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We have ordered that the Provincial Congress should meet at Halifax the second of next month.
We have appointed Committees to confer with Virginia and South-Carolina, on the most proper mode of defence to be adopted by these Colonies the ensuing campaign.
We understand General Clinton is arrived in Virginia with the transports and troops from Boston, but have not yet any advice of the arrival of those expected from Great Britain.
One Mr. Achison, Midshipman of the Syren, with three sailors, were drove over Ocracock Bar in distress, who were taken prisoners and brought to Newbern; the Midshipman and one sailor are sent to Halifax as prisoners, the other two discharged in this town. It appears the Syren had taken a vessel of ours on the coast, and those men were conducting the prize to Boston, when they were forced over the bar.
EXTRACT OF A LETTER FROM BRIGADIER-GENERAL JAMES MOORE, IN THE CONTINENTAL SERVICE, TO THE HON. CORNELIUS HARNETT, ESQ., PRESIDENT OF THE PROVINCIAL COUNCIL, NORTH-CAROLINA, DATED WILMINGTON, MARCH 2, 1776.
On the earliest intelligence that the Tories were collecting and embodying at Cross-Creek, which I received on the 9th of February, I proceeded to take possession of Rockfish-Bridge, within seven miles of Cross-Creek, which I considered as an important post. This I effected on the 15th, with my own regiment, five pieces of artillery, and a part of the Bladen Militia; but as our numbers were by no means equal to that of the Tories, I thought it most advisable to intrench and fortify that pass, and wait for a reinforcement. By the 19th, I was joined by Colonel Lillington, with one hundred and fifty of the Wilmington Minute-men, Colonel Kenon, with two hundred of the Duplin Militia, and Colonel Ashe, with about one hundred of the Volunteer Independent Rangersmaking our numbers, then, in the whole, about eleven hundred; and from the best information I was able to procure, the Tory Army, under the command of General McDonald, amounted to about fourteen or fifteen hundred.
On the 20th, they marched within four miles of us, and sent in, by a flag of truce, the Governours Proclamation, a manifesto, and letter from the General, copies of which, together with another letter, and my answers, you have enclosed. I then waited only until Colonel Martin and Colonel Thackston, who, I had certain intelligence, were on their march, should get near enough to cut off their retreat, and determined to avail myself of the first favourable, opportunity of attacking them. However, contrary to my expectations, I learned, on the 21st, that they had, the night before and that morning, crossed the North-west River, at Campbelltown, with their whole army, sunk and destroyed all the boats, and, taken their route the most direct way to Negro-Head Point. I then despatched an express to Colonel Caswell, who was on his march to join us, with about eight hundred men, and directed him to return and take possession of Corberts Ferry, over Black River, and, by every means in his power, to obstruct, harass, and distress them in their march; at the same time I directed Colonel Martin and Colonel Thackston to take possession of Cross-Creek, in order to prevent their return that way. Colonel Lillington and Colonel Ashe I ordered, by a forced march, to endeavour, if possible, to reinforce Colonel Caswell; but if that could not be effected, to take possession of Moores Creek Bridge, whilst I proceeded back with the remainder of our army, to cross the North-west at Elizabethtown, so as either to meet them on their way to Corberts Ferry, or fall in their fear and surround them there.
On the 23d, I crossed the river at Elizabethtown, where I was compelled to wait for a supply of provisions until the 24th, at night, having learned that Colonel Caswell was almost entirely without. Just when I was prepared to march, I received an express from Colonel Caswell, informing that the Tories had raised a flat which had been sunk in Black River, about five miles above him, and, by erecting a bridge, had passed it with their whole army.
I then determined, as the last expedient, to proceed immediately, in boats, down the North-west River to Dollisons Landing, about sixty miles from them, and to take possession of Moores Creek Bridge, about ten miles from them; at the same time acquainting Colonel Caswell of my intentions, and recommending to him to retreat to Moores Creek Bridge, if possible; but if not, to follow on in their rear.
The next day, by four oclock, we arrived at Dollisons Landing; but as we could not possibly march that night, for want of horses for the artillery, I despatched an express to Moores Creek Bridge, to learn the situation of affairs there, and was informed that Colonel Lillington, who had the day before taken his stand at the bridge, was that afternoon reinforced by Colonel Caswell, and that they had raised a small breastwork, and destroyed a part of the bridge.
The next morning, (the 27th,) at break of day, an alalarmgun was fired; immediately after which, scarce allowing our people a moment to prepare, the Tory Army, with Captain Me Cloud at their head, made their attack on Colonel Caswell and Colonel Lillington; and finding a small intrenchment next the bridge, on our side, empty, concluded that our people had abandoned their post, and in the most furious manner advanced within thirty paces of our breastwork and artillery, where they met a very proper reception. Captain McCloud and Captain Campbell fell within a few paces of the breastwork, the former of whom received upwards of twenty balls through his body; and in a very few minutes their whole army was put to the flight, and most shamefully abandoned their General, who was next day taken prisoner.
The loss of the enemy in this action, from the best accounts we have been able to learn, is about thirty killed and wounded; but as numbers of them must have fallen into the creek, besides many more that were carried off, I suppose their loss may be estimated at about fifty. We had only two wounded, one of which died this day.
Thus, sir, I have the pleasure to inform you, has most happily terminated a very dangerous insurrection, and will, I trust, put an effectual check to toryism in this country.
The situation of affairs, in this place, made it necessary for me to return here, which; at the special request of the Committee, I did last night, with my regiment. The large requisitions made by the men-of-war, who now lie just below the town, gave the inhabitants reason to apprehend everything that could be suffered from their disappointed vengeance. However, the Committee have most spiritedly determined rather to suffer the worst of human evils than afford them any supplies at all; and I have no doubt we shall be able to prevent them from doing any great injury.
In order to lessen, as much as possible, the expense incurred by this expedition, I some time ago directed Colonel Martin to disband all the troops under his command except one thousand, including the Regulars, and with, those secure the persons and estates of the Insurgents, subject to your further orders, and then to proceed to this place, unless otherwise directed. However, as I do not think the service, just now, requires such a number of men in arms, I shall immediately direct him to disband all except the Regulars, and with those to remain in and about Cross-Creek, until further orders.
COLONEL CASWELL TO NORTH-CAROLINA CONGRESS.
Camp at Long-Creek, February 29, 1776.
SIR: I have the pleasure to acquaint you that we had an engagement with the Tories, at Widow Moores Creek Bridge, on the 27th current. Our army was about one thousand strong, consisting of the Newbern Battalion of Minute-men, the Militia from Craven, Johnston, Dobbs, and Wake, and a detachment of the Wilmington Battalion of Minute-men, which we found encamped at Moores Creek the night before the battle, under the command of Colonel Lillington. The Tories, by common report, was three thousand; but General McDonald, whom we have a prisoner, says there were about fifteen or sixteen hundred. He was unwell that day, and not in the battle. Captain Macleod, who seemed to be the principal commander, with Captain John Campbell, are among the slain.
The number killed and mortally wounded, from the best accounts I was able to collect, was about thirty; most of them were shot on passing the bridge. Several had fallen into the water, some of whom, I am pretty certain, had not risen yesterday evening when I left the camp. Such prisoners as we have made, say there were at least fifty of their men missing.
The Tories were totally put to the rout, and will, certainly disperse. Colonel Moore arrived at our camp a few hours