George Locke

A Youth Falls to British Swords

Location


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Coordinates: 35.2837, -80.7632.

Type: Stop
Tour: Race to the Den
County: Mecklenburg

Access LogoFull

The small parking lot at the coordinates is tricky to get to if you are traveling away from Charlotte on North Tryon Street (US 29). In that case, make a U-turn left at the I-85 access road, under the rail line. Then immediately cross to the right to take the first driveway off Tryon into the lot, watching for traffic turning across your path. A monument to Locke is then to your left.

White capy saying, "My other hat is a" and showing a tricorn hat

 
Mug saying, "Do Whig Out!" on a parchment scroll

Description

The British Army drove Patriot militia out of Charlotte on Tuesday, September 26, 1780. The militia retreated up today’s North Tryon Street, which became the road to Salisbury, where the Continental Army was camped. The British infantry pursued them as far as Sugar Creek. Then their cavalry, under Maj. George Hangar, arrived to break up the Patriot defense there. The Patriots continued up the road in this direction.

However, the cavalry had taken up the chase. Men who had been retreating at infantry pace now found themselves under attack by trained horsemen. Those without horses began running up what at the time was a dirt wagon road, probably where the light rail line is now. Roughly even with the monument, several dragoons overtook 16-year-old Pvt. George Locke. He held up his rifle to fend off their sabres, which left cuts in the barrel. But he was hacked to death, leaving behind a wife and child. His death was embellished in newspapers and becomes propaganda for the Patriot cause.

You can pay your respects at his grave at Thyatira Presbyterian Church west of Salisbury.

Photo of the side of a light rail bridge, a wall of textured concrete
Where George Locke ran to his death, the light rail runs now (AmRevNC photograph)

What to See

The Daughters of the American Revolution placed the monument to Locke you can view here in 1911, supposedly at the spot where Locke was killed, in the median between the northbound and southbound lanes. It was moved here due to the rail line construction. The plaque incorrectly lists Locke’s rank: He was not an officer. And although the cavalry was the unit of Lt. Col. Banastre Tarleton, he was sick that day, so it was under the command of Maj. Hangar.[1]

The monument says:

Lieut. Col. George Locke
Killed By
Tarleton’s Dragoons
Sept. 26, 1780[2]


[1] In addition to the other footnoted source, “Stop” information comes from one of two guidebooks; NCpedia; the online essay for the relevant North Carolina Highway Marker; and related Sight pages (see “About Sources“).

[2] ‘George Locke Marker, Charlotte’, Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina, 2010 <https://docsouth.unc.edu/commland/monument/879/> [accessed 18 June 2020].

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