Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Battle of Moores Creek Bridge:
The Prelude

As the economic and political controversy with Great Britain gave way to open rebellion in the mid-1770s, North Carolina was left a badly divided colony. The legislature, which was popularly elected, opposed royal governor Josiah Martin, almost to a man. "Government here is as absolutely prostrate as impotent," Martin warned his superiors in London, "and nothing but the shadow of it is left." Yet many people who disliked parliamentary taxation and royal authority over provincial affairs nevertheless found the thought of fighting the mother country abhorrent. By mid-1775, North Carolinians had split into two groups: patriots, perhaps half the people, who were willing to take up arms for independence; and loyalists, primarily the Crown's officials, wealthy merchants, planters, and others of a conservative mind who opposed redressing their grievances by war. This last party included many Highlanders, who in recent decades had immigrated in sizable numbers to North Carolina, and some of the Regulators who had been defeated at Alamance in 1771.

News of the fighting at Lexington and Concord in April, 1775, received in North Carolina a month later, further weakened royal authority. Unable to stem the tide of revolution in the colony, Martin abandoned New Bern, the capital, and fled to Fort Johnston on the lower Cape Fear, arriving on June 2, 1775. Within 6 weeks, North Carolina militia forced him to flee again, this time offshore to the British warship Cruizer, as the fort burned behind him.

(Source:  State Library of North Carolina)