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CHAP. VI. Thus was destroyed by far the most popu. 1776. lous and flourishing town in Virginia. That
part of the destruction, effected by order of the convention, was produced by the fear that it would be held by the enemy as a permanent post, and the hope that, after it was burnt down, the seat of war would be entirely re. moved from the province.
It was one of those ill judged measures, founded on a course of false reasoning, to which the inexperienced are often exposed.
After Norfolk was laid in ashes, lord Dunmore frequently changed his position, and continued a predatory war on the rivers, burning houses and robbing plantations, which served only to distress a few individuals, and to increase the detestation in which he and his cause were held through the country. At length his wretched followers, wearied with their miserable condition, and no longer willing to continue it, were sent in about fifty vessels to Florida.
As the war became more serious, the conFebruary. vention deemed it necessary to increase the
number of regular regiments from two to nine; six of which, in the first instance, and afterwards the remaining three, were taken into the continental service.
Transactions of North Carolina.
In North Carolina, governor Martin, though chap. VI. obliged to take refuge on board a ship of war 1776. in cape Fear river, still indulged the hope of Transactions being able to reduce that colony.
A body of ignorant and disorderly men on the frontiers, styling themselves regulators, who were enemies to all government, had attempted by arms, some time before the existing war, to control and stop the adminis. tration of justice. Having failed in this attempt, they had now become as hostile to the colonial, as they had before been to the royal government.
There were also in the province, a large number of families who had lately emigrated from the highlands of Scotland, and who, retaining their attachment to the place of their nativity, transferred it to the government under which they had been bred. From the union of these parties, who were bold, active, and numerous ; governor Martin entertained san. guine hopes of making a successful struggle for the province. His confidence was much increased by the certainty, that sir Henry Clinton was coming on with a small party; and that sir Peter Parker and lord Cornwallis were to sail with a squadron and seven regiments, early in the year from Ireland, on an expedition to the southern provinces; and that North Caro. lina would be their first object.
To prepare to co-operate with this force should it arrive, or, in any event, to make a VOL. II.
CHAP. VI. great, and he hoped a successful effort to give 1776. the ascendency in North Carolina to the royal
cause, he sent several commissions to the leaders of the highlanders, for raising and com. manding regiments; and granted one to a mr. M‘Donald their chief, to act as their general. He also sent them a proclamation to be used on a proper occasion, commanding all persons on their allegiance, to repair to the royal standard. Impatient to begin his operations, this was erected by general M‘Donald, at Cross
creek, about the middle of February, and February. about fifteen hundred men arranged themselves
Upon the first advice that the loyalists were assembling, brigadier general Moore immediately marched at the head of a provincial regi. ment, with such militia as he could suddenly
collect and some pieces of cannon, to an imFifteenth. portant post within a few miles of them, called
Rock Fish bridge, of which he took possession; •and, being inferior in numbers, he immediately intrenched himself, and took the necessary pre.
cautions to render his camp defensible. Gene. Twentieth. ral M:Donald soon approached at the head of
his army, and sent a letter to Moore, inclosing the governor's proclamation, and recommend. ing to him and his party to join the king's standard by a given hour the next day. This invitation was accompanied with the threat, that he should be under the necessity of consi.
dering them as enemies, in the event of their CHAP. VI. refusing to accede to the proposition he had 1776. made.
Moore, knowing that the provincial forces were collecting and marching from all quarters, protracted the negotiation in the hope that M‘Donald might be completely surrounded. When at length it became necessary .to speak decisively, he in his final answer declared, that he and his followers were engaged in a .cause, the most glorious and honourable in the world, the defence of the liberties of mankind; and in return for the proclamation of the governor, he sent the test proposed by congress, with a proffer that, if they subscribed it and laid down their arms, they should be received as friends; but if they refused to comply, they must expect consequences similar to those with which they had threatened his people.
M‘Donald now perceiving the danger he was in of being inclosed, suddenly decamped, and endeavoured with much dexterity, by forced marches, by the unexpected passing of rivers, and great celerity of movement, to disengage himself. ..
His primary object was to join governor Martin, lord William Campbell, and general Clinton who had now arrived in this colony, and to penetrate with them the interior of the province; by which means it was expected, that all the back settlers of the southern colo.
CHLAP. VI. nies would be united in support of the royal 1776. cause, and the Indians be also induced to take
up arms in their favour. ,
The provincial parties, however, were so close in the pursuit, and so alert in every part of the country, that he at length found himself under the necessity of engaging colonels Caswell and Lillington, who, with about one thousand mi. nute men and militia, had intrenched themselves
directly in his front at a place called Moore's Action at creek bridge. The royalists were greatly supecreek bridge. rior in number, but were under the disadvan
tage of being compelled to cross the bridge, the planks 'of which were partly taken up, in the face of the intrenchments occupied by the provincials. They commenced the attack, however, with great spirit; but colonel M Cleod, who, in consequence of the indisposition of M‘Donald, commanded them, and several others of their bravest officers and men, having fallen in the first onset; their courage deserted them, and they fled with the utmost precipitation in all directions, leaving behind them their general, and several others of their leaders, who fell into the hands of the provincials.”
This victory was of eminent service to the American cause in North Carolina. It broke the spirits of a great body of men, who would have constituted a very formidable re-enforcement to an invading army; it increased the
2 Annual Register....Gordon.... Ramsay.... Gazette.