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  • Monument Name

    Battle of Clapp’s Mill, Burlington

  • Type

    War Memorial

  • Subjects

    Colonial History

    Revolutionary War, 1775-1783

  • Creator

    William D. Moser, Architect

  • City

    Burlington

  • County

    Alamance

  • Description

    The Clapp’s Mill Battle Memorial is made of 10 granite slabs formed into a circle around a concrete pad with an old millstone as a center piece. The tablestone slabs have a smooth face and roughhewn edges. On the rear, several still show the bore marks made when the stone was quarried. Eight of the slabs have bronze plaques describing events surrounding the battle, the mill’s history and local German community. In front of two of the slabs, stones and masonry have been formed into lecterns which hold maps relevant to the battle. Loose granite rocks form a border around the memorial. The “Battle of Clapp’s Mill” plaque contains a typographical error. Lieutenant Colonel Henry Lee, III was nicknamed "Light Horse Harry" not “Lighthouse Harry.”

    Next to the sidewalk leading from the parking area is a pair of flagpoles with one waving the United States flag and the other the Union Jack. At the edge of the parking area is a pile of stones and a cornerstone from the old mill denoted by bronze plaques. Also along the sidewalk is a flat laid granite stone with a plaque listing financial contributors.

    Images: Southern Campaign map | Clapp's Mill | German Community | Southern Campaign Events | Military Units | Militia | Battle of Clapp's Mill | Results of the Battle | Troop Positions | Contributors | Flagpoles | Millstone | Sponsors Plaque | View with lake in distance

  • Inscription

    [NOTE:The sidewalk enters the circular memorial at the 6 o’clock position. Markers are described #1 through #10 moving clockwise from this 6 o’clock position.]

    #1 Marker, map title: SOUTHERN CAMPAIGN OF GREENE AND CORNWALLIS / FEBRUARY AND MARCH, 1781

    #2 Marker: CLAPP’S MILL / THE EARLIEST INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE AREA INVOLVED / WATER POWER BEING CONVERTED INTO MECHANICAL ENERGY IN THE / FORM OF A MILL. IN 1763 HENRY MCCULLOH WAS GRANTED / PERMISSION TO BUILD A MILL ON BEAVER CREEK, A TRIBUTARY OF THE / ALAMANCE AND HAW RIVER SYSTEM. BY 1768 THE CLAPP FAMILY / HAD COME INTO POSSESSION OF THE MILL WHICH HARNESSED THE / WATER POWER TO OPERATE A GRIST MILL, A SAWMILL AND TO PRESS / FLAX SEED FOR OIL.
    THIS MILL WAS LOCATED NEAR THE CROSSROADS OF SEVERAL MAJOR / COLONIAL ROADS. NEAR THIS STRATEGIC SITE, JUST SOUTH OF CLAPP’S / MILL, THE BRITISH ARMY IN FEBRUARY 1781 ESTABLISHED A CAMP. / THE MILLSITE SERVED AS A STAGING AREA FOR THE BRITISH FORCES, / AND THE CEDAR WOODS TO ITS NORTH SERVED TO CONCEAL THEM IN A / COUNTER AMBUSH.
    AMERICAN FORCES, WITH RESERVES IN PLACE ON GREAT ALAMANCE / CREEK, MOVED FORWARD (ACROSS THE PRESENT POND ROAD) IN A / PLANNED AMBUSH ON THE BRITISH. THE TWO POWERS CLASHED ON /THE HIGH BLUFF OVERLOOKING CLAPP’S MILL ON BEAVER CREEK.
    MILLS LIKE CLAPP’S MILL FLOURISHED ALONG THE STREAMS OF THE / HAW RIVER SYSTEM UNTIL THE LATE 1800S WHEN MANY WERE MERGED / OR CEASED PRODUCTION. MANY OF THESE MILLs ARE THE / PREDECESSORS OF THE MODERN TEXTILE INDUSTRY IN ALAMANCE / COUNTY.

    #3 Maker: THE GERMAN COMMUNITY / WAR BETWEEN THE FRENCH KING LOUIS XIV AND HIS ENEMIES / BROUGHT DEVASTATION TO SOUTHERN GERMAN IN THE EARLY 1700S. / OPPORTUNITIES TO POSSESS LAND IN PENN’S COLONY AND IN / VIRGINIA BROUGHT A GERMAN SPEAKING COMMUNITY TO AMERICA IN / THE 1730S.
    LAND SPECULATION BY THE EARL OF GRANVILLE AND HENRY E. / MCCULLOH ATTRACTED GERMAN SETTLERS TO THE BANKS OF THE HAW / RIVER SYSTEM IN NORTH CAROLINA. THESE HARD WORKING / IMMIGRANTS ESTABLISHED THEMSELVES AS A DISTINCT COMMUNITY BY / THE BEGINNING OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. FOUNDATIONS HAD / BEEN LAID FOR CHURCHES AND SCHOOLS, AND THEIRS WAS A VIBRANT / ECONOMY.
    THE GERMAN COMMUNITY WAS SOLIDLY BEHIND THE REGULATOR / MOVEMENT’S DESIRE TO END GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION. IN THE / AMERICAN REVOLUTION, COMMUNITY OPINION WAS DIVIDED. BOTH / ARMIES OCCUPIED THEIR LANDS AND MADE DEMANDS UPON THEIR / GOODS AND SERVICES AND THREATENED THE CONTINUED EXISTENCE OF / THE “BEAVER CREEK SETTLEMENT.”
    THE GERMAN COMMUNITY WAS SOLIDLY BEHIND THE REGULATOR / MOVEMENT’S DESIRE TO END GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION. IN THE / AMERICAN REVOLUTION, COMMUNITY OPINION WAS DIVIDED. BOTH / ARMIES OCCUPIED THEIR LANDS AND MADE DEMANDS UPON THEIR / GOODS AND SERVICES AND THREATENED THE CONTINUED EXISTENCE OF / THE “BEAVER CREEK SETTLEMENT.”
    MANY GERMAN COLONISTS, FROM THE STINKING QUARTER TO / REEDY FORK, SERVED WITH THE AMERICAN ARMY.
    COLONEL OTHO H. WILLIAMS WROTE TO GENERAL NATHANAEL / GREENE, “WE HAVE A GREAT MANY FRIENDS UPON THE HAW RIVER. I / HEAR OF A GREAT NUMBER OF MEN IN ARMS IN ALMOST EVERY / DIRECTION AND WISH TO SEE THEM COLLECTED.”

    #4 Marker: EVENTS IN THE SOUTHERN CAMPAIGN IN THE CLOSING YEAR OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION / DECEMBER 6, 1780 – GENERAL GREENE TAKES COMMAND OF THE SOUTHERN ARMY / JANUARY 17, 1780 – THE BATTLE OF COWPENS / FEBRUARY 1, 1780 – THE BATTLE OF COWAN’S FORD / FEBRUARY 3, 1781 – THE BATTLE OF SHALLOW FORD / FEBRUARY 9-10, 1781 – GREENE AT GUILDFORD COURTHOUSE / FEBRUARY 9-11, 1781 – CORNWALLIS AT WACHOVIA (THE MORAVIAN SETTLEMENTS) / FEBRUARY 14-15, 1781 – GREENE CROSSES THE DAN RIVER / FEBRUARY 21, 1781 – CORNWALLIS ESTABLISHES HEADQUARTERS AT HILLSBOROUGH AND RAISES THE BRITISH STANDARD / FEBRUARY 22-23, 1781 – SKIRMISH AT HART’S MILL NEAR HILLISBOROUGH / FEBRUARY 24, 1781 – PYLE’S MASSACRE / FEBRUARY 28, 1781 – THE BRITISH ARMY MOVES NEAR CLAPP’S MILL / MARCH 1, 1781 – AMERICAN LIGHT TROOPS MOVE TO THE BANKS OF THE ALAMANCE / MARCH 2, 1781 – THE BATTLE OF CLAPP’S MILL / MARCH 3, 1781 – BRITISH MISTAKENLY ATTACK A GROUP OF TORIES ENROUTE TO JOIN THE BRITISH ARMY / MARCH 6, 1781 – THE BATTLE OF WEITZEL’S MILL ON REEDY FORK / MARCH 15, 1781 – THE BATTLE OF NEW GARDEN / MARCH 15, 1781 – THE BATTLE OF GUILFORD COURTHOUSE / MARCH 18, 1781 – CORNWALLIS DEPARTS FOR WILMINGTON BY WAY OF SNOW CAMP AND CROSS CREEK (FAYETTEVILLE) / APRIL 7, 1781 – GREENE DEPARTS FOR SOUTH CAROLINA / APRIL 25, 1781-CORNWALLIS LEAVES WILMINGTON FOR VIRGINIA / OCTOBER 17-19, 1781 – CORNWALLIS SURRENDERS AT YORKTOWN, VIRGINIA

    #5 Marker: MILITARY UNITS AT THE BATTLE OF CLAPP’S MILL – MARCH 2, 1781
    AMERICAN LIGHT TROOPS & COMMANDERS – MAJ. GEN. NATHANAEL GREENE / ADJ. COL. OTHO HOLLAND WILLIAMS, FIELD COMMANDER
    FIRST LINE: LT. COL. HENRY “LIGHTHORSE HARRY” LEE – LEE’S LEGION / SIX CATAWBA INDIANS, SERVING WITH CAPT. EDWARD OLDHAM / BOTETOURT CO., VA, MILITIAMEN – MAJ. THOMAS ROWLAND / MONTGOMERY CO., VA, MILITIAMEN – COL. WILLIAM PRESTON / HILLSBOROUGH DISTRICT, NC MILITIA – COL. WILLIAM MOORE / SALISBURY DISTRICT, NC MILITIA – COL. JOSEPH DICKSON
    SECOND LINE: DELAWARE CONTINENTAL REGIMENT – CAPT. RICHARD C. KIRKWOOD / MARYLAND CONTINENTAL LIGHT TROOPS – CAPT. EDWARD OLDHAM
    THIRD LINE: 3RD CONTINENTAL LIGHT DRAGOONS – LT. COL. WILLIAM A. WASHINGTON / 1ST, 3RD, & 5TH MARYLAND CONTINENTAL REGIMENTS – COL. OTHO H. WILLIAMS
    IN RESERVE: MAJ. GEN. NATHANAEL GREENE WITH AMERICAN TROOPS POSITIONED / SOUTH OF THE JUNCTION OF BUFFALOE ROAD (US 70) & CROSS CREEK ROAD / (SPRINGWOOD CHURCH ROAD) AT THE MILL OF GEORGE INGLEON NORTH / BRANCH OF ALAMANCE CREEK.
    BRITISH LIGHT TROOPS & COMMANDERS – LT. GEN. CHARLES LORD CORNWALLIS / LT. COL. BANASTRE TARLETON, FIELD COMMANDER
    BRITISH LEFT: 33RD REGIMENT OF FOOT – CAPT. JAMES INGRAM / BRITISH MIDDLE: CAPT. FRANCIS DUNDAS / 1ST AND 3RD REGIMENTS OF HOUSEHOLD GUARDS / THE COLDSTREAM GUARDS / BRITISH RIGHT: THE LOYAL LEGION – LT. COL. BANASTRE TARLTON
    IN RESERVE: SOUTH OF BEAVER CREEK, REGIMENT VON BOSE & YAGERS / LT. COL. JOHANN CHRISTIAN DU BUY & THE BRITISH ARTILLERY.

    #6 Marker: MILITIA / ON MARCH 2, 1781, THE BULK OF GENERAL GREENE’S ARMY WAS / COMPRISED OF MILITIA UNITS. THE AMERICAN MILITIA WERE POORLY / EQUIPPED AND INEXPERIENCED COLONISTS WHO FOUGHT ALONGSIDE / UNITS OF THE REGULAR ARMY OR CONTINENTAL LINE. THEY FACED A / BATTLE HARDENED BRITISH ARMY.
    AT CLAPP’S MILL, FIELD COMMANDER COLONEL OTHO H. / WILLIAMS USED THE MILITIA AS A BAIT IN AN ATTEMPT TO DRAW THE / BRITISH ARMY (NEAR THIS SPOT) INTO AN AMBUSH ON THE GREAT / ALAMANCE CREEK WHERE AMERICAN TROOPS WERE ARMED AND / WAITING.
    AFTER HEAVY FIRING ENSUED ON BOTH SIDES, COL. WILLIAMS / GAVE THE ORDER TO RETREAT. LEE’S LEGION RETREATED SLOWLY TO / DRAW THE BRITISH AFTER THEM, BUT THE MILITIA PANICKED AND FLED / FROM THE BATTLEFIELD. AS A RESULT, GEN. GREENE ORDERED THE / MILITIA TO SEND THEIR HORSES HOME. SOME REFUSED TO ABANDON / THEIR HORSES AND LEFT THE ARMY.
    ALTHOUGH THE MILITIAMEN FROM BOTETOURT CO., VIRGINIA / VALIANTLY FACED SOME OF THE HEAVIEST FIGHTING AND TOOK MOST OF / THE CASUALTIES, THEY WERE COURTMARTIALED FOR THEIR DEPARTURE.
    DESPITE THE DISSATISFACTION IN THE CLOSING YEARS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION WITH THE MILITIA, THESE, VOLUNTEERS PROVIDED NUMBERS SUFFICIENT FOR GENERAL GREEN AND / COLONEL WILLIAMS TO EXECUTE THIS ATTACK ON THE BRITISH ARMY.

    #7 Marker: BATTLE OF CLAPP’S MILL / ON MARCH 2, 1781, THE AMERICAN LIGHT TROOPS UNDER COLONEL OTHO HOLLAND WILLIAMS OF MARYLAND AND LIEUTENANT COLONEL HENRY “LIGHTHOUSE HARRY” LEE OF VIRGINIA ENGAGED THE BRITISH LIGHT TROOPS NEAR CLAPP’S MILL ON BEAVER CREEK. THE AMERICANS ATTEMPTED TO LURE THE BRITISH FORCES, UNDER LIEUTENANT COLONEL BANASTRE TARLETON, FROM THEIR CAMP NEAR THE MILL (ALMOST ONE MILE SOUTHEAST OF THIS SPOT) INTO AN AMBUSH ON ALAMANCE CREEK WHERE CAVALRY UNITS AND REINFORCEMENTS LAY IN WAITING. IN HEAVY FIGHTING, AT LEAST SEVENTEEN BRITISH SOLDIERS AND EIGHT AMERICAN MILITIAMEN DIED.
    AMERICANS KILLED / MECKLENBURG COUNTY, NC, MILITIAMEN / JOHN FORD / DAVID JOHNSON / BOTETOURT COUNTY, VA, MILITIAMEN / WILLIAM HARVEY / ARCHY HILL / PHILIP WATKINS / THREE UNKNOWN VIRGINIA MILITIAMEN
    BRITISH KILLED / ONE OFFICER / SIXTEEN RANK & FILE / PRIMARILY FROM THE BRITISH GUARDS / UNDER CAPTAIN FRANCIS DUNDAS

    #8 Marker: RESULTS OF THE BATTLE OF CLAPP’S MILL / ON MARCH 2, 1781, MAJOR GENERAL NATHANAEL GREENE HAD PULLED TOGETHER VARIOUS ELEMENTS OF HIS ARMY INTO A UNITED FIGHTING FORCE. BY HIS PLANNED ATTACK ON THE BRITISH ARMY, HE INDICATED HIS DESIRE FOR A GENERAL ACTION.
    IT WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT GENERAL GREENE ENTERED INTO AN ACTION WITH A FORCE SUPERIOR IN NUMBERS TO THE BRITISH ARMY. APPROXIMATELY 5,000 MEN, BRITISH AND AMERICAN TROOPS, WERE IN PLACE OR IN RESERVE FOR THE BATTLE OF CLAPP’S MILL.
    WHILE THE PLANNED AMBUSH WAS UNSUCCESSFUL, IT DREW LIEUTENANT GENERAL CHARLES LORD CORWALLIS UP A LONGER ROAD TO WEITZEL’S MILL ON MARCH 6, AND TO GUILFORD COURTHOUSE ON MARCH 15. ON MARCH 18 CORNWALLIS LED HIS WEARIED AND DEPLETED TROOPS TOWARD WILMINGTON AND HIS SOURCES OF SUPPLY.
    FOLLOWING THE BATTLE OF CLAPP’S MILL, GEN. GREENE DISBANDED THE HORSE RIFLE UNITS IN FAVOR OF LIGHT INFANTRY AND DRAGOON (CAVALRY) UNITS.
    THE EVENTS OF MARCH 2 AND MARCH 6 LED TO CONFLICT BETWEEN MILITIA AND THE COMMAND OF THE AMERICANS ARMY. THIS FRICTION WAS FUELED BY A DEBATE IN CONGRESS OVER THE MAINTENANCE OF A STANDING CONTINENTAL ARMY. MUCH LATER THIS AND SUBSEQUENT MISUNDERSTANDINGS RESULTED IN A UNIFORM CODE OF MILITARY JUSTICE.

    #9 Marker: JOINT PROJECT / COUNTY OF ALAMANCE - - - - - - - - - -CITY OF BURLINGTON / MEMORIAL MARKER STEERING COMMITTEE / ELIZABETH “PAT” SHAW BAILEY, CHAIR SAMUEL CHRISTOPHER POWELL, PH.D / DR. REV. ROLLIN MEDWIN STEELE PEGGY J. PARKS / GRACE ANDERSON THOMPSON ARTHUR GARFIELD THOMPSON, JR. / WITH GRATITUDE / ROBERT SMITH, ALAMANCE COUNTY MANAGER BUDDY R. BAKER, BURLINGTON CITY MANAGER / MAXWELL WAY, COUNTY PLANNER HAROLD OWENS, BURLINGTON RECREATION / WILLIAM D. MOSER, ARCHITECT STREET DIVISION, CITY OF BURLINGTON / FRIENDS / BRUCE CLAPP FAMILY JAMES A. LOVE, II / DR. & MRS. SAMUEL C. POWELL THOMAS J. LINDLEY, JR. / MR. & MRS. A.G. THOMPSON, JR. REV. DR. ROLLIN M. STEELE / CLAPP MILL ANCESTORS / BROTHERS: GEORG VALENTIN & JOHANN LUDWIG KLAPP/CLAPP / WEISENHEIM AM BERG, GERMANY / TO PENNSYLVANIA 1727 – TO BEAVER CREEK, NC BY 1747

    #10 Marker, map title: TROOP POSITIONS AT START OF BATTLE / FROM MAP BY CAPTAIN JOSEPH GRAHAM

    Flagpole sponsor plaque: PRESENTED BY / BATTLE OF ALAMANCE CHAPTER, DAR / AND / ALAMANCE BATTLEGROUND CHAPTER, SAR / 1994

    Cornerstone plaque: CORNERSTONE FROM CLAPP’S MILL

    Rocks from dam plaque: STONES FROM CLAPP’S MILL DAM / BUILT ABOUT 1765 ON BEAVER CREEK

  • Custodian

    City of Burlington

  • Dedication Date

    April 1994

  • Decade

    1990s

  • Geographic Coordinates

    36.034920 , -79.526730 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      Barefoot, Daniel W. Touring North Carolina’s Revolutionary War Sites (Winston Salem, NC: John F. Blair Publisher, 1998), 406

      Hall, David A. “Revolutionary War ‘Skirmish’ Is Given Closer Historical Look,” The Anniston Star (Anniston, Alabama), March 23, 1994

      Hill, Michael. “Battle Of Clapp’s Mill, NCPedia, http://www.ncpedia.org/, (accessed November 16, 2016) Link

      “Battle of Clapp’s Mill,” The Historical Marker Database, HMdb.com, (accessed November 21, 2016) Link

  • Public Site

    Yes

  • Materials & Techniques

    Granite, bronze, concrete

  • Sponsors

    Memorial: County of Alamance and City of Burlington. Flagpoles: Alamance Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution and Alamance Battleground Chapter Sons of the American Revolution

  • Location

    The marker is located at Lake Mackintosh near Burlington, NC. From Interstate 85/40, travel south on Huffman Mill Road. Cross the bridge over the lake and turn left into the main entrance. The first paved drive on the right is Clubhouse Drive and leads to the historical marker.

  • Landscape

    The shore of Lake Mackintosh is visible behind the marker. The landscape around the marker is a combination of open grass land and thin forest. A children’s playground is a short distance away. Lake Mackintosh is a recreation area used for boating, fishing and picnicking.

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