The House in the Horseshoe

Built in 1772, the House in the Horseshoe, also called the Alston House,  gets its name from its location, a horseshoe shaped bend in the Deep River of North Carolina.  The house was the site of a Revolutionary War battle between Philip Alston, a colonel in the Cumberland Militia, and a troop of Tory Loyalists led by the infamous David Fanning.  During the battle, Fanning and his men attempted to burn the house down by pushing a wagon loaded with hay bails against the building and setting it ablaze.  The attempt failed and, after numerous casualties on both sides, Alston’s forces surrendered to Fanning under terms negotiated by Alston’s wife.

Alston House
A re-enactor guards the house from a potential Tory attack

Both Alston and Fanning went on to lives marked with controversy.  Alston was accused  of murdering Thomas Taylor during the war.  The death was found to be a legitimate act of war and Alston was pardoned by Governor Richard Caswell.

Alston was then elected to the General Assembly, but his seat was contested by George Glascock and several others on the grounds that Alston had been accused of Taylor’s murder and that Alston had threatened to instigate a riot if he lost the election.  Alston was removed from his seat, but a bitter feud broke out between Alston and Glascock.  Glascock was murdered by Dave, one of Alston’s slaves, but Alston had an alibi.  He had thrown a party on the night of the murder and made sure that his presence at the party was beyond doubt.

A year later, Alston was arrested for contempt of court and jailed.  He escaped from jail and fled to Georgia, only to be murdered a few years later.  Legend has it that the murderer was none other than Dave, the slave who murdered George Glascock, and who had fled shortly after being bailed out by Alston.

David Fanning, the Tory who had captured Alston and his men at the battle of the House of the Horseshoe, moved to the Bahamas before settling in New Brunswick.  In 1800, he was accused of raping 15-year old Sarah London and was found guilty and sentenced to death.  He was eventually pardoned but exiled from New Brunswick.  He settled in Nova Scotia, where he died in 1825.

After the Revolutionary War, the House in the Horseshoe was sold to future North Carolina governor Benjamin Williams.  The Alston House is now a North Carolina Historic Site and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.  The house, now nearly 250 years old, still bears the scars of the battle between Alston and Fanning.  Bullet holes mark the walls, both inside and out.

Bullet Holes
Bullet holes mark the wall around the door

We were able to visit the house on a beautiful summer day a few years ago.  Alston picked a beautiful place to make a home.  The grounds and land around the house are beautiful.

The beautiful land of the Horseshoe

The house is a beautiful plantation house built in the coastal lowlands style.  Four rooms have been furnished and there was a small, but interesting, display of medical tools that would have been used by a doctor during the Revolutionary War.  The most interesting aspect, to me, was the bullet pocked walls.  After nearly 250 years, I would have expected one of the owners to patch the walls.  Luckily, history won out and the scars of the battle are there for us to see.

Bullet holes can be seen on the wall behind the bed

If you’re ever in Moore County, North Carolina and want to get close enough to Revolutionary War history that you can literally touch it, the Alston House would be a great place to visit.  Walk the grounds and take a tour of the house.  It’s well worth the trip.



Author: Don Baker

My wife says I make stuff up. While that's probably true I'm going to stick to stuff that's mostly true.

One thought on “The House in the Horseshoe”

  1. I’m the 5th great-granddaughter of Thomas Taylor. It’s funny that he was a Loyalist. When I was in 2nd grade, I told my teacher I wished we were still a part of Britain. I guess I know where I got that from now.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Rain Coast Review

Thoughts on life... by Donald B. Wilson


True Stories and Interesting Discussions

Bryan Lunsford Writing

A Site For Short-Stories And Poetry

Bag Full of Rocks

My rocks are the memories from different adventures. I thought I would just leave this bag here.

Reymon de Real Photography

My favorite hobby is capturing the beauty around me.


Give me apathy or . . . Eh that'll do.

C.S. Young Jr. Fine Art Photography

Fine art photography, including landscape, nature, people, photo illustration and special effect imagery.

Feel Good - Photography

Photography tips, reviews and editing tutorials

The World Through My Glasses

Travel | Photography | Food

Travel Vagrant

Travelling Made Easier With Our Tips and Tricks

Rachel Admas

makes pretty things on paper

The Alchemist's Studio

Raku pottery, vases, and gifts

Serene Minds

Go from chaos to calm.

The Phoblography

A Post a Day May 2019 - May 2020 / All pictures posted are taken by Dave Bignell

Lluís Bussé

Barcelona's Multiverse | Art | Culture | Science

Tiny Ticky Tacky

Alternatives to Little Boxes


Dawn to Dusk! I try to cover as many as topics I could relate to.

%d bloggers like this: