The American Revolution in North Carolina

Robert Irwin

Captain in the Mecklenburg County Regiment of Militia - 1775, 1776-1777
Captain in the 2nd Salisbury District Minutemen - 1775-1776
Lt. Colonel in the Mecklenburg County Regiment of Militia - 1777-1778
Colonel in the Mecklenburg County Regiment of Militia - 1778-1783

On September 9, 1775, Robert Irwin was appointed as a Captain under Col. Thomas Polk in the Mecklenburg County Regiment of Militia. Capt. Robert Irwin led his company at the battle of the Cane Brake, SC (12/22/1775) and in the infamous Snow Campaign in South Carolina (12/23-12/30/1775).

While in South Carolina, the NC Provincial Congress created the 2nd Battalion of Salisbury District Minutemen on December 21, 1775, and appointed Thomas Polk as Colonel/Commandant. Capt. Robert Irwin was now assigned to the 2nd Battalion of Salisbury District Minutemen. Capt. Robert Irwin led his company at the battle of Moore's Creek Bridge on February 27, 1776. All Minutemen regiments were disbanded on April 10, 1776.

Soon thereafter, Capt. Robert Irwin returned to the Mecklenburg County Regiment of Militia, now under Col. Adam Alexander. He led his company in the Cherokee Expedition of 1776 led by Brig. Gen. Griffith Rutherford on the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

In January of 1777, Robert Irwin was commissioned as a Lt. Colonel under Col. Adam Alexander in the Mecklenburg County Regiment of Militia, replacing Lt. Col. John Phifer, who had died in November of 1776.

In the 3Q of 1778, Robert Irwin was commissioned as the second Colonel, alongside Col. George Alexander, in the Mecklenburg County Regiment of Militia, replacing Col. Adam Alexander, who had resigned his commission. Col. Robert Irwin became the Colonel/Commandant over the Mecklenburg County Regiment of Militia in the 4Q of 1780, after Col. George Alexander resigned his commission. Available records indicate that Col. Robert Irwin retained his command until the end of the war in 1783.

Col. Robert Irwin led part of the Mecklenburg County Regiment of Militia at the battles of Rocky Mount, SC (7/30/1780) and Hanging Rock, SC (8/6/1780). He was marching to join up with Maj. Gen. Horatio Gates, but turned ill and had to go back home prior to the battle of Camden, SC.

Robert Irwin was born on August 20, 1738 (another source says August 26, 1740) in Chester, PA, the son of William Irwin. His first wife was named Mary Alexander and they had ten known children - Margaret, Eleanor, James, William, Sarah, Dorcas, Mary, Robert Jr., Amy, and Martha. He married a second time to Mary Barry on March 29, 1798. Robert Irwin died on December 23, 1800 in Mecklenburg County, NC.

Robert Irwin was one of the original signers of the Mecklenburg Resolves on May 20, 1775. He was a delegate to the Fourth Provincial Congress in Halifax during April of 1776, and to the Fifth Provincial Congress during November of 1776, also at Halifax. He was elected to the NC Senate from 1778 to 1783, in 1795, and from 1797 to 1800. He was elected to the NC House of Commons in 1790.


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