Previously, the American (Whig) horsemen surprised the Loyalist (Tory) encampment at Ramsour's Mill, but were driven off by superior numbers. When the Tories began to pursue, they ran into the Whig infantry and the fighting dramatically escalated.
“In a few minutes the Tories began to retire to their position on the top of the ridge and soon fell back a little behind the ridge to shelter part of their bodies from the fire of the Whigs, who were fairly exposed to their fire.”
“In this situation their fire became so destructive that the Whigs fell back to the bushes near the glade, and the Tories leaving their safe position pursued them half way down the ridge. At this moment Captain Hardin led a party of Whigs into the field, and under cover of the fence kept up a galling fire on the right flank of the Tories;...”
“...and some of the Whigs discovering that the ground on their right was more favorable to protect them from that of the Tories, obliqued in that direction towards the east end of the glade. This movement gave their line the proper extension. They continued to oblique until they turned the left flank of the Tories; and the contest being well maintained in the centre, the Tories began to retreat up the ridge.”
“They [the Tories] found part of their position [on the ridge] occupied by the Whigs. In that quarter the action became close, and the parties mixed together in two instances; and having no bayonets, they struck at each other with the butts of their guns. In this strange contest several of the Tories were taken prisoners, and others of them, divesting themselves of their mark of distinction (which was a twig of green pine top stuck in their hats), intermixed with the Whigs, and all being in their common dress, escaped unnoticed.”