The historical marker for the Battle of Elizabethtown is located at NC 41/87 (Broad Street) in Elizabethtown, NC.
The Tories found themselves crushed on 27 August 1781, in one of the great ruses in North Carolina's Revolutionary War history. Balden County was in the hands of the Tories, where 300-400 men were headquartered. The Patriots, a small group of 60-70, had been driven out of their homes, estates and property ravaged, and homes burned or plundered. Knowing that they must rely on cunning, strategy, and sneakiness, they were led by Cols. Thomas Brown and Thomas Robeson, taking the fight to the British.
Brown and Robeson came upon a plan by which their forces would be masked by false commands to "phantom" soldiers, to be heard by their enemies, making the Patriot numbers seem larger than they actually were. When the battle started, the Patriots went on the offensive, crossing the Cape Fear, and surprising the Tories into a disorganized retreat. Tory commanders John Slingsby and David Godden were mortally wounded, their troops scattering into the dark. Many fell headlong into a ravine near the river, known since as "Tory Hole." Seventeen Tories were dead of mortally wounded. Patriots? Not a single life was lost, four were wounded.
The battle is considered to be one of the Cape Fear's most important American Revolutionary War battles, second only to the Battle of Moore's Creek in Pender County. The victory ended Tory control of the area, leaving Loyalists to never regain any foothold.
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program
Battle of Elizabethtown