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American Independence

 Historical Markers

Battle of Ramsour’s Mill

Whig Victory over Tories, June 20, 1780. Scene 400 yards west US 321 Business (North Aspen Street in Lincolnton, North Carolina)

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The Battle of Ramseurs Mill
June 20 1780
Commanders : Colonel   Francis Locke w/ 400
   Lt. Col John Moore w/ 1,300
On both sides Casualties and losses around 150
Note* The battle of Ramseurs Mill was the Revolutionary War Years.  In June of 1780 the Battle of Ramseurs Mill was fought pitting neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother, and father against son; all local men, no British soldier participated. This seemingly small battle was an enormously significant factor in winning the later battle of Kings Mountain which in turn led to the defeat and surrender of Lord Cornwallis to George Washington at Yorktown on October 19, 1781.

The Battle of Ramsour's Mill took place on June 20, 1780 near present-day Lincolntion, North Carolina,during the British campaign to gain control of the southern colonies in the American Revolutionary War. About 400 American militia defeated 1,300 Loyalist militiamen. The battle did not involve any regular army forces from either side, and was literally fought between neighbors. Despite being outnumbered, the Patriot militia defeated the Loyalists.

The battle was significant in that it lowered the morale of Loyalists in the south, weakening their support of the British.

When the cavalry leading the Patriot column approached, the guards posted on the road fired their weapons and retreated to join their main body. After an initial cavalry charge, the Patriot infantry moved up. In the confusion of the battle, the Patriots were able to turn the Loyalist flank and gain control of the ridge. General Rutherford, then only a few miles from Ramsour's Mill, received word of the action and immediately dispatched his cavalry to assist and hurried the infantry along.

Atop the ridge, Locke tried to reform his line, but was only able to bring about 100 men together. The Loyalists were in disarray and many fled. When Rutherford reached the field he was met by a white flag, where the Loyalists requested a truce in order to deal with the dead and wounded. Rutherford, whose entire force had not yet arrived, demanded an immediate surrender. In the time that the discussions went on, most of the remaining Loyalists fled, and only 50 were taken prisoner.

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The Battle of Eutaw Springs

Date:  September 8th, 1781
Location:  Eutaw Springs, South Carolina 


Casualties:       693                                     408

Leaders:           Gen Greene                    Col Stewart


   Seven years of British determination to bring South Carolina to her knees met failure. The spirit that had long resisted royal edict and church canon, the fierce desire and indomitable will to be masters of their own destinies, and the dauntless courage that had carved a new way of life from a wilderness were again threatened by oppression; so, little difference was felt among nationalities and creeds, causing a unity to grow among the new world "peasants and shepherds" that shook the foundations of old regimes.
    By midsummer, 1781, the Continentals under General Nathaniel Greene had gained virtual control of South Carolina. The retreating British. disillusioned and sick with summer heat, united forces under Colonel Stewart at Orangeburg and began their march to Charleston. Early in September the 2,300 well-equipped British camped in cool shade beside the gushing springs of Eutaw, little dreaming the Continentals were close upon their heels. General Greene, hearing of Washington's plan to encircle and embarrass the British at Yorktown, determined to prevent Southern aid from reaching the beleaguered Cornwallis. Contingents under Marion, Pickens, Lee, William Washington, Hampton and other South Carolina leaders were called together, and reinforcements from other colonies joined them. These 2,092 poorly-equipped, underfed, and near-naked Americans camped on Sept. 7th. on the River Road at Burdell's Plantation, only seven miles from Eutaw Springs. Strategy for the ensuing attack is accredited to the genius of the dreaded "Swamp Fox," General Francis Marion, who knew every foot of the Santee swamps and river.
    The 8th dawned fair and intensely hot, but the Americans, on short rations and with little rest, advanced in early morning light toward the springs. At their approach the surprised British left their uneaten breakfast and quickly threw lines of battle across the road in a heavily wooded area. Behind them in cleared fields stood a large brick home with a high-walled garden. The woods and waters of Eutaw Creek were on the north. Heavy firing soon crackled and boomed through the shady woods. At first the center of the American line caved in, but while opposing flanks were fighting separate battles, Greene restored the center with Sumner's North Carolina Continentals. The whole British line then began to give, but Colonel Stewart quickly pulled up his left-flank reserves, forcing the Americans to retreat under thunderous fire. The encouraged British shouted, yelled, and rushed forward in disorder; whereupon Greene (according to J. P. Petit) "brought in his strongest force: the Maryland and Virginia Continentals, Kirkwood's Delaware's, and Wm. Washington's South Carolina cavalry . . . with devastating effect." The British fled in every direction and the Americans took over their camp. Only Major Majoribanks, on the British right flank and pushed far back into the woods near Eutaw Creek, was able to hold his unit together. Major Sheridan took hasty refuge in the brick home, Colonel Stewart gathered some of his men beyond, and from this vantage they "picked off" many American officers and men.
    Greene sent Wm. Washington's cavalry to deal with Majoribanks, but penetrating the woods with horses was too difficult, so Washington tried to encircle and rout, thus exposing himself to dangerous fire. His horse was shot from under him, he himself was wounded. and his company practically ravaged. When a hand to hand fight developed, a British soldier poised his sword over the wounded Washington, but Majoribanks saw and gallantly turned it aside.
    In camp, eating the deserted breakfast, and feeling the battle was won, the hungry, thirsty Americans began plundering the English stores of food, liquors, and equipment. Thoroughly enjoying themselves they ignored their leaders' warnings and commands. Majoribanks, realizing the disorder, fell upon them. Sheridan and Stewart pounded at their right, and Coffin came in from their left. The stunned Americans fought this impossible situation bravely, but they were put to flight from the British camp.
    After more than four hours of indecisive battle under a merciless sun, both armies had had enough. Casualties were extremely high. "Blood ran ankle-deep in places," and the strewn area of dead and dying was heart-breaking. Greene collected his wounded and returned to Burdell's Plantation. Stewart remained the night at Eutaw Springs but hastily retreated the next day toward Charleston, leaving behind many of his dead unburied and seventy of his seriously wounded. The gallant Majoribanks, wounded and on his way to Moncks Corner, died in a Negro cabin on Wantoot Plantation. He was buried beside the road, but when lake waters were to cover that area his remains were removed by the S.G.P.S.A. to their present resting place at Eutaw Springs Battlefield.
    The total casualties came to 1,188, according to Rev. M. H. Osborne. Many were buried where they fell, therefore the whole battlefield is a hero's cemetery, sacred to the memory of courageous men. Patriot blood shed at Eutaw was certainly not shed in vain. This last major battle in South Carolina completely broke the British hold in the South and, more important, denied needed aid to the North. Only six weeks later Cornwallis succumbed to Washington at Yorktown, and American Independence was assured.

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The Battle of Guilford Courthouse
Date: March 15, 1781
Location: Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina


Date: March 15, 1781
Location: Guilford Courthouse, North Carolina
Weather: ~35-40`F, sunny
American Casualties: 265
British Casualties: 532
American Leaders: Gen. Nathaniel Greene
British Leaders: Gen Cornwallis

    On the bright, late winter day of March 15, 1781, the Revolutionary War came to a remote county seat in north central North Carolina. Guilford Courthouse, with its population of considerably fewer than 100, was on this day the temporary residence of 4,400 American soldiers and their leader, Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene. The British had overrun Georgia and South Carolina and showed every indication of ripping the stars and stripes of North Carolina and Virginia from the new American flag. From the ragged remnants of a defeated southern army, Greene had raised a new force comprising 1,700 Continentals (three-year enlistees in the regular army) and about 2,700 militia (mostly farmers who were nonprofessional temporary soldiers called up for short periods of service during an emergency). Early on the morning of March 15, General Greene deployed his men in three lines of battle across the Great Salisbury Wagon Road that led off to the southwest toward the camp of the British army commanded by Lord Charles Cornwallis. Although grossly outnumbered, Cornwallis nonetheless was certain that his redcoats, victors on scores of battlefields, could overcome the rebels.

    The battle began about noon and progressed unevenly. The first line of the North Carolina militia, its center deployed behind a rail fence facing cleared farm fields and its flanks extendingGuilford Map into the forest, collapsed rapidly after the center of the line gave way. Before they retreated, however, the militia inflicted heavy casualties on the redcoats. One British officer later recalled that when his men of the 71st Highland Regiment were hit by a volley (a simultaneous discharge of firearms, in this case 1,500 muskets), "one half of the Highlanders dropped on that spot."
    The second line proved to be an even greater obstacle for the British. Located in heavy forest and with noncommissioned officers ordered to shoot any men who ran away, the Virginia militia grappled with their attackers for about an hour in an action a British writer later described as "a number of irregular, but hard fought and bloody skirmishes." After enduring more heavy losses, the redcoats finally were able to break through.
    The heaviest fighting took place on the third line where General Greene had stationed his Continentals. Even here the intensity of the fighting varied; some new Continentals retreated after offering only token resistance, while other, more experienced soldiers fought furiously. In the final stages of the fighting Lord Cornwallis found portions of his army under simultaneous attack from two directions, as if caught between hammer and anvil. He extricated his men by firing two cannon directly into the mass of struggling soldiers, as if to blast them apart. A number of his own soldiers were killed in the process (another British officer, Brig. Gen. Charles O’Hara, begged him not to do it), but when the smoke cleared the battle was over. General Greene had ordered his army to retreat, leaving the British in possession of the battlefield.

    Such was the strange and untoward nature of this war, that victory now, as we have already seen in more than one other instance, was productive of all the consequences of defeat. The news of this victory in England, for a while, produced the usual effects upon the minds of the people in general. A very little time and reflection gave rise to other thoughts; and a series of victories caused for the first time, the beginning of a general despair. The fact was, that while the British army astonished both the old and new world, by the greatness of its exertions and the rapidity of its marches, it had never advanced any nearer even to the conquest of North Carolina. And such was the hard fate of the victors, who had gained so much glory at Guilford, as in the first place, to abandon a part of their wounded; and, in the second, to make a circuitous retreat of 200 miles, before they could find shelter or rest.


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