The American Revolution in North Carolina

NC Government During the American Revolution - 1778

Elections for the 1778 General Assembly were held on March 10th, and the first gathering was held in New Bern from April 14th thru May 2nd. Whitmell Hill was chosen as the Speaker of the Senate, and John Williams was chosen as the Speaker of the House of Commons.

During this first session, the General Assembly re-elected Richard Caswell as governor, and it appointed a new Council of State. They also selected new delegates to the Continental Congress - John Penn, Cornelius Harnett, and Abner Nash. Mr. Nash declined to serve, so John Williams, Speaker of the House, was elected in his stead. By April 28th, Thomas Benbury was the new Speaker of the House.

One of most pressing issues - as always - was the need for more Continental troops. On April 19th, the Legislature resolved to raise 2,000 more men from North Carolina, and these would be referred to as the "New Levies" - required to enlist for only nine months, however, it was still desirable for the men to enlist for the duration of the war. This resolve was passed by both houses on April 27th.

The next pressing issue was "how to clothe" all the new troops. On May 1st, the General Assembly voted that each county had to furnish the following list and quantity of items for our troops, and to convey these to the Military Stores complex, known as Camp Quankey, situated in Halifax, NC:


A Frenchman, known as Monsieur Chariol DePlacer, convinced the state to help fund his idea for a regiment of Frenchmen, and it was approved on April 28th. However, he had great difficulty in assembling enough men such that this regiment was disbanded on August 19th, having never been on active duty.

It was determined that a fort would be nice to have at Cape Lookout and at Cape Fear, so Fort Hancock was approved to be built at the former location, and Fort Johnston was approved to be rebuilt where it had been in Brunswick County before it was destroyed by the Patriots in 1775.

In July, Governor Richard Caswell called a special session of the General Assembly as a result of new pressing issues from the Continental Congress - he wanted the Legislature to convene on August 1st, but could not be assembled until August 8th. Apparently, the Continental Congress had two primary issues on their minds - First, the three North Carolina delegates were frequently absent; and Second, the North Carolina troops were so badly equipped and staffed that Congress insisted that they now needed only four (4) regiments from our state.

On August 12th, the General Assembly elected two additional delegates for the Continental Congress - Whitmell Hill and Thomas Burke. As a result, the Senate chose Allen Jones as their new Speaker, replacing Whitmell Hill.

On August 14th, the General Assembly elected two new members of the Council of State - William Bryan and John Simpson, replacing William Haywood and Richard Henderson, who had both resigned.

In early Fall, the Continental Congress learned that the British were planning another invasion somewhere in the South, and they requested that North Carolina raise an additional 5,000 men for the aid of South Carolina and Georgia. In November, Governor Richard Caswell appointed John Ashe as the first Major General in charge of all North Carolina Militia, and the various districts were charged to rally their Militiamen along with Major General John Ashe as quickly as possible, and to march southward.

Also in November, the Continental Congress re-assigned Major General Robert Howe from the Southern Department to the Northern Department, and his replacement in Charlestown would be Major General Benjamin Lincoln, who arrived in December to lead the Patriots against the impending British invasion of both Georgia and South Carolina. All North Carolina troops sent to assist South Carolina and Georgia would now answer to Major General Benjamin Lincoln - now stationed at Purrysburg, SC.

The year closed with no further assembling of the Legislature, although much more work was required. This General Assembly reconvened in January of 1779 to finish what they had not done in 1778.

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