Saturday, March 27, 2010

"Ferreting Out the Tories"

As a 16-year-old, James Collins first saw combat at the battle of Williamson's Plantation. He later participated in the battles of Fishing Creek and Cowpens. In his postwar autobiography, Collins described how the American militia systematically rid the South Carolina Backcountry of Loyalists at the end of the war. Striking is the nonchalance with which he described a campaign of terror.

"We were for the most part kept in motion, and considerably harassed until after the evacuation of Charleston by the British. Shortly after this event we commenced ferreting out the Tories, particularly the worst ones, and such as had been in habit of plundering, burning and murdering. Those we called the “pet Tories,” or neutrals, we never disturbed, but those that had been very troublesome, had to pay the piper. We would meet at a time and place appointed, probably at a church, schoolhouse, or some vacant building, generally in the afternoon, lay off our circuit and divide into two or more companies, and [go] off after dark. Wherever we found any Tories, we would surround the house, one party would force the doors and enter sword in hand, extinguish all the lights, if there were any, and suffer no light to be made, when we would commence hacking the man or men that were found in the house, threatening them with instant death, and occasionally making a furious stroke as if to dispatch them at once, but taking care to strike the wall or some object that was in the way, they generally being found crouched up in some corner, or about the beds. Another party would mount the roof of the house and commence pulling it down; thus the dwelling house, smoke house and kitchen, if any, were dismantled and torn down, at least to the joists. The poor fellows, perhaps expecting instant death, would beg hard for life, and make any promise on condition of being spared, while their wives or friends would join in their entreaties; on the condition that they would leave the country, within a specified time, and never return, they would suffer him to live, and I never knew an instance of one that failed to comply and numbers put off without any such measures being enforced. There was no property molested except the buildings, nor was there anything taken away. They were at liberty to do the best they could with everything but their lands; those they had to leave… I usually stood as the horse guard, or was posted in the yard, as sentinel, while the others were engaged in pulling down the house. "


James Collins. (1859). Autobiography of a Revolutionary Soldier.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Colin Lindsay on Participant Accounts

I treat battles of the American Revolution like puzzles. For every major engagement there are numerous pieces of evidence that each shed some small light on what happened during the battle. My belief is that an accurate understanding of the overall battle stems from amassing as many of these pieces as possible and finding the ways in which they best seem to fit together.

Of interest to me then, was finding a participant of the American Revolution advocate for the same approach. Colin Lindsay, captain of the grenadier company of the 55th Foot, was a participant in the battle of La Vigie, Saint Lucia (December 18, 1778). During the first part of the battle he watched an engagement between British light infantry and French colonial infantry and recorded his observations:

"The light infantry, formed in a body, have charged through. The whole regiment of [Martinique], which was clothed in blue, gave way and ran along the beach."

Afterwards, however, he learned that "the light infantry themselves say that they did not charge as we imagined when the enemy gave way."

He concluded:

"This circumstance alone may serve to prove the truth of an observation frequently made, 'that any two persons giving an account of an engagement will often differ essentially even in material circumstances.' Every battalion, however, can tell exactly what happens to themselves; and thus, by carefully collecting the component parts, the figure of the whole may be accurately ascertained."

Because Lindsay spoke with a number of different officers, he was able to provide a richly detailed description of the French attempt to retake Saint Lucia. So too can the modern writer, who in the electronic age has easy access to a wide range of primary sources.


Alexander William Lindsay (1849). Lives of the Lindsays: Or, A Memoir of the Houses of Crawford and Balcarres.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Battle of Hanging Rock 13

Part 13: Reinforcement and Retreat
Previous: Stalemate

The final British bayonet charge and the withdrawal to the center of the open area effectively brought the battle of Hanging Rock to an end. Nevertheless, the British remained apprehensive about another American attack. According to Charles Stedman, the outcome remained "doubtful," until:

"the appearance of a reinforcement changed entirely the fortune of the day. This reinforcement consisted of forty mounted infantry of the Legion who were returning from Rocky Mount: But the captains [Patrick] Stewart and [Charles] MacDonald, who commanded it, by ordering the men to extend their files, gave it the appearance of a formidable detachment. The bugle horns were directed to sound a charge: And the Americans, already kept at bay, were now fearful of being overpowered" [1].

Reinforcement. While the American militia plunder the center camp, the Provincials holding the open area receive an unexpected reinforcement.

Mounted Infantry Arrive (click to enlarge). Two companies of mounted Legion infantry advance up the Camden Road towards the Americans. The Provincials are in square formation.

William Davie and was dragoons "were returning towards the centre," after driving off a number of Provincials and Loyalist militia, when they saw that Stewart's and MacDonald's companies had "advanced up in the Camden road." Davie turned his men around and charged. The British "took the woods in flight, and one only was outdone" [2].

Davie's Final Charge (click to enlarge). The American dragoons send the mounted Legion infantry into the woods.

This repulse would seem to be the end of the affair, except that these green-jacketed mounted infantry were mistaken for the vanguard of Tarleton's dreaded British Legion dragoons [3]. According to Joseph McJunkin, Sumter remarked, "Boys, it is not good to pursue a victory too far," and began pulling his troops back [4]. A number of American participants and British commentators referred to this reinforcement as the cause of the American retreat [5].

Before the retreat was effected, "about an hour" was spent "plundering the [center] camp, taking the parole of the British officers, and preparing litters for the wounded" [6]. According to William Davie, "All this was done in full view of the British army, who consoled themselves with some military music [7] and an interlude of three cheers for King George" [8]. Hearing this, Sumter called out, "'Boys, can't you raise a whoop of victory?' Then the air was rent with the cry of victory" [9].

Plundering the British Camp (click to enlarge). The Americans raid the British Commissary's stores before abandoning the Hanging Rock battlefield.

Davie concluded, "The militia at length got into the line of march, Davie and his dragoons covering the retreat, but as the troops were loaded with plunder, and encumbered with their wounded friends, and many of them intoxicated, this retreat was not performed in the best military style. However, under all these disadvantages, they filed off unmolested, along the front of the enemy" [10]. Sumter claimed that he "brought off one hundred horses, two hundred and fifty stand of arms, with other articles of considerable value" [11].

The Americans had marched about a mile when a mounted British caught up to the rear of the column with a flag of truce, ostensibly to gain permission to bury their dead [12], but probably also to verify that the Americans were in fact retreating. Joseph McJunkin was near the rear of the column at this time, escorting the prisoners. Turning to Sumter he said, "You have through the Divine hand of Providence, achieved a great victory today." Sumter agreed, but ruefully noted that "it will scarcely ever be heard of, because we are nothing but a handful of raw militia, but if we had been commanded by a Continental officer it would have sounded loud to our honor" [13].

Sumter was correct: Hanging Rock was a remarkable battle, but destined to be mostly forgotten.


1. Charles Stedman. (1794). The History of the Origin, Progress, and Termination of the American War, Vol. 2.

2. For William Davie's account, see The Revolutionary War Sketches of William R. Davie [extract]. Davie's account also appears in, John H. Wheeler. (1851). Historical Sketches of North Carolina from 1584 to 1851, Vol. 1.

3. Cf. Davie, ibid., and Joseph McJunkin's account, in Will Graves. (2005). What Did Joseph McJunkin Really Saye? Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution, Volume 2, Issue 11.

4. McJunkin, ibid.

5. For example, among the Americans, Mark Jackson stated that "it being rumored that Tarleton’s Corps were coming we retreated." James Kincaid noted, "we failed of success by a reinforcement of the British Army from Rocky Mount but we marched off in order." Zachary Kitchens observed that "after a hard and long fight we retreated, upon being informed that a reinforcement was coming to the aid of the British." As for British commentators, the connection between the arrival of this reinforcement and the American retreat is made by Charles Stedman, Banastre Tarleton, and Anthony Allaire.

Other causes for the American retreat were mentioned previously.

6. Davie, ibid.

7. The British Legion had a regimental band. See the letter from Otho Williams to Dr. James McHenry, dated January 23, 1781, and summarized here.

8. Davie, ibid.

9. McJunkin, ibid. This cheer was recalled somewhat differently by others. According to Davie, ibid., "three cheers [were given] for the hero of America." Richard Winn claimed that Sumter "gathered his men and for victory three cheers was given by the true friends of America." For Richard Winn's account, see General Richard Winn's Notes -- 1780, transcribed by Will Graves.

10. Davie, ibid.

11. Letter from Thomas Sumter to Thomas Pinckney, August 9, 1780.

12. McJunkin, ibid.

13. McJunkin, ibid.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Battle of Hanging Rock 12

Part 12: Stalemate

The battle of Hanging Rock began as a major assault on one part of the British camp, but degenerated over time into "skirmishing with detached parties" [1]. These scattered engagements had caused many of the British troops to be driven from the battlefield [2], but the Americans had difficulty completing the victory because "the rout and pursuit of these various [British] corps by a part" of Sumter’s force, "and plunder of the camp by others, had thrown the Americans into great confusion" [3].

South of the British center camp, a mixed force of Provincials, backed up by two cannon, held on in an open area. But although the Americans were disorganized, with "some intoxicated, others plundering in the British camp," still "a respectable number," [4], perhaps 200 in total [5], continued "facing the enemy and pressing them closely" [6]. In this manner, the Provincials "were compelled gradually to give ground 200 yards," [7] or beyond the effective range of the Americans’ rifles.

Sniping Near the Center Camp (two views; click to enlarge). The Americans send long-range rifle fire against the Provincials, who continue to hold the open space south of the center camp.

The British withdrawal was made grudgingly, and they made perhaps two quick bayonet charges against the Americans before falling back to a more secure position [8]. At the time of these charges, the British were under attack "in a peculiarly steep part" of the plateau [9]. The final counterattack was a "vigorous charge with the bayonet," which they claimed left the militia "not merely… repulsed but… broken and dismayed" [10]. In this charge, the British may have briefly succeeded in closing with Sumter’s men. James McConnel of Irvine’s battalion "was wounded in the right arm by a bayonet thrust" [11]. In any event, the Americans "abandoned the whole ridge" [12]. Francis Rawdon claimed this final charge was made by the Legion infantry; a first-hand account places a part of the Prince of Wales' American Regiment on the scene as well [13].

The Final Bayonet Charge (two views; click to enlarge). A fierce bayonet charge drives the Americans off the plateau.

American accounts do not describe such a defeat as the British claimed. Instead, they asserted that Sumter intentionally "had his men withdrawn a small distance." This was done so that the men could be properly "formed" and "stragglers collected." Sumter's intention was "to renew the action." However, as "he rode along the line, personally inquiring of each man his stock of ammunition," he "found that they had not on an average three rounds per man" [14].

There were other serious problems as well. Because "the weather was warm," [15] men were "fainting with heat and drought" [16]. Also, the final British position was "in the centre of the cleared ground" and following William Davie’s charge they "formed a hollow square" [17]. Davie noted that "The distance of the square from the woods, and the fire of the two pieces of field artillery, prevented the militia from making any considerable impression on the British troops" [18].

A final significant factor was the considerable losses that the Americans had sustained. Among the officers, for example, David Reid of North Carolina and John McClure were both mortally wounded in the assault on Bryan’s camp [19]. Richard Winn was shot during the fighting with the Prince of Wales' American Regiment; William Hill was also shot around the same time [20]. William Robison "was wounded by a musket shot through the shoulder," [21] Samuel Otterson was shot "in my left arm which severed" "about midway" "the bone between the elbow and shoulder," [22] and one Captain Petty "had his arm shot off" [23]. James Jamieson "was wounded by a musket shot through the body" [24], left on the field of battle, and subsequently "taken prisoner" [25].

The British Square (click to enlarge). The British form a defensive square in the center of the open area, daring the Americans to attack.

Stalemate. The Provincials launch a desperate bayonet charge against the Americans that have gathered south of the center camp. Neither side is strong enough to completely drive the other from the field.


1. The pension application of James Clinton, transcribed by Will Graves.

2. cf. the letter from Francis Rawdon to Colonel McMahon, January 19, 1801.

3. William Davie's account; see The Revolutionary War Sketches of William R. Davie [extract]. Davie's account also appears in, John H. Wheeler. (1851). Historical Sketches of North Carolina from 1584 to 1851, Vol. 1.

4. Joseph Graham's account; see William A. Graham (1904). General Joseph Graham and His Papers on North Carolina Revolutionary History.

5. Davie, ibid.

6. Graham, ibid.

7. Graham, ibid.

8. American sources are almost silent on the subject of British charges during this period. Charles Stedman wrote that the Provincials made, "three desperate charges with the bayonet." One of these would have been the earlier charge that retook a cannon. George Hanger was less precise: "Sumpter renewed the attack; he was again and again beat off, charged, and pursued, but with regularity." Banastre Tarleton mentioned two charges and attributed these solely (and probably incorrectly) to the British Legion. His account is unclear as to whether one or more additional charges took place after other Provincials joined the Legion’s resistance.

9. Rawdon, ibid. Although there is not a consensus about where the fighting took place, each of the several possibilities I considered previously identified the final part of the battle with the plateau transected by the Camden Road (links to these posts can be found here). The plateau itself does not have "peculiarly steep" slopes. However, there is a place several hundred yards south of the point I’ve identified as the center camp where a kind of gully comes close to the Camden Road (the open area where the Provincials made their stand). Perhaps this terrain feature was used by the Americans to approach and fire on the Provincials in relative safety.

10. Rawdon, ibid.

11. The pension application of James McConnel, transcribed by Will Graves. It is usually difficult to tell when and where participants' injuries occurred. McConnel could plausibly have been stabbed by a bayonet at other points and places. This charge, however, seems to have been the most successful of the battle, and some of Irvine’s men are known to have been present (cf. Joseph Graham, ibid.).

12. Rawdon, ibid.

13. For the account of an anonymous officer of the Prince of Wales' American Regiment, see Todd Braisted (2001). A History of the Prince of Wales' American Regiment.

14. Graham, ibid. In light of the fact that the Americans were later compelled to abandon the ground, Graham claimed that this shortage "was the true cause of [Sumter's] retreating" Sumter agreed, writing not long after the battle that "the true cause of my not totally defeating [the British] was the want of lead, having been obliged to make use of arms and ammunition taken from the enemy." See the letter from Thomas Sumter to Thomas Pinckney, August 9, 1780.

Clearly by this point in the battle, Sumter was on the scene of the fighting south of the center camp. Earlier he oversaw the destruction of a detachment of the Prince of Wales' American Regiment. In consequence, Sumter's account of the battle (Sumter, ibid.) provides few details about the fighting near the center camp. He wrote that the British "sustained [the battle for the center camp] with great bravery for near an hour; at length [they] gave way, leaving me in full possession of their camp." They then, "rallied again in Col. Robinson’s encampment," which seems to mean in or near the camp of the Prince of Wales’ American Regiment. From this point on, however, "their opposition was but feeble."

Lieutenant-Colonel Joseph Robinson was an officer in a different Provincial regiment: the South Carolina Royalists. Neither he nor his men were at Hanging Rock.

15. Clinton, ibid.

16. Sumter, ibid.

17. Davie, ibid. Graham, ibid., also mentions this feature. Davie has the British adopting this formation as soon as they rallied south of the center camp, a view that is difficult to reconcile with British statements strongly pointing to a more active defense. More believable is that the several British accounts are essentially correct and that the British adopted the square formation only after Davie's dragoons chased a number of Loyalists and Provincials from the woods in their rear.

18. Davie, ibid.

19. Graham, ibid; Davie, ibid; Joseph Gaston. (1836/1873). Joseph Gaston's Narrative. The Historical Magazine and Notes and Queries Concerning the Antiquities, History and Biography of America, Vol. 1.

20. Davie, ibid; General Richard Winn's Notes -- 1780, transcribed by Will Graves. Alexander S. Salley. (1921). Col. William Hill's Memoirs of the Revolution.

21. The pension application of William Robison, transcribed by Will Graves.

22. The pension application of Samuel Otterson, transcribed by Will Graves.

23. The pension application of Daniel Carter, transcribed and annotated by C. Leon Harris.

24. The pension application of James Jamieson, transcribed by Will Graves.

25. The pension application of Henry Rea, transcribed by Will Graves.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Battle of Hanging Rock 11

Part 11: Rousselet's Gallant Stand
Next: Stalemate

After the American militia charged the center camp, the Loyalists and Provincials on hand retreated to the south and west, taking their cannon with them. What happened next is not entirely clear because few American participants described the subsequent fighting [1] and British sources are mutually contradictory [2]. This much can be said with some certainty: During the retreat of the British, they continued to fire a cannon at the Americans. This gun was somewhat separate from the Provincials, and it was seized by a party of North Carolinians. A group of Provincials that had rallied then charged and retook the cannon. Another group, consisting of both Loyalists and Provincials, also attempted to rally, but they were dispersed by William Davie's dragoons.

The British Rally (two views; click to enlarge). A group of Provincials and Loyalists rallies in the open space south of the center camp, while a second group rallies on the edge of the woods. The British cannon is defended by Henry Rugeley's South Carolina Loyalist militia [3].

Joseph Graham of North Carolina described the seizure of the British cannon as follows:

"On the British retreat from their position after being forced from their camp on the right of their line they kept firing a three pounder. Captain James Knox of Mecklenburg, gave order to his men to load their guns, and when that piece fired the next time they would take it; on the discharge of the gun they started in full run, and before the artillerists could load got within forty steps and began to fire, the British retreated and Knox and party took the gun and turned her on their adversaries" [4].

Knox Has the Cannon (two views; click to enlarge). Knox's North Carolinians turn a cannon on the Provincials.

Knox’s seizure of the gun threatened to drive the British Provincials off the field of battle. At this moment of crisis, however, Captain John Rousselet of the British Legion, was able to rally his regiment. Fortunately for Rousselet and his men, Knox’s men did not know “how to manage or load” the cannon, although it was “in their possession several minutes” [5].

By standing their ground, these “gallant few gave time for a few of the scattered troops to rally and join the legion” [6]. Among the arrivals was the unengaged portion of the Prince of Wales’ American Regiment. They had by this time “recover[ed] from the consternation into which they had been thrown by the flight of Colonel Bryan, and they now joined [the Legion infantry] to defend the British encampment” [7].

Elements of the Royal North Carolina Regiment and Prince of Wales' American Regiment were added to the right of the British line [8], and the British then “came on with fixed bayonets and retook the gun" [9]. George Hanger claimed that when the British charged, John Rousselet accompanied them, and that "this officer, possessing happily not only valour, but also good conduct," did not permit the British to pursue the Americans "in a broken and irregular manner," but instead, "convinced of the advantage of the ground he had been attacked upon, he marched back and took possession of it again" [10].

Soon after this episode [11], William Davie managed to get his dragoons "collected and formed on the margin of the woods." However, he did not send his men into the open field to battle Rousselet and the British three-pounders. Instead, he set his sights on “a large body of the enemy, consisting of the legion infantry, Hamilton's regiment, and Tories... rallying, and formed on the opposite side of the British camp, near the wood." William Davie decided to attack this force with his dragoons, “lest they might be induced to take the Americans in flank.” To avoid the deadly open space, he “passed round the [center] camp under cover of the trees, and charged them with his company of dragoons.” As a result, the British “were routed and dispersed by a handful of men” [12].

Davie Charges Around the Camp (click to enlarge). Davie's dragoons charge through the woods, driving before them Loyalist militia and Provincial infantry.

Rousselet's Gallant Stand and Davie's Charge. As one group of Provincials holds off American attacks south of the center camp, a second group is routed by a charge of William Davie's dragoons.


1. Joseph Graham provided the clearest description. The accounts by William Davie and Thomas Sumter also provide invaluable insights, however, the latter two appeared to miss at least parts of this action. Of the other participants who wrote postwar narratives (these do not include pension applications), Richard Winn, William Hill, and Joseph Gaston were wounded elsewhere on the battlefield, and Joseph McJunkin was attending to the wounded and/or guarding prisoners.

2. Francis Rawdon, Banastre Tarleton, and George Hanger claimed that the British Legion was chiefly responsible for maintaining the resistance against the British during this period, while Charles Stedman, Roderick Mackenzie, and an anonymous officer of the Prince of Wales' American Regiment gave important roles to either the Royal North Carolina Regiment or the Prince of Wales' American Regiment.

A tentative resolution to these discrepant versions of events is as follows: The British Legion infantry was the first to rally after the center camp was lost and it was central to maintaining a British presence on the battlefield. After they rallied they were joined by other Provincials, and this combined force fought Sumter's men to a draw. Tarleton and Hanger were officers in the British Legion and their accounts probably reflect a certain degree of pro-British Legion partisanship (cf. Mackenzie). However, Rawdon observed that the British Legion infantry alone remained entirely on the battlefield after the action ended and that morale remained good among the Legion infantry, after it had fallen among the other British units fighting at Hanging Rock. Also, Stedman credited Captain John Rousselet of the Legion infantry with a special leadership role at around this point in the battle (cf. Hanger).

3. Braisted, ibid.

4. Graham, ibid.

5. Graham, ibid.

6. Hanger, ibid.

7. Tarleton, ibid.

8. Braisted, ibid.

9. Graham, ibid. It was perhaps at this time that, according to Mackenzie, ibid., that "Lieutenant [or Adjutant] Browne, of the North Carolinians... fell in a desperate charge, which the crisis of the action rendered inevitable."

10. Hanger, ibid.

11. Suggested by a comparison of Davie's and Graham's accounts. Davie seemingly missed the taking of the cannon and the subsequent British charge. His account states vaguely that “The remainder of a British line who had also made a movement, retreated hastily towards their former position.” This passage follows his description of the destruction of a detachment of the Prince of Wales' American Regiment, suggesting that his charge came subsequent to the charges by Knox and Rousselet.

12. Davie, ibid. As noted here and here, Davie's dragoons had scattered earlier in the battle.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Battle of Hanging Rock 10

Part 10: The British Flank Attack

Around the time the battle opened, a detachment of the Prince of Wales' American Regiment (PoWAR) was dispatched northward towards the sound of battle. This contingent seemingly reached the center camp while the fighting was still raging at Bryan's encampment. At the time, the British commander at Hanging Rock, Major John Carden, would not have known that Bryan's men had been completely routed or that McCulloch’s company was in the process of being destroyed. He therefore sent this detachment to Bryan's support, while keeping the remainder of the Provincials in a defensive posture [1].

At about the time the men of the PoWAR advanced towards Bryan's camp and "passed into a wood between the Tory and centre encampments" [2], the Americans began their assault on the center camp. Hearing the resulting gunfire, the PoWAR "drew up unperceived" into a line of battle, "and poured in a heavy fire on the militia." The Americans had quickly succeeded in taking the center camp, and at this moment "were forming from the disorder of the pursuit" [3]. Receiving this attack was a band of 30 militiamen [4]. By this "bold and skillful [British] manoeuvre," [5] these soldiers were "separated from the main [American] body" still near Bryan's camp [6]. One Samuel Saxon, a company commander, recalled that they turned about and "rushed upon the [British] line and broke our way [through,] losing in killed and missing 15 men" [7].

The Prince of Wales' American Regiment's Flank Attack (click to enlarge). Saxon's company and others attempt to retreat through the attacking PoWAR. Hanging Rock Creek is at far left. The green patch in the middle distance designates the ravine separating Bryan's camp from the British center camp.

The PoWAR detachment pursued these men towards Bryan's camp, and "nearly changed the fate of the day" [8]. At that moment, however, numbers of Americans led by Thomas Sumter and Robert Irwin were heading towards the center camp, and the attacking British. The Americans were in what appeared to be "an old field," [9] when Sumter saw that the British had "found means to turn my right flank" [10]. "The British advanced in good order" [11] through what appeared to be "a swamp," [12], or "a marsh" [13], while the Americans "halted and awaited their approach." Saxon stopped fleeing once he reached this group and "turned about, and took part in the battle which ensued" [14].

According to one participant:

"The contest was severe and of doubtful issue for some considerable time at length the American troops retreated and occupied a more favorable situation, where undergrowth and brush protected them much from the musketry of the enemy" [15].

Richard Winn, who was at the center camp, recalled that "On hearing a severe firing to my right I ordered my men to repair to the place." They joined the action "as quick as possible," and came upon "the back of the British" who were "in action" with "a party of our men." Winn gave the order to "commence firing as usual," which caught "the British between two fires." Their line soon "gave way," [16] and the Redcoats "took instinctively to the trees and bush heaps," to defend themselves [17].

The Prince of Wales' American Regiment Under Attack (click to enlarge).

Soon "there was not a British officer standing, and many of the regiment had fallen," but still they "returned the fire with deadly effect." [18] Robert Irwin "had his clothes perforated with four separate balls," but "escaped unhurt" [19]. Richard Winn was not so lucky; he received "a most dangerous wound" [20].

At last, 22 men, all the rank and file that were left unhurt, "threw down their arms" "on being offered quarters" [21]. Robert Irwin, who had particularly distinguished himself during the fighting [22] approached an obstinate sergeant major and "wrenched the bayonet" from his hands. Then he too surrendered. [23]

Capitulation (click to enlarge).

The British Flank Attack. A detachment of the Prince of Wales' American Regiment is beset by American militia near Bryan's camp. Meanwhile, the British Legion infantry rally near the center camp.


1. That it was a detachment of the regiment that was sent north, and not the whole regiment, was discussed previously, see Note 1 in this post. The timing of these events is not discussed in participant accounts, but this is the most parsimonious explanation. Several American participants, including Thomas Sumter, asserted that this detachment was sent to Bryan's relief. For Sumter's account, see the letter from Thomas Sumter to Thomas Pinckney, August 9, 1780.

2. William Davie's account; see The Revolutionary War Sketches of William R. Davie [extract]. Davie's account also appears in, John H. Wheeler. (1851). Historical Sketches of North Carolina from 1584 to 1851, Vol. 1.

3. Davie, ibid.

4. The pension application of Samuel Saxon, transcribed by Will Graves.

5. Davie, ibid.

6. Saxon, ibid.

7. Saxon, ibid.

8. Davie, ibid.

9. The pension application of John L. Davies, transcribed by Will Graves. Sumter, ibid., places this event near Bryan's camp.

10. Sumter, ibid.

11. Davies, ibid.

12. Sumter, ibid.

13. Saxon, ibid.

14. Saxon, ibid.

15. Davies, ibid.

16. Richard Winn; see General Richard Winn's Notes -- 1780, transcribed by Will Graves. (See here for images of the original document).

17. Davie, ibid.

18. Davie, ibid.

19. Joseph Graham; see William A. Graham (1904). General Joseph Graham and His Papers on North Carolina Revolutionary History.

20. Winn, ibid.

21. Davie, ibid. for the quote; Sumter, ibid., and George Cunningham are the source of the number of surrendered men. For Cunnigham's account, see the pension application of George Cunningham, transcribed by Will Graves.

22. According to Joseph McJunkin, before this battle, he was "called Granny Irwin," but "afterwards [he] was spoken very highly of on account of his good conduct that day." See Will Graves. (2005). What Did Joseph McJunkin Really Saye? Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution, Volume 2, Issue 11.

23. Davies, ibid.