General Joseph Martin Chapter

Cumberland Gap, TN


Cumberland Gap Patriot

Isaac Payne

Isaac Payne was born in 1755 in Caroline County Maryland.  In 1775, Payne married Mary Hayes and bore 8 children from this union. At the start of the Revolutionary war, Payne joined the Caroline county militia. On September 11, 1776 the militia was called to duty at the Battle of Harlem Heights located on Manhattan Island New York mostly on the campus of Columbia College and Central Park.
 The battle started with skirmishers firing at the British at 106thstreet and Broadway. Washington then attacked the British in a 3 pronged attack. After six hours the British soon found themselves almost surrounded and began to retreat. The British retreated to the North end of Central Park. They were soon reinforced by other British troops forcing Washington to withdraw from the battle.
 Some Military analysts see Harlem Heights as the turning point in America’s effort to create an effective army. It was the first time the Continentals fought steadily and effectively against the British.  It showed the Continentals they could win in battle against a superior force after the Loss of Long Island and the defeat at Kipps Bay NY.
   After the battle of Harlem Heights, Payne moved his family to Orange county NC to live near his father Isaiah Payne. In 1780 after the fall of Charleston, Payne joined the Hillsborough Militia regiment of the NC militia.
 The next battle Payne would participate in was the battle of Camden SC. Camden was   an important base of operations for the British because it was central to controlling the back country of South Carolina and its crossroads were located between the Wateree River and the Catawba Indian Trail.
 On July 27, 1780, Gates, the American Commander marched to Camden with 4000 men mostly militia expecting an easy victory against the 700 man garrison under the command of British General Rawdon. Rawdon hearing of Gates march contacted Cornwallis at Charleston. Cornwallis brought with him over 2400 troops to Camden. On August 16, 1780, the two armies met clashing about 2am. Both Commanders decided to wait until daybreak to resume the battle. By daybreak most of the Continental army and militia was sick due to Food poisoning. Gates also made the fatal mistake of placing the inexperienced militia on the left flank to face the best of Britain’s superiorly trained army. Payne and the NC militia under the command of Col. James Colwell were placed next to the Delaware Continentals.
 The British began the battle by attacking the left flank first. The militia was ordered to fix bayonets and charge. Since most of the militia was ill trained they didn’t know how to do this. Seeing the British charging towards them they fled. Over 2800 militia fled the battle with Gates in front of them. Only the NC militia stayed and fought with the Continentals. The NC militia line was the first to be hit by LT. Col. James Webster’s attack on the left flank. They fought bravely until Tarletan’s dragoons attacked their rear. The NC militia then fled the battle. The battle of Camden was the worst defeat for the Continental army in the Southern Campaign.
 At the battle of Cowpens on January 17, 1781, Payne was one of the NC Skirmishers who first fired at the British killing 15 Dragoons. On February 1, 1781 at the battle of Cowan Ford NC, Payne fought with Gen. Davidson to prevent the British from crossing Cowan Ford, but failed to stop them from crossing. On March 2,1781 Payne was with light Horse Harry Lee at  the battle of Clapps Mill NC when he led an assault on the British killing 17 British troops  At Guilford Courthouse NC on March 14, 1781 Payne was one of the 1500 militia that first fired on the 71st Highlander regiment. On September 13, 1781 at the battle of Lindley Mill NC, Payne fought with Butler’s Whigs to try and rescue NC Governor Burke from the Tories, but failed to do so. This was the last battle that Payne would participate in and the last battle fought in Alamance county NC during the war.
  At the end of 1781 Payne moved his family to the Ninety six region of South Carolina. This region had been hotly contested between the British and Continentals between May and June 1781 and was the scene of the longest siege by the Continental against a British Fortification. In 1790, Payne moved his family to Greenville South Carolina. In 1810, Payne moved to Grainger County where he lived until 1827 when he died. He was buried near his home place.  Most of his family moved to McMinn county TN where they still live to this day.          



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