Outlander history: Remembering the Battle of Alamance

Outlander -- Courtesy of Robert Wilson, STARZ
Outlander -- Courtesy of Robert Wilson, STARZ /

On this day in history, the Battle of Alamance took place. The battle was portrayed on Outlander Season 5, but it’s time to remember the real event.

On May 16, 1771, the real Battle of Alamance took place. While Outlander Season 5 certainly did an excellent job of the portrayal, it’s time to look at the real events.

The Battle of Alamance was like the Battle of Culloden. It would become the last battle in a failed rebellion attempt against the crown—Culloden the final battle for the Jacobites, Alamance the final battle in the War of the Regulation. However, unlike Culloden, the Colonists wouldn’t forever back down. They would eventually fight against the British in the Revolutionary War; something still to come on the show.

Not necessarily a fight against king and country

There has been some debate over the decades about what the battle was for. Most historians now agree that this wasn’t a battle against king and country in the way that Culloden was. It wasn’t an attempt to overthrow the British rule completely.

The Regulators had been disenfranchised. Years of high taxation without representation led to anger. Small rebellions weren’t helping, so the Regulators banded together and rebellions escalated.

On May 15, 1771, Governor Tryon learned that the Regulators were camped just six miles away from the British Army. It was time to take the fight to the Regulators.

It’s worth noting that the British Army was outmanned two-to-one. On paper, it should have been the Regulators who won, but this was against the British Army. The soldiers were some of the best-trained around the world. This is something Jamie points out during Outlander Season 5, Episode 6.

Regulators didn’t hold up negotiation bargains

Governor Tryon tried to give the Regulators a chance. He offered a truce if the Regulators gave up, and Herman Husband (the leader of the Regulators) left the fight. Others didn’t, but they did offer to give up the two Redcoats they’d captured the day before in exchange for seven Regulators Tryon had.

Tryon was willing to make the exchange, but the Redcoats never appeared. Tryon felt like the Regulators were about to flank the militia. He ordered the milita to march towards the Regulators. Tryon wanted to negotiate peace, but it wasn’t meant to be. In fact, the Regulators disregarded white flags that Tryon had waved.

The battle for the Regulators was close to what you saw during Outlander Season 5, Episode 7. The Regulators hid behind trees and it looked like things were going their way. However, they didn’t have the ammunition and weapons that the British Army did.

With the disregard of the white flags, Tryon rallied his troops against the Regulators. Many of the Regulators fled the battlefield.

There are debates over the number of dead and injured. Tryon officially reported nine dead and 61 wounded among his men. Likewise, the Regulators reported nine dead. However, historians now believe that the numbers were much higher. It’s something we’ll never get to know.

Seven Regulators were later hanged for their involvement in the Battle of Alamance. One of those was hanged shortly after the battle but the other six were hanged at Hillsborough days later. Some of the prisoners Tryon took were later pardoned after being found guilty of treason.

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The Battle of Alamance takes place on Outlander Season 5, Episode 7 if you want to rewatch it today. Watch with a 7-day free trial of STARZ on Amazon Channels.