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In life we encounter people that use deception. We also experience events meant to deceive us. The history of North Carolina and our country depended on many acts of deception for us to earn our freedom from British rule. Somebody, somewhere said “All is fair in love and war” and that applies to deception in times of war.
One pivotal act of deception occurred in Currie NC and yesterday was 243rd Anniversary of the Battle at Moores Creek
On Tuesday February 26th I visited the Moores Creek National Battlefield
In October of 2015 I learned about this battle from a guest preacher at First Presbyterian Church in Lumberton NC. The guest preacher’s name was Jay Coker from Fayetteville NC. Today I believe Jay and his wife Sharon live in Johnson City TN.
Jay and Sharon
In his guest sermon he talked about North Carolina history when Presbyterians fought against each before the beginning of the Revolutionary War at the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge.
At this time in our country’s history some North Carolina Presbyterians were loyal to the British crown and some of North Carolina’s Presbyterians were seeking independence. In was a battle amongst each other in many ways. The uprising had forced Royal Governor Josiah Martin out of New Bern and out to sea. Marin was livid and wanted British control to be restored to North Carolina.
There was a race by those loyal to the crown to go from Fayetteville NC to Wilmington to meet up with a supply ship sent from England. They were led by General Donald MacDonald and had 1600 men. Once connected with those supplies and British Naval troops they planned to take control of the colony of North Carolina. The Patriots knew if they reached the coast the brief period of Patriot control was likely to be over.
There was a group of Patriots that were attempting to stop the march by securing key bridges. They had failed at several other river crossing points including Carver’s Creek in Fayetteville but thanks to deception they won a decisive battle at Moores Creek Bridge. That bridge was just 20 miles above Wilmington NC.
Here is that bridge looking east.
The Patriots were led by Colonel James Moore, Col. Alexander Lillington, and Col. Richard Caswell. Lillington men reached Moores Creek first on February 25th and set defensive earthen works and two cannons on eastern end of the bridge. They also set up a very small camp on the western side of the bridge that would be the cheese in the mouse trap. On February 26th Caswell arrived with 850 men.
Sometime on February 26th MacDonald’s men arrived about 6 miles from the bridge. He now had a decision to make avoid a battle and seek another route to Wilmington or fight. He choose to fight but first sent an emissary to the small Patriot camp set up on western edge of bridge with letter offering the Patriots an offer to surrender. The emissary’s letter was rejected but he brought back a report that the Patriots were camped on the western edge with just fifty or fewer. That was because the bulk of the men were hidden behind earthen mounds with two cannons some thirty paces over the bridge.
This cannon was just thirty paces from the bridge’s eastern edge
So at 1:00 a.m. 243 years ago MacDonald started marching his troops to Moores Creek Bridge. During the night Caswell’s patriot men abandoned the camp leaving a few campfires burning, removed planks from the bridge, greased the girders and set up the cannons on the other end.
MacDonald’s troops found the camp abandoned and determined that they had retreated. They waited to daybreak and charged across the bridge when they got to the other side they were met with volleys of cannon fire and musket rounds. That first charge resulted in the death of 30 and injury to 40. Some drowned in the creek trying to get back to the other side. The Loyalists retreated and within weeks many had been captured. The march to Wilmington thanks to the deception of the camp had been stopped.
The victory ended British authority in North Carolina and provided an important boost to Patriot morale. Within two months of the American victory, on April 12, 1776, North Carolina became the first colony to vote in favor of independence from Britain.
I give credit to Jay Coker for teaching me something new about North Carolina but my visit yesterday taught me how DECEPTION can change the course of history. I am pretty sure DECEPTION in our lives can change the course of our lives also.