Battle of Moores Creek Bridge: February 27, 1776
Responding to the call by Josiah Martin, North Carolina’s royal governor, British Colonel Donald McLeod began marching 1,600 Loyalists from Cross Creek, North Carolina, toward the coast, where they were supposed to rendezvous with other Loyalists and Redcoats at Brunswick, North Carolina. When Commander Richard Caswell (1729-89) and some 1,000 Patriots arrived at Moores Creek Bridge, near present-day Wilmington, ahead of the British Loyalists, Caswell positioned his troops in the woods on either side of the bridge, awaiting the British with cannons and muskets at the ready. The British learned of the Patriot troops at Moores Creek in advance, but, expecting only a small force, decided to advance across the bridge to attack. The British Loyalists shouted, “King George and Broadswords!” as they moved across the bridge; they were swiftly cut down by a barrage of Patriot musket and cannon fire.
The British Loyalists quickly surrendered, giving the Patriots a victory and an important morale boost. The victory also aborted British plans to land a force at Brunswick, and ended British authority in the colony.
Battle of Moores Creek Bridge: Aftermath
Within two months of the American victory, on April 12, 1776, North Carolina became the first colony to vote in favor of independence from Britain.