Military Wiki
William Lee Davidson
Born 1746
Died 1781 (aged 34–35)
Place of birth Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Place of burial Hopewell Presbyterian Church and Hopewell Cemetery
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch Continental Army
North Carolina Militia
Years of service 1775–1781
Unit 4th North Carolina Regiment
Battles/wars Snow Campaign
Battle of Colson's Mill
Battle of Cowan's Ford

William Lee Davidson (1746–1781) was a North Carolina militia general during the American Revolutionary War.

Origins and education

William Lee Davidson was born in 1746 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.[1] His father moved with his family to Rowan County, North Carolina, in 1750, and William, the youngest son, was educated at Queen's Museum (later Liberty Hall) in Charlotte.[2]

Military campaigns

Active in the war from its inception as adjutant to General Griffith Rutherford during the Snow Campaign in December 1775, he was promoted to major of the Fourth Regiment of the North Carolina line in 1776. He marched with the North Carolina line to the north and was at the Battle of Germantown, after which he was promoted to Lt. Colonel of the Fifth Regiment of the North Carolina line. At Valley Forge with Washington, “Light Horse Harry” Lee, Daniel Morgan and others, he became friends with most of the influential military commanders in the Continental Line. Left without a command he had been ordered out for the purpose of preventing the British from crossing the Catawba. Griffith Rutherford appointed Davidson his second in command. Severely wounded at the Battle of Colson's Mill on July 21, 1780, he did not participate in the Battle of Camden at which Rutherford was captured. Davidson was promoted to brigadier general and given command of Rutherford's Salisbury District militia. He participated in resisting the entry of Lord Cornwallis into Charlotte in late September 1780. Davidson was killed at the Battle of Cowan's Ford in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina on February 1, 1781 while opposing the re-entry of Cornwallis into North Carolina. General Davidson was trying to rally his men as the lead British and German elements arrived on the near bank. He was killed within minutes as the engagement unfolded.[3] Davidson's body was recovered by fellow officers later that evening after the battle; and was buried at Hopewell Presbyterian Church located on Beatties Ford Road North of Charlotte.[4] [5] [6] [7] [8]


  • Davidson County, North Carolina and Davidson County, Tennessee.
  • The town of Davidson, North Carolina.
  • Davidson College in North Carolina. His sword once hung in one of its halls.[2]

Congress voted $500 for a monument to him, but it has never been erected.[2]


  1. "Descendants of William Lee Davidson Sr. and Mary Brevard". Rootsweb. Retrieved July 28, 2013. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Wikisource-logo.svg Wilson, James Grant; Fiske, John, eds. (1900) "Davidson, William" Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography New York: D. Appleton 
  3. Stonestreet, O.C. IV, The Battle of Cowan's Ford: General Davidson's Stand on the Catawba River and its place in North Carolina History, (Createspace Publishing, 2012) ISBN 978-1468077308.pp.10-11.
  4. William S. Powell, Ed., Dictionary of North Carolina Biography (The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill: 1991), Vol. 2, pp. 27-28.
  5. Charles B. Baxley (February 2006). Battle of Cowan’s Ford. 3. SCAR. p. 3. 
  6. Chalmers Davidson. Piedmont Partisan: The Life and Times of Brigadier General William Lee Davidson. Davidson: Davidson College, 1951.
  7. O’Kelley, Patrick. Nothing but Blood and Slaughter: The Revolutionary War in the Carolinas: Volume Three 1781. 2005.
  8. Muster Roll of 5th NC Division at Valley Forge

External links

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