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Charlotte, North Carolina

Charlotte, North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA. 26 September 1780. Cornwallis moved the largest of his three columns toward this village of twenty homes and a courthouse. Colonel William Davie was waiting to challenge him with twenty dragoons posted behind a stone wall near the courthouse and the rest of his command along Steel Creek road, in front of the stone wall. Major George Davidson commanded two companies of mounted riflemen, about seventy men, and Major Joseph Graham had a small body of Mecklenburg militia.

After being surprised by Davie at Wahab's Plantation on 21 September, Major George Hanger led the reinforced British Legion as an advance guard. When the rebel position was discovered at Charlotte, Hanger—anxious for revenge—sent his infantry forward to clear the rebels from the fences along the road, and he himself led the cavalry charge against the twenty dismounted dragoons. Both elements of this ill-conceived attack were stopped by fire and driven back. At this point the British light infantry under Lieutenant Colonel James Webster arrived and forced the rebels to leave their fences along the road and fall back to defensive positions to the east of the town. Hanger and Webster renewed the attack and Davie ordered a retreat to Salisbury. The Legion cavalry pursued vigorously for several miles, a task more to its taste.

Each side lost about five killed and a dozen wounded. Davie did an excellent job of holding up Cornwallis's advance and withdrawing his forces under fire.

Davie, his small force of some 150 men augmented by nearly 1,000 militia under General Jethro Sumner, harassed the British at every turn, picking off foraging parties, attacking convoys from Camden, and—by intercepting messengers—keeping Cornwallis virtually without news of Ferguson's operations. Learning of the latter's defeat at Kings Mountain, Cornwallis abandoned his plans for a winter offensive into North Carolina and left Charlotte on the evening of 14 October to start his retreat to Winnsboro, South Carolina.

SEE ALSO Kings Mountain, South Carolina; Wahab's Plantation, North Carolina.

                          revised by Michael Bellesiles

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