Cornwallis' Forces Pursue Greene

to the Trading Ford

From General Joseph Graham and his Papers on North Carolina Revolutionary History, by Major William A. Graham. Raleigh: Edwards & Broughton, 1904, pp. 300-301.

Being now within twenty miles of Salisbury, the British General, not doubting that the rains and bad roads would obstruct the march of General Morgan as much as it did his own, on the 3d of February [1781] marched at an early hour. His pioneers opened a kind of track in the bushes on each side of the road for a single file. The wagons, artillery and horsemen only kept the road. By the time they got within eight miles of Salisbury, their line of march was extended four miles, but there were no troops near to intercept them. Their van arrived in Salisbury about three o'clock. Before the rear came in, Brigadier-General O'Hara and the cavalry moved on. It was seven miles to the Trading Ford on the Yadkin, and it was getting dark when he came near. General Morgan had passed his regulars and baggage all over, and there remained on the south side only one hundred and fifty militia and the baggage wagons of the troops which had escaped from Cowan's Ford, and some others. Finding the British approaching, the militia were drawn up near a half mile from the ford, where a branch crosses which was covered with small timber and bushes, and there was an old field along ther road in their front. When O'Hara came, twilight was nearly gone. The American position was low along the branch, under shade of the timber; that of the advancing foe was open and on higher ground, and between them and the sky, was quite visible. When they came within sixty steps, the Americans commenced firing, the enemy returned it and began to form a line. As their rear came up, they extended their line to the right, and were turning the left flank of the militia by crossing the branch above. This being discovered, a retreat was ordered after having fired, some two, some three rounds. It was easily effected in the dark. They passed down the river two miles and crossed over, abandoning the baggage and other wagons which could not be gotten over, to the enemy, after taking out the horses. Two of the militia were killed; the loss of the enemy was not known, but from appearances of blood in different places, believed to be ten or twelve. They were by far the most numerous, yet from the positions of the contending parties were most exposed. After the firing ceased, the British marched on to the river, but found the water was too deep to ford, and still rising, and that General Morgan, encamped on the other side, had with him all the boats and canoes.

General O'Hara returned to Salisbury the same night, notwithstanding the badness of the roads. Those under his command marched thirty-four miles in the course of this day and part of the night. On the 4th, the army needed rest, and their commander being, it is supposed, undecided what course to pursue, they remained in Salisbury.

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