The American Revolution in North Carolina

North Carolina Counties - 1775 to 1777

NC Counties 1777 to 1779

NC Counties 1779 to 1783

NC Counties 1783

Most folks are not aware that the population of North Carolina increased considerably during the American Revolution. In the early years of the war most of the fighting was in the northern colonies and many people from those affected areas chose to uproot their families and to move south, where life was still relatively peaceful. It is estimated that North Carolina actually increased its population by more than 100,000 people during the war.

Since the coastal section had been firmly settled for decades the newcomers mostly came down the Great Wagon Road to the piedmont area, then spread out towards the mountains and over into what is now Tennessee. After the Cherokee Expedition in the Fall of 1776, the natives abandoned much of their lands, which were quickly seized by the new arrivals from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and western Virginia.

With this westward expansion, the newcomers were soon many miles away from any seat of government, and as one might expect they began immediately to petition for new courts closer to their homes. During the eight years of the American Revolution, the North Carolina legislators created and established eighteen new counties and abolished two old counties - Tryon and Bute.

Not all of these new counties managed to have county seats and/or court houses established before the Revolution ended. When the British invaded Georgia in 1778, South Carolina in 1779 and again in 1780, and finally North Carolina in January of 1781, most governmental activity in all three states was severely interrupted. Civil court actions were postponed until the legal system could be revamped from a colonial process to a new state process based upon a new Constitution that was approved on December 18, 1776.

There were actually two distinct political partitions of the State - the County and the Judicial District. Both had been in effect prior to the war, but at the onset of the Revolution the Provincial Congress determined to establish a two-tier military organization. Minutemen (aka Minute Men) were created for each of the six districts, while each county continued to establish militias as they had for years under British rule. By the end of April of 1776, the government chose to abandon the costly Minutemen and to replace them with a new tier of Militia - the Brigade, one per district, which were now also military districts.

© 2007-2017 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved