Rodney Daffron states
in his Revolutionary War Pension Application that he joined at Six Mile Creek.
Six Mile Creek was the headquarters
for the Southern Army during the Fall of 1780. If we are to understand the part Camp New Providence
at Six Mile Creek played in the Revolutionary War in North Carolina we have to look back to earlier in 1780. (Spelling in some of the Rev. War Application [RWPA]is as was written at the time.)
On 16 April 1780, when Washington
learned that Rowdon and 2,500 men were to join Clinton’s army in S.C., he sent the Maryland lines and the Delaware regiments
with the 1st Artillery, consisting of 18 field pieces, south to help the Southern States. They left from Morristown, New Jersey. Baron De Kalb who was
about 58 yrs old, was placed in command. Numbering 1400, they consisted
of two brigades. The first, commanded by Brigadier General William Smallwood,
was 1st, 3rd, 5th and 7th Maryland regiments.
Second, commanded by Brigadier General Mordicai Gist, was 2nd,
4th, 6th Marylanders and Regiment of Delaware. The
quartermaster general was unable to make provisions for the march. They had to
forge for themselves, living off the county.
They arrived in Hillsboro on June 22, rested
a week, then continue on July 1st. Reinforcements were few. The journey was difficult. De Kalb left
6 guns in Hillsboro and 4 at the Roanoke River for lack of horses to draw them.
The men carried their belongings on their back. Without any provisions,
they often fasted for several days at a time or lived off green apples and peaches found on their way. For two weeks they camped at Buffalo Ford on Deep River. While
there, De Kalb received news that Lincoln, the commander of the Southern Department
had be captured. De Kalb was the senior officer in the department, but
a foreigner, so he was not considered for the position. Washington wanted Nathaniel
Green, but Congress choose Horatio Gates to take command.
De Kalb had moved to Hollinsworth’s
Farm on Deep River before July 25 when Gates arrived. Gates told all to “hold themselves in readiness to march at a
moment’s warning”. Not taking in consideration of the troops condition.
When officers pointed this out, Gates promised “Plentiful supplies awaited them on route”. Gates choose to march toward Camden by the direct road two days after his arrival. On Aug 7th General Caswell and 2,100 North Carolina militia joined his army. 15 miles north of Camden General Edward Stevens and 700 Virginia militia joined him. They arrive on August 15th, tired and worn down. Rations
never appeared on route as promised.
George Oldham RWPA states: “…They got into South Carolina, they went under Stephen Moore and marched
into South Carolina where they joined General Gates abt Aug 16 1780, near Lynche Creek and was at Gates defeat
at Camden, “
a meal of bread and meat that did more harm than good to the troops stomachs, Gates ordered a march at 10:00 at night. Four hours into the march they ran right into the enemy. Cornwallis had marched toward Gates at the same time. After
the initial surprise, battle ensured. Since neither side wanted to fight at night, the battle was suspended. Among the casualties on the American side was Lieutenant Colonel Charles Porterfield, who died from his wounds. Prisoners were taken on both sides.
Kell RWPA states:
In July 1780
he turned out volunteer under Capt. Trice under Col. Porterfield and Genl Butler and joined Genl Gates at Lynches Creek &
marched to Rugeley's Mill -- and in the evening was marched to near Camden where they met the British & in the morning
the Battle was fought he was in the Battle shot twice in the night & once in the morning. After the Battle, he was
marched on retreat to Salisbury & from there to Hillsboro where he was discharged this tour he served three months at
Dawn found both sides ready for battle. Gates set on his right side: Gist’s
2nd Brigade: 3 Maryland regiments and one Delaware along with one North Carolina regiment. De Kalb is in charge of the right wing. Artillery was in front
of the center. The left wing was Caswell’s North Carolina militia, Armand,
and Stevens Virginia militia. General Smallwood’s 1st Marylands
were behind center, held in reserve. Gates and staff were stationed about
200 yards behind Smallwood.
The first advance by the British and their
Bayonets collapsed the American left wing. The 500 Virginians ran in fear, throwing
their muskets away. The North Carolina troops saw this and threw down their arms
and fled. The nearly 2,000 North Carolinians failed to fire a single shot. The 2,500 burst through the 1st Marylands.
This left one North Carolina regiment standing with the 2nd Brigade.
Knowing nothing of the retreat of the other wing, they fought. They
were winning their battle and thought the battle was going well for all. There
were no orders from Gates to retreat, so they continued to fight for nearly an hour.
De Kalb sent his aide to request reserves from the lst Maryland brigade. But General Smallwood had left the field. Under
the command of Otho Williams the lst Maryland’s tried to help the 2nd Brigade in vain. The British were between them and the 2nd Brigade.
De Kalb’s horse was shot out from
under him. He fought hand to hand. His head was opened by a saber, and bandaged
by an adjutant who begged him retreat. But without orders from Gates, who was
miles away, he fought on. Cornwallis threw his entire force at the remaining
Americans. 2,000 against 600. Gist
and 100 men waded into a swamp and escaped. De Kalb finally stopped after he had been wounded eleven times. His
aid protected his fallen generals body from the enemy. De Kalb was taken to a wagon, where he stood bleeding and barely able to stand.
Cornwallis found him and sent him to the British surgeons. He lived for
three days before dying in Camden.
John Moore’s RWPA states: “…and came to Rugely Mills about 12 miles from Camden S.C. that on the night before the Battle of Gates defeat, he moved from there and met the British, that the
American Forces were drawn up in Battle order and continued so until morning when an engagement took place between the American
and British forces that he was in the engagement that after the Battle, was over
his company dispersed and he returned to Orange County North Carolina, and was informed by Genrl Butler, that he could serve
out his time with any company ….”
Davis’s RWPA states: …volunteer in the year 1780 Caswell
county a regt commanded by Col Adam Saunders, Major Geo Oldham & Capt Jn Oldham – we marched from there to near
Camden when we had a general battle under the commands of Genl Gates, Baron De Kalb & others. When the Baron was killed and we meet with a severe defeat by Lord Cornwallis – we then retreated
back after which I was again discharged by a General Rutherford…..”
George Oldham RWPA states: “He was put in front which made
____ the attack . After the defeat he went or was ordered back to Pedee where
Genl Stephen had left his baggage and Genl Butler sent for him to be at Hillsboro and to get all the men in Caswell to
Joseph Darnall RWPA states: “I fought in Battle of Camden, under Gen. Gates, we were defeated and got
home the best way we could.”
After the Battle of Camden, what was left
of the American army made it’s way to Charlotte. The fleeing Americans
were scattered everywhere; unable to find their officers. Some found temporary
refuge in the swamps, but Colonel Tarleton and his horsemen, picking up prisoners, pursued others who took to the road. They also had to deal with civilian enemies stealing everything of value from them. General Smallwood arrived in Charlotte with only a handful of men. There was little food and defense in the open village minimal so Smallwood gathered the remnant of the
Southern Army along with families, 300 friendly Catawba Indians, wounded men in wagons, litters and some on horseback, and
moved on to Salisbury and then on to Hillsborough.
General Gates having fled
the Battle on horseback was already in Hillsborough. He had stopped overnight
in Charlotte the day of the battle, leaving the following morning on a fresh horse.
He arrived on the 19th having made two hundred miles in three days, setting a new record for even the fastest
rider. His hasty retreat from battle, after giving only one command was to
be his downfall.
Alexander RWPA states:
In 1780 we were called out and went under the command of Maj. Wm. R. Davie,
an Attorney and afterwards a Minister to France, I believe to join Gen. Gates near Camden. Maj. Davie was a
tall Sallow complexioned man with blue eyes. In getting as far as Gaston which is near the South Carolina line we met
the American Army retreating. Gen. Gates and Maj. Davie had some conversation. We advanced some distance when in meeting
some officer flying we also joined in the retreat. Gen. Gates had on a pale blue coat with epaulets, with velvet
breeches, riding a bay horse. We retreated as far as Charlotte very much fatigued and worn down. The enemy followed us
into Charlotte commanded by Gen. Cornwallis where they took up quarters and remained there this was in August. The American
force was encamped ten miles north of Charlotte.
Men arrived daily, hungry, exhausted, and
almost naked, until around 700 of Gate’s Army of 4,000 men had assembled. They
would have to be refitted for clothes, tents and blankets and for most muskets.
Daniel Cockerham RWPA states:
“That they marched from Surry Co to Salisbury in Rowan Co, NC; thence across the Yadkin River, at the mouth of Rocky River; thence down River, Pedee, after the junction of Rocky Rivr at Cheraw Hills,
in S.C. Then they joined army of Gen. Gates; then mchd under Major Joseph Vinstion,
to reinforce Gen. Sumpter; when they joined Sumpter’s army mile between Camden in S.C. was with Sumpter at time of
Gate’s defeat, and on Friday after Gates’s Defeat, the troops under Sumpter were overtaken and defeated
either by Tarlton or some other British officer, who commanded the enemy forces at that time,” after this he returned
James Miller’s RWPA states: “He further states that afterwards he volunteered again with the same captain in
a company of Mounted gunmen, which was in a few days after he returned from the first expedition and was marched down to Congeree river and crossed over to a place called Blackstocks where he sayd he
was in the battle at that place, and that general Sumpter was wounded there by a ball in the shoulder and was marched back
and recrossed the Congeree river and down on Linches Creek and from that to Black river; he states he was along when three
or four wagons loaded with clothing & belonging to the Brittish was taken on there way from Charlestown to Camden, he
says they took also, about forty or fifty prisoners, and put the prisoners and clothing on board of some boats on the Congeree
and attempted to convey them to Fluds ford on said river but was prevented from doing so, by an attack made upon the Americans
from the bank by the Brittish, and the Americans landed on the opposite bank leaving the clothing and prisoners to the enemy. He states that shortly after that an attempt was made by the Americans under the Command
of General Sumpter, to defeat the same Brittish troops that retook the clothing and prisoners, and to remove them from their
small fort which they had erected on the bank of the Congeree river, but before the Americans reached that place they came
in contact with a reenforcement of the Brittish and that an engagement between the two armies took place, and that the Americans
was defeated. He says he was then marched to Fishing Creek in Fairfield or Chester
district South Carolina, and he says that at that place General Sumpter was again defeated by the Brittish under the Command
of Col. Tarlton..”
On the 18th of August,
an American regiment lead by Colonel Sumter had made camp on the north side of Fishing Creek.
Tarleton surprised and killed around 150. Capturing about 310. They released
the British prisoners and took all forty-four carriages loaded with miscellaneous stores.
Two days later Colonel Sumter arrived at Major William Davie’s Camp in Charlotte without a single man.
The British now controlled Georgia, South
Carolina and were preparing to capture North Carolina. North Carolina Militia
officers meet in Charlotte. They appointed Colonel Robert Irwin to assemble the
county militia and camp south of Charlotte. He was joined there by Colonel Francis Locke with the Rowan County militia. NC
Governor Nash appointed William Davidson Brigadier General in Command and Major William Davie to Colonel commanding all the
Western District militia. Their camp was on McAlpine Creek, about 15 miles from
Daniel Apple RWPA states: “That in August 1780 in the County of Guilford ..he volunteered as private
militiaman … That immediately thereafter he was marched under the said
Captain to the South passing through Salisbury to Charlotte in Mecklenburg County.
A few miles beyond which these troops were met by the British under Cornwallis when we retreated repassing Salisbury
and the Yadkin River being pursued by the enemy, where our troops were encamped for something like a week, where upon the
British returning South our forces were again marched after them and the main army went as far as what was called the Six
Mile Creek where it encamped and this applicant was detached as one of a scout or reconnoitering party that they pursued
the enemy as far as the Catawba River upon the border of So Carolina ….
In early September Cornwallis moves his
Army to the North Carolina line on Waxhaw Creek.
Col. Davie set up camp between Davidson
and Cornwallis at Six mile creek.
Jones RWPA states:
“That he entered the service …in
the fall of 1780 … I had a very good mare and did join
the Light Horse company under the command of Solomon Walker Captain ….we rendezvoused at Hillsborough but we were there
collected and all different light Horse Companies were placed under the command of Colonel Phil Taylor. From Hillsborough we marched through Salisbury, …..to the neighborhood of Charlotte which was then
in the possession of the Enemy. Between Salisbury and Charlotte I saw Young
Locke who had been killed by the British. His brother was carrying his dead body
on a horse before him when we met ….At lenth upon the British leaving Charlotte & crossing the Catawba, my mare
was taken sick and I was left to take care of her and to guard a baggage wagon together with a few others at New Providence
on Six Mile Creek. Here I remained until my term of service had expired and
my mare having died in the meantime, I received my discharge and walked home on foot”
William young’s RWPA states: ….into Mecklenburg County beyond Charlotte to New Providence not
far from South Carolina and that he was then under Gen’l Davidson in the fall of 1780
Etheldred Thomas RWPA states :
Entered as a substitute for Joshua Jones in the latter part of September 1780, in the Franklin County Militia North Carolina,
on the term of three months, under command of Jenkins Devany Field officers Colonel Hart and Lieutenant Colonel
Branch, and commanded by General Jones. We commenced our march at Louisburgthence to Hillsboro to Salisbury to Charlotte
– and thence to Six Mile Creek, New Providence, in North Carolina in North Carolina, where we were
placed under command of General Smallwood until General Greene took command of the Southern Army on the 2nd December 1780. He was in the detachment under Lieutenant Colonel Washington, when he captured Rugeley's
Fort, by mounting a pine log shaped like a cannon on a pair of cart wheels, seeing which caused the surrender of the Fort
by Colonel Rugeley with 117 Tories and a British officer who was paying his addresses to Rugeley's daughter: the Fort about
13 miles above Camden in South Carolina. The prisoners were guarded to New Providence where General Greene had his
Head Quarters. In a few days we marched with the prisoners and placed them in Salisbury Jail.
Daffron RWPA states: I the said Rody Daffron
volunteered at Six Mile Creek, just below Charlotte in the State of North Carolina for three months under
Captain Roney his christian name not recollected, and served under Col. Fifer and General Smallwood their
christian names not recollected
A camp at Six mile creek was maintained through the fall. Colonel Davidson having been
promoted to Brigadier General, encamped near Six Mile Creek, where he was joined by Generals Morgan and Smallwood,
in October, 1780.
Austin Smith RWPA states:
he again entered the service as a substitute in the place of one JAMES
the twentieth of August 1780, for a three months tour of militia service. That
they rendezvoused at Guilford Courthouse under the command of Captain ARTHUR FORBIS.
ROBERT MOORE was the Lieutenant of the company. Colonel JOHN PAISLEY commanded
the regiment. That he set out and marched for Salisbury thence towards Charlotte,
near which place they learned that the British were advancing in great force. That
they fell back and crossed the Yadkin River and there remained until
SMALLWOOD and General MORGAN with the Maryland light infantry under Colonels WILLIAMS and HOWARD, and Colonel
WASHINGTON with his troop of light dragoons and also a brigade of North Carolina militia under General JONES came
on and joined them, when they recrossed the Yadkin and marched through Salisbury and to a place in Mecklenburg
County called Providence, when we built tents, cleared out a parade ground, and continued to train the militia until
our term of service expired, which was about the first of December 1780.”
By mid November, General Gates arrived with troops. Smallwood is in attendance
for a meeting with Gates and others on Nov. 25th. . Gates decides to establish camp back in Charlotte for the winter. Smallwood stays at Six Mile Creek. Congress has asked General George Washington to appoint someone
to head the Southern Army. He appoints General Nathanael Greene. Brig.
Gen. William Smallwood apparently had thought to command the Southern Army himself.
He leaves to return to Maryland around the 19th of December 1780
(So if Rody Daffron knew of Gen
Smallwood at Six Mile Creek camp, then he must have joined sometime between early October
and mid December of 1780. But since he states that he went to Cheraw Hills
and back to Salisbury, and that he served (3) three months, I would put his enrollment around mid November.)
It is early December that General
Nathanael Greene arrives to take command from General Gates.
P. Riggan RWPA states:
leaving the Town of Charlotte – Mecklenburg Cty. No. Car. some miles to the right
– in order to avoid the small-pox which was said to be then raging there. Some miles below Charlotte, at a place called
New Providence or Six mile creek they fell in with the Regular Army under the command of Gen’ls. Smallwood &
Green and this being about the time that Gen’l. Green was ordered to the
South to supersede Gen’l Gates in the command of the southern army. this affiant
recollects well the fact of the latter General’s shedding tears when he resigned his sword to the former. He
had more opportunities of observing particulars at this time than many others because he was one of the attendants on the
person & camp of his commanding General – Jones. at General Jones’s quarters he frequently saw the officers
of the army – among them he distinctly recollects Col. Washington who commanded a troop of horse. he was the finest
looking man he ever saw. While stationed at this place information was rec’d. that a large number of Tories had
collected together at Rudgely’s Mills under the command of Col. Rudgely a celebrated Tory of that day – a detachment of Troops was ordered out to put
the Tories to the route, but finding that their numbers exceeded all expectation the expedition was about to prove fruitless
when a stratagem was resolved on – which resulted in the surrender of the whole Tory force This stratagem was nothing
more than a log of wood, as was said at the time – made to resemble as much as possible a piece of artillery or cannon.
The Tories being taken were brought forthwith into camp."
Camp New Providence at Six Mile Creek being the Headquarters for the Southern Army at
this time, is where General Gates passes commanded over to General Greene.
General Greene found the troops of the
Southern Department in a very sad shape.
“ When Gen. Greene entered upon his command, he
found himself under the
greatest embarrassments. The
numerous Whig militia that had been kept on foot in
North Carolina, had laid waste almost
all the country.
The troops were destitute of every thing necessary either
for their comfort or convenience. , The
naked; there were no magazines; and the army was
subsisted by daily collections. Every thing depended
upon opinion; and it was equally dangerous for him to
forward or to stand still ; for if he lost the confidence
of the people, he lost all support ; and if he rushed on
danger, all was hazarded……. “(2.) see below
They consisted of about 90 Cavalrymen, 60 Artillerists, and 2307 infantrymen, of which only abt 1500 were present.
Absent were about 547. Of those present only about 800 were properly clothed
and equipped. Some of Colonel Washington’s cavalry were so naked
they had to be sent back to Virginia for clothing. The provisions around Charlotte
were exhausted having been stripped by the army and militia on both sides.
“ The fewness of his troops, the nature of the country, filled with woods
and swamps, and thinly inhabited, and the want of magazines, led the general to
conclude on a partisan war.
On his arrival at camp, he learned that the troops had
made a practice of going home without permission,
staying weeks and then returning. Determined to stop such
custom, the general gave out that he would
make an example of the first deserter of the kind he
caught ; and one was
accordingly shot at the head of the
army drawn up to be spectators of the punishment.
[I have read
that some one was hung, not shot]
At night he
sent officers round the camp to listen to the
talk of the soldiers, and was happy to find that the mea-
sure had taken
its desired effect, and that the language
of the men was only — " We must not do as we have
been used to: it
is new lords new laws." (2.) see below
Green sent Gen. Kosciuszko to explore the surrounding countryside. He reported back that the area on the Pee Dee River at Cheraw Hill
could sustain the army. Since this was further from Cornwallis’
base at Winnsboro than New Providence, Green made the decision to divide his army. By
doing this, he made it easier for both to survive on the existing countryside’s rations.
And second he could put a fighting force on each of Cornwallis flanks if he should take the route back into South Carolina. On Dec 16th, Green notified General Daniel Morgan who was in command
of the Light Infantry composed of 320 Maryland and Delaware Continentals, 200 Virginia Militia under Major Triplett and 60
to 100 light dragoons under Lieutenant Colonel William Washington, that he was to proceed to the west side of the Catawba
River, where he would be meet by Militia led by Davidson and Sumter. The second
of his two wings was led by Brigadier General Isaac Huger. Green would go with
Huger to the Pee Dee.
this point I have to point out the Rodney Daffron most have gone with General Huger and General Green. He states in his RWPA: “ I marched to the Cheraw Hills thence to
Benjamin Martin RWPA states:
The last Aug.
1780, the militia of Fauquier were called on to reinforce our army in Carolina. I substituted in the place of James Kamper
he being a married man and I being a single man, Francis Triplet was Captain and John Combs Lieutenant, I was appointed first
Sergeant. Another company was attached to us under Capt. James Winn. We marched from Fauquier Courthouse, the first of September,
we passed through Fredricksburg, then to Richmond, then to Petersburg, from thence
to Hillsborough in North Carolina, and there we joined the Maryland troops under Col. Howard, we marched from Hillsborough
in N.C. to a place called New Providence and General Green took command. Col. Daniel Morgan was promoted to Brigadier
General, the Augusta-Rockbridge militia joined us, the Virginia militia was form into a battalion, Capt. Triplett was promoted
to Major and John Combs was made Capt. in his place. General Greene detached General Mogan with the Maryland troops
under Col. Howard, the Virginia militia under Major Francis Triplett and Col William Washington's Light Horse. General Morgan
marched down on Pecklet River and took up camp on a hill near the River and continued to send out detachments and defeat the
Tory's. And about the Middle of January we were informed that Col. Tarlton was coming on us with superior force. We
retreated to a place we called Cowpens and took up camp all in order for battle. The British attached us early in the morning.
I was in the road all the time of the action I was covering Capt. Combs he was killed. Capt. Dobson and Lieutenant Ewen was
on the left of the Maryland Troops near me, the British were completely defeated. We marched on with the prisoners
to Salsberry . I continued with the army until the first of February and received a discharge as first sergeant for six months.
The discharge was given my by Major Francis Triplett, on the road near the North Carolina line, the tour a private soldier.
camp celebrated Morgans’ victory over the British. With a guide,
an aide and a sergeant’s guard of dragoons Green rode out to join Morgan. He made the 125 mile trip in a little over two days.
He issued orders before he left to Huger to get head north to Salisbury. [Rody most have gone with Huger.]
“ The retreat of the battalions from the Peedee under Huger, was conducted for 100 miles under circumstances requiring the utmost patience. The
worst wagons, with the poorest teams, and most useless part of the baggage, were early sent off by col. O.Williams to Hillsborough;
but the best, and even the artillery, was an encumbrance in their situation. They
were some times with meat, often with flour, and always without spirituous liquors. Notwithstanding
the wintry season, and their having little clothing, they were daily reduced to the necessity of fording
deep creeks, and of remaining wet without any change of raiment, till the heat
of their bodies and occasional fires in the woods, dried their tattered rags. Their
route lay through a barren country, which scarcely afforded necessaries for a few straggling inhabitants. They were retarded
by heavy rains, broken bridges, bad roads, and poor horses. Many of them
marched without shoes over the frozen ground, and through flinty roads, which so gashed their feet, that the blood marked
every step of their progress. All these hardships were endured with the
loss of a single sentinel by desertion. “ (2.)
The History of the Rise, Progress & Establishment of the Independence of the United States VOL IV Published 1788 by William Gordon.)