Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Battle of Moores Creek Bridge:
Martin's Plan

In exile, royal governor Josiah Martin planned the reconquest of North Carolina. First, he would raise within that colony an army of 10,000 men, two-thirds loyalist Highlanders and former Regulators. This army would then rendezvous on the coast with a powerful expeditionary force under Lord Cornwallis, Sir Henry Clinton, and Sir Peter Parker. These combined army and naval forces were to concentrate at Brunswick, a seaport town below Wilmington, by February 15, 1776. Together they would re-establish royal authority in the Carolinas, striking wherever rebellion showed itself. Martin persuaded his London superiors and commander-in-chief Thomas Gage that this host could easily restore order. The British ministry approved the plan, and dispatched orders to the several commanders.

Martin now set about recruiting his army. On January 10, 1776, he called upon all loyal subjects to unite to put down "a most daring, horrid, and unnatural Rebellion." Six months earlier General Gage had sent Donald MacDonald and Donald McLeod to North Carolina to recruit a Highland battalion. Martin now appointed MacDonald a brigadier general and McLeod a lieutenant colonel in the loyalist militia with directions to enlist men.

To all Highlanders who pledged service to the Crown, the British government promised 200 acres of land, cancellation of land fees, and tax exemption for 20 years. These terms, and Martin's efforts among other groups, brought in recruits, though not nearly as many as had been expected. The call went out for loyalists to assemble under MacDonald near Cross Creek (Fayetteville) and then march to the coast. When the force was organized on February 15, there were about 1,600 men present: Highlanders, other loyalists, and some 130 ex-Regulators.

(Source:  State Library of North Carolina)