Location: Currie, North Carolina
Webpage: National Park Service
General Description: By mid-July 1775, Royal Governor Josiah Martin was in exile on board a British warship with plans to raise a 10,000 man militia of Loyalists to rendezvous with Lord Cornwallis and Sir Clinton to retake the capital at New Bern. However, the Patriots in September of 1775 set up a provisional government and raised several battalions of minutemen and militia. At news that the Loyalist troops had gathered at Cross Creek (Fayetteville) to march to the coast and join up with the British troops the Patriots moved to block them. Neither side really wanted to fight the other so there were a number of almost battles as the Patriots continued to block the Loyalists. At their last opportunity to stop the Loyalists the Patriots sent Colonel Lillington to Moores Creek, a crucial crossing point on the road to Wilmington. Arriving first on February 25, 1775, Lillington built a low earthwork overlooking the bridge on the west bank of the creek. Caswell with a much larger force of 850 men arrived the next day and built earthworks on the east bank of the creek. When the Loyalists, commanded by General MacDonald, arrived that same day and seeing only the 150 men of Lillington’s force on the west bank, he sent a letter giving one last chance to surrender which was refused. Thinking he had them MacDonald marched to the bridge at 1:00 am on February 27, only to find Lillington had fled across the creek taking the planks of the bridge and greasing the rails on the bridge. Undeterred, at dawn, MacDonald ordered a charge across the bridge. When they were 30 paces from the patriot earthworks they were met with withering musket and cannon fire. Over 30 loyalists were killed and 40 wounded in a battle that lasted only minutes. Eventually the Loyalists were captured and the supplies confiscated. The supplies included a large number of rifles, guns, swords, and 15,000 pounds sterling, over 3 million dollars in today value. Thus began the fight for independence in North Carolina, showing the strength of the Patriots in the countryside. Their victory at Moores Creek inspired the North Carolina Congress to be the first colony to give instructions to their delegation to the Continental Congress to vote for independence. The NPS site consists of a small Visitor Center and a 1 mile trail to and around the battlefield. The earthworks were rehabilitated in the 1930 and give an accurate depiction of what the Loyalists faced when the crossed the bridge. Although not the original bridge, the current bridge over Moores Creek is in the same location.
1) Unfortunately, the Visitor Center was not open on Mondays, the day we visited the battlefield. Therefore, we did not get to see the museum or watch the short movie. The History Trail is well laid out taking you across Moores Creek on a nice boardwalk to set you up for crossing back across the creek on the bridge and seeing the site the Loyalists would have faced.
2) There are a few monuments that can be visited near the Visitor Center including one to the Patriot Grady, the only patriot killed in the battle.
3) There is also a short Tarheel trail that winds through the longleaf forests providing some history of the naval stores industry that was a major industry in the area through colonial times up until the early 1900s. It also highlights the efforts by the NPS to return the area around the battlefield to a longleaf pine forest as it would have been during the 1700s. This includes longleaf pine plantings and frequent burns, both of which were evident in May.