The American Revolution in North Carolina

Stewart's Creek

July 26, 1781


Patriot Cdr:

Col. Thomas Robeson, Jr.
Loyalist Cdr:

Col. Hector McNeill
Killed:

1
Killed:

3
Wounded:

Unk
Wounded:

Unk
Captured:

0
Captured:

0
Original County: 

Cumberland County
Present County:

Cumberland County

On the morning of Thursday, July 26th, Capt. Peter Robeson and 300 men of the Bladen County Regiment of Militia stopped at Stewart's Creek on the Big Rockfish to prepare breakfast. His men had butchered some of Mr. Stewart's cattle and were about to execute two Loyalist prisoners they had captured - one being Ralph Barlow, the other unknown.

Col. Hector McNeill and his Loyalists discovered the Patriots. As the firing squad was aiming at the prisoners, the officer in charge noticed the Loyalists approaching them. He yelled out, "Red Caps!" and one of the firing squad pulled the trigger. There was only a flash in the pan and the weapon did not fire.

The Patriots scattered and maintained a running fight until they were able to escape. Capt. Robeson's casualties are not known with any degree of certainty, but Col. McNeill reportedly had three men killed.


In his 1832 pension application, Robert Johnston (S7092) asserted:

"... Colonel Richardson marched his force to Stewart's Mill on a Creek leading into Rockfish Creek, with a view of getting around the Swamp and surprising them - but on arriving there Captain Peter Robeson who was a volunteer, but not in commission -- volunteered, at the head of 50 men to perform that service -- encamped at the Stewart's Mill, that night after their arrival there, and when in the act of shooking two notorious Tories, who had been taken a few days before. They were surprised by McNeill's men, and defeated -- being attacked in front & rear at the same time; but succeeded in cutting their way through them. Colonel Robeson who had been Colonel of the County, but was then out of Commission accompanied the Whigs; there was with them a Company of Cumberland Militia under Captain [Patrick] Travis, one of whose man by the name of Armstrong was killed; after the defeat every man made his way home, in 2 or 3 days afterwards collected at the Plantation of Robert Edwards, on the North side of the Cape Fear River, 10 or 12 miles below Fayetteville..."


In his 1833 pension application, Josiah Singletary (W6064) asserted:

"Colonel Thomas Robeson, who, at an early period of the war, had been Colonel of the County, but had resigned, also raised a Troop of cavalry, the two Companies sometimes acted together, and whenever that was the case Colonel Robeson commanded - a man by the name of McDaniel commanding his Company; but most generally, he and Captain Jared Irwin took the field alternately with their companies sometimes for one - two, or three weeks, and occasionally for a a longer period.

"He was in an expedition against the Tories, who had collected in the County of Robeson (then Bladen) under the famous Colonel Hector McNeill. On this occasion, they were accompanied by Colonel Robeson's Company, and a Company of Light Horse from Cumberland County under Captain Patrick Travis. They approached the Tories so near being separated only by a small swamp that the sentinels on each side conversed with each other. The object being to surprise the Tories, but being defeated in that, and they being more numerous (as was soon ascertained) than the Whigs - Colonel Robeson concluded to retire, and marched to Stewart's Mill near Rockfish Creek 7 or 8 miles below Fayetteville.

"Within a day or two after arriving there, the Tories under McNeill made an attack in front and rear. The Whigs broke through their front and effected a retreat with the loss of a private William Strong killed. His brother, Joseph Singletary, was severely wounded, and this Declarant's horse was also wounded. The Company collected again on the Cape Fear River, and the next day, he and several others under Colonel Robeson returned to Stewart's Mill to see what had become of the Tories. They had gone off; upon ascertaining which, the Company returned home."

Known Patriot Participants

Known British/Loyalist Participants

Col. Thomas Robeson, Jr. - Commanding Officer

Bladen County Regiment of Militia detachment led by Col. Thomas Robeson, Jr. and Lt. Col. James Richardson with four (4) known companies, led by:
- Capt. Jared Irwin
- Capt. William G. McDaniel
- Capt. Peter Robeson
- Capt. Patrick Travis (Cumberland County Regiment)

Col. Hector McNeill - Commanding Officer

Unknown number of Loyalists

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