The American Revolution in North Carolina

All Known Engagements Within North Carolina - Battles and Skirmishes

NC Troops in Battles and Skirmishes Outside of North Carolina

Each historian, professional or amateur, has their own criteria for what constitutes a skirmish versus a battle, or what is not even worth mentioning either way. To this website's Author, if a Loyalist "murdered" a single Patriot (or vice versa), this was NOT a battle or a skirmish - it was pure and simple murder, and a heinous act on either side. However, if a group of one party slaughtered a group of the other party, then this may have been "pure and simple murder" once again, but to me it is worthy of including herein since it clarifies some of the barbarity that war brings with it. In a few instances, even this criteria cannot be followed 100% of the time - to keep the story moving.

Some of the engagements included herein do not include the killing or maiming of anyone, but do describe "meaningful encounters" that also offers the reader with other noteworthy activities and events which provides more clarity about the overall aspects of the war. These are kept to a minimum herein, but do move the story along in each instance.

For the most part, North Carolinians fought outside of North Carolina. Her Continentals were sent northward almost as soon as they were assembled, and they joined General George Washington's army in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, etc. These men distinguished themselves - and took a beating - at locations such as Brandywine and Germantown. When the South was invaded in 1779, they were all marched to Charlestown and Augusta to help their neighbor in its time of need.

Quite a few North Carolinians were actively recruited by the Military units of other provinces and states. Since it was a relatively young and poorly populated state, Georgia sent recruiters all over the east coast to sign up willing soldiers in almost any capacity - as Georgian Continentals or Georgian Militia. For different reasons, South Carolina did pretty much the same. North Carolina units were often competing with Georgia and South Carolina units for the same resources.

When the war did arrive on her home soil, the North Carolina Militia did its part for homeland defense. However, since so many of its men were already members of neighboring states' militia units or even enlisted as Continentals, the North Carolina Militia was usually a fairly poor fighting force. Poorly armed and poorly trained, the Militia generally received the least attention and the least funding. Many times, it was sent forward to fight - with no guns and only homemade broadswords, pikes, and axes.

After Lt. General Charles, Lord Cornwallis invaded North Carolina in January of 1781, along with his orders to Major James H. Craig to seize and to occupy the port city of Wilmington, the North Carolina Loyalists rose up and greatly increased their activity against local Patriots. Although the state government could not find arms or ammunition to provide its own Militia, somehow the British found many avenues and sources to supply the Loyalists with considerable quantities of both arms and ammunition. As a result, the Loyalists and their militias were quite effective at forestalling the Patriot militias well after the British left North Carolina.

With its Continentals continually required elsewhere, North Carolina had to limp along with its ragtag Militia units as the only troops fighting against the Loyalists within its borders. With several very strong leaders from all corners of the state, the North Carolina Militia finally grew strong enough and bold enough to reduce the Loyalists' hold on the state - but, not until after the Loyalists under Col. David Fanning actually managed to capture the state's governor - Thomas Burke - in September of 1781 at Hillsborough, and to take him to Wilmington as a political prisoner.

As one of the few states with its own Navy, North Carolina also sent ships and men all over the Caribbean and the Atlantic seaboard to take the fight to the British on the seas. Quite a few privateers originated from North Carolina, and they too did what they could on the open seas to aid the American cause.

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