The story of the battle of Ramsour’s Mill, which occurred on June 20, 1780 in present-day Lincolnton, is often left untold in major history books. Yet this battle was a pivotal part of the American Revolutionary War. There is a core group of individuals who have become passionate about retelling the story of the battle and, perhaps more importantly, the stories of the people of the area before and after the battle.
The actual battle site, located near three Lincoln County schools and adjacent to the Lincolnton High School football stadium, is usually a quiet place and without knowing the significance of the location, a passerby may not even notice it or think it’s part of the school system.
“I can throw a rock from my backyard to the battlefield but I was ignorant as to how significant this battle was until I got involved in ‘Thunder Over Carolina’ two years ago,” said Robby Buff, who was “talked into” acting in “Thunder” at his retirement party. “Once I got involved, I started soaking it up like a sponge. It was such an honor to play the characters that I played. In that first year they said I didn’t have to act, just go and shoot guns. I ended up playing Cornwallis in the first act and Capt. John Dickey for the Patriot force in the second act.”
Once a year, what was once the site of Ramsour’s Mill comes alive with American Revolutionary reenactors for Ramsour’s Mill Battle Weekend. Friday and Saturday evening, guided ghost walks will once again be offered which will retell, through the use of scripted vignettes, the stories of the people who were involved in the battle.
There have been other ghost walks done during Ramsour’s Mill Battle Weekend, but last year a group of individuals who were involved with “Thunder” were asked to come up with a more organized ghost walk based both on the characters in the play as well as their own personal knowledge of the battle. Although it’s called a ghost walk, it’s not intended to be scary.
“It was hugely successful last year,” Roy Lightfoot said. “We were overwhelmed actually with all the folks that did come out.“
“Thunder” is not going to be presented this year so auditions were held to cast characters for the walk and rehearsals have been conducted over the past week. The plan is to have “Thunder” return next year for the 240th anniversary of the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill.
“The biggest thing that we want to bring to the community here is the fact that this battle did happen in their backyard,” Lightfoot said. “We’re tagging it along with battle weekend which is happening during the day Saturday and Sunday.”
There is a battle scene on the ghost walk, which is, of course, exciting with the black powder pistols and muskets that the actors use, but the story of what happened before and after the battle is told throughout the rest of the walk.
“I think what is more important than the battle is what happened afterwards,” Pete DeGregory said. “They buried their dead and worked together to bring the community back as a whole. We do our best to portray the before, during and after of the event.”
The Ghost Walk begins on Friday, June 7 at 6 p.m., with the last walk to be started at approximately 9:30 p.m. Each tour takes approximately 30 minutes and, due to the length of the walk and the terrain, it is not conducive to people with mobility challenges or in wheelchairs. The entire event is family friendly and children are encouraged to attend. Pets are not allowed, nor is flash photography or videotaping.
In the parking lot behind Kiser Intermediate, “Kiser Midway” will be set up which includes vendors, storytellers, musical entertainment and interactive demonstrations. Anyone is welcome to take part in the Kiser Midway and there’s no charge for that.
Tickets are available for the Ghost Walk at Kiser Midway and cost $10 per person, cash only. The walks will be both held rain or shine Friday and Saturday evening from 6 to approximately 9:30 p.m. Parking is at Lincolnton High School and no transportation will be provided to the beginning of the walk at Kiser Intermediate.
“I’m a history nut,” Lightfoot said. “You just have to stop and listen when at these historic sites. You have to be still and soak in everything that’s happened. To me there’s a certain energy that happens in all these historical locations, not just battle fields. Step back with us to 1780 which is our main purpose at this point.”