On May 16, 1771, the Battle of Alamance was fought. The two opposing forces were colonial militia, under the command of Governor William Tryon, and a band of frontier citizens known as Regulators, who raised arms against corrupt practices in local government. Tryon’s force of 1,100 men marched into Regulator country to subdue the uprisings. About 2,000 Regulators, armed with old muskets and makeshift weapons, organized near Tryon’s camp. Messages were exchanged, with the governor demanding immediate and complete surrender of the Regulators and the Regulators petitioning the Governor for reforms.
Nothing came of the negotiations and, on the morning of May 16, Tryon ordered his forces to march. Tryon sent messages offering surrender terms while his militia marched slowly forward, but the Regulators rejected them all. The governor’s artillery began the engagement, followed by concentrated musket fire from the militia. The Regulators prevailed for a while before retreating into the woods. Eventually Tryon ordered a charge, which drove the Regulators from their positions.
Nine Regulators were killed, more than 200 were wounded and between 20 and 30 were taken prisoner. Nine of Tryon’s men were killed and another 61 were wounded. Though the Battle of Alamance quieted the Regulators, the effects of their calls for reform eventually reverberated.
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