The American Revolution in North Carolina

James Armstrong

Colonel over the 8th NC Regiment - 1776-1778
Colonel over the 4th NC Regiment - 1778-1781
Brigadier General (Pro Tempore) over the New Bern District Brigade of Militia
(2/7/1781 to 2/10/1781) (an error of the NC General Assembly)

Note - there were three known officers from Pitt County named James Armstrong. One was a Major in the Pitt County Regiment of Militia from 1775 to 1776, and many researchers assert he was the same man as "this" James Armstrong. The second James Armstrong was a known Captain in the Pitt County Regiment of Militia from 1775 to 1781. He may have been the son of "this" man. Or not. He's just definitely not "this" James Armstrong. The third James Armstrong was a known Captain in the 2nd NC Regiment from 1775 to 1776, and many researchers assert he was the same man as "this" James Armstrong, instead of the Major identified above. Many historians get these three James Armstrongs confused and consider them as just one person, which is very incorrect. Because of this confusion, finding or even creating a thorough and accurate biography of this man is almost impossible.


On 11/26/1776, this James Armstrong was commissioned as Colonel/Commandant over the newly-created 8th NC Regiment. Col. James Armstrong led the 8th NC Regiment at the battles of Brandywine Creek, PA (9/11/1777) and Germantown, PA (10/4/1777).

In May of 1778, the 8th NC Regiment was disbanded, never to be resurrected.

On 6/1/1778, James Armstrong was assigned as Colonel/Commandant over the 4th NC Regiment, which was being resurrected in North Carolina, after the existing remnants were folded into the 2nd NC Regiment in Pennsylvania and Col. Thomas Polk, the original commander of the 4th NC Regiment, was sent home.

Col. James Armstrong led the resurrected 4th NC Regiment in the battle of Stono Ferry, SC on 6/20/1779, and he was wounded in this engagement. Some historians incorrectly claim that this James Armstrong was in the Militia at this engagement, but that claim is inaccurate.

Once again, this regiment was decimated due to men's enlistment time expiring, and Col. James Armstrong was forced to return to North Carolina and begin another lengthy rebuilding effort for the 4th NC Regiment. He remained very active at home in Pitt County recruiting men for the NC Continental Line during 1779 and 1780.

The 4th NC Regiment was never completely ressurected due to many factors. First was the invasion of South Carolina by the British and the subsequent seizure of Charlestown in May of 1780, which included the capture of most of the NC Continental Line. Col. James Armstrong was at home recruiting at that time. After this great loss, the NC General Assembly paid scant attention to the NC Continental Line, therefore, all recruiting efforts were essentially nullified until after the arrival of Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene in late 1780. He finally pressured the NC leaders to restart their Continental recruitment in early 1781. North Carolina did recreate three regiments for the Continental Line during 1781, and they tried to fill up a fourth regiment, but it never amounted to more than a few companies, led by Lt. Col. Henry "Hal" Dixon.

However, as did many other NC Continental officers, James Armstrong accepted "half pay" and retired from active duty on 1/1/1781, and planned to retire to his home in Pitt County.

During its first session of 1781, while British Lt. Gen. Charles, Lord Cornwallis was chasing Maj. Gen. Nathanael Greene and Brig. Gen. Daniel Morgan across the western part of the state in their "Race to the Dan," the NC General Assembly wrongly learned that Brig. Gen. William Caswell had resigned. On 2/7/1781, the NC General Assembly commissioned James Armstrong as Brigadier General over the New Bern District Brigade of Militia. Three days later, they learned of their error, and William Caswell was reinstated as the Brigadier General over the New Bern District Brigade of Militia. James Armstrong was no longer in the military.

This James Armstrong remained quite active in helping out with military affairs within North Carolina until the end of the war, but as a citizen and not as a soldier.


If anyone has a decent biography of this man, please send it to this Author via e-mail or snail mail, and it will be added here, with full credit given.


© 2013 - J.D. Lewis - PO Box 1188 - Little River, SC 29566 - All Rights Reserved