The American Revolution in North Carolina

1st Battalion of Militia

Date Established:


Known Lt. Colonels:

May 3, 1776

Col. Thomas Brown

Lt. Col. John Armstrong

Date Disbanded:

Known Majors: 

Known Adjutant(s):

August 13, 1776

Maj. James Moore
Maj. John Tilman

Robert Raiford

Miscellaneous Players:


Walter Gibson - Commissary


Known Captains:

Ephraim Battle

? Brown

Henry Cannon

Thomas DeVane, Jr.

William Fellows

Joseph Green

Joshua Guess

Benjamin Harrison

Robert Jennett

Jacob Leonard

John McCullers

Abraham Moulton

John Salter

James Shipman

Thomas Tyre

Brief History of Regiment:

On March 12th, British General Sir Henry Clinton arrived at the entrance to the Cape Fear River and quickly learned the sad news from Royal Governor Josiah Martin about the Loyalist defeat at the battle of Moore's Creek Bridge. With such a large British contingent just off the coast, the leaders of North Carolina decided to create two new special regiments of Militia in early May of 1776. Both were quickly outfitted and marched to Wilmington.

Five weeks later, on May 31st, Commodore Peter Parker's fleet straggled in after having been widely dispersed by storms during its long Atlantic crossing. From the time of his first arrival in March, General Henry Clinton's force must get ashore to stretch their legs every so often. He also decided to instigate a few raids along the Cape Fear River.

As General Henry Clinton and his army were off the coast, rumors of his true intentions spread like wildfire among members of the Provincial Congress, the Continental Congress, and even within the military. One suggested that the British planned to land troops at Little River (SC), thirty miles south of Cape Fear, and penetrate North Carolina by way of Lake Waccamaw to make a junction with the Highland Scots, who are by no means dejected by their defeat at Moore's Creek Bridge. From Brigadier General Robert Howe came the rumor, gained from recent British deserters, that General Clinton was only awaiting a shipment of bombs before assaulting Wilmington and razing it to the ground.

What the North Carolina leaders did not know was that Clinton's real obective was Charlestown, SC.

On June 8th, after most of the British fleet crossed the bar and anchored in Five Fathom Hole, General Henry Clinton sent a proclamation to the Patriots on shore to lay down their arms or face military action, which South Carolina President John Rutledge immediately rejected. To make a long story short, the British failed miserably and did not take Charlestown. General Henry Clinton soon returned to New York.

The two new regiments of Militia stationed in Wilmington saw no action. They were disbanded on August 13th and sent home. Brigadier General John Ashe, Sr. was ordered to keep the recently-built barracks in case they may be needed again.

Fifteen of the eighteen British ships along the Cape Fear finally sailed away in early October, leaving three burned hulls no longer fit for service-one being the hated HMS Cruizer. Also sailing away was Royal Governor Josiah Martin, who went to Long Island, New York and finally back to England. He will return, so stay tuned.


Known Battles / Skirmishes:



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