLeod, the illegitimate son of the eighteenth chieftain of McLeod and a former British officer.
Allen MacDonald and his son-in-law had both raised companies before the king's emissaries reached Cross Creek. Although the governor was led to believe that 7,000 loyal Highlanders were mustered for the great uprising that would gain control of the province and put him back in Tryon's Palace, the final head count was about 1,500 Loyalists (see ALAMANCE BATTLEGROUND STATE HISTORIC SITE). On 18 February 1776 General McDonald started his march to the sea, where his force was supposed to meet the incoming expeditions from New York and Ireland. Although most of the men had Page 265 | Top of Articlecome in without firearms, and McDonald had had to scour the countryside to get these for his troops, there was no serious shortage of Scottish broadswords and dirks, bagpipes and drums, and kilts and tartans.
The Patriots had been busy during this gathering of the clans. One regiment of Continentals had, unfortunately, been sent to Virginia, but the 650 regulars and five cannon of Colonel James Moore's First North Carolina Regiment were in position at the bridge across Rockfish Creek before the Loyalists reached that point, a mere 7 miles from Cross Creek. Moore was reinforced by about 450 militia under Colonels Alexander Lillington, James Kenan, and John Ashe. Small detachments under Continental Colonels Alexander Martin and James Thackston were approaching from the upcountry (Salisbury and Hillsborough), which would threaten the enemy's rear, and a large force of 800 under Colonel Richard Caswell was marching from New Bern to join Moore.
The opposing commanders exchanged notes across Rockfish Creek, each proposing that the other see the error of his political affiliation and change sides. With a force that was not prepared for a battle, McDonald knew he must reach the coast quickly because the odds against him were mounting with each passing hour. Moore was playing for time as he undertook the difficult task of concentrating the dispersed Patriot forces to block the advance of the Loyalist column.
The elderly McDonald, a man of almost seventy, won the first stage of the campaign by withdrawing undetected, crossing the Cape Fear River back near Cross Creek, and heading for the coast through the rough country between the South River and the Black. This route would require him to cross Corbett's Ferry and Moores Creek Bridge, but the old soldier thought he could move his troops fast enough to make the march unopposed.
Having been outwitted, James Moore reacted quickly. He sent Caswell word to head for Corbett's Ferry, make contact with the enemy, and to do all he could to stop or slow their advance. He detached Lillington and Ashe to reinforce Caswell if possible, otherwise to set up a defensive position at Moores Creek Bridge. Moore planned to cross the river at Elizabeth Town and meet them on their way to Corbett's Ferry or, if he was too late, to surround them there. The final touch of this masterful plan was to order the small detachment under Martin and Thackston to occupy Cross Creek, blocking the enemy's withdrawal to his base.
As the Loyalists approached Corbett's Ferry (the site probably is just west of Ivanhoe, Sampson County) on 23 February, they learned that Caswell was there waiting. General McDonald deceived Caswell into believing he would attempt to force a crossing at the ferry and moved 5 miles upstream to build a bridge. By 8 A.M. on 26 February the entire Loyalist force was across the Black River and racing for Moores Creek Bridge.
Lillington had arrived the night before and was digging in on the south side when Caswell dropped back from Corbett's Ferry. For the third time McDonald found himself blocked by superior forces at a river line. Worn out and sick, the elderly general camped 6 miles from the bridge and called his officers to his bedside for a council of war. They convinced him that the Rebel bivouac on the north side of the stream could be wiped out in a surprise attack before dawn and that the bridge could be captured easily. McDonald put Donald McLeod in command of this enterprise and dropped out of the war.
Leaving their camp at 1 A.M., the Loyalists made an arduous 6-mile march, much of it through swamps. Before dawn they saw the fires of Caswell's camp on the near side of the bridge. As they inched silently forward, there was no sign that the enemy had taken any defensive precautions whatsoever. The Highlanders then discovered that Caswell had left his campfires burning and withdrawn to Lillington's defenses on the far side of the stream.
The creek here was 50 feet wide and 5 feet deep, spanned by a crude bridge—probably two massive logs and a plank flooring. The Highlanders had no choice but to brave the massed fires of muskets, rifles, and cannon from earthworks on the far bank if they insisted on trying to force a crossing at this point. Twice before the wise McDonald had declined far less dangerous a challenge, but now the impetuous McLeod was in command, and he prepared to lead a traditional Highland charge. The screaming, death-defying charge of the Highlanders had terrified defenders for centuries, but failed often, as at Culloden.
It was not yet light enough to see as Donald McLeod made his preparations. Captain John Campbell's elite company of eighty broadswordsmen would make the main attack on the bridge. They would be followed by the main body, and three hundred riflemen would bring up the rear. Three cheers were to signal the start of the attack, and the battle cry was "King George and Broad Swords." The Loyalist commander intended to wait until there was light enough to see, but just before dawn he heard a nervous crackle of firearms near the bridge, and McLeod could not contain himself any longer. The three cheers were followed by the skirl of pipes and the beat of drums.
The light was still too dim for the Rebels to shoot accurately as the Highlanders charged the bridge brandishing their swords, but it probably was too dim also for the attackers to see immediately what the Rebels had done to the bridge. They had created a gap by removing some of the planks, and if some contemporary accounts are to be believed, the Rebels had greased the exposed stringers with soap and tallow. Much more significant was the fact that Page 266 | Top of Articlethe defenders were covering the bridge with the fire of a small cannon, a swivel gun, and hundreds of muskets. McLeod and Campbell fell within a few paces of the earthworks, and several others got across the bridge alive, but it was no contest. The firing ended in about three minutes, and it is obvious from the casualty figures that not many of the Highlanders shared the enthusiasm of McLeod and Campbell to do or die. McDonald had had trouble way back on Rockfish Creek in keeping his men from deserting in large numbers at the first sign of armed resistance.
Caswell reported that about thirty Loyalists were killed or mortally wounded. The defenders had two casualties, and only one of these died. Colonel Moore reached the battlefield several hours after the action and organized a vigorous pursuit that netted about 850 prisoners, 13 wagons, 150 rifles, 350 muskets, 150 swords and dirks, and a box containing £15,000 in hard cash (the price of Tryon's Palace!). This haul came not only from the fugitives of the battle but also from Loyalist homes raided by the Patriots.
Moores Creek National Military Park, 88 acres, takes in the site of the battle and has an excellent visitors center with interpretive audiovisual displays. You can see the remains of fortifications, as well as field exhibits and markers. Every year in the last weekend of February the park commemorates the battle with a wreath-laying ceremony preceded by a living-history encampment, including demonstrations and programs that underscore the battle. Guided tours of the grounds are available. The park is 20 miles northwest of Wilmington along N.C. 421 to N.C. 210 and is open daily from 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. The visitors center has a small weapons display. Phone: (910) 283-5591. From the partially restored earthworks the alleged bridge site is 200 feet away. The informed visitor might question whether something is not amiss here—whether in morning twilight and probably with ground haze the Patriots could have stopped a properly conducted Highland charge at a range of 200 feet. Charles East Hatch, Jr., National Park Service historian and author of a monograph The Battle of Moores Creek Bridge, has assured me that, contrary to my suspicions, the bridge is correctly sited today. If so, it may be that the valiant McLeod and Campbell were not followed by any substantial number of true Scottish warriors. Perhaps the answer is that the charge was stopped not at the bridge, as artists who have depicted the action would have us believe, but after a handful of Highlanders got close to the earthworks.
A few sites associated with the principal Patriot leaders in the Moores Creek campaign may be found in Pender County. Colonel James Moore's grave has not been found. His plantation was probably just northeast of where U.S. 421 from Wilmington enters Pender County. (The highway marker in Rocky Point says his home was 3 miles southeast of that place, but some regional historians maintain that this is incorrect.) Lillington Hall (1734) was still standing when Benson Lossing visited Alexander Lillington's great-granddaughter there in 1848 and sketched the house (Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution, II, p. 587). It has since disappeared, but the location is marked by Lillington's grave, which is near County Highway 1520 about 0.3 mile northeast of the bridge over Lillington Creek. (From U.S. 117 in Rocky Point go east on S.C. 210 across a branch of the Cape Fear River, a little more than 2 miles, and 1.1 miles farther turn left on a secondary road, Number 1520. Lillington Creek Bridge is about 4.5 miles north, and the Lillington graveyard is a short distance to the northeast.)
The grave of John Ashe is near Pike Creek just north of Rocky Point. From the intersection of S.C. 210 and U.S. 117 in the place, go north for 2.7 miles and turn right on 1411. About 1 mile east is the bridge across Pike Creek, and the Ashe graveyard is on the west side of the creek, south of the highway. According to the marker in Rocky Point, Ashe's home was about 3 miles (straight-line distance) from here, near where S.C. 210 now crosses Northeast Cape Fear River.
Alexander McLeod's homesite is 1.5 miles west of a marker on U.S. 15 and 501 about 4 miles south of Carthage in Moore County.
Mountain Gateway Museum
Mountain Gateway Museum (1971). See OLD FORT.
Mount Mourne. See TORRENCE'S TAVERN SITE.
New Bern, confluence of Trent and Neuse Rivers, Craven County. On a broad estuary and only 35 miles from the open Atlantic, New Bern (pronounced as one word) is North Carolina's second-oldest town. It started as a settlement of Swiss and Germans on a grant received by Baron Christopher de Graffenried in 1710. Here the first Provincial Congress met in 1774 in open defiance of Governor Josiah Martin, and New Bern became the first state capital when Governor Richard Caswell and other state officials were inaugurated in Tryon Palace in January 1777. Otherwise, the town had little direct involvement in the Revolution, although it had sent a contingent to help win the Battle of Moores Creek Bridge, and in 1781 was briefly occupied by a raiding party from the British base at Wilmington. (Major James Craig with 250 regulars and 80 Loyalists arrived on 19 August and destroyed some property before withdrawing.)
It is now a large town lacking the quiet charm of its less commercially favored colonial contemporaries such as Bath, Beaufort, and Brunswick Town, but some 150 historic landmarks are included, as is a notation that New Bern is the birthplace of Pepsi, in a guide map issued by Page 267 | Top of Articlecivic boosters. Website: www.visitnewbern.com; Craven County Convention and Visitors Center phone: (800) 437-5767. The principal attraction is the remarkable reconstruction of Tryon Palace and Gardens, website: www.tryonpalace.org; phone: (252) 514-4900. The State Department of Archives and History in collaboration with the Tryon Palace Committee administers several other houses of the decades immediately following the Revolution.
New Garden Meeting House
New Garden Meeting House, Guilford County. The two days before the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, Cornwallis was camped at the Deep River Meeting House, between the two branches of Deep River (now a village of that name on N.C. 68, 3.4 miles south of its intersection with U.S. 40). "Light Horse Harry" Lee had the mission of screening the British advance while General Greene organized his position at Guilford Courthouse.
Around sunrise on the day of battle, 15 March 1781, Tarleton's advance guard had a brisk skirmish about 4 miles southwest of Greene's main position with Lee's forces. "Light Horse Harry" should have been an authority on the geography of the region, but he was wrong when he wrote in his Memoirs that this skirmish occurred "not at New Garden meeting-house, which was twelve miles from Guilford" but probably at "a meeting-house of less notoriety." The skirmish did take place at New Garden Meeting House, according to Dr. Algie I. Newlin, professor emeritus of history at Guilford College, who has attended the New Garden Meeting for more than fifty years and who has written a history of the five meetinghouses built on the tract acquired by the Quakers in 1757. All are within 250 yards of the present Guilford College campus. The one that figured in the Revolution was probably built between 1752 and 1757. It burned in 1784; hence Benson Lossing's ancient informant was wrong in saying the house sketched by Lossing in 1848 was used in 1781 as a hospital for the wounded from Guilford. (Lossing's sketch is on page 613, vol. II, of his Pictorial Field Book of the Revolution.)
In 1938 William P. Brandon, park historian at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park, recorded that "the site of the original Meeting House is marked by its foundation stones about 200 yards from the campus [of Guilford College], while the present Meeting House is itself on the campus."
Old Fort, McDowell County on U.S. 70, about 20 miles east of Asheville. The Loyalist force commanded by Patrick Ferguson probed as far west as this point in the operations of September 1780 that led to his annihilation at Kings Mountain, South Carolina. Davidson's Fort, which stood near here and gave the present town its name, was the westernmost outpost of North Carolina. Built in 1776 during the Cherokee War of that year, it was important for more than a decade for security against Cherokee raids from the new towns on Chickamauga Creek (around modern Chattanooga, Tennessee), where British agents had their headquarters. Old Fort Picnic Ground is 3 miles west of the small manufacturing town of Old Fort, on the southern edge of Pisgah National Forest. Old Fort is famous for its Friday evening mountain-music hoedowns. The Mountain Gateway Museum in Old Fort is a recommended place for visitors of Old Fort to start their tour. A fourteen-minute video portrays the town's history, including its mountaineer culture and the coming of the railroad. Website: www.oldfort.org; phone: (828) 668-9259.
Orton Plantation, Cape Fear River on N.C. Highway 133 about 18 miles below Wilmington. Famous for its gardens, the mansion built by "King Roger" Moore sometime after 1734 was the center of an early-eighteenth-century rice plantation. It was closely associated with Brunswick Town (see BRUNSWICK TOWN RUINS), whose site was added to Orton Plantation in 1842 for a price of $4.25. The exquisite Orton Plantation Gardens, about 20 acres in size, are open to the public for self-guided tours from March through November (phone 910-371-6851); the plantation's house is a private residence.
Outer Banks. See CAPE HATTERAS.
Pleasant Gardens (McDowell House)
Pleasant Gardens (McDowell House), near Marion on U.S. 70 just west of its intersection with U.S. 221, McDowell County. "Hunting John" McDowell and his brother Joseph came to this region during the Seven Years' War and settled at points 25 miles apart. Both had sons named Joseph who were famous during the Revolution and whom writers have since had trouble keeping straight. The confusion has been compounded by official highway markers and tourist literature.
John McDowell acquired a grant of "640 acres on the main so. branch of the Catawba … including round hill bottom and Pleasant Gardens," as the document of 1768 reads. He bought another 400 acres of adjoining land the same year. Some time before this he had built a two-room cabin on the land and dubbed it Pleasant Gardens. His son Joseph was born in the cabin in 1758. "Pleasant Gardens" Joe, as the latter became known to distinguish him from his cousin "Quaker Meadows" Joe, built the house still standing today as the McDowell House and indicated by a highway marker near the junction of U.S. 70 and 221 that reads: "N-4. Pleasant Gardens. Home of Joseph McDowell, Indian Fighter, hero of King's Mountain."
Visible from the McDowell House is Round Hill, where the family burial ground is preserved. Just across the highway is the site of "Hunting John's" log cabin. Here, then, is the "Pleasant Gardens" of the McDowells, not to be confused with the community of the same name 2 miles to the west. (The latter appears on the official state map as Pleasant Garden [singular], but state and county historical experts assure me that it should be called Pleasant Gardens [plural].) The McDowell House dates from after the Revolution—late 1780s—and in 2005 is considered endangered because the home's owner, enticed by a booming commercial real-estate market, has the house and the remaining 4 acres of land for sale. Adjacent land earmarked for development has been bulldozed within 10 feet of the historic house.
In the community of Pleasant Garden(s) is the Carson House, which local historical authorities have informed me "should not be confused with Pleasant Gardens." But these same authorities acknowledge that the Carson House "was sometimes called 'Second Pleasant Gardens.'" A few words of explanation are therefore in order. Colonel John Carson's first wife was the sister of "Pleasant Gardens" Joe. His second wife was the latter's widow, who is said to have taken along the name of her former house and bestowed it on her new one, the one now called the Historic Carson House. It is maintained by the Carson House Foundation and serves as a museum for the public. Phone: (828) 724-4948.
The final point of confusion to clear up is which Joseph McDowell was the hero of Kings Mountain. Both cousins led troops in the battle. "Pleasant Gardens" Joe commanded a company, whereas his cousin "Quaker Meadows" Joe had the more important role of commanding the local militia regiment (see QUAKER MEADOWS).
Pyle's "Defeat," Haw River, below Graham, Alamance County. When the main Patriot army started back across the Dan River into North Carolina in February 1781, General Greene's advance guard comprised Lee's legion and the South Carolina militia of General Andrew Pickens. Learning that four hundred mounted Loyalists were marching to join Cornwallis at Hillsborough, where "Butcher" Tarleton's green-coated British legion also was based, the Patriots devised a stratagem. Capitalizing on the fact that the uniform of Lee's legion closely resembled that of Tarleton's, and using two captured officers of the latter organization, "Light Horse Harry" Lee tricked the Loyalist commander, Colonel John Pyle, into believing that he (General Lee) was Tarleton. Lee hoped that he could get his dragoons among the Loyalists so that, once the trick was discovered, the enemy would surrender without a fight. The ruse was working perfectly, Pyle and Lee shaking hands and exchanging civilities, when the South Carolina militia exposed themselves prematurely. At least ninety Loyalists were killed in the brief melée that followed. Pyle was badly wounded and left for dead. (He survived, allegedly after hiding in a pond about a quarter-mile to the southeast that was long known as Pyle's Pond.) The charge of "foul massacre" was answered by Lee with the reasoning that the nature of the conflict made it impossible not to kill a large number of Loyalists. The action is therefore of interest in the general consideration of alleged massacres performed by the British. Pyle's "Defeat," as it is called (but comparable British triumphs of Tarleton and "No-flint" Grey were "massacres"), had the important result of denying Cornwallis support from North Carolina Loyalists at a time when he needed all the help he could get.
Quaker Meadows, just west of Morganton, Burke County; marker on N.C. 181 near junction with N.C. 126. After Indians had cleared bottomland here, the area became overgrown with grass and looked like a meadow. Local traders having mistaken the austere Bishop Spangenberg for a Quaker when he came by in 1752 looking for land where the Moravians could settle, the place became known as Quaker Meadows. (This is the origin of the name according to the WPA Guide; another explanation is that a real Quaker camped here and traded with the Indians.)
Around 1765 Joseph McDowell moved here from the Valley of Virginia, and his cousin, "Hunting John," stopped 25 miles west at the place he named Pleasant Gardens. At the outbreak of the Revolution, Joseph's eldest son, Charles (c. 1743–1815), was the local militia colonel, and another son, Joseph (1756–1801), was second in command of the regiment. Both were involved in the numerous frontier skirmishes against the Indians and Loyalists that maintained Patriot control of the region, but when the large Loyalist force under the British officer Patrick Ferguson moved up from South Carolina and established its base at Gilbert Town (now Rutherfordton), the Patriots had genuine cause for alarm. Charles McDowell called on the Over Mountain Men for assistance. After an inconclusive series of operations during the summer of 1780 the Patriot leaders decided to assemble their forces in late September at Quaker Meadows and march south for a showdown with Ferguson. The problem of who would have overall command of these forces then arose. Charles McDowell decided to make a trip east to see General Gates, who was operating in the Carolinas with a force of Continentals, and to request that General Daniel Morgan or General William Davidson be sent to take charge. The other militia colonels, happy to be rid of Colonel McDowell (whom one historian has described as being "a rather inactive partisan leader"), named William Campbell as their temporary commander. A week later they had annihilated Ferguson's entire command at Kings Mountain, South Carolina.
The leader of the 160 Burke County militia at Kings Mountain therefore was Major Joseph McDowell of Quaker Meadows and not, as some have argued, the Joseph McDowell of Pleasant Gardens. Nor was Charles McDowell in the action. "Quaker Meadows Joe" commanded a detachment of 190 mounted riflemen at Cowpens, South Carolina, had an active part in operations against the Cherokee in this same year (1781), and commanded the McDowell regiment during his brother's campaign against the Cherokee in 1782. After the war he had a prominent role in politics before dying at the age of forty-five. Charles was a state senator in 1778 and during the period 1782 to 1788. In 1782 he was promoted to brigadier general of militia and given command of the expedition against the Cherokee. Local information is available from the Historic Burke Foundation. Phone: (828) 437-4104.
Ramsey's Mill, Deep River near confluence with Haw (Cape Fear) River, Chatham County. In his withdrawal from Guilford Courthouse to Wilmington, Lord Cornwallis spent several days here in late March 1781 getting across Deep River. He had to build a bridge, and when General Greene arrived with his army the Patriots had the opportunity for hitting the British astride the river. Greene lacked the strength for this promising operation, but Lee's legion succeeded in preventing Cornwallis from destroying his bridge after retreating. This facilitated further pursuit, but Greene decided to hold his main body at Ramsey's Mill for reorganization and then direct his operations into South Carolina. The site of the old mill is 300 yards northwest of a marker on U.S. 1 in Moncure. Some authorities believe the name should be spelled Ramsour's Mill or Mills.
Ramsour's Mill, about half a mile north of Lincolnton (U.S. 321), Lincoln County. Patriot militia under Colonel Francis Locke attacked a larger body of Loyalist militia under Colonel John Moore and defeated them here in a bloody fight at close quarters. This victory on 20 June 1780 deserves more recognition as a turning point in the war. As a prelude to the Battle of Kings Mountain (7 October 1780), it contributed to that famous victory by depriving the British of much-needed Loyalist strength. Ramsour's Mill is remembered also as the place where Lord Cornwallis paused from 25 to 28 January 1781 to burn his wagons and excess baggage before resuming his futile pursuit of General Greene to the Dan.
The battlefield is 400 yards west of a highway marker on U.S. 321, half a mile north of Lincolnton. The top of the hill where much of the fighting occurred has been graded for construction of a school complex, but about two-thirds of the battlefield remains open land. The mill was destroyed years ago, and the mill pond to the north is covered by a football stadium. A mass grave reported to be near the top of the hill has never been discovered. About 30 yards north of the school and marked with a bronze plaque by descendants in 1934 is the grave of Loyalist Captain Nicholas Warlick, his brother Philip, and Israel Sain. Captain Warlick was the most effective Loyalist leader in the bloody battle, and his death was the signal for the Loyalist retreat. Six Patriot leaders are buried on the southern slope of the hill, about 50 yards from the road in an unmarked but easily recognized brick structure. "Tarleton's Tea Table," a large flat rock on the battlefield said to have been used by the famous British dragoon in January 1781, was moved in 1930 to the northeast edge of the Lincoln County Courthouse grounds (about half a mile south).
Rockfish (Rock Creek)
Rockfish (Rock Creek), near Tin City, Duplin County. In his expedition from Wilmington to New Bern in 1781 Major James H. Craig was opposed here briefly by Patriot militia under Colonel James Kenan, who ran after exhausting their ammunition. British mounted troops took twenty or thirty prisoners in the pursuit. A marker on N.C. 11 at Tin City says the action took place 300 yards to the southeast.
Rockfish Creek, northwest corner of Bladen County, about 15 miles south of Fayetteville. In the opening action of the campaign that ended at Moores Creek Bridge (see MOORES CREEK BRIDGE NATIONAL MILITARY PARK) the Patriot force under Colonel James Moore was camped here from 15 to 18 February 1776. The site is just north of the creek and near the right bank of the Cape Fear River.
Russellborough. See BRUNSWICK TOWN RUINS.
Rutherfordton. See GILBERT TOWN.
Salem Restoration, Winston-Salem. Off Main Street, just south of U.S. 40, in a modern city, is a meticulously restored village, Old Salem, dating from 1766. The story of the Moravian settlements is sketched in the section on nearby Bethabara. Old Salem is a large-scale historic reconstruction of exceptional charm and merit. Many of the original buildings are open to the public. In the Single Brothers House, built to house apprentice craftsmen, costumed artisans now practice and demonstrate ancient skills in nine craft shops. The chapel, kitchen, and dining room are on display. Other historic buildings are Salem Tavern, the John Vogler House, and the Boys' School (now the Wachovia Museum), all of which date from a few years after the Revolution. The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts has four galleries and fifteen period Page 270 | Top of Articlerooms from 1690 to 1820. One intriguing aspect of this Moravian community covered on the tour is the presence of what was surely the largest number of German-speaking African Americans. The church owned slaves (individual Moravians could not), but starting in the Revolutionary period, it manumitted many of them and accepted them into full church membership. A ticket to Old Salem allows access to its four museums: the Historic Town of Salem; the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts; the Old Salem Toy Museum; and the Old Salem Children's Museum. Its website, www.oldsalem.org, gives a descriptive virtual tour. Old Salem is closed on Mondays.
Shallow Ford Site
Shallow Ford Site, Yadkin River. From Trading Ford there were colonial roads east and west of the Yadkin to the region of the Moravian settlements. (They joined southwest of Bethania.) "Butcher" Tarleton found the ford unguarded and crossed here on 6 February 1781, followed by Lord Cornwallis and the rest of the British army that was pursuing General Greene toward the Dan River. In 1780 the Patriots had won a skirmish with the Loyalists at Shallow Ford, and a Civil War cavalry skirmish occurred here 11 April 1865.
The site is near a place that shows on some maps as Huntsville, but where you will find nothing but rugged terrain dotted with homes. It is reached by driving east from U.S. 601 through Courtney about 8 miles on a road just north of the Yadkin-Davie county line. You will come to a bridge over the Yadkin, which is wide, swift, and beautiful at this point. The right bank is covered with heavy vegetation, but the opposite bank is productive bottomland. You can see from the bridge the site of Shallow Ford about three-quarters of a mile down the river. No road or path remains on the right side, but it can be approached by a wagon road through private property on the Forsythe County side.
Somerset Place State Historic Site
Somerset Place State Historic Site, Creswell. One of many Revolutionary era plantations that succeeded because of the knowledge of rice cultivation that African-born slaves brought with them. Archeologists have discovered a number of artifacts illustrative of slave life. Tours of the house and grounds touch honestly on a number of sensitive issues, exploring the lives of both the white and black residents of this plantation. It is worth noting Dorothy Spruill Redford's important and popular book, Somerset Homecoming: Recovering a Lost Heritage (1988), which documents her efforts to discover the history of her family back through the time of slavery. Her book also provides a useful description of life on Somerset plantation in the early nineteenth century. Redford currently heads up an effort to continue the restoration and development of this important site. Somerset is 7 miles south of Creswell, in the Pettigrew State Park. It is open year-round, and incredibly, admission is free. Phone: (252) 797-4560.
Speedwell Iron Works
Speedwell Iron Works. See TROUBLESOME IRON WORKS.
Spink's Farm, Deep River, Randolph County. General Horatio Gates took command of the Southern army from General Kalb on 25 July 1780. Some authorities say this occurred at Cox's Mill; others believe it was at Hollingsworth's Farm, which was later known as Spink's Farm. The site is on Deep River in the southeast corner of Randolph County in farmland that has changed little since the Revolution. From County Road 1002 about a mile west of Deep River go north on Road 2873 toward Coleridge for 0.5 mile, then east on a dirt road (Number 2887) to the dead end a little less than a mile away. This is the general location of the Continental camp in July 1780 before the hungry regulars continued their march south. (See CAMDEN, SOUTH CAROLINA.)
Spruce Pine, McDowell County, junction of U.S. 19E and N.C. 226. On the third night of their march from Sycamore Shoals, Tennessee the Over Mountain Men who were en route to Kings Mountain, South Carolina stopped here. The campsite is marked. On their way back the brother of John Sevier, Robert, died of his wounds nearby; his grave is here.
Stagville Center was once a prosperous plantation of nearly 30,000 acres dating back to the Revolutionary era. Some of the buildings on the site have been dated as early as 1776. At one time the plantation was home to nine hundred slaves, and some of their cabins, including a row of very rare two-story structures, are preserved in the Horton Grove section of the plantation. The center, which also works on the preservation of oral traditions, is operated by the North Carolina Division of Archives and History. Located at 5828 Old Oxford Highway, 7 miles northeast of Roxboro Road outside Fairntosh in Durham County, Stagville and Horton Grove are open Tuesday to Saturday, 10 A.M. to 4 P.M. Tours are free, but it is advisable to call in advance: (919) 620-0120.
Summerfield (formerly Bruce's Crossroads)
Summerfield (formerly Bruce's Crossroads). On U.S. 220 a few miles north of Guilford Courthouse National Military Park. On the cold and drizzly morning of 13 February 1781 the American rear guard under Colonel Otho Williams, with "Light Horse Harry" Lee's legion attached, was in this vicinity when informed by an excited countryman that British dragoons were approaching from an unexpected direction. Lee dismounted his young bugler so the countryman could use his horse in accompanying a mounted patrol, and the boy was sent back to camp on Page 271 | Top of Articlefoot to inform Williams that no enemy had yet been sighted. Soon after this the Americans drew Tarleton's dragoons into an ambush and killed eighteen of them, but not before they had mortally wounded the unarmed bugler. The latter, James Gillies, was buried nearby in the Bruce family graveyard (his grave may still be seen), and the eighteen British dragoons were buried near the crossroads. A small but strikingly handsome monument to "Bugler Boy" Gillies is in Guilford Courthouse National Military Park.
Charles Bruce was a member of the commission that framed the North Carolina constitution, and his home was a Patriot meeting place before the Revolution. The original house burned and another was erected on its site. A memorial to Bruce and Gillies is in front of the Summerfield public school.
Torrence's Tavern Site
Torrence's Tavern Site. At Mount Mourne, Iredell County, a marker on U.S. 21 indicates that the site is nearby, and the actual spot is indicated by a plaque that has to be emancipated periodically from the surrounding underbrush. Here on 1 February 1781 Tarleton caught up with a body of militia that had withdrawn from its unsuccessful defense of the Catawba River line, 10 miles away. Although outnumbered and far in advance of the British army of Cornwallis, Tarleton ordered his legion to charge. Less than two weeks previously his two hundred dragoons had disgraced themselves at Cowpens, South Carolina, by refusing to follow him in a desperate counterattack. Now he taunted them with "remember the Cowpens," and they showed that they were still good at this sort of work. "They broke through the center" of the milling and disordered militia, he reported, and "with irresistible velocity, killing near 50 on the spot, wounded many in the pursuit and dispersed near 500 of the enemy." These figures apparently are greatly exaggerated, but considering that Tarleton himself lost seven men and twenty horses, this was a serious cavalry charge that undoubtedly inflicted heavy casualties. It quieted the detractors in the British camp who had maintained that Tarleton's military reputation had been irretrievably ruined at Cowpens, and it helps explain why the North Carolina militia did not turn out in masses to oppose the British march through their state.
A dispirited General Nathanael Greene was riding alone from the Catawba toward a point where General Davidson's militia was supposed to rendezvous after covering the fords of that river, and he narrowly escaped capture by Tarleton near Torrence's Tavern.
Mount Mourne, site of the tavern, is one of the oldest white settlements in the region. At the Centre Presbyterian Church (building erected in 1854; church established in 1764), 129 Centre Church Road, is a marble marker to its Revolutionary War members, one of whom was General William L. Davidson, and many are buried in the cemetery across the road.
Trading Ford (lost site), Yadkin River. Now flooded by High Rock Lake but still visible at low water, this ford on the old Trading Path (which ran from Petersburg, Virginia to the Waxhaws) was "critical terrain" in the "Race to the Dan" after the Patriot triumph at Cowpens, South Carolina. Retreating from the Catawba River (see BEATTIE'S FORD), General Dan Morgan's troops found that General Greene had boats waiting to take them across the flooded Yadkin at Trading Ford the night of 2 to 3 February 1781. Lacking boats, the British were unable to follow, so they took the old colonial road north to Shallow Ford (see SHALLOW FORD SITE). Lord Cornwallis hoped to cut Greene off in the vicinity of Salem (see SALEM RESTORATION), assuming that the Patriots lacked boats for crossing the Dan along its lower stretches. But he underestimated his provincial adversary, who had learned a thing or two about military planning since leaving his iron forge to join the Continental army some five and a half years earlier; Greene had boats waiting at the ferries east of today's Danville, Virginia, and escaped with his army intact. The Patriots had gained valuable time by taking the more direct route through Guilford Courthouse.
Sketching Trading Ford in January 1849 (when the water was high, as in February 1781), Benson Lossing wrote: "The river is usually fordable between the island and the stakes seen in the picture; below that point the water is deep" (Pictorial Field Book II, p. 601). The Duke Power Company's Buck Steam Plant is now at the site of the ford, a few hundred yards downstream from where I-85 bridges the Yadkin just northeast of Salisbury.
Troublesome Iron Works
Troublesome Iron Works, Troublesome Creek, 1.5 miles north of Monroeton and about 7 miles southwest of Reidsville, Rockingham County. Referred to also as the Speedwell Iron Works on Troublesome Creek, or Speedwell Furnace, this was where Greene left most of his baggage when he marched off for the decisive Battle of Guilford Courthouse (see GUILFORD COURTHOUSE NATIONAL MILITARY PARK). Returning early on the morning of 16 March 1781 after an all-night march in a steady downpour, Greene immediately put his tired troops to work digging field fortifications in anticipation of a British pursuit. But Cornwallis's army remained at Guilford, too exhausted by its hard-fought victory to follow up.
Cornwallis had used the site as a camp earlier, and Greene had held his main body at Speedwell Furnace when his forward elements skirmished with those of Cornwallis at Weitzel's Mill. Washington visited the Page 272 | Top of Articleplace on 3 June 1791 during his southern tour. A waterpowered grist mill dating from 1770 has been operating in recent years. The local historical society recently purchased 20 acres of the site. Archaeological digs began in 2005 and it is hoped that the site will end up as a park that not only observes its Revolutionary War significance, but also serves as a place to study the lives of the area's eighteenth-century settlers.
Tryon Palace and Gardens
Tryon Palace and Gardens (restoration), in New Bern on Pollack and George Streets, Craven County. Destroyed by fire in 1798 but completely restored (1952–1959) on the basis of careful research, Tryon Palace and Gardens are now a great showplace. The site has qualified as a Registered National Historic Landmark and is open daily. Take the Trent Road/Pembroke Exit off Highway 70 and turn left at the light. Turn right on Broad Street, then right on George Street, and right again onto Pollock Street. The parking lot is on Eden Street to your left. Website: www.tryonpalace.org; phone: (252) 514-4900.
Governor William Tryon (1729–1788) had been commissioned in the British army in 1751, was appointed lieutenant governor of North Carolina in 1764, assumed command of the province on the death of Governor Arthur Dobbs in March 1765, and a few months later was appointed governor. He was just in time to bear the brunt of the Stamp Act resistance, which he had done much to provoke (see BRUNSWICK TOWN RUINS).
Next he was up to his ears in Regulators (see ALAMANCE BATTLEGROUND STATE HISTORIC SITE), and one of the things that caused the trouble was his plan to build himself a provincial palace at a cost of £15,000. The provincials already objected to the taxes being levied by royal officials, many of whom were dishonest, and the news of Tryon's building fund created a furor.
As the local political situation worsened, the English architect John Hawkes came to New Bern and built Tryon's palace during the years 1767 to 1770. His design was late Georgian; a two-story central block with a full basement and attic had two connecting wings. The west wing was stables and the other wing included the secretary's office and the kitchen. In the central portion of the mansion the governor had his residence and held meetings of the assembly.
The back of the building commands an impressive view of the Trent River, and the eighteenth-century formal gardens have been restored to their original grandeur. The palace may well have been the most beautiful building in colonial America during its brief existence. After the precipitous flight of Royal Governor Josiah Martin in 1775 it declined in importance as the center of government, but Richard Caswell, a hero of Moores Creek (see MOORES CREEK BRIDGE NATIONAL MILITARY PARK), established himself in Tryon Palace after his election in November 1776 as the first American governor. (Tryon, meanwhile, became governor of New York soon after his victory over the Regulators at Alamance.)
When Washington visited in 1791 he noted in his diary that "what they call the Pallace [is] … now hastening to Ruins." Three years later it ceased to be used by the government, rooms were rented, and in 1798 the main building burned. Only the west wing survived, but it was altered beyond recognition.
Although called a restoration, Tryon Palace and Gardens are a magnificent re-creation. Herein lies its greatest distinction. To the uninformed the site will be "just another Williamsburg" (or Disney fantasy), but it will be an exciting adventure for the person seriously interested in early American culture and historic conservation.
Wahab's Plantation (lost site), Catawba River. Tarleton's legion, temporarily commanded by Major George Hanger, was surprised here and badly defeated by Colonel William R. Davie. The plantation belonged to one of Davie's officers, Captain James Wahab (or Wauchope), and the Patriots were able to achieve their coup because of good information about the enemy's dispositions. With the loss of only one man, wounded accidentally, Davie's 80 mounted partisans and 70 riflemen defeated 300 British, inflicting about 60 casualties (killed and wounded; they took no prisoners), taking off almost 100 fully equipped horses and 120 stands of arms. The action took place around sunrise on 21 September 1780. Wahab's Plantation was burned by the British before they moved toward Charlotte, and the site is not known. Presumably it was just north of the state line on the west bank of the Catawba, and it was flooded by Lake White.
Weitzel's Mill, Reedy Fork Creek, Guilford County. After the skirmish some 10 miles to the south at Clapp's Mill, the screening forces of Generals Greene and Cornwallis made contact here on 6 March 1781. A Patriot rear guard fought a heavy delaying action in which each side lost about twenty killed and wounded. The mill has disappeared, only scattered stones remaining, and the site is unmarked. Near what is now known as Summer's Mill (dating from the Civil War), the site is about 200 yards above the point where N.C. 61 crosses Reedy Fork Creek northeast of Greensboro.
Wilmington, mouth of Cape Fear River, New Hanover County. Wilmington was settled in 1732, about five years later than Brunswick Town (see BRUNSWICK TOWN RUINS), which is farther down the Cape Fear River, and it quickly proved to be a better port. Resistance to the Stamp Act was Page 273 | Top of Articlewell organized, reaching a climax on 16 November 1765 when the militia forced the royal stamp master to resign and prevented the unloading of stamped paper. The site of the old courthouse, center of these events and venue for committee of safety meetings in 1775, is beneath the commercial structures at the northeast corner of Front and Market Streets.
When Cornwallis was making his plans to invade North Carolina after gaining control of South Carolina, he ordered Wilmington captured and organized as a supply point to shorten his lines of communications. In addition to being one of the state's few ports, Wilmington could be used for transshipment of supplies by boat up the Cape Fear River to Fayetteville (Cross Creek). Major James H. Craig (1748–1812) had little opposition in capturing the place on 1 February 1781 with about four hundred British regulars. Among his prisoners were the prominent Patriots John Ashe and Cornelius Harnett, both of whom died in captivity. Cornwallis marched his bedraggled army into Wilmington on 7 April, and a little more than two weeks later he started his ill-fated march north to Virginia.
Cornwallis is believed to have used the home of John Burgwin as his headquarters, a belief that has no historical support. It would have been logical, however, for him to take it over; it was one of the finest of the two hundred houses that then comprised the town. Built in 1772, using the town jail for its foundation, it is distinguished by a two-story front porch with superimposed columns. The double cellars are said to have been used as a British military prison, naturally. Now state headquarters for the Colonial Dames at 224 Market Street, and referred to as the Burgwin-Wright Museum House and Gardens, it has an exceptionally good little museum of colonial furnishings and relics. Of particular interest are illustrations of the Venus flytrap and trumpet plant drawn in the Carolinas by a British botanist in the early eighteenth century and found in London after World War II by a Wilmington collector. There is one of the original chairs from Tryon Palace (see TRYON PALACE AND GARDENS) and an unusual little four-poster bed made for a child's room. Phone: (910) 762-0570.
The present St. James Church building, 25 South Third Street, was built in 1839 near the site of the original structure of 1751. It still displays a head of Christ attributed to Francisco Pacheco (1564–1654) taken as part of the loot from a privateer captured at Brunswick Town in 1748. When the British occupied Wilmington they converted the original St. James into the main stronghold of their fortifications. (A contemporary British sketch map is in the state archives; order number MC 193-F.) Materials from the old church were used for the present St. James. In the churchyard are graves of the Patriot Cornelius Harnett (1723–1781) and the pioneer dramatist Thomas Godfrey (1736–1763).
Not until after World War II did Wilmington start on the road to extensive industrial and commercial development that began wrecking its historic district. But in 1961 the old residential part of the city was declared a Historic Area in an effort to preserve its character, and some degree of success has been achieved. The Lower Cape Fear Historical Society has been a major influence in the town's historic conservation. It is located at 126 South Third Street. Phone: (910) 762-0492.
Yellow Mountain Road
Yellow Mountain Road. On U.S. 19E at Roaring Gap Bridge in Avery County is a highway marker that reads: "Yellow Mountain Road. Along a route nearby the 'Over-Mountain Men' marched to victory at King's Mountain, 1780." The route of the one thousand mounted militia was from Sycamore Shoals (now in Tennessee) to Grassy Bald of Roan Mountain, where they stopped for dinner, and thence to Gillespie Gap. Here the force divided. Colonel William Campbell led his Virginians along the crest of the Blue Ridge, went down the south side, and camped at Turkey Cove. The others camped in North Cove, crossed the south end of Linville Mountain, and followed the old trail down Yellow Mountain Road along Paddie Creek to the Catawba River. The forces reunited at Quaker Meadows. (There are three other Yellow Mountains in North Carolina: in northwest Buncombe County, southeast Clay County, and on the Jackson-Macon line.)
Gale Document Number: GALE|CX3486500031