On September 13, 1781, the largest engagement of North Carolina’s “Tory War” took place in present-day Alamance County near Thomas Lindley’s mill. In the aftermath of Lord Charles Cornwallis’s invasion of North Carolina in the spring of 1781, a prolonged civil conflict erupted in the Piedmont. Whig and Loyalist militias openly attacked each other as well as neutral parties.
At dawn on September 12, under the cover of a heavy fog, David Fanning’s men entered Hillsborough, taking the town by surprise and capturing 200 prisoners, including most of the General Assembly and Governor Thomas Burke. Fanning and his men, their prisoners in tow, departed for Wilmington in the afternoon.
Word of the disaster reached Brigadier General John Butler of the North Carolina militia that evening. Butler quickly organized men from Orange County to intercept the Tory force. Butler’s 400 men arrived ahead of Fanning at Lindley’s Mill. On the morning of September 13, fighting erupted. When it was all over, Fanning had received a serious wound in his arm, forcing him to retire from the field. That night, local Quakers collected the dead and wounded on the field. Local surgeons were called upon to help administer to the wounded.
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