The date April 12, 1776, holds special meaning for the people of North Carolina.
That’s the day they became Americans.
Just a few weeks earlier, on February 27, 1776, Patriot troops engaged the Loyalists at Moores Creek Bridge. It was a lopsided battle. The Patriots numbered only about a thousand, against more than 1,600 Loyalists.
The Loyalists, many armed only with broadswords, crossed the bridge shouting the king’s name. They were met the open maws of loaded muskets and cannons. The Patriots fired at point-blank range.
The Battle of Moores Creek Bridge was over in less time than it takes to brew a cup of tea. More than 70 Loyalists were wounded, and another 850 captured in the aftermath. But a greater victory had been won.
The charge at Moores Creek Bridge was Royal Governor Josiah Martin’s final attempt to win back the colony in the name of King George III. On the other side of the bridge, British troops waited to launch an invasion from the sea at Brunswick.
When the Loyalists failed to appear, the British invasion was halted. Throughout the colony, Patriots heartened by the victory took up arms. North Carolina would never again answer to British rule.
Today, Moores Creek National Battlefield is a peaceful setting, where the serenity is broken only by the call of birds or the laughter of picnicking families.