Overmountain Victory Trail Association

Sunday, February 25th, 2018

On 25 February 1781, in what is now Alamance County, a party of nearly 400 Tories under the command of Col. John Pyle, a former Regulator, ran into advance elements of Lieutenant Colonel Henry Lee’s Legion. Mistakenly thinking the green-jacketed men before them were the British Legion, Pyle’s Tories calmly moved to the roadside awaiting “Tarleton’s” passage. Lee rode the entire length of the Tory line “dropping occasionally expressions complimentary to the good looks and commendable conduct of his loyal friends.” Lee argued that fighting began as he was shaking hands with Pyle and preparing to reveal his true identity. However, North Carolinian Joseph Graham argued that it started when Legion Major Joseph Eggleston asked a Tory, “Whose man are you?” The man answered, “A friend of his majesty,” and Eggleston cut him down. Casualty figures document the identification of Pyles defeat as a massacre, Captain Joseph Graham, a North Carolina militia officer with Lee, reported that his men counted ninety-three dead on the battlefield the next morning. He saw evidence of more being carried away by their friends. In a letter to Lord George Germain, Cornwallis reported that most of Pyles force were inhumanly butchered. Among the tentative list of Tory survivors are former Regulators James Ashmore, Ely Branson, Henry Bray, James Hunter, Charles Jones, Thomas Jones, Dr. John Pyle, John Rains, and Henry Strader.