The American Revolution in North Carolina

Bear Creek

October 1781


Patriot Cdr:

Capt. Charles Gholson
Loyalist Cdr:

Col. David Fanning
Killed:

0
Killed:

several
Wounded:

Unk
Wounded:

several
Captured:

0
Captured:

0
Original County: 

Chatham County
Present County:

Chatham County

James Harding lived on Bear Creek on the south side of the Deep River. He was a staunch Patriot and this made him an enemy of Col. David Fanning, who wanted him dead.

Harding was captured by some Loyalists while on a scouting mission and he was taken to Col. Fanning's camp. He was sociable and pleasant, which surprised his captors. Upon entering the camp, Harding immediately approached Col. Fanning and shook his hand. He told Fanning that he was glad that now he had a chance to join his force. He also told him that he had been trying to get away from the Patriots for some time, and now he finally had his chance.

Col. Fanning could detect no insincerity or deception, so he allowed Harding to stay in the camp. While there, Harding became a friend to many others and they all seemed to like him very much. He told Col. Fanning of a company of Chatham County Militia under the command of Capt. Charles Gholson on the other side of the Deep River. Harding convinced Col. Fanning that he could lead the enemy into an ambush, and Fanning agreed to send him off to meet Capt. Gholson.

When Harding met with Capt. Gholson he made a quite different arrangement with him. Gholson's men were to lie in ambush and wait for Harding to lead Col. Fanning to their location.

The next night, Col. Fanning rode to the ambush site with Harding at his side. Both men were in good spirits. When they reached the Patriots' location, Harding gave the signal and dashed towards the hidden men. Capt. Gholson's men fired a volley into Col. Fanning's column, killing and wounding several. Fanning escaped.


In his 1834 pension application affadavit, Edward Hall (S32294) asserted:

"...that the company to which he belonged had an engagement with the Tories at Bear Creek in said State; that his marches were confined to the State of North Carolina, and that he was discharged from this last mentioned service at Captain Duckworth's house in the County of Chatham and State of North Carolina."

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Chatham County Regiment of Militia detachment of two (2) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Jacob Duckworth
- Capt. Charles Gholson

Edward Hall
James Harding

Col. David Fanning

Unknown number of Loyalists

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