This battle has many disputed facts. However, the basic facts are similar enough to pass along to researchers. The battle occurred in Feb 1781. Some sources say the 24th, others the 25th. The battle occurred in present-day Alamance County, North Carolina, along the Haw River.
General Lord Charles Cornwallis had requested loyalist militia companies to come to his service after the defeats at Kings Mountain and Cowpens. Dr John Pyle Sr, a Chatham County native, who had previously fought for the Crown, answered the call, gathering between 300 and 400 recruits (again, accounts differ). Instead of heading to join Cornwallis at Hillsborough, North Carolina as ordered, Pyle requested an escort for safety. While waiting for Tarleton and his escort to arrive, Pyle and his recruits spent time with their families.
Lieutenant Colonel Henry "Lighthorse Harry" Lee, father of Robert E Lee, and Brigadier General Andrew Pickens were in the area to harass the enemy. After capturing a couple of loyalists, they obtained intelligence that Tarleton was on his way. Lee and Pickens decided to see what they could do to hamper his efforts.
Mounted, the calvary uniforms of both the patriot legion and British legion were similar. The short green jackets of Lee's legion fooled the loyalists into thinking that Lee was Tarleton. Lee's calvary entered Pyle's camp, while Picken's troops of Maryland infantry and South Carolina militia surrounded the camp. Lee's initial plan was to take the loyalists captive, however, when he went to surreptitiously shake Pyle's hand and inform him that his men were now surrounded and needed to surrender, gunfire broke out in the back of Picken's troops and the fighting continued. Noting the red in the loyalist uniform, one of the militia men pointed out to Captain Eggleston that this was a camp of loyalists. Eggleston, new to the area and not familiar with the loyalist badges, asked the man who he fought for. When the man replied, "King George", Eggleston struck the man on the head with his sabre. Seeing this, the other militiamen joined in. Believing that the attack was a mistake, the loyalists continued to say that they were fighting for the King. In the fray, Pyle was badly wounded. Lore has it that he hid out in a pond until he was rescued.
Lee maintained that it was not his intention to massacre the enemy. There is also accounts that say that a late arriving party was massacred by a band of Catawba warriors. Lee and Pickens sought Tarleton who was recalled to the main British camp at Hillsborough. Deciding he was too close to the main army, Lee and Pickens went elsewhere.
The aftermath left 90 dead loyalists with many wounded. The result was that loyalists were hesitant to join Cornwallis and the morale shrunk among them. The patriots' sole loss was a horse. Pyle did eventually surrender to the patriot forces. Because of his service to wounded patriot soldiers, he was pardoned.
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