“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Elizabethtown in Bladen County, North Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)

Battle of Elizabethtown

Battle of Elizabethtown Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, February 10, 2010
1. Battle of Elizabethtown Marker
Inscription.  Whigs broke Tory power in Bladen County, August, 1781, driving them into Tory Hole, 50 yards north.
Erected 1939 by Department of Conservation and Development. (Marker Number I-11.)
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Revolutionary.
Location. 34° 37.758′ N, 78° 36.414′ W. Marker is in Elizabethtown, North Carolina, in Bladen County. Marker is on West Broad Street (State Highway 87) west of Poplar Street (U.S. 701), on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Elizabethtown NC 28337, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 16 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Future Farmers of America (approx. 5.6 miles away); Old Brown Marsh Presbyterian Church (approx. 7.3 miles away); a different marker also named Old Brown Marsh Presbyterian Church (approx. 9.4 miles away); Whistler’s Mother (approx. 9.6 miles away); White Lake CCC Camp (approx. 11½ miles away); Mount Horeb Presbyterian Church and Cemetery
Battle of Elizabethtown Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, February 10, 2010
2. Battle of Elizabethtown Marker
(approx. 11.9 miles away); Thomas Robeson (approx. 12.2 miles away); Oakland (approx. 16.1 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Elizabethtown.
Also see . . .
1. The Historical Batte of Elizabethtown. “As in many great events in history, a woman was to play an important part in the Battle of Elizabethtown. Sallie Salter, of one of the most influential families in the Cape Fear section of Bladen County, volunteered to enter the Tory Camp as a spy. Fetching a basket of eggs, she walked down to the ferry and called to the sentry on the other side to row her over. After some delay, he complied with her request and she entered the camp and sold her eggs—all the while collecting as much information as possible. It never entered the minds of the Tories that she was a spy. Returning safely with the needed information, Colonel Robeson could now begin planning the battle. The smallest details were reviewed over and over, until each man knew what part he was to perform.” (Submitted on February 15, 2010.) 

2. The Battle of Elizabethtown August 29, 1781. “The Battle of Elizabethtown deserves a place in history and ought to be recollected by every true-hearted North Carolinian
DAR Battle of Elizabethtown Monument image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, February 10, 2010
3. DAR Battle of Elizabethtown Monument
Monument is on the grounds of the courthouse at the corner of Main and Poplar Streets. It reads "1781–1928. Erected by The Battle of Elizabethtown Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and the County of Bladen to mar the site where the Battle of Elizabethtown was fought at the Tory Hole on September 29th, 1781.
with pride and pleasure. Here sixty men, driven from their homes, their estates ravaged and houses plundered, who had taken refuge with the Whigs (rebel forces) of Duplin, without funds and bare clothing, resolved to return, fight, conquer, or die.

After collecting all the information they could, they embodied and selected Col. Thomas Brown in command. They marched fifty miles through almost a wilderness country before they reached the river, subsisting on jerked beef and a scanty supply of bread. The Tories had assembled, 300 or more, at Elizabethtown, and were commanded by Slingsby and Godden. The former was a talented man and well fitted to his station; the latter, bold, daring, and reckless, ready to risk everything to put down the Whigs.

Every precautionary measure was adopted to prevent surprise and to render this the stronghold of Toryism. Nobody was suffered to remain on the east side of the river. Guards and sentries were regularly detached and posted. When this little band of Whig heroes after nightfall reached the river not a boat was to be found. But it must be crossed, and that speedily. Its depth was ascertained by some who were tall and expert swimmers. They, to a man, cried out, ‘It is fordable; we can, we will cross it.’ Not a murmur was heard, and without a moment’s delay they all undressed, tied their clothing and ammunition on their heads
Sallie Salter Monument image. Click for full size.
By J. J. Prats, February 10, 2010
4. Sallie Salter Monument
This monument is on the grounds of the courthouse, facing Poplar street. It reads, "Sallie Salter, 1742–1800, heroine of the Battle of Elizabethtown, wife of William Salter, II, 1732–1802, Assemblyman 1774–75. Erected by descendants, Bladen Co. & Battle of Elizabethtown Chapter of D.A.R."
(baggage they had none), each man, grasping the barrel of his gun, raised the bridge so as to keep the lock above water, descended the banks, and entered the river. The taller men found less difficulty; those of lower stature were scarcely able to keep their mouths and noses above water; but all safely reached the opposite shore, resumed their dresses, fixed their arms for action, made their way through the low ground then thickly settled with men, ascended the hills, which were high and precipitous, crossed King’s Road leading through the town, and took position in its rear.

Here they formed, and in about two hours after crossing a mile below, commenced a furious attack, driving in the Tory sentries and guards. They continued rapidly to advance, keeping up a brisk and well-directed fire, and were soon in the midst of the foe, mostly Highland Scotchmen, as brave, as high-minded as any of His Majesty’s subjects. So sudden and violent an onset for the moment produced disorder; but they were rallied by their gallant leader and made for a while the most determined resistance. Slingsby fell mortally wounded and Godden was killed, with most of the officers of inferior grade. They retreated, some taking refuge in houses, the others, the larger portion, leaping pell-mell into a deep ravine, since called the Tory Hole.

As the Tories had unlimited sway from the river
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to the Little Pee Dee, the Whigs recrossed, taking with them their wounded. Such was the general panic produced by this action the Tories became dispirited and never after were so troublesome.

The Whigs returned to their homes in safety. In the death of Slingsby the Tories were deprived of an officer whose place it was difficult to fill; but few were equal to Godden in partisan warfare. This battle was mostly fought by river planters, men who had sacrificed much for their country.” (Submitted on February 14, 2010.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on February 14, 2010, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio. This page has been viewed 2,394 times since then and 15 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on February 14, 2010, by J. J. Prats of Powell, Ohio.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Photos of the Tory Hole • Can you help?
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Apr. 5, 2020