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This Day in History: The little-known Battle of Shallow Ford

On this day in 1780, a band of Loyalists are defeated at the lesser-known Battle of Shallow Ford. It was the second Patriot victory within a matter of days!

The Battle of Shallow Ford was a relatively small battle, and it doesn’t usually get too much attention in history books. The bigger American victory at King’s Mountain, which occurred only one week earlier, tends to get all the attention instead.

But both battles were important! Each was a domino that fell, prompting British General Charles Cornwallis to pull out of North Carolina.

At about this time, many Americans had left their homes to join the Patriot effort against Cornwallis. The Patriot enthusiasm was great, of course, but it also left many homes in the area unprotected. A Loyalist force under Gideon and Hezekiah Wright decided to take advantage of the situation. They ravaged the countryside, destroying these unprotected properties.

Naturally, the Patriots in the area weren’t going to let these attacks go unanswered!

A force of assorted Patriot militia gathered to meet the Loyalist threat. On the morning of October 14, these Americans were on the west side of the Yadkin River near a wide crossing known as Shallow Ford. They spotted the Loyalists on the other side of the river.

Apparently, when the two sides saw each other, cries of “Tory! Tory!” and “Rebel! Rebel” floated across the river. The Loyalist and Patriot militia soon began firing at each other.

A Loyalist officer was killed early in the fight and the Loyalists were soon discouraged and ready to retreat. By some accounts, they yelled, “We are whipped! We are whipped!” as they broke up and began retreating toward their homes.

The Loyalists lost a little more than a dozen men. Only one Patriot was killed.  

The Battle of Shallow Ford might not be one of the more glamorous, flashy battles in our history, but it still served an important purpose: It helped to loosen the British grip on the South.

The surrender at Yorktown was only a year away.



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