The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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gave Martin much chagrin, as will appear from a copy of his dispatch, dated--

'August 28th, 1775.


        "Every device has been practiced by the seditious committees to inflame the minds of the people; and most of all by the return of Richard Caswell to this province, and no doubt will inflame it with the extravagant spirit of that daring assembly at Philadelphia. At New Berne I am credibly informed he had the insolence to reprehend the committee of that little town for suffering me to remove from thence.

         * * * * *

        "This man, at his going to the first congress, appeared to me to have embarked with reluctance in the cause, that much extenuated his guilt. Now he shows himself a most active tool of sedition."

        On his return from congress in the spring of 1776, his military ardor was roused at the alarming state of affairs at home. The great fleets of England hovered around the coast, while the whole region of the Cape Fear swarmed with disaffected and dangerous tories, who had gathered in strong force to unite with Clinton in subjugating the state. In conjunction with Colonel Lillington, he summoned the minute men of Dobbs County, and met the tories under General McDonald at Moore's Creck Bridge, on February 27th, 1776, and completely routed them with great slaughter.

        He received the thanks of the Provincial Congress (at Halifax. April 4th, 1776,) for this brilliant victory, and for it he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.

        This battle of Moore's Creek Bridge was of infinite importance, as it prevented the junction of the Scotch loyalists with the British forces, and the cause of great discomfort to Governor Martin.

        In a dispatch of Governor Martin to Lord Germaine, dated March 2, 1776, (from the Rolls Office in London, never before published,) Governor Martin says:

        "An agent had been dispatched to the interior counties of North Carolina to raise troops in the country to meet the troops expected from England. Three thousand men were expected to be raised.

        "They had been checked, about seventeen miles above Wilmington, in an attempt to pass a bridge on February 27th. After sustaining the loss of Captain Donald McLeod, a gallant officer, and near twenty men killed and wounded, our forces were dispersed.

        "This unfortunate truth was too soon confirmed by the arrival of Mr. MacLeane, Mr. Campbell, Mr. Stuart, and Mr. Nichol, who, with great difficulty, found their way to the Scorpion, sloop-of-war, lying at Brunswick. The force was about 1,400 men raised; but for want of encouragement at the time was reduced to about 700, of them 600 were Highlanders.

        "The governor expresses the opinion that this little check which the loyalists received would not have any extensive ill consequences, yet he suffers every anguish, mortification and disappointment from the defeat of his endeavors."*

        * Colonial Docs., page 224.

        Some controversy has in late years arisen as to whom the honor of the victory of Moore's Creek Bridge belonged, or, at least, whether the honors should not be divided. Honorable George Davis and Professor Hubbard were opposed on this question. This should not affect the reputation of either Lillington or Caswell; both were brave patriots, and both did their duty. The facts are that congress thanked Caswell, and in a masonic address by Francois X. Martin, delivered soon after this battle, at New Berne, he calls Caswell "the gallant commander of Moore's Creek."

        Caswell was president of the Provincial Congress (which met at Halifax November 12, 1776,) and was one of the committee that formed a state constitution. He was elected the first governor of the state under the constitution. He conducted the ship of state in its untried and perilous voyage with singular fidelity and matchless sagacity during his term of office. After this expired, his active
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