The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Haw, Battle of the

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HAW, Battle of the, in the Revolution, 21 Feb. 1781. Henry Lee had been commissioned by Greene to prevent Tory reinforcements coming to Cornwallis, who had taken position at Hillsboro, and in the course of the movement attempted to surprise Tarleton. Tarleton had moved; but hearing that about 400 Tories under Colonel Pyle were on their way to join him, Lee determined to pass off his own “legion” as Tarleton's and capture them all. Forcing two captured British officers to keep up the deception, he moved forward, with Pickens' and Oldham's companies following, and met two young men who had been sent by Pyle to find Tarleton's camp; he was presented to them as Tarleton, and directed them to have Pyle's men drawn up beside the road while his “weary veterans” passed — his object being to capture and disarm them all. The plan succeeded perfectly till, just as he had taken Pyle's hand, part of the Tories discovered Pickens' militia and saw the trap, and at once fired on the American rear; the latter poured in a volley that killed 90 of the enemy at the first fire, and in the mêlée, despite appeals for quarter, a great number of the rest were killed and the majority wounded. Pyle escaped badly hurt, and the rest of the body dispersed unpursued.