The American Revolution in North Carolina

James Read

Ensign in the 1st NC Regiment - 1776
Lieutenant in the 1st NC Regiment - 1776-1777
Captain in the 1st NC Regiment - 1777-1780
Paymaster in the 1st NC Regiment - 1778-?
Major/Lt. Colonel/Colonel over the NC Light Horse Regiment - 1781-1782

On 1/4/1776, James Read was commissioned as an Ensign in the 1st NC Regiment under Col. James Moore; his captain's name is currently not known. He is identified as having participated in the action at the battle of Moore's Creek Bridge on 2/27/1776, but this Author tends to think he was most likely with Col. James Moore, who was entrenched at Rockfish Creek in Cumberland County, and therefore too late for the actual battle on that date.

On 7/2/1776, James Read was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, then quickly promoted to 1st Lieutenant on 7/6/1776 under Capt. Henry "Hal" Dixon in the 1st NC Regiment. This company was at the battle of Fort Moultrie, SC on 6/28/1776.

On 7/8/1777, James Read was commissioned as a Captain under Col. Thomas Clark. Capt. James Read led his company at the battles of Brandywine Creek, PA (9/11/1777), Germantown, PA (10/4/1777), Monmouth, NJ (6/28/1778), and at the Siege of Charleston, SC (3/28-5/12/1780). He and his men were captured when Charleston fell on 5/12/1780. He was apparently exchanged not long afterwards, but the exact date is not known to this Author.

On 6/1/1778, James Read was also assigned as the Paymaster of the 1st NC Regiment. It is not known to this Author how long he retained this position.

On 1/30/1781, James Read was given command over a newly-created special regiment, named by this Author (for convenience) as the NC Light Horse Regiment. Ostensibly, James Read was supposed to lead only a group of Light Horse companies from the Halifax District, and he was first given the temporary rank of Major, while retaining his right to keep his commission as a Captain in the NC Continental Line, which was decimated in May of 1780 and most remained as POWs.

However, it is not long after this assignment began when James Read began to "inherit" Light Horse companies from other districts, and he was soon given the temporary rank of Lt. Colonel. As the weeks went by, more units came under his command, and other field officers, including Lt. Colonels and Majors, were assigned to him. Almost all contemporaries were somewhat forced to start calling him Colonel - because he commanded Militia officers that outranked him officially. This Author has seen no evidence that anyone seemed to object to him being referred to as Col. James Read, and furthermore, this Author has seen no evidence what his regiment was actually called. Some referred to it as the Halifax District Light Horse, some called it Col. Read's regiment, some called it simply the Light Horse Regiment. I have seen nothing official, therefore, I decided to call it the NC Light Horse Regiment. Although most units were from the Militia, since he commanded men from all over the state, this Author also considers the NC Light Horse Regiment to be NC State Troops - but readily admits that most historians would probably consider them as NC Militia.

Col. James Read led the NC Light Horse Regiment at the battles of New Garden Meeting House (3/15/1781), Guilford Court House (3/15/1781), and at Hobkirk's Hill, SC (4/25/1781), where he was wounded. Lt. Col. Guilford Dudley took over the regiment while he was convalescing.

On 9/12/1781, Col. James Read just happened to be in the town of Hillsborough when Loyalist Col. David Fanning surprised everyone and took hundreds of prisoners, including Col. James Read and Gov. Thomas Burke. It is not known whether he was actually imprisoned or paroled, but James Read was not officially "exchanged" until 11/26/1782.


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