Patriot Officer in Many N.C. Battles
Born in Pennsylvania, Joseph Graham was moved by his widowed mother to Mecklenburg County at a young age. He was educated at what became known as the Liberty Hall Academy in Charlotte. Graham joined militia forces at age 18 in 1778, and served in many engagements, starting as a private and ending up a major. Most notably, he led the rear-guard action protecting the Patriot retreat after the Battle of Charlotte. Having received three bullet wounds, and six sabre cuts to his head and side, he was left for dead. But Graham recovered, and took command at the Battle of Cowan’s Ford after Brig. Gen. William Davidson was killed. He was part of the Continental “light corps” that screened the main army before and after the Battle of Guilford Court House, in which he fought, and he helped to trigger Pyle’s Defeat. He later fought Loyalists in the Sandhills and Wilmington regions, leading a notable victory at the Battle of Raft Swamp. After the war, Graham served in the state convention that eventually approved the U.S. Constitution, and co-owned an ironworks in Lincoln County that supplied artillery ammunition during the War of 1812. He also led state troops in the Creek War of 1814 in today’s Alabama. Graham was one of the first trustees of the University of North Carolina. He died of a stroke in 1836 at age 77. Graham’s wartime papers provided modern historians many details that would otherwise have been lost.
- Hunter, C.L., ‘Biography of Gen. Joseph Graham’, Access Genealogy, 1877 <https://accessgenealogy.com/north-carolina/biography-of-gen-joseph-graham.htm> [accessed 5 March 2020]
- Williams, Max, ‘Graham, Joseph’, NCpedia, 1986 <https://www.ncpedia.org/biography/graham-joseph> [accessed 5 March 2020]