The American Revolution in North Carolina

Kirk's Farm

September 12, 1781

Patriot Cdr:

Major William Gholson
Loyalist Cdr:

Capt. Richard Edwards






Original County: 

Orange County
Present County:

Orange County

aka Kirk's Lane, aka New Hope River.

As Col. David Fanning and his large group of Loyalists rode on to attack Hillsborough, he dispatched a company of men under Capt. Richard Edwards to detain a known Patriot force on the New Hope River - they were located on Kirk's Farm next to the river. This attack was also designed to serve as a diversion, in hopes that it would confuse the 400-man army nearby under the command of Brigadier General John Butler at Ramsey's Mill in Chatham County.

The Patriots at Kirk's Farm were part of the Orange County Regiment of Militia under the temporary command of Col. John Hinton, Jr. (Wake County). Col. Hinton had crossed the Cape Fear River near the end of August with 250 men in search of Loyalists. After ten days, his force had found only a few old Loyalists and had some night-time engagements with shadows that the men thought was Col. David Fanning. This large group broke up and headed home.

Two companies of Patriots stopped at Kirk's Farm to rest - under Major William Gholson. Major Gholson was under the wrong assumption that there were no Loyalists anywhere near their camp.

Capt. Richard Edwards and his company of Loyalists arrived at this location around sunrise on September 12th, and they began to quietly surround the farm. A Patriot sentinel named Crouch spotted them and he immediately fired his gun. Capt. Edward's men killed him, but the remaining Patriots were now alerted to their presence. However, the Patriots were too slow in reacting and this gave Capt. Edwards and his men time to hide themselves in a thicket.

Capt. Abraham Allen then rushed out of the farmhouse with his men, and the Loyalists took aim. His Lieutenant Joseph Young's men put up a fierce defense. During the fight, British Capt. Edwards and ten of his men were killed. The Patriots Capt. Allen and Lt. Young were wounded - Lt. Young died a few days later.

Capt. Edwards's brother, Edward Edwards, took command of the Loyalists and they finally defeated the Patriots. Nearly one third of all the men in this skirmish were killed or wounded. Eleven of Capt. Edwards's men were killed and several others died within a few days. The fate of the prisoners has not been recorded. Capt. Edward Edwards hurried back to Col. David Fanning's army.

One account of this engagement claims that the Joseph Young who later died from his wounds was a Captain. Several accounts claim he was a Lieutenant under Capt. Abraham Allen. Yet another account claims that the man killed was a Lieutenant John Young under Capt. Abraham Allen - but, no mention of a Capt. Joseph Young.

A Captain Joseph Young did actively serve in Guilford County, NC from 1776 to 1780, however, there is no evidence that he also served in 1781 or that he definitely participated in this engagement. It is entirely possible that he did, but no evidence is currently available. If more information comes to light, it will be added herein.

In his 1832 pension application, William Strayhorn (S7650) asserted:

"That the next Tour for three months was served under Capt. Abraham Allen & Lieutenant Young and took place in the year 1781. In this Tour he entered as a Volunteer and was on the 10th September 1781 at the Battle at Kirk's, with the Tories, under a Captain Richard Edwards, who was killed in the battle, Lieutenant Young who was in command over this declarant was also killed and Captain Allen was wounded."

In his 1832 pension application, George Waggoner (S3484) asserted:

"...I volunteered in a Company of Rangers commanded by Captain Abraham Allen, Joseph Young Lieutenant. This Company was called into service at different times, being required to be ready to march at a moment's warning. The day before Hillsborough was taken by the Tories our company had a severe battle with the enemy, near to Hillsboro on Kirk's plantation. In this action Lieutenant Young was mortally wounded & died in a few days -- several others were killed & wounded. This applicant was shot through the right arm, a short distance above the wrist -- which has much disabled him ever since. The Captain (Abraham Allen) & others were wounded."

In his 1832 pension application, James Mitchell (S1854) asserted:

".... that he was in a fight with the Tories at Lewis Kirk's in the County of Orange, where Richard Edwards a Tory Capt., and Amos Thompson a Tory Lieut. were killed, that his own Capt. Abraham Allen under whom he was fighting was severely wounded in the engagement."

In his 1846 pension application, Thomas Prichard (R8481) asserted:

"... he then was drafted in the County of Chatham for a 3 months Tour and went into service under Captain William Jones & Colonel [Major] Golson & marched through a large portion of North Carolina in search of Tories met and engaged the Tories at the Hawfields near Lewis Kirk's also had an engagement with the Tories at Lindley's Mills..."

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants
Orange County Regiment of Militia detachment led by Major William Gholson, with two (2) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Abraham Allen
- Capt. William Jones

Capt. Richard Edwards with 30 men



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