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The Battle of Ramsour's Mill

"On June 3rd in Charlotte, General Rutherford gathered a large militia, myself included, to defend against a British advance. That same day we was adressed by Reverand Alexander McWhorter who was a leader of the community and an exuberant speaker. He talked at lenth of our duty to our country and that it was ordained by God that we was to be a free country. Some of the volunteers was dismissed a couple of days later when news came of the British being beat and in retreat to Camden. A couple of days later news came of a Tory militia being organized and the volunteers was called back to serve. About a week later we was organized for a march north of Charlotte to a plantation beside Mallard's Creek where we was organized into companies. I was in the company of about five hundred men under the command of General Rutherford.

"The next day we begun our march to just south of Charlotte and when news came of a Tory militia being organized in Lincoln County several companies advanced ahead of us to organize militia in that county to defend against the Tories. We was told that Tory troops was mostly local folk who was tricked by the British sympathizers who was tellin' them that the Southern colonies was being taken back by the King and they had no choice but to join and swear allegiance and take up arms against us rebels.

"The night before we arrived at Ramsour's Mill one of the officers who had been sent out ahead returned with news that the militias was plannin' to attack the Tories at sunrise the next mornin'. The followin' mornin' we arose early and began our march, crossin' the Catawba, and headed to meet up with our forces at Ramsour's Mill.

"When we arrived the battle had ended nearly an hour before. One of the militamen I had served with durin' my first commission told me all about what happened after our company arrived about an hour after the fightin' had ended. The Torys was camped on a hill about a half a mile north of Lincolnton on a farm beside Ramsour's Mill. They was up on the ridge with view of a field with hardly no trees and a pond. When the troops of North Carolina approached the camp they was fired on by some advance picket guards who shot and then ran back to their positions. The cavalry companies led by Captain Falls and McDowell followed by the infantry companies advanced on the Tories up the ridge. It was right at the start, the militia man said, Captain Falls was shot through his chest and rode about one hundred and fifty yard from the battle and fell dead from his horse.

"The fightin' went on for near an hour with hundreds of men wounded and dead on both sides. The Tories had the advantage as they was on the ridgeline and hid by bushes and such. As our infantry got close they began to fight hand to hand with the butts of their guns as they didn't have no bayonets on 'em. The lines was crossed and neither side couldn't tell one another apart and the confusion got so bad that by the end only about a hundred Tories was still left to fight and they retreated across the creek and was joined by others from up on the ridge. It was then that two men from the Patriot militia was dispatched to ride to urge us to quickly come to the battlefield in case of further fightin'.

"The battlefield was a terrible sight - there was bodies strewn about the hill which was soaked in blood. Friends of the fallen was there when we marched up. They was tryin' to help the wounded and mostly they was in a stupor of shock. It was near impossible to tell the dead apart as to which side they was fightin' on as they was all from the same county - they was mostly neighbors. The Tories had a little pine twig stuck in their hats which some of 'em took out after the battle so as to escape. Our Patriot militia mostly wore a white paper hat which weren't a good idea as it made a good target for the Tories. There was several boys shot straight in the head through their hats.

"As I walked across the battle field I saw Captain Fall who had been my captain at the battle at Briar Creek laid out dead there on the field. I knelt down beside him and I just had to cry seeing him there like that. It was a terrible sad day for us all. I was told that after the Captain had fell dead a Tory militia man ran up to rob the body but Captain Fall's son, who was just 14, was there and ran up and picked up his father's sword and ran the man through with it. Another story which I heard years later is that one man from Snow Creek was hit by five balls which he carried in his body for fourty years until it came out by itself fourty years to the day after the battle!

"After the battle, a group of us dug a deep trench on the far side of the hill, and laid the bodies of the dead men all together in it. All but Captain Fall, whose body was wrapped in a blanket and carried back to Rowan county for burial, was buried in the trench we dug. It was terrible work - the worst I ever done in my life. After this battle the folk in these parts lost all interest in fightin' for the British sympathizers who had lied to them, led them into battle unprepared, and then abandoned them when all was lost.

"The day after the battle General Rutherford disbanded our militia and once again I made my way home to Rowan County."

Indian Scout - Burke County NC

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