Currie, NC – The last historic site I visited during my South Carolina/North Carolina road trip was Moore’s Creek National Battlefield in Currie, NC, just northwest of Wilmington, NC. It’s the site of the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge, the first significant Patriot victory of the American Revolution and the last broadsword charge by Scottish Highlanders. Moore’s Creek National Battlefield also has a connection to the Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson Historic Site, which I visited earlier in my road trip.
In January 1776, the British planned to land soldiers in the area of Brunswick Town on the Cape Fear River with the intention of restoring Royal authority in North Carolina. A Loyalist force under General Donald McDonald that included a large number of loyalist Scottish Highlanders marched Cross Creek (modern day Fayetteville) toward the coast to meet the British at Brunswick Town. A Patriot force under the command of Colonel James Moore began a race with the Loyalists toward Brunswick Town with elements of his force getting ahead of the Loyalists at Moore’s Creek Bridge.
The Patriots assembled on the other side of the bridge, partially disassembled it, and mounted a small cannon and swivel gun behind earthworks. Expecting a small Patriot force that would run like they had before, the Loyalists marched six miles through swampland and charged the Patriots; some of the Loyalists didn’t have guns and charged only with their Scottish broadswords. They were cut to pieces. 30-70 Loyalists lay dead in front of the earthworks, while others drowned in the creek or fled the field. Only one Patriot militiaman was killed; it was a thoroughly lopsided victory. The Loyalists’ movement toward Brunswick Town had been stopped.
The Patriot victory at Moore’s Creek Bridge was important for three reasons. First, it ended Royal authority in North Carolina. Second, it resulted in orders from North Carolina’s Provincial Congress to their representatives in the Continental Congress to vote for independence. Third, it prevented the British from controlling the South from the outset of the war leading to the fighting of the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution.
Moore’s Creek National Battlefield is a small National Park, but one that is well worth visiting as the site of an early, significant Patriot victory during the American Revolution. The staff is friendly and enthusiastic, the Visitors Center does a good job of describing the battle and what brought it about, and the interpretive signs along the battlefield trail do a great job of walking you through the battle.