The American Revolution in North Carolina

Wilmington District Minutemen

Date Established:


Original Officers:

September 9, 1775

Col. John Alexander Lillington

Col. John Alexander Lillington
Lt. Col. Robert Ellis
Maj. Samuel Swann

Date Disbanded:

April 10, 1776 

Known Adjutants:


None Known


Known Quarter Masters:


None Known


Miscellaneous Players:


None Known


Known Captains:

John Ashe, Jr.

Thomas Bloodworth

John DeVane, Sr.

Joseph French

John James

James Love


Griffith John McRee


Brief History of the Regiment:

On September 9th, the Third Provincial Congress authorized the creation of additional Provincial Troops, with a slightly different mission than the first two regiments authorized on September 1st, which were later placed on the Continental Line. These additional troops were named Minutemen (or Minute Men), and each district was authorized to establish one regiment; the Provincial Congress commissioned all officers. This resulted in a total of six (6) new regiments of Provincial Troops that were to provide their services only within the boundaries of the colony. The Minutemen were enlisted for six months.

Each county was ordered to provide companies of Minutemen; smaller counties were authorized to establish only one company, whereas more populated counties were to raise three companies. A total of fifty-eight (58) companies of Minutemen were authorized and established.

The Edenton District Minutemen was led by Col. Edward Vail, Sr. The Halifax District Minutemen was led by Col. Nicholas Long. The Hillsborough District Minutemen was led by Col. James Thackston. The New Bern District Minutemen was led by Col. Richard Caswell. The Salisbury District Minutemen was led by Col. Thomas Wade. The Wilmington District Minutemen was led by Col. John Alexander Lillington.

In early December of 1775, the Halifax District Minutemen were called out to help fend off a British invasion just north of Norfolk at the Great Bridge. This regiment also participated in the fire-fight at Norfolk on January 1, 1776.

On December 21, 1775, the Salisbury District Minutemen was divided into two regiments. The 1st Salisbury District Regiment was led by Col. Griffith Rutherford. The 2nd Salisbury District Regiment was led by Col. Thomas Polk. Both of these units were already on their way into South Carolina to assist in subduing Loyalists at the Great Cane Brake, ending up in the famous Snow Campaign.

In early 1776, Royal Governor Josiah Martin, from the HMS Cruizer just off Cape Fear, encouraged the Loyalist all over North Carolina to march towards Wilmington to help re-instate the King's Standard. These Loyalists soon met up with a large Patriot force, which included units from all Minutemen regiments except for the Edenton District. The Patriots routed the Loyalists at the battle of Moore's Creek Bridge on February 27, 1776.

- New Bern District Minutemen - 11 Companies
- Wilmington District Minutemen - 5 Companies
- Halifax District Minutemen - 5 Companies
- Hillsborough District Minutemen - 7 Companies
- 1st Salisbury District Minutemen - 1 Company
- 2nd Salisbury District Minutemen - 11 Companies

Fifty-six other Minutemen and Militia companies were on their way, but were too late for the actual battle. Some assisted in escorting prisoners to the Halifax Jail.

During April of 1776, the North Carolina Provincial Congress convened and decided to disband the Minutemen; the standing army was simply too costly to maintain. During the same session, the Provincial Congress responded to a Continental Congress request for more troops and they authorized four new regiments to be placed on the NC Continental Line. Leaders of the disbanded Minutemen and some Militia units were appointed to the NC Continental Line, dramatically changing the leadership picture for the remaining Militia regiments.


Known Battles / Skirmishes:


Moore's Creek Bridge

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