Clapp's Mills, North Carolina

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Clapp's Mills, North Carolina

CLAPP'S MILLS, NORTH CAROLINA. 2 March 1781. During the period of maneuvering that preceded the Battle of Guilford Court House, British and American patrols collided on 2 March near Clapp's Mills on the Haw River. Lieutenant Colonel Henry Lee does not mention this brisk skirmish in his memoirs, but both Nathanael Greene and Charles Cornwallis mentioned it in their reports. The American force consisted of Lee's Second Partisan Corps reinforced by elements of Colonel Otho Holland Williams's light corps and some North Carolina and Virginia militia. Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton led the British light troops with Colonel James Webster's brigade in support. Lee used the militia as a screening force; when they started taking casualties they became convinced that they were being "sacrificed" to protect the Continentals and fell back. Tarleton did not pursue because he feared running into Greene's main body. Casualties were light on both sides, and the skirmish had little tactical significance. It and a second skirmish at Wetzell's Mills on 6 March did, however, lead to deteriorating morale among the North Carolina militia, which had a real impact on the rest of the spring campaign.

SEE ALSO Southern Campaigns of Nathanael Greene; Wetzell's Mills, North Carolina.


Bartholomees, James Boone, Jr. "Fight or Flee: The Combat Performance of the North Carolina Militia in the Cowpens-Guilford Courthouse Campaign, January to March 1781." Ph.D. dissertation, Duke University, 1978.

                         revised by Robert K. Wright Jr.