Tuesday, June 22, 2010

North Carolina: June, 1780

In June, 1780, the British completed their conquest of South Carolina and were making preparations for an eventual invasion of North Carolina. In anticipation of this invasion, large bands of Loyalist militia began to organize in North Carolina. For the moment, at least, North Carolina remained firmly in American control. Large bodies of North Carolina militia had been embodied, supported by a division of Continentals, a brigade of Virginia militia, and South Carolina refugees. The map shows the approximate distribution of these forces shortly before the battle of Ramsour's Mill (June 20). Please note that some small concentrations of troops have been omitted from this map.

British and American Forces in North Carolina in June, 1780 (click to enlarge). Red letters refer to British forces, blue letters to American forces. Placement of letters is approximate with respect to troop location.

Loyalist Militia:

A: A body of Loyalist militia at Ramsour's Mill, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel John Moore. This force was estimated to have 1,000 to 1,300 men.

B: A body of Loyalist militia at the forks of the Yadkin River, under the command of Colonel Samuel Bryan. This force was estimated to be as many as 800 men.

American Forces:

A: Continental forces at Hillsborough under the command of Major-General Johann de Kalb. This force included the Maryland division with 1,278 effectives, the 1st Continental artillery with 140 effectives, the Virginia state regiment of artillery with 175 effectives, 36 North Carolina Continentals, and 20 officers from South Carolina and Georgia.

B: American forces at Cross Creek under the command of Major-General Richard Caswell. This forced included approximately 1,500 North Carolina militia and the 200 infantry and cavalry of Armand's Legion.

C: North Carolina militia in the vicinity of Charlotte under the command of Brigadier-General Griffith Rutherford. Rutherford commanded approximately 1,100 men, including detachments sent to counter Moore. Nearby, South Carolina refugees were organizing under Thomas Sumter.

D: Virginia militia in Roanoke. This force included the vanguard of Brigadier-General Edward Stevens' approximately 2,500-man militia brigade.

E: American forces in Guilford County. This force included an unknown number of Guilford County militia, 80 Virginia State infantry under Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Porterfield, and 55 Virginia State cavalry under Major John Nelson.

F: American cavalry in Halifax. This force included the remnants of the 1st and 3rd Continental Light Dragoons, which had suffered serious losses during the Charleston campaign. According to one estimate, they now numbered about 200 men.

Note: The above is based on a variety of different sources, the most important of which is a letter from Johann de Kalb to George Washington dated June 29, 1780.


  1. Great! I am glad to see you are working on Ramsour's mill. I am very interested to see what you come up with for this battle.

    By the way, I would like to ask you some questions. Can you shoot me an e-mail? cstoesen@corecard.com


  2. I just sent you a message.

    Yes, this is the first of a number of planned posts on Ramsour's Mill. I'm not sure how quickly the project will be complete. The research is complete, but I need to finish making the miniature battlefield and to paint a few more mounted militia. I'm also planning to write about some other subjects in the near-term.