Some notes on the Battle at Weitzel's Mill
Weitzel’s Mill, March 6th, 1781A few days after The Battle at Clapp’s Mill Cornwallis, determined to bring Greene to battle, launched his own light forces northward to cut Greene’s line of retreat to Virginia. Greene gave him the chance to do so by maneuvering too far west along Buffalo Creek, his moat. Greene’s light troops were camped a few miles north of Clapp’s Mill, along Buffalo Road, on Great Alamance Creek, Cornwallis’ moat. They were all that stood between the overextended Greene and his main line of maneuver.
On March 6th, very early as was his style, Tarleton, leading a flying column of Cornwallis light forces, marched on the Americans. Alert pickets picked up the British movement and warned Otho Williams and Henry Lee of the approaching enemy and Williams ordered a retreat to Reedy fork, about ten miles to the north. The ford at Weitzel’s Mill on Reedy Fork was the only defensible ground between the British and the American line of retreat. The race was on.
The race to Weitzel’s must have been something to see. Contemporaries said that at times the armies, marching on parallel tracks, overlapped and could see one another doing so. The Americans, though, pulled away and reached Weitzel’s some minutes ahead of the British.
|The drawn line from Clapp's to Weitzel's is just over seven miles long.|
Safely across Reedy Fork, Williams formed his Continentals in an open field downstream from the Mill, and Lee took his horse to a hilltop overlooking the mill site where he could also provide some protection for a fortified schoolhouse north of the mil pond.
Tarleton’s regulars, equipped with two “grasshopper” cannon, having pushed past Pickens’ militia, formed up on the heights above the mill on the south side of the creek and then they filed down the road to the mill ford determined to force a crossing .
Figure 1 Likely Road Courses in 1781
trm - March, 2013