The North Carolina Minute: A Southern victory

Published July 7, 2022

By J. C. Knowles

What battle in North Carolina during the American Revolution was called the "Concord of the South?" Here is the answer - Battle of Moore's Creek Bridge. 

February 27, 1776 has gone down in history as a great victory for America against the British. But that victory was claimed by North Carolina and was a turning point of the American Revolution.

Governor Josiah Martin, the Royal Governor of the North Carolina colony had abandoned New Bern and was aboard a ship off Brunswick. His idea was to raise an army of about 10,000 men that would team up with the forces of Lord Cornwallis and re-establish royal authority in North and South Carolina.

Word was sent out to the loyalist and Highland Scots around Cross Creek (Fayetteville) and an army of about 1,600 was mustered into service. These recruits were promised 200 acres of land by the British Crown.

The patriots from New Bern to Wilmington and in between were called upon to defend the honor of North Carolina and prevent the loyalists from reaching Wilmington or Brunswick. The route that the loyalists was to take would carry them through Widow Moore's land, which had a swamp and small creek.

The patriot's commanders, Colonel Lillington and Richard Caswell, decided the battle was to take place at the bridge, which crossed the creek and laid the plan of attack. On the late evening of February 26th, the Loyalists saw that there was little activity in a campsite west of the bridge and they felt they had the upper hand. Little did they know that the planks on the bridge had been removed, the girders had been greased and that there was a force of 1,000 patriots awaiting their arrival on the East Side of the creek.

On the 27th, at dawn, the attack began with over 1,000 patriots opening fire on the advancing loyalists. As they rushed the bridge, hundreds of the loyalists fell into the creek and were killed or captured. The battle lasted only three minutes.

With the well-laid plans and the defeat of the loyalists, this gave North Carolina a great victory. Because of the battle, Lord Cornwallis decided that his forces were in no way ready to make a stand in the Old North State.

All totals of the 1,000 patriots only one man was killed and one wounded. Of the loyalists, 30 killed, 40 wounded and 850 captured.