The American Revolution in North Carolina

Livingston's Creek

September 23, 1781


Patriot Cdr:

Brigadier General
John Butler
Loyalist Cdr:

Col. Archibald McDugald
Killed:

Unk
Killed:

Unk
Wounded:

Unk
Wounded:

Unk
Captured:

0
Captured:

0
Original County: 

Bladen County
Present County:

Bladen County

For two days after joining forces at McPhaul's Mill, Col. Archibald McDugald and Col. Duncan Ray skirmished with a body of Patriot horsemen that were pursuing the Loyalists. Just outside of Elizabeth Town in Bladen County, Col. McDugald's men set up a defensive position at Hammond's Creek Bridge. The Loyalists fought a delaying action that permitted Col. McDugald to get his prisoners to Major James H. Craig in Wilmington.

Major Craig had learned of Col. Fanning's capture of Governor Thomas Burke at Hillsborough on September 12th, and he anticipated the Loyalist's route back to Wilmington. He marched from his headquarters with a detachment of the 82nd Regiment of Foot and proceeded towards Cross Creek, then he and Col. McDugald rendezvoused at Livingston's Creek, in Bladen County.

Col. McDugald was still avoiding the Patriot horsemen that had been shadowing his army for many miles. Major Craig thought those men must be under the command of Col. Thomas Brown. Four hours after arriving at Livingston's Creek, fifty Patriot horsemen did appear.

Major Craig ordered his cavalry and sixty infantrymen to go disperse the mounted Patriots. The British drove them up the road for about three miles before discovering that 200 Patriots had built a defensive position on the road. The British soon recovered from their surprise and attacked the larger group of Patriots, who were now the surprised ones and who quickly retreated back to Elizabeth Town.

The British patrol did not know what might be further down that road so they returned to Livingston's Creek. Major Craig then learned that the Patriots were not under Col. Thomas Brown, but were the advance elements of the army led by Brigadier General John Butler. Butler was trying to beat the Loyalists to Wilmington so he could rescue Governor Thomas Burke.

The British quickly returned to the security of Wilmington, and Major Craig quickly sent Governor Thomas Burke to the heavily fortified city of Charlestown in South Carolina.

As long as Governor Thomas Burke was a prisoner, Alexander Martin, the Speaker of the Senate, would be acting governor for North Carolina - the first one.


In his 1832 pension application affadavit, Waller Brown (S31573) asserted:

"About the first of September 1781 I entered the service again as a drafted man in Captain Josiah Cole's Company of mounted Infantry, and under the command of Colonel William Moore for a Term of three months. We joined General John Butler who commanded as in chief. Gen’l. Butler started with us to Wilmington, and I was engaged in a battle at a place called Livingstons Creek and in another at a place called Brown Marsh."


In his 1832 pension application affadavit, Isaac Rainey (S4545) asserted:

"... in 2 days afterwards the Tories took possession of Hillsboro; and that he was called upon by Captain McMullen again and was marched to Hillsboro and on in pursuit of said Tories and that the American troops overtook the Tories at Livingston's Swamp that he was in an engagement at that place with said Tories and British Light horse; and that the latter gave way; and that he was, then placed in a company of volunteer infantry under the command of Captain Spillsby Coleman; Captain McMullen having disgraced himself and was dismissed and sent home; He says he was marched to a place called Brown Marsh where he says he was in another engagement with the British in the night time for more than an hour; and that 7 or 10 Americans were killed and about 60 head of horses; and 35 of the British were said to have been killed at said battle."

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Brigadier General John Butler - Commanding Officer

Caswell County Regiment of Militia detachment of three (3) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Josiah Cole
- Capt. Shadrack Hargis
- Capt. John McMullen

Col. Archibald McDugald, with unknown number of Loyalists

Major James H. Craig, with unknown number of the 82nd Regiment of Foot

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