SAR Bethabara Chapter commemorates 242nd anniversary of Battle of Shallow Ford

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 15, 2022

By Allen Mollere
For the Clemmons Courier

The Sons of The American Revolution (SAR) Bethabara Chapter hosted and commemorated the 242nd Anniversary of the Battle of the Shallow Ford at the historic Huntsville Methodist Church in Huntsville on Oct. 8.

More than 65 SAR Compatriots, SAR Color Guard members, DAR Chapter representatives, and guests attended.

It was one-week after the Battle of Kings Mountain, on Oct. 14, 1780, that this same Shallow Ford crossing would serve as a significant location for a much different reason. Four companies of militia (about 160 men) from Montgomery County, Virginia, marching south, met up with three companies of North Carolina militia (about 110 men) from Charlotte and Salisbury who were marching north. They met with the local Surry County militia (about 80 men), and this combined force of about 350 Patriots engaged and defeated a much larger force of over 500 Tories who had just crossed the Shallow Ford of the Yadkin River.
Headed south, the Tories were to reinforce the British army commanded by British General Cornwallis. The combined Patriot victories over the Tories at Kings Mountain, and the Shallow Ford, helped turn the hearts and minds of the War for America’s Independence in North Carolina to the Patriots’ advantage.
Not only was the battle significant, but so was the Shallow Ford itself. When the Yadkin River was at normal or low levels during colonial times, its depth at the Shallow Ford was about 18 inches or less. This gravel, sand and rock-bottomed shallow section of the Yadkin River was relatively flat and extended underwater from one side of the river to the other for about 100 yards. It provided a solid crossing point rather than slippery mud. It afforded a safe place for travelers to cross the river and it served as a landmark on early migration maps as well as a focal point for travelers.

Though the Yadkin River could be crossed at other fords and ferries, heavier wagons could cross at only two places, with the Shallow Ford being one of those, and it served as an essential link on the Great Wagon Road. In the mid-18th century this early frontier road brought immigrants and settlers from Pennsylvania to backcountry North Carolina.

Upon completion of the ceremony at the Huntsville Methodist Church, attendees traveled to the nearby Clingman Family Cemetery in West Bend for a Patriot Grave Marking Dedication Ceremony honoring Patriots Jane Johnstone Pattillo and her two husbands, Lt. Col. Robert Lanier and Capt. Francis Poindexter.
At the cemetery, SAR Bethabara Chapter Compatriot Fred Learned shared the legacy of the three Patriots honored. Anne Clingman White and her family, descendants of the Patriots, participated in the ceremony and dedication of the SAR grave markers.
The ceremony concluded with Wreath Presentations.
(Anyone interested in learning more about the SAR can contact Bethabara Chapter President Bill Ewalt at