The American Revolution in North Carolina

Graham's Fort

September 1780

Patriot Cdr:

Col. William Graham
Loyalist Cdr:







Original County: 

Lincoln County
Present County:

Cleveland County

Col. William Graham had been a delegate to represent Tryon County in the Fifth Provincial Congress, and had taken part in the deliberations that produced North Carolin's first state constitution. He had fought at Moore's Creek Bridge and the Cherokee Expedition of 1776, and was a very wanted man by many Loyalists. He had constructed a large log cabin on Buffalo Creek, which soon became known as Graham's Fort. Because of the increased Loyalist activities many people would gather at the strongest place in the region, and in Lincoln County (at that time) that was Graham's Fort.

In September of 1780, a band of Loyalist raiders approached the fort and demanded entrance. Inside were Col. Graham, two other men - David Docky and William Twitty - and many young, old, and infirmed settlers. When Col. Graham refused to permit the Loyalists inside, they attacked. They fired at the house, and after each volley they demanded for Col. Graham to surrender, yelling, "Damn you, won't you surrender now?"

Since they were doing no damage Col. Graham refused. One of the Loyalists, John Burke, left the ranks and raced up to the large cabin. He placed his musket through a crack and aimed at 19-year-old William Twitty. When Burke fired, Twitty's 17-year-old sister, Susan, pulled him to safety - the musket ball missed him and hit the opposite wall. Susan looked through the crack and saw that Burke was on his knees reloading. She shouted, "Brother William, now's your chance - shoot the rascal." Twitty fired and sent a ball into Burke's head.

Susan ran out of the cabin and grabbed Burke's gun and ammunition. Stunned, the Loyalists held their fire. Once back inside, Susan began firing at the Loyalists as fast as she could reload.

After losing John Burke and having four others wounded, the Loyalists withdrew. Col. Graham sent his pregnant wife and all the others to a safer location. He then moved his men to a better site. After his departure, the Loyalists returned, plundered the fort, and carried off six of his slaves.

In his own 1832 pension appication statement, William Graham (S8624) simply stated:

"I was attacked by the Tories in my own house where myself, David Docky & William Twitty defeated about 25 Tories. We killed one of them and wounded three, I think. This was in September 1780. Shortly after that they, the Tories, recruited and came to my house and plundered my house of all the useful ale, his clothing and some likely Negroes."

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants
Col. William Graham, with two men and many settlers Unknown number of Loyalists led by Unknown.

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