The American Revolution in North Carolina

Brush Creek

October 1781


Patriot Cdr:

Brigadier General
Griffith Rutherford
Loyalist Cdr:

Col. David Fanning
Killed:

1
Killed:

3
Wounded:

several
Wounded:

3
Captured:

0
Captured:

0
Original County: 

Randolph County
Present County:

Randolph County

aka Uwharrie Mountains, Carraway Mountain.

This engagement happened around October 10th to 12th. After the battle, he received a letter from Major James H. Craig, dated 10/13/1781.


After being wounded during the skirmish at Lindley's Mill on September 13th, Col. David Fanning was hidden in the woods and guarded by three of his men. Col. William O'Neal was dispatched by Brigadier General John Butler to find Col. Fanning, but he never did - O'Neal went to take his seat in the General Assembly. After 21 days of recuperating, and in the early part of October, Col. Fanning was able to sit up. He sent four of his captains to Wilmington for ammunition - Rains, Hooker, Knight, and Lindley.

With Col. Fanning out of action, and with Lt. General Charles, Lord Cornwallis out of the state and being surrounded at Yorktown in Virginia, Acting Governor Alexander Martin decided to continue Governor Thomas Burke's plan to drive the British out of Wilmington. His plan was for Brigadier General John Butler to attack Wilmington from the east, while Brigadier General Griffith Rutherford - who had only recently been exchanged after being taken prisoner over a year ago at the battle of Camden, SC - would attack Wilmington from the west.

Brigadier General Rutherford immediately ordered his Salisbury District Brigade of Militia to rendezvous on the Little River in Montgomery County. He trained his recruits for the next two weeks, and on October 1st they marched for Cross Creek in Cumberland County.

By October 15th, he had set up his camp at Monroe's Bridge on Drowning Creek, and he was joined by the remnants of Brigadier General John Butler's army, increasing his force to almost 1,500 Patriots. Thus began what was soon called the "Wilmington Expedition."

Feeling that he was able to take to the field again, Col. David Fanning gathered 140 of his Loyalists and seized a large amount of leather bound for the Continental army in South Carolina. He was exhausted after the ride, but he simply could not just sit around and wait for his broken arm to fully heal.

In the meantime, the Patriots were waiting from some sign of Col. Fanning. When they heard of the leather raid they moved quickly with 170 mounted militia to Brush Creek. Col. Fanning and his men were told that 600 Patriots were coming for him, and as a result many Loyalists fled. Col. Fanning formed the remaining men into two lines and waited for the Patriots to arrive.

The first Patriot assault was driven back after an hour's fighting, which left three Loyalists dead and three wounded. The Patriots lost one killed and several wounded, and they withdrew for about a mile. After regrouping, they returned for a second assault. Col. Fanning assumed that this meant the Patriots had been reinforced, so he ordered his men to disassemble and go separate directions.

The Loyalists moved into the Uwharrie Mountains. The officers that had been sent to Wilmington for supplies soon returned with 5,000 rounds of ammunition.


In his 1833 pension application affadavit, Robert Burnside (S17304) asserted:

"After this I had a Tour under Capt. Christmas & we defeated Col. Fanning I think in Randolph County."


In his 1832 pension application affadavit, Hudson Taylor (S7681) asserted:

"... volunteered for three months as a Private in the Horse Company under Captain Golson but served part
of the time under Captain Nicholas Nall & was in the Battle at Brush Creek against the Tories & was
defeated by the Tories Overpowered by the Numbers of Men the Killed & wounded not recollected
returned to Chatham Court House."

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Brigadier General Griffith Rutherford - Commanding Officer

Orange County Regiment of Militia detachment of three (3) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Abraham Allen
- Capt. Nathaniel Christmas
- Capt. Robert Scobey

Caswell County Regiment detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. William Douglas

Chatham County Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. Nicholas Nall

Randolph County Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) known company, led by:
- Capt. John Hinds

Col. David Fanning - Commanding Officer

140 Loyalists, officers unknown.

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