Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Battle of Moores Creek Bridge:

During Josiah Martin's offshore exile, the patriots, in August and September 1775, set up a Provincial Council to govern the colony. Upon recommendation of the Continental Congress, two regiments of the Continental Line and several battalions of minutemen and militia were raised.

At the news that loyalists were assembling at Cross Creek, the patriots mobilized their forces. In Wilmington, they threw up breastworks and prepared for fighting. In New Bern, authorities mustered the district's militia under Colonel Richard Caswell, and ordered it to join with other militia to counter the loyalists. Colonel James Moore, senior officer of the 1st North Carolina Continentals and first to take the field, was given command.

The loyalists' plan was to advance along the southwest bank of the Cape Fear River to the coast, provision the British troops arriving by sea, and join with them to re-conquer the colony. On February 20, 1776, Donald MacDonald began his movement toward the coast. Blocked by James Moore at Rockfish Creek, he marched eastward in the general direction of Richard Caswell's force, crossed the Cape Fear, and proceeded toward the Negro Head Point Road, a route into Wilmington along which he expected little opposition. Outmaneuvered by MacDonald's march tactics, Caswell withdrew from defending Corbett's Ferry on the Black River in order to "take possession of the Bridge upon Widow Moore's Creek," some 20 miles above Wilmington and a place the loyalists had to cross on their way to the coast. After sending Colonel Alexander Lillington to join Caswell, Moore fell back toward Wilmington, hoping to fall on the rear of MacDonald's column as Caswell obstructed him in front.

(Source: State Library of North Carolina)