One of the more obscure conflicts in American history, The War of the Regulation in North Carolina, 1765-1771, is considered to be a precursor to the American Revolution. Settlers on the North Carolina frontier took up arms against what they regarded as a corrupt alliance between Royal officials and elite easterners in North Carolina, most of them wealthy planters, to keep taxes on the frontier high and to line their pockets. The insurgents, called Regulators, would break up courts, drive away tax collectors, and generally brought government to a standstill, while petitioning for lower taxes and honest officials. The only real battle of the war took place in then Orange, now Alamance county, on May 16, 1771. About 2000 Regulators were camped south of Great Alamance Creek in the western part of the county. Their organization left much to be desired, having no officers higher in rank than Captain, and no units larger than companies. The Regulators did not expect to have to fight, assuming that their numbers would overawe the colonial militia, about 1,000 men under Governor William Tryon.
After some attempt at a peaceful resolution through negotiation, fighting broke out, and the disorganized Regulators, who lacked ammunition, were defeated. About nine Regulators were killed in the fighting , seven were subsequently executed for treason and an unknown number were wounded. Sixty-one of the militia were wounded and and estimated nine-twenty-seven killed. This brought the Regulator movement to a halt, although not the bitter division between the west and east in North Carolina.
Ironically, many members of the militia were Patriots during the Revolution and many of the Regulators became loyalists.
Tryon went on to serve as Royal Governor of New York and fought as a Major General in the British Army during the American Revolution.