Alamance, Battle of the

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Alamance, Battle of the

ALAMANCE, BATTLE OF THE. 16 May 1771. In an effort to use military force to suppress what he believed was a spreading insurrection by Regulators against law, order, and legal government in the Piedmont of North Carolina, Governor William Tryon raised over 1,000 militiamen, mostly in the Tidewater counties, and marched at their head from New Bern west toward Hillsborough, where he intended to link up with Hugh Waddell, who was leading a second column of 250 reluctant militiamen northeast from Salisbury. Tryon reached Hillsborough without opposition, but learned that Waddell had been confronted by large numbers of Regulators and had not advanced. On 11 May, Tryon's force started toward Salisbury, and on 14 May it reached the Alamance River. The Regulators were camped five miles away. Although they numbered 2,000 men to Tryon's 1,100 men, the Regulators had no single leader and no artillery, and many were unarmed. On 16 May Tryon formed his militiamen in two lines outside the Regulators' encampment and demanded their submission. Still without proper leadership and divided among themselves as to whether they would do battle or merely make a show of resistance to gain concessions from the royal governor, the Regulators formed a crude line of defense. Tryon opened fire with his artillery (two brass cannon sent by General Thomas Gage from New York), ordered his infantry to advance, and after more than an hour of sporadic and uneven resistance drove the insurgents from the field in disorder. At least nine militiamen were killed, and a further sixty-one were wounded. The Regulators may have lost as many as twenty men killed; an unknown number were wounded.

SEE ALSO Regulators.


Butler, Lindley S. North Carolina and the Coming of the Revolution. Raleigh: North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and History, 1976.

Kars, Marjoleine. Breaking Loose Together: The Regulator Rebellion in Pre-Revolutionary North Carolina. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2002.

Powell, William S. The War of the Regulation and the Battle of the Alamance. Raleigh: Division of Archives and History, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, 1976.

                           revised by Harold E. Selesky