DescriptionGilbert Town was a small frontier settlement occupied at different times by patriot and British forces. British Lt. Anthony Allaire wrote in his diary: "This town contains one dwelling house, one barn, a blacksmith's shop, and some out-houses [out-buildings]."
The site of Gilbert Town lies northeast of today's Rutherfordton, North Carolina. Ferguson's men camped on "Ferguson's Ridge" about a half-mile from the 1780s town.
From this site in early September and before the Battle of Cane Creek, British Major Patrick Ferguson released a prisoner, Sam Phillips, so he could carry a message to the residents of the Overmountain region, warning them to stop fighting against the King's army.
On October 4, 1780, the patriot militiamen under their newly elected leader, Col. William Campbell, entered Gilbert Town expecting to confront Ferguson's army, but the major had got word from two loyalist spies, deserters from Col. Sevier's overmountain patriots, James Crawford and Samuel Chambers, and began his withdrawal toward the safety of Cornwallis' larger army in Charlotte, North Carolina. The patriot forces did not know in what direction Ferguson was actually moving, but they decided he was most likely headed south toward the protection of loyalists forces at Ninety-Six in South Carolina. On October 5, the patriot militia moved in that direction toward Twitty's Ford, crossing the Broad River. They continued on to the ford at Green River, later called Alexander's Ford, covering only about 13 miles that day.