The American Revolution in North Carolina

Barbeque Church

March 27, 1781

Patriot Cdr:

Capt. Daniel Buie
Loyalist Cdr:

Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton





6 or 7

Original County: 

Cumberland County
Present County:

Harnett County

aka Henry Gaster's.

One source claims this occurred on March 28, 1781, while another claims it occurred on April 29, 1781.
The Barbecue Presbyterian Church was named after the nearby Barbecue Creek, which was allegedly named by a settler who said the mist coming off the creek one morning reminded him of the smoke from a barbecue pit. The church still sits on the corner of Barbecue Church Road and Highway 27 in Harnett County. At the time, it was spelled barbeque, and was known as "an island of Whigs in a sea of Tories."
As Lt. General Charles, Lord Cornwallis continued his march to Wilmington, local Patriots constantly harassed his army. Most of these were from Brigadier General John Alexander Lillington's militia, who had been ordered by Major General Nathanael Greene to remove the British stores at Cross Creek and to hinder the British as much as possible.

The Redcoats stopped to rest near the Barbeque Church, and they set up camp at the home of William Buie. The next day, Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton and his dragoons approached the house of worship, but waiting for them was Capt. Daniel Buie and his men of the Cumberland County Regiment of Militia. With him was Jacob Gaster, Laurence Strodder, Duncan Buie, and John Small.

At this church there was a short and bloody encounter that left Duncan Buie with his head split open by a sword and left for dead. He recovered and lived for many more years.

Most of the Patriots were captured and placed in a bullpen. During that night, a few managed to escape, but the rest were taken to Wilmington. Gaster, Small, and Strodder were later exchanged, but Daniel Buie died aboard a prison ship anchored at Wilmington.

When Lord Cornwallis arrived in Cross Creek, he had nearly six hundred (600) sick and wounded men, and a third of his army had no shoes. He soon found that there was not one ration for the 1,500 men in his army. Major James H. Craig, occupying commandant of Wilmington, had not sent the shoes and other supplies upriver from Wilmington, as ordered by his superior. Major Craig explained in a letter that the distance, narrowness of the river, and the hostile inhabitants rendered the resupply mission impracticable. The Patriots would riddle anything that moved on the Cape Fear River.

Wanting to depart immediately, Lord Cornwallis quickly discovered that the Patriots had destroyed or removed all the boats in the Cross Creek area. When he at last did leave Cross Creek, his army left a trail of roadside graves of the wounded from the recent battle of Guilford Court House. By the time the Redcoats got to Wilmington there were over one hundred more casualties. Among the dead buried on the road from Guilford Court House to Wilmington was Lt. Col. James Webster of the 33rd Regiment, Capt. William Shutz of the Guards, and Capt. Wilmonsky of the Regiment von Bose.

In his 1832 pension application, John Small (S7537) asserted:

"That afterwards in 1781 - 27th of March - he was taken by Lord Cornwallis (with one Daniel Buie who raised a small company - and who died between Charleston and James River) and carried to Wilmington, from thence to Charleston, and put on board a Prison Ship and carried to Jamestown on James River in Virginia where he was set at liberty - the Term of his confinement was about three months - and returned home either July or August - That he was never wounded."

In his 1832 pension application, Jacob Gaster (S6871) asserted:

"...the County of Chatham and the upper part of the County of Cumberland contained a great number of Tories who were annoying the peaceful citizens of the Country and doing much mischief by plundering &tc and that on their said retreat, or return to Cumberland, they thought proper to divide into different parties and were to meet again at Henry Gaster's in the aforesaid County of Cumberland on the 28th day of March.

"That on the said 28th of March their little forces did meet at Henry Gaster's and that they were discovered by General Cornwallis's Army or part of them, that they were attacked, one man killed, several wounded, six or seven made prisoners and the rest Escaped. That this applicant was one of the number who were made prisoners of.

"That he was carried by the British Army to Cross Creek (now Fayetteville) and the aforesaid County of Cumberland, North Carolina & from thence to the town of Wilmington N.C. where he with the other prisoners was kept in the Guard house for about three weeks that they were then placed on board of a British ship for safekeeping where they remained for more than two months, when he was exchanged for British Prisoners and set at liberty and returned to his Residence in Cumberland where he arrived about the last of July or first of August."

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Cumberland County Regiment of Militia detachment of one (1) company led by Capt. Daniel Buie (POW), with unknown number of men, including:

Jacob Gaster (POW)

Laurence Strodder (POW)

Duncan Buie (wounded)

John Small (POW)

Lt. General Charles, Lord Cornwallis - Commanding Office

British Army, with about 1,500 men





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