On July 29, 1781, Phillip Alston and a small band of patriot militia were besieged at the Alston home by forces loyal to the king under the command of David Fanning. The attack occurred in the early morning hours and, trapped in his house, Alston ordered his men to barricade the doors and windows. Fanning posted his men along a split rail fence outside the home and, for several hours, the men exchanged fire with no side gaining a real advantage.
As her house was being riddled by bullets, Temperance Alston, Phillip’s wife, was level-headed enough to hide her children in the chimney, standing them on a table so that their bodies were behind the brickwork. Just as Fanning was considering retreating, his men found a small wagon in Alston’s barn. He ordered it loaded with hay and set it afire with the purpose of pushing it into the house. In an effort to save the lives of everyone in the inside, Temperance cautiously stepped out and negotiated a surrender.
The Alston house, near the Moore County town of Carthage, is now known as the House in the Horseshoe and is a North Carolina State Historic Site.
Other related resources:
For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.