Revolutionary War battle reenactment planned at House in the Horseshoe

Jul. 20, 2013 @ 04:55 AM

A reenactment of the “fiery” July 29, 1781 Revolutionary War confrontation between Patriots and Loyalists will take place Saturday, Aug. 3 and Sunday, Aug. 4 at the House in the Horseshoe State Historic Site near Sanford.

One of America’s most authentic Revolutionary War battle reenactments, this program depicts an actual raid and attack by the feared Tory leader Col. David Fanning on what was then Whig Col. Philip Alston’s home. Free and open to the public, the 34th annual reenactment will take place at 4 p.m. Aug. 3 and 2 p.m. Aug. 4. Donations are welcome.

Played out on the banks of North Carolina’s Deep River, this attack was made in retaliation for several atrocities committed by Alston and his men. To force the colonials to surrender, Tory forces even attempted to set the house on fire by rolling a cart filled with burning straw against it. Both sides suffered casualties but hostilities ended after Mrs. Alston negotiated surrender terms on behalf of Col. Alston and his band of militiamen.

The site will be open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 3, and from 11a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 4. Militia demonstrations and periodic firings of a replica of an eighteenth century cannon are scheduled throughout the program. Besides the reenactment, there will be presentations of period crafts such as blacksmithing and weaving. Children will even have a chance to play colonial games while the parents enjoy handmade pottery on display. Also several suttlers (traders) will be selling replica 18th century goods.

Over 232 years after the battle, one can still see bullet holes scarring the walls of the house. This program was chosen as one of the Top 20 events in the southeastern United States for August by the Southeast Tourism Society. Attendees will have a chance to see the reenactment staged with accurate troop numbers, at the site where the battle was actually fought.

Perched on a hill above the Deep River in North Carolina’s piedmont, the House in the Horseshoe was erected around 1772, becoming one of the first big homes in the upland North Carolina frontier. During the American Revolution, groups of citizen-soldiers known as Whigs or Revolutionists fought a guerilla war in North Carolina’s backcountry (western frontier) against Tories or colonists loyal to Britain. At the time, the House in the Horseshoe was Whig Colonel Philip Alston’s home.

In 1790, Alston sold his home and plantation to Thomas Perkins. In 1798, Gov. Benjamin Williams bought the 2,500-acre plantation from Perkins. Besides serving four terms as North Carolina governor, Williams had been a captain in the Continental Army with George Washington, colonel of the Whig militia, a member of the first University of North Carolina board of trustees and served in the national Congress at Philadelphia.

The House in the Horseshoe’s mission is to preserve and interpret the history of the battle at House in the Horseshoe, the Revolutionary War in the North Carolina backcountry and the life of Gov. Benjamin Williams. For more information on the reenactment or the site, please check out our web site at http://www.nchistoricsites.org/horsesho/horsesho.htm.

The site is located near Carthage. From N.C. 24/27 in Carthage, turn north onto State Road 1006. Follow this road for 10 miles to Alston House Road. Turn left, and the site is at the end of the road. From U.S. 1 in Sanford, take N.C. 42 west for 13 miles to Carbonton. Turn left on State Road 2307, go 4-1/2 miles and turn right onto Alston House Road. From U.S. 421, take the Goldston exit at the brown House in the Horseshoe sign. Go west on the Goldston-Pittsboro Road to Main Street. Go left on Main Street, then right on Colonial Street. Go 3/10 of a mile and turn left on the Goldston-Carbonton Road and go five miles to the stop sign. Go straight at the stop sign for 4-1/2 miles. Turn right on Alston House Road, which ends at the site.

Administered by the Division of State Historic Sites, the House in the Horseshoe is a division of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, Division of Archives and History. For more information, visit www.ncculture.com.

For more information, call (910) 947-2051.

All public buildings at the House in the Horseshoe are accessible to people with disabilities.

This event is sponsored by the House in the Horseshoe Preservation Committee, Inc.