(1755 - 1825)
There are several books about the loyalist soldier named David Fanning.
Information about two of them can be found on the Articles & Publications
page of this web site. For more information I encourage you to acquire either
or both of them.
I include this information on Fanning because of his connection to the Trogdon family by way of the reported murder of William Trogdon in 1783.
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David Fanning was born in Amelia County, VA on October 25, 1755.
By the time of his birth, Fannings' father, David Fanning, Sr., had traveled to the Deep River area of North Carolina in search of land. David Sr died before he could return to Virginia leaving a wife, two-year-old daughter and his newborn son.
The younger David Fanning was listed as an orphan in Johnston County, NC in 1764
when he was apprenticed first to Thomas Leech and then to Needham Bryan, Jr.
1775 -- By age 20, Fanning had contracted Tetter Worm, a severe form of exema, which left him bald. He had also left eastern North Carolina for western South Carolina where he supported himself as an Indian Trader and built a house in the Ninety Six District near Raeburns Creek where he is listed on tax rolls as having several horses and cattle.
In the summer, Fanning is listed as a sergeant in the Upper Saluda (Loyalist) Militia. Over the next few years he is arrested several times and escapes several times
from the Ninety Six jail. He is very active with the Loyalist Militia in South Carolina,
Georgia and Florida.
1779 -- In the spring, Fanning signs an oath to stay out of the war and, basically,
mind his own business.
1780 -- The British overrun most of South Carolina and call on loyal citizens to
report for duty. Fanning responds to the call and returns to action.
1781 -- At the beginning of the year the British are in trouble in South Carolina. In many areas the Loyal Militia become inactive and disband.
On January 17, 1781 U.S. General Daniel Morgan's army defeats a British army at
By February, Captain David Fanning has relocated to Randolph County, NC. He has remained active, following Lord Cornwallis' march north out of SC.
Fanning sets up his headquarters at "Coxe's Mill" south of Franklinsville. There were two Cox's Mills, one on Mill Creek about two miles south of present day Ramseur, NC and the other on Millstone Creek about a quarter mile further south. Both were
operating at the time near where each of those creeks feed into Deep River.
Additionally, the community around these mills was referred to as Cox's Mills.
In mid February Fanning posts an announcement calling on "his Majesty's loyal and
faithful subjects" to step forward and join Colonel Hamilton's Regiment.
Fanning and a small party capture two officers and several troops along Deep River.
March 15, 1781 -- Battle of Guilford Courthouse near present day Greensboro, NC.
Lord Cornwallis defeats General Nathaniel Greene but the victory is so costly for the
British that Cornwallis must continue his retreat from the southern theater. He makes
plans for the British Navy to meet him at Yorktown, Virginia in order to transport his
army back to New York.
On this same day, Fanning and his men are surprised by a colonial company led by
Captain Duck. Both sides lose one man killed and the Tories lose all their horses.
The next day Fanning and three men track their horses to one of the rebel's homes.
They wound the man and return with their horses to Deep River.
Spring, 1781 -- Fanning and his men capture a total of 18 of General Greene's men
in the Deep River area over several days.
Spring, 1781 -- Fanning and some others are surrounded by Captain Hinds and 14
rebels "at a friends house". One man is killed on each side and a tory is captured.
Captain Hinds hangs the tory "on the spot where we [loyalists] had killed the man
a few days before".
May 11, 1781 -- Fanning and 17 troops attack a rebel group three miles from Cox's
Mill. The Tories kill 2, wound 7 and capture 18 horses.
May 12, 1781 -- Fanning and men attack another group killing 4, wounding 3 and
capture 1 rebel and all the enemies horses.
May, 1781 -- Fanning ambushes Colonel Dudley's troop. They capture 3 men and 9
horses then return to Cox's Mill.
June, 1781 -- Fanning learns that Randolph Militia Colonel's Balfour and Collier have
assembled 60 troops to attack Cox's Mill. Fanning sets out with 49 men and surprises
the colonials. The loyalists hold the field but the rebels prepare to counter attack so
Fanning withdraws and orders his men to hide out until the militia disbands.
June, 1781 -- The loyalists regroup and Fanning is challenged by William Elwood
for leadership of the militia. Fanning calls for an election of a Field Officer to lead
and he is chosen by the men. With the election results in hand, Fanning and several
men set off for Wilmington, NC to seek official status from the British commander
in North Carolina.
July 5, 1781 -- In Wilmington, Fanning is promoted: Colonel of the Loyal Militia of
Randolph and Chatham Counties.
July 17, 1781 -- Fanning's troops occupy the Chatham County Courthouse in Pittsboro, NC capturing 53 colonial officials.
July 29, 1781 -- Fanning and 25 troops capture Colonel Philip Alston after a shoot out at Alston's 'House In The Horseshoe' near Carthage in Moore County.
September 1, 1781 -- Fanning leads troops at the battle of Beatti's Bridge on the
Lumber River near Wagram, NC
September 6, 1781 -- Fanning publishes a notice in Deep River area stating that
anyone not coming forward to serve King George will be considered a rebel and
September 12, 1781 -- Fanning and his troops, with a troop of Scots from
Cumberland County, raid Hillsborough, NC and capture Governor Thomas Burke
along nearly 200 other troops and officials.
September 13, 1781 -- Fanning is wounded at Lindsey's Mill on Cane Creek near
the Alamance-Chatham line. He is shot in the left arm and the musket ball "broke
the bone in several pieces". Captain John Rains commands the troop which delivers the Governor to the British near Wilmington.
October, 1781 -- After resting for 24 days, Fanning is up and about again when 170
troops advance on his position. 140 loyalists hold them off then Fanning disbands
his men while the rebel force is in the area.
October 19, 1781 -- Lord Cornwallis surrenders his army to General Washington at Yorktown, VA.
November, 1781 -- British troops evacuate Wilmington, NC.
Following the British departure from Wilmington, the Colonial Militia serving with General Greene's army is released from service and sent home. Many of the men have to pass through the Deep River area and are attacked by Fanning's men.
December, 1781 -- Colonial troops occupy Cox's Mill forcing Fanning to disperse his men into small raiding groups.
By March, 1782 -- Fanning has spent most of the winter corresponding with Colonial officials about a truce. Several times he has become convinced that
the state officials were bargaining in bad faith and planned to trap him and his men.
Fanning urges the tories in the Deep River area to assume a stance of neutrality in order to protect their families and properties as he is no longer able too and plans
to leave the area.
March 10 (or 12), 1782 -- Fanning and 25 men attack Colonel Andrew Balfour's plantation and kill the Militia commander as his sister and daughter plead for his life.
From there the raiding party burns several houses along the way to Colonel Collier's
home. The Colonel escapes so the tories burn down his house.
Continuing on, Fanning surrounds the home of Captain John Bryan. Fanning orders the house burnt but Bryan says he will come out if they leave the home for his family.
Fanning agrees and Bryan is killed when he emerged "with his gun cocked".
The next day Fanning raids the Randolph County Courthouse, burns the home of
Captain Dugin "and all the rebel officers property in the settlement for the distance of forty miles".
A force of about 300 militia enter the area and Fanning withdraws into the woods.
April 8, 1782 -- Fanning receives a message from Governor Burke (he had been exchanged by the British for other prisoners) who again wants a treaty to end the killing in central North Carolina.
April 18, 1782 -- The State Assembly votes not to accept Fannings' treaty.
April, 1782 -- Fanning marries Sarah Carr, 16.
Summer, 1782 -- Fanning and his wife travel to Charleston, SC.
September, 1782 -- Fanning returns to North Carolina for the last time, seeking Andrew Hunter who had stolen Fanning's horse. Hunter and the horse leap into
Deep River at 'Faith Rock' and Fanning turns back for South Carolina.
November 6, 1782 -- The Fannings sail from Charleston for St. Augustine, FL.
September, 1784 -- The Fannings sail for New Brunswick, Canada.
1791 -- Fanning is elected to the Provincial Assembly where he serves
approximately 10 years.
March 14, 1825 -- Fanning dies at his home in Digby, Nova Scotia.
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William Trogdon is not identified in the texts of either book, however there are
very few encounters with individuals mentioned except with Colonial Officers.
There is the note in Fanning's Narrative from the Spring of 1781 about "the spot where we had killed the man a few days before" but nothing else about who
that man might have been.
March, 1782 seems another likely time for Fanning to have raided Trogdon's Mill.
It was during the latter half of the month that he claims to have laid waste to "all the rebel officers property in the settlement for the distance of forty miles".
William Trogdon was not an officer, but a miller providing support for the revolution would perhaps be in the same category.
The only thing which is clear is that the traditional tale of William Trogdon being killed
by David Fanning and his men in 1783 is incorrect. Fanning and his wife sailed from
Charlestown in November, 1782 and never returned to the Carolinas.
In the Spring of 1783 North Carolina Tories who had taken part in the war were pardoned by the Governor if they took an oath of loyalty to the United States. Exceptions to this included men who had accepted military commissions as officers
from the British army. These men apparently had to undergo a period of parole.
Also excluded from the pardons were Colonel David Fanning and two other men
who were listed by name as being forbidden from ever setting foot in North Carolina again.