Militias Battle at Ramsour’s Mill, 1780

A re-enactment of the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill. Image from the Lincoln Times-News.On June 20, 1780, at the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill, Col. Francis Locke and his Patriot force stormed the defenses of the Loyalist militia led by Maj. John Moore.

Farmers, not soldiers, determined the outcome of most Revolutionary War battles fought in North Carolina, as most of the skirmishes and battles were fought between Loyalist and colonial militias. Few participants had ever received formal military training. The engagement at Ramsour’s Mill was no exception to this rule.

In hopes of supplementing Lord Cornwallis’s British force at Camden, S.C., Moore had gathered a force of 1,300 Loyalists near Derick Ramsour’s Mill in what is now Lincoln County. Knowing this, Patriot militias mobilized and began marching to the mill, launching their attack at dawn nearly a week later.

The fighting at Ramsour’s Mill soon degraded into little more than a killing field, primarily because of a lack of military discipline. Though the Loyalists outnumbered the Patriots almost 4-to-1, many of them ran from the field. Each side lost around 150 men, but the Patriots prevailed since they had uprooted the Loyalists from their position.

The battle was indecisive at best, but was illustrative of how the Patriot militia played a significant role in the war throughout the South.

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