The superiority of the Moravians brewing and distilling achievements were a well known draw and very popular among visitors and travelers. Salem’s reputation in the art of good drink spread rapidly and reached British General Lord Cornwallis who managed to make the area of Salem an important part of his chase to destroy the patriot army following the battle of Kings Mountain. Amazingly when he should have been traveling North East to cut General Greene off at river crossings instead he chose to travel East through the supply (beer and brandy) rich Moravian settlements.
Earlier in August of 1780, Bethabara, with only 42 adults in residence, had been overrun by three hundred Virginia militia men, who camped in the town for three weeks. After the battle of Kings Mountain in October, where loyalist troops were defeated by the over-the-mountain men using Indian fighting tactics and more accurate long rifles, Bethabara hosted five hundred prisoners for nineteen days. Some of the prisoners were sent to Salem. Prisoners in both towns were guarded by members of my family, who were not Moravian, per their military pension records.
At one point about a dozen of General Greene’s men rode into town, they “lived at discretion in the town,” the Salem Diary complained. They got drunk at the tavern and threatened the lives and homes of several brothers and sisters, including Brother Bagge, twice holding a pistol to his breast.
|General Nathaniel Greene|
Lord Cornwallis and his British army of about 3,000 men took over the area around the village of Bethania. Many troops camped on Fredrich Muller’s farm. Cornwallis’ actions seemed to be a warning to Bethania for their more vocal support of the American cause than most Moravian communities. As cold rain fell, the soldiers butchered more than 60 head of cattle, plus sheep, chickens and geese. As they prepared their meals in the different quarters they had taken over, they purposely tracked in mud from the unpaved streets. As darkness set in,100 gallons of whiskey and 300 hundred pounds of bread, sent from Bethabara, added to their meals.
Several days later, nearly five hundred cavalry troops camped in Salem, throwing the town into chaos. As well as unruly soldiers, there were civilian families of men, women, and children who had placed themselves under “protection” of the British army. British soldiers stole from the store and from residences, even snatching the wash off the clothesline at one home
Was it the long rifles of the Quaker “Pacifists,” recently settled in Guilford or the intoxicating brew of the “neutral” pious Moravian brethren leading to the British poor performance at Guilford Court House in the last great decisive battle of the South?