The American Revolution in North Carolina

Colonel David Fanning

According to his last will and testament, David Fanning was born on October 25, 1755 in Amelia County, VA and died in Digby, Nova Scotia, on March 14, 1825. He seems to have been a carpenter, but claimed that he was a "planter in the back part of the southern provinces." He trafficked with the Indians, and was connected with the notorious Colonel McGirtt on the Pee Dee River in South Carolina.

When Wilmington was occupied by the British in 1781, Fanning, having been robbed by a party of men who called themselves Patriots, attached himself to the Loyalists, collected a small band of desperados, and scoured the country, committing frightful atrocities, but doing such good service to the British that Major James H. Craig gave him a commission as Colonel in the North Carolina Loyalist Militia. By the rapidity and secrecy of his movements he succeeded in capturing many prominent Patriots, and hanged those who had incurred his personal resentment.

At one time he dashed into the village of Pittsborough (aka Chatham Court House), where a court was in session, and carried off the judges, lawyers, officers, and some of the citizens. Three weeks later he captured Colonel Philip Alston and thirty men in his own house; and soon afterward, at Hillsborough, took Governor Thomas Burke with his whole suite and a number of the principal inhabitants.

He was excepted in every treaty and enactment made in favor of the Loyalists, and was one of the three persons excluded by name from the benefit of the general "act of pardon and oblivion" of offenses committed during the American Revolution. When the Patriots prevailed in North Carolina he went to Florida, and afterward to St. John's, New Brunswick, Canada, where he became a member of the Assembly, but about 1800 was sentenced to be hanged. He escaped, and was soon thereafter pardoned.

David Fanning wrote, in 1790, his own autobiography, entitled a "Narrative of Adventures in North Carolina," which, with an introduction and notes by John H. Wheeler, was printed privately (Richmond, Virginia, 1861). In 1908, a Canadian named Alfred W. Savary updated this effort and published a "Narrative of His Exploits and Adventures as a Loyalist of North Carolona in the American Revolution, Supplying Important Omissions in the Copy Published in the United States."

In 2000, John Hairr published a comprehensive biography of David Fanning entitled, "Colonel David Fanning - The Adventures of a Carolina Loyalist," an excellent work that must be read by the serious Revolutionary War enthusiasts in North Carolina. 

In 1755, David Fanning's father left Amelia County, VA in search of new farmlands for his growing family. While pursuing this goal, he accidentally drowned while in Orange County, North Carolina, before David was even born. Undaunted, his mother brought him and his older sister, Elizabeth, to Johnston County, North Carolina, where she attempted to start anew. By 1764, his mother had died, and he was now an orphan, apprenticed as a nine-year old to Thomas Leech. His sister was bound to Thomas Shuttleworth, and it is unclear if they ever saw each other again.

David was soon thereafter under the guardianship of Needham Bryant, Jr., a prominent landowner in Johnston County, and in 1775, the Colonel/Commandant of the Johnston County Regiment of Militia. Fanning later related that Bryant, "...treated him with great severity and neglect, and without comfortable food or clothing." However, he did admit that Bryant taught him how to read, how to ride, and how to hunt, and he grew into a decent woodsman and a skilled horseman. During the War of Regulation, Fanning was called up for duty in August of 1771, a mere fifteen or sixteen years old.

As a lad, David Fanning came down with the disease called "Scald Head," losing his hair as a result of "Tetter Worm," names given at that time to eczema or scalp psoriasis, fairly rare even in those days. This left him bald and his scalp scarred for life. It was not until Fanning left the Bryant homestead and befriended a family in Orange County - the John O'Deniells - that the lady of the house treated and cured him. From then on, he either wore a silk scarf or a wig under his tri-corner hat.

Leaving North Carolina behind, Fanning went with William O'Deniell to the Pee Dee River in South Carolina, just below the state line. William taught him the rudiments of the Indian trade with the local Catawba Indians, but he soon headed west for the more lucrative trade with the Cherokees. He ended up on Raeburn's Creek (now known a Rabon Creek) in the old Ninety-Six District of South Carolina, in what is now Laurens County. It is estimated that he settled within twenty miles of the old trading post known as Ninety-Six, first established in 1751 by Robert Gouedy. He must have traded here, but certainly could have taken his goods down to Charlestown on many occasions.

By 1775, David Fanning was a fairly prosperous young man of nineteen. He had acquired twenty horses and six head of cattle, and had built a small cabin along Raeburn's Creek, a place of refuge in the coming years.

The most common explanation for his sudden attachment to the Loyalist cause was presented by Reverend Carruthers - in 1775, Fanning was returning from a trading expedition with the Cherokees and he was ambushed by a group of Patriots who stole all of his trappings. Robbed of his possessions, he "swore vengeance on the whole of the Whig party." However, Fanning never mentioned this in his own memoirs.

His military career began in July of 1775, when he was appointed as a Sergeant under a Capt. James Lindley and Col. Thomas Fletchall in the Upper Saluda District Militia, ostensibly a Patriot unit. By September of 1775, Thomas Fletchall determined that he was a Loyalist at heart and was forced to resign his commission and to disband his regiment. Fletchall immediately created the Ninety-Six District Loyalist Militia, which included notable Loyalists such as the brothers Robert and Patrick Cunningham, whom Fanning also supported.

In early November of 1775, Fanning volunteered under Capt. Patrick Cunningham to go to Charlestown and attempt to free Robert Cunningham from jail. On November 3, 1775, Patrick Cunningham and his group of about sixty Loyalists captured a wagon train at Mine Creek en route to delivering gunpowder to the Cherokees from the 1st SC Provincial Congress. The Loyalists made prisoners of the guard of twenty Rangers and the officers and took them to the fort at Ninety-Six.

Col. Thomas Fletchall was considered weak, so many refused to serve under him. Command soon devolved to Major Joseph Robinson, who decided to take action against the Patriots at the trading post of Ninety-Six. On November 19th, the two factions confronted each other, the Patriots defending a hastily-built stockade. Neither side really wanted blood, but a firefight soon erupted and continued well into the next day. A day later, they agreed to a truce. Fanning asserts he was at this engagement, but does not say under whom. Maj. Robinson soon discharged the Loyalists.

David Fanning then asserts that he was at the engagement known as the Great Cane Brake and the Snow Campaign in December of 1775, the latter in which Col. Thomas Fletchall was captured, then taken to Charlestown. Fanning escaped capture at this time, but only a few weeks later, he was seized by Patriot Capt. John Burns on January 18th, 1776, and confined for four days.

On June 25, 1776, David Fanning was apprehended again, this time by Patriot Capt. John Rogers. He somehow escaped on July 1st and returned to his home on Raeburn's Creek. It was around this time that the British had stirred up the Cherokees in a concerted two-pronged attack on the Patriots - the Indians in the upcountry and the British Navy in Charlestown harbor. On July 14th, Fanning assembled twenty-five men and led them towards Cherokee territory, but instead decided to attack Lyndley's Fort, not far from his home.

Unbeknownst to David Fanning, Capt. Jonathan Downs of the Little River District Regiment and 150 Patriots sought refuge at Lyndley's Fort along with about 250 settlers - they had been marching to join Maj. Andrew Williamson's militia for the upcoming Cherokee campaign. Around 1:00 a.m, Fanning decided to attack, with 102 Loyalists disguised as Cherokee warriors, plus around 88 actual natives. The firing continued until 4:00 a.m., when the Loyalists learned that Maj. Andrew Williamson's forces were on their way. They departed, leaving several dead, including two of their chief warriors. As they left, the Patriots captured thirteen and sent the prisoners to the jail at Ninety-Six.

Capt. David Fanning was not captured and he fled to North Carolina. "I then left the Indians and pursued my way to North Carolina, where on my arrival I was taken up again and close confined, but was rescued by my friends three different tims after which I made my escape good. I then endeavored to go home again, and after experiencing a numberless hardships in the woods I arrived the 10th of March 1777 at Raeburn's Creek, South Carolina."

The very next day, he was again captured, this time by a Capt. Smith (probably Capt. Jeorard Smith of the Little River District Regiment) and taken towards the jail at Ninety-Six. That night, Fanning cut his ropes and slipped away in the dark. He spent the remainder of that Spring and Summer hidden in the woods next to his home on Raeburn's Creek.

In late Summer of 1777, Capt. Richard Pearis returned to the neighborhood and began enlisting Loyalists to go assist the British in Mobile (Alabama). Among his estimated 400 recruits was Capt. David Fanning. On August 5, 1777, a Patriot force led by Capt. Thomas Woodward of the Fairfield Regiment descended on this Loyalist gathering along the Reedy River and dispersed them, capturing many and taking them to jail at Ninety-Six. David Fanning was among the prisoners at Ninety-Six, all held until November of 1777 when they were tried "... on a charge of high treason for rising in arms against the United States of America.." Interestingly, all were acquitted.

In early 1778, the British in Florida were assembling Loyalists to join them in a planned attack on Savannah, GA. They quietly sent Capt. John York into the backcountry of South Carolina to recruit more Loyalists, and again Capt. David Fanning was elected to lead a company. But, while in Georgia, things got confusing between the Loyalists and their British masters in Florida, so Fanning and his men were left to fend for themselves. He returned home to find that the Patriots were bent on stopping his Loyalist efforts once and for all. With so many looking for him, David Fanning was forced to hide in the woods for six weeks, when he then befriended another noted Loyalist, Samuel Brown.

In May of 1778, Fanning and Brown decided to go to the Green River in North Carolina, where kindred Loyalist sympathizers were numerous. They remained about a week, but both yearned for their homes. Around June 1, 1778, Fanning was on the Tyger River with Samuel Smith, and both were captured by a Capt. Going. The next night, Fanning bribed the Patriot sentry, and they both escaped. Fanning also stole a horse and made his way back to Raeburn's Creek. Apparently, the horse was a valuable one because the Patriots pursued him and offered four horses in return.

In the ensuing exchange, the Patiots again tricked him and again forced him to surrender himself as their prisoner. They were determined to take him to the jail at Ninety-Six again, "...I therefore after some conversation concluded to submit for to be disarmed at the time as they threatened blowing a ball through me that very instant if I did not surrender..." They took his clothes, then on the next day took him before a local magistrate, who released him on bail. Nearly naked, he returned to his captors and demanded his clothes and his horse, whereupon he was retaken and brought before a different magistrate, who ordered him put in jail.

On their way, they stopped for lunch and locked Fanning in a room. He there espied "a pair of hors fleames" lying nearby and cut himself free. This time, he decided to go to Green River area between Tryon Mountain and Chimney Rock in western North Carolina. He there befriended Loyalist Col. Ambrose Mills, who lived in what is now Polk County, North Carolina. Here, the two conspired to raise another Loyalist force and take them to St. Augustine in East Florida. Fanning asserted that 500 men soon gathered, but some were Patriot spies. Hearing of the large gathering, the Patriots surprised the Loyalists and seized Col. Ambrose Mills and sixteen others.

Capt. David Fanning and fourteen men quickly pursued and chased the Patriots twenty miles to Gilbert Town in Rutherford County, North Carolina, where the Patriots recieved reinforcements. Now they decided to turn the tables and go after Fanning. The next morning, Capt. Gowen continued his pursuit of Capt. Fanning and ran headlong into an ambush that Fanning had laid in the wee hours of the morning. They skirmished for about an hour, but both had had enough. The Patriots retreated to the Catawba River and Fanning went back home.

Weary, David Fanning now decided it was time to a change of scenery, so he struck out for the Holston River communities across the Blue Ridge Mountains, over 140 miles from his home on Raeburn's Creek. After riding for about 40 miles, he ran across three men, one who knew him. This man offered his hand in friendship and as Fanning reached to shake it he was taken prisoner again, once again on his way towards the jail at Ninety-Six. His hands were bound behind his back and his feet tied together under his horse's belly. This time he was held for seventeen days. During that time, someone smuggled in two files and a knife, and once again, David Fanning escaped to ride again to Raeburn's Creek. Home again.

And again, David Fanning was forced to hide in the woods near his cabin, living off the land. At some point in time, he somehow convinced himself that he could make peace with the Patriots, so he sought out Capt. Robert Gillam, Jr. of the Little River District Regiment of Militia. They maintained a clandestine dialogue in the woods for over a month, when for some reason Capt. Gillam decided to seize him, "... he presented my rifle to my breast and told me I was his prisoner or a dead man. I was under the necessity to surrender and carried me again to my old quarters at Ninety-Six."

On October 11, 1778, Capt. Robert Gillam, Jr. presented the jailer at Ninety-Six with a very familiar face. The authorities at Ninety-Six were determined that he would not escape again. David Fanning was stripped naked and chained to the middle of the floor of a room, "thirty feet square, forty-five from the ground, the snow beating in through the roof with four grates open day and night." Everyone thought him secure. Everyone was once again wrong.

On December 20, 1778, he sawed off his chains, stole some clothes from another inmate and made a rope from them, then lowered himself to the ground outside. The rope clothes broke and he fell, but luckily he was not injured. However, the noise awakened the jailer, who quickly informed the authorities - David Fanning was once again a free man. Knowing this, they soon found him at his home on Raeburn's Creek, and three days later he was back in the jail at Ninety-Six.

Again naked and chained to the floor of an open room with wind and snow blowing in, David Fanning spent another miserable eleven days before he managed to loosen his chains from their anchorage and he could walk around the cold and drafty room. This time his jailer took pity on him and allowed this minimal amount of freedom. Mistake. On February 13, 1779, Fanning removed an iron bar from a window, pried up a floor plank, and he dropped to the ground floor. Here he pried a few bricks from the chimney, and with the help of another prisoner he opened a gap through which the two men crawled. Once again, David Fanning had escaped from the jail at Ninety-Six.

The two men first acquired transportation by stealing two horses tied in front of the jail. Then, they somehow managed to steal some clothing and a pistol at a house along the road. At daylight, the two men parted, but his companion was soon retaken. Fanning was surprised the next day, but he managed to elude his captors, while losing his firearm. He managed freedom for about six months this time.

With a reward of "...70 silver dollars and 300 paper ones" on his head, it wasn't long before Fanning was ambushed by sixteen men. Despite being shot in the back twice, he managed to escape capture and to hide out in the woods again for eight days. He finally found his horse and made it to a friend's house, where he had to convince the man's daughter that he was not a ghost. His friend removed one bullet, but the other had to remain until much later in life, when it was extracted in Canada.

Not long afterwards, some Patriots espied his horse and soon realized that David Fanning must still be alive. The authorities at Ninety-Six decided on a new tactic - threaten his friends to get to him. Upon the urging of other friends, David Fanning agreed to a "conditional pardon" from Governor John Rutledge, which stated that if he stayed out of the war, the South Carolina authorities would leave him alone. He remained peaceably at home on Raeburn Creek for one year and twelve days, during which he was often offered the command of a company in the South Carolina Patriot Militia. This he refused.

When the town of Charlestown finally succumbed to besiegement on May 12, 1780, Capt. David Fanning awakened from his peaceable slumber and took this opportunity to rejoin in the action. He soon joined up with William "Bloody Bill" Cunningham to raise a force to lead into battle. Each man assembled a company of Loyalists and they agreed it was time to go after Patriot Col. James Williams of the Little River Regiment of Militia. Col. Williams somehow learned that Loyalists were coming for him so he managed to elude them.

British Lt. General Charles, Lord Cornwallis soon fanned out from Charlestown and began taking over more and more important outposts in the backcountry, including the trading post of Ninety-Six, which he gave to Lt. Col. John Harris Crueger. Brig. Gen. Robert Cunningham soon consolidated all Loyalist forces in the South Carolina backcountry, and Capt. David Fanning was often sent out to patrol the areas around Raeburn's Creek.

In August of 1780, Capt. David Fanning with fourteen men joined up with Lt. Col. Alexander Innis of the SC Royalists at Musgrove's Mill, which was guarded by Col. Daniel Clary of the Dutch Fork Loyalist Regiment. On August 18, 1780, this group was attacked by a consolidated Patriot force from South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. A brief fight ensued - one Loyalist was killed and two wounded, including Lt. Col. Innis - while the Patriots had two men wounded. Other accounts of this battle were very different - according to Patriot sources, they lost four men killed and nine men wounded, while the Loyalists lost 63 men killed, 90 men wounded, and 76 men captured.

On his way home, Capt. David Fanning and his men ran into Capt. Abraham DePeyster, who decided they should all go to the protection of Ninety-Six, not one of Fanning's favorite places, no matter that it was in more friendly hands. Soon after their return, Capt. Fanning was ordered to patrol the Cherokee border and to spread the word that Lt. General, Charles Lord Cornwallis was firmly in charge of South Carolina. While on this patrol near Gilbert Town in North Carolina, on October 2, 1780, Capt. David Fanning found the camp of Maj. Patrick Ferguson of the American Volunteers who had arrived with Lord Cornwallis in May. Here he saw many old friends, including Col. Ambrose Mills - soon to never see them again.

On October 7th, this Loyalist gathering was soundly defeated at the battle of Kings Mountain, South Carolina. Many were killed and wounded, even more were captured. Some were hanged. Among the dead was Col. Ambrose Mills. The tremendous loss at Kings Mountain severely damaged the morale of all Loyalists in both South Carolina and North Carolina. Despite the amount of resources spent, the British had very little to show for their efforts by the end of 1780.

In his memoirs, David Fanning is silent about the period of October 1780 to February 1781. During these four or five months, the British and their Loyalist allies suffered significant losses at Fishdam Ford (11/11/1780), at Blackstocks (11/20/1780), at Hammond's Store (12/29/1780), at Williams's Plantation (12/31/1780), and at the battle of Cowpens (1/17/1781), not to mention the many other minor skirmishes during this timeframe. These significant defeats threw the Carolina Loyalists into further dismay. Many lost heart and went to Charlestown for protection. Others called upon Brig. Gen. Robert Cunningham, but he refused to call out his Loyalist Militia, he saw no path towards victory.

David Fanning noted, "The Rebels after this began to be numerous and troublesome and little or no regulation amongst us." Since there were no bold leaders willing to take the field in South Carolina, he decided to take his men northward, where he headed for the Deep River settlement in Randolph County, North Carolina. No one knows what drew him to this location, and he remained silent on this in his memoirs.

It was here that David Fanning kept a low profile until he was fairly convinced that Lt. General, Charles Lord Cornwallis was serious about taking the Carolinas. After Cornwallis raced Brig. Gen. Daniel Morgan to the Dan River on the NC/VA state line and returned to the Hillsborough area, Capt. David Fanning went public and began circulating an advertisement for Loyalist recruits to join Lt. Colonel John Hamilton and his Royal North Carolina Regiment, which was attached to Lord Cornwallis's British Army. It was when Fanning had learned that Lt. Col. Hamilton was offering clothing, provisions, pay, and even a reward for services that he decided to get actively engaged once again.

Soon, Fanning met up with Col. John Pyles, a noted Loyalist in nearby northern Chatham County, and they exchanged pleasantries. Col. Pyles was assembling a large Loyalist force with the intentions of joining up with Lord Cornwallis at Hillsborough. Fanning went back to his new home near Deep River, which is said to have been at the mouths of Brush Creek and Richland Creek in Randolph County. Thus, he barely avoided being at the battle of Haw River-also known as Pyle's Defeat or Pyle's Massacre-on that fateful day of February 25, 1781.

For the next few weeks, Capt. David Fanning again laid low and did his best to avoid the impending destruction coming as Patriot Major General Nathanael Greene "danced" with British Lt. General, Charles Cornwallis until they met at Guilford Court House on March 15, 1781. On that fateful day, Fanning was surprised by Patriot Capt. Jacob Duckworth of the Chatham County Regiment of Militia. Each side had one man killed, and the Loyalists fled the scene, leaving behind their horses and their weapons. Unperturbed, Capt. David Fanning and three men pursued Capt. Jacob Duckworth and recaptured their horses. They found one Patriot in an outhouse, Fanning shot him with buckshot and wounded him, but the lucky man managed to escape. Capt. Fanning and his men returned to Deep River.

Within a week, Fanning had assembled twenty-five men, and he set out to join up with Lord Cornwallis's army, which was en route to Cross Creek. Fanning met Cornwallis at Dixon's Mill in present-day Alamance County on March 22nd. "On our arrival his lordship met us and asked me several qustions respecting the situation of the country and disposition of the people--I gave him all information in my power." Fanning left his 25 men and returned to Deep River to recruit more. His tale of meeting Cornwallis helped tremendously in his recruiting efforts, for over the next few days he collected over seventy (70) new recruits.

On March 24th, he met the British army again at Chatham Court House, with his new recruits. His troop was surprised by a party of "Rebel Dragoons" and Fanning dispersed his men until the enemy passed without noticing the Loyalists. He caught up with the British army again at Ramsey's Mill, where Lord Cornwallis had encamped while his army constructed a bridge to make their way to Cross Creek. Fanning noted that his men lost their horses on the way to Cross Creek, but a more plausible scenario is that his horses were taken by the British army to fill their needs. Fanning again returned to Deep River, and he noted that he captured eighteen Patriots on his way home.

Wherever Lt. General, Charles Lord Cornwallis marched, his presence emboldened more and more Loyalists to crawl out from under their rocks and become actively engaged in America's first Civil War. Soon there were Loyalist bands operating all across the southern half of North Carolina, mostly thanks to Cornwallis, but also soon with thanks to David Fanning. Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene noted, "Nothing but blood and slaughter has prevailed among the Whigs and Tories, and their inveteracy against each other must, if it continues, depopulate this part of the country." Thus began what was later called the Tory War.

With Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene off to South Carolina, and Lord Corwallis soon in Wilmington, Capt. David Fanning and his followers felt more at ease, and most of April was spent at leisure. On May 9th, this abruptly changed. While he and eight of his men were lounging at a friend's home on Deep River, Patriot Capt. John Hinds of the Randolph County Regiment of Militia arrived with eleven men and surrounded the Loyalists. As Capt. Hinds arrived, Capt. David Fanning ran out of the house with guns firing and made a successful dash for the woods. Capt. Hinds had one man killed. Capt. Fanning had two men captured, and the Patriots quickly executed them. Bad move. This enfuriated David Fanning.

Within a few days, Capt. Fanning assembled seventeen men at Buffalo Ford on May 11th, and laid in a ambush for an expected Patriot force, which never arrived because they were allegedly pillaging a Loyalist's home. Seeing his opportunity, Capt. Fanning led him men to that location and surprised the Patriots, killing their captain and a private, wounding three others, and taking two prisoners and eight horses. The next day, he caught up with another small group of Patriots and killed four, wounded three, took one prisoner and all of their horses.

On May 13, 1781, he caught Patriot Capt. John Fletcher of the Cumberland County Regiment of Miltia at Legat's Bridge. The Patriots returned fire for about ten minutes, then retreated, leaving behind four killed and one captured. Capt. Fletcher took three wounded men with him. Capt. Fanning also captured eighteen horses - he only had one man wounded, who later died - Daniel Campbell. As Fanning was heading home, he learned that a small Patriot force was escorting baggage wagons home from South Carolina. Near the same bridge, he surprised Col. Guilford Dudley of the NC Light Horse Regiment.

Capt. Fanning placed his men in an ambush site on the side of the road and waited. After a long time, he decided to go see where Col. Dudley was, so he took one man and they rode off. After about a mile and a half, they encountered Col. Dudley with his baggage wagon. Capt. Fanning turn and sped back to his men with Patriot dragoons hot on his heels.

When Capt. Fanning reached his men, the Patriots tried to fire their pistols, but they misfired. Fanning's men rose and fired, killing five Patriots, the rest fleeing. Fanning's men pursued them for about 2-1/2 miles and captured three of Col. Dudley's men, the baggage wagon valued at "1,000 Sterling," and nine horses. He decided to break off the pursuit and take his loot to Cox's Mill. Within the baggage were mostly the personal possessions of Col. James Read of the NC Light Horse Regiment.

Upon his return to Deep River, Capt. David Fanning set up his operations at Cox's Mill, just south of what is today the town of Ramseur. In early June, he received intelligence that Patriot Col. John Collier had assembled 160 men and was coming for him. Instead of digging in and waiting to be attacked, Capt. Fanning decided on a pre-emptive strike and to go after the Patriots first. On the night of June 8, 1781, he and 49 men marched ten miles to their enemy's camp, but they were detected and could not surprise the Patriots. Col. Collier's sentries fired upon the Loyalists when they were thirty paces from them.

The Patriots then took shelter in the houses and outbuildings of a farm they had camped near. For the next four hours there was a gunfight in the dark until the Loyalists withdrew at dawn. Capt. Fanning's guide was executed that morning. Fanning had lost two men killed, six wounded, and six captured. The Loyalists retreated to Deep River and left their wounded with friends along the way. It was time to lay low once again.

Patriot Col. John Collier and Col. Andrew Balfour finally left the vicinity of Fanning's base at Cox's Mill, but soon Col. Guilford Dudley of the NC Light Horse Regiment returned, "with 300 Virginians," a reference that puzzles most historians. This is too early for the arrival of Maj. Gen. Anthony Wayne, and Col. Guilford Dudley was the co-commander of the NC Light Horse Regiment along with Col. James Read (an ex-Continental officer). No matter, Col. Dudley certainly wanted to make up for losing his friend's possessions in May. At this point in time, David Fanning noted that Col. Dudley, "... took a negro man from me and sold him at public auction amongst themselves for 110 pounds."

While Fanning was laying low, most assert he was hiding out in the Uwharrie Mountains, Loyalist Capt. William Elrod of Rowan County attempted to take over his men. In late June, Elrod showed up in Randolph County and accused David Fanning of trying to enlist the men into Lt. Col. Hamilton's Royal North Carolina Regiment, asserting that this was part of the "Regular British army," something most men wanted no part of. By the time Fanning returned very few men remained.

At this point, Fanning insisted of the field officers present to vote for their choice of commanders. "I then declared I would never go on another scout until there was a field officer." He was immediately elected as their commander. He further insisted that more Loyalists from a wider area should gather and decide this once and for all. Those who showed up signed a petition for Maj. James H. Craig, the British commander in Wilmington, and Fanning headed to that location with petition in hand.

Since Lt. General, Charles Lord Cornwallis had exited the state in May for Virginia, Maj. James H. Craig of the 82nd Regiment of Foot was the singular British authority within North Carolina at this time. He knew quite well just how important the many Loyalist factions within North Carolina were to his potential success. By employing the Loyalists in raids against Patriot leaders and communications, this would hopefully erode the Patriots' confidence in their leaders to govern, and in their military leaders to tamp down insurrections.

Apparently impressed with David Fanning, on July 5, 1781, Maj. James H. Craig gave him a commission as "Colonel of the Randolph and Chatham County Loyalist Militia," and presented Fanning with a red coat and a sword. Fanning remained in Wilmington for over a week discussing various strategies and formulating an outline for future operations along the Deep River and the upper Cape Fear River.

On July 12, 1781, back at Deep River, the newly-commissioned Col. David Fanning called for a general muster at Cox's Mill and on July 16th began handing out his own commissions for officers. His leading men were:

Randolph County Loyalist Militia:
- Capt. John Rains (7/16), promoted to Major on 10/13
- Lt. William Rains (7/16), promoted to Captain on 10/13
- Ensign Thomas Donnelly (7/16), promoted to Lieutenant on 10/13
- Sgt. Major John Spinks (7/16), promoted to Ensign on 10/13
- Capt. George Rains (accompanied the evacuation of Charlestown in Dec. 1782)
- Lt. Ebenezer Wollaston (accompanied the evacuation of Charlestown in Dec. 1782)
- Ensign Robert Rains
- Capt. William Fincannon (8/2)
- Lt. Richard Birf (8/2)
- Ensign Cornelius Latham (8/2)
- Capt. Michael Robins
- Lt. William Hillis (eventually went to Florida)
- Ensign Daniel Brown (killed in action)
- Capt. Robert Turner
- Lt. Absalom Autrey (eventually went to Florida)
- Ensign William King (joined the Patriots)
- Capt. Stephen Walker (9/17 - wounded/killed)
- Lt. Frederick Smith (hanged by Patriots at Hillsborough)
- Ensign William Hunsucker (hanged by Patriots at Hillsborough)
- Capt. Joseph Currie (eventually went to Florida)
- Lt. Benjamin Shields
- Ensign James Rains

Chatham County Loyalist Militia:
- Capt. Thomas Dark (7/16) (hanged by Patriots at Hillsborough)
- Lt. William Hooker (7/16), promoted to Captain, killed
- Ensign Henry Ramseur (7/16) (accompanied the evacuation of Charlestown in Dec. 1782)
- Capt. William Lindley (killed)
- Lt. William Pyles (went to PA)
- Ensign William McPherson (accompanied the evacuation of Charlestown in Dec. 1782)
- Capt. Samuel Dark
- Lt. James Elliott (went to Florida, drowned)
- Lt. Thomas Elliott (Sep. 1781) (went to Florida)
- Capt. Benjamin Underwood (went to New Brunswick, Canada)
- Lt. Frederick Smith
- Ensign Adam Smith
- Capt. William Deaton (killed at Lindley's Mill on 9/13/1781)
- Lt. William Carr, promoted to Captain (went to the West Indies)
- Ensign John Ervin (went to Florida)
- Capt. Martin Kendrick
- Lt. Thomas McDowell
- Ensign William Brown (joined the Patriots)

Orange County Loyalist Militia:
- Capt. Richard Edwards (7/16) (killed at Kirk's Farm on 9/12/1781)
- Lt. Edward Edwards (7/16), promoted to Captain (killed at Lindley's Mill on 9/13/1781)
- Ensign Thomas Estrich (7/16), promoted to Captain
- Capt. Stephen Holloway (killed in action)
- Lt. John Hastings
- Ensign Absalom Nelson (wounded in action)

Cumberland County Loyalist Militia:
- Capt. John Cable (hanged at PeeDee)
- Lt. Jacob Mauness
- Ensign William Dunn
- Capt. Meredith Edwards (Sep. 1781) (went to Florida)
- Lt. Reuben Shields
- Ensign William Hancock
- Capt. Alexander McIver (8/2)
- Lt. Murdock Martin (8/2) (went to England)
- Capt. William McLeod (8/2) (went to Europe)
- Lt. Alexander McLeod (8/2) (went to Europe)

Anson County Loyalist Militia:
- Capt. William Price (killed in action)
- Lt. William Fanning (hanged by Patriots)
- Capt. William McKnight (7/16) (killed in action)
- Lt. Stephen Phillips (went to SC)
- Capt. Abner Smally
- Lt. James Hodge (killed in action)

During this first general muster, Fanning attracted nearly 150 men, but he could only provide firearms to 53. On this same day, he learned that there was a gathering of Patriots at Chatham Court House, a mere 17 miles away. That night he marched his 53 armed men and arrived at 7 a.m. and surrounded the Patriots. When he stormed the court house, he found only two men, who informed him that the court was to reconvene at 8 a.m. Col. Fanning then ordered him men to fan out and cover all approached to the small town.

Within two hours his men took 53 prisoners, among them a colonel (Col. Ambrose Ramsey - Chatham County Regiment), a major (Maj. William Cage - Chatham County Regiment), and all the militia officers of the county except for two, plus one Continental captain (?), and three delegates of the North Carolina legislature. Fanning paroled all but fourteen, went to Cox's Mill, then on to Wilmington with his prisoners, those, "...who I knew were the most violent against government." These he handed over to Maj. James H. Craig.

On July 22, 1781, while under guard and with the approval of Col. David Fanning, Patriot Col. Ambrose Ramsey penned a letter to Governor Thomas Burke from McPhaul's Mill (in what is present day Hoke County):


On Tuesday last we were captured at Chatham Court House by a party under the Command of Col. David Fanning, which party we found consisted of persons who complained of the greatest cruelties, either to their persons or property. Some had been unlawfully Drafted, Others had been whipped and ill-treated, without tryal; Others had their houses burned, and all their property plundered, and Barbarous and cruel Murders had been committed in their Neighborhoods. The Officers they complain of are Maj. Neal, Capt. Robertson, of Bladen, Capt. Crump, Col. Wade and Phil Alston, the latter a day or two ago a few miles in our rear took a man on the road and put him to instant Death, which has much incensed the Highlanders in this part of the County. A Scotch Gentleman the same day was taken at one MacAfee’s Mill and ill treated. He is said to be a peaceable and inoffensive man, in name we do not know. He lives in the Raft Swamp. Should be happy if he could be liberated. Notwithstanding the Cruel treatment these people have received, We have been treated with the greatest Civility and with the utmost respect and politeness by our Commanding Officer, Col. Fanning, to whom we are under the greatest Obligations, and we beg leave to inform your Excellency that unless an immediate stop is put to such inhuman practices we plainly discover the whole country will be deluged in Blood, and the innocent will suffer for the guilty. We well know your abhorrence of such inhuman conduct, and your steady intention to prevent it. All we mean is information. We expect to be delivered to Major Craig at Wilmington in two or three days, entirely destitute of Money or Cloathes. How long we shall remain so, God only Knows.

All we have to ask is that the perpetrators of such horrid Deeds may be brought to tryall, that prisoners may be well treated in future, and we are

Your Excellency’s most obedient Servts.,
GEN’L HERNDON RAMSEY, [He was actually Colonel Ambrose Ramsey - was this a code?]

P. S. Simon Terril is paroled to carry this Letter and return to Wilmington."

This group arrived in Wilmington on July 24th. Col. David Fanning then paid his respects to Maj. James H. Craig and discussed his recently-drafted "rules and regulations" for his Loyalist militia. Maj. Craig approved these and agreed to have copies drawn up for distribution. Fanning quickly returned to Deep River.

In the meantime, Patriot Col. Philip Alston (Cumberland County Regiment), who lived in what is today Moore County, learned of Col. David Fanning's engagement at Chatham Court House on July 17th and he gathered a few men and started after Fanning as he was taking his prisoners to Wilmington. While passing by the home of Loyalist Thomas Taylor, Col. Alston heard a remark that infuriated him. What the comment was has not been passed down for posterity, but he shot Thomas Taylor dead on the spot.

Col. David Fanning stayed the night at Loyalist Kenneth Black's as he rode to Wilmington to deliver his prisoners taken at Chatham Court House. Black accompanied him part of the way the next day as his guide. When they parted, Black gave him his horse for the tired one Col. Fanning was riding.

As Black returned home he encountered Col. Philip Alston and his militia. He attempted to escape on the worn-out horse, but he was quickly wounded, and fell off the horse. He begged for his life, but the Patriots smashed in his head with the butt of a rifle. He did not die immediately, and was later able to tell Fanning who his attackers were.

Col. Alston did not continue his pursuit of Col. Fanning. On his return home he stopped at Deep River at the home of Loyalist Col. Hector McNeill and accused the old man of stealing one of his slaves. Col. Alston threatened to hang him if the slave was not returned. Mrs. McNeill had her own slave track down the missing one of Col. Alston's and return him.

As Col. Fanning marched homewards from Wilmington, he learned of the death of Thomas Taylor and the attack on Kenneth Black (who soon died), he gathered 25 men and left on the night of July 28th. They rode all night and by dawn were in position all around Col. Philip Alston's house in the Horseshoe of northern Moore County (Cumberland at that time).

Col. David Fanning normally did not care if he had one man or a hundred, but this time he had about the same number of men as Patriot Col. Philip Alston. The Loyalists crossed at Dickson's Ford and arrived at the Alston home on Sunday morning. The Patriot sentinels were fast asleep and Col. Fanning captured two of them. Unfortunately for the Loyalists, the other two sentries awoke and fired upon them. The sentries ran onto the porch where most of the Patriot militia was sleeping and rousted them from their beds.

All of the Patriots went into the house and barricaded it for a fight. Alston's family was also inside, the children were protected by standing them up on a small table inside the brick fireplace. Mrs. Alston lay in her bed on the second floor as bullets passed through the boards over her head.

The fight evolved into a siege and had been going on for about two hours when a British lieutenant named McKay asked Fanning if he could take command of his troops. McKay's plan was to rush the house and break down the doors as the rest of the Loyalists laid down intense covering fire. Fanning said go ahead.

McKay briefly explained the plan to a few other men, and he leapt up over a rail fence to proceed. Just then, Col. Alston's men fired, hitting Lt. McKay in the head and wounding most of the men who had jumped up to follow him.

Col. Fanning then bribed a "free Negro" to set fire to the house. Col. Alston suspected what was up, and the freeman was severely wounded when he made the attempt.

Col. Fanning began to think the cost was getting too high and was on the verge of calling off the siege when his men pulled out an oxcart from the nearby barn. It was filled with hay and set on fire. His plan was to roll it next to the house. Col. Alston realized that he was now out of options and decided to give himself up. However, he knew that he could not show himself to offer the terms because he'd be instantly shot.

Alston's wife, Temperance, asked her husband to leave the surrender to her. She raised a white flag and stepped onto the front porch. Col. Fanning told her to meet him halfway. She did, then offered, "We will surrender, sir, on condition that no one shall be injured; otherwise we will make the best defense we can; and if need be, sell our lives as dearly as possible."

Col. Fanning already had many men wounded, and an assault would not be easy. He also knew that if he burned down the house with women and children inside then he would lose any support from the Loyalists in the area. He agreed and he also kept his word. All of Alston's men surrendered and they were paroled.

Afterwards, Fanning sent his men home to rest until the next time they were needed. On the way back to his base camp at Cox's Mill, he learned that a wagonload of salt had passed by Deep River earlier that morning. He took eight men and rode hard for sixteen miles and caught up with the wagons, which were on their way to Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene's army.

As Col. David Fanning was at the Alston House in the Horseshoe, his men at Cox's Mill were under attack by an as-yet unknown group of Patriots. Capt. John Rains of the Randolph County Loyalist Militia managed to fend them off until his commander returned. The Patriots sent a flag of truce with terms for the Loyalist surrender, but Col. Fanning promptly replied that he was willing "to make peace with the sword."

As he entered his camp at Cox's Mill, other scouts arrived with news that a much larger Patriot force of 400 men under Col. John Peasley (Guilford County Regiment) and Col. William O'Neal (Orange County Regiment) were encamped at Brown's Plantation, a little more than two miles north of his home base of Cox's Mill. Fanning sent forth a communique that he wished to "determine the matter by force of arms" and went on to complain of the ill treatment of the Loyalists, then he warned the Patriots of "dire consequences" if they continued.

Col. William O'Neal responded, "that wherever they met me they would fight me, but not by an immediate appoint." Fanning then decided to take the fight to the Patriots, but when they reached Brown's Plantation, his enemy was no longer there. He rested his weary men. By August 11th, he decided to go into Wilmington for ammunition.

Straight out of the David Fanning playbook, the Loyalists of Cumberland County and Bladen County, including Col. John Slingsby, Col. Duncan Ray, Col. Archibald McDugald, and Col. Hector McNeill captured the Cumberland County Court House on the morning of August 14, 1781. They seized Col. James Emmett, Capt. 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 Maj. Samuel Andrews's Bladen County Loyalist Militia, which guided him through the Patriot settlements in the area. The next day, in Bladen County, they passed by the home of Patriot Capt. Peter Robeson and burned down his house. Across the river was the plantation of Col. Thomas Robeson, the brother of Capt. Peter Robeson. Col. Fanning sent a detachment across the river and they burned that plantation as well. They also took several men prisoner, paroling all but twenty of them.

After seven days of raiding down the Cape Fear River, Col. David Fanning delivered his prisoners to Capt. John Leggett, Maj. James Craig's second-in-command, on August 24th.

On August 26th, Col. Fanning stopped by Elizabeth Town on his way home. Here he met with Col. John Slingsby of the Bladen County Loyalist Militia, who had a number of Patriots paroled in his camp. Fanning warned Col. Slingsby this was imprudent, pointing out that they may have concealed weapons. Fanning then moved on towards McPhaul's Mill. The next night, Col. John Slingsby and 18 other Loyalists were killed by Patriots at the battle known as Tory Hole.

That same night, Col. David Fanning arrived at McPhaul's Mill, about sixty miles away. He learned of Col. Slingsby's misfortune and dispatched 90 men to assist, but they were too late. The next day, he learned the good news of Loyalist Col. Hector McNeill's successful attack on the Patriot Richard Fanning's Plantation, but the bad news soon followed - Patriot Col. Thomas Wade of the Anson County Regiment of Militia with a total force of over 450 men was now going after Col. Hector McNeill and all other Loyalists in the general area.

Fanning sent word to Col. Hector McNeill that he would offer assistance if McNeill wanted it. Col. McNeill gladly accepted and Col. Fanning rode west eight miles with 155 men to Beatti's Bridge. They arrived the next morning at sunrise and sent out scouts to locate Col. Thomas Wade and his Patriots. The scouts soon returned and told him that Col. Wade was camped on a hill that was in between the Little Raft Swamp and Drowning Creek (now called the Lumber River). The Patriots were deployed into a line facing the swamp, expecting an attack at any moment from that direction.

Being outnumbered two to one seldom stopped Col. David Fanning. He wrote in his memoirs that to make his force look larger than it was he had horsemen ride with "great Vacancies in order to appear as numerous as possible and to prevent the turning of my flank." Col. Hector McNeill and his men were supposed to go across the swamp and move around Col. Wade's position to cut off any retreat across Beatti's Bridge.

Around eleven o'clock, Col. David Fanning was almost in position when one of his men fell off his horse and discharged his rifle. The Patriots quickly overcame their surprise and fired. Eighteen Loyalists were knocked out of their saddles with the first volley. Col. Fanning's men dismounted and fired as they advanced up the hill towards the line of battle - the battle known as Little Raft Swamp was now underway.

The hill was covered with little vegetation and only a few scattered pine trees. It was also angled such that whenever the Patriots rose to fire they were silhouetted against the sky and became easy targets. Most of the Patriots' shots went over the heads of the downhill Loyalists.

In Archibald Murphey's History of North Carolina, he wrote that Col. David Fanning was "Dressed in rich British uniform, he rode between the lines during all the fight, and gave his orders with the utmost coolness and presence of mind. It is strange that he had not been selected by some of Wade's men, as he was at the close of the fight not twenty yards distant from them."

When Col. Fanning's men were twenty-five yards away, Col. Thomas Wade decided that he had had enough. He had his men disperse back towards Beatti's Bridge and towards the trap Col. Fanning had prepared. Col. Fanning was again amazed by his cohorts - Col. McNeill had only placed a small force at the bridge. These men were easily pushed aside by Col. Wade's men as they fled across Drowning Creek. Col. Fanning's men remounted and pursued them for seven miles, capturing 54 men and 250 horses.

The battle lasted two hours. Four of the 54 prisoners died from their wounds that night. Col. Fanning paroled many, but sent thirty prisoners to Wilmington. One sent was Joseph Hayes. Loyalist Capt. John Elrod recognized him as the man who had raided his home on the Yadkin River and had assaulted his family. Hayes was sentenced to hang and was immediately strung up to a nearby tree. After hanging for fifteen minutes he was cut down, only to be pronounced by a surgeon that he was still alive. The doctor resuscitated Hayes and he was allowed to live.

Col. Fanning and Col. McNeill departed ways, with the former returning to his base camp at Cox's Mill on the Deep River. Along the way home, Col. Fanning captured Maj. Thomas Dougan of the Randolph County Regiment of Militia. Maj. Dougan had been spying on Col. Fanning trying to discover what his intentions were.

Col. Fanning sentenced Maj. Dougan to hang but several of Dougan's friends and neighbors who were in Fanning's militia protested. He ignored their protests and put Dougan on a horse with his hands tied behind his back and a noose around his neck. One of his men then stepped forward and threatened to shoot him if Dougan was hanged. Col. Fanning wisely allowed forty men to vote on Dougan's fate. He was spared by a close vote and sent to Wilmington.

Upon arriving in Wilmington, Maj. James H. Craig also wanted to hang Maj. Dougan, but Capt. Elrod and some of Fanning's men spared his life a second time.

After the battle of Little Raft Swamp, volunteers poured into Col. David Fanning's camp. He now had the largest force of his career - 950 men. Unfortunately, only 435 were equipped and armed. He proposed a plan to Maj. James H. Craig in Wilmington - his plan to capture Governor Thomas Burke. Maj. Craig realized that this would be a major coup and he approved of Fanning's plan.

On September 9th, Col. Fanning was joined at Cox's Mill by Col. Hector McNeill and his 70 men, and Col. Archibald McDugald with 200 highlanders from Cumberland County. Fanning had not worked with McDugald before, but knew of him from Lt. Col. John Hamilton's Royal North Carolina Regiment.

On September 11th, his army of over 600 Loyalists marched towards Hillsborough. Col. Fanning was aware that Brig. Gen. John Butler of the Hillsborough District Brigade of Militia was at Ramsey's Mill, but he left the marching column and rode to a friend's house on the way to make sure that the Patriot army had not moved. The Patriots were still to the southeast, but Col. Fanning learned that a small force of twenty-five men were camped at the New Hope River, between Col. Fanning and Brig. Gen. Butler. He dispatched Capt. Richard Edwards and 30 men and these forces were soon engaged with the Patriots at the skirmish known as Kirk's Farm.

Upon his return to his own army, Col. Fanning discovered that Col. McNeill and Col. McDugald were under the wrong impression that Brig. Gen. Butler's Patriot army was their target - and, they had moved the Loyalists onto the road leading to Ramsey's Mill far to the south of Hillsborough. Col. Fanning stopped the column and kindly informed the officers what their true objective was. He then sent Capt. Richard Edwards and thirty men to go after the Patriots on the New Hope River.

After marching all day and night, they arrived at Hillsborough in an early morning fog. Col. Fanning divided his force into three groups and surrounded the city. At seven o'clock he attacked. The surprise was so complete that a small force of NC Continentals that just happened to be in town didn't have time to react. The only real resistance was from some snipers who fired from windows of nearby homes. These were quickly silenced.

Col. David Fanning rushed to the governor's house to find that Governor Thomas Burke and his men were willing to fight to the death. He then rode up to them and somehow convinced them that if they surrendered their lives would be spared. Governor Burke knew Fanning was a man of his word, so he accepted the terms and handed over his own sword.

Several Patriots in town tried to escape during the raid. One officer was wearing a military helmet as he was running to get away. Col. Fanning rode up to him and broke his sword on the officer's metal helmet. The officer was Lt. Col. Archibald Lytle of the NC Continental army, who had taken parole at the Fall of Charlestown over a year earlier. Lytle was now his prisoner.

The final resistance was from the small contingent of North Carolina Continentals who had barricaded themselves inside a church. Most were fresh, new recruits for Major General Nathanael Greene's army in South Carolina, and they soon gave themselves up. By nine o'clock in the morning, the town was taken, including the governor, the city council, a number of Continental officers, and seventy-one soldiers, mostly militiamen.

The town jail was opened and thirty Loyalist prisoners who were to be hanged that day were released. Col. David Fanning's men also grabbed two swivel guns from the jail. The Loyalists should have left at that point, but discipline broke down and a number of homes were plundered. Some Loyalists found a liquor supply and proceeded to get drunk. A tee-totaler, Loyalist Capt. John McLean, was placed in charge of the prisoners. From that day on, he was known as "Sober John" McLean.

Around two o'clock in the afternoon, Col. Fanning finally left with his prisoners and marched towards his camp at Cox's Mill in Randolph County. Some of his followers were so drunk that they could not keep up, and they became prisoners themselves before the end of the day. The large force stopped after about eighteen miles and camped near Mitchell Mountain for the night.

That night, Col. Hector McNeill had a dream that he took to be a premonition of his own death. He told several officers, including Col. Archibald McDugald, about the dream. They attempted to cheer him up, but the next day he wore a hunting shirt instead of his red regimental coat just in case. This Loyalist raid was probably the most daring of the entire war, and has since been hailed as "the most brilliant exploit of any group of Loyalists in any state throughout the Revolution."

Governor Thomas Burke and most of the prisoners were taken to Wilmington and handed over to Maj. James H. Craig of the British Army. Governor Burke was soon transported to Charlestown where he was imprisoned at James Island, but managed to escape later under much controversy.

On September 13th, Col. David Fanning's army broke camp and headed towards his base camp at Cox's Mill on the Deep River. They crossed Woody's Ford on the Haw River without incident. Col. Fanning was relieved since he knew that all the fords on his route home were obvious ambush positions.

At 9:30 a.m., Capt. "Sober John" McLean informed his commander that Col. Hector McNeill had failed to put out any scouts in front of the column. Col. Fanning rode forward to find Col. McNeill and to learn why there had been such a lapse in security. He found Col. McNeill at Stafford's Branch on Cane Creek, and asked him why he had not placed any scouts out front. McNeill began to respond when gunfire interrupted him. The battle known as Lindley's Mill was now underway.

The Loyalists had been completely unaware of the presence of their enemy at Cane Creek until a volley was fired into their ranks. Several Loyalists fell and the rest took shelter along the creek bank. Attempts were made to dislodge the Patriots, all to no avail. Col. McNeill ordered his men to withdraw back beyond the range of the enemy's weapons.

Loyalist Col. Archibald McDugald was outraged and questioned Col. McNeill's courage. Col. McNeill then changed his mind and led his men on a charge against the Patriots on top of the hill. This reversal of his decision caused his previous night's premonition to come true. Col. McNeill was hit by eight musket balls and he fell from his horse, which had also been hit five times. His men yelled out that their colonel was dead, but Col. McDugald told them it was a lie. He knew that the death of their commander would break their spirit. He then led them in an orderly retreat back up the road to where Col. McNeill had wanted to go in the first place.

Col. David Fanning soon discovered that the ambush at Stafford's Branch was only a diversion. Brig. Gen. John Butler was moving with the rest of his army upon the rear of Fanning's column. The prisoners jumped to their feet expecting to be rescued but Capt. "Sober John" McLean told them to sit down and be quiet or he'd kill them all. He then moved the prisoners into the Spring Friend's Meeting House, which freed up some of the guards to go back to the fight.

Col. Fanning then ordered all of his men to withdraw back to the meeting house, anticipating that Brig. Gen. Butler's goal would be to liberate his prisoners. Col. McDugald swore that if the Patriots did flank the church he would kill the prisoners inside. Somehow, Brig. Gen. Butler learned of this threat and he had his men to return to their positions on the hill beside Stafford Branch.

Col. Fanning ordered Col. McDugald to attack Stafford Branch while he moved across the creek to hit the Patriots from their rear. He then circled around Brig. Gen. Butler's men and fought with them for four hours. Brig. Gen. Butler finally ordered retreat and the Patriots left their dead and wounded.

Ignoring this order, Patriot Lt. Col. Robert Mebane (a Continental officer leading a group of local militiamen) rallied his men and conducted a delaying action so Col. Fanning's Loyalists could not pursue. When his men were running low on powder, Lt. Col. Mebane carried powder in his hat and distributed it to the men, each of them taking what they needed. When he wiped his face it became black with the powder.

Lt. Col. Mebane's force looked like it would be overwhelmed, but Col. Fanning was soon wounded in the left arm. The bullet broke the bone and severed an artery. His command fell to Capt. John Rains, but the loss of their colonel broke the spirit of the Loyalists. Both sides disengaged during the next lull in the fire. The Patriots moved to Alamance Creek and the Loyalists continued on towards Wilmington with their prisoners.

This violent engagement left over 200 men killed and wounded on the battlefield. Dr. John Pyle was among the first outsider to reach the battlefield and he mininstered to Patriots and Loyalists alike. In doing so, he received a pardon for his past transgressions, which included leading many Loyalists in his defeat at Haw River.

After the battle, Col. Archibald McDugald commanded the remnant of Col. David Fanning's army. It moved very slowly since they now had many wounded along with their many prisoners. A lot of the mounted militia were now without horses. Col. McDugald decided against returning to Cox's Mill and instead he went through the sandhills by way of McPhaul's Mill. They stopped for the night at Hickory Mountain in Chatham County.

Early on September 14th, the Loyalists broke camp and resumed their march towards Wilmington. At the ford on Rocky River, a group of about twelve to twenty Patriots fired upon the large column of Loyalists. The Patriots were not much of a threat and were quickly chased away. At McPhaul's Mill, Col. Duncan Ray and his Anson County Loyalist Militia met up with Col. Archibald McDugald.

Col. Duncan Ray's men were not exhausted from a recent battle and the marching, so they took the prisoners off Col. McDugald's hands. Col. McDugald and Capt. Stephen Holloway of Fanning's regiment accompanied them on their way to Wilmington.

The badly-wounded Col. David Fanning once again hid out in the woods with three trusted men. Patriot Col. William O'Neal of the Orange County Regiment of Militia had orders to find Col. Fanning, and his men scoured the countryside, to no avail. On September 17th, Fanning was joined by seventeen more of his most trusted men, and they moved their commander from his hiding place along Cane Creek to a more secure location on Brush Creek, not far from Fanning's base at Cox's Mill. Barely strong enough to sit upright, Fanning still managed his subordinates - he sent four of his captains, Rains, Knox, Knight, and Lindley to quietly make their way to Wilmington and to secure much needed ammunition again.

Col. David Fanning's absence over the next few weeks would be keenly felt in the Loyalist community. With the capture of Governor Thomas Burke and Maj. James H. Craig's diligence of transferring him to Charlestown, the Patriot community was now even more fired up to tamp down Loyalist sympathies. All Patriot militia units in the State were now on heightened alert and determined to drive the hated British from North Carolina soil, intending that this act alone would ensure the demise of Loyalist uprisings.

Brig. Gen. Griffith Rutherford of the Salisbury District Brigade of Militia had been captured at the battle of Camden, SC in August of 1780, and he was finally exchanged and released a year later in August of 1781. He immediately set about organizing the many Militia units within the Salisbury District and as soon as he learned of the Loyalist capture of Governor Thomas Burke, he led them on a coordinated mission soon known as the "Wilmington Expedition." Expresses were sent out by Acting Governor Alexander Martin - it was time to drive the British out of North Carolina. Brig. Gen. John Butler of the Hillsborough District Brigade of Militia, Brig. Gen. William Caswell of the New Bern District Brigade of Militia, and Brig. Gen. John Lillington Alexander of the much-diminished Wilmington District Brigade of Militia were all ordered to join forces. Brig. Gen. Griffith Rutherford assumed command as the longest-serving brigadier of the group.

By early October, this massive Patriot force of several thousand Militiamen was converging on the Cape Fear region, coming from all angles and directions, all with three primary objectives - once and for all tamp down Loyalist uprisings, drive Maj. James H. Craig from the state, and restore civil authority over the entire populace.

Feeling that he was able to take to the field again, Col. David Fanning gathered 140 of his Loyalist Militia 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. 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 his enemy 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 quickly moved into the Uwharrie Mountains. The officers that had been sent to Wilmington for supplies soon returned with 5,000 rounds of ammunition, a much needed relief.

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 Regiment of 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 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 Loyalists. Col. Fanning escaped. Thus ended the skirmish known as Bear Creek.

Sometime in late October or early November, Col. David Fanning intercepted an Express from the northward on its way to Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene in South Carolina - British Lt. General, Charles Lord Cornwallis had been defeated at Yorktown, VA on October 19th.

On November 18th, Brig. Gen. Griffith Rutherford and his large Patriot army marched into Wilmington as Maj. James H. Craig and the British occupying force was leaving. Rutherford's men treated the town as a captured enemy installation and took whatever they wanted. When his militia was disbanded the different units headed back towards home in small groups. Waiting along their route was Col. David Fanning and his small band of Loyalists.

During the last week of November, Capt. Thomas Kennedy paused in Chatham County to loot some Loyalist homes. He took a number of horses and a quantity of household furniture. Col. David Fanning learned of this plundering and pursued the Patriots for five miles until they were caught. Capt. Kennedy and nine men were captured, along with all of their plunder.

Capt. Kennedy was intimidated by Col. Fanning's reputation and told him that another Patriot company was not far behind him. That company was Capt. John Lopp with sixty men who were also on their way home. Capt. Kennedy agreed that in exchange for the lives of his men he would not interfere if Col. Fanning attacked Capt. Lopp. Col. Fanning locked Capt. Kennedy and his nine men in a house with two guards, and then moved out to ambush Capt. Lopp.

Fanning later wrote, "I mounted my men and placed them in concealment along the road." The plan was that when Capt. Lopp's men rode through the kill zone then Col. Fanning's men would fire and charge them.

When Capt. Lopp and his men came down the road, Col. Fanning fired three volleys into their ranks, and they fled into the woods. Since it was dark, the Loyalists could not tell what damage they had caused and were unable to pursue the Patriots. Capt. Kennedy and his men remained quiet during the ambush and Col. Fanning paroled them on the spot.

Assembling much too late for Brig. Gen. Griffith Rutherford's Wilmington Expedition, Patriot Col. Elijah Isaacs of the Wilkes County Regiment of Militia eventually came eastward, and on December 10th, he moved into Col. David Fanning's base camp at Cox's Mill with 300 men to stop the Loyalists' constant attacks against local Patriot forces. Col. Isaacs had been captured at the battle of Fishing Creek (SC) in August of the year before and was sent to prison in St. Augustine, Florida - so he had a score to settle with any and all Loyalists.

His men burned several Loyalist houses and one of his officers, Capt. James Stinson, hanged David Jackson for his activities back during 1776. Jackson had been captured with Col. John Pyle at Moore's Creek Bridge and then escaped from the jail in Halifax.

Col. Elijah Isaacs sent out a notice that if all Loyalists would meet with him he would give them protection. Acting Governor Alexander Martin issued a proclamation of pardon for all Loyalists except those guilty of murder, robbery, and housebreaking. Some Loyalists assembled and Col. Isaacs made them prisoners, marching them to the Salisbury jail. Along the way, one was shot while trying to escape.

Col. David Fanning did not try to take on Col. Isaacs's larger army, but instead moved southeast, away from territory under the control of Patriots. After Wilmington was turned back over to the Patriots, he was unable to get supplies and ammunition to maintain larger operations. Due to this, he was no longer able to assemble large numbers of Loyalists for the remaining duration of the war.

Since he had lost his benefactors due to the evacuation Wilmington by the British army, Col. David Fanning had to rely on raids of Patriots' homes for supplies. While making these raids, he also had to remain away from Col. Elijah Isaacs who was already known to be looking for him.

One of Col. Fanning's targets was Patriot Capt. John Cox. Cox was not at home, but was staying at the home of a friend in Chatham County. After destroying Cox's home, Col. Fanning and his men rode on to the house of John Cox's father, Robert Cox. Robert Cox lived in the forks of Big Juniper Creek and McLendon's Creek, west of the present-day town of Carthage. Inside the home were John Cox, Robert Lowe, and William Jackson.

Around midnight, Col. David Fanning and his men arrived and they rushed the house. The Patriots heard them approach and the ran for their horses. Some ran by the location where Col. Fanning had hidden his horses, and they took the Loyalist's horses. Finding no one left inside, Col. Fanning burned down the home.

The three Patriots had not gone far and they returned to watch. The sentries noticed them and Col. Fanning was soon once again in pursuit. They split up and Col. Fanning followed William Jackson with one of his Loyalists. Jackson turned and fired, hitting the man next to Fanning. Fanning returned fire and he killed Jackson.

Robert Lowe was captured by Loyalist Capt. Stephen Walker and returned to the burning house. Lowe had been in Fanning's militia, but had switched sides. Col. Fanning recognized him and ordered him shot. After being shot several times he remained alive somehow. Fanning drew his own pistol and killed him. John Cox was able to get away when his pursuer's horse fell in a creek.

As a commander of a company of Patriots in the Chatham County Regiment of Militia, Capt. Charles Gholson was one of the Patriots being pursued by Col. Fanning. Capt. Gholson's company stopped at a Loyalists house and began plundering the property when Col. Fanning found them. Capt. Gholson immediately fled, but one of his men was captured. Col. Fanning hanged the prisoner and continued chasing Capt. Gholson, but was unable to catch the Patriot.

In retaliation, Col. Fanning rode to Capt. Gholson's home and burned the farm. The Loyalists burned two more houses near Gholson's farm. As a final touch, Col. Fanning executed "a man who had been very anxious" to have some of his Loyalists executed.

During his return to his base camp at Cox's Mill in Randolph County - just west of Chatham County - Col. David Fanning captured John Thompson, a "Rebel magistrate." He forced Thompson to take a message to Aacting Governor Alexander Martin - if the Patriots did not cease their harassment of the Loyalists he would retaliate in kind with more executions.

Col. Fanning learned from John Thompson that some of the other Loyalist leaders, Col. Archibald McDugald and Col. Hector McNeill, had taken refuge in South Carolina. Fanning hoped for a peace in North Carolina and offered the authorities his terms. He demanded that all Loyalists be allowed to return to their homes unmolested. He also wanted the Loyalists to be under no restrictions to do anything against the Royal government and to not have to pay any taxes to support the war against the King. Col. David Fanning's demands were:

1) That every friend of the Government [i.e., the Crown] shall be allowed to return to their respective homes unmolested.

2) That they shall be under no restrictions of doing, or causing to be done, anything prejudicial to His Majesty's service.

3) That they shall not be under an obligation to act in any public station, or ever to take up arms, or be compelled to do anything injurious to His Majesty's good government.

4) That they shall not pay, or cause to be paid, any taxes or money so levied by your laws during the continuance of the present war, to support your army by their industry.

If these terms are granted, I request that they must be immediately conveyed to me at my quarters by a flag of truce, appointed for that purpose, and by such officers as I can rely upon, from your hands and seals. If these terms are not granted you may depend upon my sword being continually unsheathed; as I am determined I will not leave one of your old offenders alive that has injured His Majesty's Government, and friends who would have been of service to your country in a future day, and I do hereby recommend it to you to govern yourselves accordingly.

Jan. 7th, 1782
David Fanning

Several Patriot leaders were supportive of the prospect for peace - they were tired of the constant fighting. They took the terms to Brig. Gen. John Butler of the Hillsborough District Brigade of Militia.

The killing went on while negotiations ensued. In the meantime, one of Fanning's men, Capt. William Lindley, quit the Loyalist militia and went to the Blue Ridge Mountains. Three former comrades followed and hacked him to death. Col. Fanning found out and had two of the killers, William White and John Magaherty, hanged. The third man escaped into the wilderness.

On January 11th, Col. Fanning was supposed to meet with a group of Patriots at Baalam Thompson's home near the Wilcox Iron Works. He was under a flag of truce to discuss his terms for peace, but Capt. Charles Gholson and Capt. Robert Scobey were waiting in ambush for him to ride by. John Thompson warned Fanning and averted a disaster. After this, Col. Fanning did not trust the Patriots and no longer considered peace as an option.

On the night of February 11th, Col. David Fanning and Patriot Capt. Charles Gholson ran into each other once again and both attacked. The fight was short with no losses and both sides withdrew until the next morning. The next day, Col. Fanning made a truce with Capt. Gholson.

Fanning was still hoping for peace. He and Gholson agreed that if Fanning's Loyalists and the Patriot government wanted to come to terms there would have to be no more "plundering, killing, or murdering" by either side.

Col. Fanning sent a new list of demands for a peace treaty to Brig. Gen. John Butler. On March 9th, Brig. Gen. Butler sent back a message to Col. Fanning that he did not have the power to agree to his terms, but he would forward the demands to Governor Thomas Burke in Halifax. Burke had escaped from Charlestown and resumed his governorship early in 1782. Fanning continued to keep an uneasy peace until he had a chance to hear from the governor.

Andrew Balfour was a justice of the peace in Randolph County and one of the two Colonels over the Randolph County Regiment of Militia. He had tried to kill Col. David Fanning on several occasions, and his men had also captured and hanged several of Col. Fanning's men.

After Col. Balfour attacked two of Fanning's captains (Capt. Walker and Capt. Currie) on March 7th [unnamed incident], the Loyalist commander decided to go after him and to kill every Patriot he could find. Col. David Fanning raised twenty-five men on the night of March 10th and they rode the "Deep River Raid" against Patriots in Randolph County "in order to give them a small scourge."

He and his raiders first rode to Col. Balfour's plantation. When they arrived, the Loyalists immediately opened fire. Absalom Autry fired at Col. Balfour and the shot broke his arm. Balfour made his way back into the house to protect his daughter and his sister. The Loyalists rushed the house and pulled Col. Balfour away from the women, then riddled his body with bullets. Even Col. Fanning fired his pistol into Balfour's head. The women were kicked and beaten until they fled to the home of a neighbor.

Col. Fanning and his men then rode to the house of William Milliken, who lived on Bear Creek, about two miles south of Johnsonville. Milliken was not at home so the Loyalists burned all of his buildings. Milliken's wife, Jane, carried a feather bed out of the house, but the Loyalists threw it back into the flames. Col. Fanning then forced Milliken's son to guide them to John Collins's house. He too was not at home, so they burned his house.

The Loyalists then headed to the house of Col. John Collier. Collier was the other Colonel over the Randolph County Regiment of Militia, and also a NC Senator for Randolph County, and he knew that Col. Fanning was in the area. He had placed a young man named Benjamin Fincher on guard near his house. Fanning had his men to approach Fincher as if they were friends. When they were close, two of Fanning's men fired their muskets into Fincher's chest, but by some miracle both bullets simply bounced off. The stunned Fincher ran away.

Col. Collier heard the shooting and ran out of the house. He was almost killed, but escaped with three bullet holes in his shirt. Col. Fanning then burned his house and outbuildings.

Fanning continued this raid by riding to the house of Capt. John Bryant of the Randolph County Regiment of Militia, who lived near New Market. Col. Fanning talked both of Bryant's daughters into taking him to their father. He told Bryant to come out and to give himself up, offering his parole if the would so so. Bryant refused, yelling from the house "Damn you and your parole, too. I have had one, and I will never take another."

Fanning ordered the house to be set on fire. Bryant asked Fanning to have mercy on his wife and children. Fanning replied that he would show mercy if he came out with his hands up. Bryant came out and said, "Here Damn you, here I am." Fanning's men shot him. One bullet went into his head and he fell back onto his wife. As Bryant's wife tried to raise him up, another Loyalist stepped up and shot him in the eye.

Since he had killed the man he was after, Col. Fanning spared Bryant's wife and did not burn the house. He was weary from a long night's killing spree and he "lay down in the cradle, and after rocking himself there very comfortably for some time," rose and continued his raid.

Early in the morning of March 13th, Col. David Fanning rode to the Randolph County Court House. Elections were scheduled for this day and he hoped to capture all of the Patriot leaders. Warned that he was coming, the leaders did not show up and the election did not occur. Col. Fanning moved on, putting the torch to the property of all known Patriot officers within forty miles.

The Loyalists then rode to Maj. Thomas Dougan's plantation on Deep River. Dougan was not at home, but his property was destroyed. Upon leaving that location, Fanning's men caught Lt. Col. Archibald Murphy of the Caswell County Regiment of Militia with several Loyalist prisoners in a wagon being taken to Salisbury to be hanged. Col. Fanning asked the condemned men what should be done with Lt. Col. Murphy - and he was immediately taken to a tree and hanged.

Within fifteen minutes, a force of about 300 Patriots, led by Capt. Joseph Clark, rode towards them. Capt. Clark pursued, but the Loyalists had better horses and they could not be caught. It rained during this pursuit, so none of the weapons would work anyway.

One of Fanning's men, John Dugan, stayed behind to rob Lt. Col. Murphy's corpse. Capt. Clark caught up to him and wounded Dugan. He convinced Capt. Clark that he was dying, and as soon as the Patriots left he jumped up and ran away.

In April, Col. Fanning was again asked by Governor Thomas Burke to remain neutral while his demands were being considered. A temporary truce went into effect. Governor Burke was not being totally honest - the governor simply wanted a cease fire while the General Assembly met in Hillsborough. When it wrapped up, Governor Burke sent notice to Col. Fanning that the legislature had turned down his proposal.

For seven years, David Fanning had been at war, fighting or hiding the entire duration. By 1782, the end of British influence was near. He later wrote "I concluded within myself that it was better for me to try and settle myself being weary of the disagreeable mode of living I had bourne with for some considerable time."

He was engaged to marry the sixteen-year-old Sarah Carr, the sister of one of his officers, Capt. William Carr. Capt. William Carr and Capt. William Hooker both decided to get married the same day as their commanding officer. Col. Fanning designed a uniform for the special occasion that was "Linen frocks died Black, with Red Cuffs do Ellbows and shoulder cape also, and Belted with Scarlet, which was a total Disguise to the Rebels which the red was all fringed with Large white fringe."

The happy occasion, however, included considerable tragedy. As Carr and Hooker rode to get their fiancées, a Patriot militia patrol rode up and attacked them. Carr was able to escape, but they killed Hooker on the spot. Col. David Fanning had been riding to the wedding location in Chatham County when he learned about his man's death. He learned where the Patriots were located and he rode there with five men. They surrounded William Dowdy's house and he yelled for the Patriots to come outside.

All came out except for William Dowdy, who knew that he was about to be shot. He jumped from the house and ran into the nearby woods. Fanning's men fired and wounded him in the shoulder. Col. Fanning rode up to Dowdy and then fired both of his pistols into his chest, killing him instantly. He paroled the rest of the Patriots and went on to his wedding. David Fanning and William Carr went on with their weddings that day and then "Kept two Days merriment." Afterwards, the Loyalists went back into hiding.

Andrew Hunter was a well-known Patriot who lived on the Little River in Randolph County. He was outspoken on American independence and he had made some disparaging remarks about Col. David Fanning and his Loyalists. When Col. Fanning heard about these he swore he would end Hunter's life. Although Col. Fanning had captured Andrew Hunter several times before, the Patriot was somehow able to escape each time.

Sometime after Fanning's wedding, Andrew Hunter and his neighbor John Latham were riding a cart to market to pick up a load of salt. They saw Col. Fanning approaching and Hunter covered himself up in the back of the cart. When he arrived, Col. Fanning asked Latham where he was going. Latham replied that he was going up the Pee Dee River to the market.

Col. Fanning asked if he had anything to eat in the back of his cart. Latham told him that he only had a little food and hoped that the Loyalists would not take it. Fanning swore and said that he would have the food and soon found Andrew Hunter under the covering. He told Hunter to get out - because he didn't have long to live.

Col. Fanning's men wanted to eat first before they killed Andrew Hunter. They threw a rope at Hunter's feet and told him that this was the rope he would hang with. The Loyalists stacked their arms and began to grind coffee. Fanning noticed that Hunter was very near the stacked guns and reprimanded the men for their lack of security.

While Fanning was chastising his own men, Hunter leaped on the back of Fanning's horse, Bay Doe. The mare would not move. When Fanning ordered his men to shoot, the mare ran off at full speed at the first shot. Since he did not want his horse shot he ordered the men to make sure to only hit Hunter. One shot hit Bay Doe in the shoulder and a second shot hit Hunter in the shoulder, but he barely noticed it.

Andrew Hunter rode to the house of a man named Nathaniel Steed, who sent for a doctor. Hunter recovered within a few days. Hunter had not only stolen Col. Fanning's horse, but in the bargain he got two pistols that Maj. James H. Craig had given to Fanning when he gave him his colonel's commission. Fanning was outraged and determined that if he could not get Hunter then he would extract vengeance on Hunter's family.

Fanning and his men rode to Hunter's house and plundered it. They took the pregnant Mrs. Hunter and all of his slaves and hid them in the nearby woods. Fanning then sent a message to Hunter with an offer to return his wife and slaves if he would send back the horse and pistols. Hunter told him that the horse had been sent west to get medical help, and then he asked Fanning if he would leave his wife behind to tend to his wound.

Fanning knew that time was running out and that he would need to soon leave before the many Patriot patrols would finally find him. He left Hunter's wife behind, but he took one of the horses and all of Hunter's slaves. Fanning then took his sixteen-year-old bride and the newly-gotten slaves with him to South Carolina.

In June of 1782, David Fanning made his way to Charlestown, the last bastion of British influence in the two Carolinas. After securing British permission to join in the evacuation of Charlestown in the near future, Fanning sent for his new wife, which required delicate negotiations with the Patriots between Randolph County and Charlestown. She was eventually allowed to pass, but she was not allowed to bring with her any possessions or any slaves.

Bored with the tedium of waiting for the British to finally decide to leave the Carolinas, on September 5th, Col. David Fanning left Charlestown, South Carolina to go back and get his favorite horse, Bay Doe, which had been taken from him four months earlier by Andrew Hunter. He had offered to trade five horses to Hunter, but Hunter steadfastly refused.

For two weeks, he rode through the Pee Dee settlements trying to find his horse, to no avail. On September 22nd he decided it was time to get back to Charlestown. The British there had recently received orders to finally evacuate the South Carolina capital, and Fanning did not want to be left behind.

Riding along the Deep River, Fanning heard that Andrew Hunter had been hiding in South Carolina waiting for him to leave the country. He sent a man to get directions to Hunter's house. One of Hunter's friends fooled the man into thinking that Hunter lived in the opposite direction than he actually did. The friend then rode on to warn Hunter of Fanning's presence.

Fanning was not fooled for very long and he soon rode in the direction Hunter's friend went. When he saw Fanning pursuing him he jumped off his horse and fired two pistols at the approaching Loyalists. Both misfired and the man took off running across an open field. Fanning later wrote, "I ordered one of my men to fire at him, who shot him through the body, and dispatched his presence from this world."

Fanning rode up to the house the man was heading towards, ready to fight anyone in it. The two men in the house chose not to fight and instead told Fanning that Hunter had learned of his presence and had fled with Bay Doe a half an hour earlier. They also informed him that several Patriots had been sent to kill him and his men. Fanning decided it was not worth being killed or captured and headed back to Charlestown.

Some of his men remained and kept an eye out for Hunter. They came across him riding Bay Doe near Cox's Mill, and chased him and cut off his only escape across Buffalo Ford on the Deep River. Hunter rode into the woods to lose the Loyalists, but when he came out into the open he saw a giant rock that sloped down into the river at a sixty-degree angle. He waved to Fanning's men and then rode down the steep rock into the river. So amazed were the Loyalists by his courageous escape that none of them fired.

One of Fanning's men remarked, "If he has faith enough to try to escape that way we will not shoot again." The rock has carried its name ever since - Faith Rock, and it is located near Franklinville.

David Fanning returned to Charlestown on September 28th with two other Loyalists, his slave, and two slave children. He boarded the ship New Blessing on November 6, 1782 for St. Augustine and left the Carolinas forever. They arrived in St. Augustine on November 17th. David Fanning took his family about 55 miles southward to what is now Volusia County in Florida along the Halifax River.

Near the end of February of 1783, David Fanning raised thirty men for an expedition to New Providence in the Bahamas, but this plan fell apart when the commanding officer left Fanning and his men behind, with no explanation.

Not long thereafter, a mysterious illness came through the settlement along the Halifax River and killed six of Fanning's slaves. David Fanning soon had the symptoms, but his hardy constitution brought him through it, although it left him greatly weakened. One of his slave boys saw this as an opportunity to strike back at his owner, and the slave almost killed him in his own fields. After a lengthy struggle, Fanning managed to overcome the young man, who mysteriously died the next day.

When peace was finally announced, David Fanning learned that all of East Florida, including his new home, was to be evacuated and turned back over to the Spanish. As was the case with all ex-Loyalists in Florida, Fanning was allowed to submit a claim for his losses, and he estimated that his amounted to a total of £1,625.10. Many of his neighbors urged him to join them in Nova Scotia.

In the meantime, the North Carolina General Assembly passed the "Act of Pardon and Oblivion," giving most North Carolina Loyalists a pardon for their "treasons, misprision of treason, felony or misdemeanor, committed or done since the 4th of July, 1776..." However, three individuals were named within the Act who were exempt from the State's mercy - Peter Mallett, Samuel Andrews, and David Fanning. He later noted in his memoirs, "Many people are fools enough to think, that we are all guilty of the crimes set forth, but I defy the world to charge me with rape, or anything more than I have set forth in this journal."

On March 20, 1784, David Fanning, his pegnant wife and family, set out on a voyage to Fort Natchez, in what is now the state of Mississippi. Along the way, they were forced to stop at Key West due to an impending storm. Changing his mind about Fort Natchez, Fanning reversed course and went back to Vaca Key and reached Cape Sable on May 20th. Here he ran into an Italian sailor, Capt. Baptist, who offered to help him, but soon betrayed him and stole one of his slave girls.

Fanning eventually secured passage to New Providence, Bahamas and they arrived in Nassau on September 3, 1784. "During the course of my being on board of Capt. Clutsam he found me in every necessary, and made no charge for any provisions or anything I received of him. His humanity was so great, that if ever in my power to render any service to him or any of those gentlemen, nothing shall ever be wanting on my part to do them service."

Twenty days after their arrival in the Bahamas, the Fannings secured passage aboard a ship bound for Canada commanded by Capt. Jacob Bell. They arrived in New Brunswick, Canada on September 23, 1784. Leaving his pregnant wife behind, in October he traveled to Halifax, Nova Scotia to settle his previous claim for losses. He was not successful, and returned home on November 7th. Soon thereafter, his first child, a daugther named Feribee, was born.

The next Spring, he purchased 200 acres, "lot No. 10, in the township of Connay, on the west side of Grand Bay, in the present parish of Westfield, in King's County." He built a log cabin that summer but a few yards from the bank of the river. This was the first of a long list of acquisitions that totaled 1,300 acres in New Brunswick, mostly along Grand Bay and Long Reach, and it was here that he began writing his own memoirs. He dated his introductory remarks, "King's County, Long Reach, New Brunswick June 24, 1790."

Things did not go smoothly in New Brunswick, and David Fanning was brought into a legal dispute that went all the say to the Supreme Court, which exonerated him. In 1791, he was elected to the Provincial Assembly and he held this post for nearly a decade. His first son, Ross Currie Carr Fanning, was born on May 30, 1791. A second son, David William Fanning, was born in August of 1793.

In April of 1795, Fanning purchased a 200 acre tract of land with a working grist mill opposite Spoon Island near Hampstead in Queen's County. In a letter to Ward Chapman he wrote, "I wish not to let anyone settle near me again." It was here that began his many conflicts with his neighbors, most of whom were Loyalists from the northeastern United States. Some encouters became quite vindictive. By October of 1799, things had gotten so badly that Fanning wrote, "I was fully convinced that the inhabitants of that province was determined to take my life." He began looking for a new place to live.

In 1800, in a long and convoluted story, David Fanning was accused of raping a young girl, an accusation that no one believed. But shockingly, on October 2nd a jury in Gagetown handed down a guilty verdict and the next day he was sentenced to death. His attorney quickly obtained petitions for mercy and found others to disprove the girl's accusations. On October 10th, Lt. Governor Carleton was convinced to David Fanning's innocence and he issued a pardon. However, the Lt. Governor also exiled Fanning from New Brunswick forever, perhaps an effort to maintain the peace. On January 27, 1801, David Fanning earned the dubious distinction of being the first member of the New Brunswick Assembly to be removed for a felony conviction, and he was voted out of that body by his peers.

Meanwhile, as soon as he was pardoned and released, Fanning and his family quietly sailed over to Nova Scotia and first made their home on the western shore of the Annapolis Basin near the Digby Gut. "The inhabitants of this town was very much against my landing at first. They seem much better reconciled now and friendly." Fanning soon started building and outfitting ships with "less than scrupulous individuals" and was soon in another lawsuit that he again lost.

By 1808, following all of his legal troubles in both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, David Fanning was ready again to move and start anew. However, he learned that his old friend - Maj. James H. Craig of Wilmington - was now governor of Canada, so he penned a letter, which surprisingly Governor James H. Craig answered. Over the ensuing months, his ferver to leave Nova Scotia cooled. In 1810, his youngest son died suddenly of what was called "nervous fever."

In June of 1812, war broke out between England and the United States. Privateers raked the shores of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and on July 31st, it was noted that, "a detachment of militia under Colonels Hatfield and Fanning marched thither, attacked the unwelcomed visitor, fired over fifty shots into her, receiving some in return, and obliged the intruder to leave our shore."

"Most folks said the Colonel was a grouchy old man, set in his ways," remarked one of Fanning's descendents, Arnold Trask, who lived on the Lighthouse Road, not far from where Fanning's home once stood. By March 10, 1825, David Fanning sensed that his time was short, and he penned his last will and testament. Four days later, on March 14, 1825, he passed away at the home of his son, Ross. He was buried two days later beside his youngest son in the cemetery at Holy Trinity Church of Digby, Nova Scotia. His headstone included:

Human, affable, gentle and kind.
A plain, honest, open moral mind;
He liv'd to die, in God he put his trust,
To rise triumphant with the just.

Although this headstone has been relocated two times, it remains as the only monument ever raised to Col. David Fanning.


Known Battles/Skirmishes

November 3, 1775 

Mine Creek

November 19-21, 1775


 December 22, 1775

Great Cane Brake

December 23-30, 1775

Snow Campaign

July 15, 1776

Lyndley's Fort

 August 5, 1777

Reedy River

 June 1778

Gilbert Town

 August 18, 1780

Musgrove's Mill

 March 15, 1781


 May 9, 1781

Deep River

 May 11, 1781

Buffalo Ford

 May 13, 1781

Legat's Bridge

 June 8, 1781

Cox's Mill #1

 July 17, 1781

Chatham Court House

 July 29, 1781

House in the Horseshoe

 August 17, 1781

Robesons' Plantations

September 1, 1781

Little Raft Swamp

September 12, 1781


September 13, 1781

Lindley's Mill

October 1781

Brush Creek

October 1781

Bear Creek

November 1781

Chatham County #1

December 1781

Big Juniper Creek

January 7, 1782

Gholson's Farm

February 11, 1782

Deep River #2

March 11, 1782

Balfour's Plantation

March 13-14, 1782 

Randolph County Court House

April 23-24, 1782

Chatham County #2

May 1782

Deep River #3

 September 22, 1782

Faith Rock

© 2012 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved