Friday, August 20, 2010

Joseph Graham Describes Ramsour’s Mill (4)

This is the final of several posts that describes, verbatim, Joseph Graham's account of the battle of Ramsour’s Mill. The account is illustrated with military miniatures and a miniature version of the battlefield. For background information on the battlefield, see Joseph Graham's description. For the earlier posts, click here, and here.


“The Tories finding the left of their position in possession of the Whigs and their centre being closely pressed, retreated down the ridge towards the mill exposed to the fire of the centre and of Captain Hardin's company behind the fence.

Retreat. Under pressure from in front and on both flanks, the Tory line collapses.

“The Whigs pursued until they got entire possession of the ridge, when they perceived to their astonishment that the Tories had collected in force on the other side of the creek beyond the mill. They expected the fight would be renewed, and attempted to form a line; but only eighty-six men could be paraded. Some were scattered during the action, others were attending to their wounded friends, and after repeated efforts not more than a hundred and ten could be collected.


“In this perilous situation of things it was resolved that Major Wilson and Capt William Alexander, of Rowan, should hasten to General Rutherford and urge him to press forward to their assistance. Rutherford had marched early in the morning, and, at the distance of six or seven miles from Ramsour's, was met by Wilson and Alexander. Major Davie's cavalry was started at full gallop, and Colonel Davidson's infantry were ordered to hasten on with all possible speed [these units are briefly described in Joseph Graham's Timeline]. At the end of two miles they were met by others from the battle, who informed them that the Tories had retreated. The march was continued, and the troops arrived on the ground two hours after the battle had closed. The dead and most of the wounded were still lying where they fell.


“As there was no organization of either party, nor regular returns made after the action, the loss could not be ascertained with correctness. Fifty-six lay dead on the side of the ridge where the heat of the action prevailed; many lay scattered on the flanks and over the ridge towards the mill. It is believed that seventy were killed, and that the loss on each side was nearly equal. About an hundred men on each side were wounded, and fifty Tories were taken prisoners. The men had no uniform, and it could not be told to which party many of the dead belonged. Most of the Whigs wore a piece of white paper on their hats in front, and many of the men on each side being excellent riflemen, this paper was a mark at which the Tories often fired, and several of the Whigs were shot in the head. The trees behind which both Whigs and Tories occasionally took shelter were grazed by the balls; and one tree in particular, on the left of the Tories’ line, at the root of which two brothers lay dead, was grazed by three balls on one side and by two on the other.

“In this battle neighbors, near relations and personal friends fought each other; and as the smoke would from time to time blow off they could recognize each other. In the evening and on the next day the relations and friends of the dead and wounded came in, and a scene was witnessed truly afflicting to the feelings of humanity.”


  1. Thank you for doing this. I have really enjoyed reading these posts on Ramsour's Mill. I hope to game this out one day.

  2. Thanks Chris. There's a couple more posts planned for September, but those will concern alternative descriptions of the battle, rather than J. Graham's account.