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Home North Carolina Randolph County City of Ramseur Historical Markers Cox's Mill

Cox's Mill

Coleridge Road, Ramseur, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 35° 43' 58.6812", -79° 38' 59.9784"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"Headquarters of David Fanning, noted leader of North Carolina Tories, 1781-82, stood 4 1/2 mi. southeast, near site of present "Bean's Mill.""
     Cox’s Mill, the headquarters of Colonel David Fanning, a noted leader of North Carolina Tories, was near the present-day town of Ramseur. The mill was Fanning’s headquarters from 1781 to 1782. Fanning was born in Beech Swamp, Virginia, in 1755. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to a part of what is now Wake County. By 1764, Fanning was orphaned and under the guardianship of Needham Bryan Jr. Bryan was a negligent guardian whose harsh treatment finally forced Fanning to leave the Bryan farm. In 1773 Fanning left moved south to upcountry South Carolina. While in South Carolina, Fanning worked as a trader, trading with Catawba Indians and learning valuable information about the surrounding forests that would help him later during the war.

     In 1775 Fanning’s trade goods reportedly were pillaged by Whig militia, leading him to pursue a vengeful campaign against Whigs. Before making his headquarters at Cox’s Mill, Fanning was captured by Whigs. After being captured the final time, Fanning made a deal with South Carolina Governor John Rutledge to serve in the Whig militia for a conditional pardon. However, during 1780 British victory at Charleston, South Carolina, Fanning again swore his allegiance to the Crown.

     After the defeat of the Loyalists at Kings Mountain, Fanning moved to Deep River and secretly began to recruit for the Loyalist cause. From Cox’s Mill, Fanning began issuing commissions on July 16, 1781, and reorganizing the local Loyalist militia. Fanning recruited over 150 men. However, only about one-third were sufficiently armed and Fanning kept only fifty-three of them, sending the rest of them home. With these men Fanning began his series of raids. For the next year, his militia forces dominated central North Carolina.

     The high point for his band of raiders was the capture of Governor Thomas Burke in Hillsborough in September 1781. Before and after the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, Fanning recruited Loyalists, fought minor battles with the Whigs, and even scouted for Cornwallis. The story of Fanning’s “Tory War” is central to the story of the American Revolution in North Carolina.

William S. Powell, ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography, II, 80-82--sketch by Lindley S. Butler
John Hairr, Colonel David Fanning: The Adventures of a Carolina Loyalist (2000)
Lindley S. Butler, ed., The Narrative of Col. David Fanning (1981)
Cox's Mill Historical Marker Location Map, Ramseur, North Carolina