“Fire And Be Damned” Battle of Alamance 1771

The Regulator Movement was a mid 18th century uprising against State and County officials by farmers in the backwoods areas of NC , mostly in Anson, Orange and Granville Counties. In those days, the eastern end of the State was settled with the Capitol and Royal Governor in New Bern, western (what we would now call central) North Carolina was frontier.

The farmers who had migrated west felt they were being taxed too much for their less valuable land and were rightly upset at officials running their offices for personal gain. Frustrated at the governments refusal to hear their grievances, they formed themselves as the Regulators.

Appointed officials were targeted for threats and violence. In one instance, they seized Edmund Fanning and dragged him by his heels down some stairs, banging his head on each one. Another official’s home was raided and his belongings thrown out the window.

When William Tryon was appointed governor and built his “palace” with public money, things got worse coming to a head on 16 May, 1771. Tryon and 1000 militia soldiers met around 2000 Regulators west of Hillsboro. The Regulators attempted to talk, but Tryon would only hear them if they laid down their weapons and dispersed within the hour. When no reply came from the Regulators, the governor sent a message that he would fire on them unless they disbanded. “Fire and be damned” was the response. The engagement lasted about two hours with the better trained and equipped militia claiming victory.

More at these links.


NC History Project

NC Dept Cultural Resources

Friends Of Alamance Battleground



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