The American Revolution in North Carolina

Battle of the Bees

October 3, 1780

Patriot Cdr:

Capt. James Thompson
Loyalist Cdr:

Capt. John Doyle






Original County: 

Mecklenburg County
Present County:

Mecklenburg County

aka McIntyre's Farm, aka Bradley's Farm.

After a week in Charlotte, Lt. General Charles, Lord Cornwallis needed to send out foraging parties to replenish his supplies. A large foraging party of 450 Provincials under the command of Capt. John Doyle moved out of Beattie's Ford Road with sixty wagons. A local boy notified the McIntyre family that the Loyalists were coming.

Then, the boy rode on and informed Capt. James Thompson of the local militia. Capt. Thompson quickly rounded up Capt. James Knox and thirteen farmers to harass Capt. Doyle's troops, and then hid the riflemen in two locations at the McIntyre farm.

Capt. Thompson watched as Capt. Doyle's men plundered McIntyre's barns and raided their livestock pens. The Provincials tied their horses to the farm wagons while they went about their work. When the baggage wagons arrived they loaded bags of corn and oats onto them.

During the pillaging, the Loyalists accidentally knocked over some beehives and found themselves under attack by the swarming bees. One Loyalist officer stood in the doorway and laughed as the men swatted at the bees and ran from the danger.

As they were occupied, Capt. Thompson and his men approached the raiders. He yelled out that he would take out a captain he had spotted and that every man should quickly select their target. Capt. Thompson and a militiaman named Francis Bradley fired at the same time. Thompson's shot found its mark and the man thought to be a captain fell dead. The enemy mounted their horses and formed a line, but Capt. Thompson and his men were able to reload and fire a second time.

Dogs were set loose on the Patriots and they pursued one group of Capt. Thompson's men:

"The dogs came on the trail of these retreating men, and the leading one sprung upon the heels of a man who had just discharged his rifle. A pistol shot laid him dead, and the other dogs, coming up to him, paused, gave a howl, and returned."

Capt. Doyle believed that his men were being attacked by a much larger force and ordered a speeedy retreat back to Charlotte. More of the local farmers showed up and began firing at the British from concealment, in a skirmish that resembled the start of the war at Concord, Massachusetts.

Later, Rev. William Henry Foote wrote:

"The leading horses of the wagons were some of them shot down before they ascended the hill by the branch, and the road was blocked up; and the retreat became a scene of confusion in spite of the discipline of the British soldiers, who drew up in battle array and offered to fight the invisible enemy that only changed their ground and renewed their fire."

Capt. Doyle's men rode so hard that "many of their horses fell dead in the streets."

Eight Loyalists were killed, along with two horses. Twelve others were wounded.

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Capt. James Thompson - Commanding Officer

Mecklenburg County Regiment of Militia detachment of two (2) known captains:
- Capt. James Thompson
- Capt. James Knox, with 13 local farmers:

Frank Bradley
Joh Dickson
Thomas Dickson
George Graham
James Henry
George Houston
Hugh Houston
John Long
Thomas McClure
John Robinson
Robert Robinson
Edward Shipley
George Shipley

Reinforced later by unknown number of more farmers

Capt. John Doyle - Commanding Officer

450 Provincials (likely the Volunteers of Ireland)

60 Cavalry (unit unknown)

40 Wagons










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