The American Revolution in North Carolina

Cumberland County Court House

August 14, 1781


Patriot Cdr:

Col. James Emmett
Loyalist Cdr:

Col. John Slingsby
Killed:

Unk
Killed:

Unk
Wounded:

Unk
Wounded:

Unk
Captured:

Unk
Captured:

0
Original County: 

Cumberland County
Present County:

Cumberland County

After Col. David Fanning's attack against Col. Philip Alston's House in the Horseshoe, he needed to go to Wilmington to resupply his ammunition coffers. He and his band of Loyalists were on their return home when they learned about Col. Thomas Wade's retaliations for the Piney Bottom massacre. Col. Fanning and his men seized weapons and horses from Patriots in the area and moved on towards Campbellton.

Before Col. Fanning arrived, Loyalist Col. John Slingsby decided to perform a Fanning-like raid on the Cumberland County Court House. With him were Colonels Duncan Ray, Archibald McDugald, and Hector McNeill.

This combined Loyalist force captured the court house early on the morning of August 14th. They captured Col. James Emmett, Major Edward Winslow, and several other leading Patriots of Cumberland County. They then took possession of Cross Creek across the river and conducted operations into the countryside from there.

Col. Fanning and his men rode into town on August 16th and was joined by Major Samuel Andrews' militia, which guided him through the Patriot settlements in the area.


On August 19th, Col. James Emmett wrote a letter to Governor Thomas Burke describing what transpired:

"Sir, I am under the disagreeable necessity of acquainting your Excellency that on Tuesday last, the 14th inst., between 9 and 10 o'clock in the morning, this town was in the most sudden manner imaginable surprised by a party of the enemy under the command of Colns. Slingsby, Ray, and McNeill. They entered the town in so secret and sudden a manner that it was out of the power of any man, who was in it, to make his escape.

"I was at a plantation I have about a mile off, when I was alarmed by a party of about 20 horse. The noise of their horses' feet gave me just time to slip into a swamp, where I lay until the party left the plantation, which they did as soon as they deprived me of my horse. I then got over the river, where I learned their number to be about 300. I was likewise informed that same evening that McNeill, with 100 men, had gone up the river on the west side, and not being able to judge where they might intend to cross the river, thought it my best way to keep where I was.

"Had I done so I would have kept clear of them; but at such times so many reports are flying that there is no such thing as distinguishing the true one. At midnight between the 16th and 17th, word was brought me that a Col. David Fanning came down the country with 100 men, made a short stay at Cross Creek, had crossed the river at lower Campbellton late in the evening and at that time was encamped with an intention in the morning to pursue his march up the river and so join McNeill on the east side. On this information, I unfortunately crossed the river early in the morning, and about 9 o'clock was made a prisoner by McNeill, on his return to town.

"It was not my intention to trouble your Excellency with this tedious relation by way of intelligence. I am sure you do not expect it from me in my situation, but as I have many private enemies in this county who would be glad to lay hold on any circumstance to vilify my conduct and blacken my name, I have taken the liberty to trouble you with this, by way of vindication." [minor edits]

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Col. James Emmett (POW)

Major Edward Winslow (POW)

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Col. John Slingsby

Col. Duncan Ray

Col. Archibald McDugald

Col. Hector McNeill

Unknown number of Loyalists



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