I have been doing research on Reconstruction Era micro-conflicts, out of curiosity, and came across this brief paragraph in a Wikipedia article about the Kirk-Holden War:

The Klan retaliated and thirty of its members members marched on the small town of Pittsboro intent on taking it over. Kirk's forces gathered and the Klan pulled back, with Kirk in pursuit.

In the forest of Chatham county a bloody battle ensued, though little is known about the events. After several similar skirmishes the war was over.

I did several google searches about this "battle" in the "forest of Chatham county", yet I find nothing at all about it. All other google sources just describe this conflict as a big intimidation campaign, with no direct confrontations.

Did this "battle" actually happen? If so, does anyone know more details about it? To me, it is interesting as it is the only case that I know of where the Klan actually engaged local, state, and/or federal military forces in direct battle, which was quite unlike its traditional tactics.

The other major anti Reconstruction groups that I know of, the Red Shirts and the White League, did engage in direct skirmishes with military forces (but usually melted away in the face of overwhelming force).

I am not suggesting that I support any of these organizations by mentioning them. I am just asking this question out of curiosity only.

1 Answer 1


Even in the best case, "battle" is probably a very generous description of what happened... unless you consider criminals shooting at cops rather being arrested quietly a battle.

More to the point, though, none of the more scholarly or reputable sources I've found make mention of anything like a battle occurring.

And even more more damning, the page cited on Wikipedia as a footnote ("3") opens with:

First, the Kirk-Holden War was not a military war in the traditional sense. No battle was fought.

...so the Wikipedia page makes an assertion about a battle occurring, and cites as evidence a non-scholarly article on a commercial genealogy website which explicitly states there was no battle.

Sure looks to me like a completely unsubstantiated (if not fabricated) claim. Certianly wouldn't be the only one on Wikipedia.

  • Might want to consider the source too. There are a lot of people who acted to glorify the actions of the KKK for political and/or racial reasons. This reminds me a bit of a historic site I blundered over in Texas labelled "The Shrine to the Texas Martyrs". Reading the material there, it became clear it was simply an outlaw band that raided into Mexican territory and got (rightly) executed by the Mexican Army.
    – T.E.D.
    Apr 18, 2017 at 14:36
  • @T.E.D. "It's my estimation that every man ever got a statue made of 'em was one kinda sombitch or another." Apr 18, 2017 at 14:38

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