Abbildungen der Seite

They are gathering, they are gathering

From mountain and from plain,
Resolved in heart, of purpose high,

A bold and fearless train.
No forceful mandate calls them out,

No despot bids them go ;
They obey the freeman's impulse,
But to strike the freeman's blow.





King GEORGE III. of England, who began to reign in 1760, was a man of stubborn temper and of dull mind. He had set his heart on making his American colonies submit to him, and nothing could move him.

He and two or three of his council-or “ministers" they are called—were able to carry on an eight years' war in opposition to the will of a large part of the English people, and in spite of the remonstrances of the English Parliament. He could not believe that these new and


American States could possibly stand against the power of the great British nation, or even that they would stay united in the common cause. His chief minister, Lord North, said the Union was “only a rope of sand.”

only a rope of sand.” When the men of Wilmington heard this, they said "it was a rope strong enough to hang him."

The royal governors in all the States were of course stout for King George, and were continually sending him word that he had a great many devoted subjects over here who were ready to fight for him. All he had to do, they said, was to send a well-equipped army and the rebels would soon be put down.

The great trouble for the British army was the wide ocean that had to be crossed. All their arms and ammunition and stores and equipments must be brought in ships that in those days were of small capacity, and might be two or three months in the voyage, and often be delayed or wrecked by storms. Such circumstances prolonged the war and favored the American cause.

Early in the year 1776, General Washington compelled the British army, which had held Boston in its clutches so long, to abandon its prey and betake itself to its ships once more. It was sent to the South, where by this time the king was assembling a large force. Twelve ships had sailed from England in January under command of Sir Peter Parker, having on board seven regiments of soldiers under Lord Cornwallis, Lord Rawdon, and Colonel Tarleton, and many other gallant officers.

These were all ordered to the Cape Fear, where they were to be joined by others from New York and froni Boston, all commanded by Sir Henry Clinton. They expected to make short work of the rebellion in North Carolina, and Governor Martin was in high hopes that he would soon be able to return to his palace in New Bern. But all these ships were delayed by winds and storms, and did not arrive in the Cape Fear till late in the spring. Meanwhile, North Carolina had not been idle.

The Scotch settlers who lived above Wilmington along the Cape Fear were nearly all Tories or Loyalists. Many of them had not been in this country long enough to love it, or to understand the controversy. They were all willing to fight for the authority of the king, and when Governor

Martin sent commissions and arms and equipments 1776.

through the counties, appointing officers and calling on the Tories to rise to his aid, early in February a band of nearly two thousand of them assembled at Cross Creek. They were commanded by General McDonald, a veteran soldier. Among their officers was a Colonel McLeod, who had come down in the winter from the British army in Boston to see a young lady whom he loved, whose family had lately come from Scotland. They had been married but a short time when he joined the Tories under General McDonald.

Their plan was to collect as large a force as possible, march · down below Wilmington, and be there ready to receive the fine British army when it arrived.

But they had been watched. General James Moore at the head of his own regiment, joined by Kenan from Duplin and Ashe and Lillington from Wilmington, each with a small band of militia, checked them at Cross Creek.

After a day or two spent in sending defiant messages, McDonald, hearing that Colonel Caswell was on the march with eight hundred men raised from the counties around New Bern, suddenly decamped and hurried off toward Wilmington.

Moore immediately dispatched Lillington to meet Caswell and make a stand twenty miles above Wilmington, at the bridge on Moore's Creek near where it runs into South River, and where the Tories would be likely to


The patriots met, and intrenched themselves on the east or farther side of the creek, which, though narrow, was deep and muddy.

The planks were taken from the rude bridge and the sleepers—round smooth pine logs from which the bark had peeled—were greased with tallow and soft soap to make them still more slippery.

The patriots numbered about eleven bundred. They were full of enthusiasm. The men from Craven wore silver crescents in their hats, with Liberty or Deathinscribed on them.

They remained under arms all night. At daybreak on the 27th the bugles and pibrochs of the Highlanders were heard, and soon they appeared marching in fine style. As they approached the bridge the firing began.

Feb. 27th, 1776. Young Colonel McLeod was the real leader of the Tory army, for General McDonald had been taken ill and was at a farmhouse eight miles from the bridge.

To cross those slippery pine logs in the face of a steady fire from the Whigs required nerve.

McLeod rushed on desperately, and with one other officer succeeded in gaining the other side, but there they both fell at once, pierced with many bullets, McLeod cheering his men on with his last breath.

They followed as they best could, the officers trying to

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