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LINCOLNTON – It may be news to some that a pivotal Revolutionary War battle was fought right here in Lincolnton. It’s believed to have happened just below Battleground Elementary School on Jeb Seagle Road. Beginning on Friday evening with the fourth annual Ramsour’s Mill Ghost Walk, a dedicated group of individuals will transform the area to look similar to what it may have looked like on June 20, 1780.

“The last full Battle Weekend was in 2019,” Beverly Moore, a board member of the Lincoln County Historical Association said. “We’re very excited to be able to hold the Battle of Ramsour's Mill Living History weekend after a two-year hiatus. We look forward to opening the cabin and sharing this important part of Lincoln County History once again.”

Often not told in history books, the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill was fought by 400 Patriot militiamen who took on over 1,000 Tories (those loyal to the British). There were no British soldiers in the fight. Instead, the entire community was split, neighbor fighting against neighbor, and in some instances brother against brother or son against father.

In the end, there were approximately 100 dead and 200 wounded, many of whom died after the battle, with casualties about equal for both sides. Because most did not wear uniforms, it was difficult to distinguish what side they fought on. Many were buried on the battle site in a mass grave. The battle was a significant turn in American Revolutionary history in that it lowered the morale of Loyalists in the south, weakening their support of the British.

“Battle Weekend” begins Friday, June 3 with the Ghost Walk at 6 and running through 9 p.m. in the woods surrounding the battlefield. Actors in Revolutionary War dress will guide participants through the pivotal points leading up to the battle and its aftermath. Tickets are $10; children six and under free. This is not a scary ghost walk, and is suitable for children, but there will be gun fire during some of the vignettes. The walk is not handicap accessible as it is lengthy and over rough ground.

“The very first year we did the Ghost Walk, there was no script, it was improvised,” Roy Lightfoot, one of the organizers said. “It was mainly people involved in ‘Thunder Over Carolina’ so they pretty much knew whatever character they were doing.”

In the following years, a script was developed by our script committee, Lightfoot added, but it still is being done in an improvisational manner.

“We try our best to do it in order as far as how the battle occurred, but that’s not the easiest thing to do when one of the first or second stops is the cabin or the (Shuford) grave,” he said. “We wind up at the Warlick and mass grave. There’s changes every year, some things work, and some done. The main segment of it is of course the battle scene that we do. It’s not an exact reenactment. If it was exact, we’d have horses, but we don’t have horses.”

Lightfoot is one of the many people involved in the Ghost Walk, Battle Weekend, and the “Thunder Over Carolina” theatrical production which opens on June 23 and runs through June 25 at 7:30 p.m. at Woodmill Winery in Vale.

“People say that they don’t want to go to the production because they already went on the Ghost Walk,” Lightfoot said. “They’re two different things. They’re stand-alone entities, but they all tell the story. The biggest thing for everyone involved in this is telling the story. There’s dramatic license, but it’s all part of the process.”

The camp opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday with a wreath laying ceremony at the mass gravesite by the Sons of the American Revolution and Daughters of the American Revolution at the unmarked grave in which some 70 unidentified loyalists and patriots were laid together. The guest speaker is historical scholar Steven Knapp of Starkville, Mississippi. Saturday and Sunday events (excluding the Ghost Walk) are free to the public and suitable for all ages. The event features demonstrations of period crafts and cooking, weapons demonstrations, a Revolutionary War encampment and displays.

Keynote speaker Andrew Waters will speak and sign books on Saturday at 1 p.m. Waters is the author of “To the End of the World: Nathanael Greene, Charles Cornwallis,” and “The Race to the Dan,” describing what is a little-known footnote of the American Revolution – an American general stranded alone, evading British patrols, while a British general burning clean his psychological despair while the flames of his furious army scorch the countryside, roads and byways jammed with fleeing refugees, cataclysmic war erupting in the Carolinas (at Ramsour’s Mill). 

Also on Saturday at 2:15 p.m. and at 5 p.m. there will be a battlefield tour and at 3:30 p.m. a weapons demo. Crafts and other demonstrations will go on throughout the day. The Ghost Walk will be performed again Saturday night from 6 to 9 p.m.

On Sunday, June 5 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. there will be crafts and demonstrations and the encampment will be open. A welcome and brief history as well as a church service will be held at 10 a.m. A battlefield tour will be led at 11 a.m.  The camp closes at 2 p.m.

Except for the Ghost Walk for which there is a fee, the two-day event is free to attend and will be held behind Lincolnton High School, located at 301 Jeb Seagle Drive.

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