The American Revolution in North Carolina

Hart's Mill

February 17, 1781


Patriot Cdr:

Capt. Joseph Graham
British Cdr:

Unknown
Killed:

0
Killed:

9
Wounded:

Unk
Wounded:

included in above
Captured:

0
Captured:

5
Original County: 

Orange County
Present County:

Orange County

After arriving in Virginia, Major General Nathanael Greene resupplied his exhausted men and expanded his army to more than 2,600. He kept the pressure on Lt. General Charles, Lord Cornwallis by sending Lt. Col. Henry Lee and Brigadier General Andrew Pickens of South Carolina on a mission to gather intelligence, discourage the rising of the Loyalists, and to strike the British whenever possible. He also sent orders to Brigadier General John Butler of the Hillsborough District Brigade of Militia to march his men down the Cape Fear River to keep Major James H. Craig of Wilmington in check.

Brigadier General Andrew Pickens marched towards Hillsborough. With him were Col. Francis Locke (NC), Major James McCall (SC), Major Samuel Hammond (SC), and Capt. Joseph Graham (NC) - and this group attacked the British whenever they could. Major Hammond sent out small detachments until the group arrived at Moore's Plantation on the Guilford Road - at that location, Brigadier General Pickens was ordered to pass around the British, fall in their rear, and communicate their movements back to Major General Nathanael Greene.

Some of Major General Greene's horsemen hiding in the woods near Hillsborough attacked British soldiers searching for whiskey. Brigadier General Pickens dispatched Capt. Joseph Graham with twenty-five (25) cavalry and twenty (20) infantry to determine the enemy's positions around the town. Lord Cornwallis invited "all liege subjects to prove their fidelity by contributing their aid in restoring the blessings of peace and order in the convulsed country."

Capt. Graham discovered a British detachment guarding Hart's Mill on the Eno River, about a mile and a half from Hillsborough. His men laid low for the night. When dawn broke he and his men charged the British, taking them completely by surprise. The Patriots captured sixteen British Regulars and two Loyalists. One sergeant and eight privates were killed or wounded.

Major Samuel Hammond was given charge of the prisoners and he rushed them north to Major General Greene's camp at Halifax Court House in Virginia.

Two days later, Capt. Graham's men were startled when the cry, "Tarleton's coming!" spread around the camp. They prepared themselves to receive an attack, only to learn that the arriving green-coated troopers were Lt. Col. Henry Lee's Legion. Lt. Col. Lee was on his way to attack Hart's Mill, only to discover that Capt. Graham and his men had already taken it.

The next night, Major General Nathanael Greene arrived at Capt. Joseph Graham's camp. He had re-crossed the Dan River to confer with Brigadier General Andrew Pickens and Lt. Col. Henry Lee on forming a defensive position against the British. To do this, Brigadier General Andrew Pickens was given command of Lt. Col. Lee's Legion as well as his own men, to form with about four hundred infantry, cavalry, and artillery. Brigadier General Pickens then took this newly-formed corps in pursuit of Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton and his British Legion.


In his 1832 pension application affadavit, Elijah Stinson (W9678) asserted:

"Served as a spy under the before named Capt.[Joel] Lewis until the peace was made. Was in an engagement at Hartz Mills under General Pickings from South Carolina [Brigadier General Andrew Pickens]."

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Capt. Joseph Graham - Mecklenburg County Regiment, with 45 men

Capt. Richard Simmons - Rowan County Regiment, with unknown number of men.

Capt. Joel Lewis - Surry County Regiment, with unknown number of men.

16 British Regulars, 2 Loyalists - leader Unknown

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